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Bee friendly planting for wildlife heaven

The best April garden events throughout the Cotswolds

Grow vegetables without digging

Cotswolds www.countrygardener.co.uk


It’s tulip




Great gardens to visit ; hawthorn hedges, springtime sauerkraut; colourful carrots, gardens with cats in mind, staking perennials

Step into Spring


On A423 Southam Road, Nr. Farnborough, Banbury OX17 1EL. Tel: 01295 690479

Open Six Days a Week - Tuesday-Saturday: 9am - 5.30pm Sunday: 10.30am - 4.30pm

Open Bank Holiday Mondays www.farnboroughgardencentre.co.uk



It’s difficult to find interesting places to visit in these days of chain stores and national garden centre groups that all look the same. Here is the antidote! This is a Garden Store-situated in the heart of the Wye Valley. On the outskirts of the picturesque market town of Ross on Wye-on the banks of the River Wye, independently run by a local family, it is certainly a break from the “norm”. Housed in an historical Brunel designed “Engine Shed” formerly of the Great Western Railway-the main shop houses an array of unusual homewares, garden related gifts and a quaint cafe, offering light lunches and snacks and famed locally for it’s

homemade cakes, soup and scones. Outside under the covered planteria which protects visitors from all weathers, high emphasis is placed on the sale of plants, which are sourced from specialist nurseries across the globe all chosen for their seasonality at any one time, and of the highest quality. Reclamation pieces are dotted throughout the building, from cart wheels to bushel boxes and galvanised watering cans to unusual arches and plant supports. A landcape and design service is also available, plus plenty of horticultural advice from an expert team on site.

Mon -S Sun at 9am10am 5 -4.3 pm 0pm A449

Easy out of town parkin g



Ross Garden Store, The Engine Shed, Station Approach, Ashburton, Ross On Wye, Herefordshire HR9 7BW

www.rossgardenstore.com 01989 568999 OPEN DAILY


Up Front!

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” - Virgil A. Kraft “I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.”


Highgrove opens for spring walks You can enjoy a special glimpse into the life of HRH The Prince of Wales as a gardener when as an experienced guide takes you on a fascinating 75-minute tour at Highgrove. you’ll learn how The Prince has lovingly crafted each of these extraordinary gardens from scratch. After the tour you can enjoy a seasonal lunch in the Orchard Restaurant. Lunch isn’t included in the ticket price. You can also spend time in the Highgrove Shop, where you can buy seasonal plants from the gardens as well a unique range of garden gifts. The spring walks are available at selected dates in March and April. Price £17.50. Highgrove Gardens, Doughton, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8TN. Tel: 0303 1237310

Cotswolds spring foraging days Spring foraging is hugely popular and there are some special days out coming up in the Cotswolds to enjoy the experience. Blenheim Palace hosts foraging days on Friday, 29th March and Saturday, 20th April. On Friday, 5th April there’s a foraging day at Ashton under Hill a village in the Wychavon district of Worcestershire. Starting at the Star Inn, the course starts at 11 am then it is a two and a half hour walk, typical of these foraging courses around the village, teaching you how to identify edible plants and flowers. The Star Inn, Elmley Road, Ashton under Hill, Evesham, Worcestershire, WR11 7SN. Woodchester Park at Nympsfield provides the habitat for spring foraging on Sunday 14th April. The walk starts in the car park at 11am. Woodchester Park (National Trust), Nympsfield, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL10 3TS.

- Marche Blumenberg

BLOCKLEY VILLAGE OPENS GARDENS FOR NGS The popular historic hillside village of Blockley just outside Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire hosts an NGS Gardens Open Day on Saturday 28th April from 2pm to 6pm. The village has a great variety of high quality, well-stocked gardens - large and small, old and new. Blockley Brook, an attractive stream which flows right through the village, graces some of the gardens; these include gardens of former water mills, with millponds attached. From some gardens there are wonderful rural views. Shuttle coach service is provided. Access to some gardens quite steep and allowances should be made. Homemade teas will be available. Entrance is £6 for all gardens. The gardens will be open again on Sunday, 2nd June. Blockley Village Open Gardens, Blockley, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 9DB.

Spetchley Park Gardens opens for new season Spetchley Park Gardens, the historic gardens is set in the Worcestershire countryside with far reaching views to the Malvern Hills re-opens on Wednesday, 3rd April. Open from 10.30am to 5pm. There is a free garden tour on the first Sunday of every month starting at 11.15am. The first takes place on 7th April and lasts an hour. Spetchley Gardeners’ Society hold their annual Bulb Show in the Cart Sheds on Saturday, 6th April from 1pm to 4pm. Categories are open to everyone. Viewing will follow morning judging, so there’s a chance to see some of the best spring flowers the Cotswolds has to offer. On Friday, 12th April the gardens will open to raise money for the NGS, normal admission applies. Spetchley Park Gardens, Spetchley, Worcestershire WR5 1RS. www.spetchleygardens.co.uk

Dates for a Cotswolds gardener’s diary MALVERN SPRING SHOW - one of the highlights in the garden festival calendar runs from Thursday, 9th May through to Sunday,12th May. Ticket prices from £28 to £40 depending on the day of visit. www.rhsmalvern.co.uk RARE PLANT FAIRS there are two April events for the popular plant fairs. Sunday, 7th April at Evenley Woods Gardens Nr Brackley, Northants. Sunday, 14th April at The Old Rectory, Quenington Nr Cirencester. www.rareplantfair.co.uk CHIPPING CAMPDEN OPEN GARDENS – private gardens open throughout the historic streets of Chipping Campden. Twenty plus gardens plan to be open. June 15th and 16th. www.countrygardener.co.uk


Plant Fair


28 APRIL 2019 Specialist Sunday 10.30am – 5pm

Plant Fair Specialist

A fabulous day out with 40 stall holders offering thousands of rare and 28 APRIL 2019 interesting garden plants– 5pm for sale. Sunday 10.30am

Plant Fair

A fabulous day out with 40 stall Become a Admission includes Frienand d of SPG offering thousands of rare Exceptional plants grownentry to theholders Gardens. and get your interesting garden plants for sale. admission in a magical setting Adults £6 refunded Bec ome a Admission includes Open Tues - Sun and Bank Holidays Friend of SPG under 16s free entry to the Gardens. and get your

28 APRIL 2019

10am to 5pm


on Adults £6 refunded Spetchley under 16s free Park Gardens, Worcester WR5 1RS

Sunday 10.30am – 5pm

Our vinery café serves delicious coffee and cake! t: 01905 345106 • plantfair@spetchleygardens.co.uk • spetchleygardens.co.uk Spetchley Park Gardens, Worcester WR5 1RS Miserden, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 7JA

t: 01905 345106 • plantfair@spetchleygardens.co.uk • spetchleygardens.co.uk SpetchleyParkGardens • @SpetchleyPark • spetchleygardens spetchleygardens SpetchleyParkGardens • @SpetchleyPark •

A fabulous day out with 40 stall holders offering thousands of rare and interesting garden plants for sale.






86 NO.3



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| VOL.

No. 3 86 ∙



240∙ pp.

• Quarterly colour journal



We offer a range of benefits for people interested in plants:

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Join us today.


Admission includes entry to the Gardens. Adults £6 under 16s free 352

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ABOVE Trollius altaicus favoured a wet meadow LEFT Phlomoides at the roadside speciosa

meadow. To cap off an extraordinary thousands of Eremurus day, needed source of revenue fuscus created yellow wave on a people. for local a slope beside the road Kyrgyz By mid-June the semi-nomadic to Chichkan. Individually people had mostly they may not be in the same settled their animals league up on the high with in a massed display as E. robustus but, steppe grassy where like this, their tall yellow spires 2m assortment they live all summer in an were of yurts and old The drive to Kochkor a dramatic sight. railway cars. the next day took Many of the women were us back over the busy making kumiss, the fermented Ala Bel Pass. Roadside vendors selling mare’s milk that is much in demand reminder that local honey were a Soon the drifts in this region. the magnificent of Trollius displays also indirectly floral provide a much- Myosotis asiatica, Ranunculus altaicus, and Primula albertii algida necessitated THE ALPINE G ARDENER


ABOVE Masses of Eremurus fuscus beside the road to Chichkan RIGHT Primula algida, which was found in several locations

yet another stop. Susaymyr mountain The snow-capped splendid backdrop range provided a to this floriferous scene. Later, we saw caucasicum growing blue Polemonium through a yellow haze of shrubby Caragana pleiophylla. Driving east into our route followed a long rocky gorge, the raging Karakol river for many kilometres, the banks barely constraining river the torrent of snowmelt. At a roadside stop (1,887m) deep pink Chesneya ferganica formed SEPTEMBER 2017

Become a Friend of SPG and get your admission refunded


• Members’ seed exchange

• Online plant encyclopaedia • Specialist plant sales and shows, plus local groups • Guided plant tours

A full list of our plant fairs and shows, together with conferences is available on our website or contact us for more information.

Visit the Bookshop on our website and see our full list of publications, including our newest title - Meconopsis for Gardeners. All members can get up to 20% discount on our book prices.

(valid against any book purchased from our bookshop)

Call or visit our website quoting R256 for this limited membership offer.

Reg Charity No. 207478

T: 01386 554790

R256 The Plantsman December 2018 170x240.indd 1 TP Dec18 cover Outside.indd 1


01/11/2018 14:02


Spetchley Park Gardens, Worcester WR5 1RS t: 01905 345106 • plantfair@spetchleygardens.co.uk • spetchleygardens.co.uk SpetchleyParkGardens • @SpetchleyPark • spetchleygardens Join now and receive your FREE book voucher worth £5.00

New Series Volume 17 Part 4 December 2018

15/11/2018 16:47

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• Plant collections • Breeding developments • Growing techniques • Travel & exploration • RHS trial results

Discover more at rhs.org.uk/plantsman @RHSPlantsPlus 4

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Garden sleepers – treated softwood, reclaimed or oak – which type is right for your project? Garden sleepers are large sections of timber which now play an important part in garden design and landscapes. They are sometimes referred to as ‘railway sleepers’ due to their historic use to support tracks across railway networks. Timber sleepers have a number uses in the garden especially in landscaping. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SLEEPER? Treated softwood Sleepers: These are the most popular type and are offered in a range of sizes. They are pressure treated for longer life and to help resist rot. “A� Grade Reclaimed Sleepers: These are reclaimed creosote treated sleepers from beneath the tracks of assorted European countries. Grade “A� are essentially sound quality and substantial Oak Sleepers: These new untreated hardwood sleepers are both attractive and incredibly sturdy. HOW CAN I USE SLEEPERS IN MY GARDEN? The uses for sleepers include: to define borders and patio edges, create raised beds and planters, seating, as the perimeter for ponds and garden features, play pits and sand pits, and creating steps. RECLAIMED SLEEPERS FROM HARTWELL FENCING. These are ideal for making retaining walls to hold back soil. Because they are treated with creosote, which can under certain circumstances leech out of the timber, they should not be used in direct contact with people. Uses include: shed base, steps, retaining wall. For further advice or to place an order contact Hartwell Fencing, The Timber Yard, Weston Subedge, Chipping Campden, Glos GL55 6QH. 01386 840373 info@hartwellfencing.co.uk www.hartwellfencing.co.uk

Two Sunday Cotswolds dates for Rare P lant Fairs Evenley Wood, Brackley

The Old Rectory at Quenington

HIDDEN TREASURE AT TAURUS CRAFTS VINTAGE FAIR There’s the chance to delve into the past at the Taurus Crafts Antiques & Vintage Fair, this Easter and discover a hidden gem or two amongst the twenty-five plus stalls, offering a diverse selection of antiques, memorabilia, bric-a-brac and vintage items. For those treasure seekers who are looking for something in particular there will be a selection of specialist sellers trading in; vinyl records, glass paperweights, glassware, fossils and minerals, historical local books & prints, French vintage and not forgetting our onsite antiques expert Alan Brown who runs the Little Bazaar. Taurus Crafts is on Sunday, 21st April at their ever-popular Antiques and Vintage Fair which runs from 10am until 4pm and is free to enter with free parking. Taurus Crafts is part of the Camphill Village Trust, a charity supporting adults with learning disabilities. Taurus Crafts provides work and training opportunities, so people can interact with the public and gain confidence from their achievements. www.cvt.org.uk

There are two spectacular garden settings for Rare Plant Fairs in April. The 25th anniversary season for the popular one day fairs are based in the stunning 60acre woodland gardens at Evenley Wood, near Brackley in Northamptonshire, on Sunday, 7th April, followed by a long-standing event at The Old Rectory at Quenington, near Cirencester, on Sunday, 14th April, in support of Cobalt Health. Both fairs run from 11am to 4pm. The plant fairs have found a successful formula by combining a great selection of specialist nurseries with gardens which are well worth a visit in their own right. Nurseries attending both will include a number of National Collection holders, all are experts in the plants they grow. There are 13 fairs this year and to find out if there is one near you visit the website at www.rareplantfair.co.uk for details of all events, including lists of the exhibitors. www.countrygardener.co.uk



Charity week aims to promote gardening benefits The Gardening-for-health charity Thrive is launching a campaign throughout the Cotswolds to get more people into the garden to experience the health and wellbeing benefits it offers. It’s Not Just Gardening is a week-long campaign running from Monday, 1st April to Friday, 5th April promoting how gardening can help: physical health, mental health, social engagement, and learning of new skills. Drawing on evidence of 40 years experience delivering therapeutic horticulture to clients with a range of long-term health conditions and disabilities, Thrive is

SPRINGTIME STROLLS THROUGH THE GARDENS AT HIGHCLERE CASTLE The castle and gardens at Highclere are re-opening during April and May for tours as well as a special series of ‘Springtime strolls at Highclere’. Visitors to the 5,000 acre estate in Highclere, famous as the setting for the hugely popular television series Downton Abbey, will be able to see a profusion of colour following the planting of over 50,000 spring bulbs in recent years, these include fritillaries, an abundance of crocuses, rangy alliums, and narcissi. There is also the rare azalea alta clarensis hybrids created by the 2nd Earl of Carnarvon, and new plantings of magnolias. Castle and garden tickets can be booked together or separately, with a further option of visiting the Tutankhamun exhibition in the lower ground floor of the castle. Gardens only - £7.00 castle and gardens £16.00 Spring opening dates: 7th April until 18th April (every day) Closed Good Friday 20th April - 23rd April 5th May, 6th May, 7th May, 26th May, 27th May, 28th May. From May 12th to 18th tickets are available for guided tours of the Castle and the gardens. Limited ticket numbers are available to these tours. Highclere Park, Highclere, Newbury RG20 9RN. 6

encouraging people who have never considered gardening to give it a go. Thrive chief executive Kathryn Rossiter said: ‘Whatever your circumstances, gardening can have a positive impact on your personal health and wellbeing. “Physically, it can improve mobility and strength, while mentally it can provide a sense of achievement and purpose. “And gardening can be a socially engaging activity, particularly in community gardening or therapeutic gardening settings.”

Specialist Plant Fair at Spetchley Park The popular Specialist Plant Fair at Spetchley Park Gardens, near Worcester, returns on Sunday 28 April. Known as one of the Midlands recognised gardening events, it is an ideal way to start planning your planting, with 40 stall holders offering thousands of rare and unusual plants, perennials, shrubs, climbers, alpines, trees, wild flowers and exotics from experienced growers. Admission includes entry to 30 acres of historic garden. Refreshments will be available on the lawnl. Entrance is £6 for adults and free for under 16’s and Friends of Spetchley Park Gardens. www.spetchleygardens.co.uk

Garden history lovers invited to join in at Sudeley Castle

Garden history lovers are being invited to help archaeologists unearth a long-lost Tudor garden and banqueting house at Sudeley Castle. A two-week excavation is set to take place in the grounds of the Cotswold castle near Winchcombe in May, to explore a site which experts believe could reveal one of England’s last surviving Tudor gardens – hidden in the castle grounds for nearly 300 years. Members of the public are now being invited to join a team of archaeologists from social enterprise company, DigVentures, for the excavation in May, and help uncover more of the site’s secrets. Sudeley Castle & Gardens Gloucestershire, Winchcombe GL54 5JD. Country Gardener

Pygmy Pinetum NURSERY & GARDENS Shrubs


Early flowerers for spring interest, including magnolias, rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas

Ornamental and Fruit - All bursting into bud and flower

Vegetable plants


Our usual large range from cabbages to stripey tomatoes

Perennials and Alpines

New varieties arriving each week

Fragrant and Colourful and including David Austin varieties Old favourites and specials

Bedding plants

Summer flowering Bulb Collection and fresh Spring Bedding Cannop Crossroads, Nr Speech House, Royal Forest of Dean, Glos. Tel: 01594 833398


THE GENEROUS GARDENER runs an extensive range of Gardening Lectures, Design and Pruning Workshops and Specialist Plant Sales from THE COACH HOUSE, AMPNEY CRUCIS, Nr CIRENCESTER GL7 5RY

Specialist Plant Centre

Our next event is the

Grange Farm NURSERY Beautiful plants to create your own unique garden


Friday, April 26th 10.00am - 1.00pm with leading nurseries selling Violas, Hostas, Ferns, Clematis, Shrubs and Perennials, Herbs and Plant Supports and Obelisks For more information about this and future events Call 01285 850256 or visit www.thegenerousgardener.co.uk

Open 7 days a week: Summer 9am - 5.30pm, Winter 9am to Dusk, Sundays 10am - 5pm Guarlford - Malvern - WR13 6NT

01684 562544 grangefmnursery@btconnect.com




a springtime treat

Set against the Malvern Hills, RHS Malvern’s spring festival in May sees gardening come into life for the new season

For one of the hottest tickets on the horticultural calendar, the RHS Malvern Spring Festival, continues to grow in reputation and style. Situated at the foot of the Malvern Hills at Three Counties Showground, the four-day festival from Thursday, 9th May to Sunday, 12th May has everything for keen horticulturalists and gardening novices alike. The festival, in association with Great Little Breaks, has been held at the showground since it began in 1985. Seen by many as the start of spring, the festival opens the door to the summer season, attracting more than 100,000 people annually. With more than ever on offer at RHS Malvern this year, visitors can expect a host of horticultural highlights. “We are always so proud to welcome everyone to the showground, from RHS Gold Medal winning show garden designers to the many wonderful nurseries that exhibit in our Floral Marquee,” commented Di Walton, head of shows at Three Counties. “Each brings their own talent and knowledge and it’s what our visitors love so much.” The show gardens at RHS Malvern, are a treat for any visitor. In 2019, eight show gardens and four Green Living Spaces will be on display - seven of which will be from brand new designers to RHS Malvern. The Floral Marquee is home to a stellar selection of 70 hand-picked leading nurseries from across the UK. A haven for gardeners wishing to take something special home, the marquee is a great place to quiz the experts on how to improve your gardening. In a first for 2019, the marquee will feature an indoor plants area, where visitors can pick up the very best for 8

What does it cost?

