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.


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.


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.


July 2008

July 1st, 2008


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.


June 2008

June 1st, 2008

Right Plant Right Place

When choosing plant for your garden, what is it that helps you to decide? Do you, like me, have an anxiety attack if there is a gap in your border? Perhaps you buy on impulse because the flowers are pretty, or the right colour, or flower at the right time? Or do you chose for structure or size? How many times have you bought a plant that claims to be compact and ends up a few years later as a giant shrub? And do you consider the conditions you are planting into before you buy?

I have several mature plants of galtonia which I had grown from seed some years ago that had outgrown their pots. So I decided to consult my garden dictionary to find the best spot for these now large bulbs in the garden. The description went as follows:


May 2008

May 1st, 2008

Magnolias and Wisterias

May is Magnolia and Wisteria month in our garden. We love Wisteria and have four plants altogether. The oldest and best covers the back of the house, facing roughly south west. Its grown up name is W. Macrobotrys and its large, blue flowers on long, loose racemes give a lovely, almost filigree effect. Two more are Chinese wisterias trained over a pergola. One has white, gloriously fragrant flowers and the other blue. The fourth is a newer acquisition and is in a very large pot which we are attempting to train as a standard.


April 2008

April 2nd, 2008

April Armandii

April is the month our Armandii clematis flowers, and it's a wonderful sight. I'm told it gets its name because it has an almond fragrance, but the smell reminds me more of nutmeg. Whatever, it's a good smell and its pale pink (it also comes in white) flowers cover the plant which reaches almost the top of our house. What is great about this early flowering variety is that if it gets too big, you can cut it back a little or a lot after flowering, but its not necessary otherwise. Many folk worry about pruning clematis, but you can't go far wrong if you cut back the later flowering varieties to a fat bud about now and give them a good feed, mulch (incorporating a handful of wood ash) and water. That way you won't get all the flowers at the top where you can't see them, leaving you looking at a bunch of brown stems.


March 2008

March 1st, 2008

March jobs in the garden

This is the time of year to roll your sleeves up, put on your boots and old clothes and get out there. A few hours gardening now will save you lots of effort later, and you will get better results.

Jobs you can be doing include:

Prune and mulch: Buddleias, roses and most clematis to name a few. Prune back to a bud to prevent dieback then give them a good feed and mulch. Coloured stemmed dogwoods can be cut back almost to ground level if you want to encourage the bright stems again for next year. If that seems a bit drastic, cut a third back each year. The RHS website has a good guide on to how to prune a variety of plants, but be brave, don't just trim the tops off unless you like a garden full of lollipops. Mulching your borders will keep the moisture in and the weeds down, and looks good.


February 2008

February 1st, 2008

Wollemi Pine

There has been much excitement at the Foale household as we are now proud owners of a Wollemi Pine. Peter bought me a lovely little specimen for Christmas, with bright green fern type leaves larger and flatter than a yew. If you don't know the story of this remarkable tree, it was around up to 200 million years ago and was thought extinct. Then, in 1994, a park ranger called David Noble was exploring the Wollemi National Park in Australia and stumbled across a small grove of them growing in a remote canyon. What struck him particularly was the trees bark, which looks like bubbling chocolate.


December 2006

December 31st, 2006

Creating a meadow

Being potty about plants, I always have to have a new gardening project on the go. Strongly influenced by our student son who is home for the summer and passionate about ecology, the latest plan is to turn part of the garden into a little wildflower meadow. A trip to the wildflower farm at Langar (www.naturescape.co.uk tel. 01949 860592) early In July was really inspirational. We followed it up with a fair bit of research and garden visits and Project Meadow is well and truly up and running.