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Good enough to eat!
The bloom and boom of edible flowers
PLUS: Summer gardening events galore throughout Devon; Growing perfect pears
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“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfilment of the promise of the earlier months, and wit h as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.” - Gertrude Jekyll, On Gardening
OUR HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GARDENING CALENDAR OVER THE COMING WEEKS IN DEVON
“Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.” - W. E. Johns
Colyford has three June celebration days
LEWIS COTTAGE OPEN FOR TWO JUNE NGS DAYS The spectacular gardens at Lewis Cottage in Spreyton open for the NGS scheme on two dates in June –two of ten opening days throughout the spring and summer. The famous four-acre garden developed by Michael and Penny Pell with Richard Orton over 25 years uses informal planting and formal structures to create a garden of many colourful ’rooms’. The garden opens from 11am to 5 pm. Entry is £4.50 per adult, children free, dogs are welcome. All proceeds to the NGS. The June opening dates are Saturday, 22nd and Sunday, 23rd June. Lewis Cottage, Spreyton, near Crediton, EX17 5AA.
Colyford Blossoms is a festival of flowers, verse and displays supported by organisations in the East Devon village of Colyford. It takes place on Friday, 21st June, Saturday, 22nd June and Sunday, 23rd June in St Michael’s Chapel of Ease from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm each day. Refreshments are available throughout. The car park is opposite the church. Colyford is on the A3052, Postcode EX24 6TW. The church also hosts Sidmouth Gospel Choir on Saturday, 22nd starting with cheese and wine at 7 pm - performance at 7.30pm and ‘Songs of Praise’ on Sunday, 23rd at 6.30pm.
Flower festival at Crediton Parish Church Crediton Parish Church has a ‘ Colours of the Wind’ Flower Festival running from 10am on Saturday, 1st June through to 5pm on Thursday, 6th June which will again feature eye catching floral displays. The festival title is taken from a song in the Disney film ‘Pocohontas’ and among the displays there will be references to ‘Candle in the Wind’, the Red Arrows, and Winnie the Pooh. Admission is free. Crediton Parish Church, Church Street, Crediton, Devon, EX17 2AH.
Rose weekend and craft market at RHS Rosemoor RHS Garden Rosemoor hosts a Rose Weekend and craft market on Friday 21st June, Saturday, 22nd June and Sunday, 23rd June with specialist rose advice, free guided walks around Rosemoor’s rose gardens and a floral-themed craft fair in The Garden Room, where you will find a variety of crafts made from some of the best crafters in the west country. For the guided walks of the rose gardens - free timed tickets will be available on the day. Event times: 10am to 5pm,Friday and Saturday and 10am to 4pm Sunday. Normal garden admission applies. RHS Rosemoor, Great Torrington, EX38 8PH.
Coombe Trenchard hosts eighth garden festival The private gardens and grounds of the Edwardian Coombe Trenchard Estate open to the public for the eighth year on Saturday, 1st June and Sunday, 2nd June with a popular annual garden spectacular. The Arts and Crafts country house will welcome 60 plus stallsincluding plant nurseries crafts and foods. Open 10am to 5pm each day. Admission is £6 children under 14 free. Dogs on leads are welcome and parking is free. Coombe Trenchard, Lewtrenchard nr Okehampton, West Devon, EX20 4PW.
Axe Vale Show weekend Another reminder that the Axe Vale Show is a family popular weekend long event run on the showground just outside Axminster on Saturday, 22nd and Sunday, 23rd June 2019. The Devon show has stalls full of food, drinks, crafts, plants, flowers and more. Tickets on sale www.axevaleshow.com £10 prepaid. On the day adult tickers are £12. Axminster Showground, Axminster, EX13 5RJ. www.countrygardener.co.uk
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A LOOK AT NEWS, EVENTS AND HAPPENINGS IN DEVON
Kevin and Pat Croucher to retire from running Thornhayes Nursery Thornhayes Nursery, one of the best known Devon nurseries specialising in rare or choice trees and shrubs and run by Kevin and Pat Croucher, is to close at the end of May. Kevinâ€™s work at the nursery, just outside of Cullompton, has earned him the reputation as one of the countryâ€™s leading nurserymen. Kevin and Pat have been running the nursery on their site for nearly 30 years and have decided now is the time for them to take a break and Kevin Croucher retire. â€œWeâ€™ve been doing this for a long time now and this is absolutely the best thing for us,â€? he said. Kevin and Pat started the nursery in 1991 on a 13-acre site. The nursery now covers 33 acres of field and container grown trees, and the expansion of the nursery reflects the establishment of
Thornhayes as one of the top tree nurseries in the country. It is located in rural Devon among open fields and ten minutes from the M5, making it accessible and popular with gardeners looking for specialist trees and shrubs. Expert advice has always been available on designing, planting and managing trees, both large and small scale. Summer pruning and orchard management have been hugely popular courses. Kevin is also acknowledged as an expert on fruit trees and is an expert on apple varieties and his apple identification days at Thornhayes are also popular. While the nursery is to close at the end of May, Kevin and Pat will stay on at Thornhayes â€œThere is a reasonable selection of stock for sale still, and we would love to see people call in during May. And as usual you can telephone or email the nursery to see what we have available,â€? said Kevin. Kevinâ€™s belief in the nursery and its role in serving and helping to educate gardeners local to the South West has made him of Devonâ€™s leading horticulturists. He still plans to do some consultancy work. Thornhayes Nursery, St Andrews Wood, Dulford, Cullompton EX15 2DF
STONE LANE GARDENS BECOMES RHS PARTNER GARDEN Stone Lane Gardens, the five-acre arboretum and water garden on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, has become an RHS Partner Garden. Stone Lane is the only Royal Horticultural Society Partner Garden within the national park and is just 25 miles from RHS Garden Rosemoor. The arboretum was started in 1971 by Kenneth and June Ashburner. The site includes the national collections of alder trees and wild-origin birch trees. During the summer the garden has become well known for its sculpture exhibition, The Mythic Garden, with over 100 sculptures surrounded by informally-planted trees, perennials and shrubs. www.stonelanegardens.com Stone Lane Gardens, Stone Farm, Chagford TQ13 8JU www.countrygardener.co.uk
Susanna Applegate peony course at RHS Rosemoor Lovers of peonies and irises have the chance to learn how to grow, propagate and care for them from expert Susanna Applegate who is running a one-day course at RHS Rosemoor on Saturday, 25th May from 11am to 12.30pm. The cost is ÂŁ18 for RHS members and ÂŁ30 for non-members and spaces are limited. Susanna has worked with plants for over 40 years, including a spell as production manager for Kelways Nursery at Barrymore Farm, Langport, Somerset and is now managing director of her own commercial nursery producing bearded iris and various types of peony. This event will include a brief history of the two plants, how to choose and plant them, and feature a practical session on how to propagate them to maintain their health and vigour. RHS Rosemoor, Great Torrington EX38 8PH 5
GARDENERS’ CUTTINGS IN DEVON
KOI MONTH AT BOW AQUATIC CENTRE It’s koi month at Bow Garden & Aquatic Centre. Country Gardener readers can celebrate by taking along the Bow Garden & Aquatic Centre advertisement on page 31 and getting ten per cent off koi or pond fish. Koi are one of best and most rewarding pond fish to keep. Most people recognise koi when they see them and think of them as just very pretty fish, however their history Koi can be trained to eat out of your hand and heritage is a different matter. 1. Koi are thought to have originated in China. The fish were later used as a food source before the Japanese began breeding them for their aesthetic appeal in the mid-1800s. 2. A legendary koi named Hanako lived to be the oldest koi of all recorded history. Hanako was hatched in 1751 and lived to the ripe old age of 226, passing away in 1977. 3. Koi fish are intelligent. Like a dog or a cat, they can be trained to eat out of your hand. 4. Two of today’s popular koi, the ghost koi and butterfly koi were only developed in the 1980’s. 5. Why do koi jump? This behaviour is most often seen by koi that are new to their environment. Koi are smart fish and they like to know their surroundings. Part of this involves exploring the outer limits of their pond. If you want to see them first hand the garden and aquatic centre has giant koi in their display pond which will give you an idea of how big koi can get and you can see how friendly they are by feeding them for 20p, with all profits going to the Devon Air Ambulance. Bow also stock a range of koi for sale including Classic Butterfly, Ghost and others. They also have a range of pond fish from goldfish through to tench and orfe and many more. Along with a fully stocked garden centre with colourful plants, garden accessories, garden furniture, sheds, summerhouses and greenhouses, it is a popular venue for visitors looking for something to suit your taste and garden. Bow Garden & Aquatic Centre is on the A3072 halfway between Crediton and Okehampton, or just 30 minutes from Exeter via the A30. Bow Garden & Aquatic Centre, Crediton, Devon EX17 6LA
Exeter summer foraging course
Twenty gardens open at Chumleigh The north Devon village of Chumleigh hosts the Chulmleigh Open Gardens day on Sunday, 2nd June from 1pm to 6pm. About 20 gardens around the town will be open and there are also plant sales, cream teas and refreshments available in the Town Hall. Tickets are £6 with access to all gardens. You can collect a map and ticket from the Town Hall on the day. Proceeds will go to the North Devon Hospice. Town Hall, Fore Street, Chulmleigh, Devon, EX18 7BR 6
There’s a Exeter summer foraging course which starts at the city’s Double Locks canal side pub on Sunday, 9th June. The course starts at 12 noon with an introduction on what to look for and a brief of the general countryside codes, where they relate to foragers. After the talk it is a two and a half hour walk along the surrounding fields, hedgerows and canal, identifying different edible and poisonous plants, flowers, fruits and mushrooms. After the walk there will be a wild food lunch based on what has been picked. This will include treats made from finds and a wild salad picked on the day. Adults £45, under 16s £22.50. Double Locks, Canal Banks, Exeter, Devon, EX2 6LT
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Rose Festival 15 June – 21 July
Rose weekend incl. Craft Market 21–24 June A celebration of colour and scent in the largest rose gardens in the South West. Book garden admission online at rhs.org.uk/rosemoor and save 10% Great Torrington, Devon, EX38 8PH Your visit supports our work as a charity RHS Registered Charity No: 222879/SC038262. Image: © RHS/Oli Kite Photography
olive trees Mark Hinsley’s recent visit to Provence unearths a depressing and murky story around some of the world’s oldest living trees I recently visited the Pont du Gard near Avignon in Provence. This is probably the only piece about the Pont du Gard that you will ever read that does not show you the magnificent 2,000-year-old Roman Aqueduct. Instead, I have included a photograph of a 1,000-year-old olive tree, remarkable in itself. There are three of these ancient olive trees on the banks of the Gardon River, a little down stream from the mighty aqueduct. Adjacent to one of the trees is a carved stone that informs the reader that the tree in question was ‘born’ in the year 908 AD in an arid valley in Northern Spain. It was lifted from the ground in 1985 and planted, along with two other similar specimens, in 1988. The tree claims to be ‘pleased’ to be there enhancing the landscape around the wonderful Roman aqueduct. A nice story and 30 years on the trees are doing fine. However, I have since discovered that this tale seems to be the charming tip of a much more sinister iceberg. In 2015 ‘The Guardian’ newspaper carried an article about the export of Spain’s ancient olive trees. Local protesters were trying to stop the lifting and exporting of Spain’s precious old trees all over the world through a huge petition requesting action from the Government. One thousand year old trees and older were being dug up and sold as garden ornaments for tens of thousands of euros to places as far afield as Northern Europe, the USA and the United Arab Emirates. Many olive growers were happy to cash in on the old trees and then replace them with younger, more productive stock, and property developers would sell the old trees before clearing sites for building. Others were concerned that items of irreplaceable living history were being lost forever from their country with no control or regulation, all in the pursuit of filthy lucre. 8
As one protester explained, “how would you feel if somebody bought the 1,000-year-old yew tree in your local churchyard, dug it up and exported it to California?” Put like that, he has a point! At the time of the article, France and Italy had laws to prevent the digging up and selling of heritage olive trees, whilst only the region of Valencia in Spain had followed suit. Unfortunately, the campaign does not appear to have been entirely successful because in a few minutes on a computer I found a web-site for a Spanish supplier offering to sell 1,000-year-old olive trees for export. Ten thousand euros was the price per tree; however, I don’t think that included transport and planting. On a lower level, many English garden centres and nurseries offer olive trees of 100 years old or more. One thing you can be sure of is that they were not grown here! So, you go to visit a Roman aqueduct in the South of France, and you walk past an old olive tree. You think ‘that is interesting’, so you go and have a look. Wow! It was transplanted here from Spain! How unusual! How nice! Then you scratch the surface and discover that the modern fashion for old olive trees to be planted in gardens where old olive trees do not naturally grow is causing the rapid depletion of a nation’s natural heritage. On the one hand, some people are ruthlessly exploiting the trade and, on the other, people are trying to stop it. The whole lot is a depressing story of massive profits, exploitation and murky politics. Perhaps I should have concentrated on the Roman aqueduct after all! Mark Hinsley is from Arboriculture Consultants Ltd. www.treeadvice.info
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THE TIEN SHAN
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ABOVE Trollius altaicus favoured a wet meadow LEFT Phlomoides at the roadside speciosa
∙ SEPTEMBER 2018 240∙ pp.