The show opens from 9am to 6pm THURSDAY, 9TH MAY: Adults: £36 online in advance, £40 on the day. Group tickets: £33 in advance, £40 on the day FRIDAY, 10TH MAY: Adults: £24 online in advance, £28 on the day. Group tickets: £33 in advance, £40 on the day SATURDAY, 11TH MAY: Adults: £21 online in advance, £25 on the day. Group tickets: £22 in advance, £25 on the day SUNDAY, 12TH MAY: Adults: £21 online in advance £25 on the day. Group tickets: £19 in advance, £25 on the day. Free parking at the showground indoor living. The rise in popularity of indoor growing comes after the hashtag #plantsofinstagram attracted millions of followers. In the house plants show, ten award winning nurseries will be exhibiting plants for indoor spaces – from trendy succulents and air plants to all colours of rainbow streptocarpus and luscious exotics foliage. Plans are also in the pipeline for Instagram-friendly points throughout the showground. With more than 37 per cent of the British population living in rented accommodation, the Green Living Spaces area is about bringing the outdoors in. For everything from patio to balcony gardening, the area demonstrates that having no garden at all is not an excuse to not grow plants, and how even a small windowsill can be the perfect growing spot. Advance tickets to RHS Malvern Spring Festival are now on sale. Children under 16 go free.


Thursday, 9th May to Sunday, 12th May


Three Counties Showground, Malvern,Worcestershire WR13 6NW


Tel: 01684 584900 www.rhsmalvern.co.uk

Country Gardener

Three Counties registered charity no. 511868 RHS registered charity no. 222879/SCO38262

In association with:

9-12 MAY 2019

Show Gardens, Floral Marquee, Food, Shopping Receive ÂŁ2 off Sat & Sun advance ticket prices, using code Gardener until 19 April 2019* Book now via rhsmalvern.co.uk or 08448 110 050 * Offer valid on standard adult tickets for Saturday & Sunday only and cannot be applied retrospectively.


free gardening?

Former Castle Drogo head gardener Emma Robertson is aiming to run her new nursery completely plastic free and has advice for those who want to join in her campaign A passion for plants, the love of being outdoors and closer to nature or simply the joy of getting your hands dirty. There are many reasons why gardening is a much-loved pastime. Our back gardens reduce C02 emissions, attract wildlife and create green, quiet havens within a busy modern world. It therefore seems ironic that the horticultural industry is such a huge supplier of single use plastic. Causing pollution during the manufacturing process and then from the throw away culture it is designed for. It is not until you stop and actually look around your own garden that you see just how much plastic has crept into the picture. Labels, pots, seed trays, watering cans, compost bags and garden tools. There are an estimated 500 million plant pots produced every year. After many years working in horticulture, I recently started a new adventure of opening my own plant nursery. Suddenly I had to make decisions about how I grow and sell my plants and was immediately hit with a dilemma. Should I use plastic? Just how easy is it to go plastic free, and what alternatives are out there? I made the decision to start as I mean to go on and launched a plastic free mail order service using only biodegradable packaging and bare root plants. I am now working hard to reduce the amount of plastic I use in all other areas of the nursery and here is a little of what I have learned so far. First and foremost, it is not easy. The horticulture industry as a whole has got a lot of work to do towards plastic reduction. There are some good alternatives on the market. The main 10

Alternatives on trial - Rhizo Pots - fabric pot, Haxnicks - bamboo fibre pot, Jiffy - Coco fibre pot, biodegradable seedling bag, coir pot and wooden plant labels

issue is availability, making it hard for nurseries and garden centres to get hold of large numbers. Countries like India, Thailand, China and America are producing some really interesting products and seem to be so much more advanced then we are in the UK. These products then have to be imported which brings its own carbon footprint and a higher cost. Plastic alternatives on average are at least three times more expensive. This has a big impact for nurseries and growers who need to stay competitive. So why is plastic in our gardens such a problem? The main issue is the lack of recycling Iris sibirica in flower on the nursery available. Many types of council do not include black plastic pots in kerbside collection because the sorting machines cannot detect them. Most of the time after a plant is put in the ground, the pot then sits in a shed before heading off to landfill, along

Country Gardener

with the pretty plant label and the carry tray it came home in. Steps are being made to solve this problem with designated drop off points for recycling. You can find your nearest one by searching www.recyclenow.com. Unfortunately they can often be miles away from where you live. A break through has recently come from a company called Aeroplas who have produced a range of taupe coloured pots which can included in household recycling. Taupe may not be the most striking colour but lets hope that this season taupe is the new black. Momentum for change is growing and conservation charities like the National Trust and the RHS are both launching initiatives, with the National Trust pledging to end most plastic products by 2022 and the RHS funding research into alternatives.

Here are a few ways we can reduce the use of plastic in our own gardens.

Re use or recycle your plastic

This is a good first step and one I am also adhering to on the nursery. If we all went out tomorrow and just simply got rid of our plastic we would just add to the waste problem. Instead if we can reuse the plastic we have it reduces the amount we need to buy in. Reusing plant pots and plant labels is a perfect example; a good wash and they can be used again and again. When these items need replacing we can then recycle them and purchase alternatives.

Buying your plants bare root

One way of combating the collection of unwanted pots is to buy your plants bare root. Bare root plants are often field grown and require far less water then those in nursery pots resulting in strong plants with developed root systems. Some garden centres now offer a depotting service where you can leave the pot at the check out and have your plants wrapped in paper to take home.

Use plastic alternatives

There are good alternatives on the market, some for long term use of around three – five years and others that break down within two to 12 months, once planted up. I have been trialling both types, using the long term pots for perennial plants and the short term for quick sale items and growing on. My favourite has to be Rhizo pots. Made from recycled plastic bottles and turned into a biodegradable fabric. They fold flat for storage and are designed to create fibrous roots through

air root pruning. Pots are being developed using sustainable plant materials like bamboo fibre, rice husks and miscanthus grass. Vipot are a company who have been making plant fibre pots for some time now. They can last up to five years but will biodegrade in nine to 18 months if broken up and added to the compost heap. I recently trialled bamboo fibre pots and was surprised by just how heavy they are. Three times heavier in fact then the same size plastic pot which would take some lifting once full of compost and carried in trays. Individually though I think they look good enough to display in the home. It is also worth mentioning that plant fibre pots can become brittle as they age and often break if dropped. Coir and wood fibre pots biodegrade within 12 months and can be planted straight into the ground causing the plants little root disturbance. They are perfect for growing bedding, herbs and vegetable plants. For the first time I have also tried using seedling bags. They look like teabags and are a little tricky to fill with compost but take up less room then cell trays and are really affordable for growing on seedlings.

Coir pots, wooden trays and Iris reticulata

Emma Robertson has 15 years horticultural experience and moved to Devon to manage the Formal and Woodland Garden at Knightshayes and was recently the National Trust head gardener at Castle Drogo, She is now setting up her own plant nursery, Tor Garden Plants in Brentor. As part of setting up the new plant nursery she is working towards it being plastic free which she is finding difficult but has been trialling different alternatives pots and labels.

Starting the plant nursery made me really think about my responsibility to the environment. As a result I have discovered a range of alternative options and solutions. It is just a shame that I really had to look hard to find them and many are not yet affordable. Hopefully as awareness is raised and we as gardeners make even the smallest changes in how we use plastic we can work towards a future where gardening is in harmony with nature. www.countrygardener.co.uk


VERY HIGH stakes! Perennials won’t stay bolt upright of their own accord - but what supports and stakes should you buy to make sure they grow straight and tall? Perennials in borders will almost certainly put on strong lush growth that makes them vulnerable to collapse, especially after heavy rain or strong winds. Staking them early in the season will help avoid disaster. In particular tall plants and hybrids with large flowers require additional support. It is a misconception commonly entertained by gardeners of all generations that herbaceous perennials, looking just fabulous as they power upwards and start to form their buds, will stay bolt upright all by themselves for the whole summer. Most of them don’t. It only needs a downpour or a gust or two and flowercovered clumps (herbaceous geraniums and asters) can open up and collapse, while majestic spires (e.g. delphiniums and verbascums) may lean, tumble and snap. So you need to support and you need to plan to support. Plant supports should be ideally inserted in spring, before plants have made too much growth. The plants will then grow through the support and hide it from view. Later staking is difficult as plant growth is more advanced and can easily be damaged. It may be necessary to continue tying the stems or raise the level of the used supports as the plant grows. Increasingly appealing to many of us is the idea of supporting our plants more naturally, using hedgerow prunings of hazel, willow or birch. But the extra work and skill involved are not inconsiderable. At the top end of the effort spectrum are the woven structures that last for one season. Brushwood is often recommended. It is the twiggy prunings from shrubs and trees and is pushed in around a clump of plants to give support. The problem is that some types are more available and better lasting than others, which is why peasticks are generally advocated. There are hazel or birch prunings (beech, occasionally). Peasticks are used to support peas and everything else. The National Trust uses a range of supports, but mainly its own hazel cut in late January to early February. Unless you are artistic and dexterous, you may need to be taught to make these. Getting the basics right may be straightforward but ensuring they are stakes of genuine quality and weather resistance is often another matter. Then of course there’s the ever increasing number of manufactured ornamental stakes, many very attractive but also often very expensive. 12

On the market is an array of wire grids, construct-it-yourself half-hoops on legs and ingenious spirals, a few of them aesthetically pleasing in their own right. They can all do a great job of supporting/encircling perennials if put in place at, crucially, the appropriate time (generally in early May) and equally crucially, at the right height to provide invisible support when the plants are in full flower and at their most vulnerable. It is also a case of “horses for courses” as most borders contain plants with varying growth and flower habits, so you need to build up a huge array of these metal stakes. On the face of it they seem like an extravagance, which is why so many gardeners fail to support their plants adequately. But most of them (particularly the now fashionable rusty metal supports) last for years and so can be viewed as an investment.

Why stake perennials? • Plants with tall brittle stems and substantial flower spikes such as delphinium are easily damaged by strong winds • Clumps of many perennials can split and flop on the ground in bad weather or under the weight of their own flowers • Even shorter perennials may droop over the edges of the border damaging the turf and will require staking • Peonies or dahlias in particular can be too heavy and may need to be staked individually to be able to appreciate the blooms • Collapsed stems can also smother adjoining plants

Staking problems Prevent physical damage to plants during the staking process by inserting supports starting early in the season when the growth commences. Tying stems too tightly to the support can lead to stem damage. Secure growing stems regularly or add another tier of string or netting to prevent the plants outgrowing the support and subsequent damage.

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Parrot tulips have exotic wavy, Double late tulips produce giant peony twisted and deeply frilled petals shaped flowers on very sturdy stems

Lily tulips are particularly useful for cut flower arrangements

Fringed tulips are contemporary flowers with finely fringed, petals

Viridiflora tulips or green tulips are almost entirely green with a hint of colour

Fleeting but fabulous tulips Matt Rees-Warren urges you to be adventurous when it comes to making the most of the much-loved options offered by tulips in your garden Earlier this year, as I walked around the recent Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival, looking at eye-watering prices for singular bulbs and overhearing the whispers of galanthophiles, my mind was put back many centuries to the defining moment in horticultural horse trading – tulipomania. So seismic was this event that it’s now the default terminology for any runaway speculative bubble (maybe the first and last time horticulture dictated the global financial markets). The 17th century public were in raptures to the humble tulip and all dispassionate reason was replaced by wild folly and unbridled sensationalism. It seems a rather fabulous proposition, in today’s landscape, to envision a whole world going cock-a-hoop over the minute detail of feathered ‘Bizarres’ and flaming ‘Bybloemens’. It did, however, have more serious connotations, and as land and livelihoods were traded for just one bulb, many lost everything in the madness of the pursuit of money. Snowdrops, however, have little chance of reaching such influential heights. But it’s worth remembering why the craze began in the first place – beauty. It’s hard to imagine any garden worth its salt not being adorned with at least some tulips in the late spring sunshine. And it’s not just the English garden which is still enamoured to their delights, the rest of the world still reveres and admires the short flowering wonder all these centuries later. 14

It’s all well and good admiring from afar, but it’s only really with the selection, endeavour and refinement of growing your own tulips that they truly pull you under their spell. And for that we need to go a back a little, and that’s because the beginning of the cyclical calendar for tulips begins, for me and many others, in September or October, when the orders begin. Catalogues from growers working on that same hallowed ground as began the tulip boom - the fertile fields of the tulip nation, the Netherlands – spill over the table. Page after page after page of every colour in nature’s rainbow (except blue), pour out in a giddying riddle of variety. It’s this endless choice that leads to thoughtless gluttony and it takes practice to show reserve and constraint. I like to choose in threes – three sets of three different tulips, all in variation of the theme or colour I’ve chosen for the year. So, I might be inspired by the 17th century tastes and go for parrot or fringed shapes with strong ‘breaking’ (a disease that causes two colours to literally ‘break’ into one another) colour characteristics. Then you have continuity throughout the selection without the banality of choosing singular varieties. Some might caution against using many different varieties together because of the different flowering times, but I find this matters less than you think as it all comes together in the end.

Country Gardener

My perfect tulip collection

17th century style

Double early tulips are dwarf growing tulips that flower prolifically in April

• Texas flame - parrot • Estella rynveld - parrot • Irene parrot - parrot • Marilyn - lily • Hermitage - triumph • Monsella - double early • Ballerina - lily • Texas flame - parrot • World expression - cottage

Moody expressionist

Triumph tulips are a result of a crossing between two premium varieties, single early and Darwin varieties and produce outstanding colours

Maybe just watch out if you are putting the earliest with the latest flowering. But, this is the joy of tulips anyway; take chances, be brave and then if it doesn’t work out you can start all over again next year. When the bulbs arrive in November I’ll seek out last years hiding in the dark corner of the shed, edit out the best 1/3 of the bunch, and plant those out into the main herbaceous borders. It’s a Darwinian approach - only the biggest, healthiest and strongest survive. The new are given the elevated garden stagecraft of pots; sawn barrels, stone, terracotta, zinc, bronze, or my particular favourite – victorian copper in classical turquoise. To me the tulip and the pot are inseparable in the English garden, much like the lemon tree and terracotta is to the an Italian garden. When potting up all the usual rules apply: plant two to threetimes their own height deep, put in plenty of grit and remember to give the bulb enough compost or rich loam to feed on – they are hungry plants. Wait until late November or after the first frosts to plant and don’t worry about cramming them in, they will find a way through. In the end it’s often a fleeting show and it’s often a fleeting lifespan that the tulip has, mainly due to the inherent beauty of the disease (breaking) that brings about its eventual demise. The main thing, however, is to remember to revel in their glorious flowers - the fruits of your labour. It seems that plants really do capture the imagination, yet rarely has a plant won over so many, and etched so deep a mark in history, as the indomitable tulip. To be entwined to the tulip is to be in love with the art of gardening, as there can be no space not enlivened by their goblets of colour splashed about in the late spring sunshine. www.countrygardener.co.uk

• Rococo - parrot • Black hero - double late • Blue parrot - parrot • Negrita parrot - parrot • Arie hoek - double early • Black charm - triumph • Garden fire - parrot • Burgundy - lily • Black hero - double late

Elegant pastel

• La belle epoque - double early • Curly sue - fringed • Madonna - parrot • Angelique - double late • Golden artist - viridiflora • Attila - triumph • La belle epoque - double early • Blue heron - fringed • Jordon - triumph Each set of three can be used independently but for the maximum effect have all the three sets in each collection running through the garden. The tulips can be ordered from Peter Nyssen, deJager www.dejager.co.uk or Jparkers, with varying degrees of price and quality – In my humble view Jparkers www.jparkers.co.uk represent the best value but Peter Nyssen www.peternyssen.com has a quality edge. 15

20 Forsdene Walk, Coalway


From the vibrant sharp green of emerging leaves to dazzling blossoms and bulbs, this is a magical time to get out and explore gardens that open their gates for charity. We’ve highlighted three great Cotswolds gardens and then for those who want to travel out of the area there’s an even greater choice. We advise checking wherever possible before starting out on a journey as circumstances can force closures in private gardens (for gardens opening for the National Gardens Scheme, visit www.ngs.org.uk).

