August 2012

August 28th, 2012

The tme to tackle those congested Iris is NOW!

I'm talking about clumps of tuberous Iris with the lovely big, blousy flowers early on in the Summer. They often come in blue or purple, but if you go to the website at the wonderful Woottens nursery near Southwold in Suffolk www.woottensplants.co.uk you will see a huge range of gorgeous colours to suit every taste. There is talk of repeat flowering varieties, too. Read More...
August 17th, 2012

The generosity of penstemons 2

Penstemons are a real favourite of mine. They mix really well with most plants and flower and flower, some from June until the frosts if you deadhead regularly and give them a feed. They are really easy from cuttings and late August is a good time to take them. Take a non flowering shoot if you can about 10/15 cm, strip off the bottom leaves and put them into a pot of gritty compost. Keep them really damp for a couple of weeks, then water them often and you will get little plants well able to overwinter in a frost free or sheltered place. They should then flower next year. Its often said they area bit tender, but, apart from the very worst of winters, mine have survived here for at least 3 or 4 years. They then tend to get a bit woody and need replacing. Cutting them hard back, almost to the ground, in April, ensures their vigour for a bit longer. Read More...
August 1st, 2012

Will 'Charnwood' be a media star yet?

It has been an interesting week at Charnwood. A few weeks ago we got a telephone call from the BBC asking us if they could come and film the garden for East Midlands Today. Fortunately Peter took the call, I would probably have assumed it was a mate taking the mick. Anyway, they came one morning in mid July, three of them; a producer, cameraman and Ady Dayman, their gardening correspondent. All three were absolutely charming, very professional and great fun. They spent almost four hours here filming – by now you may have seen my 30 seconds of fame! It was a really interesting experience seeing them at work. I now understand how important continuity is and what it involves, and how the weather can mess up the best laid plans. What they did do was give the book a good plug – if you don’t know about it yet, it is now available; details are on the www.katescuttings.net website. Read More...

July 2012

July 14th, 2012

Good colour combinations 3: using foliage creatively in your borders

I absolutely love bright, vibrant flowers in my garden. But I have learned both by trial and error and through reading colour experts such as Christopher Lloyd and Sarah Raven that if you get too carried away, it can look more like a dogs dinner than a great planting combo. So, how do you do it? Read More...
July 2nd, 2012

Taking cuttings and details of study day at Charnwood 7 July

Now is a good time of year to take cuttings from many plants. Penstemons are one of the easiest: take out a strong growing non flowering shoot about 4 “ long and cut cleanly below a leaf. Carefully remove the bottom leaves and put several of them around the edge of a pot full of gritty compost to ensure good drainage. Get the pot ready first so you can put them straight in and keep them well watered and misted. If they dry out they won’t grow roots and will shrivel and die. Some folk cover them with a poly bag, but I don’t: I like to keep an eye on them and I find they can soon rot. If they wilt at first don’t panic, they will recover in a couple of days if you look after them. Read More...

June 2012

June 30th, 2012

Self seeders - friend or foe?

To answer that question I can do no better than quote Christopher Lloyd from his great book 'Succession planting for adventurous gardeners':

'Self-sowing plants plug gaps with relaxed abandon and are a great help in keeping the show going, as long as you treat them as allies that need to be controlled'.

If you are a gardener who likes it all very, very neat, than they are probably not for you. But if, like me, you like a more relaxed and blousy kind of planting with no bare soil throughout the growing season then they are to be recommended.

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June 12th, 2012

Roses out now - 3 of the best

Such a lovely time in the garden, not only is it looking good despite the weather, but there is so much more to come.

Three of my all time favourite roses are out now: from right to left - modern climbing rose 'Laura Ford', Climber Mme Alfred Carriere and Gallica rose 'Tuscany Superb'.

Laura Ford is an easy, short climber to around 10'. Its smallish but abundant flowers start as bright yellow buds and then open, fading with a hint of pink. It is at it's best now, but does repeat flower given a good soak and a feed. The scent is lovely, not too overpowering.

Mme Alfred Carriere is a more robust climber, to 20' here. Lovely ivory white, good scent, happy on a quite exposed wall. Fabulous show this year, repeat flowers a little, but sporadically.

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June 1st, 2012

What is the 'June gap' and how can we fill it?

When gardeners talk about the ‘June gap’ I am a bit puzzled. If you have a reasonable range of bulbs, perennials and shrubs in your garden, you should have some colour throughout the spring and summer months, shouldn’t you? I’m guessing that the phrase came from a Local Authority Parks Department that relied solely on bedding plants to provide a good display; when the polyanthus and tulips are over they get ripped out to make space for the geraniums and lobelia that don’t start to spread and look decent for at least a month.

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May 2012

May 24th, 2012

Wisterias looking good at Charnwood

Wisterias are a bit of a passion for us, we have several around the garden. Looking really lovely now are the really long racemes (more than 1m, showing off now) of one I bought as Macrobotrytis (sp?) but I believe has been renamed something else? The overall effect is soft and filigree, the colour gentle. The white one has the best scent, it is almost overpowering about now, early evening.

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May 10th, 2012

Good colour combinations 2: Grey, green and white

I've heard cleverer gardeners than me pointing out that the reason the White Garden at Sissinghurst works because it is actually grey, green and white. If it was white only, it would look like a bad accident between a meringue lorry and a milk float, messy, frothy, indistinct, we've all seen them. Box and artemisia as well as the lovely brick paths set off the lilies, roses and other beautifully grown plants to make for an atmosphere of elegance and serenity at Sissinghurst some of us try to create in our gardens.

At Charnwood in April, the lovely willow leaved pear, white, green and grey are all together in one plant and make for a subtle but stunning combination that many of our garden visitors comment on. Underplanted with white daffodils and bluebells in the spring green grass, the planting scheme works well, albeit for a short time.

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