February 2013

February 4th, 2013

Confessions of a compost anorak

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. Read More...

January 2013

January 26th, 2013

January snow at Charnwood

Not a great gardening month so far, so I thought you might like some nice photos. All taken this month at Charnwood. Read More...

December 2012

December 23rd, 2012

A cheery winter walk round our wet and windy garden!

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. Happy Christmas! Read More...
December 9th, 2012

Christmas present ideas for gardeners

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? Read More...

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! www.mad-hutter.co.uk 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 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...