We’re introducing a key to facilities on offer at the gardens:


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 Broadway, Dursley, Gloucestershire, GL11 6AG A delightful east-facing, steep woodland garden with extensive views, next to The Cotswold Way with both garden plants and wild flowers, a flower roof garden and areas with acers, pieris and camellias. Suitable footwear required. Open for the NGS on Saturday 20th April to Easter Monday 22nd April, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April, 10am-3pm. Admission £4 adult, not suitable for children. For more details contact Amanda Songer on 07791 659932 or email amandasonger9@gmail.com.

Coalway, Coleford, Gloucestershire, GL16 7JZ A corner garden filled with interest and design ideas to maximise smaller spaces; with a series of interlinking colour themed rooms, some on different levels and packed with perennials, grasses, ferns and bamboos. A pergola, small man-made stream, fruit and vegetables and pots in abundance on gravelled areas. Open for the NGS on Easter Sunday 21st April, 11am-4pm. Admission £3, children free. For more details contact Pamela Buckland on 01594 837179.

LOWER SLAUGHTER Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 2HP Two individual gardens filled with spring bulbs, flowering cherries and sparkling water features. The 17th century Slaughters Manor House is set within beautiful grounds while across the road lies The Slaughters Country Inn on the banks of the River Eye with its wildlife friendly pond, spacious lawns, mature trees and masses of spring bulbs. Open for the NGS on Thursday 4th April, 2pm-5pm. Admission £3.50, children free. For more details contact Jane Moore, George Leonte on 01451 820456 or email info@slaughtersmanor.co.uk, www.slaughtersmanor.co.uk. 16

Country Gardener


TYLNEY HALL HOTEL Ridge Lane, Rotherwick, Hampshire, RG27 9AZ

MOORE BLATCH Extensive woodlands and beautiful vistas over 66 acres, with avenues of wellingtonias, rhododendrons and azaleas, an Italian garden, lakes, large water and rock garden; dry stone walls originally designed with the assistance of Gertrude Jekyll. Open for the NGS on Sunday 28th April, 10am-4pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Elite Hotels 01256 764881 or email sales@tylneyhall.com, http://www.tylneyhall.co.uk.

48 High Street, Lymington, Hampshire, SO41 9ZQ Behind this elegant Georgian town house lies a surprising south-facing one-acre walled garden with a long vista across the croquet lawn to mature gardens beyond with glimpses of the Isle of Wight, amusing and varied topiary underplanted with mixed herbaceous, hellebores, tulips and forget-me-nots. Open for the NGS on Saturday 27th, 9.30am-1pm and Sunday 28th April, 2pm-5pm. Admission £3.50, children free.

BYES REACH 26 Coulsdon Road, Sidmouth, Devon, EX10 9JP

TERSTAN Longstock, Stockbridge, Hampshire, SO20 6DW A garden for all seasons, developed over 45 years into a profusely planted, contemporary cottage garden in peaceful surroundings, with vistas, an unusual gravel garden, a vegetable and cutting garden, surrounded by views across the River Test to the Hampshire Downs. Open for the NGS on Sunday 26th April, 2pm-6pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Alexander & Penny Burnfield, email paburnfield@gmail. com, http://www.pennyburnfield.wordpress.com

An edible garden of quarter of an acre backing onto The Byes Nature Reserve and River Sid; potagerstyle, with raised beds and an espalier fruit archway, designed for those with mobility problems; colour-themed herbaceous borders, perennials, herbs, ferns and hostas; a pond, rill, rockeries, greenhouse and a studio. Use of recycled material and a sculptured fountain. Open for the NGS on Saturday 20th to Monday 22nd April, 1.30pm-5.30pm. Admission £4, children free. For more details contact Lynette Talbot & Peter Endersby on 01395 578081 or email latalbot01@gmail.com.




HORN PARK Tunnel Road, Beaminster, Dorset, DT8 3HB

CHIDEOCK MANOR Chideock, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 6LF A large plantsman’s garden with magnificent views over the Dorset countryside towards the sea, many rare and mature plants and shrubs in terraced, herbaceous, rock and water gardens; woodland garden and walks in the bluebell woods, magnolia, rhododendron and bulbs. Open for the NGS on Wednesday 24th April, 11am-5pm. Admission £4.50, children free. For more details contact Mr & Mrs David Ashcroft on 01308 862212 or email angieashcroft@btinternet.com.

A large plantsman’s garden with magnificent views over the Dorset countryside towards the sea, many rare and mature plants and shrubs in terraced, herbaceous, rock and water gardens; woodland garden and walks in the bluebell woods, magnolia, rhododendron and bulbs. Open for the NGS on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April, 2pm-5pm. Admission £6, children free. For more details contact Mr & Mrs Howard Coates on 07885 551795 or email deirdrecoates9@gmail.com.

FAIRFIELD Stogursey, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA4 1PU The informal garden at the home of Lady Acland Hood Gass, former Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, surrounds the house (not open) which dates from the 12th century, mostly rebuilt in Elizabethan times; the woodland garden has many naturalised spring bulbs, shrubs and fine trees; there’s a paved maze, and the 18th century park has views of the Quantock Hills and the sea. Open for the NGS on Sunday 14th April, 2pm-4pm. Admission £4, children free.

KNITSON OLD FARMHOUSE Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5JB A mature cottage garden nestled at the base of chalk downland with herbaceous borders, rockeries, climbers and shrubs, evolved and designed over 50 years for year-round colour and interest, and a large wildlife-friendly kitchen garden. Open for the NGS on Good Friday 19th April to Easter Monday 22nd April, 2pm-6pm. Admission £4, children free. For more details contact Rachel Helfer on 01929 421681 or email rjehelfer@gmail.com. 18

Country Gardener



Station Road, Iron Acton, South Gloucestershire, BS37 9TB Two acres of woodland garden beside River Frome. A mill stream, native plants mixed with collections of 60 magnolias and 70 camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, eucalyptus and other unusual trees and shrubs; daffodils and other early spring flowers. Open for the NGS on Sunday 28th April, 2pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. Admission also gives entry to nearby Algars Mill.

8 Church Road, East Huntspill, Nr Highbridge Somerset TA9 3PG

Opening for St Margaret’s Hospice on Sunday 28th April from 11am-4pm, this one and a half acre garden has been developed lovingly over 25 years by Richard and Marion from horse paddocks, now a stunning garden on the edge of the Somerset Levels boasting a fine collection in an arboretum, with bulbs, hellebores, camellias, azaleas and japonica. Admission £3, children free. More details contact Richard and Marion Newman on 01278 780327 or email ram.newman@btinternet.com.

JOB’S MILL Five Ash Lane, Crockerton, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 8BB A delightful five-acre garden through which the River Wylye flows, laid out on many levels surrounding an old converted water mill, with water garden, herbaceous border, vegetable garden, orchard, riverside and woodland walks and secret garden, and grass terraces designed by Russell Page. Spring bulbs and erythronium and perhaps the tallest growing wisteria? Open for the NGS on Saturday 13th April, 2pm5pm. Admission £4.50, children free.

ALLINGTON GRANGE Allington, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 6LW Informal country garden of one and a half acres, around a 17th century farmhouse (not open) with year-round interest. Many early spring bulbs, mixed and herbaceous borders, colour themed; white garden with water fountain, walled potager, small orchard with chickens and wildlife pond. Open for the NGS on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April, 2pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Mrs Rhyddian Roper on 01249 447436 or email rhyddianroper@hotmail.co.uk, http://www.allingtongrange.com. www.countrygardener.co.uk



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native British hedge It may be that we have forgotten why and how to plant a native British hedge but opting for a easy to grow and maintain hawthorn will help the countryside fight back

Country hedges have a history going back to the Bronze Age, making them one of the oldest man made features in the British landscape. They’re also beautiful things and a fantastic resource for wildlife and foragers. Of all the options you have when planting a traditional hedge, the hawthorn is perhaps one of the most under rated. Planting a native hawthorn hedge will give you a colourful and secure hedge which is easy to grow and maintain and depending on which variety you choose will be spectacular. Hawthorns are deciduous ornamental trees, many of which are suitable for even average-sized gardens. They look fabulous in late spring, covered in their flowers, and often again in autumn when glossy fruit and autumn leaf colours provide more interest and colour. Most produce glossy foliage. They are also known as May flowers and May blossom. The old rhyme “Here we go gathering knots of May”, refers to the tradition of picking the flowers. It is a slow growing tree in the apple family with a rounded habit and sometimes multiple stems. It makes a nice addition to a wildlife planting in a meadow or hedgerow with other fruiting trees. Birds, especially cedar waxwings, enjoy the berries and they also can be harvested and made into jams. Because of its size and three seasons of interest, hawthorn makes a great plant for small space gardens. However, the tree can have sizable thorns that make it difficult to work around. There are some thornless varieties on the market. Plant bare-root trees between through to April, and container-grown ones any time of year. Dig a hole two feet square and a foot deep. Add a layer of organic matter – such as compost or well-rotted manure – to the base of the hole and dig in. Place the roots in the planting hole and adjust the planting depth so that the tree is planted at the same depth as it was originally growing and the top of the roots are level with the soil surface. Mix in more organic matter with the excavated soil and fill in the planting hole. Stake the tree with a rigid tree stake and two tree ties so that it is fully supported against the prevailing winds. They need little or no maintenance pruning, except to remove dead, diseased or dying growth and to thin out overcrowded and rubbing branches. If pruning is needed, it is best carried

Hawthorn will provide a colourful, secure hedge

out any time from late autumn to early spring. As with all our native plants, common hedge species have unique relationships with native fauna. When they think about the food that they provide most people think about the berries for birds and small mammals – and larger mammals like gardeners! There’s a largely unnoticed community of animals further down the food chain, however, which depends on a hedge for other forms of sustenance. Frosts are an enemy of the immature hedge. If there are heavy frosts after planting, the soil can break up, so the plants may need to be firmed in again. Severe frosts will cause damage to leaves – generally they will recover but weather damage is always a risk you need to be aware of, particularly with new plants. In windy sites, the wind can ‘rock’ new plants opening up air pockets where either frost can get in or roots can be exposed to drying winds. Firm in the plants from time to time. Ideally evergreens need to be sheltered from drying winds during their first winter and growing season. If the weather is particularly severe or the site is subject to strong winds, it would be sensible to put up some windbreak netting to help prevent the plants drying out before their roots are established. Hedge plants are planted close together so there is competition between the roots for nutrients and the trimming of hedges clips away much of the plant’s foodproducing unit so an annual mulch of well rotted manure or compost or any annual feed of a foliar fertiliser is helpful to maintain vigour.

Hawthorn varieties Crataegus laevigata Paul’s Scarlet is a small, rounded tree covered in showy, light red double flowers. Crataegus laevigata Rosea Flore Pleno is a small, rounded tree with pink double flowers. Crataegus monogyna is the common hawthorn. It is a rounded tree with masses of cream flowers, followed by dark red berries in autumn. It can also be used as a hedging plant. Crataegus persimilis Prunifolia forms a small, broad tree with white flowers, deep red berries and fabulous fiery red and orange autumn foliage.






The lengthening days make this the perfect time to set up the garden for the rest of the summer. Here’s what now might need doing in the garden.

Bed of roses Foliage-feed the first new growth on the roses and continue to do so every three to four weeks to avoid the use of toxic rose sprays. An organic tonic is the best option for this time of the year which will help to ward off blackspot and mildew which will be lying dormant and ready to pounce. A handful of slow-release organic blood, fish and bone spread evenly about the roots will set up the health of your plants.

Plant dahlia tubers Bringing dahlias in for the winter doesn’t just protect them against frost. It also allows them to dry out properly, and helps you bring them on a bit earlier. They’re now ready to be planted. Give tubers a sprinkling of water in early spring, and they’ll start to produce young shoots in April. Discard any tubers that look diseased or damaged. Dig a planting hole; making sure it isn’t too deep. The shoots are still delicate, and you don’t want to damage them. Gently pour coarse sand over the tubers;

this prevents them from rotting and it’s also a great slug repellent. Backfill with soil and add a ring of sand to mark the planting spot. It’s also another useful means of combating those pesky slugs and snails. Write labels for each dahlia cultivar and place them correctly next to each plant; a foolproof way to remember what you’ve planted in a few months’ time.

TOUGHEN UP GREENHOUSE PLANTS Start hardening off greenhouse grown plants to give them a chance to toughen up and make them better able to withstand pests and weather. Choose a clement day to begin and start by putting them outside, out of cold winds, strong rain or sun and somewhere out of reach of marauding slugs. Allow a week or two before planting out, once all chance of frost has passed.

Sweet peas can be sown this month

Colourful courgettes

It is time to get courgettes under way either in a heated propagator or just covered in the greenhouse Many gardeners grow them as much for the flowers as for the fruits, and so grow at least ten to allow for frequent picking. When it comes to varieties try striped ‘Striato di Napoli’, spherical ‘De Nice a Fruit Rondo’, golden ‘Soleil’, deepest green ‘Nero di Milano’ and pale and bulbous ‘Trieste White’. 22

Sow seeds of sweet peas into deep pots or roottrainers as they dislike disturbance to their roots. Sweet peas will sprout in 21 to 30 days if the soil temperature is 38° Fahrenheit (3.3° celsius) and the germination rate, or number of seeds that do sprout, will be low. Or, instead, look out for young plants in nurseries and garden centres. Check whether they are grown for scent or for cutting. Some longer stemmed varieties may smell less strongly. Cut off any frost damaged leaves or tips from flowering shrubs to prevent further die back.

Country Gardener


For a quick turnaround, why not start a no-dig bed. Lay thick cardboard over the ground and top it with a thick mixture of topsoil and compost, which you can plant into straight away. The popular No Dig method of cultivation can be used for two purposes: to provide a rich soil to grow in, and to clear a weedinfested growing area. Both instances require a great deal of surface mulch (well-rotted manure or compost). In principle, by avoiding digging you will not be disrupting the soil life, nor will you be exposing the soil to weed seeds. Instead the existing weeds are in darkness, which causes them to weaken and die.

It’s potato planting time Potatoes need to be planted this month. As a rule new potatoes go in early to mid April. Maincrops follow in the second half of the month but exactly when you plant your potatoes will depend on the conditions in your area. You want to avoid the emerging foliage being burned by frost. Plant somewhere sunny into a six-inch deep trench lined with garden compost. New potatoes (also known as First and Second Earlies) should be spaced a foot apart. Leave 15 inches between maincrop tubers.

HERBAL P OWER Time for TLC for your lawn This is the perfect time to give your lawn a bit of care and attention. First rake off loose thatch and moss. This enables the grass to grow healthily during the season. Next, either using a proprietary aerator attachment, or a garden fork make holes across the lawn to help aerate the soil and prevent compaction. If you’re using a fork dig to a depth of about three to four inches and wiggle the tines to remove. Sprinkling sand into the holes also helps. Once you have removed the weeds and moss to your liking topdress the lawn with a feed and conditioner. If there are any bald patches you can resow these now. Small patches can be targeted with special feed and seed mixtures. You can buy mixes designed for high use areas and for shaded areas. Some mixes even contain neutralisers to prevent pet urine marks. Tidy the edges of the lawn where they meet flower borders. First mark a straight line using string held taught between two posts. Using a half moon lawn edger, follow the string, cutting away ragged edges and throw these away. This isn’t just a job for houseproud gardeners. Cutting the grass away prevents weeds and grasses growing into flowerbeds.

Plant herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano. Any that have become leggy can be trimmed to suit the space. You can cut rosemary into the wood if it has become wild and straggly. If you grow on clay or badly draining soil it’s a good idea to put some grit in the base of the planting hole to help with drainage.

OTHER JOBS • Start staking delphiniums and tall perennials. They’ll soon be tall enough to be knocked over by wind or heavy rain. If you can get your hands on some hazel or silver birch pea sticks, use them to weave a basket, which works just as well but looks so much nicer than metal or plastic. • Plant up hanging baskets and containers. Keep them under cover to grow on until the frosts have passed. Go for something exceptionally long-flowering such as Argyranthemum ‘Cherry Red’ or Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’. • Keep an eye on permanent or spring plantings in containers and water if necessary. • Feed lawns and treat for moss. Try to work out the reason for the moss. Is the grass too shady, or the soil too acid or compacted? Aim to sort the problem out now for a lovely lawn all summer.

Last chance to..

