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Making the most of rhubarb

Bumper gardens to visit throughout Cornwall

The influence of Edwin Lutyens

Cornwall www.countrygardener.co.uk

ISSUE NO 57 MAY 2019 FREE

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Country Gardener


Up Front!

“Queer things happen in the garden in May. Little faces forgotten appear, and plants thought to be dead suddenly wave a green hand to confound you.” - W. E. Johns

OUR HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GARDENING CALENDAR OVER THE COMING WEEKS IN CORNWALL

Bluebells and garlic at Pencarrow House

HELSTON CELEBRATES HISTORIC FLORA DAY The Cornish market town of Helston certainly knows how to celebrate trees and flowers bursting into life for a new season. For hundreds of years, the town has celebrated the wonderful tradition of Flora Day. This ancient festival is held on 8th May to celebrate the end of winter and mark the arrival of the new vitality and fertility in nature. The houses and shops are decorated with greenery and floral arrangements to express the spirit of renewal. Some 80 couples dance through the streets, entering selected houses and shops to drive out the darkness of winter and bring in the light of spring. www.helstonfloraday.org.uk

Historic tour of Lost Gardens of Heligan There’s the opportunity to delve deeper into the history of the Lost Gardens of Heligan on Tuesday, 23rd April when experienced garden guide David Hobbs leads an in depth tour of the gardens. It is a relaxed and informal tour starting at 10.30am with tickets costing £6.50p to include a hot drink. Tickets are limited to 20 people per tour and does not include garden admission. To book your place call 01726 845100. If you would like to pre-book for a tour on another date and will be visiting with a group of more than six people then call to check availability. The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St.Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN.

Bluebells and wild garlic are the perfect combination to attract visitors to the gardens of Pencarrow House, just outside of Bodmin. Bluebells and Wild Garlic Sunday takes place on 5th May when the Friends of Pencarrow will be out in force with delicious wild garlic recipes and samples to taste. The gardens open at 10am. Normal garden entry fee applies. The gardens alongside the Grade ll listed country house on the edge of Bodmin Moor have a reputation for all year round beauty including the first Victorian rock garden in England. Pencarrow House & Garden, Bodmin PL30 3AG.

Tavistock Garden Festival celebrates grow-your-own Tavistock Garden festival celebrates all things garden related on the theme of ‘Grow it – Eat it - Enjoy it’ over two days of the Late May Bank Holiday. Tavistock Pannier Market played host to the first garden festival in May 2005. Since then this popular event has become a firm fixture. There will be a long list of exhibitors ranging from those providing shade tolerant, to hardy perennials and exotic plants through to garden supports and art. The event takes place in and around the Pannier Market, as well as on Bedford Square on Sunday 26th and Monday 27th May.

Burncoose 30 acre gardens open for wildlife trust Burncoose is a 30-acre magnificent woodland garden with many rhododendrons, magnolias, azaleas and camellias. The garden is tucked away behind Burncoose Nurseries - a winner of over 20 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medals. The Cornwall Wildlife Trust has been given special access to the whole of this hidden treasure on Sunday, 19th May from 11am to 4pm for a special open day. Visitors will have access to the whole 30 acres including the recently refurbished grand Burncoose House and its immediate garden. There is reasonably level access along roughly surfaced paths. Entrance to all gardens is £5 per adult with under 16s free. Burncoose House & Garden, Gwennap, Redruth, TR16 6BJ. www.burncoosehouse.co.uk www.countrygardener.co.uk

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Moyclare Gardens

- a ‘garden with personality’ Over 70 named Camellias Mature trees from around the world including 6 champions Many rare and lesser known shrubs, plants and ferns Plants, tea, coffee and homemade cakes for sale OPEN April - August, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays 2pm-5pm. BOOKED GROUPS BY ARRANGEMENT Tel: 01579 343114 elizabethhenslowe@btinternet.com

www.moyclare.co.uk

Trenowth Nurseries

St. Columb Major, TR9 6EW

01637 881473

OPEN MON -SAT 9AM -5PM SUNDAY 10AM – 4PM Quality Bedding plants Large selection of Basket Plants Hanging Baskets and Containers (New and Refill)

Discover

Marwood Hill Gardens

Discover the stunning views at Marwood Hill Gardens, 20 acres of private gardens with lakes in North Devon. The gardens are a wonderful haven in which to relax and enjoy the impressive collections of plants, shrubs and trees and experience the views and peaceful atmosphere.

Specialist Plant Sales At Marwood, we aim to provide something a little bit different, something which you can take home.

1¾ miles from St. Columb Bypass (A39) on St. Mawgan Rd Open Easter until end of June

Tel: 01271 342528 | www.marwoodhillgarden.co.uk Marwood Hill Gardens, North Devon EX31 4EA

This 4-acre water and woodland garden lies in a former tidal creek. The mature trees and shrubs are underplanted with extensive herbaceous borders whilst the large natural pond offers the wildlife an alternative breeding ground to the 14-acres of marshland adjoining. There are plants for sale, teas etc available and access is easy for disabled visitors. Dogs welcome. OPEN: Sunday to Wednesday incl 1000-1800, April 1st to September 30th. Marsh Villa Gardens, St Andrews Road, PAR, Cornwal PL24 2LUl. Tel: 01726 815920 See marshvillagardens.co.uk

Great prices for gardening clubs call now

Chris Beardshaw 29 May at 3pm Come and meet Chris, enjoy a talk and get your books signed Great Torrington, Devon, EX38 8PH, 01805 626810 Tickets from £12.50 book online at rhs.org.uk/rosemoor Thank you for supporting our charitable work RHS Reg Charity No. 222879 / SC038262 4

Country Gardener


...In Cornwall

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A LOOK AT NEWS, EVENTS AND HAPPENINGS IN CORNWALL

Trees which will add value to your property Gardens in Cornwall have been singled out for a list of the most valuable trees the public could have in their garden, along with how much it would cost to replace them. The list includes ten trees that could boost the value of your garden by up to Chinese Magnolia £8,500, including olives, magnolias and the most valuable formally pruned hedges. The list also details some of the trees that have the potential to cause significant property damage. The full list can be found at www.tendercare.co.uk/blog/19/are-yousitting-on-a-garden-goldmine FIVE OF THE MOST VALUABLE TREES ARE: Chinese Magnolia (5m x 7m) - £8,500 Evergreen Yew, Oak or Portuguese Laurel topiary (2.5m) - £1,900 Flowering Cherries – multi-stem (5 - 6m) £1800 Cut leaved Japanese Maple (3 - 3.5m) - £1,500 Evergreen Magnolia Grandiflora (5 - 5.5m) - £1,500 TREES THAT COULD CAUSE DAMAGE TO YOUR HOUSE ARE: Large pine trees Weeping willows Lawson Cypress The full list includes information about how to identify the trees in your garden and details of the prices they can command to replace them. Japanese maples in particular are known to thrive in the British climate when properly looked after and are a favourite with gardeners. It is not uncommon to find five or more in a single garden. Research has shown that a well-maintained garden can add up to 20% to your property value, which equates to more than £60,000 based on the current average UK house price.

COUNTRY GARDENER DISCOUNT ON NGS HANDBOOK Every spring the new National Garden Scheme Garden Visitor’s Handbook, the bible for garden visitors, comes out and Country Gardener readers can take advantage of a special reader offer. The handbook lists the 3,500 gardens that open for the National Garden Scheme throughout England and Wales and is indispensable for garden visitors, containing all the information you need for a great day out. There are many new gardens opening all over the country, old favourites, and many open several times a year. The National Garden Scheme was launched in 1927 and is an important source of income for nursing and health charities including Macmillan, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, Carers Trust and the Queen’s Nursing Institute. Over the years the National Garden Scheme has donated £58 million, and in 2018 garden openings generated £3 million in donations. If you visit the National Garden Scheme online shop and apply the special discount code you will receive a reduction of £3 on the recommended retail price. The discount code for 2019 is CG19 bringing the price of the handbook down to £10.99 when it is bought from the National Garden Scheme website: www.ngs.org.uk/shop/

Strong pull for gardeners at Royal Cornwall Show There’s a strong gardening theme to the high profile Royal Cornwall Show which is in its 226th year. Around 120,000 visitors attend the event held this year from Tuesday, 4th June to Thursday 6th June This has been Cornwall’s showcase event since it was first held back in 1793 and as you’d expect from a county show, a fascinating glimpse into rural life in the county. Apart from the livestock judging, there is the famous flower tent decked out with wonderful displays from individuals and local nurseries. There will also be some 1,000 trade stands covering a huge range of products and services to buy. They include everything from quality clothing and unique crafts to new cars and combine harvesters. The show is held at the Royal Cornwall Events Centre in Whitecross, Wadebridge. Gates open for ticket holders at 7am and the show opens to the public at 8.30am daily. Trade stands and exhibits close from 6.30pm. www.royalcornwallshow.org www.countrygardener.co.uk

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GARDENERS’ CUTTINGS IN CORNWALL

Gardens open for MS Centre scheme Private and public gardens across Cornwall will be opening their gates to raise funds for the Merlin MS Centre Open Garden Scheme which offers horticultural lovers the chance to enjoy the many tranquil and beautiful gardens the county has to Pinetum Gardens in St Austell offer. Among this year’s gardens is Pinetum Gardens in St Austell, a 30-acre garden with 6,000 varieties of plants and 12 unique garden styles. The gardens are offering a reduced entry price of £7.50 on Saturday ,27th and Sunday, 28th April to anyone who books online in aid of the charity. Tickets can be purchased at www.crbo.co.uk/merlin. Other gardens taking part in this year’s scheme are: Sculpture Garden, Helston; May – May Tree Gardens, St Austell; Lanlivery Garden Trail, Lanlivery; Trenarth Gardens, Constantine and Pencarey Gardens, St Teath. Full details included dates, times and entry prices can be found by contacting Lucy on 01726 885530 or emailing lucy@merlinmscentre.org.uk. Lucy Chappell, community fundraiser for the charity, said: “We are delighted to have had such a wonderful selection of gardens for visitors to enjoy. We would love to have some more gardens to participate so if anyone would like to join us please get in touch soon.” All funds raised by the gardens will go to support the Merlin MS Centre.

Spring colours to the fore at St Michael’s Mount garden From Monday 27th May to Friday 31st May there’s the chance to enjoy the colours that spring brings to St Michael’s Mount’s unique garden at Marazion. The garden lawn will become a hub of crafty activity as visitors take inspiration from the colours and patterns of the plants and flowers in the garden. Visitors can create giant floor mandalas using collections of beautiful natural materials such as pine cones, stones, shells, leaves and sticks. Discover the colours in the spring leaves and use them to make original leaf prints on your garden flag, using the ancient Japanese art of Hapa Zome and create your own mini-mandala inspired by the patterns that you can find in the garden. Draw your patterns on a small wood disc to take home with you. 11am to 4pm every day. Free with admission. St Michael’s Mount Marazion, Cornwall TR17 0EF.

GROW YOUR OWN COURSES TO OFFSET BREXIT FEARS A Cornish company is teaching people how to grow their own vegetables following fears supermarket supplies could run low after Brexit. The Real Food Garden, a vegetable-growing company based near Wadebridge, is hosting workshops for people to brush up on their gardening skills and “prepare for the uncertainties of Brexit” over the coming year. The Real Food Garden says it has ‘the antidote for this’ and is offering a course to help people grow their own supply of organic vegetables throughout the year, at a cost of £110. A half day costs £40. There will be three workshops, where people will be able to learn what they need to know to start their own vegetable plot. Head gardener Amelia Lake said: “There’s no reason why most people can’t grow their own crops like flavoursome carrots, aubergines, heritage tomatoes, and delicious salad leaves. “Home grown produce is so much tastier and nutritious than what is on offer in the shops, and with Brexit on the horizon, supplies of fresh vegetables are already becoming unpredictable and more expensive. By learning to grow your own produce, you’ll have an abundance of fresh, quality veg all year round.” 6

Country Gardener


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Peas, perfect

PEAS

The best peas are always homegrown and remain a garden favourite and delicious crop - happily, there’s plenty of time to get started Peas are one of our oldest and best-loved garden crops -and have been for hundreds of years. It is said the Romans brought them from Europe and they are now part of our culture. Growing them is straightforward, but requires some forethought and, even if you’ve not sown any yet, there’s plenty of time to do so. Peas can be sown anytime until the end of June and picked into early autumn. Peas need light for germination and growth, so give seedlings a sunny windowsill, greenhouse or polytunnel to develop. Like most legumes, peas establish a long root run to drive them through productivity, so you can start them off in root trainers – long modules that open in half – or cardboard toilet roll inners. Fill them with a good seed compost, water lightly to settle the compost down and top up. Push seeds and inch in and cover with a little more compost. It’s always an idea to sow a few too many, as insurance against birds or slugs. Water lightly and frequently. Plant them out when the roots are just starting to poke out of the bottom and the seedlings are four to six inches tall. Now that the soil is warming, sowing direct is possible – push seeds into prepared soil at the spacing for your varieties. Pick a warm, dry day for it as peas hate cold, wet soil. Peas do well on most moisture-retentive, well-drained soils, although strongly acidic conditions don’t suit them. A sunny, airy spot is ideal and adding organic matter helps maximise the crop, but avoid adding manure as the rush of nutrients will give you plenty of green growth at the expense of pods. Sowing to harvest time is around nine to ten weeks for most varieties.

Supporting peas Short varieties can grow with little or no help – a few spindly twigs will be fine – but tall varieties need more assistance. Hazel sticks are traditional but any branches or structures that allow the tendrils to grip and climb will work well. Tepees or triangular corridors of canes are commonplace, but there’s also the classic way of tying pairs of canes in the centre to create a row of ‘Xs’. This keeps pods out in the light and air, minimising the likelihood of disease – but, more importantly, they’ll be easy to see and pick. 8

This can have a big effect on your harvest – pick them while they’re still young and succulent and the plant will send out more to replace them. Other than good ground, peas like water. In hot, dry weather they struggle. In the ground, concentrate on watering when the peas come into flower and pod. In containers, water whenever the soil has dried out. Peas are tough plants, but the best pods have been well watered. Pigeons love peas and will destroy them at first light, so cover with netting. Pea weevil is another bother. The weevil eats tiny semi-circles into the edges of the pea shoots in spring; discard any dried pea seeds with holes in them. Mostly the plants adapt, but if the weather is cold and dry they will struggle.

What varieties to grow Take time when choosing varieties. • ‘Hurst Green Shaft’ and ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ –have incredible flavour and are equally reliable. • For those with a windy site, try ‘Kelvedon Wonder’, as it grows to only a metre or so in height. • If you have limited space, ‘Alderman’ is ideal: it’s a fantastic heritage variety– getting up to six feet in height while taking up little space on the ground. • The old-fashioned ‘Telephone’ grow up to 9ft and productive, sweet and non-starchy. • ‘Rosakrone’, is a new variety with pink and white flowers. • Choose dwarf varieties such as ‘Tom Thumb’, ‘Oskar’ (very early), or ‘Charmette’ (petit pois type) if your pots are somewhere windy.

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HO TBEDS: TURNING UP THE HEAT

by Elizabeth McCorquodale

and were most bringing on delicate plants in cold weather Hotbeds have a great gardening tradition in and radishes. crops like melons, cucumbers, strawberries, commonly used by Victorian gardeners to force Manure-fuelled hotbeds have been around since the Egyptians - who used them to incubate eggs as well as to grow plants, and they have never really gone out of fashion. Mad Roman emperor Tiberius grew cucumbers in wheeled hotbeds. The Moors of Southern Europe raised seedlings in small boxes filled with donkey manure and by the Dark Ages the practice had spread to the monastery gardens of England. The heyday of hotbeds really began, though, in the 18th century with the need to cosset the precious new seeds and cuttings that came flooding in from the New World, and culminated in the Victorian era, Manure burns out in a couple of weeks but if you mix in an equal amount of when whole sections of walled straw the release of the stored energy kitchen gardens were set aside will last much longer for hotbeds tended by armies of gardeners dedicated to supplying out of season vegetables for the kitchen of the big house. Today the go-to source for heating soil is electricity, but for anyone with a ready supply of horse manure the dry concentrated heat of electrically heated hotbeds is a poor second to good old muck. 10

Country Gardener

Properly made, a manure powered hotbed will supply free, consistent warmth for two months and then provide a rich, moist bed for cucumbers, courgettes, squash or melons for the remainder of the summer. For starting seedlings off in spring, for striking cuttings and for furnishing a warm bed for tender plants, a hotbed is the perfect, ecological solution. The basic design of any hotbed is a shallow lidded growing frame placed on top of a fermenting pile of straw and fresh manure. As anybody who has ever turned a compost heap knows, fermenting waste generates heat. Manure is a storehouse of heat energy; but the trick isn’t just in the generation of heat but in maintaining a steady supply over a long period; anybody can build a hotbed; the trick is knowing how to keep it cooking. Manure on its own will burn out in a couple of weeks but if you mix in an equal amount of straw the release of the stored energy will last for a good two months. The heap can be built above or below ground in a sheltered spot in the garden or inside your greenhouse and it can be either free-standing or contained in a frame or box. If you were to choose a free-standing heap it is a good idea to cover the sloping edges with


matting or upturned grass turves to help retain moisture within the heap and to keep the edges from eroding. On top of the heap sits a grow frame with a sloping, hinged lid. The simplest lid is made from old windows but a more practical though less picturesque solution are transparent polycarbonate roofing sheets set into a light-weight frame. It takes a little preparation to get the heap ready. To begin with mix together an equal quantity of old straw and fresh horse manure - the fresher the better - incorporating as much air into the mix as you can. Sprinkle the mix with water and fork it into a neat pile and leave it for three days to begin fermentation. On the third day, turn the heap, again incorporating as much air as possible and if it is dry, sprinkle it with water. To achieve an even heat it is important that the straw and manure is evenly mixed and any clumps are removed. Leave the pile to cook for another three days and on the sixth day turn the heap again and leave it for a further three days. On the ninth day, turn and mix it again and then put the fermenting mixture into its final position in a frame or in a neat, free-standing pile. The minimum size for the finished pile should be 60cm high x 60cm wide x 90cm long. As air is a key ingredient in the fermentation process the pile must be firm but shouldn’t be overly compacted. Once the base has been filled (or the freestanding pile has been fashioned) leave it to heat up for 3 or 4 days. At first the temperature will rise sharply but it will then fall and level out to provide a gentle consistent heat. Don’t be tempted to plant your hotbed before this heating and cooling process is complete as the very high temperature will damage the soil and the plants if it is planted too early. Push a stick into the heap and leave it there as a thermostat. The heap is ready to use when you can withdraw the stick and hold it comfortably in your hand. When it is ready sit your growing frame on top of your pile and add 15cm of soil on top of the manure mix. If steam is still rising leave the lid of the growframe open to allow the steam to escape. Wait until all steam has dissipated before planting. Put your plants to bed each night by closing the lid and laying an old curtain or sacking across the glazing to stop all the precious heat from escaping each night. During the day, regulate the temperature in the frame by opening and closing the lid, just as you would a coldframe. Hotbeds are terrific for striking cuttings as the bottom heat is exactly what they need to quickly grow roots and be ready for planting out in a seedbed in late spring to grow on over the summer. Gooseberry, raspberry and other fruit and herb cuttings will appreciate the addition of sharp sand mixed into the soil layer to increase drainage.

