April 1st, 2013
In an effort to keep our new large dog in the garden we’ve had to have some new fences built. It does make some of the garden feel different, so I’ve been thinking of ways to use the new structures to good effect. One idea I’m toying with is to plant a native hedge next to the fence. When I say native, I really mean natural looking – I’m not about to plant a scruffy, boring row of shrubs. My hedgerow would also have to have some really pretty climbing plants.
March 1st, 2013
I can’t write about the March garden without mentioning daffodils; such easy, generous plants. There is a daffodil to suit more or less every taste from the big, bold and blousy to the small and sophisticated. ‘February Gold’ is one of the easiest and most reliable, it stands about 1.5 feet tall, increases and naturalises well and never fails to flower. ‘February Silver’ is a paler version, comes a little later. Despite their name neither actually flower in February here but no doubt they do further south. ‘Tete a tete’ is a small, dainty daffodil, perfect for a pot or a rockery. It lasts for ages and multiplies well, so if you buy a little pot of it from the garden centre for your windowsill, plant it out afterwards and it will appear every spring for you. ‘Thalia’ is a beautiful and elegant white daffodil, at its best in April.
February 4th, 2013
Compost has been on my mind a lot lately. To be honest it often is, I absolutely love the stuff. When we moved to Charnwood in 1987 the soil here was horrible, really dense, heavy clay. Since then we’ve dig tonnes and tonnes of compost in, using it as a mulch as well as to improve the soil. As result, the longer established beds now have good, friable, reasonably well drained soil. Garden compost improves the conditions of the soil as well as it’s nutritional value. We will keep adding it, or it will lose it’s condition.
January 26th, 2013
Not a great gardening month so far, so I thought you might like some nice photos. All taken this month at Charnwood.
December 23rd, 2012
Despite the appalling wet weather a walk round 'Charnwood'; this morning showed there is always something good to see in a garden if you look hard enough. Photos from left to right:
Mahonia looking and smelling lovely, a real ray of sunshine in a dark corner;
Ferns close by the mahonia still fresh and green;
Rosemary in flower, some of that will end up in the Christmas dinner roast spuds;
Winter flowering jasmine, so easy and pretty, prune after flowering;
Bright stems of a dogwood hard pruned last March.
December 9th, 2012
Stuck for Christmas presents? How about these:
A book, the best present ever. ‘Ten Poems and Gardens’, introduced very eloquently by Monty Don, is a lovely small gift. I got given it for my birthday by my mate Liz and it is a lovely read. From 'Vespers';
'This is how he gardens: fifteen minutes of intense effort, fifteen minutes of ecstatic contemplation..' Remind you of anyone?
November 4th, 2012
We've some lovely Autumn colour here at Charnwood. The dwarf Japanese Cherry Prunus incisca 'Kojo-no'mai' is currently gorgeous shades of red and yellow and the Euonymous alatus a stunning ruby colour. Both are little, slow growing trees, so ideal for smaller gardens. Acers are also performing well here and will thrive in a spot sheltered from winds and, depending a bit on the variety, in fairly acid soil. We also have a medlar, a really trouble free and compact tree with beautiful, simple white flowers in spring and clear yellow leaves in Autumn. They are self fertile, so you don't need to plant more than one to get the rather weird fruit.
October 30th, 2012
Time to put the garden to bed for the winter with next year in mind. Planning ahead is not something we all do well or have time for, but with plants as in most things it really does pay off.
Lift and divide your asters, early this month is better for this group of plants than in the spring. You can see where there are gaps and they will be established and flower well for you next year. This does not apply to everything; for example grasses should be divided in spring or they tend to sulk and die over winter;
Prune climbing roses and tie in stems to prevent them being hit by winter gales;
Scarify your lawn, get rid of all that moss and thatch to let light and air in, it's great exercise and cheaper and more fun than going to the gym;
If you have a cold greenhouse or a light porch, sow winter salads;
October 7th, 2012
The garden is still looking pretty good here despite the lateness of the season. The wet summer did have some benefits, a really good soak over a long period has perked up some of our more recent plantings, especially trees.
Some plants though have gone completely over the top - we have cosmos 2 metres high and not flowering that well, but roses are coming back well now and late perennials and tender plants such as dahlias are still very happy and floriferous! Many grasses are at their best now too.
Photos left to right: Climbing rose 'Galway Bay', Penstemon 'Blackbird', Miscanthus 'Silver Stripe', late summer perennials.
All taken at Charnwood in October 2013.
September 3rd, 2012
Olympics? Huh! Paralympics? No comparison. The most important opening ceremony of late is surely that of the wonderful Jungle Hut at Charnwood.
Lovingly and painstaking built by master craftsman Alan Hopcraft from a beautiful design by partner Lauraine Baxendale, it is a truly great addition to the garden, bringing real style and interest to a previously boring part of our garden.
Photos left to right: the newly finished and planted Jungle Hut, Alan cutting the ribbon with the help of Liz and all of us joining together and raising a glass in celebration. Cheers!
www.mad-hutter.co.uk for more information.