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Issue No 137 Autumn 2017




October garden days out to cherish Gardening events to enjoy throughout the Cotswolds

Grow your best ever pears PLANT NOW FOR SPRING COLOUR

Step into Autumn AT THE GARDEN LOVERS GARDEN CENTRE On A423 Southam Road, Nr. Farnborough, Banbury OX17 1EL. Tel: 01295 690479

Open six days a week Tue-Sat 9am-4.30pm Sun 10.30am-4.30pm Open Bank Holiday Mondays




Walk leisurely around the plants, displayed within informal garden settings that will inspire you. Browse, or ask our friendly staff to help you choose those plants that are right for your situation.

Eat & Drink!

Relax in a quiet corner of the garden centre where you can meet a friend or simply read through your gardening books with a frothy cappuchino! Serving light snacks & refreshments, such as our famous cheese scones, cakes and cream teas.

Our speciality is specimen plants ranging from trees and shrubs, to palms and topiary. We also stock patio furniture, stoneware, enamelware, metalwork and obelisks. In our shop you will find orchids, sundry items, gifts and ideas for the discerning gardener, all gift-wrapped on request. Seasonal lines such as bedding plants, bulbs, seeds and perennials complement the range throughout the year, alongside the gardening necessities of chemicals, fertilisers, wild bird care and composts.

Grow wit h us

Quality Service Value Come a for you nd see rself! Ross Garden Store, The Engine Shed, Station Approach, Ashburton, Ross On Wye, Herefordshire HR9 7BW 01989 568999 OPEN DAILY

A449 M50



Up Front!

‘ Summer ends and autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night’ - Hal Borland.

Our highlights Of the gardening calendar Over the cOming weeks in the cOtswOlds GARDEN OPEN OF THE MONTH

Time to celebrate apples and pears!

Special plantS

It is the apple season and one of the delights of this time of the year is the number of special apple themed days available to go and enjoy. There’s a run of apple and some pear celebrations on offer in October. Perry Pear Harvest Weekend is being held at Dyrham Park on Saturday, 7th October and Sunday 8th October from 11am to 2pm. It is a chance to join in the enchanting pear orchard for a celebration of the humble Dyrham perry pear. You can have a go with the old cider press and then make your own pear juice. There will be harvest craft and games, pear bobbing, an orchard trail and harvest goodies in the cafe. Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire SN14 8HY. stourHead aPPle day will feature over 20 varieties of Somerset orchard apples on Saturday, 21st October along with local ciders and speciality cheeses. All available to buy and take home. Assistance dogs are welcome. Telephone: 01747 841152. Stourhead, Wiltshire, BA12 6QD.

Val Bourne at charit y fair

Greenway Lane, Cold Ashton, South Gloucestershire SN14 8LA There’s loads to see if you catch the last of the season’s openings for the National Gardens Scheme at this architect-designed hillside garden with its stunning views and great range of features, owned by well known plantswoman Derry Watkins. Opening on Thursday 19th October between 11am and 5pm, you’ll find exotic plants, gravel gardens for borderline hardy plants, a black and white (purple and silver) garden, a vegetable garden and orchard, hot border, lemon and lime bank, spring fed pond, bog garden and a woodland walk. Find the wobbly bridge over a previously hidden gorge. Admission: £5, children free. Home-made teas. Dogs allowed. Pick up a free list of plants in the garden. For other opening times and information, phone on 01225 891686 email or visit

Hunting for fungi at Westonbirt

The Westonbirt Charities Fair is one of the largest charity fairs in the West Country. It is a not-forprofit annual event. Top gardening writer Val Bourne is one of the speakers at the popular annual fair now in its 17th year and bigger than ever. This year’s fair is held on Tuesday, 24th and Wednesday, 25th October where you can find the perfect Christmas gift for friends and family. This year the fair will support the Home-Start Stroud District, Toucan for Children and The Air Ambulance charities. 10am to 5pm Admission £7.50 Westonbirt School, Westonbirt near Tetbury GL8 8QG. Tel: 01453 832265.

Many gardeners find themselves with enthusiasms for fungi. So to celebrate National Fungus Day, two public fungi forays, led by the Cotswold Fungus Group, will be held at Westonbirt Arboretum on Saturday, 7th October. It’s a chance to discover the fascinating and often beautiful world of fungi, on a fungi foray at the National Aboretum. The forays are fun and informative for all ages, and include a supervised display of fungi finds in the Education Centre. The forays are at 10.30am and 2pm and last two hours. Adults £5, under 12’s £2. The cost does not include entrance to the arboretum. www.

Autumn festival at Painswick’s Rococo Gardens Painswick Rococo Garden is set to celebrate all things harvest at its Autumn Festival, with apple juicing, tastings, offering fun for the family. Taking place at the Cotswold attraction from Friday, 20th to Sunday, 22nd October, the annual event will feature highlights including apple tasting and heritage produce displays. There will also be a children’s Apple Activity Day on the Friday, offering the opportunity to pay a visit with the whole family. Visitors can enjoy the chance to explore the beautiful gardens, which include historical buildings, leafy woodlands, and a unique maze. Painswick Rococo Garden, Painswick. Tel: 01452 813204.

GET IN T OUCH: Country Gardener Tel: 01823 431767


Sue Gibson

School of Gardening Slimbridge, Glos

Increase your plant knowledge on my new Advanced Plant Planning Half-day Workshops in 2017/18

“Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile.” William Cullen Bryant

01453 890820 Autumn Opening Times


Quality stock of herbaceous perennials, grasses, alpines, herbs & patio plants. Many designs of hanging baskets empty - or filled.

6 Pack Pansies & Viola Selection of Bulbs Bare root Hedging & Fruit Trees National Garden Gift Vouchers 4 x 60L bags of multi-purpose compost - £14.50

Open: 10am - 5pm Tel No: 01386 550357

Great Comberton Road, Pensham, Nr. Pershore, Worcs WR10 3DY


October, Mon-Sun, 11am-5pm November, Wed-Sun, 11am-5pm Arboretum, Visitor Centre, Restaurant Wolverley, Kidderminster, Worcestershire DY11 5TB

Garden Nursery

Spring Flowering Bulbs Garden favourites and more unusual varieties. Plant now for a wonderful Spring display. Autumn and Winter Colour Many shrubs turning stunning Autumn colours, a lovely selection of evergreens and Autumn flowering plants. Fruit and Ornamental Trees Ideal time to plant. Full range available now. Roses, Hedging and Soft Fruit Lots of varieties, bare root and potted. Tel: 01562 852444

Cannop Crossroads, Nr Speech House, Royal Forest of Dean, Glos. Tel: 01594 833398

Soak up the spectacular colour... at Batsford this autumn. Browse our selection of gifts and garden goodies and treat yourself to a home-baked lunch or afternoon tea in our café. A perfect day out for all the family - dog friendly too!


Beautiful fencing & garden products made from naturally durable, sustainable local timber

Visit for details on our forthcoming events BATSFORD ARBORETUM AND GARDEN CENTRE Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9AD. Tel: 01386 701441 E: BatsfordArboretum 4 07958 345833


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Painswick welcomes James Alexander-Sinclair Painswick Gardening Club is hosting ‘An Audience with James Alexander-Sinclair’ on Friday, 10th November at the Painswick Centre. James is an internationally acclaimed garden designer, a member of the Council of the RHS, an award winning writer with the Daily Telegraph, House and Garden and The Garden and a regular columnist for Gardeners World magazine and Gardens Illustrated. He is a well-respected broadcaster James Alexander-Sinclair and a compelling speaker. You’ll be able to enjoy a lively afternoon with interesting information, anecdotes and wit prepare to be informed and entertained in equal measure. Doors open at 1.45pm for a 2.30pm start. Book in advance as numbers are limited. Tickets are ÂŁ15 for non-members and ÂŁ12 for members. Non-member tickets can be purchased at the Pharmacy and the Patchwork Mouse in Painswick or on-line at Both tickets can also be purchased at monthly gardening club meetings. Email for specific enquires. Painswick Centre, Bisley Street, Painswick, GL6 6QQ

Apple days at Hellens Manor There are Big Apple days to be enjoyed on Saturday, 14th and Sunday, 15th October at Hellens House and Gardens, the beautiful historic house in Much Marcle, Herefordshire. Over the two days there are special events and talks. Tours of Hellens will also be available on both days of the Big Apple at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm each day. Tickets at the usual price from the tearoom which will be serving cakes and wonderful soups throughout. Admission charge to Hellens site applies. Hellens Manor, Ledbury HR8 2LY.

The wonder of trees – through artists eyes Trees are the largest plants on earth and some of the oldest. Bath Society of Botanical Painters has taken up the daunting challenge of capturing their strong forms and delicate beauty in their exhibition The Amazing World of Trees which will be on display from Thursday, 5th October to Monday, 23rd at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN. Trees and woodland are a vital component of British landscape and provide shelter, food fuel, protection and shade for us all. Even the best cameras still struggle to capture the full depth of field and high contrasts of sunlight but a botanical artist is free to do just that. All the artists live and work near Bath and meet every week to paint together. Members of the group have won both national and international awards for their work. During the exhibition, Alan Power, Garden and Estate Manager for NT Stourhead, will be giving a talk entitled ‘My Life with Trees and Theirs with Me’ on 13th, October at 7.30pm. Exhibition opening times: Thursday 5th - Monday 23rd October 2017. 10am - 4pm daily. Closed Sundays.



Whichford Pottery’s Christmas Sale! Every November, Whichford Pottery in Witchford near Shipston-on Stour have a sale that somehow seems like no other sale. It’s very much a community event staged around a wide range of English flowerpots using traditional hand thrown and hand pressed methods for discerning gardeners worldwide. There’s even ’Pot Luck’ seconds available, the much-loved rejects where a mis-shapen pot adds charm to the garden or, if you’re really lucky, you find a one-off prototype that never made it to the full catalogue. This year the sale runs from Friday, 17th November to Sunday, 3rd December, with the first weekend the highlight and main social occasion. In addition to discounts off all flowerpots in stock throughout the sale, and Christmas gift possibilities in the beautiful Octagon Gallery (the brainchild of Adam Keeling, the eldest Keeling son,) on the first three days homemade teas and soup are served. The perfect combination, you can wander through the outdoor showroom, survey the pottery gardens exquisitely planted up for winter, and keep your hands warm, wrapped around a mug of steaming, hearty soup. Whichford, Nr. Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire CV36 5PG. Tel: 01608 684416

MAKING THE MOST OF LEEKS IN SEASON It’s easy to lose touch these days with seasonality. The year-round supply in supermarkets, you’d be forgiven for example for thinking the leek season runs from July to mid April. Early plantings of leeks can be harvested from late July, but with so many other veg in season through the summer, it is best to save leeks for the autumn and winter, with harvest starting in earnest in September or October. At Riverford Organic Farm based in Buckfastleigh, leeks are pulled, stripped and trimmed by hand. Later, winter-hardy varieties tend to be shorter and stouter with darker leaves, and arguably a better flavour. By March, the spring warmth encourages them to bolt – if you dissect one you might see the bolt thrusting up through the centre. Initially this is tender and edible, but by May you should be wary of buying them as they become hard, yellow and bitter. Leeks are a winter vegetable and should be kept that way. Here’s a wonderful leek recipe to try.

LEEK AND SMOKED CHEESE MACARONI Serves 4 An invigorating winter dinner, this goes well with salad or a generous helping of wilted greens. For extra veg, stir through some blanched and chopped kale, cabbage, spinach, chard or broccoli when combining the pasta and leek mixture. 6

Identifying birds and their songs Wondering how to tell the call of a blackbird from a blue tit? There’s the chance to join bird expert Ed Drewitt and learn how to identify local birds and their songs living in the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust woodlands near Wotton Under Edge. Throughout the day on Saturday, 14th October from 10am to 4pm, a mixture of indoor and outdoor tuition will give the opportunity to learn a variety of common woodland birds. After the summer months, birds such as song thrushes and robins are starting up their song again ready to choose their mates during the winter months. Meanwhile, winter migrants such as redwings are just arriving. This course, designed for relative beginners and those wanting to develop their identification further will start off indoors looking at visual and sound identification before spending time outdoors looking and listening. Ed Drewitt is a freelance naturalist wildlife ‘detective.’ His specialty is enabling others to learn birdsong and identify birds and delivers courses for the British Trust for Ornithology. For more information 400g macaroni drizzle of olive oil 40g butter 4 small leeks (about 400g), washed and shredded 4 heaped tbsp plain flour 800ml milk 200g smoked Cheddar, grated, plus extra for topping 2 tsp Dijon mustard, or to taste 4 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional) salt and pepper 1. Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. 2. Boil the macaroni in a pan of salted water until nearly cooked, about 8 minutes. It should be slightly too al dente to eat. Drain and toss in a little olive oil to stop it sticking together. 3. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small pan on a low heat. Add the leeks and cook gently until soft, about seven minutes, stirring now and then. 4. Add the flour and stir over a low heat for two minutes, then gradually stir in the milk. Add the cheese and heat gently, stirring, to thicken the sauce and melt the cheese. Season to taste with mustard, salt and pepper. 5. Combine the pasta with the leek mixture and transfer to a baking dish. Sprinkle over a little more cheese and the breadcrumbs, if using, and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden on top.