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meadow. To cap off an extraordinary thousands of Eremurus day, needed source of revenue fuscus created yellow wave on a people. for local a slope beside the road Kyrgyz By mid-June the semi-nomadic to Chichkan. Individually people had mostly they may not be in the same settled their animals league up on the high with in a massed display as E. robustus but, steppe grassy where like this, their tall yellow spires 2m assortment they live all summer in an were of yurts and old The drive to Kochkor a dramatic sight. railway cars. the next day took Many of the women were us back over the busy making kumiss, the fermented Ala Bel Pass. Roadside vendors selling mare’s milk that is much in demand reminder that local honey were a Soon the drifts in this region. the magnificent of Trollius displays also indirectly floral provide a much- Myosotis asiatica, Ranunculus altaicus, and Primula albertii algida necessitated THE ALPINE G ARDENER
ABOVE Masses of Eremurus fuscus beside the road to Chichkan RIGHT Primula algida, which was found in several locations
yet another stop. Susaymyr mountain The snow-capped splendid backdrop range provided a to this floriferous scene. Later, we saw caucasicum growing blue Polemonium through a yellow haze of shrubby Caragana pleiophylla. Driving east into our route followed a long rocky gorge, the raging Karakol river for many kilometres, the banks barely constraining river the torrent of snowmelt. At a roadside stop (1,887m) deep pink Chesneya ferganica formed SEPTEMBER 2017 197
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- a world of flavour
Kate Lewis visits a two-acre edible flower farm in Somerset where owner Sian Davis is on a campaign to educate people about the potential of flowers in the kitchen If you’ve ever been served a couple of edible flowers on top of a dish in a fancy restaurant you would be forgiven for not giving a second thought about their provenance. But pretty as they are, edible flowers are grown and used as much for flavour as for their looks. This is the message Sian Davis is keen to get across to chefs and cooks who buy flowers from her two-acre edible flower farm near Chard in Somerset. “A lot of people don’t think you can eat flowers, let alone that they can be very flavoursome and really enhance a dish. Of course they are very pretty but the flavour is very important too. “I really want to educate people about the potential of flowers in the kitchen. Some people put flowers on cakes that are not edible or can even be toxic if the sap leaks into the cake. It is way better to use flowers that you know are safe, and taste good too.”
“I really want to educate people about the potential of f lowers in the kitchen.” Edible flowers are no newcomers to the kitchen, with records showing that flowers have been used for culinary purposes as far back as Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, and were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries in the UK. Many flowers grown today were originally planted for their taste, not their beauty. Every morning Sian meticulously checks the flowers in two polytunnels where she grows 60 different varieties of edible flower from March to October. Whatever is looking at its best on the day of picking goes into her best-selling seasonal box which contains a minimum of 50 flowers of all shapes, sizes and varieties. She also offers a bespoke selection to chefs 10
Sian Davis picks flowers for her seasonal box from her polytunnel
and cake makers who request a particular flower or colour to match a dish or cake. “For every flower that is perfect and goes into the seasonal box there will be two or three that go straight into the compost heap. Everything I pick has to be perfect. “The flowers are picked and collected on the same day and delivered the next morning. If my customers are local they are delivered on the day of picking. My customers get whatever looks beautiful when they’re picked but that selection might completely change the following week.” Sian’s introduction to growing flowers came when she and her husband took on a run-down allotment in south west London. The patch had not been touched since World War 2 but they lovingly restored it complete with shed and a playhouse for their young son. This project ignited her passion for horticulture and she left her job in the music industry to retrain with the RHS before going on to work at nurseries in London. Things changed three years ago when they decided to leave London and move to Somerset. “I knew I wanted to run my own horticulture business so we looked for a property with some land. We fell in love with this location and while the cottage needing a lot of modernising there was a field which I knew would be perfect for setting up my own business. The clay soil in this part of Somerset is perfect – good drainage and lots of nutrients.” Last year was the first operational year for her business, with one polytunnel and three outside beds. This year she has added another polytunnel and several more outside beds with a plan to grow three times as many flowers as last year to keep up with demand. But Sian has no intention of becoming an all-year-round mass flower producer. ”My ethos is about seasonality and
Bellis daisies are excellent edible flowers
Edible flowers to grow in your garden and how to use them Nasturtiums The best-known edible flower. All parts of the plant are edible - petals, leaves, and seeds. They have a peppery flavour that adds a spicy taste to salads. Easy to grow in containers. Used whole or separated into petals in pasta, salads, oils, or tempura.
Calendula Also known as ‘poor man’s saffron’, can be used as a saffron substitute for colour and flavour. Petals are shades of vibrant yellow and oranges which add a yellow tint to food. Flavour is sweet and mild with a warm spicy undertone. Use in salads, frittatas, with grains or as a cake decoration.
sustainability. I don’t want to be like the big producers who have lots of heated and temperature-controlled greenhouses so they can grow flowers all year round, regardless of whether they are in season or not. I have unheated polytunnels and everything flowers when it naturally wants to flower. “If you want to buy ethical food that hasn’t travelled or been treated chemically then you have to think about where it’s come from and accept that certain flowers don’t grow all year round. “I’m always trying to find the balance with nature. I grow organically - all the compost and fertilisers I use are organic. This is a field and there is an eco-system in it and I don’t want to tip the balance.” Although there are many flowers that are toxic and cannot be consumed, many gardeners unknowingly already have varieties of edible flowers at their finger-tips. “I think many people are unaware they already have a selection of edible flowers in their garden. As long as they are grown organically and have not been sprayed they can be used in all sorts of sweet and savoury dishes, or in drinks.” Common edible garden flowers include nasturtium, calendula, dandelion, violas, primrose and borage. Roses are also edible but they have to be fragrant. Sian explains: “Your taste is connected to your smell. The roses have to be fragrant varieties for the flavour – if they haven’t got a scent they won’t taste of anything.” There are many flowers that cannot be consumed and are toxic so it is important to be absolutely certain when identifying a plant that not only is it edible, but which part of the plant is edible.
A well-known blue flower but also with pink and white varieties. Can be used fresh or dry. Has a mild peppery aroma, with a hit of sweet spice. Use whole or combine the petals with other flowers in salads, stir-fries or cakes.
Chive All allium blossoms are edible. Flowers have a delicious mild onion flavour and pretty purple petals. Use in salads and vinaigrettes along with the foliage. Goes well with many savoury dishes -soups, sandwiches, pasta, chive cream cheese and flavoured butter. Makes a pretty flavoured vinegar.
Dandelion Although considered by many as an annoying weed, the dandelion is a valuable food source. The entire plant from flower to root is edible. Use the leaves in salads. Use the flowers to make wine, marmalade, fritters, vinegar, syrup or tea.
Viola (pansy, viola & violets) Incredibly versatile because of the array of shapes, sizes and colours. The variety of colours makes them perfect for decorating cakes, cocktails and desserts. They have a sweet flavour profile and velvety texture. Great to crystalise or to freeze in ice cubes.
Fragrant roses Any fragrant rose can be eaten but the bitter white portion of the petals should be removed. The intensity of the flavour depends on the variety and colour. Perfect for cake decorating – use just the petals, buds or whole open flowers. 11
Words and pictures by Kate Lewis
We used to just admire beautiful blooms, or enjoy their fragrance - but now we are looking at them in a whole new way: as food and added to salads, cakes, stews and cocktails Edible flowers can be used in all sorts of ways in the kitchen - as decorations for cakes and desserts or as an additional flavour and texture to a dish. Use either the entire flower or pick off individual petals. They can be used in bread, biscuits and granolas or to make oils, vinegars and syrups and in ice cubes and lollies. Add them to salads, frittatas, stews and stir fries. On this page are three sweet recipes to get you started.
Tips for using edible flowers • Not all flowers are edible - only eat flowers you know can be eaten. • When identifying a plant make sure you know which part is edible – some plants are not entirely edible. • Only eat flowers that have been grown organically. Do not eat flowers that have been sprayed or come from the side of
Chocolate flower bark This pretty chocolate bark can be made with any type of chocolate and topped with any chopped nuts, seeds or dried fruit. INGREDIENTS: 400g good quality dark chocolate 50g chopped pistachios Sea salt Petals from edible flowers e.g bellis daisies, violas
a busy road, or from paths where dogs are walked. • Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centres. • Be cautious about eating edible flowers if you suffer from allergies. • For most flowers only eat the petals, remove stalks and stamens. • If foraging leave plenty behind for wildlife, the plant’s longevity and for other people. • Harvest flowers in the morning after any dew has evaporated. • Choose flowers at their peak, avoiding those that are not fully open or are starting to wilt. • Wash before eating. Use a delicate pastry brush to brush off any residue or insects • Store flat in the fridge.
METHOD: 1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bowl. When melted take off the heat. 2. Line a baking tray with parchment. Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment and spread out with a spatula. Gently tap the tray to remove any bubbles. 3. Sprinkle sea salt, chopped nuts and flower petals all over the top. 4. Put in the fridge and leave until hard. Break into pieces to serve.
Flower cookies INGREDIENTS: 2 tsp vanilla paste 200g unsalted butter, diced 175g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling ½ tsp salt 2 egg yolks 400g plain flour A selection of edible flowers METHOD: 1. Mix the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla paste together for a few minutes until light and fluffy, either with an electric whisk or by hand. 2. Add the egg yolks and beat until combined. 3. Add the flour and mix slowly until the mixture looks like sand, don’t overmix. 4. Tip onto a worktop and gently bring together with your hands to make a uniform dough. 5. Divide the dough in half. Wrap one half in cling film or parchment and put in the fridge. 6. Roll out the other piece of dough in between two pieces of parchment. Roll to approximately 1cm thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment 7. Cut cookie shapes in the dough using a cookie cutter but don’t remove from the parchment. 8. Press an edible flower into the centre of each cookie. 9. Replace the top sheet of parchment and roll again to
Rhubarb cordial jelly Serves 4 INGREDIENTS: 100g caster sugar 4 gelatine leaves 100ml rhubarb cordial (any other cordial could be used) fresh edible flowers or petals METHOD: 1. Put the sugar in a pan with 400ml water and bring to the boil, stirring so the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. 2. While the sugar and water are boiling soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a few
press the flowers into the dough. 10. Keeping the parchment in place, put the dough in the fridge for three hours until firm. Repeat with the other half of dough. 11. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan oven/gas 3 12. After three hours remove the dough from the fridge. Peel off the top layer of parchment. Cut out the cookies with the same size cookie cutter. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. 13. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for approximately 20 minutes until light brown. Leave to cool.