Many flower and vegetable seeds fancy a bit of warmth to get them going. Cucurbits will appreciate a warm bed, as will tomatoes, peppers and impatiens. Beware though as some cold weather plants such as lettuce, carrots, delphiniums and geraniums will demonstrate very poor germination if planted in soil which is too warm. Summer built outdoor hotbeds can be used to extend the growing season for any quick growing plants that are day-neutral. Baby beets, pak choi, fennel, kohlrabi, dumpy carrots, rocket, turnips, lamb’s lettuce and land cress can all be started in late August, September or even October and will keep on cropping in the heat and protection of a hotbed. Within the extra protection of a polytunnel or large greenhouse, bumper crops of sweet potatoes and melons can be grown in pit hotbeds.

Summer outdoor hotbeds really extend the season

Your hotbed can also be used to grow plants in pots. Rather than planting directly into the soil, it is possible to sink planted pots into the manure mix right up to their rims giving you the advantage of being able to lift plants without disturbing their roots. The exotic, highly esteemed pineapple was grown in this way in Victorian hothouses so that they could be lifted and the manure mix could be revitalised several times over their long growing season. The result of the simple chemistry of straw and manure, mixed and piled into a heap, is a magical addition to the armoury of the adventurous gardener. It offers some small control over the weather at seed planting time and extends the range of vegetables, fruit and even flowers that we are able to grow. It is easy to see why hotbeds have stood the test of time. www.countrygardener.co.uk

11


READER’S STORY

We don’t have a clue

HOW TO PRUNE! John Armitage has learnt to garden as he has gone along. His strongly held view is now that we have a dangerous and destructive addiction to secateurs. I have a full and busy two-acre garden with trees, shrubs, perennials and hedges. I now believe as I look at my garden and those of my friends and neighbours that we prune, cut back, call it what you will, far too much and we are a danger to our gardens with shears and secateurs. Of all gardening skills, pruning seems to be the most badly handled. Millions of gardeners, even experienced ones haven’t a clue how to prune. It’s certainly true of some of my friends and one in particular who the minute he has a tree saw, pair of secateurs or shears in his hands attacks everything in sight with nothing more than a belief that cutting everything back will keep the garden under control irrespective of what the individual plants needs might be. So what happens in his garden? Shrubs are cut back to ugly bobbles which end up with ugly stems and no growth, roses are perfectly cut for vertical growth but fail to produce flowering laterals. His apple and pear trees have been allowed to grow out of shape and are now grotesque specimens producing hardly any fruit. But at least he keeps telling me: ”I’ve got the garden under control”. Take the famous Chelsea chop as another example. My gardening friends can’t wait to get their hands on the shears as soon as the first burst of spring colour comes to an end and I imagine them run hysterically into the garden shouting, ”It’s Chelsea chop time!” And so phloxes, echinaceas and tall sedums get axed in their prime and a tranche of colour disappears from the garden at a time we want it most. Yes, I understand the colour, energy and excesses return stronger in the summer but I am sorry about the sacrificeespecially at this wonderful time of the year. I have never been happy about the process and perhaps this is because I know too many gardeners who go to excess and again overdo it. 12

As for trees, almost everyone underestimates how big they will grow. It only compounds a bad decision to keep hacking the tree down and pruning to reduce its size. If I have learned anything in May time in the garden it is to be sensible. Why should hedges be wider at the bottom than at the top as we are instructed in gardening columns when they do just as well with vertical sides? Well mine appear to anyway. And why should I follow the rules and prune yew in August. I’m sorry but I don’t have the time. I’ll do it in winter when there isn’t a million and one more important things to do. And why should I cut back my wisteria twice a year. In all my years I’ve pruned once in August and sod the January cutback. My wisteria is lovely, thank you. So my rant is based on experience and is a plea for us to be flexible to what each gardener wants, rather than like some of my friends, to follow the rule book and end up with the unnatural, the unshaped, the dying and the ugly. Hack like mad isn’t my approach. I see my secateurs as tools for carefully enhancing beauty but never as a tool to snip away in an attempt to make everything look tidy. I hope my friend reads this. I am sure he will. It isn’t the way nature works.

Country Gardener


ONE DAY wonder

A lot of gardeners are rightly getting excited about a gorgeous plant from the ginger family with its succession of wonderful lily-like flowers in spring They resemble orchids with delicate spring flowers. But it’s the fact that Roscoea cautleoides produces a wonderful series of day long flowers that has made them something of a hidden delight for gardeners. These rather exotic-looking plants, loosely allied to the ginger family, look like irises to some and certainly orchids to others. Their appearance seems to suggest a lack of hardiness to gardeners, but these tuberous, rooted plants are hardy if planted deeply. Some Roscoea species and cultivars, including R. cautleyoides, are grown in rock gardens. They generally require a relatively sunny position with moisture-retaining but well-drained soil. As they do not appear above ground until late spring or even early summer, they escape frost damage in regions where subzero temperatures occur. R. cautleyoides has been described as a robust plant that can cope with sunnier conditions and drier soil than other species of Roscoea. In cultivation, the various colour forms were noted as flowering at different times, yellow forms usually flowering before purple ones, which could start flowering as late as June. Roscoeas grow in grassland, on screes, or on the edges of deciduous woodland at moderate heights of 1,200–5,000 metres (4,000–16,000 ft) along the Himalayas and into China. There are up to 17 species in all and eight are found in China. They are prompted into growth at the start of the monsoon season, emerging later than most plants, so they enjoy latespring and early-summer rain but actively resent dry weather and scorching sun. Roscoeas form tuberous roots that resemble small dahlia tubers. These push downwards to form vertical roots in the soil, before dying back in winter to leave a gap. These tubers are very vulnerable if left in a pot during winter, so if you buy

a roscoea do plant it as soon as possible and as deeply as you can. Otherwise you may lose your plant. The stems of roscoeas are formed from tightly wrapped leaves and these can colour up in some cases. A good form of ‘Red Ghurka’ will have red stems and red flowers, for instance. The flowers are unique, having a hooded top ‘petal’ and three lower ‘petals’, looking rather like slipper orchids in shape. They prefer semi-shade but will tolerate a sunny position if plenty of moisture is present during the summer. Avoid deep shade which will draw the plants up, making them floppy, and reduce leaf colour. Roscoea flowers are long-lasting in shadier positions, giving four to six weeks of interest. The flowers of most can shrivel in hot sun, so site them carefully. The top of the crown should be planted four to six inches below the soil level. As the plant settles in, the tubers will go deeper, but if your garden is cold it is best to surface mulch for the first three years to provide extra frost protection. Use bark in the woodland garden, or gravel on a scree, as your mulch. Mark their positions well because they are much later to appear than most plants. Be patient and water the ground well in dry April and May weather to promote growth. Divide large roscoea plants every three-four years in April, before the tubers begin to grow. Other shorter forms, found naturally on screes in the wild, are perfect for the alpine slope in sunnier situations. So you do need to select your varieties and forms. Good winter drainage is essential for both types, but alpine screes and woodland gardens tend to have good drainage. The genus name Roscoea commemorates William Roscoe who lived from 1753 to 1831, a multi skilled Liverpudlian who became a successful lawyer, banker and founder of the Liverpool Botanic Garden. He was a keen botanist and was thrilled when in 1806 after the discovery in Nepal of the first species the new genus was named after him.

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13


SHOOTING for the stars

by Gill Heavens

In the latest part of her series on how different plant parts work in the garden Gill Heavens delves into the miracle of how plants shoot and how stems determine the destiny of shrubs, plants and trees After our seed has thrown its searching and stabilising root into the ground, the plumule emerge and this is destined to become the shoot system. It’s the next part of the growing miracle happening everywhere in your garden. As it pushes up through the soil it remains bent, known as the plumule hook, which protects the delicate growing tip until it bursts through the soil. Unlike the root which is drawn downwards, the shoot is governed by phototropism, meaning it grows towards the light. It is this shoot that becomes the stem and later the branches of a plant. At the tip of the stem is the apical bud and it is here that all the action takes place. Rapid cell division at this point allows the plant to elongate. As the main stem matures it divides into sections, called internodes, and at each intersection auxiliary buds form. These buds can produce branching stems, leaves or flowers. Just like ourselves plants are governed by hormones, although as far as I am aware none of them cause aggression or grumpiness! The hormone auxin is very important in the growth habit of a plant. If the dominant apical bud is removed, known in horticulture as pinching out or stopping, the side shoots are allowed to mature. This creates a bushier plant with more flowering or fruiting stems. This adaption evolved as a back-up plan for when the lead bud is destroyed by grazers. Conversely, if all the side shoots are removed, often done when growing flowers for competition, one especially large bloom is produced. 14

Running up and down the stems are tubular vascular bundles which serve as a nutrient transport system. There are two different tube types. Xylem carries water from the roots, hydrating the whole plant. Phloem distributes food in the form of sugars in solution, gathered from the leaves. The xylem however serves another purpose, it allows plants to grow taller. Soft herbaceous plants are limited in upward growth, eventually collapsing under their own weight. Woody plants have solved this problem by each year growing a new ring of xylem. Over time the previous year’s xylem dies off and is treated with various preserving chemicals produced by the tree, such as lignin, which then becomes sturdy heartwood. This process strengthens the trunk of the tree, allowing them to reach to the skies. An extreme example is the Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, which can reach a jaw dropping 115m in height. These rings of xylem make up the tell-tale rings found in timber, famously used to date trees. This method of dating trees is known as dendrochronology. Careful examination can reveal not only how old a tree is, but also its history. Thicker rings indicate better growing conditions, thinner rings more stress such as drought or disease. Monocots, such as palms and bamboo gain strength in a different manner, using many vascular bundles to add rigidity. It is the heartwood of the tree that has for millennia provided us with the means to improve our lives. Wood has provided us with shelter and transport, fuel and furniture,

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tools and toys. It has given us material to sculpt and create paper on which to paint and to write. Our lives have been substantially improved by our utilisation of this resource. Unfortunately we have often taken this for granted and over exploited our forests and woodlands. In trees the sapwood is contained and protected by bark which is created by the cork cambium. This name makes sense when you consider Quercus suber, the long-lived cork oak, whose bark is used to seal the countless bottles of wine that are produced each year. The oak’s very thick spongy bark, adapted to protect the tree from fire, is carefully harvested and allowed to regrow, a process that can take 10 years. There are many other uses for the bark of trees. It has historically provided us with medicines, such as the willow which was used by the First Nation American peoples for pain relief, the forerunner of aspirin. Bark has been used to cover canoes, to write and draw on, and provides us with fragrant spices such as cinnamon and cassia. What we know as the sap of a tree is in fact the liquid which flows through the xylem and phloem. Over the centuries humanity has harvested these rich liquids, the most delicious of which must be maple syrup. Sap also provides us with the fragrant and festive frankincense and myrrh as well the not quite so exotic, but extremely useful, rubber. One of the best wines I ever tasted was on the Isle of Skye, made from the sap of the birch tree. The most beautiful example must be the honeyed nuggets of amber, fossilised sap from ancient forests, often with insects ensnared within. The stems of plants also provide us with textiles. These have been used over the centuries to clothe us, to create soft furnishings and make sails for our wooden boats. Linen is made by processing the stems of flax, the sky blue Lignum usitatissimum. This is an ancient process adopted by the Egyptians 5,000 years ago, although there is evidence it was used much earlier than this in Syria. There has been a recent surge in the availability of bamboo and hemp clothing, both of which I can recommend. A silk like product is made from soy pulp, a by-product in the production of tofu, although I have yet to sample any. In the ornamental garden, most especially in the winter months, colourful stems brighten the darkest of days. The whitest of white

birches Betula utilis var. jacquemontii, shines in the gloom, along with the russet polished trunk of the Tibetan Cherry, Prunus serrula. Dogwoods and willows in black, yellow, green, red and orange provide a kaleidoscope of colour in the low winter sunshine. Textures add more interest, the sunburnt peeling of the myrtle, the delightfully spongy Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, always warrants a cuddle unlike the spikey Citrus trifoliata which is best admired from afar.

Clockwise from top left: Citrus trifoliata spikey and best not touched; The emergence of a plumule; Linum usitatissimum or flax; Quercus suber the ‘cork oak’

We also eat the stems of plants, such as the decadent asparagus, more homely but to my mind as delicious leek and the swollen sputnik of the vegetable kingdom the kohlrabi. We must not forget the luscious pink stalks of rhubarb in early summer and perhaps more surprising in this category, potatoes, which are in fact stem tubers. The stems and branches of plants provide a habitat for a range of creatures, from the smallest sap sucking red spider mite on your greenhouse peach, to the ethereal barn owl in the hollowed out bole of a mature horse chestnut. An oak tree is said to support 350 different species of insects alone. This fact is even more reason to protect our native flora. No plant or animal is an island! And from the stems and branches unfurl the leaves... www.countrygardener.co.uk

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The Japanese Garden, St Mawgan

GARDEN Visits THE BEST GARDENS TO VISIT NEAR YOU compiled by Heather Rose

We’re introducing a key to facilities on offer at the gardens: Gardens are bursting with colour and garden owners are opening their gates for charity, so here is a selection in the areas we cover to tempt you to enjoy the tranquillity of a beautiful private garden that’s usually not open to the public. We recommend checking before starting out on a journey as circumstances can force cancellations. The National Gardens Scheme website is www.ngs.com

GRAMPOUND

Refreshments available Plants usually for sale Wheelchair access to much of garden Partial wheelchair access

Unsuitable for wheelchairs Dogs on short leads Visitors welcome by arrangement Coaches welcome consult owners

THE JAPANESE GARDEN

Truro, Cornwall, TR2 4RJ More than nine acres of meadow and garden, a natural wildlife haven with several themed areas, kitchen, gravel and woodland gardens, large borders, masses of bulbs, a lake and four ponds plus a waterfall and rill on the terrace, meadow and bluebell wood trail alongside a stream. Open for the NGS on EarlyMay Bank Holiday 6th May, 11am5pm. Admission £5, children free.

St Mawgan, Cornwall, TR8 4ET Discover an oasis of tranquillity in a Japanese-style Cornish garden, set in approximately one acre, with spectacular Japanese maples and azaleas, a symbolic teahouse, koi pond, bamboo grove; stroll the woodland, zen and moss gardens. Young children need careful supervision around water features. Refreshments are available at nearby tearooms. Open for the NGS on Sunday 12th & Monday 13th May, 10am-6pm. Admission £5, children £2.50. For more details contact Natalie Hore & Stuart Ellison on 01637 860116 or email info@japanesegarden.co.uk www.japanesegarden.co.uk

PINSLA GARDEN & NURSERY Cardinham, Cornwall, PL30 4AY A romantic one and a half acre artist’s garden set in tranquil woodland, with a cottage garden planting around an 18th century fairytale cottage; imaginative design, intense colour and scent, bees and butterflies; unusual shade plants, acers and ferns. Open for the NGS on Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th May, 9am-5pm. Admission £3.50, children free. For more details contact Mark & Claire Woodbine on 01208 821339 or email cwoodbine@btinternet.com, www.pinslagarden.net 16

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GARDENS F URTHER AF IELD WORTH A TRIP

BRENDON GARDENS Brendon, Lynton, Devon, EX35 6PU

LEWIS COTTAGE Spreyton, nr Crediton, Devon, EX17 5AA

In a stunning part of Exmoor National Park, a varied group of four gardens open for the NGS on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th May, 12pm-5pm, including an ancient longhouse in two acres with mature gardens, lake and wild area, another high up on the moor overlooking its own idyllic valley, a cottage garden and the garden of an 18th century village house, with £5 admission, children free. For more details call 01598 741343 or email Lalindevon@yahoo.co.uk

The four-acre garden is a wonderful combination of relaxed planting schemes and formal borders, with woodland areas, spring camassia cricket pitch, rose garden, a large natural dew pond, bog garden, hornbeam rondel planted with late flowering narcissi, hot and cool herbaceous borders; a fruit and vegetable garden, picking garden and plant nursery. Open for the NGS on Saturday 25th to Spring Bank Holiday 27th May, 11am-5pm. Admission £4.50, children free. For more details contact Mr & Mrs M Pell on 07773 785939 or email rworton@mac.com, www.lewiscottageplants.co.uk

MOTHECOMBE HOUSE Mothecombe, Holbeton, Plymouth, Devon, PL8 1LA Around a Queen Anne house (not open) set in a private estate hamlet there’s walled pleasure gardens, borders and Lutyens courtyard, orchard with spring bulbs, unusual shrubs and trees, camellia walk, streams, bog garden and pond, and a new walled garden with lavenders and bee friendly plants. Visit the bluebell woods leading to a private beach. Open for the NGS on Sunday 5th May, 2pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details email amildmaywhite@gmail.com, www.flete.co.uk

WESTLEIGH FARM Westleigh, Lydeard St Lawrence, Taunton TA4 3RE Nestled between the Quantocks and Exmoor, Westleigh is a small familyrun farm; the Grade II Georgian farmhouse (not open) forms the backdrop to a pretty two acre garden, with grass terraces and borders bursting with flowering shrubs and perennials. A rill, ponds and a stream attract wildlife to an area that stretches beyond the garden walls to ancient flowering meadows and unspoilt woodland. Opening for St Margaret’s Hospice on Sunday 26th May, 11-5pm. Admission £3. For more details contact Kate and James Murdoch on 01984 667673 or email kate@westleighfarm.co.uk www.countrygardener.co.uk

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GARDENS F URTHER AF IELD WORTH A TRIP

HILLCREST

LANE END HOUSE

Curload, Stoke St Gregory, Taunton, Curload, Stoke St. Gregory, Somerset, TA3 6JA Taunton, Somerset, TA3 6JA A mature Somerset Levels garden set on heavy clay with mixed borders, orchard, vegetable patch, greenhouses and free-range chickens. Recently a half acre field has been added into the garden, with mature trees and shrubs, newly planted specimen trees, a pond and wildflower areas. Sculptures enhance the one acre plot. Open for the NGS on Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th May, 1pm-5pm. Combined admission to both gardens £6, children free.

This five-acre garden has stunning views of the Somerset Levels, Burrow Mump and Glastonbury Tor, woodland walks, varied borders, flowering meadow and several ponds; also kitchen garden, greenhouses, orchards and a unique standing stone as a focal point. Open for the NGS on Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th May, 1pm-5pm. For more details contact Charles & Charlotte Sundquist on 01823 490852 or email chazfix@gmail.com Admission also includes entry to this garden in the area:

2 PYES PLOT St. James Road, Netherbury, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 5LP A small but perfectly formed front and back courtyard garden, with contrasting walls and paintwork making a striking framework for softer planting, climbing plants, foliage and running water feature enhance the tranquil feel to this space. Home-made teas at Slape Manor. Open for the NGS on Sunday 19th May, 2pm-5pm. Admission £3, children free. For more details contact Annette & Richard Lockwood on 01258 841405 or email richardglockwood@yahoo.co.uk.

