February 2012

February 2nd, 2012

Seed sowing for summer

Hello winter! I thought it would never arrive. Some days in the garden in December and early January felt more like early spring – birds singing, bulbs coming through, no coat. I was weeding, mulching, pruning and trying not to get lulled into a false sense of security. It was great to be out and doing proper gardening in the middle of winter (I was even spreading mushroom compost on Christmas Day!), but when the serious and regular frosts arrived it did feel like the natural order of things had returned. A rather comforting thought now I am well into my middle age. I hope you all got your tender plants safely into the warm before it descended? My little greenhouse is stuffed full of cuttings, dahlia tubers, agave and tender perennials such as agapanthus, salvia and galtonia.


January 2012

January 30th, 2012

Late January cheer!

A wander round the garden this morning with the birds singing and the sun shining cheered me up no end. In flower or looking good at the moment at 'Charnwood': a white Christmas Rose under a red stemmed dogwood, Virburnum Tinus 'Eve Price - lovely pink buds opening white, and the bright leaves of a variegated holly livening up the back garden.It will soon be Spring!


December 2011

December 18th, 2011

Works of art in the garden

Sometimes a plant just won’t do it; it’s too dry, the season is too short, or it would simply look wrong. But a focal point is needed, or perhaps a little ‘something else’ to add some interest to a neglected corner. What do you do?

I use the phrase ‘a work of art’ ‘to cover any inanimate but decorative object in the garden (not counting your snoozing spouse, of course). So it could be a lump of wood, a mirror, a group of pebbles or shells, or an actual statue. You can add drama, humour, or all year round interest in this way and it can cost a lot or very little. Some ideas that work well at Charnwood:


November 2011

November 18th, 2011

Planting trees

If the weather forecast is anyway near accurate, we may all be up to our necks in snow by now. Writing this mid October, it is very hard to imagine as there are parts of the garden that could fool you into thinking it’s June. One little group Charnwood includes is a pink English Rose, several spikes of a rich blue delphininum, some green tobacco plant ‘Lansdorfii’ and tall pink Cosmos.


October 2011

October 18th, 2011

Getting the garden ready for winter

It can be a sad, grey month, October. The clocks change, giving us less time in the evening to get outside and the weather isn’t conducive to lovely suppers on the patio with a glass of wine. But we gardeners can look on the brighter side; getting the garden ready for winter has a kind of end of season satisfaction about it. After all, it is the time to plan for next year and if we get it right we can look forward to a great display in 2012. Even if we get it wrong there is fun in filling the gap with a new purchase next spring.


August 2011

August 29th, 2011

Bulbs for Spring 2012

Don’t wince, but I’ve actually done my order for spring bulbs next year. I know it sounds ridiculously early to plan for March and April 2012, but because we have an acre of garden, bulk buying well ahead is needed if we are to keep the cost down and get a good choice. I use de Jager (www.dejager.co.uk 01622 840229), a company based in Kent. Their bulbs are good size, they never substitute and they almost always produce good flowers. I’ve ordered 250 Lent Lilies, Pseudonarcissus Lobularis, a small, native daffodil that grows to 15 cm and will look natural and (I hope) gradually increase in our meadow. I’ve picked 2 lily flowering tulips – one called Burgundy and another White Triumphator for pots – they will flower in May if the squirrels don’t find and eat them first.


July 2011

July 27th, 2011

Purple rain!

I’ve been going through a purple phase for quite some time. It was a very trendy colour at Chelsea a few years ago, and it has lingered since as a popular theme. Purple has the advantage of combining with almost every other colour, and looks lovely next to green or grey foliage. Even those gardeners who (unlike me!) prefer gentle, pastel shades usually find deep, rich purple acceptable.


June 2011

June 13th, 2011

Filling the gaps in June

What a confusing year for plants and gardeners! A horrid, long and cold winter followed by a warm and sunny Spring, lulling plants into thinking summer has come early and then getting nipped by the frost. If you are concerned that, come July, all will be over, I suggest you plant now for some late summer and autumn colour.


May 2011

May 13th, 2011

How did your garden fare last winter?

The current preoccupation with gardeners still seems to be whether or not the winter killed our precious plants. Last month I urged caution – plants may still start to shoot from the base and could do so well into the summer so patience may reward you. Having said that, the 2010/11 winter was the coldest for 100 years. So with global warming being the hot topic (no pun intended) it’s not surprising if we were lulled into a false sense of security and so planted out that hibiscus, phormium, myrtle or agapanthus last autumn. So what can we do to avoid the same thing happening next winter? You could try:


April 2011

April 10th, 2011

April 2011

Hurrah! The natural order of The Universe has been restored. Monty Don is back on Gardeners’ World. No more of Toby Buckland’s ’30 minute fixes’, endless clichés and pointless jobs. I know he meant well, and he is actually a well respected and successful garden designer. He just didn’t seem to cut it on the TV, as the huge drop in viewing figures demonstrated.