minutes to soften. 3. Gently squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves and add to the hot syrup. Stir until it is dissolved. 4. Add the cordial to the syrup and stir. 5. Pour into individual clear glasses and drop in an edible flower, or a few petals. Carefully put the glasses in the fridge and leave overnight to set. FOR VEGETARIAN/VEGAN READERS: This recipe can also be made with non-meat derived products e.g. agar agar or Veggie-Gel. Omit the gelatine from the recipe and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
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Visits: Poggio Torselli, Villa Vignamaggio, Villa Geggiano, Villa Grabau, Villa Reale 2019: 19 May, 9 Jun, 8 Sep From £2,650 per person
• Local garden guides and guided garden visits included
LAKES COMO AND MAGGIORE
• British Airways flights included
Visits: Villa Babbianello, Villa Carlotta, Villa Monastero, Isola Bella, Isola Madre 2019: 14 May, 4 Jun, 25 Jun, 3 Sep From £2,630 per person
AMALFI COAST, CAPRI & ISCHIA Visits: Villa Rufolo, Villa San Michele Axel Munthe, La Mortella 2019: 9 May, 23 May, 13 Jun, 12 Sep From £2,650 per person
• Six nights in 4 or 5 star hotels, two per tour
Special offers may apply - full details on our website
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ENVIRONS OF ROME Visits: Villa d’Este, Lante, Ninfa, Landriana, Castel Gandolfo 2019: 22 May, 12 Jun, 26 Jun, 11 Sep From £2,590 per person
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14 Country Gardener ad horizontal half page sept 2018.indd
Going round in circles! Reader Pauline Nelson tried to turn some ugly roundabouts she passed almost every day into meadow gardens wit h flowers, trees and plants. I am in my early 60’s and a passionate gardener. While I don’t drive a lot, I am on the roads in Somerset and Dorset mainly and have recently become annoyed to see how ugly so many of our roundabouts are. Too many people have the wrong idea about roundabouts. Far from stopping cars crashing into each other, they are or could be horticultural beacons. Or perhaps as well as! As well as encouraging road safety, they should be a showcase for cutting-edge British garden design, flowers, trees, meadow plants -even herbs. There’s a particular stretch of a busy road I use most days which has three large roundabouts on it. Each one has the potential to be a thing of horticultural beauty and I can just imagine each one having meadow flowers throughout the summer. There’s enough gardening space on each one to do a lot with them and not be a hazard to driving. So this is where my story starts. Why not, I thought, try and do something about it. I love gardening and I’m very enthusiastic about projects. I don’t want to bore your readers with the conversations I’ve had with everyone from the Highways Agency to Somerset County Council, from local councillors to gardening groups, friends and local businesses but it was hard work and my resolve was tested. My idea for this roundabout renaissance was not to turn to the public purse which I assume would be empty but to private funds and sponsorship and to see if local communities would like to be involved. I found a small number of firms which specialise in persuading local businesses to ‘adopt’ a traffic intersection. Companies pay a sum of money I was told, anything from £1,000 to £10,000 per year. In return they get to plant not just their corporate signboard in the middle of a busy roundabout, but to have said roundabout planted, beautified and maintained. Some even involve local residents themselves to help with planting ideas. My research was encouraging. One northern authority had 100 roundabouts of which 60 were sponsored already with floral schemes and interest was keen on the other 40. There was some interest in my three ‘target’ roundabouts. Planting schemes would have to be low I was initially told with any taller plants in the middle so cars could see what
going on round the edges. All OK so far. I then found authorities could differ widely when it comes to safety regulations. There are as many different rules as there are councils. Some local authorities let you put up signs that dwarf the roundabout, others make you put up signs so small, you can hardly read them. Some let you put up signs without applying for planning permission; others insist you apply for planning permission at £325 a time. I spoke to a local gardening club about the project and they were keen to help out. We’d plant seeds, keep costs low, do some planning so the upkeep wasn’t too labour intensive and hoped for a wild-flower-meadow look, as perfected on two edge-of-town roundabouts my friend took photographs of up in Loughborough. The council came back to me and said they were aware of the sponsorship potential of roundabouts but felt money was tight and it was difficult to find companies willing to pay up even quite small amounts. Upkeep was a problem, so was the practical issue of working on the roundabouts with traffic busily going past. I said what I was trying to do was to get businesses, plants and local councils all help helping each other. Virtuous circles, you might say. My friends urged me not to be thwarted by what seemed to be too many issues and problems.”With a bit of determination, a gardener who doesn’t let the bureaucrats get in the way can eventually make them see sense, “said a close friend. “It’s the start of more beautiful, bio-diverse, wildlife-friendly habitats.” It has taken on and off a year since I started. I’m nowhere. I am worried about identifying the roundabouts in my story as it would then make it obvious who I was dealing with and that won’t help. But all three roundabouts are just dull, brown patches with now weeds starting to take over. I spoke to a gardening club member who was outraged at the failure to do something about it. “Don’t they realise that it’s not their land, it’s our land. All you were trying to do to turn something which is ugly into a thing of beauty”. My thoughts exactly.
Long June days out and about Here’s a selection of ideas and suggestions for day trips out as our passion for gardens and gardening reaches its peak You don’t have to travel far to experience the very best that June has to offer. Some of the finest gardens, the most inspiring gardens open, the best garden fairs all with a rich legacy of plants are on our doorstep. The wonderfully long days of June also offer another dimension when it comes to travelling that bit further afield to see a garden or lingering later on a particular visit. The gardens everywhere will be in full swing and traditionally looking their most colourful and dramatic. It’s a great time to enjoy a passion in gardens and gardening. We’ve just a few suggestions which we know you’ll enjoy.
Cottage garden delights at East Lambrook Manor Margery Fish, Somerset’s grande dame of cottage gardening who died fifty years ago this March, created the garden at East Lambrook between 1938 and 1969. It is now recognised as the quintessential example of the English cottage garden style and attracts visitors from all over the globe so it is well worth a visit, especially in June when the garden is sublime. Don’t expect to find manicured lawns. This garden is characterised by its many winding paths and low lonicera hedges through abundant beds brim full of every manner of bulb, herbaceous plant, rose, shrub, climber and so on. If you love plants you will be astonished by the sheer abundance and variety, many of which are on sale in the excellent Margery Fish Plant Nursery. The Malthouse Gallery, with exhibitions by local artists in the summer, is situated in the garden and cakes can be enjoyed in the Malthouse Café. Readers can take advantage of the 2-for-1 offer with the ad on page 23, which also includes further details. East Lambrook Manor Gardens, East Lambrook, Somerset, TA13 5HH. Tel: 01460 240328 www.eastlambrook.com 16
Summer days out at Rare Plant Fairs There is a packed programme of four Rare Plant Fairs during June. All of the fairs are held in unique gardens, with their own individual style, making a summer visit to one (or more!) a great day Sculpture by the Lakes out for gardeners. There is a great selection of specialist nurseries attending each of the fairs, experts in the plants that they grow. The full programme is: HIGH GLANAU MANOR, near Monmouth, Sunday, 2nd June, 11am to 4pm. These Arts and Crafts gardens have been lovingly restored and offer spectacular views over the Vale of Usk. WATERPERRY GARDENS, near Oxford, Sunday, 16th June, 10am to 4pm. The former teaching gardens at Waterperry have been transformed into stunning ornamental gardens at this iconic venue, including a rose garden and formal knot garden. RODMARTON MANOR, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, Sunday, 23rd June, 11am-4pm. The fair is set in Arts and Crafts gardens surrounding the Manor House, and include formal and topiary gardens, classic herbaceous borders and a woodland garden. SCULPTURE BY THE LAKES, near Dorchester, Dorset, Sunday, 30th June, 10am-4pm. This new fair takes place at one of the most beautiful and unique sculpture parks in UK. The 26-acre park is set alongside the River Frome, with lakes, small streams, meandering woodland paths and more formal gardens. Visit www.rareplantfair.co.uk for details of the events, including admission charges and a list of the exhibitors attending.
NEW GARDENS AT CADHAY START TO TAKE SHAPE June tends to be a fabulous month at Cadhay as the ponds really come into their own. The hostas and flag irises are flourishing and the water lilies replanted three years ago are becoming established. The new garden that has been created beyond the ponds is taking shape and it is amazing how much bigger it seems down there. Cadhay is open on Friday afternoons throughout the summer from 2pm. Cadhay, Ottery Saint Mary, EX11 1QT. Tel: 01404813511 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hardy Plant Society Sunday event at Lower Severalls
Celebrating open gardens at Witchampton Dating from Roman times, Witchampton is considered one of Dorset’s best-preserved villages. Having undergone little modern development it has maintained its conservation status and has 45 listed buildings and monuments. Approximately 18 gardens across the village will open on Saturday, 15th and Sunday, 16th June – with some gardens cottage and riverside, others grand and modest, formal and relaxed – with some unusual plants and inspiring designs, topiary, sculptures and water features, even meticulously preserved medieval ruins. There is also an art exhibition, flower display, live music, a plant stall, food and refreshments – and free tractor-trailer rides through the village. Entry to gardens is £7.50 for a weekend ticket (under-16s free). Car parking at BH21 5AG.
Somerset Hardy Plant Society’s second Summer Plant Fair held in partnership with Lower Severalls, TA18 7NX, near Crewkerne will be held on Sunday, 7 July from 10am until 4pm. Once again leading nurseries will be there, offering a range of plants to help prevent the garden from fading around August – or earlier if we have the sort of hot spell that we saw last year. This is a timely opportunity not to be missed to talk to experts about plants that will help fill that gap and carry the garden through well into autumn.
WITCHAMPTON OPEN GARDENS Sat 15th - Sun 16th June
HPS Somerset Group
11.30am - 5pm (last entry 4.30pm)
SUMMER PLANT FAIR Sunday 7 July 2019 10am – 4pm at Lower Severalls Crewkerne, Somerset TA18 7NX 15 of the South West’s top nurseries will be attending.
Plus art exhibition, flower display, live music, plant stall, food and refreshments, and free tractor-trailer rides through the village.
Admission charge will be £4
Entry fee £7.50 for a weekend ticket (under 16s free).
For a list of the nurseries attending visit somersethps.com
Car parking at BH21 5AG Contact 01258 841405
(£3.50 for RHS & HPS members)
Approx. 18 gardens across the village - something for everyone.
BA DMI N TON HOUSE
Hotel, cottages and holiday homes by the beautiful Helford River in south Cornwall.
b a d m i n t o n , g l o u c e s t e r s h i r e g l 9 1d b
9 hole/18 tee parkland golf course • Spa • Restaurant • Tennis • Kayaking • Boat trips
Sunday 16th June 10am — 5pm
entrance £5, children under 16 free A unique opportunity to visit the home of The Duke and Duchess of Beaufort and see the gardens in full bloom. This year we are also including Well Cottage Gardens, home of Miranda, Duchess of Beaufort. g i f t sta l l s a n d p l a n t s f rom l o c a l n u r s e r i e s w i t h t h e shop p e r a n d g a r de n e r i n m i n d
Helford Passage, Mawnan Smith, Nr Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 5LG Hotel bookings: 01326 252100 Golf Club: 01326 252102 email@example.com www.budockvean.co.uk @BudockVeanHotel www.facebook.com/BudockVeanHotel @BudockVeanHotel
Light lunches, afternoon tea and homemade treats served all day a n e n joya b l e day f or t h e w hol e fa m i ly well behaved dogs on leads welcome in the park Supporting the Centrewalk Fund
ba dm i n ton estat e .com
GREAT P LACES T O V IST: JUNE
Bishop’s Palace, Wells, never more beautiful
June bursts into glory at Hartland Abbey ‘June is bursting out all over’ this month is such a lovely, peaceful time to visit the gardens at Hartland Abbey, only a mile from Hartland Quay. On warm days a wander to the beach at Blackpool Mill or around the woodland gardens, sitting with a good book under a tree or seeing the 18th Century walled gardens bursting with summer glory, is an escape from modern life. The house is full of interest; the last monastery to be dissolved in 1539 and in the same family ownership, dates from mediaeval to Queen Anne, Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods. The Old Kitchen tearooms serve homemade lunches and cream teas. ‘Jane Eyre’ performed by Hotbuckle starts the outdoor theatre season at Hartland Abbey on Sunday, 23rd June – combine a day out in this glorious corner of North Devon with an evening of theatre on the lawn. Dogs are welcome and there’s good shady parking. Hartland Abbey, Hartland, Nr. Bideford, North Devon, EX39 6DT. Tel: 01237441496/234 www.hartlandabbey.com
Budock Vean Hotel - a great base to tour Cornwall’s gardens On a quiet bend of the tranquil Helford River in Cornwall nestles the 4 star Budock Vean Hotel. Set in 65 acres of gardens, woodlands and its own golf course – the Budock Vean is a sanctuary for rest and relaxation. As well as it’s own valley garden leading to the river, the hotel is just a few minutes walk from two of Cornwall’s best loved gardens – Trebah and Glendurgan. The hotel restaurant has a reputation for fantastic locally sourced food and leisure facilities include a spa, pool and hot tub, plus boat trips or kayaking on the river from their private quay. It’s a place to relax or take advantage of the all the great things to see and do right on the doorstep. Dog friendly holiday cottages and contemporary holiday homes are also available. Helford Passage, Mawnan Smith, Nr Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 5LG. Hotel: 01326 252100 Golf Club: 01326 252102 www.budockvean.co.uk 18
The stunning 14 acres at Bishop’s Palace Gardens in Wells reaches one of its peaks of colour in June. The Somerset RHS partner gardens are stunning and tranquil in the high summer months with many herbaceous borders, roses in the parterre, with views from the ramparts and the contemporary Garden of Reflection, arboretum and quiet garden. The next big date in the palace’s calendar is Friday, 14th June when the annual three-day country garden festival begins – the fifth time the event has been staged in the grounds. The daily tours of the gardens now run throughout the season at 11am and 2pm there’s a daily palace and chapel tour and at 12 noon and 3pm a guided tour of the gardens. Entry is free every Friday to RHS members with starred cards. The daily tours are included in the admission. Adults £8.05p seniors £7.15. Bishops Palace, Off Market Place, Wells, BA5 2PD.
JUNE 16TH OPENING FOR BADMINTON HOUSE GARDENS
The gardens at Badminton House are open to the public once a year. The Duke and Duchess of Beaufort welcome visitors on Father’s Day, Sunday, 16th June to discover the history and inspiration behind the unique gardens of this historic family home. During your visit you will be able to stroll through the South Gardens; the Water Squares replanted in 2005 by the Duke and Duchess show tulips, campanulas, penstemons, geraniums, phlox and anemones and are in full of colour through the summer. The Parish Church of St. Michael and All Angels in the eastern end of the south garden between borders of herbaceous plants will also be open to the public. The Shell Garden designed by Miranda, Duchess of Beaufort and the Rose Garden made up of sixteen beds, replanted in 2000 by the Duchess are a feast for the eye and lead out to the Orangery and formal beds on the east side of the House which were designed by Russell Page. In the courtyard you can browse the gift stalls and nurseries and in the Old Kitchen you can enjoy lunch as well as tea, coffee, and a selection of light meals and cakes provided by The Ship Inn. Miranda, Duchess of Beaufort has opened the gardens of her home, Well Cottage, to visitors for the first time. South Gloucestershire, Badminton, GL9 1DD. www.badmintonestate.com Country Gardener
Cerney House Gardens A Romantic English Garden in the UK Cotswolds 46 acres of Cotswold parkland Romantic secret garden * Wildlife and woodland walks * Plants for sale * A wide variety of romantic roses * Refreshments available at the Bothy Open every day until 31st October 10am-7pm Admission: £5 adults, £1 children
Telephone 01285 831300 www.cerneygardens.com Cerney House Gardens, North Cerney, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 7BX
2nd June High Glanau Manor, Nr. Monmouth NP25 4AD 16th June Waterperry Gardens, Nr. Oxford OX33 1JZ 23rd June Rodmarton Manor, Nr. Tetbury GL7 6PF 30th June Sculpture by the Lakes, Nr. Dorchester, DT2 8QU
www.rareplantfair.co.uk Please visit our website for full details of admission fees and times of opening.