• Deadhead daffodils but let the leaves remain • Boost pre-spring growth in pots and borders with blood, fish and bone or other fertiliser • Clear diseased rose leaves that have fallen to the ground or remain on the bush and remove from the garden • Prune buddleia before they fully start into growth



A new season in the garden is a time of BREATHING excitement but also a time to try something new and the chance to turn to specialist NEW LIFE into nurseries and garden centres for their help

your garden There’s so much to do in the garden at this time of year but most gardeners will have a priority of wanting to take stock and make sure they refresh their garden with something new. It‘s a once a year thing and the beauty about gardening is it goes on giving you a chance to add -plants shrubs or trees which can bring a fresh look. It certainly can become a challenge to find that new accessory or some inspiring new plants, something special. The answer for many of us is a local specialist nursery or garden centre which will yield rich pickings of things in bloom that offer that instant impact. Where should you shop? Specialist nurseries are always worth supporting because they grow plants you will not find

Thornhayes Nursery offers personal service of the highest quality As a specialist nursery with many years’ experience growing a wide range of select trees and shrubs, Thornhayes Nursery just outside of Cullompton is always happy to offer free advice if you visit their nursery. It is important to select the right plant for your chosen planting spot. As a further service to customers, owner and expert grower Kevin Croucher can provide a bespoke advice service by visiting your garden and offering his personal planting views. With over 40 years’ experience working with woody plants Kevin will make sure you don’t make misjudgements in your planting selection. www.thornhayes-nursery.co.uk Thornhayes Nursery, Dulford, Cullompton, Devon EX15 2DF. Tel: 01884 266746.

stocking up with new plants, new accessories and new looks

elsewhere – be they pelargoniums, alpines or ferns, roses or camellias – and the advice you’ll get is first hand and reliable. They also offer great value and you can share the passion they have for the plants they grow. Support them whenever you can – they are usually run by individuals who don’t make a vast profit and who do the job for love as much as anything else. They should be your first port of call. They are nurserymen, many specialising in either a specific varieties or ranges of plants and their knowledge is second to none. So as spring starts to change gear we’re delighted to offer you some options of where to buy that something special.

PLANT SUPPORTS ARE VITAL TO MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR PLANTING When you’ve bought yourself a fabulous plant that’s your pride and joy, you want to make sure it looks as good as it can. That’s where well-designed plant supports and structures can add enormously to the look, experience and enjoyment of your garden. It’s a bit like fine tailoring or haute couture –what’s underneath can make the final result sensational. Plant supports should retire into the foliage while displaying the plant to best effect. Use circular supports for perennials, roses and delicate shrubs, half circles along walls and the front of borders. Towers allow you to plant two or three roses for a full column of flowers, intertwining with clematis and are also useful for honeysuckles and other climbers. Use different height supports to keep paths clear, prop up peonies, display dahlias and help delphiniums stay erect. That way your plants will look better and last longer. Jonne@jonne.co.uk www.thegardenersblacksmith.co.uk Tel: 07770 720 373

Somerset Hardy P lant Society An indoor plant sale run by the Hardy Plant Society Somerset Group is one of the group’s highlights of the new season and a chance to buy value new plants grown by either members or local nurseries. The plant sale takes place at West Monkton Village Hall, Monkton Heathfield, Taunton TA2 8NE on Saturday, 27th April from 10am to 12.30pm. This event will feature a range of interesting and uncommon herbaceous plants and shrubs. There will be refreshments available and on-site parking is free. Entry is £1. Go to www.somersethps.com for details of lectures and plant fairs during the rest of the year. 24

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KOIRIN OFFER COLOUR AND DRAMA WITH AZALEAS AND RHODODENDRONS Nursery specialists are always an important first port of call when it comes to looking for something new. At Koirin’s, Rhododendron and Azalea Centre near Verwood, Wimborne in Dorset, the nursery specialises in rare and unusual varieties including old varieties from family collectors such as waterer and The Rothschild family of Exbury. They produce their own plants from cuttings at the nursery. There are over 800 varieties of plants including scented varieties of deciduous azaleas and rhododendrons. The nursery has been established for over 20 years and in the spring is an abundance of colour from hot fiery reds, orange and yellows to all the pastel colours. They also supply a planting service, watering systems and free advice. The nursery is well worth a visit. enquiries@azaleacentre.co.uk Koirin, The Rhododendron & Azalea Centre, Woodlands, Verwood Road, Nr.Verwood, Wimborne. BH21 8LN. Tel: 01202 824629

Barthelemy & Co – the Japanese maples specialists Barthelemy & Co near Wimborne in Dorset are specialists in wonderful Japanese maples which can bring spectacular colour and style to any garden looking for a new season ‘top-up’. The nursery was established by a French nurseryman almost a century ago and the Skinner family now specialise in propagating and growing Acer palmatum – or Japanese maples. Throughout spring, summer and autumn the delicate foliage of the acer presents exquisite shadings of Mother Nature’s gold, pink, purple, green, yellow, orange and red. Acers are a delightful addition to anyone’s garden, giving an aura of peace and tranquillity. The ten-acre nursery at Stapehill has a huge collection to choose from and expert staff help select the right variety and offer advice about caring for the trees. A total of 40,000 plants are grafted each year, 25,000 of them maples. www.barthelemymaples.co.uk Barthelemy & Co, 262 Wimborne Road West, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 2DZ. Tel: 01202 874283

Backdoor Shoes essential accessories for a new season A new garden season is also about new accessories and Backdoorshoes® are essential for keeping by the back door, slipping off and on and nipping outside to the garden, down to the allotment or out to feed the chickens - the reasons are endless. They are lightweight, waterproof, durable and easy to clean. No more ruined slippers or soggy socks, they are the most practical thing to keep by the door. Their range continues to grow with the introduction of some new designs available in May. They also offer Chelsea ‘Jumpy” boots in a wide variety of colours, comfortable to wear, perfect for walks, taking the dogs out. www.backdoorshoes.co.uk 01202 232357

400 Michaelmas daisies to choose from at Old Court Nurseries


Echinacea ‘August Koningin’ with butt 26

Michaelmas daisies are the stars of the autumn border, bringing that last blast of colour and joy before winter finally claims the garden. Finding the right one can be a challenge but at Old Court Nurseries in Malvern you can pick from over 400 varieties from the National Collection. You can also get great ideas on companion planting by popping into the adjoining Picton Garden. And if selecting from so many seems a little intimidating, there is help on hand or get advice by attending one of the day or half day courses. www.autumnasters.co.uk 01684 540416 Old Court Nurseries and Picton Garden, Walwyn Rd, Malvern WR13 6QE Country Gardener

Old Court Nurseries & The Picton Garden

The Michaelmas Daisy Specialists since 1906

Order your plants now for delivery in May. ORDER ONLINE or catalogue available by request.

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Sundays 7th and 20th April 11am - 5pm. Admission £3.50

Tel: 01684 540416 www.autumnasters.co.uk Old Court Nurseries, Walwyn Road, Colwall WR13 6QE

THE GARDENER’S BLACKSMITH www.thegardenersblacksmith.co.uk jonne@jonne.co.uk 07770 720 373

Artist blacksmith specialising in garden supports, art, structures and furniture. Commissions welcomed.

HPS Somerset Group

Plant Sale Saturday 27 April 2019 10am – 12.30pm at West Monkton Village Hall, Monkton Heathfield TA2 8NE Admission charge will be £1 (no concessions)





What plants would say if they could talk! New plants, shrubs and trees are all well and good but getting them off to the best possible start is vital. If plants could talk they would choose rootgrow mycorrhizal fungi to be used when they are planted. In a matter of weeks they will benefit from a secondary fungal root system that will help them establish and grow away strong and healthy. When planting this season why not harness the power of pure biology and treat your plants with the Empathy range of natural, sustainable but above all else highly effective gardening products designed for the caring UK gardener. Empathy products are licensed by the Royal Horticultural Society so gardeners can be sure of outstanding quality and highly effective The importance of healthy roots plant treatments. Tel: 01795 411527 www.rootgrow.co.uk

JAPANESE MAPLES Acer palmatum varieties We produce and grow the largest selection available in the UK. Plants are pot grown and suitable for garden, patio or bonsai.

Send SAE for descriptive catalogue. Visitors welcome Mon-Sat 9am-1pm & 2pm-4.30pm Barthelemy & Co (DCG), 262 Wimborne Rd West, Stapehill, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 2DZ

Tel: 01202 874283 enquiries@barthelemymaples.co.uk www.barthelemymaples.co.uk

Trehane Nursery offers wonderful options on camellias Most gardeners are familiar with the colourful springtime blooms and glossy leaves of Camellia japonica, but many people are unaware that the tea they drink every day is in fact brewed from the dried leaves of another camellia species, Camellia sinensis. We naturally associate tea-growing with countries like India, but in fact tea plants, like any other camellia, can easily be grown in the UK. As well as providing the leaves that can be picked and dried for home-grown tea, Camellia sinensis also has attractive scented, white flowers in the autumn. Available, along with many other unusual camellias, from Trehane Nursery near Wimborne. Trehane Nursery, Stapehill Road, Wimborne BH21 7ND. Tel: 01202 873490 www.trehanenursery.co.uk

HELPING POND PLANTS AND FLOWERS THRIVE Turning you attention to your pond is another way of finding new options for a spring garden Beautiful plants and flowers can be a great feature in any garden pond and thankfully, there’s a simple way of helping them thrive. Tetra Pond PlantaMin (£16.05/500ml) is a liquid fertiliser, which supplies plants with the nutrients they need over a four-week period. With a special blend of iron, potassium and other valuable trace elements, the solution works fast to support plants as they grow and flowers bloom. Free from nitrate and phosphate it’s also suitable for all pond plants, so however you’re looking to decorate your garden this summer, you can rest assured that your pond will remain a key feature to enjoy. www.tetra-fish.co.uk





Visitors Welcome Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.30pm all year round Sat 10.00am-4.00pm Apr-May

Quality Trees and Shrubs Special Spring Sale Bring a copy of this advert with you to claim 20% off retail prices during March and April

Thornhayes Nursery, Dulford, Open 8am-4pm Mon to Fri also 9am-1pm Sat Cullompton, Devon EX15 2DF Tel: 01884 266746 www.thornhayes-nursery.co.uk 28

LARGEST RANGE OF RHODODENDRONS & AZALEAS IN THE SOUTH Koirin, Crossroads Nursery, Woodlands, Wimborne, Verwood Road, Dorset BH21 8LN (Near Verwood) Mail order available

Tel: 01202 824629

enquiries@azaleacentre.co.uk www.azaleacentre.co.uk Sorry, we don’t accept credit/debit cards

Country Gardener


Many vegetables that we grow and cook taste as good, if not better, eaten raw and are generally more nutritious. It just needs a little imagination. The ever increasing number of gardeners who grow their own vegetables have the luxury of being able to eat crops at their finest –just minutes after being picked. It seems a shame then to boil, steam or roast what is often wonderfully sweet and tender vegetables without any cooking. Eating raw vegetable not only introduces different flavours and textures to meals but also as extra nutrients. The high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that occur in vegetables are known to decrease with cooking so it is a good idea to include something raw in your daily intake of vegetables. This is more than just including lettuce leaves. So many crops taste delicious without cooking especially if they are harvested when young, sugary and succulent. They are also quick to prepare- the ultimate fast food. Even peeling can be avoided whenever possible as the highest concentration of nutrients are often found just beneath the skins.

‘Eating raw vegetables introduces different f lavours and textures to meals’ It is true raw foods take more effort to digest. It is possible that when you are eating salads or raw vegetables, you are simply eating a larger volume of produce. It is also possible that it isn’t the ‘raw’ element that is the problem, but rather which vegetables you are choosing. So what are the options from the vegetable plot? Many familiar vegetables taste quite different uncooked and those rushed straight to the table from the garden are always far superior to anything which comes from the shop shelf. Thinning’s from rows of carrots and beetroot are a great early source of baby roots and make a colourful addition to a salad bowl, either grated or sliced.

For sweet early carrots to eat raw select cultivars such as ‘Amsterdam Forcing ‘Imperator’ or ‘Samurai’. French beans, both climbing and dwarf varieties have a crisp flavour when eaten raw. Easy to grow chard with vibrant stems and beetroot like flavour is delicious harvested as baby leaves for salads and sandwiches. Try slow to bolt ‘ Charlotte’ for really colourful leaves or ‘ Bright Yellow’ for stems which are exactly that. Brassicas should not be overlooked as vegetables to eat raw. The striking, spiky florets of cauliflower ‘Romanesco’ can be harvested from late summer and make delicious crudités. Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli has the highest level of carotenoids, which may reduce the risk of renal cancer and lung cancer and can be an unusual addition to salads when picked young. Cabbage leaves can provide a crunchy peppery flavour in winter salads. In addition to its possible cancer-fighting properties, cabbage is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, containing more than 20 per cent of the daily value for each per serving. Cabbage has also been used throughout history as an herbal remedy. The Greek used it as a laxative, while ancient Roman nobleman Pliny the Elder recommended eating cabbage to cure hangovers. Asparagus are one of the most desirable vegetables and harvested young the first tender spears are a delectable raw treat which means the rest of the crop can be left to mature as normal. Watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables eaten by humans. In addition to its anti-carcinogenic properties, watercress has significant amounts of calcium, folic acid, iodine, iron, manganese and vitamins A, B6, C and K. It is also effective as a diuretic, expectorant and digestive aid. So it just needs a little imagination and the pleasure of easting these vegetables raw may be easier to accept than you think.





by Kate Lewis

You can boost your health this spring with delicious, nutritious and very much in vogue sauerkraut Of all the vegetables associated with bland school dinners, it is probably cabbage that is remembered with most dread. Many growers lack inspiration for its use, and while it is more versatile than you might think in the kitchen – stir-fries, curries, soups and stews – one of the best ways to use it is to make sauerkraut. Sauerkraut, a staple food in Germany and central Europe, is simply a mixture of sliced cabbage and salt that, when left to ferment in its own brine, turns into a delicious and


Country Gardener

healthy condiment with a distinctive sour flavour. It is very simple to make and needs little specialist equipment making it the ideal first fermentation project. Fermentation may be very in vogue but it is a method that has been used for thousands of years as a way of preserving produce, especially through the winter months when little fresh produce was available. Every culture around the world has its own fermenting tradition: in Japan it is miso, in Korea it is kimchi, in Latin America it is cortido and in Germany and Central Europe it is sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. Although still used as a winter standby it is now also eaten for its welldocumented health benefits. During the fermentation process beneficial bacteria – probiotics – are produced. Probiotics help our digestive system work at its optimum. Most of our immune system is in our gut so these probiotics increase our immunity by keeping the gut healthy. Research also shows that eating fermented foods can help with digestive issues, increase our absorption of nutrients and contribute to our overall long-term health, possibly even reducing the risk of illnesses like Alzheimer’s, cancer and depression. Although sauerkraut can be added to soups and stews it is best eaten raw as heat reduces its health benefits.

How does it work?

When salt is added to cabbage and bottled, it undergoes a process call lacto-acid fermentation. Beneficial bacteria is present on the surface of the cabbage. When put in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment these bacteria convert sugars into lactic acid which gets rid of bad bacteria, works as a preservative and gives the finished sauerkraut its distinctive sour taste.

Ways to use sauerkraut

• In a salad • In a sandwich • As an accompaniment to sausages • As a side to smoked meat or fish • On toast with avocado • Added to soups/stews (although heat reduces its health benefits) • With a lentil casserole • Straight out of the jar!

Fermenting rules: • Use sea salt • Use good quality, ripe cabbage – preferably organic so there are no chemicals to interfere with the fermenting process • Sterilise the jars before starting • Use a glass or ceramic bowl not metal or plastic which might react with the ferment • Don’t use tap water – only distilled or mineral • All equipment and anything that comes into contact with the ferment – hands, spoons etc – must be scrupulously clean. • Leave in a cool, dark area but not the fridge as this will stop the fermenting process. Avoid hot temperatures as this can spoil the ferment • Make sure the cabbage is always kept below the level of the brine www.countrygardener.co.uk

Traditional sauerkraut recipe INGREDIENTS: 1 head white/red cabbage 2 tbsp sea salt METHOD: 1. Sterilise a kilner or other jar with an air-tight seal. 2. Remove outer leaves of the cabbage and remove the core and base 3. Finely slice the cabbage leaves 4. Put into a glass or ceramic bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and massage the leaves with clean hands for about 10 – 15 minutes. You can also use a clean potato masher to pound the cabbage. The cabbage will release a brine and start to take on the consistency of cooked cabbage. 5. Put into the jar and press down making sure all the cabbage is covered with the brine. You can top it up with water (mineral or distilled water, not tap). Using a kraut pounder/tamper is helpful to firmly press the cabbage tightly into the jar. Use a fermentation weight or the base of the cabbage to weigh the ferment down. Leave one inch gap at the top of the jar for juices to rise. 6. Close the jar and leave to ferment in a dark, cool place for ten days. Check daily making sure the brine is still covering the cabbage. If not top up with mineral or distilled water. Open the jar daily to release excess gasses. 7. After 10 days taste the sauerkraut. The flavour develops as it ages. The longer it is left to ferment the more sour it will become. When you taste use a clean spoon to avoid spoiling the ferment, and ensure the cabbage is still covered with brine when the jar is re-sealed. 8. When ready transfer to the fridge and enjoy daily. Make sure the brine still covers the cabbage. It will last up to a year in the fridge. 31


It’s all in the name! Mark Hinsley tells the story of how the tallest tree you can find in the UK came to be named John Bidwell was a rancher, politician, philanthropist, and amateur botanist and geologist. A pioneer settler in California, he led the first wagon train to California in 1841. In that same year he was the first nonnative American to see a giant redwood. Dr. Albert Kellogg, the founder of the California Academy of Sciences, had been drawn to San Francisco by the 1848 Gold Rush. He was a botanist and devoted much of his time to the study of trees in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Having visited the giant trees, he planned to name the new tree the ‘Washingtonia’ in honour of America’s revered first President. However, sneaking around in the undergrowth was the British botanist and plant collector William Lobb on a contract from Veitch’s Nursery in Exeter to collect exotic plants from the New World. William Lobb recognised a new tree craze when he saw one! Kellogg only needed to complete his set of herbarium specimens to register the new species. However, Lobb knew this, and cut short his planned expedition to return to England as quickly as he could. In 1853 he arrived back with all the necessary specimens to register the new species of tree. Kellogg had missed his chance! John Lindley of the Horticultural Society was given the task of naming the new introduction. Lindley opted for Wellingtonia gigantea to commemorate the lately deceased Duke of Wellington. At this point our cousins across the Atlantic went ‘ape’, crying ‘foul!’ and ‘cheat!’ and ‘you cad sir!’, all to no avail. Over here the first seedlings raised sold like hotcakes; every estate and large garden wanted one; Veitch’s made a fortune. Across the pond they sulked and grumbled for years. 32


the Americans over a tree!