STADDLESTONES 14 Witchampton Mill, Witchampton, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 5DE A beautiful setting for a cottage garden with colour themed borders, pleached limes and hidden gems; a chalk stream leads to a shady area with unusual plants including hardy orchids and arisaemas. Plenty of areas just to sit and enjoy the wildlife. Open for the NGS on Sunday 26th & Spring Bank Holiday 27th May, 2pm-5pm. Admission £4.50, children free. For more details contact Annette & Richard Lockwood on 01258 841405 or email richardglockwood@yahoo.co.uk 18

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HOW PARK BARN Kings Somborne, Stockbridge, Hampshire, SO20 6QG A two-acre country garden in an elevated position with uninterrupted panoramic views over the Test Valley, set within 12 acres of chalk grassland, with large borders of naturalistic planting and shrubs, sweeping lawns; a tranquil setting by a 17th century listed barn (not open). Open for the NGS on Thursday 16th & Sunday 19th May, 2pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free.

SCULPTURE BY THE LAKES Pallington Lakes, Pallington, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8QU A recently created modern garden with inspiration taken from all over the world, a modern arcadia following the traditions of the landscape movement for the 21st century. Where sculpture has been placed, the planting palette is simple, but dramatic, so that the work remains the star. Vegetable garden supplying the onsite Gallery Café. Open for the NGS on Wednesday 15th May, 10am-5pm. Admission £7.50. For more details contact Mrs Monique Gudgeon on 07720 637808 or email sbtl@me.com, www.sculpturebythelakes.co.uk

CROOKLEY POOL Blendworth Lane, Horndean, Hampshire, PO8 0AB A three-acre, partly walled, garden in the same family for three generations; a wisteria that’s about a century old covers the walls and terraces, interesting and unusual perennials, shrubs and trees, including salvias, and tender exotics from the greenhouse. Bantams stroll throughout. Open for the NGS on Sunday 19th May, 2pm-5pm. Admission £4, children free. For more details contact Mr & Mrs Simon Privett on 02392 592662 or email jennyprivett@icloud.com

BISTERNE MANOR Bisterne, Ringwood, Hampshire, BH24 3BN Glorious rhododendrons and azaleas form a backdrop for the 19th century garden, first opened in the 1930s. The 16th century manor house (not open) overlooks a grand parterre with urns, box and yew hedges, rare tree specimens grace fine lawns and wild flower planting, leading to a boundary woodland walk with glimpses of surrounding pastures; small kitchen garden. Open for the NGS on Thursday 23rd & Thursday 30th May, 2pm5pm. Admission £5, children free. www.countrygardener.co.uk

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Thinking big! To grow really big pumpkins, the most important thing to remember are seeds, soil, sunshine, water- and some luck thrown in with it. The fun thing about pumpkins is that they can reach gigantic sizes and that means they are a lot of fun to grow. To grow a real whopper of course, you will need to start with the right kind of pumpkin seed, one that has been selected to produce really big pumpkins. Using the right growing methods, you can grow pumpkins in the 300 pounds range. If you ask 10 competitive pumpkin growers how to grow a giant pumpkin, you’re likely to get 10 different answers. It seems everyone has his or her own way of coaxing the most weight out of these giants. But there is a thread of consistency that runs throughout all the instructions, and adhering to three basic tips will get you well on the way to a prize winner. Above all else, you need good seed, good soil and good luck. If you want to grow a world-record pumpkin, you can forget about every variety of pumpkin except Howard Dill’s patented Cucurbita maxima ‘Atlantic Giant’, the supersized variant of the giant squash, the result of careful selection by dedicated enthusiasts for over 100 years Since 1979, no other pumpkin variety has been a world champion. Pumpkins are large consumers of all the major plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), as well as many minor nutrients like calcium and magnesium and other trace elements. The key for big growth is soil that has plenty of organic matter incorporated into it. In. Cow and horse manures are best. Use chicken manure sparingly and only in the autumn. The seedlings are set out into rich, fertile soil only when the nights have warmed into temperatures above 50 degrees F as any setbacks to growth will lower your chances. With attention to water and pests, the vines hit their stride and by midsummer you can practically hear them growing. Getting a pumpkin set as early as possible, preferably before July is key. The earlier you set a pumpkin, the longer it has to grow until harvest.

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To grow a really big pumpkin, when two or three fruits on each plant have reached the size of softballs, remove all but the most promising fruit and start to prune the pumpkin vine. After the primary vine has reached 20 feet, pinch off the tips and the side shoots so the vines do not divert resources from the fruit. Break off all the other female flowers and a potential prizewinner will be in the making. All the plant’s energy must be channelled entirely into this fruit alone. It is important to remember that all the nutrients needed to increase the size of the fruit come from the vine, and the vine must in turn get enough support from the root system Pumpkins like and need a lot of water, but don’t plant pumpkins in wet or dense soil. They need good, well-drained soil. You can dig the soil by hand. Prepare the ground in early spring, as soon as the ground is warm. Fertilise the patch with a good four inches of manure. Pumpkins will do best in soil that is near neutral or slightly acidic. During the growing season, most fertility needs of pumpkins can be met by applying water-soluble plant foods once or twice a week over the entire plant area. Give seedlings a fertiliser that stresses phosphorus in the ingredients But too much high strength fertiliser can cause the pumpkins to start growing too fast and they will literally tear themselves from the vine and explode. By mid-August the plants are pulling in water and nutrients at a great rate. Night-time is when pumpkins do their growing; some will expand five inches in circumference every night.

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May gardening

ADVICE

ADV ICE

Spring brings with it more and more queries from Country Gardener readers on a whole variety of gardening problems

I love my colourful fuchsia plants and would like to take cuttings and give to friends. How do I go about it?

Fuchsias are easy to take cuttings from

Propagating fuchsias from cuttings is very easy, as they root rather quickly. Cuttings can be taken anytime from spring through to autumn, with spring the ideal time. Cut or pinch out a young growing tip, about two to four in length, just above the second or third pair of leaves. Remove any bottom leaves and you can apply rooting hormone. You then insert three or four cuttings in a small pot or numerous cuttings in a planting tray. It may help to make a hole in the growing medium with your finger or a pencil beforehand for easier insertion of the cuttings. Place the cuttings in a warm location, such as a windowsill or greenhouse. Within three to four weeks the cuttings should begin establishing good roots. When they have started growing well, the rooted cuttings can be removed and repotted as needed. In addition to placing cuttings in soil or other you can also root them in a glass of water. Once the cuttings produce some well-established roots, they can be repotted in soil. You can continue growing fuchsia plants using the same conditions and care as the original plant.

Last autumn so much of my apples and pears were split which cut the amount of fruit I could harvest by about a third. What am I doing wrong? Fruit splitting can really damage a fruit harvest and while the splits are often not very deep, they cause wounds that allow diseases and pests to attack otherwise healthy (and tasty) fruit. Fruit split is a condition caused by an irregular supply of water. The splits usually occur when rain follows a protracted dry spell and the sudden availability of moisture causes the fruit to swell too quickly. The remedy is easier said than done as it is simply to ensure your fruit trees have a steady supply of water. Given varying weather conditions this is not as straightforward as might appear and of course, hosepipe bans can spoil the best-laid plans. The real solution begins when you plant fruit trees, when it is important to incorporate plenty of well-rotted organic matter in the planting mix. Good compost helps the soil retain moisture and so increases its ability to release water to plant roots in dry spells. Thereafter, you can continue to

Split fruit - the solution is steady and regular watering

improve those moisture retaining properties by mulching. Ideally you should use more well rotted manure or garden compost, but failing that fresh grass clippings laid two inches (5cms) deep will help retain moisture and will eventually rot down and improve the soil. Apply this mulch in the spring, when the soil is wet.

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Dealing wit h my tree stumps Epsom salts - a more natural way of

removing stumps

Over the years I have had to cut down half a dozen trees in my garden and I am now left with a collection of fairly unsightly tree stumps. What is the best and cheapest way to get rid of them?

When trees are felled or fall, their stumps should be removed to prevent suckering and fungal root rots especially honey fungus which can attack nearby trees. Although often large and heavy, stumps can be removed with the right equipment and techniques, or removed by weedkiller or preferably some natural options. Machines known as stump grinders will mechanically grind out the main root plate, leaving fine sawdust. Although stump grinders can be hired, they are potentially hazardous and are only for gardeners confident that they can use machinery safely and the better option is to get in a tree surgeon. Some roots using this option will inevitably be left in the ground but the majority should eventually rot down. Epsom salts do magic in the garden. It contains magnesium and sulphur that helps the plants in growing but if used in higher quantities it can be a killer. Drill a few holes on sides and top of the trunk, holes should be about 10 inches deep. Fill these holes with 100 per-cent Epsom salts mixed with water, cover the trunk and leave it. It will die in two to three months. Digging is another option you can consider, although it is difficult if stump you are about to remove has deep roots. If all else fails why not use the tree stump as an asset and grow plants on it and around it so it becomes become a focal point of your garden.

CAN YOU HELP WITH MY UNDERSTANDING OF PEONY GROUPS? I’VE BECOME FASCINATED WITH PEONIES RECENTLY AND I’D LIKE TO GET MORE OF THEM IN MY GARDEN BUT THERE SEEMS TO BE A WIDE VARIETY OF SPECIES AND I AM NOT SURE WHICH WOULD BE BEST FOR MY GARDEN? Peonies are a beautiful and colourful group of plants from Asia, southern Europe and North America. You are right it can be confusing to distinguish between the groups and many boundaries between them are unclear but generally there are three groups.

Herbaceous peonies

Tree peonies - showy and stylish

Most peonies are herbaceous perennials growing from a crown at soil level each year. Many named cultivars are selected from China’s Paeonia lactiflora and usually white or pink flowered. The colour range has been extended into red varieties by crossing P.lactiflora with other specials. This group is very popular and most likely the ones you will come across in your garden centre.

Tree peonies There are some eight shrubby species of peonies, not true trees but sparsely branched shrubs. Some have fairly discreet yellow or red flowers and can be raised from seed 22

which may take several years to germinate. There are many other cultivars in a range of colours and very showy plants and a lovely option in the garden.

Intersectional or Itoh hybrids Hybrids between herbaceous and tree peonies are also called Itoh peonies based on Toichi Itoh, the Japanese nurseryman who first made the difficult crosses in the 1940’s. Their flowers are like the tree peonies but plants die back in the autumn like herbaceous peonies. They have many more options in terms of flower colour but can be pricey.

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SUMMER AND THE BATTLE AGAINST SLUGS My hostas and dahlias are just showing signs of coming to life but I fear for them as last summer the damage to them from slugs was awful and very dispiriting and the summer is already looking like a battle with the slugs for me. I don’t want to use chemicals by the way. The first thing to say is that slugs are so abundant in gardens that some damage has to be tolerated. They cannot be eradicated so targeting control measures to protect particularly vulnerable plants, such as seedlings and soft young shoots on herbaceous plants will give the best results.

Slugs - natural options are becoming more popular

A biological control (‘Nemaslug’) specific to molluscs, with no adverse effect on other types of animal, is available in the form of a microscopic nematode or eelworm that is watered into the soil. The nematodes (Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita) enter slugs’ bodies and infect them with bacteria that cause a fatal disease. There are a few natural options. Torchlight searches on mild evenings, especially when the weather is damp; handpicking slugs into a container. They can then be taken to a field, hedgerow or patch of waste ground well away from gardens. Traps, such as scooped out half orange, grapefruit or melon skins, can be laid cut side down, or jars part-filled with beer and sunk into the soil near vulnerable plants.. Barriers, thought to repel slugs, include rough or sharp textured mulches and substances thought to be distasteful or strong smelling. A recent RHS study however, found no reduction in slug damage from barriers made of copper tape, bark mulch, eggshells, sharp grit or wool pellets.

You can harvest some crops in about 25 to 30 days

I have a new greenhouse in the garden of the house we bought in the winter. What are the fastest growing vegetables I can grow to make the most of this growing season? The list of fastest growing vegetables is quite a long one and it is reasonable to expect that are some things which you should be able to harvest in about four weeks. Radishes are the top of the fast growing table and super simple to grow. Sow seeds in good quality soil and you will have seedings after about three days and the first harvest between 25 and 30 days. Baby carrots taste delicious, are a great snack, are great to cook with, and don’t take as long as fullsized carrots because they don’t have to grow to be as large. So if you enjoy carrots and want them quickly, then pick the baby carrot variety. Then you’ll just plant them in the ground, or in a container and the growth will be rapid. Either way, be sure to directly sow the seeds in quality soil and you should be able to pick small rooted carrots after 30 days. Spinach is another fast growing vegetable which although it needs plenty of care and watering will produce green leaves ready for salads in about four weeks. Lettuce grows quickly and don’t forget that in a greenhouse you can produce cucumbers between six and eight weeks.

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Out and about Longer and hopefully warmer days, two Bank Holidays and the month when many gardens are at their very best - May is the month to enjoy days out Most gardeners would probably choose May as their favourite month of the year. It’s the month when everything puts on a real growth spurt and gardens are in full swing and traditionally looking their most colourful and dramatic. The new season brings a freshness with it and it is busiest time of year when there’s a wonderful selection of choice of venues to visit ranging from National Trust properties, private gardens, stately homes, NGS special garden openings events, plant fairs, shows, places to stay and holidays in the UK and abroad. It’s a great time to enjoy a passion in gardens and gardening. We’ve just a few suggestions which we know you’ll enjoy.

Bishop’s Palace, Wells never more beautiful The stunning 14 acres at Bishop’s Palace Gardens in Wells reaches one of its peaks of colour over the next few weeks. The Somerset RHS partner garden still has its sensational display of tulips and there’s also the beautiful well pools from which the city takes its name. The gardens are stunning and tranquil in May with many herbaceous borders, roses in the parterre, with views from the ramparts and the contemporary Garden of Reflection, arboretum and quiet garden. The next big date in the palace’s calendar is June 14th when the annual three-day country garden festival begins – the fifth time the event has been staged in the grounds. The daily tours of the gardens now run throughout the season at 11am and 2pm there’s a daily palace and chapel tour and at 12 noon and 3pm a guided tour of the gardens. Entry is free every Friday to RHS members with starred cards. The daily tours are included in the admission. Adults £8.05p seniors £7.15 Bishops Palace, Off Market Place, Wells BA5 2PD 24

in May

CASTLE HILL GARDENS SHOW DEVON AT ITS VERY BEST

It is the best time of the year to see the gardens at Castle Hill, three miles north west of South Molton in North Devon which will be stunning throughout May particularly. The longest camellia hedge in Devon (var. Adolphe Audusson) over 100 yards in length will be full bloom and looking astonishing. Throughout the gardens the camellias, magnolias and azaleas are in flower. The rhododendrons will be showing their colour and blossom is out on a variety of trees. The views from everywhere in the gardens are amongst the best in the county and worth a day out. The tea room is now open for the summer. Castle Hill, Filleigh, Barnstaple EX32 0RQ

40 gardens open in a stunning Cotswold setting Over 40 open gardens, open over two days in June and started 30 years ago makes Chalford and France Lynch Garden Trail one of the biggest and oldest events of its type in the country. Gardens and cottages at Chalford, near Stroud in Gloucestershire tumble down the hillside into the county’s ‘Golden Valley’. There are hill-top gardens, tiered and terraced hillside gardens and sheltered gardens in the valley which offer a wide range of gardening situations. Old cottages, roses round the door, beside elegant country houses. Gardens are small and large, mature, developing and newly-created. There are home-baked teas, an award winning café, plant stalls, school summer fair and an art gallery. Chalford and France Lynch Open Gardens Trail Chalford, near Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 8NW Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd June 2019, 12noon to 6pm

Late spring delights at Lukesland Gardens Lukesland Gardens, in a hidden valley just north of Ivybridge in Devon, offers delights in late spring. Brilliant banks of deciduous azaleas and wisterias fill the air with exotic perfumes. Petal fall from rhododenrons makes a carpet of colour on winding paths. Wild blue bells and campions abound by the Dartmoor stream and the ‘hankies’ on the popular ‘Davidia’ trees are a picture. For children there is a letterbox trail (with prizes!). Dogs welcome on a lead. New for this year is an attractive kitchen and servery extension and a self-guided walk of some of Lukesland’s most special trees. Open Sundays, Wednesdays and Bank Holidays from 11am to 5pm till 16th June. For details go to www.lukesland.co.uk or call 01752 691749 Lukesland House, Ivybridge PL21 0JF

Country Gardener


Chalford and France Lynch

Barnsley Village

Open Gardens Trail Stunning Cotswold hillside setting 40 gardens, large and small, old and new

Garden Festival Saturday 18th May 2019 from 10.30am

SATURDAY 1ST & SUNDAY 2ND JUNE 12.00 - 6.00 Home baked teas & plant stall GL6 8FS www.chalford-glos.gov.uk FB.me/chalfordfrancelynchgardentrail

Castle Hill Gardens

FILLEIGH, NR SOUTH MOLTON, DEVON EX32 0RG Tel: 01598 760336 www.castlehilldevon.co.uk Explore 50 acres of stunning landscape on pathways leading to follies, statues and temples. River walk and panoramic views from the Castle. Dogs on leads welcome. Tearoom offering light lunches and delicious homemade cakes. Open daily except Saturdays Adults £7.50, Seniors £7, Child (5-15) £3.50, Family £17.50, Groups (20+) £6.50

£7

r (free fo ) ’s 4 1 u

Open Gardens include: BARNSLEY HOUSE, BARNSLEY PARK & HERBS FOR HEALING GARDEN

With music, morris dancing, barbecue, craft & local produce stalls, & our lovely village hall teas!

www.barnsleyvillage.co.uk

n ay y pe id a O y Fr d M er 3r ev om fr

May Fairs 19th May

Winterbourne House & Garden, Birmingham B15 2RT

26th May

HOUSE, GARDENS & TEAROOM Open every Friday 2pm - 5.30pm until 27th September Also late May & August Bank Holiday weekend - Saturday, Sunday & Monday

Kingston Bagpuize House, Oxfordshire OX13 5AX

HOUSE & GARDENS: adult £8, child £3 (last guided tour 4pm) GARDENS: adult £4, child £1, season ticket £12pp Member of Historic Houses

CADHAY, OTTERY ST. MARY, DEVON, EX11 1QT 01404 813511 www.cadhay.org.uk

www.rareplantfair.co.uk Please visit our website for full details of admission fees and times of opening.

Whatley Manor Garden Tours

The perfect way to explore our beautiful gardens, a tour led by Head Gardener, Andy Spreadbury. Andy will guide you round the 12 acres of our English country gardens which have 26 individual areas including our beautiful Rose garden. As you walk through the gardens Andy will talk you through the inspirations and secrets behind these picture perfect displays.

LUNCH EVENT DATES:

AFTERNOON TEA DATES:

Tuesdays 18th & 25th June, 9th, 23rd & 30th July

Tuesdays 11th June, 2nd & 16th July

Arrive 10am, tour at 10.30am and lunch at 12.30pm £49.50 includes tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival, the garden tour and a two-course lunch with a glass of house wine followed by coffee.