14th-16th June 2019 10am-5pm
Join us in Wells for our 5th Annual Garden Festival when the 14 acres of gardens will be at their absolute peak; with parterres filled with the scent of myriad roses and dramatic borders aflame with summer colour, all set amongst the medieval ramparts of the ancient Palace and its famous well pools. Speakers include Chris Beardshaw, Anne Swithinbank and Tamsin Westhorpe. In aid of The Bishop's Palace
Tickets: Adult £9 Child £4 Groups £7 Under 5's Free
GREAT P LACES T O V IST: JUNE
ROMANTIC GARDENS AT CERNEY HOUSE Cerney House gardens is a romantic English garden for all seasons. There is a beautiful secluded Victorian walled garden which features herbaceous borders overflowing with colour. The informal planting in combination with a beautiful setting gives a unique and charming atmosphere. The summer months begin with the alliums and then the romantic roses come to life and fill the garden with their wonderful fragrance. The kitchen garden starts producing wonderful vegetables grown from heritage seeds. Enjoy the woodland walk and nature trail. New this year is the medicinal herb garden. Open: Daily from January to October 10am to 7pm (during summer months). Adults £5; children £1. Groups welcome by arrangement. Tea, coffee and homemade cakes. Dogs welcome. Cerney House Gardens, North Cerney, Cirencester, GL7 7BX. Tel: 01285 831300 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.cerneygardens.com
25 gardens open in Cerne Abbas village About 25 private gardens, normally hidden from view, will be open in Cerne Abbas on Saturday, 15th and Sunday, 16th of June to raise funds for its Water Meadow Trust and for The Weldmar Hospicecare Trust. The gardens reflect the diverse nature of this friendly and historic village set in the Dorset countryside and guarded over by its famous giant. Day ticket for entry to all gardens is £7 with accompanied children free, tickets available in the car park (open from 11am) or in Village Square from 1pm. All the gardens are within walking distance of free car park (DT2 7GD). Tea and cake served in the church from 1:30pm and there will be an excellent plant stall in the village square from 1pm (with a crèche to leave your plants). See www.cerneopengardens.org.uk for more information.
COTSWOLDS BEAUTY GALORE AT ELKSTONE Elkstone is one of the highest villages in the Cotswold where you can find beauty, history and fun. The Norman church is renowned for its arches, sculptures and its rare, listed working medieval bell beam. Look for the green dragon in the church and Robert Thompson mouse carvings in the Green Dragon at Cockleford. Houses varying from small cottages to the rectory first recorded in 1608 and the oldest house, the former church house, probably built in the 15th century. The schoolroom built in 1871 became the village hall in 1961. Visit and enjoy picturesque views on a tractor ride during the open day, which takes place on Sunday, 9th June from 2pm to 6pm. www.elkstonevillage.com 20
FLOWERS GALORE IN TRANQUIL SETTING Now’s the time to get out and enjoy all the gardens in and around where you live, there are lots of plants coming into bloom and, hopefully, some fine weather to enhance your visits At Cotswold Garden Flowers you can visit the one-acre of flowerbeds in a calm and tranquil setting, get ideas and memories to take back home. Many of the plants are available to purchase and are ready to plant in your own patch. They will look forward to seeing you. Cotswold Garden Flowers Sands Lane, Badsey, Evesham, WR11 7EZ. Tel: 01386 833849 Email: email@example.com www.cgf.net
Iford Manor Gardens not to be missed
Iford Manor Gardens, near Bath is a unique, steeply terraced, historic garden and offers the chance to be transported into another world. Formally home to renowned Edwardian garden designer Harold Peto, wander slowly along narrow paths, meander between columns and antiquities, being drawn ever onwards in anticipation of the next surprise, whilst surrounded by nature. Providing inspiration for Jo Thompson’s RHS Chelsea show garden this year and featured in the upcoming cinema remake of 'The Secret Garden', this garden is one not to be missed. Troy Scott-Smith will take on the role of head gardener from August this year. Iford Manor, Iford, Bradford-on-Avon, BA15 2BA. Tel: 01225 863146 www.ifordmanor.co.uk Country Gardener
Cotswold Garden Flowers
Hartland Abbey & Gardens Enjoy the exceptional beauty of the Hartland Abbey valley in June
Easy and unusual perennials for the flower garden
Visit this fascinating house with its stunning architecture and collections. Exhibition of filming on the estate. Beautiful walled and woodland gardens and walks to the beach.
Delightful gardens to inspire you Plant and garden advice
* Dogs welcome * Holiday Cottages * * Delicious light lunches & cream teas * * Hartland Quay 1 mile * Outdoor Theatre *
Mail order and online ordering available, or pop along and visit us at the nurser y
House, Gardens etc and Café: open until 29th September, Sunday to Thursday 11am - 5pm (House 2pm - 5pm last adm. 4pm)
For all information and events see www.hartlandabbey.com Hartland, Nr. Bideford EX39 6DT 01237441496/234
44th Cerne Abbas
Open Gardens More than 25 Private Gardens Open
15th & 16th June, 2-6pm
Groups welcome by appointment
Day ticket to all gardens Adults £7.00 Ticket for 2 days £10.00 Accompanied children free
Open 7 days a week from 1st March to 30th September
Teas in St Mary’s Church from 1.30pm Plant Stall Free Car Park (DT2 7GD) from 11am
Weekends 10am - 5.30pm, Weekdays 9am to 5.30pm
Equal proceeds to: Cerne Water Meadow Trust & Weldmar Hospicecare Trust
Sands Lane, Badsey, Evesham, WR11 7EZ 01386 833849 firstname.lastname@example.org w w w.cgf.net
Stanway House & Fountain The world’s tallest gravity fed fountain
Award-winning Cotswold gem featuring imaginative topiary, magnificent herbaceous borders and unique shade house
Jacobean Manor House, home of the Earl of Wemyss, together with spectacular fountain open all year by appointment for group visits.
Open April to October Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm • Groups welcome Mon to Fri by arrangement Light refreshments in 16th Century Tithe Barn (May – Sept) Bourton House, Bourton on the Hill, Gloucestershire GL56 9AE Tel 01386 700754 Email email@example.com
Contact 07850 585539 for details. www.stanwayfountain.co.uk Stanway, Cheltenham, Gloucs, GL54 5BT
www.countrygardener.co.uk 47100-Bourton_House_Advert_130x90mm_Oct2015.indd 1
GREAT P LACES T O V IST: JUNE
Eckington Flower Festival and Open Gardens For all those who love beautiful gardens a visit to Eckington shouldn’t be missed on Saturday, 15th June and Sunday, 16th June. Eckington boasts around four gardens in the NGS scheme. There are another 30 or more gardens open of varying size and designs. Each year, Holy Trinity Church displays a flower festival reflecting a chosen theme where villagers compete to produce floral displays. Refreshments include homemade cakes and light meals and there is a free circular mini-bus. Gardens are marked for wheel chair friendly. Coaches are welcome (please arrange beforehand for parking), gardening clubs, local groups, the elderly and anyone with an interest in gardens for a leisurely and tranquil day out. Open from 10am to 5pm both days. Prices: £6 per person for the weekend. Children of school age free. Programmes can be purchased from the church or free car parks. Eckington, near Pershore, Worcestershire, WR10 3AN.
SUMMER SPECTACULAR AT BOURTON HOUSE GARDEN Bourton House Garden is an award winning three-acre garden offering imaginative topiary (including a knot garden, parterre and topiary walk), magnificent wide herbaceous borders with many rare, unusual and exotic plants, water features including a raised Basket Pond from the Great Exhibition of 1851 and a unique Shade House. The garden is particularly fine in the summer months and early autumn when the use of tender and semi-hardy plants extends the flowering season up to first frosts. The garden is open Tuesday to Friday until the end of October, 10am – 5pm. Entrance £7.00/under 16s free. Groups are welcome. Refreshments served in 16th century Tithe Barn May to September. Bourton House Garden, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 9AE. Tel: 01386 700754 www.bourtonhouse.com
Empathy takes high profile at BBC’S Gardeners’ World Live Empathy, the makers of rootgrow mycorrhizal fungi will be exhibiting at BBC Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC Birmingham from the 13th to the 20th of June. You can find them opposite the main gardening stage. Along with a range of natural and sustainable planting products they will also be promoting a not for profit enterprise called ‘Life at No.27 ‘which enables people with mental health issues to be given the opportunity to have an allotment as a form of managed therapy. You can find out more at www.lifeatno27.com
Tuesday and Thursday summer openings at Friars Court Friars Court, located in rural West Oxfordshire, is an imposing 17th century farmhouse with three acres of gardens enclosed within the remaining arms of a 16th century moat. Level walks guide visitors past formal and informal borders, ‘garden rooms’, a lily pond and 50-foot living willow tunnel. A small museum displays the history of the house. The gardens are open every Tuesday and Thursday in June, July and August, from 2pm to 6pm, admission £4 adults, under 14’s free. Homemade cakes and cream teas available. Private garden tours available on request. Friars Court, Clanfield, OX18 2SU. Tel: 01367 810206 www.friarscourt.com 22
STANWAY HOUSE GRAVITY FOUNTAIN A HUGE ATTRACTION The spectacular gravity fountain at Stanway House is the world’s highest, reaching 300ft. Tucked behind a magnificent gatehouse in a tiny Cotswolds village, The House is a perfect example of a Jacobean manor and has been lived in by the same family since the 16th century. Extensive grounds to explore and fascinating history to discover. Working water mill produces flour from locally grown wheat. Stanway is open in June, July and August, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2pm5pm. The fountain plays twice each day. Group tours can be arranged at other times. Dogs welcome. Stanway House, Stanway, Cheltenham, GL54 5PQ. Visit www.stanwayfountain.co.uk
COTSWOLD GARDENS AT ELKSTONE Sunday 9th June 2019 2 - 6pm Visit beautiful private gardens, the Norman church and wild flower meadow, allotments, art exhibition. HOUSE, GARDENS & TEAROOM Open every Friday 2pm - 5.30pm until 27th September Also late May & August Bank Holiday weekend - Saturday, Sunday & Monday
HOUSE & GARDENS: adult £8, child £3 (last guided tour 4pm) GARDENS: adult £4, child £1, season ticket £12pp Member of Historic Houses
CADHAY, OTTERY ST. MARY, DEVON, EX11 1QT 01404 813511 www.cadhay.org.uk
Enjoy cream teas, homemade cakes or ice creams and enjoy sensational views on a tractor ride.
Adults £5.00, Children free
Parking included. No dogs please Proceeds help support our church and village hall
‘Cream teas in a beautiful garden - this is England at its very best.’
Visit the iconic cottage garden of gardening legend Margery Fish before September and get in for half price with this ad. Just four minutes from the A303 at South Petherton.
Iford Manor Gardens, nr Bath The Cartwright-Hignett family welcome visitors to their inspirational Grade 1 historic garden.
1 OR 2 F NTRY
E ER OFF
Margery Fish’s iconic cottage garden
Cottage garden, nursery, café and gallery.
Open April to September; Weds—Suns; 11am-4pm Homemade cakes and drinks available
Open Tues - Sat & BH Mons plus Suns in May- July | 10am - 5pm Entry £6.00 | Over 65s £5.50 | Groups £5.25 | U16s free
Silver Street | East Lambrook | Somerset | TA13 5HH 01460 240328 | firstname.lastname@example.org | eastlambrook.com
Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire BA15 2BA | email@example.com | 01225 863146
* Offer ends 31 Aug. Excludes group visits and use with other offers.
Purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea)
hedgerow delights Matt Rees-Warren ponders the issue of the hedgerow and wild plants which may live outside the boundaries of our gardens but perhaps should be allowed to come inside a little more Our connection to the wild plants and wildlife outside of our gardens has been eroding with alarming regularity for many years, if not decades now. That isn’t to say that there aren’t many thousands of people, possibly a large proportion of you fair readers, who haven’t been engaged with rectifying that fact in most, if not all, of those passing years. The fact remains, however, that those efforts have not stopped the egregious decline of our native and naturalised species in almost all habitats and in almost every corner of the British Isles. In a sense I am only repeating what has been said many times before, because we are a thoughtful and sentient people who recognise our need to protect and conserve the natural environment we live in. What that then means in terms of reversing the decline, lies not wholly in the hands of the individual, but in the higher powers and that debate is best left to the corridors of Westminster. Instead, I’d like to think we have, possibly unintentionally, lost our inherited knowledge of the possibilities in the wild plants of our ancestors to their more recognisable contemporary garden cousins. It is, however, a question of style, of choice and of practicality, 24
so in my mind, there can be nothing gained without adhering, at least to some degree, to these principles. Therefore, I’d like to start with the big PR problem that has afflicted many a wildflower over the years: weeds. Weeds are to gardens like Fred Astaire is to Ginger Rogers; forever locked in a dance of symbiosis until the lights go out. But, the classification of weeds is notoriously undefined, why? Because there aren’t really any weeds, just unwanted species. Now I wouldn’t for a moment say that you should let your garden overflow with nettles, docks and bindweed. As I said earlier I think style and choice are important, but the problem is when the blanket description of ‘weeds’ is used for such a vast array of different species from our wild spaces. Some of the most elegant and rewarding plants get dumped in the ‘no thankyou’ bin, both in our consciousness and then, consequently, our places to buy our plants. There are, of course, still wild species that we see all the time in the garden centres and in our gardens: snowdrops, lily-of-the-valley, honeysuckle and poppies to name a few. But I think that is a limited armoury of choice so I want to encourage us to look just below the top line and into the more mysterious characters.
Ragged robin Lychnis floscuculi Ragged robin – Lychnis flos-cuculi - has to be one of the most beautiful of all our native wildflowers and will thrive in any damp and part-shade position. In huge decline in the wild it will be consigned to history if intensive agriculture continues. It is, of course, Le Manoir to the bees and butterflies, but above all it is truly an exceptionally beautiful flower, easily holding its own against any hosta, primula or Iris sibirica we may put in a similar position.
Hemp-agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum With a rise in interest in the Eupatorium family why has our very own native hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) been overlooked? Fantastic for lateseason colour and structural height (grows to 1.2m), this plant will be a mecca for bees and butterflies and suits a damp to boggy condition. The flowers are good, fist-sized goblets of a burnished raspberry reddish pink, and stay true and strong through their flowering. Superb.
Wild teasel Dipsacus fullonum Why on earth don’t we grow our own native wild teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) more? A biennial that will self-seed much like foxgloves and angelicia, its statuesque skeletal habit, growing up to 2m or more, will add form and outline to more rounded shapes. It’s obviously been a florist’s favourite for many years but why wouldn’t we be using that amazing longevity of form in our gardens more? It will hold shape throughout winter and the seed-heads are a goldfinch playground.
Field scabious Knautia arvensis We love the Knautia macedonia so why not our field scabious (Knautia arvensis)? Is it really just because it sets seed? In my humble opinion the time taken working with a self-seeder is as much fun as splitting and dividing clumps. The reward is in the thought and the graft, and in playing a cerebral game with the plant as you try to bend its natural inclination just enough to warrant your satisfaction. Gardening in other words.
Sweet cicely Myrrhis odorata We inevitably walk into the cottage gardening of the past when we talk of wildflowers and none more so than the sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata). But I think they were on to something, as the umbellifer white flowers and lacy-fern leaves are charming and add a softness air of looseness, much like its relative cow’s parsley but with a little more refinement and detail. If that’s a closer look a few selected species, then I would also encourage to ponder the native and naturalised instead of their cultivared cousins . Like, say: great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis); pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris); purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea); common mallow (Malva sylvestris); and sea holly (Eryngium maritimum). It is always said that to know where your plants come from is one of pillars of wisdom for gardeners – so you’ve got a head start with these plants! I don’t think we’ve ever been in a time when it feels more important to reconnect with our wild spaces and the flora and fauna that exist it in. It has been there, waiting to be found, for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and as gardeners we can use our green pockets to fall under the spell of these humble plants once again.
Hutswell Farm, Oakford, Tiverton
GARDEN Visits THE BEST GARDENS TO VISIT NEAR YOU compiled by Heather Rose
We’re introducing a key to facilities on offer at the gardens: With many gardens at their peak of loveliness in June, the garden opening season offers a great day out, so here’s a selection of gardens opening for charity in the areas Country Gardener covers. Get ideas for different plants and design in your own garden, or just relax in beautiful surroundings. We advise checking before making a journey as circumstances can force cancellations in private gardens. For gardens opening under the National Gardens scheme go to www.ngs.org.uk
HUTSWELL FARM Blackaller Lane, Oakford, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 9JE Delightful eight-acre country garden around an old farmhouse, with ponds, bog garden, borders, prairie planting, maturing arboretum, serpentine hornbeam walk, vegetable garden and orchard; walks through ancient wet woodland and recent plantation of over 11,000 native trees to viewpoints. Open for the NGS on Sunday 23rd June, 1.30pm5.30pm. Admission £4.50, children free. For more details contact Paul & Jean Marcus on 01398 351241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Refreshments available Plants usually for sale Wheelchair access to much of garden Partial wheelchair access
Unsuitable for wheelchairs Dogs on short leads Visitors welcome by arrangement Coaches welcome consult owners
BREACH Shute Road, Kilmington, Axminster, EX13 7ST Opening in aid of Devon Hospiscare on Sunday 16th June, 1.30pm5pm, a threeacre garden with majestic trees underplanted with rhododendrons, camellia and hydrangeas, rose garden and pond, natural springs and bog garden, mature and unusual shrubs and many specimen trees, herbaceous borders, small vegetable garden and orchard, and wild areas; wild orchids are being encouraged to re-colonise an old tennis court. Entry by donation.
CORSCOMBE GARDENS Okehampton, Devon, EX20 1SD In a delightful small hamlet, the Old Cottage has two streamfed ponds bordered with colourful herbaceous planting and a lavender walk below rose, clematis and honeysuckle arches, a summerhouse circled by various dogwoods and woodland area. Corscombe Barn has an orchard, small spinney, wildlife pond, bog garden and stream, kitchen garden, Victorian style greenhouse and lawn with summerhouse. Open for the NGS on Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd June, 1pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more information email email@example.com
GARDENS F URTHER AF IELD WORTH A TRIP
CONHOLT PARK Hungerford Lane, Andover, Hampshire, SP11 9HA Ten acres of varied garden styles and lawns with mature cedars, large walled garden recently replanted and established beds, orchard with wisteria walk; formal rose garden, secret gardens, large laurel maze (good for children) and croquet lawn (play if you like). Visitors welcome to picnic. Free-range chickens and guineafowl. Open for the NGS on Sunday 9th June, 11am-5pm. Admission £6, children free. For more details call 07917 796826 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
WICOR PRIMARY SCHOOL Community Garden, Portchester, Fareham, Hampshire, PO16 9DL Beautiful school gardens tended by pupils, staff and community gardeners - wander along Darwin’s path to see the new coastal garden, Jurassic garden, orchard, tropical bed, wildlife areas, allotment and apiary, plus one of the few camera obscuras in the south of England. Open for the NGS on Sunday 23rd June, 12 noon-4pm. Admission £3.50, children free. For more details contact Louise Moreton on 01329 237412 or email email@example.com
WOODROW HOUSE Woodrow Farm, Stourton Caundle, Dorset, DT10 2JJ Opening in aid of St. Margaret’s Hospice on Sunday 16th June, 2pm5pm, a stunning 17th century farmhouse (closed) and converted barn overlooking the Blackmore Vale, with an old-fashioned rose garden, small potager, ornamental trees, colourful flowerbeds, lawns, lavender beds, duckpond, bantams, shetland ponies and old kunekune pig. Young children to be supervised due to unfenced swimming pool. Admission £4. For more details contact Lizzie on 07876688758 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
24 CARLTON ROAD NORTH Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 7PY A long back garden on several levels, divided into areas of different planting with woodland area, long border, gravel garden, Cornus and jungle beds; trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, unusual plants including exotics, and raised vegetable beds in the front garden. Open for the NGS on Saturday 1st to Monday 3rd June, 2pm-5pm. Admission £3, children free.
GARDENS F URTHER AF IELD WORTH A TRIP
OPEN PATHWAY RETREAT CENTRE Laurel Lane, Queen Camel, Somerset, BA22 7NU Opening in aid of St Margaret’s Hospice on Saturday 1st June, 2pm-5pm. Admission £3, a large secluded garden with lawns, flowerbeds, waterfall and ponds, woodland walk and wildlife area, and an ancient copper beech. A Victorian turntable summerhouse makes an interesting feature and two meditation rooms are available for quiet reflection. For more details phone 01935 850266 or email email@example.com
WELFORD-ON-AVON GARDENS Welford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 8PT A varied group of five gardens opens in the picturesque riverside village of Welford-on-Avon, five miles from Stratford-on-Avon; gardens large and small, new and well established, some with fruit and vegetable plots, and all displaying a rich variety of planting. Open for the NGS on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th June, 1pm-5pm, combined admission £5, children free.
LYMPSHAM GARDENS Church Road, Lympsham, Westonsuper-Mare, Somerset, BS24 0DT By the 15th century church, three gardens: The Manor with ten acres, a working Victorian kitchen garden and greenhouse, arboretum, large pond and old rose garden, Church Farm, a threequarter acre garden with herbaceous borders, shrub-lined paths, raised beds and small courtyard garden, while Worthy House (new opening) has herbaceous borders, shrubs, climbing roses, clematis and hydrangeas, small woodland area and kitchen garden. Open for the NGS on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th June, 2pm-5pm. Combined admission £6, children free.
KNOLL COTTAGE Stogumber, Somerset, TA4 3TN A four-acre garden started from fields in 1998, with mixed beds with shrubs, perennials and annuals, more than 80 different roses, a small arboretum, pond, large vegetable and fruit areas. Open for the NGS on Sunday 16th June, 2pm6pm. Admission £6, children free. For more details contact Elaine & John Leech on 01984 656689 or email john@Leech45.com; www.knoll-cottage.co.uk
SOLE RETREAT Haydon Drove, Haydon, nr West Horrington, Wells, Somerset, BA5 3EH A challenging garden at 1,000 feet on the Mendip Hills with ten contrasting areas within dry stone walls and raw face bedrock including herbaceous borders, labyrinth, water feature, vegetable plot, contemplation garden and the recent addition of a Gothic corner. Open by arrangement for the NGS from May 1st to August 31st, admission £4, children free. Contact Jane Clisby on 01749 672648/07790 602906 or firstname.lastname@example.org; www.soleretreat.co.uk
GARDENS COTTAGE Prideaux, St Blazey, Cornwall, PL24 2SS Newly-created one and a half acres in a tranquil location on the edge of Luxulyan Valley with a mix of herbaceous planting, dry terracing, rockeries, formal garden, enclosed courtyard garden, orchard/fruit garden, beehives, wildlife pond, productive kitchen garden and woodland garden. Open for the NGS on Tuesday 4th & Wednesday 5th June, 11am-5pm. Admission £4, children free. For more details contact Sue & Roger Paine on 07786 367610 or email email@example.com
SOUTH LEA Pillaton, Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6QS A path winds through the landscaped front garden with a small pond, and tropical beds by the front door. The back garden’s herbaceous borders are a riot of colour in June, with views over the valley; there are lawns, fish pond and small woodland area. Plenty of seating. Open for the NGS on Sunday 16th June, 1pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Viv & Tony Laurillard on 01579 350629 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
TRENARTH High Cross, Constantine, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 5JN Four acres around a 17th century farmhouse in a peaceful setting with tender, unusual plants; a 16th century courtyard, listed garden walls, yew rooms, orchard, vegetable garden and traditional potting shed; new woodland area with children’s interest, palm and gravel garden. Open for the NGS on Sunday 23rd June, 2pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more information contact Lucie Nottingham on 01326 340444 or email email@example.com; www.trenarthgardens.com www.countrygardener.co.uk
Why I’m passionate about
A poll by a garden centre group shows sales of heathers, mini conifers and alpine plants have risen by 159 per cent in the first three months of this year. It’s a sign that rockeries are back in fashion and Country Gardener reader Alison Vaughan is championing the revival There’s a new generation of what everyone now calls ‘time poor gardeners’ who have discovered rockeries. Apart from a brief period about fifty years ago rock gardens seemed to have been dismissed by gardeners as verging on the edge of horticultural bad taste. But why? The Victorians and Edwardians loved them, and I have always found their minimalist and naturalist look attractive. In fact I’ve become a passionate advocate of their use. I’ve loved and tended mine for over twenty years in my Hampshire garden and it is perhaps the most cared for part of my garden. In simple terms, a rockery is an arrangement of rocks and alpine plants- but they are much more than that. They are focal points in the landscape of a garden and often take advantage of a naturally sloped or terraced area to make a gardener life easier To my fairly experienced mind uppermost, the all-important trick is a soil mix that supports healthy plant roots. A good rock garden soil mixture consists of approximately equal parts good quality topsoil, fine pebbles or gravel and peat moss or leaf mold. You can add a small amount of compost or manure, but use organic materials sparingly Rockeries are an easy and unique way to reduce lawn which are on a hard-to-mow slope which is a feature in our smallish garden. I have always thought they re-create a piece of nature. They make an ideal home for a collection of delicate alpine plants and are perfect for highlighting less delicate but tiny plants that would otherwise go unnoticed. My desire to see more rockeries being enjoyed by gardeners is based on the simple fact that a properly designed rock garden requires little care. Most rock garden plants are drought tolerant, do not need any fertiliser and rarely require any pruning. The only main task is weeding, and this can be reduced to a minimum by making sure all perennial weeds are removed from both the site and any soil being added before starting the rock garden. 30
Slopes are ideally suited to rock gardens. Not only are they hard to maintain otherwise (just ask anyone who has tried to mow a hillside lawn) but it is also easy to integrate rocks into a slope and make it look as though they were put there by Mother Nature. Generally speaking, rock gardens should be placed in full sun; most plants I use in a rock garden love sunlight. Make sure some of the rocks are very large ones. These larger rocks are the keystones of the rock garden. My rule of thumb: If one person can move it, it’s too small. Once the big lads are in place, medium-size rocks can be added. Smaller rocks will be needed to fill in any gaps. Alpines are often underrated. They are hardy, lowmaintenance, drought-tolerant and many spread easily. They often have colourful flowers and can be incorporated to brighten up any barren patch. They are small, compact plants originally found in mountainous and Alpine regions. Most are dwarf or slow growing and grow best in dry, rocky outcrops. I urge you not to be put off by their small size – they come in a huge array of shapes, colours and types of foliage. Many are also evergreen, so you can enjoy their colour all year round. Most alpines can be planted at any time of year, but they become established faster if you plant them in spring or autumn. Plant them, backfill with gritty soil and give it a thorough watering. Remember not to overwater and bear in mind that they may not require watering more than once. Two more things. My rockery is full of insects. Secondly my grandchildren love them-one of them calls it my ‘doll’s house’ garden, which makes me smile. I believe it’s high time that rock gardens were back in fashion. In Japan, all the great gardens are based on rocks, waterfalls, pools and detail planting. Precision is key. The result is almost spiritual. It is time for a revival.