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Wykeham Gardens

Plant Centre

Thursday - Saturday 10am – 5pm Sundays & Bank Hols 11am – 4pm


50% OFF DURING OCTOBER GARDEN DESIGN SERVICE Crowcroft House Farm Leigh Sinton Nr Malvern WR13 5ED

Wykeham Gardens

Tel: 01666 822171

01684 578381 | 07976 444618


Plants & Bulbs for Autumn Containers Foxley Road, Malmesbury, SN16 0JQ


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Food&drink Arts&CrAFts GiFts&toys ChristmAs trees Taurus Crafts, Lydney, Glos, GL15 6BU - 01594 844841 -

Worcester Road, Tewkesbury, Glos, GL20 6EB

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Open: Mon-Sat 9am - 5.30pm, Sunday 10am - 4pm



New and exciting stock arriving weekly: Webber gas & charcoal BBQs & accessories Alexander Rose garden furniture VegTrug planters


New collection of wooden garden products Bird food, feeders, tables & nesting boxes

Brookes Fruit & Vegetables

01684 293103

Children’s Play Area

Call 01684 290288 Whatever the occasion, we will create bespoke displays, floral gifts, arrangements and tributes using our finest quality flowers, knowledge and experience.

Free & Ample Parking

Browns Garden Restaurant serving Breakfasts, Homecooked ‘Fresh’ Lunches, Afternoon Teas, Cakes &Treats

Wholesale Supply Available - Call 01684 296680

FREE LOCAL DELIVERIES (WITHIN A 2-MILE RADIUS) Mythe. A38 Worcester Rd, Tewkesbury GL20 6EB Email:

Sunday Roasts - Booking advised Parties – 24hr Notice – Private Hire Available Fully licensed

Tel. 01684 299996


Why do plants die?

Gill Heavens sympathises with those who think they can’t keep plants healthy and offers some reasons -not excuses- about what happens to the casualties Recently I took on a new gardening client. At our first session she said to me “I’m hopeless at gardening, everything dies!” She thought it was a vendetta, that she had plant withering fingers. Contrary to popular belief, plants do not die because they don’t like you. However, they might well give up the ghost if they don’t like how you are treating them. In fact there are many reasons why plants perish. As we will see some of these factors can be controlled, some can be prevented and some you have no sway over at all!

Soil Type

Every soil is different. Even in the same garden it can vary substantially in its composition. There are six main constituents, and the amounts of each create the personality of the soil. These ingredients are clay, sand, silt, chalk, loam

Their environment

One of the ways to keep a plant in full health is to grow it in the same conditions as its natural habitat. This might be anything from boggy shade to talcum-dry full sun. This is not always possible. Few of us have a savannah or mountain range out the back so all we can do is our best. For example, alpine plants should be grown in well-drained soil and prairie plants will perform best in an open, sunny position. Some plants are however more adaptable than others. If you do take a risk, make sure you keep an eye on your experiments. If they are visibly protesting and it goes unchecked, they may well keel over and die. 8

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and peat. They will affect how much water is retained, how good the drainage is and how well the soil holds onto its nutrients. Get to know your soil and you will be able to choose the plants you grow in an educated manner. Try to grow lavender in a heavy clay soil and you won’t be enjoying it for long. Grow roses in a light sandy soil and they will become scrawny and sickly.


Plants, just like all living creatures, need sustenance. Starve your plant and it will suffer and die. Most gardeners know about nitrogen for leafy growth, phosphorous for flowers and fruit production and potassium to help form strong roots. There are however at least another thirteen elements

overnight. There are many control options, including barriers and deterrents. At times protection of our loved ones can seem like a full time occupation! Some disease is also inevitable in the garden. Bacteria and fungi are ever present in both the air and soil, ready to pounce, and we inadvertently bring in contaminated material on new plants. All is not doom and gloom though, by acting early to spot problems and act appropriately we can often limit the damage caused.

P hysical Damage

Everyone is guilty of self-inflicted harm, be it by the dreaded strimmer, the size six boot or a direct hit from a football. Wind, severe rain and hail will also damage plants, especially any that have not been adequately staked. After these “little accidents” it is best to trim off the worst of the injury, give them a feed and call it pruning. necessary for good plant health, including calcium, sulphur and copper. If these elements are depleted then your plants will suffer and become weak. Improving your soil with wellrotted manure, compost, seaweed or by using a balanced fertiliser will help prevent this.

Soil pH

Your soil will be alkaline, neutral or acidic. To assess yours, there are easy to use testing kits available from garden centres. However a useful indicator is to note what is growing well in your garden or your neighbours. If you have glossy leaved camellias then it is likely your soil is acidic, if your garden is full of lilacs it might well be limy. Attempting

Old Age

Plants often die for the simple reason that they have come to the end of their natural life. This could be one year, in the case of annuals, or two years for biennials and forever in the case of the immortal perennials. Only joking. Just because they are called “perennial” doesn’t mean they will last forever. Perennial can means anything from the often short-lived Echinacea purpurea which can last only three or four years up to a the methuselah of the plant world, a 5,000 year old bristlecone pine.

Delicate Princesses

Some of the plants available commercially have been grown in cossetted conditions, in heated greenhouses, and then released into the world looking like beauty queens. To then plant them out in our gardens is the equivalent of sending a pampered princess down the mine. She isn’t going to last long. Plants with less pampered upbringings will perform much better.

A Combination of the Above to grow ericaceous plants, those that enjoy an acidic soil such as rhododendrons, in alkaline soil will result in them becoming ‘chlorotic’. This manifests itself as yellow blotching on the leaves and the plant will eventually deteriorate.


Some of our favourite plants will not survive cold conditions, especially prolonged frosts. These can be as commonplace as begonias or as exotic as bananas. Much loved specimens can be brought into the greenhouse for the winter, or covered with fleece or cloches, but often it is best to treat these tenders as annuals and start again next year.

Pests and Disease

What we call pests, creatures that feed on our beloved specimens, are an unavoidable problem in the garden. Whether we are talking about deer or aphids, they can become more than a nuisance, destroying our plants

Any plant that is weak for whatever reason is more susceptible to be affected by the other problems. Think lion and wildebeest, the vulnerable are always at most risk. A plant which is physically stressed because it is growing in the wrong soil will be more likely to suffer badly when attacked by aphids. When you consider all of the above possibilities it seems a miracle that anything survives. Happily this is not the case. Ultimately all plants want to live. They are programmed to grow, to reproduce and then, when the time is right, to die. To prolong our plants lives we must remain vigilant. Examine your plants with an enquiring eye. Notice when things look a little different. Perhaps the foliage has changed colour, or wilted. Then, by understanding your soil and this particular plant’s needs, you can do what you can to reverse the decline. By the way, my new client’s garden is now full of flourishing flowers. A few didn’t make it, others will succumb this winter, but the majority did and will continue to do so. She is now convinced she can garden. Her fingers are now turning a lovely shade of green.



fallen leaves

Far from being a nuisance, fallen autumn leaves should rather be treasured as an important season soil improver so we should all make more of this autumnal dividend

Above: aerated bags will allow air in and speed decomposition Below: leaf mould can hold up to 500% of its weight in water


Dealing with fallen leaves seems to sum up autumn in the garden. Yes, it can be hard and often cold work for those well practised in collecting the leaves but the key thing to remember is you are handling a valuable resource. Leaf litter is the source of free and wonderful organic matter and should be used to replenish the garden. The good news is there is only one way to get leaf mould-make it yourself. Leaf mould is not produced or sold commercially. And you only need three ingredients – fallen leaves, moisture and time! Leaf mould is what’s left when the dead, fallen leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs are heaped up and allowed to rot down. As they slowly moulder, only the toughest bits remain, eventually forming spongy, dark brown crumbs to rival any dessert topping. Leaf mould should be free of pests, diseases and weeds (unless you gather it from where they’re seeding), a delight to handle, and you can’t possibly overdose your soil on it. The hidden alchemy that brings it about – the countless microorganisms that drive decay – gives leaf mould its almost magical quality. It has several great attributes. The first is that it can hold up to 500 per cent of its own weight in water. Most leaves are slightly acidic when they fall, with a pH below 6. However, as the leaves break down into leaf mould, the pH goes up into more Country Gardener

of a neutral range. Leaf mould will not correct pH problems, but will have a moderating effect. Though leaves are not high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, tree roots mine calcium, magnesium and many other trace minerals from the soil and so your garden will also benefit from these nutrients.

Leaf mouLd – an action pLan As part of reducing your reliance on manure and other imported fertility, leaf mould should become pivotal to gardening. There’s a number of ways to store the fallen leaves. One is to build circular wire cages – about two metres in diameter. The number of bins clearly depends on the number of trees and leaves you expect in your garden. A porous builder bag filled with autumn leaves and with its handles lashed together also works well. Remember, you get out only a quarter to a third of what goes into a cage. You can also just fill black bin bags but remember to pierce the bag to allow air in to accelerate the decomposition.

magicaL muLch The finished article after perhaps three years is chunky mulch that is ideal for smothering young annual weeds and blocking out light to stop others coming up. Nothing beats fresh leaf mould as a dark foil for showing off emerging perennials in a border filled with promise, and it works just as effectively around newly planted vegetables,

fruit, or on top of containers to help prevent them from drying out. If you’re impatient and have only leaf mould that is one or two years old and hasn’t yet formed ‘crumble,’ you can use it as mulch.

SoiL impRoVeR Using a sieve results in a more refined mould, free of even small twigs. In spring, spread a bucketful of leaf mould to each square yard and fork it in deep. It helps bind loose, sandy soils and improves their water-holding ability. Conversely, it helps break up tough, claggy clays, making them more gardener friendly. If you have a lot of ground to improve and sieving is impractical, take your leaf mould out as it comes, remove hard chunks of debris, and fork or dig it in. Leaf mould is low on fast-acting plant nutrients; its effect is more of a catalysing one that encourages a healthy soil ecosystem in which everything works together to feed plants gradually and slowly. Soils bolstered with leaf mould become slowly darker in colour as their humus levels increase.

potting miXeR You can also use leaf mould as a potting mix. Sieve it to get rid of any big lumps and then mix it according to different recipes. A basic mix for seed sowing and for potting-up plug plants, bulbs and tomatoes, should be a 50:50 mix of three-year-old leaf mould and worm-worked garden compost, both passed through a quarter-inch (6mm) sieve and thoroughly blended. The garden compost provides ample food for about a month before you need to start feeding. For small seeds, you can pass this already refined mix through a finer eighth-inch (4mm) sieve to give a seed covering that is akin to breadcrumbs. For seed sowing, the low nutrient value of leaf mould is ideal, as it doesn’t encourage sappy, quick growth in the seedlings. Use half leaf mould, half silver sand. For potting, use four parts leaf mould to two parts loam or sieved topsoil to one part grit. Finally, for a mature plant mix for containers, use: four parts leaf mould to five parts loam to four parts garden compost to two parts grit.

top dReSSing LaWnS Leaf mould is brilliant for the top-dressing of lawns. It’s low in nutrients so won’t encourage over-quick growth, and if you mix it with sand, it’s easy to rake in after aerating your lawn.

compoSt BooSteR To harness the microscopic army that magically transforms tough oak leaves into soft, brown crumbs, keep a bucket of leaf mould next to compost bins. Whenever you add fresh material -kitchen scraps, tea-bags, coffee grinds, scrunched card, weeds, add a handful of leaf mould, too. It keeps the compost worms happy, and helps produce high quality compost.

Run the mower over leaves to make them easier to rot down

When to leave leaves in place There are places and times when it’s just better to let the leaves fall where they are. In orchards for example it’s fine for fallen leaves to rot down into the grass during the winter. Then there are times when leaves fall on woodland planting, shady beds where there’s shrubs or at the back of borders where it might be difficult to access them. In all these cases the easiest thing to do is just let any fallen leaves decompose directly onto the bed.

how wildlife will love your rotting leaves An unexpected benefit of making leaf mould is that you’re also encouraging garden biodiversity. You will often get a flush of mushrooms over the surface, as the alchemy of decomposition begins. Worms will also move in for a while to do their stuff. A whole variety of birds will be attracted to the edges of your pile especially around the sides feeding on bugs. You may also see various burrows as you lift back the covering sheet, made by field voles or even toads. Slowworms are often found among leaf mould, too. Awareness of these temporary lodgers might compel you to work more carefully, and more slowly. But patience is what making leaf mould is all about.