One of the many country estates that acquired these new trees was the Rhinefield Estate in the New Forest. In 1859 the famous Rhinefield Ornamental Drive was planted out by their arboriculturist, John Nelson. For those who love quirky tales: Mr Nelson decided that he did not like the name Wellingtonia gigantea and demanded in his book ‘Pinaceae’ that it be renamed Gigantabies wellingtoniana. He also decided that he had noticed a number of variations within the species and he wanted to give them all individual names. John Nelson presented his work to the Horticultural Society, but they refused to publish it because they didn’t agree with the content! Nelson persisted and in the end his book was published ‘for the author’ by Hatchard and Co, 187 Piccadilly in 1866 under the pen name of Johannes Senilis. I found a copy in an old book shop; apparently 500 were printed and they sold for ten shillings and sixpence each. Sadly, for old senile John, but fortunately for the science of botany, Mr Nelson’s views regarding the naming of giant redwoods was never accepted or adopted. In the end modern science renamed the tree Sequioadendron giganteum, which should have ended the controversy except that – for some reason- we still tend to refer to these giant trees as ‘Wellingtonias’. Wellingtonias are now the tallest trees in most counties in this country. Back in my tree surgeon days the tallest one I ever climbed was 145ft. It stood in the grounds of Albury Park in Surrey. It blew down some years ago – a very unusual occurrence for this species. Before you dash out and buy one - you really do have to have some room for one of these. Trees in this country have already reached 172ft in height and 30ft in girth – and it has only taken them 150 years to do so! Mark Hinsley is from Arboriculture Consultants Ltd www.treeadvice.info Country Gardener

Wellingtonia avenue and Compton Verney in Warwickshire. A 30 foot girth is not unusual for these dramatic trees

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- lets do more of it In our March issue we looked at how seeds germinate and flourish. Now Elizabeth McCorquodale urges us all to make a return to growing from seed We used to grow a lot more things from seed than we do now. With the arrival of plug plants and cheap imports, the idea of growing flowers and veg from seed can sometimes seem like a lot of unnecessary bother. Why grow from seed when you can bypass this tricky stage and go straight to the plants? The answer is two-fold – choice and cost. A packet of seed can give you dozens of plants for the same price as a six-pack of plug plants and the range and choice of plants available to you is astounding – and very, very tempting. And of course, when you have chosen all you want, you can use your leftover seeds and seedlings to exchange with other gardeners – spare seeds and plants are great swapping currency. Seeds are tough and can stay dormant for many months or even years depending on the variety and the conditions. The oldest viable seed on record was a date palm seed discovered in a sealed vessel in Egypt which, when planted, grew into a viable, healthy date palm. Not to be outdone, an Arctic campion seed that was radiocarbon dated to 32,000 years old was grown on into a viable plant that in turn produced viable seed! Those ancient seeds just needed the correct triggers to bring them back to life, and the triggers vary from species to species. The tiny dust-like seeds of common buddleia need a cold spell to encourage them into action, while banana seeds need a soak in near-boiling water. Lettuce likes cool conditions, even at the seed stage, and will germinate quickly when the soil temperature is between 15° and 20°C, but chilli peppers will only germinate when the soil 34

Country Gardener

temperature is decidedly toasty – between 25° and 30°C. Plants that originate from areas of the world plagued by regular forest fires have evolved only to germinate when they have been scorched by fire, while plants that originate in areas with severe winters may require a spell in the fridge or freezer to bring them to the point of germination. Seeds that usually rely on animals to disperse them may require their seed coats to be scarified in order for moisture to penetrate the hard seed coat. In nature this would be done by the stomach acid of the animal who ate it but in the greenhouse we mimic this damage by rubbing the hard coat with rough sandpaper, or even by taking a small chip out of the hard coat. Lemon seeds won’t germinate if the seeds have been allowed to dry out at any stage and they also like a helping hand to free them from their hard outer seed case. Demanding though this sounds, they will then spring into easy vigorous life in just a matter of days. Some seeds can be coaxed into extra speedy growth with just a little encouragement. Left to themselves in the garden sweetcorn, sunflowers, peas and sweetpeas and all sorts of beans will all break through their tough coats after a couple of weeks in the soil, but an overnight soak in a glass of tepid water will break their dormancy overnight, knocking a good week to 10 days off their growing cycle. Some seeds need light to germinate while others like the dark. Some need to be sprinkled on the surface of the soil while others like to be covered. Some seeds like it cool and some like it hot. And though this all seems complicated, the information is always to be found on the back of the seed packet. It is always a good idea to use a seed sowing compost. Seeds need very good drainage and and they don’t like to have to fight their

From seed to flower; whole gardens from seed

way through rough lumpy soil. Give them a fine, free-flowing compost that drains well and they will repay you with healthy, rapid growth. A general rule is to plant the seed to twice its depth, so a seed that is .5cm should be planted 1cm deep. Sprinkle very tiny seeds on the surface of the soil and gently press them in to ensure that they are firmly in contact with the soil. Flat seeds should be planted on their sides so that water doesn’t sit on the flat surface and rot the seed before it has a chance to germinate. To avoid flooding your delicate seeds, convert an old plastic water bottle into a seed sprinkler by poking some fine holes into the lid. Cover the pot with a plastic bag held away from the soil with lolly sticks or wire. This will provide a healthy, consistent environment at the surface of the soil. A heated propagator is a very useful device now that most of us no longer have airing cupboards that used to offer a constant moderate heat which was ideal for germinating seedlings. Once the tiny plants emerge from the soil remove the cover so that air can circulate. Keep the soil just moist and make sure your tiny plants aren’t exposed to drafts or harsh sunlight. You can grow whole gardens from seed in just one season. Fancy a complete herb garden that you have grown yourself? Basil, thyme, mint, chives, coriander, dill, anise, lemon balm, Mexican tarragon, borage, parsley and many other herbs are all dead-easy and very inexpensive to grow from seed. Many perennials will flower the very first season from a spring sowing. Imagine a whole perennial garden grown for the cost of a few packets of seeds. Start them off indoors in early spring, feed them well and carefully harden them off. Some of the very best first year flowering perennials are oriental poppies, lupins, foxgloves (go for ‘Foxy’), salvias, bergamont, rudbeckia, penstemon, gaillardia, sedums, mallow, echinacea, verbena, agastache and delphinium among very many others.

Some vegetable plants are difficult to find as plants but are readily available as seed. Start with statuesque and delicious artichokes and cardoons (just as at home in the flower garden as in the veg plot), then move on to the more unusual varieties of tomatoes, peppers, aubergine and squash, both summer and winter varieties. Buying carrots and other kitchen staples as plugs is a waste of time and money – a pack of two dozen carrot seedlings will set you back by more than a bag of fully grown carrots. For half the price you can get a packet of seed that will keep you in carrots for a whole season, and that goes for most other common veggies

From organised seed sowing to harvest delights

as well, and most of them will be happier grown from seed planted straight into your garden. While mass produced annuals such as pansies, petunias and wax begonias are usually fairly cost effective to buy as plugs and very space-hungry in the greenhouse, the larger, specimen varieties such as cosmos, ammi majus and cleome can be expensive as plants, but are simple to grow and inexpensive as seed. Growing from seed is easy and it is rewarding and the sheer pleasure of sitting down with a seed catalogue is a pleasure not to be missed for any keen gardener. www.countrygardener.co.uk


Great Places TO VISIT April is a magical time of year and offers something unique when it comes to days out There’s a freshness and special vibrancy to all the gardens which only early spring brings. And it’s all the more enjoyable to get out and about enjoying gardens after the long winter months. So, whether it’s a case of travelling to one of the fantastic range of great gardens which are now open for the new season, visiting nurseries, enjoying a break away, dropping in on a plant fair or any other gardening day out, you’ll love our selection of places and events to visit that will guarantee that great day out.

Lukesland Gardens, Ivybridge, ‘One of the finest gardens of its kind’ ‘What a glorious, tranquil place – divine plants’ ‘Enchanting garden and a lovely cup of tea!’- comments from appreciative visitors to the spectacular 24-acre Lukesland Gardens in Ivybridge. Tucked away in a woodland valley on the edge of Dartmoor Lukesland’s collection of camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas provides a spectacular show of colour in the spring. With home-made soup and cakes served up by the family in the Victorian Billiard Tea Room and a children’s trail these gardens have something for everyone. Dogs are welcome on a lead. The gardens are open for spring colour from 11am to 5pm on Sundays, Wednesdays and Bank Holidays (31st March – 16th June ). For further details call 01752 691749 or go to www.lukesland.co.uk Lukesland Gardens, Lukesland House, Hartford, Ivybridge PL21 0JF.

Budock Vean- a sanctuary for rest and relaxation

On a quiet bend of the Helford River in Cornwall nestles the four star Budock Vean Hotel. Set in 65 acres of gardens, woodlands and its own golf course – the Budock Vean is a sanctuary for rest and relaxation. As well as it’s own valley garden leading to the river, the hotel is just a few minutes walk from two of Cornwall’s best loved gardens – Trebah and Glendurgan. The hotel restaurant has a reputation for fantastic locally sourced food and leisure facilities include a spa, pool and hot tub, plus boat trips or kayaking on the river from their private quay. It’s a place to relax or take advantage of the all the great things to see and do right on the doorstep. Dog friendly holiday cottages and contemporary holiday homes are also available. Hotel: 01326 252100 Golf Club: 01326 252102 Helford Passage. Mawnan Smith, Nr Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 5LG. www.budockvean.co.uk

The Grange at Oborne Situated just one mile from the historic town of Sherborne, The Grange is the perfect spot to enjoy the Dorset countryside. The hotel is relaxed but elegant and the restaurant overlooks the beautiful flood-lit gardens to the rear of the hotel. The head chef creates delicious menus using fresh, local, and seasonal produce the emphasis is on taste and quality. Awarded Gold from Taste of the West and Dorset Tourism Silver Awards Winner ‘Small Hotel of the Year 2018’ – This small family business is a Dorset gem. The Grange at Oborne, Sherborne DT9 4LA. Tel: 01935 813463 www.thegrangeatoborne.co.uk

SCULPTURES STAR AT STONE LANE GARDENS RHS Partner Garden Stone Lane Gardens is an arboretum with a water garden on a sheltered hillside within Dartmoor National Park near the town of Chagford. It holds a National Collection of Birch and Alder and in summer the gardens host ‘The Mythic Garden’ Sculpture Exhibition from 13th May to 31st October. Stone Lane Gardens has disabled access, dogs on short leads are welcome and children can play on lawns among the trees. A specialist sapling nursery is open for orders. Stone Lane Gardens is open every day all year round between 10am and 6pm. RHS members free entry on Fridays. Parking access from Long Lane, between Whiddon Down (A30) and Drewsteignton. www.stonelanegardens.com Stone Lane Gardens, Stone Lane, Chagford, TQ13 8JU. 01647 231 311

Hartland Abbey makes the most of the vagaries of the weather With the vagaries of British weather, what should we expect to be in flower at Hartland Abbey in April? The bluebells and wildflowers should be in full swing, turning the woodland walks blue under the collection of camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons. Many were planted in the early 20th century but there are many new plantings, particularly in the new ‘Glade’, an area rescued last year from invasive undergrowth. The tulips in the walled gardens should be at their best. Easter Egging over Easter will be fun with clues all over the grounds. www.hartlandabbey.com Hartland Abbey, Hartland, Near Bideford EX39 6DT. 36

Country Gardener

Cotswold Garden Flowers Easy and unusual perennials for the flower garden Delightful gardens to inspire you Plant and garden advice

Hotel, cottages and holiday homes by the beautiful Helford River in south Cornwall. 9 hole/18 tee parkland golf course

Mail order and online ordering available, or pop along and visit us at the nurser y

• Spa • Restaurant • Tennis • Kayaking • Boat trips

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

Helford Passage, Mawnan Smith, Nr Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 5LG Hotel bookings: 01326 252100 Golf Club: 01326 252102 relax@budockvean.co.uk www.budockvean.co.uk @BudockVeanHotel www.facebook.com/BudockVeanHotel @BudockVeanHotel

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

For spectacular spring walks... Wander through clouds of confetti-like blossom at beautiful Batsford Arboretum. Enjoy fabulous food and a wonderful selection of gifts and gardening goodies and plants. A perfect day out for all the family - dog friendly too!

Visit www.batsarb.co.uk for details on our forthcoming events BATSFORD ARBORETUM AND GARDEN CENTRE Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9AD. Tel: 01386 701441 E: arboretum@batsfordfoundation.co.uk www.batsarb.co.uk BatsfordArboretum


@BatsfordA 37


ABBEY HOUSE GARDENS With 1300 years of history, the first King of England buried somewhere in the garden, two saints thrown down the well and now one of the great gardens in the UK, Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury in Wiltshire is a must to add to any planned visit. The spirit of the garden shines though. It has been labelled as where the Cotswolds meets the West Country and many people will recognise it from being featured often on television programmes. The five acre garden which straddles the River Avon is spectactular, situated beside the 12th century Abbey Church. Spring in the Abbey House Garden will feature a special sculpture exhibition running from 1st April through to 31st May. Open seven days a week. Abbey House Gardens, Abbey House/Market Cross, Malmesbury SN16 9AS

Rare Plant Fairs in April The 25th anniversary season of the popular Rare Plant Fairs continues in April with two events. The first is set in the 60-acre woodland gardens at Evenley Wood, near Brackley in Northamptonshire, on Sunday, 7th April, followed by a long-standing event at The Old Rectory at Quenington, near Cirencester, on Sunday, 14th April, in support of Cobalt Health. Both fairs run from 11am-4pm. There is a great selection of specialist nurseries attending both fairs, including a number of National Collection holders. There will be a wide range of interesting and unusual plants for sale, including choice perennials; plants for shade; rare climbers; alpines; herbs and edibles; and a selection of unusual shrubs. There are 13 Rare Plant in 2019. Visit www.rareplantfair.co.uk for details of all the events, including lists of the exhibitors attending.

Cotswolds Garden Flowers nursery in full bloom It’s early spring in the garden, but you can still find late winter flowers on the hellebores and bergenias. Lots of bulbs will be flowering this month including ipheion, tulips, muscari and hyacinths. In the shady areas you will find brunnera, anemones and primulas. There’s promise of lots to come with new leaves opening on trees and shrubs to give us that spring fuzz. On the ground buds, stems and leaves are pushing up from the perennials which were dormant in the winter. Cotswold Garden Flowers. Brown’s Nursery. Gibbs Lane, Offenham, Evesham, WR11 8RR. www.cgf.net. 01386 422829

BUSY TIME OF THE YEAR AT BISHOP’S PALACE, WELLS April is one of the busiest months of the year at the popular Bishop’s Palace Gardens in Wells. The stunning 14 acres of outstanding RHS partner gardens has one of its peaks of the gardening year with the display of tulips and there’s also the beautiful well pools from which the city takes its name. The gardens are stunning and tranquil with many herbaceous borders, roses in the parterre, with views from the top of the ramparts, and the contemporary Garden of Reflection. There are daily-guided tours of the garden for those who want more insight and explanation of the gardens. The build up to Easter and the holiday weekend itself have a whole range of family activities starting on Saturday, 6th April. The daily tours start for the summer on Sunday, 31st March. Throughout the new 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 38

Blossom spectacular at beautiful Batsford Arboretum Home to one of the largest private tree collections in the country, it’s in the spring that Batsford Arboretum really comes into its own as the beautiful Magnolia and National Collection of Japanese Cherries burst into life with their fantastic flowering displays. In May, Batsford’s famous Davidia (‘Pocket Handkerchief’) tree becomes the star of show. Batsford Garden Centre is a haven for garden and plant lovers too, offering an unusual range of quality, affordable plants and gifts. No visit is complete without enjoying a home-baked cake, lunch or afternoon tea on the wooden deck of the Garden Terrace Café! Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 9AD. Tel 01386 701441. Email arboretum@batsfordfoundation.co.uk. Visit www.batsarb.co.uk

Country Gardener

April Fairs 7th


Evenley Wood Gardens, Northants NN13 5SH

14th April

The Old Rectory, Quenington, Nr. Cirencester, GL7 5BN www.rareplantfair.co.uk Please visit our website for full details of admission fees and times of opening.

