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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

May 8th, 2012

NGS garden opening at Charnwood great success despite the rain!

Gardeners are such hardy souls. We had around 180 visitors on Sunday 6 May for our garden opening, the rain stayed away, hooray! On Monday 7th when the rain did NOT stay away we had 100 more, complete with brollies, what stars you garden visitors are! Many thanks to you all, and not forgetting Friends of South Wolds who provided the yum teas and music students from South Wolds School who played the sax so beautifully in the garden on Monday in the rain. Also a huge thank to our many loyal friends and family who helped out so cheerfully despite the damp!

The stars of the garden were 2 large pots of 'Burgundy' lily flowered tulips, at their peak in the little courtyard on the day and the new Jungle Hut.

May 1st, 2012

NGS garden open with Kates Cuttings book launch 6 and 7 May

Whenever you read this you can be sure that one of the following is happening here at Charnwood. I am either:
• panicking that the garden will not be ready or will look awful when we open on 6 and 7 May;
• weeding;
• chasing the rabbits, pheasants, pigeons and/or squirrels off the plants;
• watering (if it’s dry) or praying for sun (if it’s wet);
• driving Peter mad (actually that applies most of the time) or, if it’s after 10pm:
• asleep, assuming I can nod off in the midst of the aforementioned state of panic.


April 2012

April 20th, 2012

Tulips are fab

I absolutely can't resist tulips. Their colours sing out at this time of year when everything is so green and fresh. I'll have a go at naming the ones pictured, but to be honest I don't really care what variety they are, they are all lovely and so easy. The only problem we have at Charnwood is that the squirrels eat them, so I soak them in tonic water with quinine first, they are not supposed to like the taste and it works to some extent.This year I have also tried planting them in pots with smelly alliums, that seems to have worked too, although I'm not sure if they will flower together as intended! The advantage of planting them in pots is that you can give them the well drained soil they like, and you can move them round to where you want them and out of the way when done.