Events in the Cotswolds

throughout Autumn

Here’s a selection of gardening events in the Cotswolds for your diary. We take great care to ensure that details are correct at the time of going to press but we do advise readers to check wherever possible before starting out on a journey because sometimes circumstances can force last minute changes. 17th October BEGINNERS DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE Westonbirt Arboretum, Westonbirt

Whether you’re a complete novice, or want to move past the Auto Mode setting, professional photographer Graham Light will take you through the principles of digital photography to take stunning photographs. Also runs on 30th October. 10.30am-3.30pm. £65 Booking: 19th October DARWIN THE BOTANIST – FRIENDS’ LECTURE University of Bristol, The Frank Theatre, Wills Physics Laboratory, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TL

Discover the weird and wonderful world of plants as Mark Duffell, a passionate botanist and horticulturist, explores the many botanical discoveries made by Darwin and his contemporaries. Organised by the Friends of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden. 7.30pm. Entry free to Friends, £5 suggested donation for visitors. 12

20th-22nd October AUTUMN FESTIVAL Painswick Rococo Garden, Painswick, 01452 813204

on 01684311297. 2.30pm. £5 including refreshments.

The annual celebration of everything harvested in the restored 18th century garden, including apple juicing, heritage produce displays and tastings, and a children’s Apple Activity Day on the Friday. 10.30am-5pm each day. Normal admission applies. 21st-29th October HALF-TERM SHREIK AT BIRDLAND Birdland, Bourton-on-the-Water, 01451 820480

Let your imagination fly away with a special Hallowe’en-themed ‘Shriek Week’ – discover why owls are thought to be so wise, where the legend of the phoenix came from, and which birds the Romans thought meant imminent death. Open 10am-4pm. Admission £6.95-£9.95. 21st October WOMEN, MEN & GARDENING – CELEBRITY LECTURE BY DR NOEL KINGSBURY Black Pear Gardening Club, Powick Parish Hall, Worcester WR2 4RT The garden designer and writer on gardening, plant sciences and related topics will give this special lecture to the Black Pear Gardening Club. Details Country Gardener

21st-29th October SPOOKTACULAR Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge GL2 7BT, 01453 891223

The Slimbridge Spooktacular with lots of Halloween activities – enjoy creepy crafts and ghostly activities throughout the holiday. Carve your own pumpkin or make a lantern to see off the ghouls. 9.30am-5pm daily. Normal admission, with some activities chargeable 24th/25th October WESTONBIRT CHARITIES FAIR & FESTIVAL

Westonbirt School, Westonbirt near Tetbury GL8 8QG, 01453 832265 Top gardening writer Val Bourne is one of the speakers at the popular annual fair now in its 17th year and bigger than ever, organised by the Home-Start Stroud District charity supporting both Home-Start and other local charities. 10am-5pm Admission £7.50 (online)

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Providing gardeners with help on a range of gardening issues, problems and opportunities

Planting under trees

It can be a challenge to establish plant cover under the canopy of large trees. Shade and lack of moisture are both problems in these conditions, but there are a number of plants that will tolerate these situations.

Elaeangus × ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge’ AGM: (e) dark green leaves margined with yellow. Small, fragrant, silvery flowers sometimes followed by orange berries. Height and spread 10 feet. Ground cover plants Sarcococca hookeriana (Christmas box ) forming a clump of glossy, dark green leaves, with small clusters of very fragrant creamy-white flowers with crimson anthers in winter, followed by black berries.

Propagation by root cuttings

Cotoneaster simonsii

Sarcococca hookeriana

Plants growing under tree canopies often suffer from poor growing conditions. In heavily shaded situations they not only struggle from lack of light but may be deprived of moisture and nutrients because of strong competition from the trees. If your garden receives light shade or partial shade – perhaps receiving sunlight for two or three hours in early morning or late evening, there is a range of suitably shade-tolerant plants available. Where the canopy is higher and soil moisture is good, it is possible to grow a wider range of plants directly under the canopy. The main flowering will be in spring with plants such as bluebells, bergenia, lily-of-the-valley and hardy cyclamen clustered around the base of the trunk. Shrub for deep shade Berberis × lologensis ‘Apricot Queen’ AGM: spiny, glossy, dark green leaves, with rich orange flowers in racemes in late spring, followed by blue-black fruits. Shrub for planting at the edge of the canopy Cotoneaster simonsii: dark green leaves with good autumn colour; small pink flowers in summer are followed by bright orange-red fruit. Six foot spread. 14

Propagating plants by root cuttings is one of the easiest ways to multiply plants with the cuttings almost looking after themselves! There are a couple of times in the year when root cuttings are most successful and autumn is certainly one of those. Root cuttings are used to propagate plants that naturally produce suckers (new shoots) from their roots. This technique has several advantages as root cuttings require no special aftercare; large numbers of new plants can be generated from each parent plant and the plants derived from root cuttings are relatively large and vigorous.

A range of herbaceous plants can be propagated from root cuttings. These include: Acanthus, Anemone hupehensis, Echinops, Papaver orientale (oriental poppy), Phlox, Primula denticulata and Verbascum.

Choose vigorous clumps to propagate. Lift the plant when dormant and wash the roots. Select young, vigorous pencil thick roots, about the thickness of a pencil, and cut them off close to the crown with a sharp knife or secateurs. Remove no more than one-third of the root system from the parent plant, and replant the parent plant as soon as possible. Cut each root into two to four inch lengths making a horizontal cut at the upper end and an angled cut at the lower end. Fill pots with cuttings compost, such as equal parts peat substitute and gritty sand or perlite. Insert the cuttings about two inches apart so the horizontal cut surface at the top of the root is just below the surface of the compost and top dress with a layer of grit. Water the compost lightly and place the pots in a cold frame. The following spring, pot up individually when the cuttings show signs of growth and are well-rooted.

Growing garlic in pots

Trees you should avoid pruning This is the time of year for choosing and planting garden trees. If you are planning for a new tree then remember to plant those whose mature height and spread is suitable for the space available. You may run into problems later with a tree which is too big for the space you have allocated and significantly several species of trees do not respond well to pruning. These include birch, horse chestnut walnut trees and magnolia. Ideally, young trees of these species will have been formatively pruned in the nursery to produce a good branch network. Pruning of species that dislike being cut back stimulates vigorous, vertical ‘‘water’ shoots that spoil the trees shape and delay flowering. These shoots develop around pruning wounds and do not make replacement limbs so pruning may have to be regularly repeated to make the tree safe

Apple and pear scab Lots of fruit on the trees this autumn have been less than perfect. The main cause is apple scab and pear scab, two fungal diseases that cause dark, scabby marks on the fruit and leaves of apples, pears and some other ornamental fruits. Apple scab is a disease caused by Venturia inaequalis, a fungus that spreads by airborne spores and survives the winter on fallen leaves. You can expect scab marks to appear on leaves from mid-spring until leaf fall in autumn. Patches of olive-green spots or blotches appear, on leaves which are initially velvety as they release airborne spores, and then darkening. Affected leaves often fall prematurely.

Knowing when to plant garlic is important to help you get the best crops. Garlic is best planted in late October and into November and you will generally get a bigger and better crop if you plant in the autumn. Garlic bulbs are sold according to their suitability for spring or autumn planting. Growing garlic in a pot is ideal for those with patios and balconies. The pot will need to be at least eight inches in diameter with a similar depth, to allow for good root growth. Simply fill your chosen container with multi-purpose compost and incorporate some fertiliser. Plant each clove at a depth of an inch and space them four inches apart, allowing space for the bulbs to swell -don’t plant too close to the container edge. Make sure the compost remains moist, especially during dry spells. For something a bit different you could even try growing garlic indoors on a windowsill to provide garlic leaves, which have a milder flavour than the bulb and can be added to soups, curries and stir fries. Harvest the leaves as required until the bulb has been exhausted. However, growing garlic indoors is not usually a successful method for cultivating good quality garlic bulbs.

Black scabby blotches develop and, as the fruit matures, these restrict expansion of the skin, leading to distortion and cracking. Light attacks only damage the skin and eating quality is hardly affected (though the disease is commercially very serious, because growers cannot sell scabby fruit). However, if the fruits crack as a result of scab they become prone to fruit rots and will not store well The only control is to prune out infected material to try and remove potential disease sources. No fungicides are currently being produced for use by home gardeners on trees from which the fruit will be consumed.



autumn colours! You don’t need to fly to New England for glorious colours. Time it right and you can enjoy a spectacular display much closer to home Its no surprise that autumn remains the most popular time of year with gardeners and garden lovers. It’s harvest time and there are the rewards of hard work earlier in the year. But above all autumn is about colour and despite the colder weather and shorter days it is these next few weeks when nature puts on its spectacular display. Gardens and arboretums will shortly be ablaze with Far Eastern exotics and woodlands aglow with native favourites including beech, alder, oak, ash, field maple and cherry. So with the promise of our very own technicolour dreamcoat of an autumn in the weeks ahead, now is the time to start making plans to seek out the very best.

As the summer turns to autumn, visitors can expect to witness an abundance of reds, ambers and golds prolific in the woodland garden. The historic parkland is interspersed with temples, follies and statues, a walk by the river leads to the Ugley Bridge and the magical Satyr’s Temple. You can make the climb to the castle on a clear day for magnificent views to Exmoor and beyond. Open daily (except Saturdays) until the end of October, Castle Hill has family and dog friendly gardens and a tearoom serving home cooked food. Castle Hill, Filleigh, Nr South Molton EX32 ORH.

Castle Hill - 50 acres of golden delights

More than just acers at The Garden House

The 50-acre garden at Castle Hill, North Devon’s historic country house is a haven of tranquillity surrounding the magnificent Palladian House.

Visitors to The Garden House at Buckland Monachorum in autumn are always dazzled by colour. The famous Acer Glade becomes the garden highlight. It’s impossible to stroll

Discover autumn colour at Croome Enjoy rich autumn hues in the parkland with statues, temples and follies to be discovered or join a guided parkland walk. Families can explore the outdoors on the Hallowe'en trail or have fun in the wild play area and RAF themed playground.

Add some colour to your weekend this The house, at the heart of the parkland and once the autumn at Gibside home to the Earls of Coventry, tells the story of its eclectic past in new and inventive ways.

Round off your visit in our museum which tells the story Go crunching through fallen leaves and discover a forest of RAF Defford in the 1940s. teeming with wildlife and autumn colours, with walking routes for all ages and abilities.

National Trust Croome, nr Worcester, WR8 9DW Call 01905 371006 for details or visit When you visit, donate, volunteer or join the National Trust, your

helps us to look2017. after special ©support National Trust Theplaces <in the region> <like property X, Trust propertyis Y and Z> in for ever, for everyone. National anProeprty independent registered charity, © National Trust 2016. The Nationalnumber Trust is an independent registered charity, number 205846. Photography © National Trust 205846. Photography © National #nationaltrust Images. #nationaltrust Trust Images\John Hubble.


Country Gardener

through it or look down to the little Japanese bridge without stopping to take sensational photos. The leaves on the trees turn colour through myriad shades of red, orange and yellow before creating a carpet of colour on the grassy slopes, It’s not all about the acers though. The walled garden borders are full of planting that give bright colour right through to the first frosts and of course as the garden is nestled in a Dartmoor valley, borrowed autumnal landscapes make a perfect backdrop to the mature trees all around the garden. The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7LQ.

Autumn colour at National Trust Croome There are some sensational walks through some gorgeous seasonal colour of flaming reds, vibrant oranges and

golden yellows with great autumn views in the parkland at Croome. Acres of parkland peppered with statues, temples and follies await your discovery with the lake a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the tranquility. The court, the centrepiece of Croome’s great estate in Worcestershire and seat of the Coventry family for more than 600 years, tells its story with exhibitions and installations. Another fascinating period to be explored are the restored wartime buildings of the once secret RAF Defford airbase, now the Visitor Centre and museum. Dogs are welcome. Disabled facilities are available and there’s free parking. National Trust Croome, near Worcester, WR8 9DW. Tel: 01905 371006. Open from 10am every day.

LUKESLAND GARDENS Fine Autumn Colour Pools & Waterfalls

Home-made soups & cakes

One of the finest gardens in Britain

Sundays and Wednesdays 11am – 5pm 8th October - 12th November

Harford Ivybridge PL21 0JF Tel 01752 691749

Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7LQ 01822 854769

Castle Hill

FILLEIGH, NR SOUTH MOLTON, DEVON EX32 0RH Tel: 01598 760336 (ext 1)

Explore 50 acres of stunning landscape on pathways leading to follies, statues and temples. River walk and panoramic views from the Castle. Dogs on leads welcome. Tearoom offering light lunches and delicious homemade cakes. Host to numerous events and a picture perfect wedding venue.