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WHY EVERY GARDEN DESERVES A
Rosa ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’
Rose lover and grower Rebecca Lord delves into the world of climbing roses which aspire to greater heights You cannot beat the climbing rose for value. No other plant can flower so spectacularly and so profusely in such a range of colours. They take up only a small area in the garden but can occupy an enormous vertical space that lesser plants cannot fill yet they are perfect for small houses and gardens. Many climbing roses bloom over a long period or repeat flower throughout summer and autumn and in warmer and a sheltered part of the west country will flower almost all year round. They may be trained to almost any shape you want and are good for cutting too. Most of them are scented; all are easy to grow and they combine well with a range of complementary plants. With good cultivation they can be untroubled by pests or disease. Climbing roses tend to make stronger, sturdier growths than ramblers which enable a plant to push up to greater heights of its own accord. So why doesn’t everyone have one? They can be hard to find, and they require some work, but the biggest drawback is that they bloom just once a year. A single bower may be in flower for a month, and extravagantly even for a rose, but those attributes don’t wash for gardeners programmed for ever-blooming roses. 32
So in one sense they are the once a year acrobats of the rose world; climbing varieties develop long canes well adapted to training on pillars, fences, arbours, and gazebos. Most climbing roses are mutations or variations of bush-type varieties. They develop either large, single flowers or clustered blooms on a stem. Climbers may bloom once a season or continually, depending on the variety. Climbers can be treated to bloom more heavily by leading their canes in a horizontal direction. Loose anchoring to a support will encourage young plants to climb.
CLIMBING ROSES ON A PERGOLA, OLD TREE, AN OBELISK OR GARLAND If you want a roof of roses for your pergola, you need to plant several roses on both sides of the pergola. The young plants will also need leading and tying up. You will see good results in just one year and in only three years the rosy roof should have reached its full height. The same applies to roses in trees or obelisks. If you rejuvenate the top in time, you can be assured of a waterfall of flowers. For an extraordinary effect try leading your rose along a chain that links different parts of the garden together. Stretch the chain in such a
Rosa ‘Climbing Snowbird’ is a
way that it forms natural curves. Prevent damaged branches from rubbing on the metal by winding the chain with one cm thick rope. Plant a few roses next to the point where your chain starts. After one year the branches will just reach the chain. Twist the young flexible branches around the chain and secure them if necessary. With some patience and careful cutting you can soon have a beautiful flowering garland running through your garden.
vigorous climber with a high-centred white flower. It is exceptionally fragrant. Like other white roses, it is breathtaking in evening light.
WHICH VARIETY? A rose that is a climbing variety will be indicated by having ‘clg’ (for ‘climbing’) in front of its botanical name. There are a large number to choose from, Rambler roses being among the most popular because of their good growing characteristics. These roses flower after the first year, appearing from horizontal or trained branches. The ‘tea hybrids’ are another good choice of climber, although these need to be trained horizontally to stop them becoming ‘leggy’. This will result in even growth all over the plant and not just at the top. A third popular variety of climber is the perpetual flowering rose. They often flower in bunches and, if you cut them back to the first five-fingered leaf after flowering, you will be treated to a second period of abundant flowering. If you leave the left-off flowers on the plant, the second flowering period will be diminished. However, perpetual flowering roses are very generous and, in this case, they will treat you to lovely red rose hips instead, which look very decorative in the autumn and winter months.
Rosa ‘Eden’ Rosa ‘Climbing Snowbird’
FIVE TO TRY
Rosa ‘Alberic Barbier’ was
Rosa ‘Alberic Barbier’
bred in 1900 and is still popular. This charming climber offers pale yellow buds unfurling to warm ivory flowers that are double in form and scented with a green apple fragrance. Vigorous and rambling, the plant grows 15-20 feet tall.
has large single red flowers that glow like embers against the medium green foliage. It blooms repeatedly through the season. The disease-resistant plant grows vigorously to ten feet tall. This French-bred variety is hardy.
is becoming an instant classic for its huge, romantic blooms that appear profusely throughout the season. The flowers are composed of up to 100 petals tinted in shades of pale pink, cream, and soft yellow. Extremely hardy, the plant lends itself well to trellises and fences in colder climates. It climbs ten feet tall by six feet wide.
Rosa ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ A wonderfully romantic rose with striking crimson-red blooms, which will spire up to ten feet. It is only mildly fragrant but the wonderfully deep colour makes up for that slight shortfall. TRAINING AND PRUNING Pruning and training climbing roses is easy, if a little prickly and time consuming. Prune by removing wood which looks as if it is dying and encourage replacements by cutting it back to a vigorous new growth. Flowers usually appear on side growths or laterals so you should encourage the long stems to break into new shoots at every node. All climbing roses do best if trained as horizontally as possible. With a garland you only cut the branches that do not produce flowers anymore.
CLIMBING ROSES V RAMBLING ROSES There is an assumption in some rose growing circles that climbing roses and rambling roses differ from each other by their growth habit and growth character. Rambling roses are viewed as roses that like to amble in a lax manner over fences and sprawl almost horizontally in cascading profuse colour. The perspective regarding climbing roses is that they grow in an almost stiff and upward propelled nature next to walls and sides of buildings. The reality is that both types share these particular growth habits. Ramblers by definition, however, are actually climbing roses that have one only period of blossom each year, whereas climbers blossom repeatedly throughout the season.
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F OR JUNE
JOBS IN THE GARDEN
With the longest day approaching, warm sunny days and long balmy evenings should be making your garden a joyous place to be. All this heat and light means that it is full to brimming, with plants displaying fresh foliage and perfect new flowers. Although the garden is in full swing there is still plenty to be getting on with, as well as potential problems to look out for.
Water, water everywhere Keep on top of watering from June onwards in dry periods. This is essential at this time of year, and extraespecially so for containers and anything you have recently planted. Well over 90 per-cent of plants that fail in the year after they were planted do so for lack of water. To be of any use, water has to get down to the roots of a plant. So wetting the surface is not enough when the roots can easily be12 inches down. If in doubt, drench the plant to begin with - water well, go away, come back, water well and repeat. Once the ground is properly watered it is actually easy to keep it that way. Don’t water at all until it needs it. Scratch into the soil with a finger to a depth of about two inches if it is dry you need to water. Otherwise leave well alone. A lot of water at wide intervals is much better for plants in the ground than little and often. Containers dry out much faster so it is important to water them more often. Remember that the larger the plant, the longer it will take to establish and so the longer you will need to water it.
TASKS IN THE GREENHOUSE Sow herbs in pots to grow on your kitchen windowsill, such as coriander, parsley and basil. Plant out tender vegetables raised indoors, including beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, courgettes and sweetcorn. Pinch out the sideshoots of cordon tomatoes regularly. Introduce biological controls to the greenhouse if you have pests such as whitefly or red spider mite. Take leaf cuttings from houseplants, including African violets, begonias and Cape primroses. Water greenhouse tomatoes regularly to prevent split fruits and blossom end rot.
Crunch time for salads Keep sowing short rows of quickgrowing salad crops such as spring onions, radishes and lettuces (the latter in shade if you can, or they will bolt – sow in the evening if the weather is hot), for a constant supply of crunchy salads.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE SWEET PEAS Tie in sweet peas if you planted early, and if you planted late, pinch out at six inches to encourage branching. In dry weather water well or you’ll see the buds aborting and energies wasted.
Get tulips ready for action next spring
The spring bulbs that occupied your pots so spectacularly a few weeks ago should be dried off in the sun so that the remains of their foliage can soak up the goodness. You can do this in trays that are put out in a hot spot for a week or so. If it’s wet, they go under cloches or clear plastic. As soon as the foliage withers, they can be cleaned and stored dry in the shed. Feed them weekly with tomato feed after they have finished flowering to build up the bulbs.
Thin fruit to a bumper harvest
Make good compost Now the garden is full of growth and the lawn is being cut regularly, there will be plenty of material available for composting. Make sure that you fill your compost bin with an equal volume of nitrogen-rich material (grass clippings, manure, shrub prunings) and carbon-rich material (flower stalks, shredded paper, woody clippings). Keep your compost bin moist. The contents should hold together, but not drip water, when you squeeze a handful. If you want compost fast, the secret of success is to turn the contents of your bin once a week.
The natural June drop will see many small fruitlets fall from your trees, but for the best-size fruits it’s worth checking to see if you need to thin more of them to remove excess fruit. Thin apples to one fruit per cluster: for dessert apple varieties, thin to 10-15cm between clusters; and for cooking varieties, thin to 15-23cm between clusters. • Pears should be reduced to two fruits per cluster, with clusters 10-15cm apart. • Peaches should be thinned to 20-25cm apart. • Nectarines should be thinned to 15cm apart.
Tie up the tomatoes Young tomatoes should be planted outside if they haven’t been already. Pinch out side shoots and tie in loosely to canes. You will not need to start feeding until the first truss is set. In a greenhouse this should already have happened, so feed with a product high in potash, such as Tomorite, to encourage fruit formation and ripening.
P LUS TENDING YOUR STRAWBERRIES To help ripen strawberries and keep the fruit from getting splashed by mud, it is traditional to bed them down with straw. A bundle of fleece, placed under the fruit, will also work if straw is hard to come by. Wet weather, so often associated with Wimbledon and the strawberry season, is bad news for the fruit, so if you have a cloche or two to hand, cover them to prevent botrytis getting a hold. Alpine strawberries are far less interested in sunbathing and will keep you in fruit the summer long even in dappled shade. 36
• June is traditionally the month when roses are at their peak. • Removing the flowers as they fade will keep displays looking good and encourage more blooms. Snap off just below the head. This is thought to make more blooms appear more quickly than the classic method of cutting just above the leaf. • Thin out hardy annuals. Be brutal – most of them (cornflowers, nigellas and English marigolds included) benefit from spacing 30cm apart. More room means more root, leaves and photosynthesis, better flowers and a longer life. • Prune back sedums – this will stop the centre becoming bare as the stems flop outwards. Cut the stems back by about a third to stop this outward sagging. • Take cuttings from hydrangeas, fuchsias, pelargoniums, osteospermums, marguerites, coleus and verbena. Water well with a deluge rather than a sprinkle as this will encourage to plant roots to go down rather than surface rooting. • Apply grease bands to young fruit trees or paint grease strips on to larger trees to protect crops from damage caused by earwigs and ants. Although it does not say so on the pot, fruit tree grease is brilliant at keeping earwigs off almost anything. Country Gardener
Late spring and a busier time in the garden hasn’t done anything to slow down the number of questions from Country Gardener readers on a variety of gardening problems
I have less space in my garden this summer to grow vegetables. Can I plant vegetables closer together to increase the yields I get?
I’d like to be able to grow sweet corn successfully. I’ve tried two or three times sowing seeds in blocks of roughly six metres square but the results have always been disappointing. Is there a secret to this I’m not aware of?
Alan Wilson, Devon
There are vegetables which will thrive from being closely planted
You can - with some caveats. Vegetable spacing on seed packs is a useful guide but you can certainly adapt the distances to fit your garden depending on soil type, amount of sunlight and obviously the amount of space you have to grow in. Spacing also varies from crop to crop. Lettuces can be evenly planted over the whole bed while onions and beans are best grown in rows. Rows make it easier to sow and harvest crops. Growing plants close together can increase yields and for instance planting cabbages closer together increases yields but will reduce individual cabbage size. An ideal spacing of 30cms x 30cms gives a maximum return of yield and size. Carrots continue to produce a good crop of smaller vegetables as the number of plants increases but with beetroot quality declines with overcrowding. Growing a quick crop such as radishes between slower parsnips and sprouts can maximise space provided the main crop doesn’t suffer from competition.