Arrive at 12 noon, tour at 12.30pm and afternoon tea at 2.30pm £49.50 includes tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival, the garden tour and afternoon tea.

Contact us to book – call on 01666 822 888 or email events@whatleymanor.com Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa Easton Grey Malmesbury Wiltshire SN16 0RB Web whatleymanor.com @Whatley_Manor

www.countrygardener.co.uk

25


GREAT P LACES T O V IST: MAY

May Rare Plant Fairs in Abingdon and Birmingham

History never far away at NT Overbeck’s

One of the joys of visiting Rare Plant Fairs, now in their 25th season, is that every event is set in a unique garden, with garden entry included in the admission price. The two May fairs are no exception. On Sunday, May 19th a fair returns to Winterbourne House and Garden in Birmingham. The botanical garden is Grade II listed and contains collections of plants from China, North and South America. The fair opens from 10:30am until 4pm. The largest fair of the season, with over 30 exhibitors, is at Kingston Bagpuize House, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, on Sunday, May 26th. A proportion of the proceeds will be donated to SeeSaw, a local charity supplying grief support for the young in Oxfordshire, and to the Abingdon branch of Riding for the Disabled. The fair is open from 11am to 4pm. Visit www.rareplantfair.co.uk for full details, including admission charges and a list of the exhibitors.

Gardens have long been a place of sanctuary. It’s been 100 years since the spectacular coastal gardens overlooking Salcombe at Overbeck’s, or ‘Sharpitor’ as it was then known, closed its doors as a Red Cross Convalescence Home. Over 1000 soldiers passed through the doors during the First World War, a temporary home for those well enough to be discharged from hospital but not fit enough for combat. The garden played an important role in recuperation, some enjoyed gardening, others used it to relax and find inspiration for poetry, drawing or painting. Their messages captured in the visitor’s book provide a poignant remainder of enjoying ‘a small slice of paradise’ before many headed back to the frontline. 2019 also marks the centenary for the charity Combat Stress, which provides support for veterans with mental health problems. Despite the passage of time, gardens still provide an important role for the wellbeing of many, so the National Trust and Combat Stress are working together to help present day veterans at Overbeck’s, find out more by visiting www.nationaltrust.org.uk/overbecks NT Overbecks ,Sharpitor, Froude Rd, Salcombe TQ8 8LW

NEW SEASON ATTRACTIONS AT CADHAY Cadhay gardens in Ottery St Mary are open on Friday afternoons in May. It has again been a busy winter in the Devon gardens with the construction of a new garden beyond the ponds. The gardens have had a challenge with the construction of some fabulous Lutyens style steps leading down from the bridge between the ponds. Visitors will now be drawn through the borders over the bridge and down the steps into the new garden with a view beyond into parkland. The gardens were again put to bed very well at the end of last year which will ensure a great start to the new season in these popular gardens. The gardens open at 2pm. For more details see www.cadhay.org.uk Cadhay, Ottery St Mary EX11 1QT

‘Garden room’ delights at Whatley Manor

Free entry to Buckfast Abbey Garden Fayre

Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds in Malmsebury, Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa boasts 12 acres of gardens created by garden designer, Elizabeth Richardson, who used the original 1920’s plans and realised a design that recreates an English Country house garden, complete with beautifully manicured lawns. The gardens are divided into 26 distinct areas or ‘garden rooms’, each one leading to another, providing guests with a series of quiet areas to take in the peaceful Wiltshire countryside. Each ‘garden room’ has its own theme, whether based on colour, scent or style. www.whatleymanor.com Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa Easton Grey, Malmesbury SN16 0RB 26

Buckfast Abbey’s Garden Fayre opens from 10am on Saturday, 1st June until 5pm and promises a great day out for families and garden enthusiasts. Entry is free. Toby Buckland from BBC Radio Devon, along with other gardening and wildlife experts will be hosting talks and presentations, sharing knowledge and offering gardening tips. The day will be packed with activity workshops for children, garden and rural craft demonstrations as well as tree climbing demonstrations. There will also be entertainment by the Dartington Morris Men and the South Devon Singers. You will be able to walk and browse stalls including works by local artists and craftsmen, garden machinery, plant nurseries and herbal remedies. Garden Dept phone number – 01364 645507 Buckfast Abbey Garden Fayre, Buckfast Abbey, Buckfast, TQ11 0EE.

Country Gardener


Support your local community

25th

2019

JOIN US FOR OUR ANNIVERSARY!

22nd – 23rd June 10am – 5.30pm

25th AXE VALE SHOW

A Great Weekend For All The Showground, Trafalgar Way, Axminster, EX13 5RJ Discounted online tickets available now or purchase tickets at the gate

www.axevaleshow.com Charity number: 1130829 The Axe Vale Show is a charitable fundraising event for the charity ‘Axe Vale Festival Limited’

44th LUKESLAND GARDENS Cerne Abbas Open Gardens More than 25 Private Gardens Open

24 acres of Rare Shrubs, Trees, Pools & Waterfalls Home-made soups & cakes Sundays, Wednesdays and Bank Holidays 11am – 5pm 31st March - 16th June

Harford Ivybridge PL21 0JF Tel 01752 691749

www.lukesland.co.uk

15th & 16th June, 2-6pm

Overbeck's in Salcombe

Day ticket to all gardens Adults £7.00 Ticket for 2 days £10.00 Accompanied children free

Take in the view when you visit our sub-tropical paradise. Garden, House, Shop and Tea-room Open daily until 3 November from 11am to 5pm

Teas in St Mary’s Church from 1.30pm Plant Stall Free Car Park (DT2 7GD) from 11am Equal proceeds to: Cerne Water Meadow Trust & Weldmar Hospicecare Trust

www.cerneabbasopengardens.org.uk

Call 01548 842893 for details nationaltrust.org.uk/overbecks #nationaltrust

When you visit, donate, volunteer or join the National Trust, your support helps us to look after special places for ever, for everyone.

© National Trust 2017. The National Trust is an independent registered charity, number 205846. Photography © National Trust Images\National Trust/Eric McDonald.

           

    

             

 www.countrygardener.co.uk

27


Hartland Abbey gardens change gear for May

GREAT P LACES T O V IST: MAY Three Dorset Plant Heritage fairs in a busy season This year Dorset Plant Heritage has organised three Great Plant Fairs. Admission for each one is £7and profits go to support plant conservation, education and events in the county. The admission includes free access to the gardens offering savings on normal admission prices. The first fair is at Athelhampton House on Sunday, 5th May, the second is at Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens on Sunday, 16th June and the Autumn Fair is back at Athelhampton on Sunday, 1st September. The fairs offer a range of plants from specialist nurseries and growers across the southwest. The fairs are open from 10am to 3pm. Parking is free. Plant Heritage Dorset holds monthly meetings at the Dorford Centre, Dorchester. www.plantheritage.org Reg Charity No 1004009

The Hartland Abbey woodland gardens become alive in May with beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas, some planted over a hundred years ago and many recently. The newly restored Glade, rescued from oblivion last year, is now a delightful place to sit in the semi shade with a lovely view of the Abbey and the scent of the deciduous azaleas filling the air. Giant echiums will be shooting to the sky amongst all the early summer treasures in the walled gardens and St Nectan’s foxgloves lead walkers to the beach at Blackpool Mill. Hartland Abbey, Hartland, Bideford EX39 6DT www.hartlandabbey.com

LITTLE MALVERN COURT READY WITH ITS MAY COLOUR The picturesque gardens at Little Malvern Court sit below the wooded slopes of the Malvern Hills, with far reaching views across the Severn Valley to the Bredon Hills and the Cotswolds. Particular features to look out for in May include the beautiful pots of tulips, grouped according to colour, surrounding the house. The varied flowering cherries and crab apple trees will be in blossom. Wildflowers begin to appear in the grass banks and lovely blue camassias pop up in the tall grass of the meadow. In the rose garden, alliums literally burst into flower and the early roses start to open. There are cedar trees, planted from seeds brought back from the Holy Land by Charles Michael Berington. The chain of lakes, formerly fish ponds for the monks, follow the layout from a plan dated 1720 and, like much of the present garden, were restored in the 1980’s. Tel: 01684 892988 www.littlemalverncourt.co.uk Little Malvern Court & Gardens Little Malvern WR14 4JN

Over 120 stalls plus activities and displays

lar

tacu c e p s r u O

Buckfast Abbey

Garden

Fayre South Devon

Singers

Dartington Morris Men

Free parking

Devon Rural Skills

Saturday 1st June

Free entry

10am - 5pm

Toby Buckland Garden Talks

The Arb Academy

Gardeners’ Question Time

Heritage Vegetables

A great family day out!

For more info visit: www.buckfast.org.uk/garden-fayre

01364 645507

28

Country Gardener

Buckfast Abbey Trust Registered Charity number 232497


HILL CLOSE VICTORIAN GARDENS WARWICK

Barnsley village gets ready to celebrate 31st garden festival

The Cotswold village of Barnsley, three miles from Cirencester, is famous for its gardens by the late garden designer and author Rosemary Verey who lived at Barnsley House for 50 years. Now a popular hotel, Barnsley House will be opening their garden on Saturday, 18th May and their new head gardener Jennifer Danbury who worked for several years at Highgrove, will be giving a tour at 1.30pm. Ten other gardens in the village will be opening. It is the 31st village garden festival. Teas will be in the Village Hall together with a barbecue, jazz band, Morris Dancers, and clowns. One new garden will be open, Field Cottage, a delightful garden on the edge of fields and woodland at Quarry Hill. Gardens open from 10am to 5pm and admission to all gardens is £7.

ITALIAN GARDENS

Come and explore 16 unique restored Victorian gardens Open weekdays NovMarch: 11-4pm

Open every day April-Oct: 11am-5pm with tearoom Sat, Sun and Bank Hol Mon Midsummer Music in the Gardens, Sat 22nd June – 6.00-9.00pm Tickets Adult £14.50 / Child £11.50 Book in advance Heartbreak Productions Drama: Private Lives, Tues 23rd July 5.00-9:30pm Tickets Adult £14.50 / Child £11.50 Book in advance Art in the Gardens, Sat 17th August 11am – 4:30pm Summer exhibition of arts & crafts with music. Normal entrance Garden entry £4.50 Child £1.00 HCGT & RHS Free Tel. 01926 493339 www.hillclosegardens.com Access by racecourse to Bread & Meat Close, Warwick CV34 6HF. 2 hrs free parking.

SMALL GROUP TOURS WITH GUIDED VISITS OF ITALIAN GARDENS TUSCANY

• Maximum 14 people per group

Visits: Poggio Torselli, Villa Vignamaggio, Villa Geggiano, Villa Grabau, Villa Reale 2019: 19 May, 9 Jun, 8 Sep From £2,650 per person

• Local garden guides and guided garden visits included

LAKES COMO AND MAGGIORE

• British Airways flights included

Visits: Villa Babbianello, Villa Carlotta, Villa Monastero, Isola Bella, Isola Madre 2019: 14 May, 4 Jun, 25 Jun, 3 Sep From £2,630 per person

AMALFI COAST, CAPRI & ISCHIA Visits: Villa Rufolo, Villa San Michele Axel Munthe, La Mortella 2019: 9 May, 23 May, 13 Jun, 12 Sep From £2,650 per person

• Six nights in 4 or 5 star hotels, two per tour

Special offers may apply - full details on our website

PLEASE CALL US ON

01392 441275 www.expressionsholidays.co.uk THE

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ENVIRONS OF ROME Visits: Villa d’Este, Lante, Ninfa, Landriana, Castel Gandolfo 2019: 22 May, 12 Jun, 26 Jun, 11 Sep From £2,590 per person

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29


Stanway House & Fountain

Hartland Abbey & Gardens Beautiful walks through rhododendrons and azaleas in May Visit this stunning house on the Atlantic Coast with its fascinating architecture and collections, exhibitions, beautiful walled and woodland gardens and walks to the beach. * Dogs welcome * Holiday Cottages * * Delicious light lunches & cream teas * * Hartland Quay 1 mile * House, Gardens etc and Café: open until 29th September, Sunday to Thursday 11am - 5pm (House 2pm - 5pm last adm. 4pm)

For all information and events see www.hartlandabbey.com Hartland, Nr. Bideford EX39 6DT 01237441496/234

Little Malvern Court Nr Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 4JN Open 24th April until 25th July Wednesday & Thursday afternoons

The world’s tallest gravity fed fountain

Jacobean Manor House, home of the Earl of Wemyss, together with spectacular fountain open all year by appointment for group visits. Contact 07850 585539 for details.

01684 892988 littlemalverncourt.co.uk

PHOTO: MARCUS HARPUR

Other times by appointment

www.stanwayfountain.co.uk Stanway, Cheltenham, Gloucs, GL54 5BT

Private Walled Garden Tours Exclusive Guided Tours of Lord and Lady Lansdowne’s Private Walled Garden

Available on selected dates throughout the 2019 season From £28.50 per person

BOOK ONLINE www.bowood.org/walled-gardens OR CALL - 01249 810 961

30

7345 - Bowood House - Advertising March 2019 PWG Country Garden Magazine Ad.indd 1

Country Gardener

28/03/2019 16:22


GREAT P LACES T O V IST: MAY

Anne Swithinbank guests at Axe Vale’s 25th anniversary The popular Axe Vale Show, a family and dog friendly, charity focused, weekend-long event celebrates its 25th anniversary on Saturday, 22nd June and Sunday, 23rd June when it returns to the outskirts of Axminster. It promises again to be a show with a plethora of things to do, see, taste and smell again. There will be entertainment in the ring and around the showground. Music, dancing, bouncing, bubble blowing and shopping galore will be available plus a range of marquees, malls and demonstrations to wander through. You can take your dog and enter the fun dog show. Television and radio popular Devon gardener Anne Swithinbank will be taking part. In the Floral Marquee you can join in on seasonal flower arranging demonstrations with Sarah Broom or Angela Brooke-Smith. Tickets at the gate or discounted via the website. Parking is free. The Axe Vale Show is a charitable event for ‘Axe Vale Festival Limited’. www.axevaleshow.com enquiries@axevalefestival.co.uk 01297 34517

Friars Court has Bank Holiday opening for the NGS Friars Court is an historic 17th century house set in three acres of gardens in the picturesque Oxfordshire countryside enclosed within the remaining arms of a 16th century moat. Level walks guide visitors round informal borders, ‘garden rooms’, a lily pond and 50-foot living willow tunnel. A small museum displays the history of the house and the Willmer family. The gardens open for the National Gardens Scheme on Spring Bank Holiday Monday, then every Tuesday and Thursday in June, July and August, from 2.00pm - 6.00pm, admission £4 adults, under 14’s free. Home-made cakes and cream teas available. Private garden tours available on request. 01367 810206 www.friarscourt.com Friars Court, Clanfield, Oxfordshire OX18 2SU

25 GARDENS OPEN FOR CERNE ABBAS GARDENS WEEKEND About 25 private gardens, normally hidden from view, will be open in the famous Dorset village of Cerne Abbas on Saturday, 15th and Sunday, 16th of June to raise funds for its Water Meadow Trust and for The Weldmar Hospicecare Trust. The gardens reflect the diverse nature of this friendly and historic village guarded over by its famous Cerne Abbas giant. A day ticket for entry to all gardens is £7, accompanied children free. The gardens open from 2pm. All the gardens are within easy walking distance of free car park (Postcode DT2 7GD). Tea and cake will be served in the church from 1:30pm and there will be a plant stall in the village square from 1pm with a crèche to leave plants for the afternoon. www.cerneopengardens.org.uk

Hill Close Gardens a unique set of Victorian detached gardens Hill Close Gardens are the only remaining set of Victorian detached gardens open to the public in England. You can discover their unique history and take a step back in time to 1896 to a point where the gardens have been recreated to. Detached gardens have existed here since the 1830’s. There are 16 individual plots of the original 32 overlooking Warwick racecourse and some have brick built summerhouses where you can shelter and find out about the plots previous owners. There are a number of events throughout the year based on the gardens including ‘Private Lives’ by Heartbreak productions on Tuesday, 23rd July. The ‘green’ visitor centre that turns into a tearoom on weekends and Bank Holidays throughout the summer. Tel. 01926 493339 www.hillclosegardens.com Hill Close Gardens Bread and Meat Close, Warwick CV34 6HF

STANWAY WATER GARDENS THE FINEST IN ENGLAND The spectacular gravity fountain at Stanway House is the world’s highest, reaching 300ft. Tucked behind a magnificent gatehouse in a tiny Cotswolds village, The House is a perfect example of a Jacobean manor and has been lived in by the same family since the 16th century. There are extensive grounds to explore and fascinating history to discover. The working water mill mill produces flour from locally grown wheat. Stanway is open in June, July and August, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2pm to 5pm. The fountain plays twice each day. Group tours can be arranged at other times. Dogs are welcome. For details visit the website www.stanwayfountain.co.uk Stanway House ,Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 5PQ, England www.countrygardener.co.uk

31


GREAT DORSET PLANT FAIRS 2019

Cotswold Garden Flowers Easy and unusual perennials for the flower garden Delightful gardens to inspire you Plant and garden advice Mail order and online ordering available, or pop along and visit us at the nurser y

Athelhampton House Sunday 5th May Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens Sunday 16th June Athelhampton House Sunday 1st Sept Plant Fairs Open 10am - 3pm Gardens Remain Open until 5pm Organised by

Dorset

£7 Admission Includes Entry to Gardens (Free to Plant Heritage Members) Free Parking martinyoung100@btinternet.com www.plantheritage.org.uk Profits support Plant Conservation, Education & Events Reg. Charity No. 1004009

Groups welcome by appointment Open 7 days a week from 1st March to 30th September Weekends 10am - 5.30pm, Weekdays 9am to 5.30pm

Sands Lane, Badsey, Evesham, WR11 7EZ 01386 833849 info@cgf.net w w w.cgf.net

May Days Out at The Bishop's Palace • • • • • • •

14 acres of diverse RHS partner gardens See the Wells that give the City its name Stunning Pawlonia tree flowering in May Daily Guided Tours & Horticultural Tours Book now for Garden Festival 14th-16th June Cafe & Shop Adjacent to Wells Cathedral and City Centre

T 01749 988111 ext.200 www.bishopspalace.org.uk 32

Country Gardener


GREAT P LACES T O V IST: MAY

Peonies a favourite at Cotswolds Garden Flowers There’s an old saying that ‘April showers bring forth May flowers’. May is always a peak month for flowers in this garden. Amongst Bob Brown’s favourites at Cotswolds Garden Flowers family nursery in Evesham are peonies with varieties that have single, semi -double and double flowers in many colours. Perennial plants are growing fast to give structure in the border. One to look out for is Melianthus major which is grown for its amazing leaves. Others include members of the cow parsley family which give a light airy feel, in contrast to members of the arum family with their bold vase shaped flowers (some with a bad smell). www.cgf.net Tel: 01386 833849. Cotswold Garden Flowers, Sands Lane, Badsey, Evesham WR11 7EZ

Ninfa - one of the great European gardens At Ninfa, on the edge of what were the Pontine marshes south of Rome, crumbling mediaeval walls provide a sheltered microclimate for rare and tender plants with a collection from around the world. Amid 20 acres, plenty of summer heat and water from the mountains on one side, Ninfa is a unique, if not a perfect, garden. Ninfa is included in the Expressions Holidays’ Tour of the Gardens and Villas of the Environs of Rome. Departures are on Wednesday, 26th June and Wednesday, 11th September 2019. Prices from £2,590 per person. Special offer for Country Gardener readers Expressions Holidays offers Country Gardener readers a reduction of £75 per person for booking before 30th June. Contact Expressions Holidays on 01392 441275 for full details. www.expressionsholidays.co.uk Fully protected by our ATOL 3076.

