November 2012

November 4th, 2012

Ideas for gorgeous trees for small gardens and how to plant them.

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. Read More...

October 2012

October 30th, 2012

Putting the garden to bed for winter

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; Read More...
October 7th, 2012

Autumn colour at Charnwood

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. . Read More...

September 2012

September 3rd, 2012

Jungle Hut at Charnwood - The Opening Ceremony!

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! for more information. Read More...

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 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 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.