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.
August 28th, 2012
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.
August 17th, 2012
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.
August 1st, 2012
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.
July 14th, 2012
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?
July 2nd, 2012
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.
June 30th, 2012
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.
June 12th, 2012
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.
June 1st, 2012
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.
May 24th, 2012
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.