Eckington Village Flower Festival For all those who love beautiful gardens a visit to Eckington shouldn’t be missed on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th June. Eckington boasts around four gardens in the NGS scheme which are outstanding in their design and location. There are another 30 or more gardens open of varying size and designs. Each year, the church, Holy Trinity displays a beautiful flower festival reflecting a chosen theme where villagers compete to produce outstanding floral displays. Refreshments include home-made cakes and light meals and there is a free circular mini-bus. Gardens are marked for wheel-chair friendly. Coaches are welcome (please arrange beforehand for parking), gardening clubs, local groups, the elderly and anyone with an interest in gardens for a leisurely and tranquil day out. Open from 10am to 5pm on both days. Prices: £6 per person for the weekend. Children of school age FREE. Programmes can be purchased from the church or free car parks. Eckington, near Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3AN. Tel: 07967 503288, Web: www.eckington.info/flower.html Email: lorrainebainbridge24@gmail.com

Private walled garden tours at Bowood House & Gardens You can enjoy private guided tours of the sensational walled gardens at Bowood House on selective dates throughout the season. Lord and Lady Lansdowne’s private walled garden are entered through a secret door are the historic four acre gardens, tailored to the season and the flowers in bloom. In spring, one of the most striking sights of all is the arched arbors covered with trailing wisteria flowers over the pathways. Visitors can learn which flowers thrive in the beating sun and the cool shady spots as you pass each border from north to south. To book on one of these exclusive tours please call 01249 812102 or visit www.bowood.org. Another must see at the Wiltshire gardens are the woodland gardens, a separate attraction on the Bowood estate, offering vistas of colour and beauty. Only open for six weeks during the flowering season (April to early June 2019). Covering over 30 acres, this garden is an oasis of bluebells, azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons. Bowood House and gardens are open until 3rd November. www.bowood.org.uk Tel 01249 812102. Bowood House and Gardens, Old Rd, Derry Hill, Calne SN11 0LZ

EMPATHY JOINS IN MALVERN SPRING SHOW Empathy will be exhibiting its biological range of products at RHS Malvern Spring from May 9th to 12th in partnership with Caves Folly Nurseries, the green gardeners paradise. Caves Folly plants are grown peat free and to soil association organic standards. Empathy products are licensed by the Royal Horticultural Society as they are natural, sustainable but above all highly effective in feeding and nurturing not only plants but the soil in gardens. You can see them at the Caves Folly marque, behind the Caves Folly permanent sponsored show garden for organic plants, natural plant foods and our UK grown mycorrhizal fungi. www.rootgrow.co.uk

www.countrygardener.co.uk

33


SPECIALIST TREES

TREES, PLANNING AND

your garden

Mark Hinsley delves deeper into issues of planning permission where trees are involved and clears up some of the confusion In last month’s issue of Country Gardener Magazine there was an interesting article by David Hobbs relating to ‘Planning Rights and Wrongs’. David related some of the pitfalls that await the unsuspecting logical human being who ventures into the confusing swamp that is Town and Country Planning. So, as you sit in your orangery, sipping your Pimm’s, surveying your parterre, ha-ha and distant deer park wondering which project to undertake next, I thought it a good time to throw trees into the swirling mire. Trees are a material consideration of a planning application - straightforward enough. Trees that are covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or that stand in a Conservation Area are given particularly significant weight in the balancing of the planning process. How trees are dealt with in a planning application is basically dictated by the recommendations contained in BS5837:2012 ‘Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction’. A grant of planning permission overrides a TPO, or Conservation Area protection, on the basis that the impact on the trees has been considered as part of the planning process – so there is no need to consider it again. In his article, David Hobbs referred to ‘Permitted Development’, which relates to buildings that, due to their size, location or nature, do not require the granting of a formal planning consent in order to be constructed. The problem with ‘Permitted Development’ in a garden that has, or is adjacent to, protected trees, is that, under permitted development rights, the impact on the protected trees has not been considered as part of the process and that consideration still needs to occur. Put simply – if you are intending to build a structure adjacent to a protected tree under permitted development rights, the TPO or Conservation Area is not overridden. Sticking your spade in the ground to start digging your foundation could be a criminal offence. 34

The way to deal with this situation is to make a TPO Application for a TPO tree or submit a Section 211 Notice in a Conservation Area. The small morsel of good news is that the local planning authority are not allowed to charge a fee for the determination of such applications. We have done a number of them. Unlike a full planning application, it is not the whole structure that is in question, only the bit that would involve cutting something off the protected tree or trees. Branches are obvious; roots are a bit more mysterious. It is difficult to know where tree roots are – even the bloke down the pub does not know, despite the fact that he claims to. So, what we have to do is fall back on BS5837:2012. Within the British Standard there is a ‘rule of thumb’ method for calculating the designated root protection area for any given tree. If the tree is single stemmed it is relatively simple: multiply the trunk diameter at breast height by 12 and you will have a starting point. If the tree is multi-stemmed, it is more complicated. If your permitted development is outside the root protection area, you are probably all right, although you should still seek advice because there are some variables, and if it is inside, you need to apply. If your permitted development is outside but close, you will have to consider how the tree will be protected from the hazards of building activity. So, even if you do not need to apply, you would be protecting yourself if you are working to a tree protection method statement prepared by a suitably qualified professional. Enjoy your Pimm’s! Mark Hinsley is from Arboriculture Consultants Ltd. www.treeadvice.info

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35


GARDENING JOBS

FOR MAY

JOBS IN THE GARDEN

May is here, but don’t get overwhelmed by endless lists of gardening jobs - the main jobs are planting out new vegetables, pruning spring flowering shrubs and planting summer bedding.

Prune spring flowering shrubs for next year’s displays Deciduous shrubs that flower in late winter and spring and early summer need annual pruning to encourage strong, healthy shoots and improve flowering. Annual pruning also prolongs the life of these early-flowering shrubs. Pruning requirements depend on the type of shrub, but all early-flowering shrubs need routine removal of damaged, diseased or dead wood, as follows: Cut out any damaged or dead shoots back to their point of origin or to ground level. Where there are many stems, remove some to ground level to keep the bush open and avoid congestion. Finally take out any weak, spindly or twiggy shoots right to the point of origin or to ground level so the plant concentrates its resources on strong new shoots that will bear the best flowers.

…and give forsythia special attention Try to prune forsythia after it has flowered. If you don’t do this every year they quickly get unmanageable and flower less well. Using sharp loppers and secateurs cut a quarter of the old growth to the base. Also remove diseased, dead, dying and wispy stems, cutting them to the ground. Finally prune stems that have just flowered to two buds above the previous year’s growth.

CUT EVERGREEN HEDGES

May is a good time to trim evergreen hedges, such as lonicera, box and yew; it will get their edges looking crisp and neat and get rid of any deadwood damaged by frosts. Small hedges can be trimmed with shears. Larger hedges are best tackled with a hedge trimmer. Remember it is illegal to disturb nesting birds, so be sure to check the hedges for signs of nests before you start the job.

Get on top of weeds early in the season It’s not just the plants you want that thrive at this time of year - weeds will be growing strongly, too. Catch weeds while they’re small by hoeing borders and the veg garden once a week. Paths, drives and patios can be kept weed-free by spraying with organic path weedkillers. Many of these prevent weeds returning for several months after they are applied. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, have roots that will regrow if you just kill the leaves. They will eventually weaken over time if you hoe them off, or you could try to dig out the roots. Alternatively, spray them with a weedkiller containing glyphosate. Mulching the soil surface deprives weed seeds of sunlight and helps prevent your precious plants from drying out in hot spells. Apply a layer of fine organic mulch at least 5-8cm deep for it to be effective. Make sure the ground is damp before you apply the mulch, otherwise the mulch act as a barrier to moisture reaching the roots of your plants. 36

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Time to plant hanging baskets If you get organised now and start planting up hanging baskets then by June and July everything will be in full and glorious colour. As long as your patio is sheltered or under cover, baskets can be planted up with fuchsias and tender perennials. Why not incorporate a slow release fertiliser and water storing crystals to reduce feeding and help water retention at the same time but remember not to place outside until end of May/early June so that containers do not dry out; watering can be stepped up on warm, breezy days. Dwarf dahlias can be potted up into containers ready to provide colour from mid summer to early autumn.

DAHLIA DUTY Dahlia tubers can be safely planted out now. However, hold back and wait until you are sure temperatures are warm enough before planting dahlia cuttings. Feed them with plenty of compost dug into the hole and give them a sunny position. The same treatment applies to cannas.

P LUS

Supporting sweet peas

If you have been organised, the autumn sowings of sweet pea will tear away as soon as weather warms. Tie in to their supports. If not, buy pot-grown plants and put them in now. Dig a trench and fill the bottom of it with scrunched newspaper to hold moisture and compost or manure if you have it. A plant that flowers freely and repeatedly needs good nutrition and moisture.

• Keep sowing seeds in small batches roughly fortnightly so that you avoid having a glut but give yourself a longer more manageable harvest. • Re-pot supermarket herbs, dividing them into smaller pots, a couple of stems per small pot should do for starters. You can use this trick on mint, coriander, basil, thyme – pretty much anything. • Pinch out the tops of chillies to encourage new branches to grow and create a bushier plant. • Thin out seedlings already planted allowing space for individual plants to flourish. Wash and use thinnings of lettuces and beet tops in salads. • If you haven’t started growing yet now is the perfect time to get in young plug plants or buy young plants from garden centres and nurseries. There is so much to choose from to grow in raised beds and allotments.

TIME FOR ACTION IN YOUR POND Water lilies and other pond plants can be planted up in new aquatic baskets and compost; do not use ordinary compost as it encourages algae and is too rich. Any plants that have become overcrowded should be lifted and divided, trimming any stray roots and this procedure should be carried out every few years. If you have a new pond, let it settle for at least six weeks before adding fish. When water reaches 10ºC (50ºF) start to feed fish but remove any uneaten food after about ten minutes. Scoop out pond algae and blanket weed before they proliferate. Leave blanket weed on the side of the pond overnight so that pond creatures can crawl back in. If you are growing your marginal plants in baskets, lift them out and divide any that are overcrowded. Top baskets with large gravel to keep the fish off.

Plan your daffodil show for next spring Remember those blind daffodils which didn’t flower in the garden? Now is the time to dig them up, move them to a sunnier place if they have become shaded out, or just replant with a bit more room. A little liquid fertiliser applied to spring bulbs as the flowers fade will help to build them up for next year – and remember never to remove the foliage before it has died down naturally.

www.countrygardener.co.uk

37


Campsis x tagliabuana ‘Indian Summer’

Gardens in the sun With the prospect of longer, hotter summers and the certainty of climate change Matt Rees-Warren says it is all pointing to us to have a more Mediterranean style approach to our gardens I don’t profess to be Nostradamus, nor do I hold a doctrine in metrological sciences but I think we can safely say now, without any ambiguity, that our climate is changing. This might happen in wild and unpredictable ways but the change is becoming tangible and real - we can see it and feel it. Last year’s heatwave produced a garden, in England, I had not seen before: the months of yellow straw lawns, cracks in the soil so wide and deep I could put my whole hand in, a hosepipe as a permanent fixture and established shrubs giving up the ghost. It was a challenge that’s for sure and at times a futile endeavour that’s clearly unsustainable. What kept going through my mind though was: there are places in the world already making gardens in these conditions – the Mediterranean climate. Again, I am not an authority, but the most prevailing condition to the Mediterranean climate is a long, hot, dry summer, and we certainly had one of those. Now we could just chalk it up to the predictable unpredictability of the English weather but I think that would be a mistake. If the scientists are right we are going to heat our planet by 1.5 degrees by 2050. And what that then means is 38

Country Gardener

by no way certain, but seems more than likely to be more long, hot, dry summers. So, what does this all mean for our beloved gardens? Well, we are nothing if not a resourceful and adaptive people and I believe we will find ways and means to react to the change happening all around us. The key here is to say our gardens will be ready to face these challenges without losing their style, creativity and pleasure. The Mediterranean ‘style’ can be interpreted in many ways but I think it will always be defined by these five elements: shade, stone, pots, topiary and scent. It is, of course, in the detail that the execution will be defined and so let’s take a deeper look at how to achieve this. Firstly, you need to add height in order to gain the shade. This can be from trees, but mature trees are a luxury of time so the easiest way to achieve this in the form of a pergola. The key here is to use materials that look weathered and rustic. So, reclaimed oak with a hazel top looks fantastic, or an unpainted wrought iron bar design gives a minimalist quality that weathers in fast. The plants, of course, will be the key to the pergolas success and here you want to look to try a Jasmine like - Jasminium x stephanense, or a grape vine - Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’. If you wanted to be more colourful and adventurous then try a trumpet vine – Campsis x tagliabuana ‘Indian Summer’ – or the passion flower – Passiflora caerulea.


As many of you must have seen on travels through the Mediterranean, they utilise the alabaster finish of sandstone, limestone and marble to great effect. Again, it’s not new to see these materials used in English gardens but you must try to bring them into context to achieve the desired outcome. Look to use Bath stone for dry stack walling in level changes or raised bed and borders, then a sandstone paved area will look more grounded in its place. Add the fabulously cost effective honeyed hoggin as a counterpoint to the paving and you have a harmonious whole of Mediterranean inspired stonework. Within this framework, you now need to add the flair of the planting. The idea here is restraint and structure, with an overwhelming sense of greenery and fragrance. You simply cannot create the essence of a Mediterranean garden without either buxus, yew, cypress or olive. Start with these and you will not go far wrong. You don’t want to think too formally here (even though the buxus and yew especially are the bedrock of the formal garden) try to be a little more romantic and loose i.e., box balls of different sizes and yew columns of different heights. When using pencil cypresses, however, I recommend a symmetrical approach, as on the corners of paving or either side of a path. Once you have created these ‘bones’ you must then consider the quintessential element of terracotta pots. The style, design and placement of the pots are as, if not more, important than anything else in the garden. Large terracotta pots are an investment but you will never regret the purchase and the pots bring shape and form to the garden throughout the year. In the Mediterranean they obviously love to place lemon and orange plants in their pots, which if you’re willing to bring inside in the winter is fine, but if you want to leave them in situ, then consider agapanthus or more topiary. Perhaps a twisted cypress or, in the largest pot, an olive tree. If you start to place smaller pots around larger ones in a collection, then you could add pelagoniums or salvia but remember to only use one colour and try to make it strong and dark. The final part of the puzzle will bring the most pleasure and that is adding plants with scent. Evergreen aromatic herbs are nothing new to us here, but if you add lavender, rosemary, bay and thyme to the structure you have created then it will feel as though the garden has come together and is complete. It can also help the overall sense of the Mediterranean feel if you pay particular attention to more glaucous, silverleafed plants, such as; Santolina, plectranthus argentatus and Perovskia. They seem to generally come from the Mediterranean region anyway so the plantings look more authentic. Obviously, the soil needs to be very free draining and adding lots of grit and stones will be essential. When considering your colour palette, I can’t stress enough that less is more. We are looking at a future without the benefit of summer with copious amounts of rain and the lessons from the regions already in that climate are to make your gardens, and garden plants, less flamboyant and demanding. There will not be 365 days of colour but selective weeks of intense colour and display, a refined, cool and elegant space to enjoy on those long balmy summer days. www.countrygardener.co.uk

Jasminium x stephanense

Plectranthus argentatus

Passion flower – Passiflora caerulea

Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’

39


Spheres

OF DELIGHT

By Anna Forster

Alliums are hugely popular for their wonderful displays of early summer flowers and now the number of cultivars has expanded hugely, gardeners have no excuse in not growing them No other plant or flower attracts quite such admiration in borders and beds than wonderful alliums. They’re architectural, loved by bees and are ideal cut or dried flowers. Allium colours vary. However, most range between purple and lilac. The darker-purples tend to be hardier than the more silvery mauves and once they appear in your garden you will love them for a long while. Alliums are the ornamental cousins of onions; their flowers are characteristically clusters of blooms, often forming tight globes, but sometimes arranged in loose bunches of pendant bells, like tassles. Tall alliums, particularly ‘Gladiator’, which has purple flowerheads the size of a soft-pitch softball and stands every inch of four feet tall among the peonies, are not for shy gardeners, but the vast world of alliums also has a demure side. The variety within the genus allium is astounding: about 700 species are known. Little Allium moly, sometimes called golden garlic, grows to only about a foot tall and produces dancing clusters of bright yellow flowers in early summer. Allium aschersonianum has very dark pink flowerheads about the size of a tennis ball and stands about two feet tall. Allium rosenbachianum, one of the earliest 40

Country Gardener

alliums to bloom, has round, five-inch flowerheads of purple, white, or a rich lilac. Even after the blooms fade, most allium flowerheads remain quite showy on their tall wands through early summer. Allium flowers rarely smell like onions — it’s the foliage that smells strong, and only when you crush it. They are all easy to grow; few springflowering bulbs are as undemanding as alliums. They bloom profusely in full sun, but tolerate a surprising amount of shade. Alliums can thus be planted to advantage among roses, peonies, hostas, and ferns and under trees and around shrubs. Small alliums make a lacy edge at the front of a border: chives, which are easy to grow from seed, make a perfect edging for an herb garden, and they look pretty in front of roses, in a rock garden, or along the edge of a flower bed, too. The largest alliums are like garden sculptures; they’re tall enough to plant at the back of a flower bed, but put a few bulbs up front, too: you’ll want to shake them by the stems, pat their fuzzy heads, and inspect their thousands of sparkling flowers up close. It’s worth knowing that allium leaves, like onion skins, are a strong dye, which will stain yellow, so don’t pick or defoliate alliums in your pristine whites.


What to plant with them

Allium bulbs

– the facts

The taller varieties of alliums are tall and straight in a border and do not need staking due to their stiff stems. However, their leaves emerge early and die back before the flowers appear, so foliage tends to be shabby by the time alliums are in flower and it’s best to have them growing through lower-growing herbaceous plants so that this is hidden. Low-growing hardy geraniums, Alchemilla mollis and the silvery leaves of Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ will hide any unsightly leaves. They look just as well in a flower border as they do on the edges of a vegetable garden, so they can be grown under standard gooseberries, or under standard roses. They should be woven through a border so are best ordered in 50s or 100s. However, some hybrids are expensive so generally the cheaper varieties are planted en masse with stands of a few bulbs of the most expensive ones. Anna Forster worked at RHS Wisley on a three year trial on alliums and now grows 20 varieties in her Dorset garden.