The Michaelmas Daisy Specialists since 1906 111 years of knowledge, passion and plants

Come and enjoy a very different plant experience in this 1.5 acre garden which is home to a National Collection of Michaelmas daisies of more than 420 varieties.

Open daily except Saturdays Adults £6.50, Seniors £6, Child (5-15) £3, Family £15.50, Groups (20+) £5.50

The garden and nursery has many rare and unusual plants with an emphasis on autumn interest.

The small family team looks forward to welcoming you and is always there to help. • Open everyday 11am - 5pm until 20th October. • Admission £3.50

Tel: 01684 540416 Old Court Nurseries, Walwyn Road, Colwall WR13 6QE


Old Court Nurseries & The Picton Garden

Add some colour to Add some colourthis to your weekend your weekend this autumn at Castle autumn at Gibside Drogo Go crunching through fallen leaves and discover Garden, estate, cafe anda forest teeming with wildlife and autumn colours, with walking routes for open all ages and everyday. abilities. shop Call 01647 433306 for details When you visit, donate, volunteer or join the National Trust, your

©support National Trust The places National helps us to look2017. after special <in the region> <like property Y and Proeprty Z> in for ever, for everyone. Trust is X, anproperty independent registered charity, number 205846. © National Trust 2016. The National Trust is an independent © National Trust registered charity, number Photography Photography ©205846. National Trust #nationaltrust Images. #nationaltrust Images.


Fine autumn colour and warming soups at Lukesland Gardens

Castle Drogo ready to show off its autumn best The Castle Drogo estate and garden are one of the most spectacular places in October as they start to come alive with the colours of autumn. On the estate whether you are after a gentle stroll to take in the views or a peaceful walk to explore the ancient woodlands of the Teign Gorge you’ll find there’s a walk to suit everyone. Hidden behind immaculate yew hedges stands a unique Lutyens designed terraced formal garden. There’s plenty to see from the spectacular autumn colour of the Persian ironwood trees to the quaint Bunty House complete with its own miniature garden. Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, Devon. Tel: 01647 433306.

Abbotsbury lights up for floodlit colour Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens light up for autumn when the ‘Enchanted Illuminations’ switch on to bathe the plants and pathways in a wonderful array of colour. From Thursday,12th October to Wednesday, 25th October and on Sunday, 29th October, from dusk until 8.30pm, there’s the opportunity to see the gardens lit up. It’s a magical sight and to complete your evening, the Colonial Restaurant and Kitchen will be serving meals and snacks until 8pm. For Halloween, the Family Fright Nights from Thursday, 26th October to Saturday, 28th October will provide spooky fun for all ages – dressing up is encouraged. Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Buller’s Way, Abbotsbury, near Weymouth, Dorset. DT3 4LA. Tel: 01305 871130

Tucked away on the southern edge of Dartmoor, just north of Ivybridge, Lukesland Gardens is a wonderful place to enjoy autumn colour. This year’s autumn openings are on Sundays and Wednesdays 11am to 5pm from 8th October to 12th November. The shelterbelt of beeches, planted by the Victorians to protect this 24-acre garden from Dartmoor winds, turns a glorious gold, while more exotic species such as acers, cornus, enkianthus and ginkgo reflect their fiery autumn tints in the pools of the Addicombe Brook. The Howell family, who run Lukesland, serve up seasonal soups and cakes in the tea room, by a woodburner. Children who get in free can enjoy a fun trail around the grounds, exploring the many secret paths and bridges in this delightful woodland valley. Dogs are also welcome on a lead. Tel: 01752 691749 or visit

Picton Garden offers welcome injection of colour Established more than 30 years ago on part of the Old Court Nurseries site in Colwall on the Worcestershire border, this garden is packed with treats for plantaholics. Best known as the home for the Plant Heritage National Collection of autumn flowering asters, the garden has a strong emphasis on autumn colour. Much of the structure is given by the fine collection of trees and shrubs selected for their autumn interest be it foliage colour, fruit or flowers. This is softened by a plethora of herbaceous plants, the Michaelmas daisies of which there are more than 420 varieties making a substantial contribution. It may be small but it offers a welcome injection of colour as the gardening season begins to come to an end. Walwyn Road, Colwall WR13 6QE. Tel: 01684 540416

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens Thursday 12 to Sunday 29 October ILLUMINATIONS


Gardens open at 10am

Lights on dusk to 8.30pm Free Admission to Season Ticket holders Romantic candle lit pathways Colonial Restaurant and gift shop open

For further information visit 18

+Fright y Famil

Country Gardener

Nights ctober Come & join in

all the fun!

t 28 O Thurs 26, Fri 27 & nSat iscou line 20% dbo oked on for tickets

Do you need to HEAT YOUR GREENHOUSE this winter? You might need to heat your greenhouse over the next few months but its important to know what temperatures most plants need before committing to extra cost You can get plenty out of your greenhouse without heat. As long as the structure is properly sealed and free from cracks and drafts the natural insulated temperature will be enough for many plants. For example all hardy annuals and vegetables sown in autumn should thrive and not be damaged. So if you are sowing lettuce, early carrots and mange tout for example in mid November you should be able to produce crops in mid April. Spring flowering bulbs and perennials potted up in autumn and brought into the greenhouse in December will also flower much earlier. You can also safely pot up herbs such as chives, mint and parsley in October for continuous supplies over winter. If you have a few tender plants to overwinter then a conservatory, porch or spare room will be sufficient. If you have citrus plants, gardenias, bougainvilleas then these to be kept above 10°C so will need a heated greenhouse Maintaining the best temperature possible is important.The main loss of heat from greenhouses is from draughts and through the structure so make sure you seal cracks, replace

Yes or no? Yes


You plan to buy and nurture plug plants very early in the year when there’s no chance of them going outside. You plan to sow loads of early tender vegetables or early bedding plants. You need to keep expensive and valued plants totally frost free. You are over wintering cuttings of tender plants.

You have no tender or tropical plants to protect. You want to sow hardy annuals and vegetables to force them to flower or crop earlier. You are only sowing a few tender seeds. You have no cuttings to over winter.

It’s simple mat hemat ic s

If the cost of heat ing exceeds that of the plants you want to grow then you might decide it just isn’t worth it. An averag e electric heater in a greenhouse costs around 13.5 p an hour to run.

broken panes and ensure vents and doors fit snugly. Most plants don’t require tropical conditions so don’t waste energy and money on maintaining higher temperatures than your plants require. You can keep your heated greenhouse frost free with a minimum temperature of 2°C Most tender plants such as pelargoniums, half hardy Fuchsias and citrus trees will be happy with a minimum temperature of 7°C This is also a good temperature if you are protecting young plants and plug plants while growing them on. If you have decided to pay for heating then invest in a good thermometer with maximum and minimum readings, and check it daily. By keeping an eye on the air temperature you will be able to use your greenhouse heater more efficiently and adjust it when necessary. On extra cold nights a layer or two of horticultural fleece will provide several degrees more protection to your plants without the need to turn up the thermostat. Crops in greenhouse border soil can be protected by a handy fleece cloche. Remember to remove fleece during the day to ensure that plants receive adequate light and ventilation. One drawback of heating your greenhouse is the problem of increased humidity. Good ventilation is essential to prevent the spread fungal of diseases and maintain a healthy growing environment. You can prevent moisture from building up by watering plants sparingly, and early in the day. Clear condensation by opening greenhouse vents on warm sunny mornings. Close them again before the sun goes down to trap the daytime warmth in the greenhouse and keep it warmer for longer.




Autumn garden

The nights will soon start to draw in, and October will see the clocks going back and there’s a real threat to a drop in temperatures. Gardening time might feel curtailed by the shorter sunlight, but the days are often glorious, with the autumn colour a more than adequate compensation for the light slipping away. The main jobs are to start thinking about planting spring bulbs and shrubs and trees for next year and to get the lawns and vegetable plots ready for winter.

Planning for spring in autumn bulbs Autumn and spring are perhaps the most industrious times of the year and it is worth thinking about one when you are working in the other. Bulb planting is a good example, and now is the time to think about how to light up the garden when it wakes after hibernation. Bulbs are incredible value, for they have instant impact, but it is always better to buy few varieties and larger numbers of each. Think tens and multiples of ten for a generous effect in pots. Think big and if you have the budget go for hundreds and see what impact they will have on your garden -buy wholesale, anyone can if the numbers are large enough, if you are planting in grass, and look into the right varieties. The smaller-flowered narcissus cyclamineus hybrids such as ‘Jack Snipe’ have fine foliage and so are easily incorporated, and there are early, mid-season and late varieties to keep the display working from late winter until May.

The earlier you plant bulbs the better, for the soil is still warm, and getting the roots established before the weather closes in will help them fight wet and rot. That said, tulips are happy to go in as late as the end of November, so leave them until last. The general rule is that bulbs should be planted at two and a half times their own depth, and if you are planting in drifts, work on the principle that if you threw them in the air, you would plant where they landed.

Keep an eye out for drops in temperature Bring tender plants under protection. If you've got tender plants, such as canna, now's the time to bring them indoors before they get killed by the frost. Choose a light, frost-free place such as a greenhouse or coldframe. Then keep them on the dry side during the winter, so they don't put on much growth. To reduce the threat of disease, check the plants on a regular basis and cut off any dead leaves and flowers before they have the chance to rot. The plants can then be brought back into growth in spring by gradually increasing the amount of water they receive. 20

TURN THE COMPOST HEAP As the garden is tidied in preparation for winter, lots of material is generated for composting. To encourage it to rot down quickly, turn the contents regularly to stir it up and allow in lots of air. In the colder weather, the rate of decomposition will naturally decrease, but it will soon speed up during warmer spells.

Country Gardener


Mulch, mulch and more mulch

Autumn is the perfect time to plant bare root plants, while the soil is still warm from the summer. Follow our simple planting guide to get your bare root plants off to a great start. If possible, plant your bare root plants as soon as they arrive, so that the roots don't dry out. If it's not possible to plant them straight away, keep them in their packaging and store them in a cool place. If you need to store them for several weeks, it's best to heel them in. When you're ready to plant, take your plants out of their packaging and place them with their roots in a bucket of water for an hour or so. Look for the soil line on the trunk of each plant. This will show you how deep it was planted before it was lifted. When you plant, make sure that the plants end up at this same level in the soil.

If you have heavy clay soil, the sides of the hole can become 'smeared' as you dig, making it hard for roots to get through and spread. You can avoid this by digging a square planting hole - the corners will act as guides, encouraging the roots to spread out from the planting hole. Mix a small handful of bonemeal with the soil before you backfill the hole, to add nutrients and give the plant a good start. When backfilling, make sure the soil gets in and around all the roots. Firm the soil around the trunk gently with the heel of your boot to get rid of any air pockets in the soil. Finally, water your plants in well. You shouldn't need to water them regularly over winter but once they start to put on leaves in spring, give the roots a good soaking once a week, especially in dry spells.


• Get autumn-planted garlic, onions and shallots in the ground before the weather turns cold. In warm soils the bulbs should root strongly, which will, hopefully, result in better yields next season. • Remove dead, diseased and dying branches from ornamental trees. Use a sharp, hand held pruning saw to avoid leaving behind any snags or tears to the bark.

Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your garden. A mulch is simply a layer of goodness spread on top of the soil and offers lots of benefits. Mulching should be done when the soil is warm and moist, before the first frosts (spring and autumn are perfect). Don't mulch cold, wet ground. If you don't get time to mulch in autumn before the frosts set in, don't despair — you can still do it in spring once the ground has warmed up.

It feeds the soil and improves its structure, keeps plant roots protected when the weather turns icy, and helps to suppress all those weeds waiting to spring into action when spring returns. Make sure the soil is moist and weed-free, then spread a layer of mulch, ideally at least two inches thick, across beds and around trees and shrubs. Take care not to mulch right up against woody stems and trunks, and don't smother low-growing ground cover plants. When mulching around trees, mulch the whole area under the tree's canopy.

A WARMER WELCOME FOR HOUSE PLANTS Think about bringing in any houseplants that have been outside. Acclimatise them slowly if you can. In warmer areas of the country it is worth risking half-hardy perennials until the end of October to make the most of the finale, but in frost-prone areas you will need to bring them under cover, or into the shelter of the buildings. • Reduce the risk of blackspot disfiguring your roses by removing leaves that fall around the base of plants, preventing spores of the fungal disease overwintering in the soil. Put them in the dustbin or burn them - not on the compost heap. • If you are growing salads for use over autumn and winter, check regularly for foot rot, which can thrive in cold, wet soil. Plants that appear to be under stress and have a brown base should be removed to prevent the spread of this fungal disease.