Sweet corn is a great crop to grow and, with new varieties available, not difficult. There is a set routine which if you follow should work. The first half of May is an Wind pollination is important for sweet corn ideal time for sowing in threeinch pots. Use a good-quality multipurpose compost and push the seed down about an inch. Germination takes about 10 days. Seedlings grow rapidly, so a liquid feed with a general-purpose fertiliser after three weeks will maintain strong growth. Sow seed directly into the soil later in May. As sweet corn is a warm-climate plant, there is little to be gained by sowing into cold soils or planting seedlings too early. Choose a sheltered, sunny position. Space plants 18in apart in a block to aid wind pollination and this is important in fertile soil improved with some compost or manure. Sweet corn is a hungry crop, so apply a general fertiliser. Don’t grow Supersweet types with other types as they cross-pollinate, resulting in chewy cobs. Sweet corn is fairly drought resistant but watering in dry spells every 14 days will improve cob quality. Cobs are nearly ripeness when the tassels turn brown. Carefully separate the green sheaves covering the cob and use a fingernail to pierce a kernel. If the juice runs milky, harvest immediately.
MY SEEDLINGS IN THE GREENHOUSE HAVE BEEN A DISASTER THIS SPRING- FAILING TO EMERGE OR APPEARING AND THEN COLLAPSING. I AM USUALLY SO SUCCESSFUL IN GETTING A GOOD START TO THE SEASON. MY NEIGHBOUR SAYS IT IS DAMPING OFF, WHICH I DO NOT REALLY UNDERSTAND.
Malcolm Hemming, Bath
Damping off is a disease of seedlings caused by several different fungi and fungus-like organisms. This disease causes emerging seedlings to collapse, often submerged in a mass of white fungal growth. It is particularly a problem when sowing seed indoors or under glass. Damping off is especially damaging in spring when light levels and temperatures are low and seedlings grow slowly. Seedlings may fail to emerge and if they do as you say collapse often submerged in a mass of whitish fungal growth. There are however things you can do. Ideally, use new pots and trays whenever raising seedlings. If they must be re-used, brush off soil, wash and preferably also treat them with disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid. Dry before storage. Use mains water if possible when irrigating seedlings grown in pots and trays. If using rainwater make sure the water butt is covered to prevent the entry of leaves and other organic debris that could harbour some of the damping off pathogens Do not overwater. Keep seedlings well ventilated to reduce humidity. Ensure that both greenhouses and water butts are clean. After thoroughly cleaning and refilling rainwater tanks or water butts, Damping off damages seedlings add a proprietary water butt cleaner to help prevent problems from dramatically in early spring both damping off and algae.
I have always loved fuchsias but have no luck growing them. I asked for advice from my local garden centre but they didn’t seem to be able to help a lot.
Fuchsias need you to know what you are doing when you water them 38
Problems with wilting fuchsia plants may be due to lack of moisture. On the other hand, wilting fuchsia plants may also be the result of too much water, especially if the roots don’t have adequate drainage. So the trick might be concentrating on getting the watering and drainage exactly right. Watering may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. Just feel the soil before watering. If the top of the soil feels dry, water until liquid begins to trickle through the drainage hole, then allow the pot to drain. Never water if the soil feels moist, even if the leaves look wilted. If your fuchsia is properly watered and still wilts, you may be able to save the plant with a good pruning. Too much sun may be another factor. A little morning sunlight is fine, but afternoon sunlight is much too intense for these shadeloving plants. In hot climates, full shade all day is generally best. Avoid feeding just planted fuchsias, as the fertiliser may scorch the tender roots. Country Gardener
Specialist Japanese knot wood contractors may be the best answer
We have moved into a new Dorset garden and have discovered Japanese knotweed. We are trying to get as much advice from as many people as we can so thought we would ask Country Gardener. Mike and Rebecca Davies-Poole
Let’s get the bad news over first and then try and find some better news. Japanese knotweed, (Fallopia japonica) is a rapid growing clump forming perennial. Its tall dense annual stems grow from deep underground rhizomes making it probably the most invasive non-native weed. Now for the better news. Start treatment as soon as possible. The larger the infestation, the more damage it can cause to building foundations and the more difficult it is to eradicate from your land. Most of its spread in the UK has been due to moving topsoil and some new gardens have found it present in recent new builds. There are specialist Japanese knotweed contractors and if you have it already well established this might be the easier if more costly answer. You can destroy it on site by allowing material to dry and then burn it. Never dispose of it in household waste or green waste. Glyphosate based weedkillers can give some control eventually. When sprayed on foliage the active ingredient passes to the rhizomes and root system but this can take three or four seasons to eradicate. It may be calling in specialists early on is the answer.
CAN I PLANT POTATOES IN JUNE? I BOUGHT SOME SEED POTATOES EARLY IN THE SPRING AND SORRY TO SAY FORGOT ABOUT THEM.
My lawn is a disaster with more weeds and bare spots than grass. What can I do to turn this round quickly without re-laying a whole lawn? David Hawtin
There is still time this summer to make a difference but full recovery in the worst cases might take a bit longer. Loosen the soil on bare patches, rake out the debris, then seed the worst areas with a good quality hard wearing seed variety. If shade has increased as your trees have matured, look into pruning the trees to let in light on to the lawn or even consider replacing lawn in the shadiest spots with shade tolerant groundcovers. Rake out any moss and thatch in the lawn and spike it by aerating the lawn to let air and water into the roots. Let the grass grow taller, and don’t be too quick to cut it close too quickly. Apply fertiliser every spring and autumn - in late autumn, choose an organic, slow release fertiliser. Then you’ll have to be a bit patient. www.countrygardener.co.uk
Potatoes can be planted throughout the year and there should be no real problem planting in June. Your harvest will obviously be later, but to extend cropping plant in large containers or compost bags and keep in an area where they can be kept frost-free at the latter end of the season. Plant a succession of early potatoes through the spring, have a break at ‘Blight time’ and then begin again in June. The difference between the potato types is not when they should be planted but how long they take from planting to harvest. Seed potatoes should be planted so that they emerge above the soil surface when the chance of frost has passed so again this won’t be a problem in June. 39
Pear trees in blossom are one of the delights of spring
‘THERE IS A PEAR
for every garden’
by Elizabeth McCorquodale A garden without a pear tree was often thought incomplete. Long living, easy to grow, the biggest task is choosing the variety to suit your taste buds The genus, Pyrus, can be found as a native all the way from Western Europe across to Eastern Asia and all the way down to North Africa. It is an adaptable family, tolerating temperatures as low as -25’C while also thriving in the heat of the Nile delta. It is the large and varied species P. communis that we think of as our familiar fruiting pear tree. Pears have been around for a very long time. Like many historical records of plants, the first mention of pears is of their use as a medicine, rather than as a foodstuff. This is most likely because it took a while, historically speaking, to breed varieties of the fruit that were sweet and that didn’t require long periods of cooking before eating – ancient varieties of pears tended to be large and very, very hard. Some 4700 years ago the Sumerians of Mesopotamia recorded that they used pears as a medicine, describing how they made a paste from the fruit. The Chinese - knowledgeable and experimental gardeners that they were - experimented with the cultivation and breeding of pears some 2500 years ago and by the time Pliny wrote his Natural History there were at least 40 varieties in cultivation in Rome and it seems that it was the Romans who brought the pear to Britain some 2000 years ago. 40
Once here they enjoyed a moderate popularity for the next 1600 years and then their popularity soared. In 1640 there were about 64 varieties of pears grown on these shores but by 1826 the RHS recorded a massive 622 varieties growing in their gardens at Chiswick. They can now be found growing wild in the countryside around Britain. Pears have a long life, living as much as 250 years. It would be handy to be able to recommend one or two names out of the wealth of cultivars that are available but there are just too many variants; early or late, crisp or soft, tart or sweet, large or small fruit on a large or a small tree; green, yellow or blushed with red - the list goes on and on. Perhaps the best way to choose a pear tree that is best suited to your taste, your garden and your area is to wander around a country market to sample the fruit on offer. This way you will encounter pleasing varieties that are best suited to your locale. With judicious selection and breeding this delicious fruit can now be grown in just about any garden and will even do well in containers. Pears like an open but sheltered position where air can circulate and sunlight can reach the leaves and fruit. They like a neutral, well-drained soil that doesn’t get waterlogged in the winter. Once established they require little in the way of care. Pruning pears of all kinds is an easy task. Simply trim out any crossed or damaged branches when the tree is dormant in winter, and when it is tall enough, just cut the main branches back by two thirds to keep them neat and tidy. Trees
grown as cordons need a little more care, requiring tying in and cutting back to three leaves beyond the basal cluster in early autumn. Espaliers need to be tied in and pruned for shape, ensuring you prune back to buds that are facing the correct direction. Old trees can be rejuvenated by careful shaping and pruning so if you are lucky ‘Conference’ an ideal ‘Doyenne de Comice’ - considered to be enough to inherit an old, pear for storing the best flavour of all the varieties unproductive pear when moving house, you should Pears should generally be picked before they are ripe and be able to bring it back into allowed to ripen on the shelf for two to three weeks before production. Pears like a good all purpose feed in the spring eating. Very late pears can be left on the tree where they and a light top-dressing of well rotted manure around (but will be fine until the onset of the first frosts. Like apples, not touching) the trunk each winter. pears should be stored in the fridge or a cool, dark cupboard Left to themselves wild pears would grow into large, unruly as they have a very short shelf life once they have ripened. trees that hold their fruit well out of our reach. In order to When you take them out of storage, put them in the fruit grow them in the average garden, and to be able to harvest bowl with bananas where they will ripen quickly. If choosing the pears without the need for very tall ladders, we grow a variety especially for storing go for ‘Conference’, ‘Catillac‘ pears on quince rootstock. This dwarfs the trees, but can or ‘Doyenne de Comice’. also lend them other qualities, such as resistance to certain Pears and pear orchards are experiencing something of a diseases or the ability to tolerate different kinds of soil or revival with the recent resurgence of interest in Perry, and weather conditions. in pear cider – two different beasts so I am told! If you are a fan of perry you might like to seek out one of the hard, astringent varieties of pear that go into these very popular drinks such as ‘Barnett’ or ‘Moorcrotft.’ Most pears cultivars require cross pollination with other varieties which flower at the same time, so it is almost always better, if you have the space, to choose two from the same pollination group, in order to ensure a good crop. Triploids, like the dessert pear ‘Merton Pride’ and the cooker ‘Catillac, ‘are Quince C is the most vigorous dwarfing root stock which very poor pollinators so a third variety would be required if you will restrict the tree to a maximum of about 10 feet tall. This were to ensure a good crop. Although triploids have the extra is the rootstock to choose both for small garden varieties set of chromosomes which makes them difficult to pollinate it and for trees that will live in containers. It will require a also lends them extra advantages, such as unusually vigorous permanent stake, but this is no bad thing. Quince A will be growth and larger fruit so don’t overlook them. slightly less dwarfing, allowing the tree to attain a bush Once you have chosen a few varieties that you enjoy, visit a height of about 15 feet. This is also the one to choose if you local nursery and enquire which ones belong to compatible want to grow your tree as an espalier against a wall as the pollination groups before you make your final selection or go extra vigour will allow for the ultimate spread of your pear. for one of the self-fertile varieties such as the old favourite, Both these rootstocks promote fruiting after just 4 years. ’Conference’, as well as the very dwarf, ‘Durondeau’. Choose quince A if your soil is a little heavy as it copes with There is a pear for every garden. these conditions better than Quince C.
‘In 1640 there were about 64 varieties of pears grown on these shores but by 1826 the RHS recorded a massive 622 varieties growing in their gardens at Chiswick.