• Allium bulbs are planted in early autumn and will flower next year and for a few years if they are prevented from selfseeding. • Alliums are generally plants of sunny and well-drained soils. • If you plant a pale allium find it a warm spot. • Plant allium bulbs at twice the depth of the bulb, four to five inches deep and about a foot apart. • As the allium flowers fade some will develop seedpods and these need to be removed before the black seeds escape and create a sea of grass-like seedlings. • Feed alliums every spring with a potashrich fertiliser. • Do not let alliums self seed! They will produce hundreds of grassy nuisances. • Alliums will attract bees and butterflies.

Allium ‘Gladiator’

Varieties to grow

Another hybrid that forms a large lilac-purple completely round ball.

Allium ‘Purple Rain’

Allium ‘Firmament’

A popular variety with more open heads of intense purple.

This has deep purple flowers with a metallic sheen and the heads are flattened at the base. It is June-flowering - so extends the season.

Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ Deep-purple spheres appear just after the late-tulips. It flowers by mid-May and the flowers fade beautifully, quite quickly but give weeks of interest. Very cheap to buy: this allium produces seeds so do remove the heads.

Allium ‘Ambassador’

Allium ‘Globemaster’ A shorter allium with larger, perfectly spherical heads eightinch wide in deep, violet-purple that flower from late May and lasts a long time. There’s often a second flush of flower and the foliage is much tidier than most.

A six inch fuzzy round head of purple stars that goes on and on throughout June and July without fading in colour. Robust and reliable, year after year, and there are no seeds. The bulbs are massive.

Allium ‘Mount Everest’ This hybrid of Allium stipitatum and Allium aflatunense, has glossy green stems with one flattened edge. The white heads measure five inches across and reach three feet in height, flowering in May to June. This is often planted with a yew hedge backdrop. Roughly four times as expensive as ‘Purple Sensation’. www.countrygardener.co.uk

Allium ‘Giganteum’ The most expensive bulb usually, but well worth it because this is taller, reaching four feet in height. The flower is grapefruit-sized with lots of flowers that form a fuzzy ball, but this is a species found on lower mountain slopes in Central Asia, introduced in 1883.

41


Lutyens and Jekyll

- the original gardening

‘dream team’

by Vivienne Lewis For gardeners the name of Edwin Lutyens is said in the same breath as the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. We remember the architect on the 150th anniversary of his birth, when a chance meeting laid the foundation of one of the great gardening collaborations. Edwin Lutyens was one of the greatest architects this country has produced. His commissions ranged from a castle for an Edwardian millionaire in Devon, grand country villas to imperial buildings in New Delhi, then after World War I creating the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall and war memorials ranging from the military cemeteries in northern France to modest war memorials in towns and villages around England, and an extraordinary doll’s house which sits in Windsor Castle. But it was a chance meeting with a formidable lady that set off the young architect on his career and forged one of the greatest collaborations in garden design. Gertrude Jekyll was an artist and craftswoman who began to specialise in gardening when her myopic eyesight forced her to abandon intricate work. She met young Edwin (‘Ned’) Lutyens at a tea party in Surrey in 1889. The woman who became known to Lutyens and The garden at Munstead Wood in his family as Godalming has been lovingly restored ‘Aunt Bumps’ was not one for tea parties but she made an exception for one fateful afternoon and it was just as well that she did. Lutyens was at the start of his career, just aged 20. Gertrude was 45, admired for the extent of her arts and crafts work: painting, embroidery, metal work, carving and interior design. She had studied art at the South Kensington School of Art in London, and was influenced by Ruskin and the arts and crafts movement spearheaded by William Morris. This multi-talented woman was still living with her mother in a large house near Godalming in Surrey, but she wanted a home of her own and had bought a 15-acre woodland plot across the road from the family home, where she began to create a garden - but it had no house. At the tea party (which she had driven to in her pony and cart despite her shortsightedness) she was impressed by the eager young architect, 42

and although they had not spoken during the afternoon, invited him to see her emerging garden. From those small beginnings grew the great collaboration of Lutyens and Jekyll. She commissioned a house by Lutyens at Munstead Wood, from where her nursery and her garden design fame would materialise. He first built The Hut, a cottage in the grounds which she used as a writer’s retreat after the main house was built. Lutyens also built the North Court by the house, a circular area beneath a timbered gallery, paved with flagstones and enclosed by Miss Jekyll’s favourite foliage plants, with a garden seat designed by him and which would become one of his signature designs. Their garden design partnership was a symbiosis in which their talents dovetailed – with his architectural eye in designing garden layouts, landscaping and stone structures perfectly complemented by Jekyll’s artistic use of colour and knowledge of plants. Their greatest surviving commission today is the Formal Garden at Hestercombe Gardens near Taunton, with the Great Plat, which was completed in the 1900s for the Portman family. Many others have not survived, but the garden at Munstead Wood has been lovingly restored, as has the garden at Upton Grey in Hampshire by owner Rosamund Wallinger who has written two books on the work of more than two decades, and where, although Lutyens was not directly involved, the garden has the essential elements of a Lutyens design, with Jekyll’s planting genius. Gertrude Jekyll was well connected in society, and through her Lutyens gained many commissions which in turn brought him to prominence in his profession. They worked on Lindisfarne Castle in Northumberland, where Lutyens built a holiday home for Country Life magazine founder Edward Hudson, a castle structure around an old fort; Lutyens also redesigned the walls of the old enclosed garden, with a wealth of colour provided by Jekyll’s planting schemes. They also worked on Hudson’s other properties, Deanery Garden in Berkshire and Plumpton Place in East Sussex. Hudson gave Jekyll and Lutyens the opportunity to reach a wider audience. He had been Jekyll’s publisher for

Country Gardener


Surviving Lutyens properties, some with gardens created with Gertrude Jekyll CASTLE DROGO - Drewsteignton, Devon EX6 6PB (National Trust)

The Formal Garden at Hestercombe near Taunton with the Great Plat, which was completed in the 1900’s

her books and articles, and now became the publicist for their commissions, with many articles in the magazine about the work they had produced: Orchard, and Goddards, both in Surrey, Folly Farm in Berkshire, Marshcourt in Hampshire, and many others. There were some important commissions that might have been included in the long list that Jekyll and Lutyens worked on together but in some cases that did not happen. They did not work together at Castle Drogo in Devon, built over a period of many years for Julius Drewe, the millionaire owner of the Home and Colonial Stores, at the time one of the largest retail chains in Britain. Jekyll’s involvement was limited to planting suggestions for the long drive to the castle. Instead of Jekyll, Lutyens worked with George Dillistone from Kent. A formal garden was created with rose beds, serpentine paths winding along billowing herbaceous borders, corner ‘rooms’ of evergreens and a stone staircase leading up to a croquet lawn.

Upton Grey in Hampshire

During World War 1 Lutyens started drawing up plans to commemorate the fallen. In 1917 he was invited to join the Imperial War Graves Commission, and played a crucial role in the design of British cemeteries being of a nondenominational character remembering the thousands of soldiers who died and for the

headstones that made no differentiation between the dead of different ranks. He went on to design the monuments that are forever linked to his name, the Monument to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval in France and the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall, as well as war memorials around the country. On a lighter note, the quirkiest garden of the Lutyens-Jekyll collaboration was created for the Queen’s Dolls House at Windsor Castle, designed by Lutyens and completed in 1924. An amazingly detailed construction, with top artists and craftsmen of the day involved, a gift from the nation to Queen Mary, it was displayed to raise funds for charities, originally exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition of 1924-25, where more than 1.6 million visitors admired the intricate workmanship, with everything perfectly made in miniature, right down to cars made by Rolls Royce. The tiny formal walled garden has paved paths, low evergreen clipped hedges, little pots with plants and the famous ‘Lutyens’ garden benches, all in miniature. When Jekyll died in 1932 Lutyens designed her gravestone at Busbridge church, Godalming, where she was buried next to her brother and his wife. Lutyens died on 1st January 1944. He is remembered as one of the most prolific architects this country has produced, with an incredible output, including even plans for a monumental cathedral in Liverpool that was never built, apart from the massive Romanesque style crypt. While few of the Lutyens-Jekyll gardens have survived, their influence over 20th century garden making was enormous. Together they collaborated on around 100 gardens of the 400 that Jekyll created. We can admire Edwin Lutyens’ buildings, and his garden lay outs, but many of them were made even more complete when they were clothed with the artistic planting schemes of Gertrude Jekyll. www.countrygardener.co.uk

MOTHECOMBE HOUSE - Mothecombe, Holbeton, Plymouth, Devon PL8 1LB (by appointment) GODDARDS - Abinger Common, Surrey RH5 6JL MUNSTEAD WOOD - Godalming, Surrey GU7 1UN (occasionally viewed by appointment) GREAT DIXTER - Northam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH LINDISFARNE CASTLE - Holy Island, Northumberland TD15 2SH (National Trust) GREYWALLS - Muirfield, Gullane, East Lothian, EH31 2EG LE BOIS DES MOUTIERS - Varengeville-surMer, France And a ‘must see’ garden they created... THE FORMAL GARDEN - Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton TA2 8LG

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Hardening of f It’s time to plant young seedlings, raised indoors, out in the garden or allotment. But do it too abruptly and you’ll kill them. These days, a great many gardeners are growing the plants for their garden from seeds. This allows a gardener to have access to wide variety of plants that are not available in their local nursery or garden centre. Growing plants from seeds is easy, as long as you take a few precautions. One of those precautions is to make sure that you harden off your plants before setting them out in your allotment or garden. Why you should harden seedlings when plants are grown from seed indoors is because they frequently are grown in a controlled warmer environment. The temperature is pretty much maintained, the light is not as strong as full sunlight outside and there will not be much environmental disturbance like wind and rain.

‘Listen to the weather forecasts and have temporary protection ready’ A plant that has been grown indoors in a greenhouse, on a windowsill or a cold frame has never been exposed to the harsher outdoor environment, they do not have any defences built up to help them deal with the cold. It is much like a person who has spent all winter indoors. This person will burn very easy in summer sunlight if he/she has not built up a resistance to the sun. The way to help your seedlings build up a resistance is to harden off your seedlings. 44

Young tender plants raised in a warm protected environment need to be properly acclimatised to outdoor conditions over the next few weeks Hardening off is an easy process and will make your plants grow better and stronger when you do plant them out into the garden. Hardening off is really just gradually introducing your baby plants to the great outdoors. It takes two or three weeks depending on the plant type, the temperatures which the plant grow under protection and the location of the garden. Hardy plants are by definition quicker to acclimatise than half hardy or tender plants. Ideally transfer plants from heated to cooler conditions on a cloudy day or cover them with fleece to avoid them wilting.

TIMING IS CRITICAL Tender plants should not be outside until you are absolutely sure the frosts are finished. And who can be sure of that so err on the cautious side. Listen to the weather forecasts and have temporary protection ready, cloches, fleece or even newspaper should there be a sudden late frost. Hardening off techniques clearly depend on what facilities are available. Plants raised in heated greenhouse or on windowsills ideally should be moved into a cold greenhouse for two weeks then into a well ventilated cold frame. If you do not have a cold frame place the plants at the base of a sheltered south facing wall or hedge or other sheltered position during the day and then cover with a fleece at night. After about ten days remove the fleece during the day and leave plants outdoors. Leave them uncovered towards the end of the third week before finally putting out. Hardening off is vital and many gardeners who complain their crops are late or slow growing have probably not addressed the key task of hardening off properly.

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HORTICULTURAL FLEECE

Bell cloches Cloche is the French word for ‘bell’. The original cloches were large bell-shaped jars that 19th-century French market gardeners placed over plants in spring to act as portable miniature greenhouses. Now lightweight curved cloches protect plants from wind and rain and raise soil temperatures around the plant and significantly let in light from every angle. Larger cloches are ideal for outdoor crops such as tomatoes, aubergines or courgettes. Individual cloche for smaller plants are easy to make –just remove the base from plastic bottles. The advantage they have is they look attractive, prevent water from dripping on to the crops and are good for individual plants. The bad news is they are only suitable for smaller plants and have no control over ventilation. Although modern versions of these individual cloches are not as elegant as the traditional glass bell jars, some offer the same or a better degree of frost protection.

Transparent fleece and other floating films, known collectively as crop covers, are laid over or around plants hastening their growth, and protecting against weather and pests. They are usually used without supporting hoops. Crop covers work by warmth from the sun raising temperatures by a few degree, typically 2°C, compared to uncovered plants. This can advance maturity or flowering by about two weeks. Covered tender plants can be sown or planted out earlier than if uncovered by about two weeks in spring. Crucially crop covers prevent overheating by allowing heat to escape through holes built into them during manufacture. Unpierced transparent polythene sheeting or bubblewrap, for example, would not only lead to excess moisture but damage plants by excess heat on sunny days even in mid-spring. The fleece needs weighing down in winds, can become dirty and unsightly and is difficult to apply in adverse weather.

Mini tunnels

Mini tunnel are lightweight covers made from either rigid or plastic or polythene in a wide range of styles. They are ideal in blocking off rows of vegetables from cold winds and rain while maintaining humidity and temperature. They are reasonably cheap are light and easy to move. The bad news is they can be difficult to water and can also be fragile and easily damaged in bad weather.

Cold frames Classically the ideal solution for hardening off young plants .The best ones are mini greenhouses with brick or wooden sides and a clear hinged or removable cover. They are ideal for smaller plants in pots trays or modules. Cold frames are ideal for smaller gardens. Glass sided frames let in more light but brick frames are warner and retain more heat. Wooden varieties are in the middle somewhere. The disadvantage is that controlling the temperature can be difficult as cold frames heat up very quickly and getting the right temperature consistently can be a problem with having to move plants in and out of the frame.

GENTLE GENTLY OR ONE SINGLE TEMPERATURE SHOCK? There is a significant slowdown when plants are exposed to stress. And few things cause them stress more than being moved from a warm environment to a much colder one. Hardy plants will fair better so a brief hardening period of no more than 10 days or less is sufficient. Tender plants however are a different story and they can be permanently damaged so do not attempt to plant these out until the risk of temperatures below 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) has passed. Cold stressed tomatoes develop a purple tinge, aubergines go grey and sweetcorn leaves tend to bleach. Courgettes turn crispy and fade. www.countrygardener.co.uk

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Dandelion tea for your health? Gardeners generally hate those bright yellow dandelions they see in their lawns. But could they actually be good for you? Historically, dandelion tea has had many uses. Some have proven beneficial. Other claims have been questioned. The plant is still known ‘the small postman’ in the Far East because of the belief that dandelions bring good news. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is an herbaceous plant that’s often considered a pest. The name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion or ‘tooth of a lion’. An Arab doctor first recorded dandelion’s curative properties in the tenth century. Dandelion was once called ‘piddle bed’ because of its ability to increase urine flow. It’s reviled by many gardeners in search of the perfect lawn. However, it does have scientifically proven medicinal properties and an extensive history of use. Research is increasingly showing its benefits for fighting diabetes, treating Alzheimer’s disease and possibly cancer, as well as preventing osteoporosis. In traditional herbal medicine, dandelion is promoted for its medicinal properties. For centuries, it has been used to treat cancer, liver disease, digestive disorders and acne. Dandelion tea is an infusion made of either the plant’s leaves or its roasted roots. Both are considered safe as long as you haven’t sprayed your lawn with herbicides or pesticides. If you’re feeling bloated, dandelion tea can provide relief by acting as a diuretic. Dandelion root has long been used as a liver tonic in folk medicine. Preliminary studies suggest this is partially due to its ability to increase the flow of bile. Naturopaths think that means dandelion root tea could help detoxify the liver, help with skin and eye problems, and relieve symptoms of liver disease.

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You can find packaged dandelion root in health food stores, but you can also harvest and make it from your own dandelions. Roast the roots of young dandelion plants to a dark brown colour. After steeping in hot water and straining, use as a coffee substitute. It could have anti-cancer applications in the future. Dandelion root is being studied for its cancer-fighting potential with promising results. A 2011 Canadian study showed that dandelion root extract induces cell death in melanoma cells without negatively impacting noncancerous cells. Another study showed that it does the same to pancreatic cancer cells. While the anti-cancer effects of dandelion tea haven’t been rigorously tested, the potential is convincing. The roots are also chock full of beta-carotene, calcium, vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. Taraxacum officinale is considered safe for most people. However, some may have an allergic reaction from ingesting or handling dandelion. It also interacts with certain medications such as diuretics, lithium, and Cipro. If you are taking any prescription medications, consult your doctor before drinking dandelion tea. Dandelion greens taste best when they’re young and tender. As they grow, they become increasingly bitter. To harvest the roots, conversely, look for large plants After washing and separating the leaves, pour very hot water over them or the roasted, ground roots. Steep and strain. To prepare the flowers and leaves, wash them and steep in hot water for 15-20 minutes. To prepare the roots, wash very thoroughly, chop into very small pieces. Roast on high in an oven for approximately two hours. Steep one or two teaspoons in hot water for about 10 minutes.

Country Gardener


New look for

TOBY’S DEVON GARDEN FESTIVAL The popular Devon garden festival opens in the stunning surroundings of Powderham Castle with a new look and added attractions The sixth event in the series of Toby’s Garden Festival at Powderham Castle near Exeter on Friday, May 3rd and Saturday, May 4th has a new look, more under cover space and a host of extra attractions. It remains one of highlights in the southwest gardening calendar. There’s a new layout for the festival to the front of the castle, with more under-cover space in the shape of an Artisan Barn and theatre and a new Country Gardener Magazine Talks Tent. And for the first time the festival now welcomes dogs. This year the festival will be divided into zones, including the Gardening Village, Feast street and Craft Zone to help visitors more easily find what they are looking for. The list of nurseries includes award winning Chelsea stalwarts and some exceptional new growers.

Plants remain the heart of the festival The Powderham festival has built its reputation since it was launched in 2014 on the quality of the plants it offers visitors. Over 30 selected and invited nurseries will be at this year’s event from not just the southwest but all over the UK. See www.tobygardenfest.co.uk for a full list of those attending

Information and tickets Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th May at Powderham Castle, Kenton nr Exeter. Adult tickets cost £10 in advance (£12.50 on the gate) available from www.tobygardenfest.co.uk, Exeter’s Tourist Information office and Urban & Rural Plants. VIP Tickets £55 including all day refreshments, lunch and free goody bag from festival sponsor Hawksmoor Investment Management. Children under 12 are free, parking is free and well-behaved dogs on short leads are welcome.

www.tobygardenfest.co.uk

What’s on where at the festival ARTISAN BARN - This is the new festival home for indoor plants, and the best arts and crafts in the West, along with the chance to make realistic blooms from paper for free with Exeter artist WildHive. BBC RADIO DEVON - Radio Devon’s David ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald is opening the festival and out and about, broadcasting live from the show with Toby on Friday morning. Join the afternoon Q&A sessions in the castle for a chance to hear your garden queries answered on air on Toby’s Sunday morning gardening show. CASTLE DRIVEWAY - Weave a flower crown for free with help from the British Academy of Floral Art and Candide,

the gardening app. Coastal Recycling are giving away free samples of their organic mulch. COURTYARD - Whetpink Ticket holders – collect your free plant from Whetmans here, plus there’s more seating, refreshments and a range of crafts, plants and food stalls. Meet actor John ‘Boycie’ Challis and no-dig gardener Steph Hafferty by the castle porch for book signings. CRAFT ZONE - Don’t miss Teign Trees, always ‘up’ to something in the trees. Alex Metcalf of BBC’s My Passion for Trees is hooked up the tree-trunks so you can listen in to the sounds of sap flowing up the xylem. Head to the knitting tent to learn (or rediscover) how to knit woolly flowers, veg and crochet a friendship bracelet.

www.countrygardener.co.uk

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What goes into the perfect

hanging basket?