Autumn love and care for

your lawn The next few weeks are a great time to give your lawn a pick-me-up to ensure that it is in the best possible shape to survive the winter



Autumn is a critical time for looking after your lawn. The recent rain has meant that lawns are still growing so it’s an ideal time to give them a pick-me-up to revitalise them and to ensure they are fit enough to get through winter. Whatever the weather the chance are your lawn has weeds, damaged areas caused by everything from over wear to moles and needs some help.

with drainage, resulting in the spread of moss or water lying in puddles on the surface. Improve by plunging a garden fork into the lawn as far as it will go and repeat at 10cm intervals. Fill the air channels with a ready mixed sandy top dressing bought from the garden centre, working it into the holes with a broom.


To finish off, perk up tired lawns by giving them a feed. Use an autumn lawn fertiliser, which is high in phosphates and potash. This will help strong roots to develop, which will produce healthy leaves and able to cope with whatever winter throws at it. Grass leaves may grow much more slowly as the weather turns cooler but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. Rhizomes are the horizontal plant stems that lie just beneath the soil’s surface; they produce the blades of grass above and the roots below. Fertiliser now delivers essential nutrients for the grass to grow deep roots. Do not be tempted to use a spring feed instead - this is high in nitrogen and will result in soft, sappy growth that is easily damaged by cold weather.

If your lawn is spongy then it is likely you have a problem with moss. This plant will quickly spread in damp or shaded areas and will overwhelm grass so it needs tackling to keep in check. Remove from the lawn by spreading granules or soaking the problem area with a liquid moss killer applied from a watering can and leave until it turns black (usually within two weeks). The dead moss can be removed by raking vigorously with a spring tined garden rake. Large bare patches of soil that are left behind after the moss has been removed should be resown with lawn seed. Although moss killer works quickly, it is a short-term fix and it pays to tackle the causes of moss. To do this, remove overhanging branches that shade the lawn or allow more light through by raising the canopy of trees. If the lawn suffers from compaction or poor drainage it will need aerating.


DEALING WITH CLAY SOILS If gardening on heavy clay or if standing water is a problem, consider hollow tining the lawn every three to four years. This extracts plugs of soil from the lawn. Sweep up the plugs, then rake a top-dressing into the holes.

REMOVING THATCH Grass clippings, moss, weeds and other debris can form a thick mat above the surface of the soil. Known as thatch, this material prevents the lawn from breathing properly, stops rain from penetrating effectively and encourages lawn diseases to prosper. To remove from the soil, scratch the surface vigorously with a spring tined rake, working your way across the lawn. When scarifying a smaller area, use a spring-tined rake. Avoid scarifying too deeply, which can damage the turf. Add the material that is removed to your compost heap. After raking (also known as scarifying) grasses will respond by producing more side shoots. Large lawns can be tackled with a powered raking machine, available from machinery hire stores.

IMPROVE DRAINAGE Lawns that have been subjected to heavy traffic over the summer could be compacted, which will lead to problems 22

DO’S AND DON’TS THIS AUTUMN ON YOUR LAWN • Do make sure you cover all the lawn with autumn feed and don’t miss out patches. • Do be diligent on removing all the leaves – they will leave a worn patch otherwise. • Do aerate your lawn thoroughly helping to get fresh oxygen to the roots and stop compacting. • Don’t be tempted to use a spring feed in autumn – it will damage your lawn. • Don’t be tempted to cut your lawn too severely leaving little time for growth. • Don’t scarify too deeply and damage the roots.

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? d in m r u o y n o s a m t s i r h C

season is one that t far away. The build up to the festive ir products for Don’t look now but Christmas isn’t tha venues as they set out to combine the den gar of n atio gin ima the s ture cap increasingly sale with Christmas celebrations. a few selected options for gardeners grows every year. Here’s ts sen pre al ctic pra for me the the And for where to go and what to buy. your own ladybird’ kits to a range of books to brush up your knowledge of orchard management. There is something for everyone, young or old, and remember to make the most of your fruit. See more at

No more ruined slippers or soggy socks

Westonbirt Arboretum Illuminations

Illuminations make Westonbirt Arboretum sparkle for Christmas The Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt is again embracing the festive spirit with the muchanticipated return of its magical Enchanted Christmas event, which illuminates the popular attraction into a dramatic winter wonderland. Taking place on the evenings of Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd, Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th and Thursday 14th to Monday 18th December, the spectacular illuminated trail through the trees creates a magical experience for the whole family! The trail is pushchair and wheelchair friendly and features interactive displays to engage all the family. There will be a programme in the Christmas village, including Christmas themed entertainment, festive goodies, classic carols, stilt walkers, a traditional children’s carousel – and special guests. Don’t miss Father Christmas and his festive elves, Mrs Christmas will also be joining the festivities and will be keeping little ones entertained with storytelling time. Children can make willow stars, glitter cones or reindeer trees which all make great personal presents for family and friends. And grown-ups can do some Christmas shopping as The Westonbirt Shop will be open, selling gifts, foodie treats, advent calendars and more! And for those with a rumbling tummy there’s festive fare galore, with a hog roast, toasted chestnuts, hot chocolate, mulled wine and much more. For tickets go to

Backdoorshoes® are celebrating ten years in business. If you haven’t already got a pair they are perfect for slipping 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. With over 25 different flora and fauna designs to choose from with a range suitable for men or women. No more ruined slippers or soggy socks, they are the most practical thing to keep by the door. Prices from £25 including delivery, a fantastic Christmas gift.



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Vigo Press broaden out when it comes to Christmas A Vigo Press is not just for the apple season. Vigo Presses have a broad range of gifts this Christmas; if you can’t think what to buy, why not purchase a gift voucher for that all important equipment or sundry purchase. Alternatively check out their Gift Ideas section where you can find everything from’ Grow

Looking for the Essential Christmas Gift this year? Try a pair… Backdoorshoes® are lightweight, waterproof, durable and with unique prints there will be something suitable for everyone on your list this year, including you! Sizes UK 3-14, prices from £25 inc free postage, more designs available online. 23

Why we’re all going mad for wildlife meadows

Cricklepit Mill, Exeter

You don’t need acres of land to make your own wildflower meadow. A patch of lawn in an open, sunny position can be transformed into a mini-meadow, rich in wildflowers, providing cover and food for wildlife. Let’s first be clear - a wild flower meadow is an area of permanent grass where wildflowers grow – not a bed of cornfield annuals like poppies nor the gold-themed flowers which were planted around the Olympic Park in London. The reason it’s important to make the distinction is that a bed of poppies grows on fertile soil. Wildflower meadows grow better on unproductive soil, where vigorous grasses don’t out-compete the flowers. . Over 97 per-cent of wild flower meadows have been destroyed since the Second World War and whilst gardens cannot substitute ancient meadows in the wild, creating your own will attract lots of wildlife into your garden and helps to remind us how important it is to take care of what is left. The best time to create and sow your meadow is in the autumn.

Choosing your patch The best way to grow your wild flowers depends on the site you’ve chosen. You might want to turn some of your lawn, or an old flower border into your new wildflower meadow. It needs to somewhere open and sunny, but can be flat or sloping. A relatively large area is best, where you have space for growing a range of wildflowers. The easiest way is to simply ‘say no to the mow’ and leave a part of your lawn unmown. If it’s old and weedy you’ll be amazed at what can come up. If you want to add more types of flowers, you can try adding plug-plants in the autumn and make sure the species are suited to your soil type and condition.

Your soil Your soil is likely to be too rich for a meadow if it’s had plenty of fertiliser added over the years. The best way to reduce the fertility is to remove the top three to six inches of topsoil, using a turf cutter, or a spade and muscle-power! If you don’t want to strip the soil, you can reduce some of the fertility by sowing a crop of mustard plants in the first year. Part of the brassica family, they’re notoriously hungry plants and will remove some of the nutrients from the soil as they grow. 24

Choose your wil


seed mix GOOD MIXES IN CLUDE: • birds-foot trefo il (important for co mmon blue butterfly caterpill ars) • common sorrel (important for sm all copper butterfly caterpill ars) • cowslip • field scabious • hoary plantain • greater and com mon knapweed • lady’s bedstraw • meadow butter cup • ox-eye daisy • red clover • ribwort plantain • wild carrot • yarrow PLUS a range of wild grasses, such as bents, fescues and crested dogs tail (not lawn gras ses).

At last, sowing! This is the fun bit and is best done in autumn. You need about five grams of seed per square metre of meadow. Because the sowing is so thin it’s best to mix the seed with dry silver sand. Pale-coloured sand helps you see areas that you’ve already sown and whether you’ve missed anywhere. The correct ratio is usually three-five parts sand to one of seed. Just scatter the seed as you walk across the ground. To try and get an even coverage, split your seeds into batches and sow one batch walking in one direction and another batch walking at 90 degrees. There’s no need to rake the seed in or cover it with soil, but gently walk across it so that the seeds are in contact with the soil. You may need to net it from birds. However you don’t need to use the whole lawn sometimes just putting a ‘wild flower’ strip around the edge of the

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lawn can look effective or mowing paths into it which could then maybe lead to a mown seating area in the middle.

Aftercare In the first growing season, cut the growth in midsummer and remove all the dead, spent material (known as the arisings). In subsequent seasons, the main method for managing a meadow is to not mow from early April to late July, August or even early September. It’s best to vary the time you cut each year or some plants may begin to dominate others. Cut the hay in dry weather – it will probably be too high for a mower, so use grass shears or you might even want to do it the old way with a scythe. Leave it lying on the ground for up to a week for the seeds to drop, and then clear it all away for compost.

“Your meadow will evolve year by year, with some species coming through strongly to start with and then others taking over. You should see bees and butterf lies start to use your meadow and, if you’re really lucky, grasshoppers”. Yellow Rattle – the magic ingredient The magic ingredient to your wild flower mix will be yellow rattle, an annual flower that has a special ability to reduce the vigour of the grasses. Its roots tap into those of grasses, stealing their nutrients and suppressing their growth. This keeps them in check and allows

many other meadow flowers to thrive with the reduced grass growth. It does such a good job it’s sometimes called ‘the meadow maker’. Introduce yellow rattle into your meadow by sowing fresh seed from a local source in autumn.

Where to find wonderful flower meadows Kingcombe Meadows, Kingcombe, Toller Porsorum, Dorchester NR, Dorset, DT2 0EQ. This 185 hectare reserve is managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust and is a patchwork of fields with rarities such as lady’s mantle, corky-fruited water dropwort, pepper saxifrage, devil’s-bit scabious and knapweed, plus skipper and fritillary butterflies. Cricklepit Mill, Commercial Road, Exeter, Devon. An unusual urban meadow in the centre of Exeter and the home of the Devon Wildlife Trust, with meadow and arable plants such as cornflowers, poppies, blue corn cockles and oxeye daisies, as well as previously dormant species like black medick, cat’s-ear, corn chamomile, dove’s-foot crane’s-bill, ivy-leaved toadflax, Oxford ragwort and scarlet pimpernel. Iffley Meadows NR Oxford, OX1 4UP. Ancient Thames-side meadows famous for their display of snake’s-head fritillaries once picked for sale in Covent Garden. As a result of Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust’s (BBOW) careful management of the site and controlled grazing, numbers of fritillaries have shot up to over 89,000 - a huge success story. Blakehill Farm, Cricklade, Wiltshire, SN6 6RA. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust A former military base that’s now one of the largest grassland restoration projects in the UK. Plants include tongue fern, spiny rest harrow, great burnet and dyer’s greenweed. This former military airfield is being back into wildlife-rich hay meadow and pasture, habitats which have steeply declined in Wiltshire. Blakehill Farm is signposted off the B4040, Malmesbury Road, between Minety and Cricklade, adjacent to the village of Leigh. Foxlease Meadows (Ancells Farm), Hampshire. Hampshire Wildlife Trust Foxlease is set in 65 acres of beautiful land near Lyndhurst in Hampshire with sympathetically grazed fields, using highland cattle and horses, surrounded by ditch and oak bank boundaries. Species include meadow thistle, petty whin and dyers greenweed. Clattinger Farm NR, Wiltshire Clattinger Farm is a precious remnant of a near-vanished type of grassland. Its fabulous richness as a wildlife habitat is a tribute to the previous owners who farmed it traditionally, without artificial fertilisers. Hay is cut in July, after the flowers have seeded, encouraging rare species such as the downy-fruited sedge, burnt orchid, meadow saffron and adders-tongue fern.