Abbey House Gardens

Hartland Abbey & Gardens Bluebell Sunday 14th Apr * Easter Egg Hunts & Bluebells Easter Day & Easter Monday 21st & 22nd Apr Visit this stunning house with its fascinating collections, exhibitions, beautiful walled and woodland gardens and walks to the beach. * Dogs welcome * * Delicious light lunches & cream teas * * Holiday Cottages * House, Gardens etc and Café: 31st March - 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


One of the great gardens of the world ♦ 1300 years of history and a

5 acre garden ♦ Cafe

“The Mythic Garden”

24 acres of Rare Shrubs, Trees, Pools & Waterfalls

♦ Sculpture Exhibition

Home-made soups & cakes

Gardens open daily from 1st April 30th September 11am - 5.30pm

Sundays, Wednesdays and Bank Holidays 11am – 5pm 31st March - 16th June

1st April - 31st May

Tel: 01666 827 650 info@abbeyhousegardens.co.uk www.abbeyhousegardens.co.uk

Harford Ivybridge PL21 0JF Tel 01752 691749


Annual Sculpture Exhibition 18 May to 31 October Beautiful woodland and water gardens world-famous for a National Collection of Birch and Alder. Gardens open 10am - 6pm (dusk in winter) every day all year round. Entry £6. ‘Friends’ membership available. Just 2 miles from the A30 Whiddon Down.

Chagford, Devon TQ13 8JU. Tel 01647 433771 www.stonelanegardens.com

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

14 acres of diverse RHS partner gardens See the Wells that give the City its name Stunning Tulip Displays in April Daily Guided Tours & Horticultural Tours Easter Holiday Family Activities 6th-22nd April New Knot Garden and Winter Border for 2019 Cafe & Shop Adjacent to Wells Cathedral and City Centre

T 01749 988111 ext.200 www.bishopspalace.org.uk www.countrygardener.co.uk


Counting down to the NEW LOOK Powderham garden festival The sixth Toby Buckland Garden Festival takes place in the stunning surroundings of Powderham Castle and a has a new look and a host of added attractions The countdown continues to the Toby Buckland Garden Festival at Powderham Castle near Exeter on Friday, May 3rd and Saturday, May 4th –an event now in its sixth year and one of the 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 AND MORE PLANTS! More than 30 nurseries will be at the festival with flowers, fruit, veg and trees, including award-winning RHS medal winners. Floyds Climbers known for their fabulous range of clematis and Avon Bulbs with owner Christopher Ireland-Jones and Dawlish nursery Whetmans with their range of long-flowering, scented pinks. New for 2019 are Andy’s Air Plants with their curious indoor greenery, which like hanging sculpture grow without soil, and Burnham Orchids famous for their beautiful conservatory and house plant orchids.

Celebrity speakers line up

Powderham Castle’s impressive Dining Hall will for the first time host celebrity speakers. Garden designer Joe Swift of BBC Gardeners’ World on Friday 3rd and Frances Tophill Frances Tophill, of Gardener’s World and ITV’s Love Your Garden will be sharing wisdom on growing the right plant in the right place on Saturday 4th May.

PLUS • BBC Radio Devon are broadcasting live and recording the Gardeners’ Q&A each afternoon. • The festival hosts a special Garden Advice Clinic where you can sort out pest problems with help from Grazers – who make planet-friendly pest deterrents – and top bug expert, Dr Ian Bedford of the John Innes Research Centre.

Learn the secrets of no–dig gardening

Still time to plan a group day out at Powderham Castle

Stephanie Hafferty, no dig gardener and author of The Creative Kitchen and co-writer with Charles Dowding of the award-winning No Dig Organic Home and Gardener, is speaking on no dig gardening at the festival Stephanie Hafferty on Friday, 3rd May – free to visitors. What is no dig gardening? It’s a method that’s been around for centuries of not turning over the soil. Instead of digging over the ground every winter as we were taught to do, you mulch the ground once a year with about an inch of composted mulch. It saves a huge amount of time and it’s good if you have a bad back! When you turn over the soil, it exposes the weed seed, so not digging means there are significantly fewer annual weeds and it preserves the soil life, the worms and the fungi.

There’s still time for garden clubs to plan a perfect gardeners’ day out at the Powderham festival. There’s been a big response to an information pack aimed at providing gardening club members with incentives to organise outings to the popular Powderham event. Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th May at Powderham Castle, Kenton nr Exeter. Adult tickets cost £10 in advance (£12.50 on the gate) available The pack has details of entry price discounts from www.tobygardenfest.co.uk, Exeter’s Tourist Information office and available for clubs, free coach parking, plant Urban & Rural Plants. VIP Tickets £55 including all day refreshments, crèche arrangements and catering options and lunch and free goody bag from festival sponsor Hawksmoor sale or return tickets. Investment Management. Children under 12 are free, parking is free Phone 01823 431767 or email and well-behaved dogs on short leads are welcome. alan@countrygardener.co.uk



Country Gardener

Learning from the experts How better to learn about a specialist plant than from the nurserymen and women who grow them? This year for the first time at the festival, nursery exhibitors will take the stage in a new Country Gardener Magazine Talks Tent to talk about the plants they raise from seed or cuttings and look after 365 days a year. In the second in our three part series building up to the festival we talk to four growers who will be sharing their passion for growing. All the talks are free to visitors

What is an ‘Air Plant ‘– a chance to find out at Powderham Tillandsia’s are a genus of plants commonly known as Air Plants. Andy’s Air Plants from Newlyn in Cornwall is fast gaining a reputation for these plants with a difference and nursery owner Andrew Gavin will be giving a talk at the festival with displays of these wonderful Tillandsia’s are now hugely popular as indoor plants houseplants -plus of course varieties for sale. The plants are in the Bromeliad family whose most famous member is the pineapple. While the pineapple is a terrestrial Bromeliad (growing on the Andrew Gavin ground) the ‘Air Plants’ are epiphytic which means they grow on other plants or up in the air which is how they get their common name. Their roots are only for attachment and they take all moisture and nutrients through their leaves. There is currently a huge interest in these plants. “I think it is a fairly recent thing. It’s difficult for me to say because I am so immersed into it but clearly a lot of people in flats and apartments want something new and interesting and these fit the bill. There’s a real boom in houseplants at the moment for those with just window boxes and air plants are low maintenance plants perfect for people with less space ‘added Andy The Tillandsia genus comprises of around 600 plus species and the prices range from £5 to £50. There is a huge variety in the genus from silver or green foliage with beautiful flowers of many colours and some species have flowers that are wonderfully fragrant. Andy has been collecting and growing these amazing plants for over a decade and you can see his wonderful displays at the festival. www.andysairplants.co.uk

How to care for your plants the expert’s way Caring properly for your muchloved plants is one of the biggest challenges for gardeners. What compost should you use, how do you pot up plants Rebecca Flint and Tim Hancock correctly, how do you keep them at their best throughout the season? Popular Gloucestershire nursery owners Tim Hancock and Rebecca Flint run Tortworth Plants on the 4,000 acre Tortworth Estate in Gloucestershire and in that time have won themselves a reputation for producing plants of the highest quality. Tortworth Plants are regular exhibitors at the festival and Tim will be sharing his skills as a nurseryman in the Country Gardner Talks Tent. Both Tim and Rebecca have a passion for horticulture, and like nothing more than hunting out new plants to add to their product range. Tim studied at Pershore College and achieved an HND in Commercial Horticulture. Prior to establishing Tortworth Plants, he was production director at a large wholesale nursery in Wiltshire, where he was responsible for production of quality plants for sale. His time working for a local retail nursery helped him to understand what gardeners were looking for and the advice and help they needed. Tim has also worked for a local retail nursery, helping at horticultural events around the country and gaining valuable retail sales experience. “I’ll be sharing just some of our experiences and knowledge on how to get the best of plants. We are very careful about what compost we use for example for different plants for example and once you have bought a plant the best way to repot and generally make the most of it.” Tortworth Plants, Old Lodge Farm, Tortworth, Wotton-under-Edge, Glos GL12 8HF www.tortworthplants. co.uk




Learn how to make wonderfully colourful hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are one of the most popular ways of bringing dazzling colour to garden walls, fences and gates. It can also be great and creative fun. At Powderham there’s a chance to hear from an expert nursery grower on the best plants to grow for hanging baskets, how to plant them how to go heavy on scented plants and how many plants you can squeeze in. Dawn Morris from the popular Cornish Tartendown Nursery at Landrake near Saltash will be well known to regular visitors to the Powderham festival as she and her husband Simon are ever-present exhibitors. Dawn is a master grower who has a long rooted history with her nursery. From the age of 13 she worked at the nurseries on Saturdays and on her holidays so much so that 10 years later she took over the business when the previous owners retired. She offers the widest variety of well-tended plants, the majority grown on site so plants are healthy and sturdy. “I want to share with Powderham visitors the delights about hanging baskets and from our range of plants at the show how to create that sensational display,bursting with life and colour.” Dawn’s planted hanging baskets are a best seller at the Cornish nursery and she offers a re filling service. “We have lots of experience about what works and what customers and gardeners want to achieve with their hanging baskets which are very popular and it will be lovely to share this all at the festival”. www.tartendown.co.uk Tartendown Nursery, Tartendown, Saltash PL12 5AF

Share in the passion of growing great tasting, exceptional vegetables Joy Michaud has a passion when it comes to growing vegetables. It is along the lines of ‘Why grow an ordinary vegetable when you can grow an outstanding one?’ And at the Powderham festival she will be sharing this passion through her experience and knowledge built up since 1989 at her Seaspring Seeds Nursery in West Dorset. “I’ll be talking to visitors about the excitement of growing new varieties and highlighting our chilli and pepper plugs which are hugely popular. We offer a wide Joy Michaud with her chillies range of over 70 chilli varieties from very mild to super hot and several varieties of sweet pepper. The plants are sold separately so you can buy exactly what you want. “I love the Powderham festival and am really looking forward to it.” Joy sees her nursery as plant hunter and breeders, always looking out for new and exception varieties of vegetables. The emphasis is on special vegetable varieties and lots of care and research goes into finding quality varieties. Each one is tested and trials are run in the nursery. “We also ask other gardeners to try our promising varieties. Testing is an on going process and we do this every year and we want to look after the ‘often neglected‘ home or allotment grower.” Sea Spring Farm, West Bexington Dorchetser, Dorset DT2 9DD

See the May issue to meet more of the nursery owners speaking at Toby’s Garden Festival 42

Country Gardener

PLANNING RIGHTS AND WRONGS by By David Hobbs, consultant to Byron D Hobbs More homeowners are finding their efforts to get planning permission for a home or garden improvement stressful, and fraught with problems. This is in no small measure due to the complexity of the rules and regulations enshrined in the Town & Country Planning Acts. So, how do we reduce these stresses and overcome these problems, when all we may require is a kitchen extension, a summerhouse, a greenhouse or garden shed? Understanding what needs planning permission (and what is regarded as Permitted Development) is increasingly confusing to say the least. We need to tread a legitimate path through the rules despite them being so difficult to comprehend. Some people see the solution as speaking to the planning office at their local council. Wrong! There is no merit to alerting the planning office to your wishes (particularly if they may in some way be sensitive or contentious). I recommend you firstly establish if your proposal/project may or may not comply with the local planning policy – a critical factor too often ignored or disregarded. Frequently because most of us simply do not know the ground rules, or the special language spoken only by planning officers. The question is: how do you start your journey to a successful planning application? Put simply, the right approach is to get the right advice from the right source at the outset; and to act upon it! Many of my clients who have got themselves into difficulty with the planning system have said to me “I rang the Planning Office to find out what they will allow”. Oh, please! It’s almost as bad as asking the local gamekeeper if he would mind you stealing a few of his pheasants. Moreover, I intensely dislike the assumption/attitude that they have the power to allow something as profound as, say, a simple improvement to our home or garden. If all you want is a simple kitchen extension, you may be forgiven for thinking that the recent high profile media-speak is accurate: and that you don’t need planning permission at

all, or if you do, it will be granted as a matter of course. Wrong again! It is true that in most cases (excepting relevant neighbour issues) and where a special planning status is not applicable, you will probably have a reasonably easy journey. Unfortunately, most of us live in homes in close proximity to our neighbours, or that either have some architectural merit or are located in areas of a particular planning status. In these instances, it is often where the difficulties start. Frequently, you will see notices displayed near a house or site on which a recent planning application has been made. In some instances you will need to advertise your proposal in the local paper. These arrangements are designed to alert local people to your proposal and to allow them the opportunity of making representations – good, bad or indifferent. Indeed, anyone can comment on your proposal, whether or not they are qualified so to do or not. And often they are not! So with rules, regulations, neighbours and random (seldom supportive) comments lodged with your council, this journey is looking far from easy. To be successful you are likely to require the services of a specialist. What specialist then, and where do I find one? Actually, this is not as difficult as you might imagine. The planning officer dealing with your application will more than likely be a chartered member of The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). If you want an equally qualified opinion in your corner it makes obvious sense to consult with an RTPI member who operates in the private sector. He/ she will naturally speak the planning language I mentioned earlier. They will also be able to study the local plan applicable to your area, and to advise you on the compliance, or otherwise, of your proposal. The RTPI will happily supply you with a list of their members local to you. The best advice never comes cheap, so I suggest you get quotes from three outfits before you decide. The planning system with all its faults is by and large an exceptional success for all us living in Britain today. We rather take it for granted, and moan about its deficiencies We don’t want urban sprawl despoiling unique countryside, but we want the right to improve our homes and gardens within the legal requirements, and we don’t want unnecessary stress doing it! NEXT ISSUE: Some of the issues of how your garden can be affected.






www.byrondhobbs.co.uk GO TO: www.byron www.countrygardener.co.uk


April garden


The Country Gardener postbag continues to fill up with queries from readers on a wide variety of gardening problems. Here’s a spring themed selection.

My father always used to grow lovely waterlilies in his pond. I’ve been told they are difficult to grow successfully. Are they worth the effort? In short yes they are well worth it and if you select the right variety and pot them correctly they should be fairly problem free. Waterlilies were among the earliest flowering plants to evolve and many argue the most beautiful of aquatic Water lilies - easy to grow but make plants, adding variety right sure you have the practicality as well as beauty. Fish use them as hiding places to escape predators and as shady retreats from the hot summer sun. Plants growing in a pond help keep the water clean and aerated, so you’ll spend less time on pond maintenance. Water lily plants can be divided into two types and getting the wrong variety can cause problems: • Hardy types are best for northern climates where the water freezes in winter. As long as the roots of hardy specimens are below the level where the water freezes, they will reappear the following spring. • Tropical water lilies won’t survive in cold water and must be brought indoors for winter in all but the warmest areas. Many growers treat them as annuals, replanting them each year. Otherwise, remove them from the pond, clean them up, and store them in a bucket of moist sand in a cool place before the first freeze. A pond or pool covered in water lilies is attractive, but complete coverage prevents light from penetrating into the water, choking out other plant and animal life. Growing water lilies in containers helps keep them from spreading and taking over a small pond and it makes water lily care much easier. When you are growing water lilies, use a large plastic pot with several holes punched in the sides and bottom. Fill the pot to within three inches of the top with silt, loam or clay soil and mix in a small amount of slow-release fertiliser labelled for use with aquatic soil. Plant the rhizome close to one side of the pot at a 45-degree angle with the eye pointing up. Cover the soil with a layer of pea gravel, keeping the gravel away from the top of the rhizome as much as possible. The gravel keeps the soil from floating off or washing out of the pot. Place the pot in the bottom of the pond, adjusting the depth to that recommended for your specific variety. 44

Country Gardener


We have just planted some new fruit trees - apples and pears - in a small field off our main garden in a quite exposed position. Is frost damage likely to affect them and limit the crop? Most top fruit and soft fruit are very hardy but once they start into growth in spring, flowers and buds are especially vulnerable to frost and may need protection to crop well.

Spring frosts can seriously damage young fruit trees

Most potential fruit damage can be avoided by choosing a site where spring frosts are least likely. If this is not possible to avoid frost pockets consider protecting them with the following methods: SOFT FRUIT BUSHES: use fleece to cover and protect the flowers and developing crop on nights when frost is forecast. STRAWBERRIES: protect with cloches or a double layer of fleece, removing or opening both in the day to allow pollinators access. SMALL YOUNG FRUIT TREES: cover with fleece overnight to provide frost protection and remove during the day, but this is generally impractical with larger trees. FRUIT GROWN ON WALLS AND FENCES (CORDON, ESPALIER OR FAN-TRAINED): cover with two or three layers of horticultural fleece, hessian or shade netting. This should be rolled up during the day. Use canes to keep the material off the blossoms. Remove the covers as soon as the danger is over.

