July 2010

July 18th, 2010

Creating a meadow

A bout 3 years ago we decided to have a go at creating a small meadow in the garden. I love wildflowers, and the thought of a colourful tapestry of grasses and native plants swaying in the breeze on a sunny day seemed just a few months away. Just stop mowing and wait. Wrong, as usual!

Recently I visited Great Dixter, Christopher Lloyds garden on the Surrey/Sussex border. Christo died a while back, but his head gardener, Fergus Garrett has carried on the good work and the garden is looking as lovely as ever. As part of the visit, Fergus explained to us how they created a meadow. I wish I heard it before I went down what seemed like a fairly quick and easy path! This is how to create that fabulous meadow:

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June 2010

June 1st, 2010

Open Garden - April 2010

Last week a kind friend gave me some cutting of some Mrs Simpkins, a lovely, fragrant member of the Dianthus family usually referred to as ‘Pinks’. Mrs S is a white pink – confusing, I know. I did read somewhere that the common name ‘pink’ refers to the shaggy edges to the flowers – they look as if they have been cut with a pair of pinking shears – rather than their colour. True or not, they are lovely, fragrant flowers. Whenever I smell their scent, it takes me back to my childhood where our next door neighbour had pinks edging her paths. Their perfume was just gorgeous.

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May 2010

May 18th, 2010

Keeping the colour going, planning for succession

Keeping the garden looking pretty throughout the year is a difficult task and needs a bit of planning and preparation. Many books and articles have been written on the subject of succession planning, but it’s not really that hard. For example planting a few spring bulbs under a shrub or perennial is one easy way of providing a longer period of interest. You can still lift and divide your snowdrops if you are quick, they prefer to be moved ‘in the green’ and will spread more quickly if you give them a helping hand. They grow well in grass as well as borders.

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April 2010

April 18th, 2010

Growing your own veg

Kates cuttings
You don’t need me to tell you that growing your own vegetables is very trendy at the moment as well as a good idea. My son had a balcony in his small flat groaning under the weight of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and strawberries last year. I have to admit, he put me to shame as growing things to eat is not really my passion, unless it’s in the form of a lovely old fruit tree I can grow a rose or clematis up. It seems a lot of hard work and, unlike perennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees, at the end of the growing season, you have to start all over again. You also have to try and remember your crop rotation, when to sow the seeds and plant them out and which particular nasty insect or animal to guard against. (I know I will get taken to task now by you keen allotment holders!).

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March 2010

March 31st, 2010

Perennial vegetables

You don’t need me to tell you that growing your own vegetables is very trendy at the moment as well as a good idea. My son had a balcony in his small flat groaning under the weight of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and strawberries last year. I have to admit, he put me to shame as growing things to eat is not really my passion, unless it’s in the form of a lovely old fruit tree I can grow a rose or clematis up. It seems a lot of hard work and, unlike perennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees, at the end of the growing season, you have to start all over again. You also have to try and remember your crop rotation, when to sow the seeds and plant them out and which particular nasty insect or animal to guard against. (I know I will get taken to task now by you keen allotment holders!).

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February 2010

February 1st, 2010

Garden Design

It has been written that you can spot a well designed garden even in the depths of winter. This assertion is usually made in a posh garden design book and accompanied by smart pictures of strategically placed and immaculately clipped box, or an expensive looking piece of sculpture at the end of a classically laid York stone path.

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October 2009

October 30th, 2009

October 2009

Tulips – we tend to love them or hate them, rich folk in the 17th century paid huge sums for a single bulb. Either way they can add a bold splash of colour to the garden.

I have a border which looks good in the Spring which is planted under an espalier pear. It has a lily flowered variety of tulip called Ballerina underplanted with deep blue forget me nots. The combination of white blossom on the pear, orange tulips and blue forget me nots is lovely as long as the forget me nots don't succumb to mildew.

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October 2008

October 1st, 2008

October 2008

If I only had one space in the garden for a fruit tree, it would be a greengage. We have a rather elderly specimen here that crops sparsely at the best of times, but the fruit is absolutely delicious. A couple of years ago we got a relatively heavy harvest. For an easy pudding I halved and stoned the gages and put them in a buttered baking dish. Sprinkled with brown sugar, baked for about half an hour and served with vanilla ice cream - they didn't last long!

Second choice would be a plum. I tried to find out what the difference is between a plum and a 'gage'. If you will excuse the pun, it wasn't a very fruitful search. All I can pass on to you is that the first gages in this country were imported from France in 1725 by Sir William Gage. As a result he gave his name to sweet yellow plums that became a Victorian delicacy.

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August 2008

August 1st, 2008

Weeds and Perspective

Are you sick of weeding? How is it that weeds seem to grow as soon as your back is turned when your carefully tended plants often don't? You may have heard it said that a weed is a plant in the wrong place. I'm not sure when a dandelion is ever in the right place in the garden, but I suppose if you were a rabbit you may disagree. As with many things in life, its all a matter of perspective.

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July 2008

July 1st, 2008

Roses

Like many gardeners, we no longer have a bed set aside just for roses. They can look rather boring and ungainly for quite a long time when not in flower, so we have now incorporated them into a mixed border. It's not terribly easy as roses can be a bit unruly, but I try to get round that by planting plants such as foxgloves, euphorbia and penstemons close by.

One truly gorgeous rose which flowers late June and into July is Tuscany Superb. It is a deep crimson-purple Gallica rose with golden stamens and a lovely scent. It only flowers once, but it is worth waiting for. I have a deep red Penstemon ' Blackbird' nearby which complements it well. Another rose which has been flowering since the end of May is a climber called 'Laura Ford'. It is a modern rose with small, rich yellow flowers. It doesn't climb too high and so is easy to keep in check. It repeat flowers.

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