The humble woodlouse Not the most exciting of creatures, woodlice creep about the garden, but they are a useful part of the local ecosystem Chances are that if you turn over a log or two or a heavy plant container, you’ll find a little tribe of woodlice beneath, scattering away in the light. Harmless, not very exciting, with their dark grey backs looking like armour, they’re just a part of the garden all year through. But they are a very useful part of your garden’s eco-system. They chew through leaf litter, breaking it down, and without this little army there would be higher piles of dead leaves around. They’re useful in the compost heap too, doing the same job, breaking down plant matter, and they eat fungi. They’re also part of the food chain, providing a meal for centipedes, some spiders, for shrews, toads, and even a few birds such as the wren. They are crustaceans, related to crabs and shrimps. They have evolved to be able to survive on dry land by hiding in dark, moist places such as under your plant containers, in your compost heap, log pile or any dead wood that’s lying around. There are five species in the British Isles and their names together with the botanical names are longer than they are: the common rough woodlouse Porcellio scaber, the common shiny woodlouse Oniscus asellus, the striped woodlouse Philoscia muscorum, the common pill woodlouse Armadillidium vulgare and the common pygmy woodlouse Trichoniscus pusillus. There are about 30 species of woodlouse that are much rarer, but of these five commonest species, there’s every chance that you have one or more of them in your garden. Across the globe there are about 35,000 species of woodlice! A woodlouse has 14 legs and its outer shell is called an exoskeleton. When it grows too big for its shell it moults to allow a bigger shell replace the smaller one. This happens in two stages: the back half is shed first, and a day or so later the front half falls off. They have a pair of antennae to help them get around, and two small ‘tubes’ called uropods that stick out of the back of 26

their bodies. These help them navigate and for some it’s an extra protection, used to produce chemicals to discourage predators. As they came from water originally they still breathe using gills. The females have an internal fluid-filled brood pouch where they incubate their eggs. The young hatch inside the pouch and remain there until they can survive alone. As you will have noticed when you lift a log, stone or plant container, they tend to group together. They will emerge particularly at night especially when it’s rather damp, and they don’t go far. A common woodlouse can live for three or four years. That means they each get through a lot of dead leaves and plant material, so they are one of your unpaid garden helpers. If you find one indoors, it will curl up into a ball if disturbed; just put it outside – they don’t bite!

As they like damp areas they may get into damp bathrooms and toilets so seal up gaps with good sealant, looking at doors and windows. They will mostly die in your home as they are soon dehydrated by our warm, dry rooms. Repoint walls and clear vegetation from the base where woodlice can get in through any cracks. Pesticide prays and insect dust products are available for severe cases but woodlice are too useful outside, so if you just see one or two just try putting them in the garden under a log or pile of leaves instead of using chemicals on them.

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Let nature loan out its sculptures

Cynara cardunculus

Seedheads are nature’s own form of architecture and can take centre stage in autumn - creating a range of dramatic effects

produce the best looking seedheads and which can brighten up your winter garden for weeks or even be taken inside to dry and display.

Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel) Tidying up the garden can be very satisfying this time of the year but before you get over aggressive with your secateurs stop for a moment. Seedheads and the remains of many perennials in your borders linger through the autumn and winter and can add structure all over the garden to areas which otherwise look set for months of being bare and empty Seedheads and skeletons of faded summer plants can add height structure and beauty. Their fragile beauty can add structure and beauty and become enhanced when the first frosts of the winter comes. Wildlife too will thank you for leaving them in place because they will provide insects with somewhere to shelter and birds will have a precious source of winter food. Deciding when you cut back a perennial plant really depends on what you have left and how interesting it becomes in its dying stages. Some plants are spectacular – others perhaps no so. So you can cut back anything which has become a soggy and decaying mess and this will only harbour disease in the garden. We’ve identified some of the perennials which

One of the great sights in a winter garden is fennel seedheads in silhouette against a clear sky. The umbel like shapes form in August and September as the plants dry out and will last well throughout the winter months. Spiders love to weave their webs among the starry remains where they then catch the morning dew.

Phlomis russeliaqna This is an herbaceous perennial with sage-like leaves and whorls of tubular, hooded flowers over a long period in summer. It comes into its best in the autumn when the dried stems with their dried seed heads still neatly arranged and standing strongly through the wild winds of autumn and into the deep cold of winter. They are the epitome of architectural plants and you will enjoy them in summer but love them through the winter months. Phlomis is in the Lamiacea family – the mints – and hails from the Mediterranean, China and Central Asia.

Eryngium As known as Sea Hollies these are ideal for using as cut, or dried flowers and one of the best seedheads for structure. They have the look of thistles surrounded by a collar of 27

narrow spiny edged silver bracts which form from midsummer onwards. Tie them into bunches if bringing indoors and hang them upside down in a dark and wellventilated place until suitably dried. They are fully hardy, but will benefit from protection during cold wet winter conditions but will look spectacular in a winter garden. They require free draining soil and a sunny aspect to be seen at their best. As their name suggests, they can grow in nutritionally poor soil (shingle beaches) and in salty conditions.

Physalis Delicate and dangerous is the best way to describe these paper like seedpods of Chinese lanterns which add real colour to the autumn garden. Small white flowers appear throughout the summer and the distinctive lantern like shapes then form. They then slowly fade into pale paper like brown. The lanterns then slowly become damaged by wind and rain but if you are lucky they will stay in skeleton form. Dangerous because the plant can be invasive so restrict planting.

Cynara cardunculus This is an architectural splendour with bold texture, thanks to its large, prickly, almost dagger-shaped grey-green arching leaves and a statuesque, vase-shaped frame. It is topped with round, purple, thistle like flowers in midsummer, which can reach up to five feet. A close cousin of the artichoke, this native to the well-drained, sunny slopes of the southwest Mediterranean produces magnificent flower heads that can be cut and dried for arrangements. If left in the garden in the autumn their structure gets even better and adds real beauty.

Phlomis russeliana

Clematis tangutica

Fennel seed heads

A late flowering clematis which will leave wonderfully fluffy seedheads which appear from late summer to autumn.

Allium cristophii

Allium cristophii Also known as the Star of India and best known for its huge colourful head often eight inches wide but this is one plant which looks even better in winter when the structure of the seedhead remains in place and dries out to encompass shades of brown and black. Unless sit is exposed to too much wind it can decorate the garden for long periods of the autumn and into winter.

Stipa gigantean

Opium poppy

Stipa gigantean

Pale golden oat like seed heads form on tall and arching stems that can sway in the autumn breeze. Spring growth is green and strong giving rapid height which then gives way to flowers in June and July which then mature into autumn and form lovely seedheads.

Opium poppy Perhaps the real classic garden seedhead with a distinctive balloon shaped pod and distinctive flat top. Delicate and often in need of staking the colour of the poppy will fade from early summer onwards and after shedding the petals the seed heads turn a grey blue in colour. A group of poppy seed heads lasting through the winter is an architectural delight. 28

Eryngium seed heads

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Our Country Gardener experts can solve your gardening problems Andrew Midgley our popular garden writer tackles our postbag of readers’ questions this month. Andrew worked for the National Trust for 17 years and was recently garden manager for the National Trust gardens at Coleton Fishacre, Greenway and Compton Castle. He now runs a gardening business near Newton Abbot in Devon

Q. I have mainly white Japanese anemones in my garden but there is one clump which is pink. Might they cross pollinate?

Japanese anemones, Lirope muscarii, will respond to an acid soil

Japanese anemones should cross pollinate

A. I shall stick my neck out here and say it should not be a problem but if you are concerned about it you could just dig out the offending clump with a mattock. As a point of fact the best way to propagate Japanese anemones is by taking root cuttings in the autumn due to its fleshy roots. You can divide clumps of emerging Japanese anemones in the spring and plant out elsewhere. A good mulch will encourage the roots to bed in. They are great plants to extend the flowering season from August until the first frost. The best known one is the mauve pink Anemone ‘September Charm’ or my personal favourite one is the white flowering A. ‘Honorine Jobert’. At five foot or so, it is one of the tallest of the autumn anemones and its round, pink-washed buds and substantial chalice-shaped flowers, held on branching stems, make it by far the classiest. It has a double row of petals, giving each flower substance. Their whiteness is set off by a green centre surrounded by a corolla of bright-yellow stamens. Q. I have an acid soil and my rhododendrons do very well. But my garden at the moment is a 'one trick wonder' and are there any other plants which will do well in such soil? 30

A. There are numerous plants that will complement your rhododendrons in spring and beyond. Shrubs and trees are well represented with azaleas, camellias, magnolias, pieries, Japanese acers, skimmias, hydrangeas, ceonthus and liquidambar springing to mind. There are a good number of perennials to choose from too, including the Japanese anemones, Lirope muscarii, geraniums, geums, irises, libertias, dianthus and dicentra. For inspiration visit your nearest garden (s) throughout the season that are open to the public where you can see what grows and you get a feel of what you like and don’t like. By the way there are four major reasons for soils to become acidic: rainfall and leaching, acidic parent material, organic matter decay, and harvest of high-yielding crops Q. I have been advised to plant a hedge using roses but am concerned about it. I see them as individual plants. Are there any advantages of using roses rather than other shrubs for hedges? A. One of the first jobs I did when I started my career in gardening was pruning a rose hedge made up of Rosa rugosa which is the staple plant used in most rose hedges. Rose hedges can be very attractive when in flower as well as having the added bonus of scent. Roses can be used as a hedge to subtly divide up a garden room or as a prickly barrier. The classic Rosa rugosa is used as hedging and can be bought with white or purple flowers and has the additional bonus of bearing large red fruit hips in the autumn.

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Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen

The classic Rosa rugosa can be bought with white or purple flowers

Rosa Queen Elizabeth Hedging is a fabulous pink rose with wonderful scent and Rosa Stromboli is a repeat flowering floribunda red rose that has a long flowering period. Q. I have a small garden affected by coastal winds. We are a mile from the Devon coast but the garden does get battered. This year many of my favourite shrubs have been either scorched or damaged. Is there anything which will flourish in these conditions?

Coastal affected gardens need strong perennials

A. Though it can be a challenge gardening on the coast there are many plants that can be grown that can cope with salt laden winds here in the South West. For inspiration have a look at the numerous gardens opened to the public dotted around the Devon and Cornish coasts. It is well worth considering planting an evergreen hedge such as Escallonia or Griselina to filter the wind through as having a fence means that the wind will hit the fence and go up and over and down in to the garden causing damage to plants. I have planted perennials such as osteosperums, salvias, argyranthemums, penstemons, geraniums and cannas with great success. For shrubs, you could plant out olearia, pittosporum, phlomis, fuchsia, callistemon and the archetypal Torbay Palms (Cordyline). Q. I can access, through my contacts, both poultry manure and spent mushroom compost. How will they help my soil and how should them both? A. Enriching the soil is all part and parcel of good gardening practice.

Use spent mushroom compost as a soil improver or as a mulch as it has a very high organic matter content and if you have a vegetable patch the vegetables will love it. Ornamental plants will also benefit from a good mulch which will help suppress weeds and retain valuable moisture. However, do not use this compost around ericaceous plants such as camellias and rhododendrons as the mushroom compost is very alkaline. Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen and also contains a good amount of potassium and phosphorus. The high nitrogen and balanced nutrients is the reason that chicken manure compost is the best kind of manure to use. It is useful as a top dressing in the spring for nitrogen loving plants in the vegetable garden. Again, chicken manure is not suitable around ericaceous plants and is best added to the compost heap. You can buy pelleted chicken manure in tubs which are easier to handle. Q. I compost and recycle as much as I can, but I sometimes burn things I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t compost, mostly cuttings which are too thick. What should I do with the bonfire ash? What is the likely pH, and what nutrients will it contain? A. Ash from wood (it must be untreated) has a slight liming action and is therefore useful for vegetable growers. If it is quite chunky, it can, in addition, be used to bulk out soil to improve its structure. Ash from bonfires that consists mostly of green, sappy prunings contains some potash and other nutrients. Ash from older wood logs, cardboard packaging etc. contains fewer useful nutrients. The nutrient content of all wood ash is so variable that it is hard to be precise about its application in the garden. Probably it is best to store it somewhere dry and add it sparingly to the regular compost bins. Ash from coal fires is of no use to gardeners at all and should be binned - unless its grittiness is useful as a slug and snail barrier around vulnerable plants.