Can I grow herbs all year round in a sheltered but cool courtyard which doesn’t get a lot of sun? You will have to be selective in what you grow. Most herbs in containers will flourish for eight or nine months in the year. The downside is that many pot-grown herbs die out in winter. However, they can be harvested in autumn and stored for use throughout the winter season. The trick may be to vary where the herbs are grown. Sow tender herb seeds such as basil, marjoram, coriander, and tender perennials such as French tarragon indoors in spring for planting outdoors after all risk of frost passes. Some herbs can live outside all year once they are established. Try mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage. These can be sown indoors as with the tender herbs, or sow them outdoors in May in containers. Delay buying herb plants from garden centres until the weather warms up in late spring. Winter planted herbs are vulnerable to root damage in the cold wet potting media. Some herbs die back in winter, for example French tarragon and mint. These and most herbs will look after themselves if placed where they cannot be frozen, saturated by rain or allowed to become too dry. Suitable places include in the rain shadow of walls, in a coldframe or even in an open fronted shed. A sheet of glass or plywood can keep off heavy rain in wet regions. Use pot feet or stand containers on bricks to avoid waterlogging. If very cold weather is forecast, protect containers from freezing by wrapping in bubble polythene.

I BOUGHT SOME CHILLIES AT A GARDEN FESTIVAL LAST SEPTEMBER BUT THEY WERE A MILD VARIETY. I’D LIKE TO GROW SOMETHING HOTTER BUT NOT SURE HOW I SHOULD START. First let’s look at how you monitor how hot spicy chillies are. Chilli pepper heat is measured by its own scale- the Scoville Scale. The scale was devised by American chemist Wilbur Scoville, who found a way to record the level of heat in each dry mass of foodstuff. Peppers lacking capsaicin –a standard sweet pepper – measure zero on the scale. The average Jalapeno chilli is about 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), with both Scotch Bonnets and Habaneros varieites anywhere between 100,000 to 325,000 SHU. The hottest chillies in the world now break the million SHU mark. These are the sort you need to wear gloves to handle! Chilli peppers are great fun to grow. The strength of the chilli will be determined at the seed buying stage. First, make sure you give them the sunniest spot in the garden. They’ll give their best if you can offer some sort of protection – a greenhouse, cold frame or poly tunnel. Don’t use cold water on plants, but allow the water to reach air temperature to prevent shocking the plant’s roots. This is particularly important for seedlings. Encourage bushier plants by removing the growing point

Chillies, hot, very hot or mind blowing

of the young plants once they reach about a foot high – new branches will sprout further down the stem to produce a more balanced and sturdy plant. Feed peppers when they come into flower with a high potash feed, such as tomato fertiliser and for plants in greenhouses, you could raise humidity levels by spraying plants with water or damping down greenhouse paths. This will help the flowers to set fruit. Once they are fruiting, pick them as soon as they are ready to encourage more flowers and fruits to follow.



For the last two summers my usually spectacular tulip display has been badly affected by something which seems to attack the stems and the flowers. Should I just give up on these bulbs and start again? Small areas work well for wild flowers

We have a small patch about 10 metres square in a corner of the garden I’d like to turn into a mini wild flower meadow. How long would I have to wait to get flowers? Normally annual wildflowers bloom in their first season, giving a bright show of colour from early summer before dying and setting seed in late summer or autumn. Annual wildflower seeds such as cornflowers, poppies and corn cockle look very effective scattered in smaller beds like the one you suggest and create a colourful display. Sow wild flower garden seeds in March and April, or September if your soil is light and well drained. They prefer an open position in full sun. For annual displays, autumn sowing favours wild red poppy seeds and cornflowers, whereas spring sowing tends to favour corncockles and corn marigolds. Prepare the ground by clearing away all existing plants and grass. It’s particularly important to remove vigorous perennial weeds such as stinging nettles, docks and couch grass. In wildlife areas this is best done by hand. Your soil should be good enough for the flowers. Dig the soil over and firm it well before raking to create a level seedbed. Don’t incorporate any fertilisers or manure as this encourages grass growth which crowds out the wild flowers. It is best to allow up to six weeks for the soil to settle. This also allows any weed seeds to germinate, which can then be removed with a hoe or weed killer. If your soil is very fertile and you’d like to grow a perennial wild flower meadow you can try stripping away the top two inches of soil to reduce fertility. One gram of pure wild flower garden seeds is enough for one square metre of soil. Try mixing the seed with silver sand to help you see where you’ve been and make your distribution more even. 46

Though they’re fairly disease tolerant, there are a few common tulip diseases that can affect the soil or tulip bulbs. One common tulip fungal disease is the Botrytis blight, also known as tulip fire or mycelial neck rot. This problem affects every part of the tulip and it looks as if this may be your problem. It appears as discoloured, singed-looking spots on the leaves and petals. The stems may become weak and collapse, while the bulbs become covered with lesions.

Botrytis is possibly the worst disease to effect tulip bulbs

Tulip disease problems are often treated by a thorough examination before planting. Study each bulb carefully, looking for tell-tale dark or spongy spots and mould. You can also detect rot by dropping the bulbs in water: rotten bulbs will float, while healthy bulbs will sink. Unfortunately, water is a good carrier of disease. This makes it easier for infected bulbs to spread to healthy ones. It may be a little early to give up on your bulbs. Be sure to spray all the good bulbs with fungicide to prevent future issues. If any of these tulip disease problems manifest themselves on your tulip plants, remove and burn the infected plants as soon as you notice them. Don’t plant tulips in that spot for a few years, as the disease spores can remain in the soil and infect future plants.

If you have a gardening question which is causing you problems then write to us at: Country Gardener, Mount House, Halse, Taunton, Somerset TA4 3AD and we will try and include it in this regular advice feature.

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Gardens can provide a sensory experience for your feline friend, as well as a safe space for them to exercise or hide away. By taking a few extra precautions, you could also protect other wildlife that visits your garden, or keep a section of your garden cat-free to grow your favourite plants. Now is the perfect time to get out in the garden, preparing for the warmer months ahead. But if you have a cat how much thought do you give to the impact it has on your garden and have you thought about designing your garden around your cat? It might not be quite what you had in mind to give the garden some specific cat attention but it can result in a happier puss, which makes for happier owners and even happier neighbours! Being free-roaming creatures, you can take a cat out of the outdoors but you can’t always take the outdoors out of the cat - scaling fences, pouncing from bushes and creeping through the undergrowth all come naturally. So why not nurture their need for exploration by creating a cat-friendly garden? Not only will this make your outdoor cat less likely to venture on to a nearby road in search of new adventures, but it might stop him squatting in the neighbours’ gardens too! Like most wildlife, cats much prefer a garden that is a bit rough at the edges to one that is maintained in immaculate order.

GO ORGANIC Non-organic chemicals present in weedkillers and slug pellets can be harmful to your cat if they eat or come into contact with an infected plant or creature. If you do use non-organic chemicals, always follow the instructions on the packaging, and keep them locked away in a shed or garage.

PLANTS THEY’LL LOVE The nepetalactone present in some nepeta (catmint) species has a natural, non-toxic euphoric effect on some cats, particularly Nepeta cataria (catnip). Valeriana officinalis (common valerian) is another favourite, which can create a similar effect to catmint due to naturally-occurring actinidine. Some cats will also enjoy chewing and nibbling on Dactylis glomerata (cat grass). There are several grasses that cats can snack on, but this is the most widely available as seed or, increasingly, sprouting in pots.


CREATE A NO-GO ZONE If you want to keep a particular section of your garden away from prowling paws, try incorporating plants with repellant smells such as Plectranthus caninus (also known as Coleus canina or ‘scaredy cat’ plant), or aromatic herbs like lavender, rosemary or Helichrysum italicum (curry plant), which some cats dislike and may avoid. Cats can feel threatened in exposed spaces and love secluded spots where they can rest and keep on eye on what’s happening! Choose bushy plants without thorns which can provide shade and a secluded spot for cats to enjoy – lavender is a great choice. Remember the great outdoors can pose some risks to cats. Avoid plants which can be toxic to cats – lilies in particular can be lethal. A full list is available on Cats Protection’s website at www.cats.org.uk/dangerous-plants.

PLANTS TO AVOID Most cats are fastidious creatures and are careful about what they eat. Poisoning in cats is therefore generally rare. It is the young inquisitive cat or kitten that is most at risk of eating harmful plants, particularly household ones. However lilies are toxic and potentially fatal to cats, so should be avoided completely. Alliums, amaryllis, crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips can be dangerous to cats, as can cyclamen, poinsettias and rhododendrons.

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Roman Temple Site and Museums A48 between Gloucester & Chepstow Phone: 01594 842844 or 01594 842922 Lydney Park is home to Viscount Bledisloe and is a place of tranquil beauty. There are fine formal gardens around the house and a wooded valley where the visitor can stroll amidst a profusion of Rhododendrons and Azaleas and other spring flowering shrubs. Open from Sunday 14th April to Sunday 16th June on Sundays, Wednesdays and Bank Holiday Mondays. Bookings can be taken for coach parties on other days by prior arrangement. 10am to 5pm. Adult £5 and Children 50p - Dogs allowed on leads Sample the teas in the dining room, or picnic in the Deer Park


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THE ROOT of the matter by Gill Heavens

In the second of her series on how different plant parts work in the garden Gill Heavens looks at the critical role of developing roots When all things are in place, the optimum temperature has been reached and enough water imbibed, our seed is ready to germinate. The radicle, or fledgling root, bursts through the seed coat and takes it first steps, anchoring into its new home. This is an important step, the seedling requires additional nutrients and water for the plumule, which will become the young stem of our plant, to emerge. Only then can they begin to photosynthesise, allowing the plant to mature into a strong and healthy specimens. The radicle pushes downwards into the soil, taking gravity as its indicator, a process known as geotropism. From this small root others will follow, constantly growing and branching. The vulnerable growing point is close to the end of the rootlet and is protected by a root cap. Above this point, protected from damage, fine hairs clothe the root. These tiny whiskers increase the surface area available for absorption. As the systems develop they take on specific form. Some plants produce a mass of delicate roots, concentrated close to the surface. These are known as fibrous roots, grasses being a prime example. They are excellent at preventing soil erosion, the particles of earth are held amongst them, safe from water or wind damage. Some plants are tap-rooted. One, sometimes two, substantial roots travel deep into the ground, providing stability in windy or unstable conditions. They are also experts in mining nutrients from areas unavailable for shallow rooters. Comfrey, carrots and dandelions all fall into this category. It can be hard to rid ourselves of these sturdy characters once introduced into the garden, think of the persistent horseradish, once planted never forgotten! Other plants, including many trees, have a combination of both 50

structures. Initially they send down stabilising tap roots, then develop a horizontal, diffuse system closer to the surface. A combination ensuring the best of both worlds. As Mr Darwin pointed out, over millennia, flora and fauna have adapted to specific conditions and root systems illustrate this perfectly. In order to solve problems peculiar to their environments, plants have modified in their own magnificent ways. Some desert shrubs delve deep to survive, the velvet mesquite, Prosopis velutina, in the Sonoran desert of North America, can travel over fifty meters down in its quest for water. Conversely, many cacti have extremely shallow root systems, widely spread, to take full advantage of any rain that may fall. One problem, two solutions. Members of the family Proteaceae, such as leucadendrons, proteas and banksia, have evolved ingenious proteoid roots to survive in nutrient deficient soils. These seasonally developed roots reach up into the top layer of soil ensuring optimum water and nutrient extraction. This adaption has left these plants particularly sensitive to phosphorus, a chemical in many proprietary fertilisers. They are easily killed with kindness. The genus taxodium, deciduous cypresses from the Americas, grow either on or very close to swamps and other water sources. In order not to “drown” in the oxygen-depleted soils they have developed pneumatophores, sometimes known as “knees” on their horizontal roots. Yes, they breathe through their knees! Roots also serve as food storage, acting as larders for deciduous plants providing nourishment to grow new leaves after a dormant winter. We of course take advantage of some of the tastier of these, including delicious beetroot and parsnips. Tubers are a little more complicated. They grow from either the stem or the root. Root tubers include dahlia and

Country Gardener

Seeking moisture

Epiphytes plants that grow on another plant, have roots that gain sustenance from rain, debris and mists Proteoid roots evolve to survive in nutrient deficient soils and reach up into the top layer of soil ensuring optimum water and nutrient extraction. This has left these plants sensitive to phosphorus in many proprietary fertilisers. and Roots can alter the shape of plants as can be killed wit h kindness. they seek out water and soil moisture sweet potato and are lateral roots that have developed into storage organs. It may be a surprise that not all roots live below ground. Epiphytes, plants that grow on another plant, have roots that gain sustenance from rain, debris and mists. Some, such as the Banyan tree, lower their roots down from the host plant to the ground forming a throttling cage. Other plants produce what is known as adventitious roots, produced on stems or even leaves, such as climbing ivy and strawberry runners. They are a clever way of self-propagation, enabling plant to grow sideways. Contractile roots are perhaps the most impressive of all, they physically pull the plant down into the ground. A good example is the highly successful crocosmia that produces a new corm each year on top of last year’s model. To prevent the plants climbing out of the soil, specialised roots on the bottom corm haul the plant back down to where it belongs. We cannot mention roots without mentioning mycorrhizae, the fungi that live symbiotically with all plants. Science is only just beginning to scratch the surface of just how important this association is, and that a healthy soil is a living soil. Over the centuries particular properties of roots have been

Crocosmias have specialised roots on the bottom corm which haul the plant back down to where it belongs.

utilised by man. The vivid yellow of the berberis root has been used as a dye as well as an ingredient in homeopathic medicine. Turmeric, ginger and galangal have all been proven to impart extensive health benefits alongside their culinary value. The delicately flowered bloodroot, Sanguinaria Canadensis, was used as a rich red dye by First Nation Americans, as well as a medicine for both cleansing and lung problems. There is a darker side. One that Harry Potter fans will be familiar with. The mandrake. The roots of these plants have long been associated with folklore and witchcraft. The roots supposedly scream when they are wrenched from the ground, the sound of which is fatal. Having never tried this frankly risky exercise, I am not in a position to comment. However to be quite sure I would err on the side of caution. As gardeners we rarely see the roots of plants, unless we are about to eat them or are transplanting, but this is short sighted. If things are not ideal below the ground, it will be apparent above. Too wet, too dry, restricted or starved it will soon become obvious. Without an extensive and healthy root system our plants will become sickly. We would do well to look after our underground friends and their subterranean world. It is upon them that the stems will grow strong.



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Welcome to the NEW GENERATION lawn mowers There’s a new generation of lawn mowers on the market - relying on clean and safe battery power. They are expensive but John Swithinbank is impressed with their performance Technology can be frustrating on frequent occasions. From those inevitable non-fathomable computer glitches to contracting that horrible condition called FOBO (Fear of Being Offline) when our routers fail at a crucial time just to annoy us! However, sometimes technology makes for a better life - enter the era of the modern lawnmower with no smelly petrol engine or trailing electric cable waiting to be severed to clout us with a hair raising electric shock! I’m talking about the new generation of rechargeable battery powered lawnmowers. We are now well into spring and you might be one of the unfortunate gardeners finding that your lawnmower which you used last year is no longer fit for purpose. To help out, I’m looking at five battery mowers all of which are worthy contenders for the new mowing season. For the best deals shop around online but just make sure that the price includes charger and battery as these are expensive. Prices seem to vary day to day so that’s why I’ve not included them here. For more detailed technical specifications there’s also lots of info. on line. Bear in mind that longer grass, wet grass and coarser grass lawns may reduce the efficiency and battery running times of these mowers. Also, bear in mind that these mowers are either pushed along by yourself or they power themselves along as well. This is a particularly useful feature on the larger heavier machines but hand pushed is sometimes easier around tight obstacles. One last thing to look out for is the minimum and maximum height of cut to make sure it will cut to a height of your liking.

Stihl RMA 235 A cheeky little number by way of its ability to adjust the blade speed depending on grass conditions hence saving on battery drainage. It’s a great model for smaller lawns and, like the Flymo, quite light although a tad heavier than its rival. I found its quality of the cut unrivalled. If there’s a gripe, then it’s the rather long time it takes for the battery to recharge (a faster charger is available at extra cost) but hey, we are talking here of a sophisticated battery management system when put to the sward.

Bosch Rotak 43 Li-2 Ergoflex With a minimum height of cut of 20mm this mower is one for the lawn lover who likes a close shave and those Centre Court stripes. Its only downfall is that its not self propelled but it is light enough to push around a medium sized lawn. It’s great that it comes with a spare battery as charge time is about one and a half hours. I couldn’t fault its performance.

Flymo Mighti-Mo 300 Li Cordless Battery Lawn Mower Not built for large lawns this push along mower will appeal to those with small lawns. Don’t get me wrong, it’s powerful enough to cope with challenging conditions but due to it’s narrow width of cutting (30cm) and a relatively small grass box don’t expect it to chomp through vast swards of our green and pleasant land. One great advantage it’s got over some other mowers is it’s lightness and won’t take up much storage room. So, if it takes less than half an hour to mow your lawn this mower may be worth considering.

Hyundai HYM120LI510 120V Yes, believe it of not Hyundai don’t just make cars. This powerful mower can run up to one hour on a single charge and comes with two batteries and a wide 510mm cutting width to cope with larger lawns. It does however take about an hour or so to charge one battery but this isn’t a great problem with another battery waiting in the wings. Not only has it got a fairly large grass box to collect the cut grass but it is capable of discharging from the rear without the box or to one side if preferred. It can also mulch the clippings to feed the lawn naturally but over time this could lead to a build up of thatch requiring scarification.

Ego LM2014E-SP 50cm Self-Propelled This is a big-boy suited to larger lawns and it can collect, mulch and side discharge the clippings. I found that it had enough clout to rival the best petrol mowers but beware that if you are mowing hard over about half an hour or so the battery could be ready for another charge which takes about 35 - 40 minutes - time enough for feet up and a long tea break.