Choice of plants is the key so when you are planning a hanging basket, go for vibrant bedding plants for a short-term show or herbs, shrubs and evergreens for a long-lasting display It is probably true that you love them or hate them. Hanging baskets seem to attract both ends of the popularity scale when it comes to gardeners - with nothing much in between! The fact is that hanging baskets are going through a renaissance at the moment probably fuelled by the appearance of them by the hundreds as towns, village and cities delve into the delights of Britain in Bloom. Hanging baskets are a popular, no-fuss way of enjoying flowers without the hassle of planting and maintaining a flowerbed or border. Plant summer hanging baskets from April onwards, but they will need protection from frost until the middle or end of May. If you do not have a greenhouse, it is usually easier to plant in situ once the frosts have passed. If you think only petunias or geraniums are suitable for hanging pots, it’s time to expand your choice of plants and combinations of plants. For attractiveness and interest, consider using plants you wouldn’t normally consider. For example the creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia) with its dime-sized, gold or yellow flowers with black centres is usually found in flowerbeds. But in a hanging basket, an awesome mound of colour will cascade down three feet. Clematis normally shoots up a trellis but think how spectacular it would look heading downwards from a basket! English ivy generally is dismissed as a non-hardy vine. But as it likes shade, it does great indoors in hanging baskets or hanging in shade outdoors in summer. And there are dozens of cultivars to choose from with leaves that are flat or ruffled, white or yellow variegated, and all shapes. Many of the more unusual annuals are being introduced through full-service garden centres, specialty nurseries, and both mail order and on-line catalogues. Some plants suitable for hanging baskets include the small white-flowered Bacopa (several cultivars available), blue fan flower (Scaevola), the dainty pink or lavender Diascias, and Million Bells or trailing petunia (Calibrachoa). Or try some 48

of the new verbena cultivars with red, purple, pink, or white flowers, and the liquorice plants (Helichrysum) with silver, gold, variegated, or small leaves. You can choose from many types of containers with the traditional plastic pot being the most common. But for something different, consider a container with openings on the sides for plants. Wire frames popular in the 1950s and 1960s that you line with sphagnum moss then plant, are in vogue again. Or check out what’s available from craft shows or at garden centres such as frames of twigs or woven vines. Line these with moss and plant, or simply put a pot that’s already planted inside. If you have a container with trailing plants, nail a platform, larger pot, or other holder to the top of a stake. Then place the plant on top of the stake. Even a stout limb will do. From a distance it will look like the plant is sprouting from a tree trunk! Another option is to look at antique shops for containers to hang, such as tin cans, watering cans, or other interesting objects. A multipurpose is fine for a display when it comes to filling with compost that only has to last for one year, but John Innes No 2 is better for a longer-lasting arrangement When you begin to arrange the plants in the basket, it is usually easiest to start with one, central plant. This can be used to create structure and impact, which is particularly important in winter if its other companions fail to flower in cold snaps. Around this, position some trailing plants to cover the sides of the basket, particularly if it is made from wire. However, using a more decorative basket is best where it will be easily seen. The best plants for hanging baskets are tender perennials and annuals that have been bred to flower for a long time. • Calibrachoa • Lobelia • Cape daisies • Diascia • Begonia • Pelargonium • Petunia • Tomatoes

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ORGANIC v CHEMICAL Country Gardener supports the move to more organic fertilisers being available to gardeners. In the first of a special three-part series we trace the use of chemicals on our soil and look at why a more realistic approach is needed Food is essential for all living beings and it is a well-known fact our choices of food dictate health and well-being. The same is true for plants. Plants find nourishment from the soil and in the case of crop plants if this goodness isn’t replenished then soils become unproductive. Soil scientists are beginning to understand the complexity of the soil food web and estimate a single handful of soil contains more individual organisms than there are people on Earth, as reported in Farmers Weekly November 2015. Humans have been cultivating the land to grow crops for at least 10,000 years, probably longer. The agricultural practices during that time were small scale to support a local population. Between the 16th and mid 19th Century things changed with the development of mechanisation, plant breeding and the four crop rotation system. Crop rotation was learned through trial and error, soils could stop being productive when the same crop was grown repeatedly. Crop rotation replenishes soil nutrients through different crops being grown with different needs and some crops contribute back nutrients to the soil. Modern farmers are increasingly looking to crop rotation as an effective method of managing soil nutrients. In 1910 a German chemist, Fritz Haber patented a process developed by Carl Haber, (who worked for BASF) and the corner stone of producing synthetic nitrogen based inorganic fertilisers was perfected. Decades later another chemical process (The Oda Process) was developed to allow mined rock phosphate to be converted into a useful fertiliser. This chemical based fertiliser contained the main plant nutrients of (N) nitrogen, (P) phosphorous and (K) potassium and thus Growmore available today in garden centres was born, technology nearly 100 years old. This led to massive population growth as agricultural land became more productive and allowed the population to grow, not being kept in check by inadequate food supply. Currently the Haber Process process produces 450 million tonnes of fertiliser annually and consumes two per-cent of the whole planets’ energy production. There are only 50 years left of rock phosphate left before the mines run dry. This has lead governments, scientists and industry leaders recognising these problems and creating organisations such as The Phosphorous Alliance in North America and the Phosphorous Platform in Europe.

In recent years the agricultural community have started to see problems with the use of inorganic fertilisers, with soil organic matter depletion and leaching of nutrients into rivers and waterways. If you change so radically how soils are managed to grow crops then the composition of the soil changes. What will become of the multitude of organisms that make up a healthy fertile soil? If you take out a tonne of crops you need to put a tonne of goodness back into the soil. Chemical fertilisers only supply a limited range of nutrients and for soils to function, effectively and biologically they need a more realistic approach. Organic Fertilisers To have any discussion about organics some definition of terms is necessary. Firstly from a perspective of science based chemistry an organic fertiliser is any fertiliser derived from plants and animals. This is a very problematic term for a garden centre customer as the definition of the scientific community, subsequently used by fertiliser supply companies is unlikely to be the same as the consumer’s perception. An organic fertiliser should be good for the environment, safe to use, derived from natural sustainable sources? If it is an organic chicken fertiliser then the raw material will come from happy healthy hens, reared under free range or organic conditions? Unfortunately for the consumer in some cases this is simply not the case. Coupled with the fact that it is possible to find an inorganic chemical fertiliser that has a small amount of organic fertiliser (such as bonemeal or seaweed meal) added and then the product is labelled organic. The majority of garden centre fertilisers are inorganic and chemical based, unless the packaging says otherwise . There is unfortunately no regulation in the garden centre industry where products labelled as organic have to meet certain regulatory standards. There are a few voluntary regulatory stamps of approval of which the Soil Association is the best out there.

In our June issue:

Do you need to use fertilisers given many garden soils are rich and fertile? We also look at the specific make up of commonly available fertilisers.

www.countrygardener.co.uk

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Lets drink to rhubarb! by Kate Lewis

In late spring rhubarb gradually moves from the forced season to the outdoor season, and with the lack of other local seasonal produce it is worth exploring different ways to use this versatile and colourful vegetable.

Although best known for its use in sweet crumbles and fools, rhubarb is actually a vegetable, and works as well in savoury dishes and drinks as on the dessert table. British rhubarb is cultivated in two different ways and has two different seasons. Forced rhubarb involves growing rhubarb without light and takes place between Christmas and Easter. This encourages early growth and produces thin, tender pink stalks which are considered by many to be sweeter and more tender than garden-grown rhubarb.

into small pieces. Only over-grown and stringy gardengrown varieties may need peeling. Rhubarb is easily frozen – cut blemish free stems into roughly 2.5cm pieces and put into large plastic bags. If you want to maintain their colour and freeze for longer than three months it is best to wash the stems, blanch them first – cook in a pan of boiling water for a minute then plunge into ice-cold water before drying and freezing in bags.

Garden-grown rhubarb – when the plant ripens naturally in full sunlight - is at its best between April and September. These varieties tend to be greener and with a more robust flavour but can get stringy if left on the plant for too long.

Although most often used in sweet dishes - often with vanilla, orange and ginger – rhubarb is a perfect accompaniment to savoury dishes. As a pickle or a ketchup it compliments oily fish and fatty meats, and can also be found on a cheese board.

Both forced and garden-grown varieties of rhubarb can be used interchangeably in the kitchen. Rhubarb leaves contain poisonous oxalic acid and should never be eaten. To prepare, chop off the leaves and discard. Wash and stems and top and tail. Most recipes call for the stems to be cut

Rhubarb can also be a colourful and sweet addition to your drinks cabinet. Rhubarb cordial makes a refreshing spring drink when diluted with sparkling water or can also be used as a base for a shimmering bellini when combined with prosecco.

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Country Gardener


Rhubarb gin Makes 2 litres INGREDIENTS: 1kg pink rhubarb stalks, washed 400g caster sugar (white, not golden) 800ml gin METHOD: 1. Cut the rhubarb stalks into 3cm lengths. Put in a large jar with the sugar. Shake well, put the lid on and leave overnight. The sugar will draw the juice out of the rhubarb. 2. After 24 hours add the gin, seal and shake well. Leave for about 4 weeks before drinking. Strain the liquor through a sieve lined with muslin and transfer to a bottle. Alternatively leave the rhubarb and alcohol in the jar and ladle straight into your drink. (© Diana Henry)

Rhubarb cordial Makes 600ml INGREDIENTS: 300g caster sugar 1 orange, zest and juice 1 lemon, zest and juice 450g rhubarb, chopped 1 slice root ginger, peeled METHOD: 1. Put the sugar in a large saucepan with 300ml water. Bring to a simmer then add the zest and juice of both the orange and lemon, along with the rhubarb and ginger. 2. Cook over a medium heat until the rhubarb is falling apart. 3. Pour the mixture through a sieve lined with muslin in to a clean heatproof jug. Transfer to sterilised bottles. 4. To serve – mix 25ml cordial with 100ml still or sparkling water. Keeps in the fridge for up on a month. (©BBC Good Food)

Rhubarb & beetroot ketchup INGREDIENTS: 2 beetroot, uncooked 1 onion, diced 400 rhubarb stems, chopped into 2 cm pieces 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped 150g caster sugar 50ml red wine vinegar 1 star anise 2 juniper berries 1 clove Vegetable oil Sea salt METHOD: 1. Preheat the oven to 180°. Place the beetroot on a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil and roast for 1 – 2 hours, until the beetroot are tender. 2. Sweat down the onion and ginger in a splash of vegetable oil. When soft add the rhubarb to the pan. Stir occasionally. When it has almost turned to mush add the vinegar and sugar. 3. In a spice grinder, or pestle and mortar, grind the star anise, juniper and clove to a powder then add to the pan. Cook for five minutes. Take off the heat. 4. When the beetroot are cooked and cooled slightly remove the skin with a small knife. 5. Put the rhubarb mixture in a blender or food processor with the beetroot and blitz until smooth. Taste and season – you may need more salt, sugar or vinegar depending on the tartness of your rhubarb. 6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month. (©Pollyanna Coupland)

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Devon

Dorset 2018 FREE ISSUE NO 160 SPRING .co.uk www.countrygardener

.co.uk www.countrygardener

Old Gold

ALL HAIL

the perfect tomato!

Let heritage daffodils welcome in spring

….juicy, tasty, organic

snowdrops

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for you to enjoy WHITE of WITCHAMPTON

Love your garden? Love Country Gardener

OUR NATIVE

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ISSUE NO 141 MAY

and now all summe

from your

your How to spruce up season garden for the new

Cotswolds

2018 FREE

Long live .. LAVENDER. r long

and home grown

this summer Make teas own garden

In search of

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ISSUE NO 167 APRIL

Quality Verandas, Carports, Canopies and Awnings or

P lus WITH the taste of Italy

P lus

LES VEGETAB How to feed your lawn, hyacinth delights, growing chard, April gardens to visit

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Our readers say*... “I can’t wait to pick up my copy every month.“ “I doubt if there’s a better gardening magazine.” “A lovely read, well written and I love how local it is.” Country Gardener produces editions covering CORNWALL, THE COTSWOLDS, DEVON, DORSET, HAMPSHIRE and SOMERSET. Available at over 650 LOCATIONS throughout our circulation area. To find your local pick up point go to

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55


TIME Off

COMPILED BY KATE LEW IS DIARY EVENTS FROM CLUBS AND ORGANISATIONS AROUND CORNWALL

Our popular Time Off section is a regular free opportunity for gardening clubs, associations, societies and organisations to publicise their events to Country Gardener readers Here’s a selection of gardening events to look out for during the next few weeks throughout Cornwall. If you are a garden club or association looking to promote an event then please send us details at least eight weeks before publication and we will publicise it free of charge. Make sure you let us know where the event is being held, the date and include a contact telephone number. We are always keen to support events and we will be glad to publicise talks, meetings and shows held during the year where clubs want to attract a wider audience, but we do not have space for club outings or parties. It is much easier for us if garden clubs could send us their diary for the year for events to be included in the relevant issue of the magazine. Please send to Country Gardener Magazines, Mount House, Halse, Taunton TA4 3AD or by email to timeoff@countrygardener.co.uk. We take great care to ensure that details are correct at the time of going to press but we advise readers to check wherever possible before starting out on a journey as circumstances can force last minute changes. All NGS open gardens can be found on www.ngs.org.uk or in the local NGS booklet available at many outlets.

APRIL 24th JULIOTTER GARDEN CLUB ‘FUN WITH FUSCHIA’ WITH MARIA HALL Details on 01840 261237 28th LANHYDROCK GUIDED WALK THROUGH THE ESTATE

MAY 1st CORNWALL GARDEN SOCIETY A VISIT TO SCORRIER HOUSE, REDRUTH AND TREVINCE, GWENNA 4 CORNWALL HARDY PLANT SOCIETY ANNUAL PLANT SALE AT TRURO CATTLE MARKET th

5th NAVAS HILL HOUSE, FALMOUTH TR11 5LL NGS OPEN GARDEN, 2pm-5pm More details on 01326 251233 SOUTH LEA, SALTASH PL12 6QS NGS OPEN GARDEN, 1pm-5pm More details on 01579 350629

56

6th SOUTH BOSENT, LISKEARD PL14 4LX NGS OPEN GARDEN, 11am-5pm More details www.ngs.org.uk BOCONNOC, LOSTWITHIEL PL22 0RG OPEN GARDEN FOR NGS, 2pm-5pm More details www.boconnoc.com MOYCLARE, LISKEARD PL14 4EH NGS OPEN GARDEN, 11am-5.30pm More details on 01579 3443114 SCORRIER HOUSE, REDRUTH TR16 5AU NGS OPEN GARDEN, 2pm-5pm More details www.scorrierhouse.co.uk 7 CORNWALL GARDEN SOCIETY WORCESTERSHIRE GARDENS AND THE RHS MALVERN SPRING FLOWER FESTIVAL VISIT th

12th ALVERTON COTTAGE, PENZANCE TR18 4TG NGS OPEN GARDEN, 2pm-5pm More details www.ngs.org.uk ANVIL COTTAGE, SOUTH HILL PL17 7LP NGS OPEN GARDEN, 1.30pm-5pm More details on 01579 362623

Country Gardener

ETHNEVAS COTTAGE, FALMOUTH TR11 5PY NGS OPEN GARDEN 12pm-5pm More details on 01326 340076 TREGULLOW, SCORRIER TR16 5AY NGS OPEN GARDEN, 12pm-5pm More details www.ngs.org.uk WINDMILLS, CALLINGTON PL17 7LP NGS OPEN GARDEN, 1.30pm-5pm More details email: tunnicliffesue@gmail.com TREBARTHA, NR LAUNCESTON PL15 7PD NGS OPEN GARDEN, 2pm-5pm More details www.ngs.org.uk 12th/13th THE JAPANESE GARDEN, ST MAWGAN TR8 4ET GARDEN OPEN FOR NGS, 10am-6pm More details on 01637 860116 or www.japanesegarden.co.uk 18th/19th PINSLA GARDEN & NURSERY, CARDINHAM PL30 4AY GARDEN OPEN FOR NGS, 9am-5pm More details on 01208 821339 or www.pinslagarden.net


19th HIDDEN VALLEY GARDENS, PAR GARDEN EVENT FOR SAVE THE CHILDREN Details on 01208 873225

JUNE 4th/5th GARDENS COTTAGE, ST BLAZEY PL24 2SS NGS OPEN GARDEN, 11am-5pm More details 07786 367610 9th CAERVALLACK, HELSTON TR12 6DF NGS OPEN GARDEN, 1.30pm-4pm More details on 01326 221339 16th ARUNDELL, CRANTOCK TR8 5SE NGS OPEN GARDEN, 1pm-5pm More details on 01637 831916

ST MICHAEL’S MOUNT, MARAZION TR17 0HS OPEN GARDEN FOR NGS, 10.30am-5pm More details www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk

TRENARTH, FALMOUTH TR11 5JN NGS OPEN GARDEN, 2pm-5pm More detail on 01326 340444 26th BOKELLY, BODMIN PL30 3DY NGS OPEN GARDEN, 1.30pm-5.30pm More details www.ngs.org.uk LOWER AMBLE GARDENS, WADEBRIDGE PL27 6EW NGS OPEN GARDEN, 2pm-5.30pm More details email: loweramble@btinternet.com

22 /23 HALF ACRE, BOSCASTLE PL35 0BJ NGS OPEN GARDEN, 1.30pm-5.30pm More details on 01840 250263 ROSELAND HOUSE, CHACEWATER TR4 8QB OPEN GARDEN FOR NGS, 1pm-5pm More details on 01872 560451 nd

rd

28th/29th/30th DYE COTTAGE, ST NEOT PL14 6NG NGS OPEN GARDEN, 2pm-5pm More details www.ngs.org.uk

23rd PENHEALE MANOR, LAUNCESTON PL15 8RX NGS OPEN GARDEN, 2pm-5pm More details www.ngs.org.uk

Devon

Cotswolds 2018 ISSUE NO 139 SPRING

.co.uk www.countrygardener

Old Gold

FREE .co.uk www.countrygardener

ALL HAIL

the perfect tomato!

Let heritage daffodils welcome in spring

….juicy, tasty, organic

snowdrops

EARLY OPENING GARDEN

S

for you to enjoy

P lus

Compost wisdom; Sundials; Growing rocket; No-dig beds; Your own cut flowers

PRESERVING OUR

bluebell

Open

Sensational

er bulbs

NATIVE

ng events

The best Easter gardeni throughout Devon

GARDEN CENTRE GARDEN LOVERS

- 4.30pm - 5pm Sunday: 10.30am

9am Mondays Open Bank Holiday e.co.uk www.farnboroughgardencentr

FREE

and now all summe

It’s time to think summ

AT THE Tel: 01295 690479 Banbury OX17 1EL. y: Road, Nr. Farnborough, - Tuesday-Saturda On A423 Southam Six Days a Week

It’s free!