GOOD THINGS come in trees

With delicious fruit and beautiful in blossom, a pear tree will flourish for a lifetime in your garden Pears are the grandfather of the orchard or garden. They may take a few years to reach the fruiting stage but they can be expected to live for up to a century while producing plenty of sweet and juicy crops. These trees will repay your time and investment handsomely for the rest of your life. With attention to detail, it isn’t difficult to grow pears. That’s not to say that everyone finds it easy, but given suitable soil and reasonable climatic conditions, there are varieties of pear that will perform well in most British gardens. Pears are planted, trained and pruned in much the same way as apples but there are some subtle differences. They are slightly less tolerant to very cold temperatures and to wind. The trees flower two or three weeks before apples so its better to place them in a more sheltered warmer position that isn’t prone to late frosts or blustery weather Pears demand a fertile, well-drained, moist soil - loam-based is preferable. Avoid waterlogged conditions and heavy clay soils, as these are often wet in winter, then dry out to form a hard, crusty, cracked surface in summer. If planted in chalky soil or on light, sandy ground, they will become stressed, producing poor quality fruit. Late autumn and early winter is the best time to buy fruit trees. 32

When offered for sale as bare-root plants, there should be a strong main framework with a mass of small, thin, fibrous roots. The main stem should be straight, with no damage to the bark.

PLANTING It really is worth taking time to ensure that the tree is wellplanted; if happy, a pear tree should produce fruit for 20 years or more. With some rootstocks (except dwarfing), they will fruit regularly for over 50 years. The planting hole should be at least twice the size of the root area. Separate the topsoil from the hard subsoil, which may be dumped. Fill the hole with water and allow it to seep away. Fork over the bottom of the pit to loosen the subsoil. Place a layer of old, well-rotted farmyard manure in the base of the hole and cover with a layer of topsoil. Spread the roots out and backfill with topsoil. A few handfuls of bonemeal fertiliser mixed into the soil will get the plant off to a good start. Firm the soil with your foot as you plant to eliminate air pockets around the roots. Water well after planting and dish the soil surface around the stem to help hold rainwater in the area of the roots. If you have staked the tree, the main stem can be supported and held firm by using a tree tie.

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PRUNING AND TRAINING Pears should be pruned in late winter but wall-trained trees such as cordons will require summer pruning as well, to shorten new growth. For the first few years, pruning is mainly just shaping and training the tree. This creates the framework that will support the leaves, blossom and fruit for the remainder of its life. After this, pruning is used mainly to maintain the tree and generate new fruiting branches.

CORDON PEARS Cordon pear trees are usually trained to grow as a single stem at an oblique angle of 45 degrees. Where possible, they should point north, so they receive as much sunlight as possible. Tie them along a cane supported on horizontal wires. Use ties of soft twine or raffia, which won’t cut into the bark. Allow the main leader to grow to the top of the cane and cut back at this point every spring. Sideshoots from the main stem are shortened to three leaves in late spring.

ESPALIER TREES Espaliers are trained on galvanised wires, with the sideshoots extending horizontally on either side of the upright trunk. Space the branches 18 inches apart. Training is the same as for cordons, but it should be carried out at the end of July.

POTENTIAL ‘HEALTH PROBLEMS’ Brown rot is a fungal disease causing a brown, spreading rot in fruit, which is usually worse in wet summers. Remove all rotten fruit as soon as you see it and destroy, this will prevent the spread of the rot. Pear rust causes bright orange spots on the upper surfaces of pear leaves in summer and early autumn. All you can do is remove infected leaves as soon as you see them and destroy them which should prevent the spread of the rust. There is no chemical control.

POLLINATION BETWEEN VARIETIES One of the key factors when buying a pear tree is pollination. Only a few pear trees are reliably self-fertile, several are partially self-fertile and the majority are self-sterile. For a self-sterile pear tree, it is absolutely essential to have a compatible pear tree of another variety nearby if pollination (and therefore fruit) is to be produced. Partially self-fertile varieties are likely to produce a fruit crop when no other variety is nearby but fruit production will be increased, to differing degrees, when a suitable nearby pollination partner is nearby. The definition of a ‘nearby pollination partner’ depends on a variety of factors including the distance between two trees, the layout of the land between them, wind strength and other factors. Bees do fly considerable distances in spring to find sources of nectar but the precise distance is variable. A suitable pollination partner within a quarter of a mile is likely to be enough but only personal experience can prove this in your particular garden.

HERE’S OUR SELECTION FOR PERFECT PEAR TREES ‘Beth’: Produces an early season crop of tasty pears and a superb flavour. It might not be your choice for the first pear tree you buy but it must come high on the list for a second pear tree. Most pear trees produce fruit in October but Beth reliably fruits in early September. Self sterile. ‘Concorde’: A full pear flavour and aroma. And the texture is smooth with a slight crispness. One of the few recently bred pear trees that are available commercially. Although classified as self-fertile there is no doubt that Concorde benefits greatly from a suitable nearby pollinating partner. ‘Conference’: An excellent allrounder for growing in the UK and will produce a crop on its own. It is the most widely grown pear tree variety in the UK because of its cropping reliability, good disease resistance and self-fertility. Self-fertile but does even better with a suitable pollination. ‘Doyenne du Comice’: If you want a slice of pear tree history but at the same time want top quality eating pears then Doyenne du Comice should be top on your list. It is a typical French style pear with fruits that almost melt in your mouth. Self fertile. ‘Gorham’: A highly under-rated variety of pear, Gorham is a better version of the Williams / Bartlett pear. The flavour of the two varieties is almost indistinguishable but what makes Gorham stand out is its high resistance to scab. Self fertile. ‘Williams Bon Chretien’: The taste of these pears is, overall, sweet but there is a background hint of acidity. The flesh is juicy and soft when ripe. The majority of the world production of tinned pears are of the Williams variety. Self-fertile but does even better with a suitable pollination partner. ‘Winter Nelis’: The best of the winter pears overall. When picked in October it has the ability to be stored into January. Self fertile.




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 keen to support garden club events and we will be glad to publicise talks 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. We suggest that garden clubs 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 and copy to 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.




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Mulched tree at Kew. Photo by Rebecca Hinsley


Strengthen and diversify


Mark Hinsley suggests we need to understand that trees are complex organisms and we need to learn how to look after them – or else! I recently spent an exhausting three days at the Annual Conference of the Arboricultural Association in Exeter. It was a truly excellent event with an interesting array of speakers. I therefore have much to report. Firstly, I can report that the demon drink is still demon, so you are going to have to lay off it for another year until I can check again! Secondly, I can confirm that our tree population is at risk from a number of ‘foreign’ pests, one of which is already here, and two or three that are threatening to arrive. The problem, as I have pointed out before, is global trading. Thirdly, it was graphically pointed out that relying on a small number of tree species to provide the bulk of our tree cover leaves us vulnerable to our landscape being devastated by a single uncontrollable pest. Fourthly, whilst the environmental and visual impact of millions of dead trees is generally understood, the astronomical cost of dealing with them is not really being thought of or planned for. So, what can we do? If I say to my ‘good lady’ that I am getting a cold, she immediately starts dosing me up with Vitamin C. She knows that, if my immune system is going to fight off the cold virus, it needs to be in tip-top condition. Trees are no different. Our trees are growing in soils packed with pollutants, low in macrobiotic activity, low in oxygen through hard surfacing and soil compaction, deprived of moisture for the same reasons and short of nutrients because we break the nitrogen cycle. They are also under severe competition because we insist on having lawns beneath them; frankly, they are in no fit state to fight off anything! The simple remedy equivalent to the Vitamin ‘C’ tablets is mulch. Cover as much of the ground beneath the canopy as 36

you can with a 100mm settled depth of woodchips, over a couple of seasons and this will give your trees a significant boost to their health and vitality. If you want to go further there is an impressive new system for compressed air soil injection and the introduction of Bio-Char, which works like an underground mulch, to which a suite of beneficial substances can be added. This system has also proved helpful in supporting trees already under attack by our usual pests and diseases. Gardeners are not afraid of the exotic, in fact they celebrate diversity. Plants that originate from the four corners of the earth can be found in most gardens. The problem is the ‘only plant native trees’ brigade in some public and charitable organisations. Their oft repeated mantra would be fine if the only pests and diseases our trees had to endure were also native and if all our growing conditions were comparable to growing in our native unadulterated countryside. Unfortunately, growing in a city street is more like growing in a desert canyon than in a lush English woodland and our native trees have never had to do battle with Asian Longhorn Beetle; so sometimes we need to select trees that do – and have! We understand that we are complex organisms as we wallop down ‘good’ bacteria and vitamin supplements to maintain our health and vigour. We need to recognise that trees are complex organisms too and that every tree is a community that includes a plethora of symbiotic fungi and bacteria and that the whole community must be sustained for the tree to be truly healthy and strong. Council tax increase anybody? Mark Hinsley Arboricultural Consultants Ltd.

Country Gardener


but plant correctly

The next few weeks will be perfect for planting of trees, shrubs and hedges - but don’t rush it and make sure you follow the tried and tested rules of planting Planting trees and hedges should not be looked at in terms of being a chore. A ‘bang it in’ exercise and something to get out of the way! One recent piece of research showed that over half of new autumn trees and hedges were poorly planted and therefore struggled or died. Good quality trees, shrubs and hedges will cost you a lot of money so its important to take a bit of time and get the planting right. Planting these autumn additions is not a difficult job, but one to get right, if you want your new plants to have the best start in life. The most important considerations are root health, weather, soil conditions and aftercare. Bare-root and rootballed trees and shrubs are only available in autumn and winter. They should be planted immediately, but if this is not possible, then they can be heeled in, temporary planting in the soil to prevent the roots drying out, until planting is possible. There’s the added incentive this time of year to plan for autumn colour in the garden so the choice of the right trees from the right nursery is very important. THREE STEPS FOR PERFECT PLANTING Once you’ve made your choice the process is a tried and tested one. Soak bare-rooted trees or shrubs for about 30 minutes prior to planting. Place the tree or shrub in the planting hole and position it so that the first flare of roots are level with the soil surface when planting is complete. With container grown plants, the top layers of compost may need to be scraped away to reveal the flare of roots. Deep planting prevents essential air movement to the root system and makes the lower trunk vulnerable to disease and often takes longer for the plant or tree to get going. Insert a stake if required. Small trees do not require staking but top-heavy or larger specimens should be staked. Refill the planting hole carefully, placing soil between and around all the roots to eliminate air pockets. There is little evidence that adding extra organic matter to the bottom of the planting hole helps; in fact this practice can hinder plant establishment the organic matter decomposes and may cause the plant to sink. HEDGING – GET THE DENSITY RIGHT Hedging should be planted in two staggered rows at a density of not less than five per metre, with approximately 450mm between plants in the same row, and 300-400mm between rows. The interplant whips/transplants should be

planted within this pattern in groups of two or three. The density of planting and distances between plants should be specified in the hedgerow scheme. To improve the structure of the soil, incorporate generous quantities of compost, such as well-rotted garden compost, well-rotted farmyard manure, mushroom compost or composted bark. If the soil has poor drainage, add sharp sand or coarse grit (make sure it is lime-free). If the soil is heavy clay, take care not to create a solid basin at the base of the trench that will stop the water from draining freely. Whether planting bare root, ball root or pot grown plants, it will pay dividends to invest in growth promoters. In recent years, mycorrhiza products, have been widely used to help establish plantings. You may have to invest more money but, in the long term, the benefits outweigh the costs. Aftercare should not be forgotten. Regularly inspect your plantations, hedges and trees. Set yourself up with a longterm maintenance plan. The first five years are crucial and you will be surprised how quickly time passes by. Here are just a few of the many options when it comes to buying autumn trees: LAST CHANCE PURCHASES AT DULFORD NURSERIES After nearly 40 years Dulford Nurseries are closing the gates for the final time in December this year. The nursery will be open as usual until mid November. They will then be shutting in preparation for an auction of remaining stock on 2nd December (see Country Gardener’s Winter issue for a more information). Dulford Nurseries offer a wide range of trees and shrubs. From small native hedging plants to rare and large specimen trees. Plus over 500 different shrubs. Autumn is an ideal time to visit the nursery. With 15 acres of trees in the ground it is easy to compare the shapes and sizes of the different varieties and to appreciate the stunning autumn colours. Dulford Nurseries, Cullompton, Devon EX15 2BY. Tel: 01884 266361



u r s e r y

Quality Trees and Shrubs Amenity trees from whip to standard, fruit (including heritage apples) and hedging. Conifers and broadleaves. Range of choice shrubs. Advisory/design service.