Here’s a selection of gardening events to look out for during the next few weeks throughout the Cotswolds. Send us details of your event at least ten 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 garden club 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.




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Jane Pinn, is membership secretary of P lain Pond Allotments at Wiveliscombe in Somerset where through hard but caring planning they have come up with a winning formula for an allotment site Allotment sites come in many guises, but what makes a good one? Most people would agree on a well-maintained site where all the plots are cultivated and weeds kept under control. Good, level access and provision of water would also come pretty high on the list. These are important factors certainly, but they don’t necessarily add up to a happy allotment site. Here, at Plain Pond Allotments in Wiveliscombe, we believe our plotholders are the difference. Our site is council-owned but, back in 2005, the tenant plotholders formed an Association, with the rather grand The allotment has quickly aim of “Becoming established a great community spirit a self-regulating community which manages its own business, within the framework of the tenancy agreement and allotment legislation”. In 14 years, the association has gone from strength to strength. The term association simply refers to the collective plot-holders in residence. A committee is elected each year to manage the waiting list, funds, and day-to-day business of the site. We are affiliated to the National Allotment Society and our membership benefits include legal support and advice as well as access to reduced-price seeds. We actively cultivate a good working relationship with the Town Council and the local community. None of this would be possible without the vision and determination of the committee members. My personal incentive is the experience of my friend Ally. I remember her being so excited when she first got an allotment at a large site in nearby Wellington. As a busy working mother of three, Ally nevertheless spent many hours cultivating her plot and the kids loved it. Two disillusioned years later, she had

The site has some talented gardeners but no one is expected to be an expert at vegetable growing

given up her allotment. Ally had grown some great vegetables in that time but, she said, “They never offered help, only criticism”. So, when I joined our committee five years ago, I was determined to use her experience as a blueprint of how not to do it! I am so proud that today at Plain Pond we offer a choice of three different sizes of plot, and we actively welcome families with young children (future growers). New members receive a welcome pack, explaining how everything works, and our website and communal blog is full of useful information. Annual events include workshops, such as how to plant potatoes or make compost, and various trips and outings throughout the year. There are 34 plots at Plain Pond, used by around 100 people. We try to be flexible in meeting the changing demand for what people want from their growing space, so we also offer plot-sharing, a communal plot and an easy-access plot. We can give people an option to split or share their plot or move to a smaller one if they are struggling. We use some of our funds each year to provide free plastic sheeting to cover plots if needed, and bulk-purchase fleece and netting for members to buy at cost. Importantly, we value people for their unique skills and what they bring to the allotment site as a whole. We have some experienced gardeners of course, but also some very talented cake-makers, artists, musicians, photographers, PR and IT specialists amongst our members and their partners. No-one is expected to be an expert at growing veg, although there is plenty of advice and knowledge on hand to help with this. Our aim now is to get as many people as possible growing some veg, to enable them to get the most from their allotment and, above all, to enjoy it! So the term most commonly used to describe our site is ‘friendly’,. I think we are doing pretty well. For more information, visit our website: http://plainpond.blogspot.co.uk/



Stockists of Country Gardener Cotswolds 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. Alcester The Hiller Garden, B49 5PD Bentham Primrose Vale Farm Shop, GL51 4UA Berkeley Kitts Green Nurseries, GL13 9PW Birdwood The Fairview Gardener, GL2 8AR Bisley The Green Shop, GL6 7BX Bloxham Bloxham Nursery, OX15 5EE Bourton-on-the-Hill Bourton House Gardens, GL56 9AE Bristol Henleaze Garden Shop, BS9 4NB Broadway Snowshill Manor NT, WR12 7JU Buscot Buscot Park NT, SN7 8BU Charlecote Charlecote Garden Store, CV35 9ER Charlecote Park NT, CV35 9ER Cheltenham Blooms Garden Centre, GL50 4SJ Cheltenham Garden Machinery, GL50 3HU Dundry Nursery & Garden Centre, GL51 6SL Shurdington Nurseries, GL51 4TX Valley Roundabout Nurseries, GL51 6SJ Chipping Campden Hidcote Manor Garden NT, GL55 6LR Tourist Information Centre, GL55 6HB Chipping Norton Applegarth Nurseries, OX7 5SY Cirencester Cerney House Gardens, GL7 7BX Dobbies Garden World, GL7 6EU Coleford Pygmy Pinetum Garden Nursery, GL16 7EQ Cotheridge Laylocks Garden Centre, WR6 5LP Dyrham Dyrham Park NT, SN14 8HY Earl’s Croome Nuyard Country & Garden Centre WR8 9DA Evesham Castle Gardens Farm Shop & Nursery, WR11 7RN

Chadbury Farm Shop, WR11 4TD Cotswold Garden Flowers, WR11 7EZ Ellenden Farm Shop, WR11 8LU Evesham Garden Centre, WR11 4TP Goll’s Nursery & Aquatics, WR11 8SN The Plant Centre @ Knowle Hill, WR11 7EN Faringdon Rogers Gardenstone, SN7 7BU Farnborough Farnborough Garden Centre, OX17 1EL Gloucester Brockworth Garden Centre, GL3 4PU NEW Dobbies Garden Centre, GL10 3DP

Longhope TJ Hart @ Harts Barn, GL17 0QD Lower Slaughter The Old Mill, GL54 2HX Lydney Coinros Gardeners’ Nursery, GL15 6BU Malmesbury Foxley Road Nurseries, SN16 0JQ Malmesbury Garden Centre, SN16 9JL Malvern Grange Farm Nursery, WR13 6NT The Bran Tub, WR14 4QY Tourist Information Centre, WR14 2AA Mickleton Tops Plants, GL55 6PT Miserden Highfield Garden World, GL2 7PB The Nursery at Miserden, GL6 7JA Moreton-in-Marsh Norton Garden Centre, GL2 9PU Batsford Arboretum, GL56 9AD Gotherington Gotherington Nurseries, GL52 9QY Fossweway Garden Centre, GL56 0DS Hanbury Nailsworth Arkle Plants & Shrubs, Hanbury, Nailsworth Garden Machinery, B60 4BU GL5 5EX Hanbury Hall NT, WR9 7EA Tourist Information Centre, Hartlebury GL6 0DU Whitlenge Gardens & Nursery, Newent DY10 4HD Roses Country Fayre, GL18 1DL Highworth 3 Shires Garden Centre, GL18 1DL Highworth Hardware, SN6 7AG Three Choirs Vineyard, GL18 1LS Holt Heath Trioscape Plant Centre, GL18 1HQ Bromfields Farm Shop & Garden Ombersley Store, WR6 6NF The Farm Shop @ Ombersley, Huntley WR9 0HJ Forest Products, GL19 3EY Pershore Leaf Creative GL14 3EX Alpine Garden Society, WR10 3JP Iron Acton Four Acres Nursery, WR10 3DY Iron Acton Garden Centre, BS37 9XA Pershore College Plant Centre, Kidderminster WR10 3JP Bodenham Arboretum, DY11 5TB Three Springs Nursery, WR10 3BX Hodgehill Garden Centre, DY10 3NR Pucklechurch Lechlade St Aldam’s Nursery, BS16 9PY Lechlade Garden Centre, GL7 3DP Ross-on-Wye Ledbury Ross Garden Store, HR9 7BW Newent Plant Centre @ Rushwick Little Verzons Farm, HR8 2PZ Roots of Rushwick, WR2 5TD NEW Staunton Tourist Information Centre, Staunton Garden Centre, GL19 3QA HR8 1BT

Stourport-on-Severn Cooks Garden Centre, DY13 9PB Stratford-upon-Avon Fibrex Nurseries, CV37 8XP Garden Images, CV37 6QB NEW Hunscote Farm Shop & Nursery, CV35 9ES Stratford Garden Centre, CV37 8LW Stroud Made in Stroud, GL5 1AA Tourist Information Centre, GL5 1AE Swindon Greatfield Garden Centre, SN4 8EQ John Toomer Garden Centre, SN5 3LD Manor Garden Centre, SN2 2QJ Walfins Garden & Leisure, SN4 8EQ Tetbury Tourist Information Centre, GL8 8JG Tewkesbury Hoo House Nursery, GL20 7DA Tewkesbury Garden Centre, GL20 6EB Thornbury Thornbury Garden Shop, BS35 2AQ Thornbury Library, BS35 2AA Toddington Toddington Garden Centre, GL54 5DT Upton Upon Severn Clive’s Fruit Farm, WR8 0SA Warmington National Herb Centre, OX17 1DF Warwick Hintons Nursery, CV34 5FJ Westbury on Severn Westbury Court Garden NT, GL14 1PD Weston Subedge Hartwell & Co, GL55 6QH Worcester Spetchley Park Gardens, WR5 1RS Worcester Garden Centre, WR3 7SW Wotton-under-Edge Eastwood Garden Plant Centre, GL12 8DA Tortworth Court Farm Shop, GL12 8HF The Lavender Garden, GL8 8YF

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

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

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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.


Country Gardener

Colour CRAZY CARROTS! Carrots may be one of the most traditional vegetables in the garden but there’s a new trend to be much more colourful when it comes to growing them It is perhaps the most traditional you can get when it comes to growing vegetables in the garden and much loved. But there’s a new trend among carrot growers- and it’s all to do with being a lot more colourful. Carrots are in fact immensely colourful, with plenty of varieties in alternative hues including white, yellow, red and purple. Served up together, perhaps grated into a salad, carrots can add a dazzling rainbow of tones that will please the eye as much as the tummy. Curiously, orange carrots are a relatively recent phenomenon, bred by loyal subjects of the Dutch House of Orange in the 16th or 17th century. Yet the orange roots that are now so familiar also happen to be juicier and fuller flavoured than wild carrots, suggesting that breeding efforts may have had more to do with improving the once skinny taproot’s kitchen worthiness than sucking up to the latest monarch! However the orange carrot came about, it is now so much of a staple that picturing the root vegetable in any other colour takes a leap of the imagination. Different colours of carrot originate from different parts of the world. Each colour has its own history and particular health benefits for us as root-snaffling connoisseurs. Purple carrots, for example, hail from the Middle East and Turkey and are rich in anthocyanins which are known to guard against heart disease. Red carrots originate from China and India. Bursting with lycopene, these roots can reduce the risk of macular degeneration, so while they may not help you see in the dark they’re certainly good news for eye health. Carrots that are yellow originate from the Middle East and are just as good for the eyes. They contain lutene and xanthophylls that minimise the risk of hardening of the arteries while potentially preventing lung and other cancers. The take-home message of all this is that coloured carrots are intensely good for you and by growing a mixture of varieties you’ll be increasing the odds of keeping yourself in exceptionally fine fettle. Wild carrots have long taproots designed to seek out moisture far underground. This makes sense given the often dry parts of the world it’s found in. It is for this reason that carrots prefer to be sown into warm soil, making them ideal for sowing in succession every few weeks from spring well into summer. Carrots prefer light soil and a warm, sunny position. Avoid stony ground which will cause the roots to

fork or take on all manner of weird and wonderful shapes. Sow seeds into well-prepared soil that has been raked to a fine, crumbly texture. Thinly scatter the seeds into rows 2030cm (8-12in) apart, setting them one inch deep. Once the seedlings pop up remove weaker specimens by nipping them off between finger and thumb at ground level or by pulling them out on a still day (to avoid the smell attracting carrot fly). Thinning can be completed in stages until individual plants are at least 5cm (2in) apart. It is worth digging around, so to speak, for the varieties of colourful carrots available. There are literally hundreds of different shades and shapes to try. A real gardeners’ favourite is the shockingly deep-coloured ‘Purple Haze’ whose purple outer reveals a rich, orange core when cut open. Eat it raw to appreciate the immense flavour these chunky roots have to offer. Contrast ‘Purple Haze’ with the almost glow-in-the-dark ‘Yellowstone’, whose smoothskinned roots are exceptionally sweet. Scarlet ‘Red Samurai’ from Japan hides a deep pink flesh, while ‘White Satin’ is a good option for its ghost-like roots. If you can’t find any of these varieties look out for others such as ‘Purple Dragon’, ‘Solar Yellow’, ‘Belgium White’ and ‘Atomic Red’ – the clue to the root colour lies in the name!

Do rainbow car r ots taste dif ferent?

White or golden carro cream colour. Thes ts are typically a yellow or e vegetables have a mild flavour with hardly any of the earthiness th at the other colours of carrots typi notably sweeter th cally contain. They are also an orange, red, an d purple carrots. All varieties of ca rrots and a great additio are extremely nutrient dense n to a healthy diet – they’re high in fibre and rich in potassium , vitamin C, and vitamin K. ... Red carrots are rich in lycopene (as are tomatoes – it’ s the phytonutrie nt that gives red fruits and veggie s colour) and beta -carotene.



Which ‘bee-


plants attract the most bees? Rosi Rollings shares her findings over five years of intense research into which are the best plants to attract honeybees

I’ve been passionate about gardening all my adult life. So, when my husband and I started keeping honeybees in 2009, it was natural for me to want to know which plants I should grow to support them. I found many lists of recommended plants for pollinators but they failed to agree. Also, most were based on simple anecdotes or experienced observation but nothing more scientific. So, I started growing some of the recommended plants and working it out for myself. This became the start of a journey that now finds me having just completed five years of primary research to quantify which plants really attract the most bees. I also manage a small plant nursery dedicated to supplying those plants – pesticide and peat free, of course! The plants in the study were chosen for their reported or observed potential to be highly attractive to bees. The study covered 111 plants including 90 perennials, six biennials, 15 annuals 30 native plants and 81 non-native plants. Each year has added to my understanding of the subject but most of the findings have stayed very consistent from the first year. • The primary finding is that the number of bees each plant attracts varies hugely. Some attract surprisingly few, even supposedly ‘bee-friendly’ plants. • Weather has a major impact on both bees and plants causing them to thrive much more in some years than others. Yet, both are also very resilient and how attractive a plant is to bees should not be judged on a single year. • Both native and non-native plants are equally attractive to bees. Except where there is some unique inter-dependency, most bees show no favouritism to native plants and seek food where they can access it. • Healthy plants with more flowers attract more bees. The old gardeners’ adage of ‘right plant for the right place’ is important for both a sustainable garden and more bee-food • Different plants attract different bees and so to ensure that food is supplied to a wide range of bees it is best to have a wide range of flowers available. Although plant structure has a bearing on which plants each bee prefers, it is not the only factor. The following chart provides a summary of the cumulative 62

Clockwise from top left; Helenium autumnale with a faded bumblebee (they go grey with age); Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ with a mining bee, Andrea haemorrohoa; Anthemis tinctorial with an ivy mining bee, Colletes hederae

results for the five years of data showing which plants attract the most bees and of which kind. The values have been rationalised to adjust for the dominance of honey bees in the sample. One further comment relates to honeybees. Although not proven, many of my observations show honeybees outcompete other bees for food; if you introduce about 50,000 additional bees into a local population then you must be increasing pressure for food resources. Beekeepers should consider how to increase local floral resources to avoid a negative impact on wild bees. For more on this research and individual charts for bumblebees, solitary bees and honeybees, visit www.rosybee.com/research/ Rosi Rollings runs rosybee plants for bees. All plant sales are through her website at www.rosybee.com

Country Gardener

Roses Country Fayre Garden Centre

Visit Roses Country Fayre - a family run business, offering high quality at great value Our top selected homegrown plants are for sale in our garden centre We have an expanded range of alpines, perennials, herbs, shrubs and trees

Visit the delightful Cafe Rosie - cooked meals, light lunches, excellent coffee, afternoon teas and more!

Producing top quality plants for over 35 years

Postcode GL18 1DL

B4221 to Ross, Gorsley

Ledbury Road, Newent, Gloucestershire, GL18 1DL 01531 821242 info@rosesgardencentre.co.uk www.rosesgardencentre.co.uk www.facebook.com/rosesgardencentre @RCFgardencentre

Try our lovely new coffee shop - with outdoor seating and childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s play area!

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B4215 to Newent Gloucester

Herefordshire’s Most Inspirational Plant Centre

Newent Plant Centre @ The Nest, Little Verzons, Ledbury We have thousands of Trees, Shrubs, Cottage Garden Perennials, Climbers, Roses... all ready to plant NOW Vegetable Plants, Fruit Trees, Seeds... and some fabulous ideas for growing Vegetables in Patio Containers Meander around our garden displays and be inspired to plant out your own garden Over 100 varieties of Heuchera “Collectors Corner” of Unusual and Hard to Find Plants Friendly advice always available from Mark and his team

Tomato Festival Saturday 13th & Sun 14th April Learn how to Grow Tomatoes Hundreds of plants available Free Talk each day at 2pm A417 LEOMINSTER

Verzons Hotel HEREFORD


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Find us @ just 3 miles west of Ledbury on the A438

Open 7 Days a week Newent Plant Centre @ The Nest, Little Verzons, Hereford Road, Ledbury HR8 2PZ. Tel: 01531 670121 We sell and accept Email: enquiry@newentplantcentre.co.uk

www.newentplantcentre.co.uk RHS Gold Medalists Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Cotswolds Country Gardener April 2019  

The April 2019 issue of Cotswolds Country Gardener Magazine

Cotswolds Country Gardener April 2019  

The April 2019 issue of Cotswolds Country Gardener Magazine