.co.uk www.countrygardener

2018 ISSUE NO 162 MAY

Long live .. LAVENDER. r long

and home grown

from your

your How to spruce up season garden for the new

DO YOU HAVE ANY EVENTS YOU’D LIKE TO PUBLICISE?

Dorset

FREE

this summer Make teas own garden

In search of

Prepare for Spring

2018 ISSUE NO 167 APRIL

Quality Verandas, Carports, Canopies and Awnings or

P lus

How to feed your lawn, hyacinth delights, growing chard, April gardens to visit

Glass Rooms,

brochure Phone today for a FREE no obligation quote | Devon | TQ13 8JU Stone Lane | Chagford ercanopies.co.uk 01647 432321 www.allweath

garden days out in May VEGETABLES WITH

the taste of Italy

Gardening events galore

P lus

Seductive alpines; beating the weed invasion; summer squashes; grow your own loofah’s

THROUGHOUT DORSET

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k

Tel: 07966 258267

ardens.co.u / 01258 840082 www.wowg

Are you part of a garden club or society? Please send us your diary for the year - we’d love to include your talks and shows Send them into us by email, giving us 10 weeks notice of the event to: timeoff@countrygardener.co.uk or by post to: Mount House, Halse, Taunton, TA4 3AD. Your event can also be listed online at:

www.countrygardener.co.uk Sign up and start adding your events today

www.countrygardener.co.uk

57


HOW TO MAKE

WEEDING more effective

ut how to make weeding Grenville Sheringham has some advice abo timing less onerous and suggests it’s all to do with The first burst of spring colour in the garden is always greeted with pleasure. Snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils are followed by bluebells and tulips, and the bare earth quickly becomes carpeted in green leaves of all shapes and sizes. But soon these are replaced by a menacing array of weeds demanding attention from the conscientious gardener. The key to managing weeds effectively is………timing (sorry about the old joke, but it’s as true about weeding as it is about comedy!). Until they start to go to seed they are not really a problem, in fact many of them can look very attractive in flower: Forget-me-nots, celandines, buttercups all bring a welcome splash of spring colour, but will soon take over the whole garden if left to spread. The trick is to catch them and deal with them at the optimum moment, before seeding. Action needs to be taken as soon as the flowers start to fade. Most should be removed using a sharp hoe, leaving just a few in each patch to provide ground cover and colour next spring. It may seem a shame to put attractive flowers on the compost heap, but by taking action now you will save yourself a lot of work in future years, and also free up space for summer flowering seedlings and plants. I have seen whole gardens overrun with celandines, even establishing themselves in the lawn, but to banish them completely would be to lose a colourful and free spring ground cover. A word about bluebells. In the right location, on a shady bank in a large garden for example, they provide a lovely splash of colour and if you leave the old leaves to die back they provide almost complete protection from later summer weeds establishing. But in a small garden they will rapidly colonise every scrap of bare earth, and will even tuck themselves under other plants in a border. So be ruthless - decide where you want bluebells and where you don’t, and dig up all those you don’t want. This can be done any time in autumn or winter, so no need to waste valuable weeding time unless they are in the way of new planting. As spring moves into summer, the cavalry of the weed world 58

start to appear, especially in the larger garden – willow herb, field poppies, herb Robert, campion. They look very attractive in a large border, but again the key is timing. Enjoy the flowers when they are new, but be sure to remove them before fully in flower or they will soon commandeer large areas of the garden for their offspring. But the real garden villains are the deep-rooted perennials – bindweed, ground elder, dandelions, docks to name but a few. These often appear at the time when you are busiest in the garden, so get left for another day. But if you at least give them a jab at the base with a sharp hoe, that should stop them flowering and spreading. In late autumn the earth starts to loosen its tight grip on plant roots, and it becomes much easier to spade or fork out the roots. Hopefully having achieved a whole season of effective weed control, there is still much you can do in the winter to prepare for next year’s crop of weeds. Firstly you need to go back to those deep-rooted perennials and dig out as much root as you can. Bindweed and ground elder are better tackled with a garden fork so you can get out as much as possible of the tangled root mass. Then you need to cover the bare earth with a thick layer of mulch. Garden compost is ideal if you have access to large quantities, or buy in spent mushroom compost or similar – whatever is available locally. The immediate effect on a mixed border is, in my opinion, very pleasing – shrubs and winter flowers are highlighted against the dark background, and emerging leaves and plants are shown off to good effect. But a major advantage of mulch is it gives you a head start in the spring, as you can clearly spot weeds as they emerge. And it is so much easier to hoe a loose layer of mulch than compacted bare soil. After a few years of mulching, your borders will develop a fine crumbly layer of topsoil that will be much easier to keep weed-free. So don’t let the weeds take over – work with them and with the seasons, and enjoy the contribution they can make in the garden.

Country Gardener


P RODUC T REV IEW: SECATEURS

Proper cutting edge John Swithinbank reviews perhaps what is the one vital tool in the gardeners armoury – a good quality pair of secateurs I’ve spent nearly the last half-century gardening professionally with perhaps every kind of gardening tool and equipment on the market. Sometimes they have looked too good to be true only for them to perform disappointedly when put to real test at home. In this issue , I’m looking at secateurs which are perhaps one of the top five tools in every keen gardeners armoury. Without them our gardens would quickly resemble the Lost Gardens of Heligan prior to their renaissance. A pair of the best quality secateurs, when properly maintained, should last a gardener a lifetime. Basically, secateurs operate in two different forms. Firstly there are the popular bypass blade models. These operate like scissors and are used for most garden pruning jobs. Secondly there are the anvil blade types in which the bottom blade morphs into a chopping block. This type are mainly used to cut old, hard, and dead wood. Felco are considered by many to be the ‘Rolls Royce’ of secateurs and they are used professionally in the horticultural industry. They produce a wide range of secateurs to suit all pockets they also have variants within the bypass range which are as follows:Original simple bypass action with fixed handles. Original simple bypass action with rotating handle. To complicate matters a little there are various different handle sizes to suit different hand sizes, plus, there are left handed versions of some models. Two top of the range secateurs worth considering are:-

Felco 100

£53.18 RRP These are cut and hold secateurs which I found I found particularly useful for pruning brambles out of a holly bush. you might recognise the problem with brambles intertwined with your prize shrubs - they are a devil to pull out by hand with the inevitable lacerations akin to a vicious moggy strike! The brambles extracted with the 100 came out with ease and were duly disposed of away from my working area. One word of advice though - these secateurs will only hold when cutting towards your body.

Bahco PX-Ergo £44.30 RRP These are Bahco’s flagship traditional secateur. Everything about this model feels right. The build is what you would expect for this price and you feel that these secateurs will still be good when handed down to the next generation. An intermediate choice for me would be the

Burgon and Ball Bypass Secateurs endorsed by the RHS £19.99 RRP These are a traditional secateur which look and feel like a traditional Felco model. They produce a good clean cut but I had to loosen the closing catch on my pair as it was very stiff to close. That aside may have been a fault on my particular model they are well worth the reasonable price. If you have a lot of dead wood to prune a great choice would be the anvil-type

Wolf-Garten RSEN Secateurs

£12.99 RRP They are really well built and should last a good many years. I couldn’t say the same about the Wilko Anvil Secateurs which rrp at half the price at £6.50, they felt like they were overpriced at even that and I wouldn’t have fancied using them for more than a few minutes at a time. I know that there are many gardeners out there who love their gardening tools to be stylish as well as practical and I’ve recently had the chance to try out two secateur models that do just that. Firstly there is the Niwaki Secateur which retail at nearly £70 and secondly the Sophie Conran Precision Secateurs at a modest £27.99 RRP. Both pairs are suited to the more delicate and flamboyant pruning work such as bonsai pruning and floristry work. There we have it then. There is loads more information and choice online but, if you can, nip out to a well stocked garden centre and ask to handle a range of secateurs before you buy as different hand sizes and grip will detemine which secateurs are best suited to you personally.

www.countrygardener.co.uk

59


Stockists of Country Gardener Cornwall Country Gardener is available free of charge throughout the area at the outlets listed below where we have included postcodes to make it easier for you to find them. You’ll find those highlighted in green advertising in this issue. For amendments to details or deliveries call Pat Eade on 01594 543790 email pateade8@gmail.com. Heweswater Pengelly Plant Centre PL26 7JG Innis Downs Treseders Nursery PL26 8RU Lanner Penventon Nursery TR16 6AS Launceston South West Garden Machinery PL15 9HS Liskeard Goldenbank Nursery Garden NEW Homeleigh Garden Centre Centre PL14 3PB EX23 9NR Moyclare Cornish Gardens, PL14 4EH Tourist Information Centre Tourist Information Centre EX23 8LE PL14 3JE Callington Lostwithiel Rising Sun Nurseries PL17 8JD Community Centre PL22 OHA Camborne Mawnan Smith Mole Valley Farmers TR14 0NB Budock Vean Hotel TR11 5LG Kehelland Horticultural Centre Glendurgan Gardens NT TR11 5JZ TR14 0DD Trebah Garden Trust TR11 5JZ Chacewater Newquay Truro Tractors TR4 8LY Newquay Garden Centre, TR8 4LG Falmouth Tourist Information Centre Falmouth Garden Centre TR7 1BD TR11 5BH Padstow Tourist Information Centre Padstow Farm Shop PL28 8HJ TR11 3DF Par Gweek Marsh Villa Gardens PL24 2LU The Old Withy Garden Nursery Penzance TR12 6BE Tourist Information Centre Helston Cross Common Nursery TR12 7PD TR18 2NF Trewidden Garden, TR20 8TT Gear Farm Shop TR12 6DE Port Isaac Trevena Cross Nurseries Longcross Hotel PL29 3TF TR13 9PY Wynnstay Agriculture TR13 0LW Bodmin Bodmin Plant & Herb Nursery PL30 5JU Pencarrow House & Gardens PL30 3AG Pinsla Garden & Nursery PL30 4AY Tourist Information Centre PL31 2DQ Bude

Redruth Portreath Garden Machinery TR16 4QL St Austell St Austell Garden Centre PL25 3RJ Lost Gardens of Heligan PL26 6EN Tourist Information Centre PL25 4RS St Columb Major NEW Trenowth Nurseries TR9 6EW Wynnstay Country Store TR9 6JB St Ive Ken-Caro Garden, PL14 5RF St Mawes Roseland Visitor Centre TR2 5AG St Neot Carnglaze Caverns, PL14 6HQ St Tudy Cedar Croft Plants PL30 3PH Saltash Cotehele House NT PL12 6TA

Tamar View Nurseries PL12 6PH Tartendown Nurseries, PL12 5AF Torpoint Antony Woodland Garden, PL11 2QA Truro Bosvigo Gardens, TR1 3NH Goonhavern Garden Centre TR4 9QQ Grahams Garden Machinery TR2 4HD Roseland Plant Centre TR2 5JR Tourist Information Centre TR1 2QQ Trewithen Gardens, TR2 4DD Wadebridge Trelawney Garden Centre PL27 6JA Wynnstay Country Store PL27 6HB

Do you know the perfect place to stock Country Gardener magazine? The magazine has a devoted and enthusiastic readership who regularly pick up the latest issue from stockists. If you have any suggestions or would be interested, just email our Distribution Manager Pat Eade at pateade8@gmail.com

Eden Project

Minack Theatre

Country Gardener Magazine Editorial Publisher & Editor: Alan Lewis alan@countrygardener.co.uk Tel: 01823 431767

Distribution Pat Eade pateade8@gmail.com Tel: 01594 543790

Time Off: Kate Lewis timeoff@countrygardener.co.uk

Advertising Sales Cath Pettyfer - Devon & Dorset Corina Reay - Cornwall & Cotswolds cath.pettyfer@countrygardener.co.uk corina@countrygardener.co.uk Tel: 01837 82660 Tel: 01823 410098

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Accounts Sam Bartholomew sam@countrygardener.co.uk Tel: 01823 430639

Design & Production Aidan Gill aidan@countrygardener.co.uk Gemma Stringer gemma@countrygardener.co.uk

The Country Gardener magazines are distributed FREE at Nurseries, garden centres, National Trust Properties, open gardens, garden machinery specialists, country stores and farm shops in each county. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or made available in any form, without the written permission of the copyright holder and Publisher, application for which should be made to the Publisher. Unsolicited material: do not send or submit your only version of manuscripts and/or photographs/transparencies to us as these cannot be returned to you. While every care is taken to ensure that material submitted is priced accurately and completely, we cannot be responsible or liable for any loss or damage suffered. Views and/or opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of Country Gardener or the Publisher.

60

Country Gardener


NOW F OR SOMETHING

READER’S STORY

completely different!

Somerset allotment holder Julie Williams lost her mojo growing vegetables in her plot so last year she started the search for new crops to try

Left to right; skirret roots; amaranth leaves; snake gourds; tomatillos; cucamelons

Another spring... another vegetable growing season. A couple of years ago I think for the first time for a long while I was feeling less than enthusiastic about starting the seeds going. I finally thought about it and chatted with my fellow allotment holders and we agreed I needed a new challenge. I was less than motivated to grow the same old cropscourgettes, onions, potatoes, leeks, a few carrots, greens and a variety of beans. All lovely to grow but it was a bit repetitive and I am quite adventurous when it comes to eating. For some reason I hadn’t translated that to the vegetable crop. My fault entirely. So last year I looked for something different and it was great fun trying. So what was my hit and miss ratio? It was I must admit a bit of a gardening gamble when I planted oca tubers which are as easy to grow as potatoes and in their native Andes are used in the same way as spuds but with a lovely lemon flavour. I learnt that tubers don’t form until the autumn so you have to be patient but all in all a HIT. A friend said to me tomatillos are to salsa what potatoes are to chips. Related to cape gooseberries the green or yellow fruit is encased in a papery casing and you can use them just like a firm, tangy tomato. If you can grow tomatoes you can grow these and they form a bushy plant which doesn’t need supporting again a HIT. Amaranth is a spinach like plant which is a staple crop in Bangladesh and you can pick new leaves for salsa. I made a mistake here and should have found a variety adapted to our cooler conditions. Mine were clearly slowed down by the Somerset weather even last summer and although the plant grew strongly I can’t say anything more than this was a MISS.

Snake gourds are great fun to grow and put on a staggering amount of growth even in our cooler climate and they shot away on my allotment to the amazement of my ‘neighbours’. It became a bit of a talking point and and Ian ‘next door’ swore blind he could see them growing! So they do need plenty of support but when harvested they taste like squash and the roots are delicious too and I used them regularly as an ingredient for curries. Another HIT. Skirret may have fallen out of fashion these days but in Elizabethan times it was a delicacy. You eat the finger-like roots, which look just like bunches of small parsnips: the flavour is so sweet you can eat them raw. It grows very tall, with pretty white flowers, and it’s perennial: leave some roots in the ground and they’ll re-grow into another plant next year. If you can grow parsnips and carrots you won’t have any trouble growing skirret, as they need just the same conditions. You do however need patience: it takes two years for plants to reach maturity and produce a crop. So they are looking good so far but the jury is still out. Cucamelons I think are my favourites of the lot. They are cute, tiny and tangy fruit that looks like a mini watermelon and are easy to grow very fast growing and can be grown outdoors. I noticed also that butterflies love them. The not so good news is that they are not all that easy to find seeds for and are quite sour to taste Another HIT. What of the rest? I tried Chinese artichokes which might not be very experimental for many allotment holders but they were for little old boring me and yacon, a wonderful handsome plant with yellow flowers which yielded a heavy drop of fat sweet tubers. So what of my adventurous growing? I think I can safely say I have found my mojo when it comes to growing vegetables. And I have confirmed that life is not all about potatoes and carrots after all.

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HOUSEPLANTS

for your health

Clockwise from top left: (Chylorophytum comosum) or Spider Plant; Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.); Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

As well as looking good, houseplants are known to support our health in homes, offices, school and hospitals. New research is about to endorse how good they actually are. They look colourful, decorative, and beautiful and can give any room a wow factor. But new research is about to support just how helpful houseplants they can be in improving air quality by trapping and capturing pollutants, and helping us breathe more easily. They also provide a wide range of mental and physical health benefits. Numerous scientific studies have explored this fact and the results are now shedding light on the matter. Indoor plants offer two main groups of benefits for us: improved mental well-being and physical health. Stale indoor air can keep pollutants in the environment. In addition, new carpets, floors, and furniture give off chemicals such as formaldehyde, which we inhale. Additionally bioaerosols (i.e. fungal spores and bacteria) can add to indoor pollution. Opening the windows and naturally ventilating indoor spaces can remedy some of these problems. However, during winter months when poor air quality indoors are at their highest, the air exchange rates are reduced (i.e. the windows/doors aren’t opened so much), and people spend more time inside. There are no specific, scientifically-tested recommendations about what to grow to get the best air quality. However, it is possible to produce a list of those plants which are known to make things better. Now new NASA research in Wyoming in a five year project has found houseplants have a higher than expected effect on air quality. This list of easy to grow foliage houseplants, which can be grown in homes, schools and offices, is a relatively long one. Plants filter out particles in the air and also absorb carbon dioxide, replacing it with oxygen. Some plants filter more air than others, but here are a group of plants that filter the environment and are hard to kill. 62

• (Chrysanthemum morifolium) or POT CHRYSANTHEMUMS scored the best at filtering unwanted items out of the air such as ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene. • SPIDER PLANTS (Chylorophytum comosum) are one of the easiest plants to grow. The ‘mother’ plant grows baby plants where a bloom was on the plant. These can be cut off and planted in another pot. These plants are often grown in hanging baskets. Spider plants are especially good at filtering out formaldehyde and xylene. • FICUS (Ficus benjamina) is also called the weeping fig. It is a tree in its native Asia, but when grow in a pot inside, grows from two to ten feet high. The ficus filters a lot of air because of its size. It filters out benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. • The PEACE LILY (Spathiphyllum sp.) blooms with a sweet scented bloom all summer. It is smaller than most plants, but still filters a lot of air. Peace lilies filter out ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. They are poisonous if eaten so keep them away from pets and children. • SNAKE PLANT (Sansevieria trifasciata) is also called mother-in-law’s tongue. Keep it on the dry side and place it in the sun. It filters out benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. • ALOE VERA (Aloe vera) is a useful plant. The gel inside the leaves is a topical ointment that has antibacterial qualities. It also helps sooth burns. The plant filters out formaldehyde. • Different palm trees are particularly good at removing formaldehyde. The best at doing that is called the DWARF DATE PALM (Phoenix roebelenii). • RUBBER PLANTS (Ficus elastic) grow well in dim light. Many offices do not have good light, but have lots of furniture held together with formaldehyde glue. A rubber plant is a good option in that environment.

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made in Cornwall It's with your support that the National Trust can look after historic gardens across Cornwall, and keep these special places blooming every year. What will you discover on your next visit? These are the places that make us. nationaltrust.org.uk/cornwall

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