Thornhayes Nursery, Dulford, Open 8am-4pm Mon to Fri also 9am-1pm Sat Cullompton, Devon EX15 2DF Tel: 01884 266746



Country Gardener

PERRIE HALE OFFERS DISCOUNT FOR COUNTRY GARDENER READERS Honiton based Perrie Hale Nursery celebrates its 60th year this season having been established in 1957. The same family is still running the business today and is well known for its quality UK grown stocks of hedging plants, shrubs, broadleaf and conifer trees. Autumn and winter is prime planting time and using bare-rooted stock is both cost effective and less labour intensive. If you are looking to plant a hedge, screen, woodland or specimen tree contact Perrie Hale Nursery for advice. They are offering readers of Country Gardener a 5 per cent discount when ordering online or over the phone quoting the code ‘CG5’ (offer ends 21st December). Perrie Hale Nursery, Northcote Hill, Honiton EX14 9TH. Tel: 01404 43344 or email: or our online shop BARTHELEMY & CO – JAPANESE MAPLES SPECIALISTS If you love the autumn colour of Japanese maples, then you’ll love Barthelemy & Co near Wimborne in Dorset. Established by a French nurseryman almost a century ago, the Skinner family now specialise in propagating and growing Acer palmatum – or Japanese maples. The ten acre nursery at Stapehill has a huge collection to choose from and expert staff can help select the right variety and to offer advice about caring for the trees. Over 40,000 plants are grafted at Barthelemy each year, 25,000 of them maples and, as one of the largest specialist growers of their kind, it’s a great place to visit. Barthelemy & Co, 262 Wimborne Road West, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 2DZ. Telephone 01202 874283.

THORNHAYES NURSERY - QUALITY, ADVICE AND SUPERB RANGE OF TREES This is the ideal time of year to visit Thornhayes Nursery, to plan, seek advice and purchase quality plants. Besides the extensive range of trees, shrubs and fruit trees on sale, there are orchards and an arboretum to stroll in and seek inspiration. Whether you want to plant a scented shrub by the back door, an avenue or an orchard, many previous satisfied customers will confirm Thornhayes has a great selection. Thornhayes Nursery, St Andrews Wood, Dulford, Cullompton, Devon EX15 2DF. MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI SPEEDS UP NATURAL TREE PROGRESS For million of years plants have depended upon a relationship with symbiotic fungi known as mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi live on the roots of plants and grow out into the soil making a vast secondary fungal root system that in exchange for sugars will transport water and nutrients to the plant for its entire lifetime. Whenever a plant is planted into soil it will gradually pick these fungi up in a couple of years, however why wait this long when there’s an option to treat plants with Rootgrow mycorrhizal fungi which will speed this natural process up to a matter of weeks. Trees and hedging plants are known to benefit greatly from this relationship as they have woody roots, which grow much more slowly than the mycorrhizal.

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


Growers & suppliers of the widest range of Native & Ornamental Trees, Shrubs & Hedging in the West Country

Send SAE for descriptive catalogue. Visitors welcome Mon-Sat 9am-1pm & 2pm-5pm

Many varieties, including rarities, in many sizes

Barthelemy & Co (DCG), 262 Wimborne Rd West, Stapehill, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 2DZ

Tel: 01202 874283

CLOSING 17TH NOVEMBER LAST CHANCE to choose from huge range of trees and shrubs GRAND AUCTION of remaining stock on 2nd December 2017 (Details in Winter issue of Country Gardener) For directions & a visit with expert & friendly advice

Tel: 01884 266361 Free catalogue or view it on online

Northcote Hill, Honiton, Devon, EX14 9TH Tel: 01404 43344 Growers and suppliers of native trees, shrubs and hedging for: • Native, Formal & Evergreen Hedges • Screening • Woodland • Amenity • Wood Fuel • Gardens

5% READER DISCOUNT online or by phone. Quote CG5 by 21 Dec. 2017. Call us for friendly and expert advice for species selection, planting & tree protection. We can also provide a planting & maintenance service.

Dulford Nurseries, Dulford, Cullompton, Devon EX15 2BY



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CLASSIF IED Garden Buildings

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Property Services Agricultural Tie Specialists, Removal, Lawful Use. Tel: 01386 554041

Specialist Garden Products

Growers & suppliers of the widest range of Native & Ornamental Trees, Shrubs & Hedging in the West Country

Tel: 01884 266361 Dulford Nurseries, Dulford, Cullompton, Devon EX15 2BY


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Growers of many plants suitable for coastal areas including hedging plants

All propagated and grown in Devon Established suppliers to landscape designers

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Local suppliers of good quality trees and shrubs Hazel, Beech, Field Maple, Quick Thorn/ Blackthorn & many more hedging trees. Silver Birch, Walnut, Cheery, Golden Locust, many more native & unusual trees & plants to choose from. NO MINIMUM ORDER.

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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.


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Investing in tulips! Planting bulbs in October and November puts a real marker down for next spring and something to look forward to Planting tulip bulbs in autumn for a beautiful display next spring is a joy. Whether you are just planning to plant tulips in a pot or if you have a garden to fill, it is making a real investment for next year and the return of spring. Tulips don’t need to be planted until October or November. They only start putting roots down then and the cold temperatures help to wipe out viral and fungal diseases that lurk in the soil and which may infect the bulbs. Planting late is a traditional means of disease protection. Dig a trench/hole 20cm deep and, if you garden on heavy soil, cover the base with 5cm of washed sharp sand, horticultural grit or spent compost. Add a handful of bonemeal to encourage formation of next year’s flowers and mix it into the soil/grit at the base of the hole. Place the tulip bulbs, pointy end up, about eight cms apart and cover with soil. If you garden on heavy soil you can mix grit at approximately one-third volume with the infill soil. If you’re short of space, cover the bulbs with soil and then add a second layer of bulbs before filling in the hole. There is still enough soil above the bulbs to allow you to over plant without damaging them. Most gardening books recommend planting tulips at twice the depth of the bulb – at about 8cm in the case of most tulips –but it’s becoming an increasing view to plant deeper, which has lots of advantages. Tulips flower more reliably year after year. In the bulb fields of Holland, tulips are planted near the soil surface to encourage them to reproduce. The higher soil encourages reproduction of the bulb, with the mother bulb developing satellites, or bulbils, around her base. Once this has happened, most of her energy goes into these offspring, so the mother bulb will almost certainly not flower the following year, but the bulbils will not be large enough to flower for two or three years after that, resulting in a blind bulb. If planted deeply, tulips are less likely to try to reproduce and are more likely to flower for year after year.

Six to stand out for next spring Tulipa ’Black Parrot’ This deeply coloured cultivar boasts large flared heads with intricately feathered edges. Petals twist and turn artistically, each one a rich and velvety maroon-black. How about mixing Black Parrot with White Parrot, for a celebration of light and dark?

Tulipa ‘Christmas Sweet’ Single early variety swordlike foliage on a sturdy stem supports the most recognizable flower imported from Holland.

Tulipa ’Ballerina’ Pointed rich orange petals, which have yellow and blood red undertones, form elegant, scented flowers in early May. The foliage is grey-green and grows to 55cm.

Tulipa ’Passionale’ The yellow-eyed flowers are a bold mix of purple, plum and lilac with just a hint of red, these will add real impact to planting schemes in April. Grows to 45cm.

Tulipa ‘Purissima’ Impressive bulbs for the border, these Forsteriana Group tulips produce their large, white, single flowers on top of sturdy stems in late March and April.

Tulipa ‘Pink Impression’ Magnificent pink flowers with a contrasting near-black eye, appear from late April to May and easy to mix with most shades of blue, purple and plum. 45

Sweet, sweet peas

Take advantage of the benefits of autumn to plant sweet pea seeds you’ll be rewarded by the quintessentially English bloom come spring If you want the best, the strongest, the most colourful, disease free sweet peas then plant in the autumn. Sweet peas can be started off in the autumn in the south and southwest without any trouble or concerns about the weather. Wild sweet peas originate in Sicily, where the summers are dry and the autumn rains initiate seed germination. During the winter, their roots head deep into the soil, but top growth develops slowly. In spring, stem growth speeds up, flowering takes place in May and June and seed ripens in the dry season. So sweet peas are naturally adapted to this autumnto-summer cycle. In the garden, sowing seed in the autumn ensures that by March or April, plants have bushy top growth and extensive root systems just at the time when many gardeners are sowing their seeds. The spring-sown plants never catch up. Autumn-sown plants are more vigorous, more resilient in dry conditions, they flower for longer and the flowers are larger. Sweet pea exhibitors will tell you that the quality of the individual blooms is better. Sowing itself is straightforward. Sow into pots of quality compost, setting one seed to each three inch pot or several seeds into a six inch pot. Seeds sown in autumn need to be kept protected, so place the pots into a cold frame or greenhouse. Cover the pots with newspaper until the seedlings emerge. Seeds sown in late winter will likely need a little additional heat to help them pop up. Once they have germinated, ‘Almost Black’

‘Night and Day’




remove the heat source to encourage the plants to grow stout and sturdy rather than tall and leggy. Spring-sown sweet peas can be started off in pots if the soil isn’t quite ready, or direct sown where they are to grow, as soon as conditions allow. Avoid cold, wet soil at all cost – you don’t want your seeds to rot. Some gardeners recommend soaking the seeds overnight in order to speed up germination. Others suggest nicking the hard seed coat with sandpaper to help moisture penetrate but sweet peas germinate just fine without this intervention, but if you have difficulties you could try either method. An increasingly popular spot for growing sweet peas is the vegetable garden, and there are some pretty compelling reasons why. First and foremost is their sweet scent – a delicious perfume that rivals even granny’s soap collection. Then there’s the myriad of colours, from pastel tones reminiscent of bygone cottage gardens to bold, eye-popping shades that deliver their colour with a punch.

Six sensational varieties ‘Chatsworth’ - this sweet pea, with delicate pale blue florets on long stems and excellent perfume, was first released at the National Sweet Pea Society show in July 1993, held at Chatsworth House. As it was named by the Duke of Devonshire it was fitting to re-release it at the first RHS Chatsworth Flower Show this summer. Available from Eagle Sweet peas ‘Together’ - the colours and scent of the original sweet pea have been raised by David Matthewman to produce a superb Spencer variety. This plant produces neat, wellformed blooms with exceptional scent. Available from Matthewman’s Sweetpeas ‘Almost Black’ - this is a very glamorous sweet pea in an incredibly dark, luscious colour and amazing scent. They produce large flowers, lots of them, with long stems. Available from Sarah Raven Collection ‘Night and Day’ - a rich supply of contrasting burgundy and white long stemmed blooms with a fantastic scentvigorous climbers and ideal for cut flowers. ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ - a variety of sweet pea which produces a powerful scent and which make a superb summer display providing a ‘hood’ of red petals. Available from Thompson & Morgan ‘Blackberry’ - Superb dark velvety maroon blooms are carried on long stems on this beautifully scented modern grandiflora. The deep, almost black colouring makes a striking garden plant and a beautiful cut flower. Available from Unwins Seeds

Specialist Plant Centre

Grange Farm NURSERY Beautiful plants to create your own unique garden Independent traditional nursery open to the public and serving the trade Over 1,000 potted trees in stock

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

Specimen trees and shrubs for screening

01684 562544


Shrubs, Herbaceous perennials and Wild flowers Planting service available Quality plants for your projects

Our 196 page Wholesale Bulb & Plant catalogue offers the widest range of illustrated bulb varieties in the UK, with over 80 years experience, our quality, value and service are second to none. For your FREE catalogue contact: J Parker Dutch Bulbs 14/16 Hadfield Street, Old Trafford Manchester, M16 9FG Tel: 0161 848 1124 Fax: 0161 877 0602 Email: Online:

Landcare Nursery, BS37 6SJ Tel 01454 310664 Catalogue available online

Issue No 156 August




Issue No 134 July 2017





lpful! Bee he not doing enough

n up lighte R GARDEN Plant for late summer

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Forde Abbey – gardens of sheer delight


Open gardens with a vegetable growing theme





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and store fruit The right way to pick glut Dealing with the autumn

Sensational cordials from summer fruits


Issue No 99 September

How to enjoy this year’s harvest...

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Herefordshireâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Most Inspirational Plant Centre

Newent Plant Centre @ The Nest, Little Verzons, Ledbury

Autumn.... the very Best Time for Planting Trees and Shrubs

The soil is still warm and moist so plant roots establish quickly - ready for new shoots and leaves to burst into growth next spring. Ornamental Trees - we have a huge range of top quality locally grown Trees - Flowering Cherries, Fabulous Malus, Betula & Sorbus. Plus unusual varieties like Liquidambar, Liriodendron, Davidia, Halesia etc Fruit Trees and Fruit Bushes - Best planted before the end of the year! - Apples, Pears, Plums, Cherries, Damsons. Raspberries, Currants, Gooseberries etc Shrubs for Autumn & Winter Colour - Hamamelis, Viburnums, Skimmia etc Spring Flowering Bulbs - great for the Garden or Patio Pots - Narcissus, Tulips, Alliums, Crocus, Hyacinths Heucheras - we have the biggest selection in the South West !!! Stunning foliage colours, Easy to Grow, Ideal for Pots!

Friendly advice always available from Mark and his team


Verzons Hotel HEREFORD


Trumpet Inn


Newent Plant Centre @ The Nest


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 Email: RHS Gold Medalists

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Cotswolds Country Gardener Autumn 2017  

The Autumn 2017 issue of Cotswolds Country Gardener Magazine