Poached pears 41
by Gill Heavens
In the final part of her popular series on how different plant parts work in the garden, Gill Heavens looks at the wonder and variety of leaves The first leaves to emerge from the unfurling seedling are known as the seed leaves or cotyledons. Whether or not there are one or two of these primary leaves mark them out as being either monocots or dicots. Monocots include grasses, irises and bamboos, which are thought to be more recent in evolutionary terms. They are generally identified by their long thin leaves but, just to keep us on our toes, not always. Dicots are just about everything else. In dicots these chunky forerunner’s primary function is to act as a food supply for the growing seedling. Once these reserves are used up they shrink and may fall off altogether. It is now time for true leaves to appear and begin working, and they have an awful lot of work to do. The leaf is the principal place that the magic of photosynthesis occurs. Sunlight and carbon dioxide, in the presence of water and chlorophyll, are transformed into food. This usually takes the form of starch, although sometimes is it sugar. The phloem in the stem, which we were introduced to last month, then transports this food around the plant to be stored in either the stem or root. The size and shape of leaves is seemingly limitless. They might be the fine needles of a pine tree or the floating bin lids of the giant waterlily Victoria amazonica. Or maybe the pixie foliage of the relentless Mind-your-own-business, Soleirolia soleirolii, or the vast prehistoric umbrellas of Gunnera manicata. The differences don’t end there. Leaves may be simple or compound, one basic component or an array of leaflets in any number or formation. Each leaf is crossed by a number of veins, these act as conduit canals for both water and food and also as structural support. How these are arranged is often distinctive and can be useful in identifying a plant. Leaves can be furry, some are 42
shiny or sticky, smooth or rough or waxy, each of which is an adaption to their environment, be it sun or shade, heat or cold. And there is more! Just to complicate matters, some plants have different shaped leaves on the same plant. The juvenile leaves of ivy are tri-lobed, but as the plant grows they become oval in shape. It is this more mature part of the vine that produces flowers and fruit, held high in the tree top. Plants protect themselves in various means, one of which is by producing poisonous leaves, such as the beautiful but deadly horticultural Bond Girl, Cestrum parqui. Another way is to develop prickly foliage, such as the holly. When the ilex grows tall enough to be beyond even the tallest grazer’s reach the leaves lose their spines, they are no longer necessary. Plants can be evergreen or deciduous, that is they hold onto their leaves throughout the winter or they lose them and undergo a period of hibernation. This phenomena is apparent in trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. The wonderfully fragrant Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is evergreen whereas its near relative and almost as gorgeous Daphne bholua var. glacialis ‘Gurkha’, is deciduous. The latter is found in Nepal at higher and therefore much colder altitudes than the former. Of course evergreen plants do lose their leaves, just gradually throughout the year when they are replaced by new. One of the most obvious leaf characteristic is colour. Although the majority are shades of green, and there are numerous variations within this palette, there are many others hues to enliven our gardens. There are reds and purples and golden varieties of many plants, as well as variegations of silver and bronze. The most spectacular time for foliage colour is the autumn, when many deciduous
plants put on a fireworks show for our delectation. There is of course science behind this display. Although the most dominant pigment in the floral kingdom is green chlorophyll, there are others lurking in the background. In the autumn, a process known as abscission occurs in deciduous plants. First the chlorophyll is broken down and reabsorbed, then a corky layer is laid down between the leaf and the plant, halting flow both in and out. With the chlorophyll gone, other colours within the leaf are revealed. Yellows, reds and oranges are provided by the photosynthesising chemicals carotene and xanthophyll. When eaten, for example in kale or spring greens, these carotenoids have great health benefits for humans, including cancer prevention. Another group of chemicals present in the leaf are flavonoids which include bitter tannins and the red, purple and blue of the anthocyananins. Cercidiphyllum japonicum, has an extra gift for us. When the leaves turn and fall, a heavenly sweet scent pervades. The candyfloss tree is a very fitting common name. Beneath the shedding trees the resultant leaf litter improves the ground and provides a habitat for all kinds of invertebrates and fungi. We can also make good use of the fallen leaves by creating leaf mould, allowing us to improve the structure of our garden soils. And then, in the spring, when day length or temperature dictate, the leaves once again emerge and the cycle starts over. Leaves are often attached to the stem by a stalk, or petiole. Those that are connected directly to the stem are called sessile. In some species, for example certain acacia, the petiole is flattened and enlarged and the leaf blade absent or much reduced. These curious adaptions are known as phyllodes. Leaves are very good health indicators. By learning to “read”
leaves (not tea leaves, which is Clockwise from something quite different) we can top left: Victoria recognise signs of deficiencies or amazonica; disease and act appropriately. The Daphne bholua dropping of leaves is a sure sign ‘Jacqueline Postill’; that the plant is stressed. If the leaf Cestrum parqui; Cercidiphyllum is tinged purple it might be lacking japonicum; Camellia phosphorous, yellowing between sinensis; Soleirolia the veins indicates a shortage of soleirolii. magnesium. Lime hating plants, for example camellias, may become chlorotic if grown in the wrong type of soil, the leaves turning sickly yellow. As humans we have learned to utilise the leaves of plants, most notably in the kitchen. The herb rack would be sparse without parsley, coriander and bay leaves. There is chard, lettuce and where would Popeye be without his spinach? Vine leaves are used extensively in Middle Eastern cookery and the pliable banana leaf provides both a wrapping and plate in Asian cuisine. The strappy leaves of Phormium tenax, the New Zealand flax, has a myriad of uses including weaving baskets and clothing. To some people the most important discovery is Camellia sinensis, the young shoots of which are used to make our daily cuppa. In our gardens foliage per Lysimachia paridiformis forms an important aesthetic function. Leaves will give us a verdant display for weeks on end. The diversity of form and hue enables us, with a little planning, to create a magical carpet of textures and hues in our borders. What is more important however, is these leaves are converting a major greenhouse gas into oxygen for us to breathe. They are the lungs of our world. A fact we must not forget. And then the flower buds begin to form...
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A selection of views, opinions and thoughts sent to us by Country Gardener readers
Rhubarb to the rescue
Gardening changed my lifestyle
I was interested in your different approach on ways to use rhubarb (May 2019). My wife completed a dissertation on the health properties of rhubarb when she was at Leeds University and her work was used as background for the Brain Research Bulletin which later confirmed that a rhubarb glucoside compound, rhaponticin, can protect the body against Alzheimer’s. Raponticin is positively linked to preventing the harmful effects of amyloid beta, which are amino acids that are crucially involved in the formation of amyloid plaques found in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. So as a family we are rhubarb geeks. Rhubarb was first recorded growing in England by the botanist William Coys, in one of his walled gardens at Stubbers, his home in Upminster, Essex. He grew more than 340 hitherto unknown plants in his walled gardens, all brought to him by Elizabethan explorers of the day, particularly from the newly explored Americas. In 1580, it was not confidently known whether rhubarb was edible and, as we now know, the leaves are poisonous.
Pauline Branston, Cornwall.
THERAPEUTIC GARDENING I read your article about how therapeutic gardening can be and couldn’t agree more. There is nothing so invigorating as being out in the garden in the early morning with birdsong for company and the light constantly changing. Even the frustrations in the garden are bearable and rewarding. Mitch Davies, Honiton.
Happy healthy cats in the garden Your article on ‘A purr-fect Garden‘ (April 2019) - really hit home with me and I’m glad you took a positive view of how cats can enjoy a garden rather then this constant ‘ten ways to keep cats out of your garden’ theme which seems to be everywhere. I have three cats and I think their life has been enriched dramatically by having a large garden to feel safe in away from dangerous roads. I open it up to them and allow them freedom and I don’t think my garden has suffered in the least. In my view cats seem more relaxed and less stressed in the garden than when in the house. They are less bored, more independent and fitter. So nurturing a garden for cats rather than trying to deter them is the answer. Laura Scroby, Williton.
Two years ago I suffered from the stress of too much hard work and I changed my lifestyle. I now have a garden complete with chickens and an allotment. Working with nature makes you settle into the rhythm of the season. I now don’t become too anxious if the weather is not perfect. Rain is a necessity no longer something to get depressed about. Family and friends tell me I am a changed person and my wife tells me I have to be surgically removed from my wellies at bedtime. If we learn to work with nature and realise that control in everything is not important but our lives get enriched in many ways. Brian Churchyard, Bournemouth.
The decline of television gardening programmes I am a keen gardener and for many years enjoyed watching gardening programmes. but I have had enough and thought I would share my views with Country Gardener - my favourite gardening magazine. Once upon a time gardening programmes were educational, relaxing and even therapeutic. Alas not any more. They are noisy noneducational and hectic. Why this constant rush? Gardens are not made in days. Instant fix marketing men’s gardens are a fraud; expensive plants in vast pots sit on decking most of which doesn’t suit our climate and after a few winters gets slippery. I’d like more dignity brought back into television gardening. In the meantime I’ll go on enjoying reading Country Gardener! Denise Hilton, Cheltenham.
I’M A PLASTIC FREE CONVERT I loved Emma Robertson’s article on plastic free gardening (April 2019) It has inspired me. I have for a long time felt frustrated about how difficult it has been to have any recycling options so I have now accepted that getting rid of plastic pots is almost impossible and this season my garden is going to be full of bamboo fibre pots which I have successfully sourced and coir and wood pots which I saw in my local street market and traced the supplier. There are alternatives out there now - finally. It might take a little work to find but so worthwhile for gardeners to make a stand and be plastic free. I adore your magazine by the way. Elisa Haynes, Exeter.
COMPILED BY KATE LEW IS DIARY EVENTS FROM CLUBS AND ORGANISATIONS AROUND DEVON
Our hugely popular Time Off section is a regular free opportunity for gardening clubs, associations, societies and organisations to publicise their events to Country Gardener readers. Here’s a selection of gardening events to look out for during the next few weeks throughout Devon. If you are a garden club or association looking to promote an event then please send us details at least eight weeks before publication and we will publicise it free of charge. Make sure you let us know where the event is being held, the date and include a contact telephone number. We are always keen to support events and we will be glad to publicise talks, meetings and shows held during the year where clubs want to attract a wider audience, but we do not have space for club outings or parties. It is much easier for us if garden clubs could send us their diary for the year for events to be included in the relevant issue of the magazine. Please send to Country Gardener Magazines, Mount House, Halse, Taunton TA4 3AD or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org We take great care to ensure that details are correct at the time of going to press but we advise readers to check wherever possible before starting out on a journey as circumstances can force last minute changes. All NGS open gardens can be found on www.ngs.org.uk or in the local NGS booklet available at many outlets.
MAY 18th DAWLISH GARDEN SOCIETY SPRING PLANT SALE, FRONT OF STRAND CENTRE 10am – 12.30pm Details on 01626 862250 DEVON PLANT HERITAGE PLANT FAIR AT DELAMORE HOUSE, CORNWOOD 10am – 3pm Details on 01271 871182 HONITON GARDEN CLUB ANNUAL PLANTS SALE, OUTSIDE ST PAUL’S CHURCH 8.30am – 12noon Details on 01404 548709 KNOWSTONE & ROSE ASH GARDEN CLUB PLANT SALE & COFFEE MORNING, VILLAGE HALL Details on 01398 341476 19th HIDDEN VALLEY GARDENS, PAR GARDEN EVENT FOR SAVE THE CHILDREN Details on 01208 873225 20th MUSBURY GARDEN CLUB ‘PLANTING FOR PROBLEM GARDENS’ – CLAIRE HART
21st BICKLEIGH, ROBOROUGH & DISTRICT GARDEN SOCIETY ‘NERINES’ – CAROLINE STONE Details on 01822 855413 TIVERTON GARDEN CLUB PLANT SALE & COFFEE MORNING, MEMORIAL HALL Details on 01884 258283 22 IPPLEPEN GARDEN CLUB ‘101 GARDENING TIPS’ Details on 01803 431374 nd
23rd BARNSTAPLE & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘ASIAN HORNET’ – MAVIS DOWLING Details on 01769 574551 24th KINGSKERSWELL GARDENING CLUB ‘A PRACTICAL EVENING PLANTING CONTAINERS’ – ANDREA RYE Details on 01803 873709 24th – 27th ST MICHAELS & ALL ANGLES CHURCH, CORNWOOD CORNWOOD FLOWER FESTIVAL – ‘OUT OF THIS WORLD’ Details on 01752 894465
28th CREDITON GARDEN CLUB ‘BUTTERFLIES’ – DAVID PRICE Details on 01363 899238 YEALM GARDENS SOCIETY ‘THE NATURAL HISTORY AND CULTIVATION OF CARNIVOROUS PLANTS’ – DENNIS BALSDON 30th DAWLISH GARDEN SOCIETY ‘THE GARDEN AT FEEBERS COTTAGE’ – EDNA & MIKE SPIRES Details on 01626 862250 31st BUDLEIGH SALTERTON GARDEN CLUB ‘CULTIVATION AND USE OF UNUSUAL HERBS’ – CAROLINE PAKENHAM Details on 01395 445112
JUNE 1st HARDY PLANT SOCIETY DEVON GROUP TALK BY BLEDDYN & SUE WYNN-JONES Details on 01363 774316 1st/2nd ALL SAINTS CHURCH, MALBOROUGH OPEN GARDENS 12noon – 5pm Details on 01548 561531
2nd/5th/9th/16th THE LODGE, BODMIN CHARITY OPEN GARDEN & SCULPTURE EXHIBITION IN AID OF INVICTUS CORNWALL & THE SOWENNA APPEAL Details on 01208 821431 5th BRIXHAM HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘TIPS ON SHOWING’ – ROY HALSEY Details on 01803 856531 BROADHEMBURY GARDENING CLUB ‘FUCHSIAS’ – BRIAN CARLSSON Details on 01404 841515 6th TEIGNMOUTH GARDENING CLUB ‘FROM POT PLANT TO 16 ACRES’ – SAUL WALKER Details on 07875 746379 9th MIDDLE WELL, STOKE GABRIEL OPEN GARDEN Details on 01803 782981 OTTERTON OTTERTON SECRET GARDENS 11am – 6pm www.otterton.info/ottertongardens 10th CHULMLEIGH & DISTRICT GARDEN SOCIETY ‘MY CHELSEA ADVENTURE’ – KATHERINE CROUCH Details on 07792 454094 11th PLYMPTON FUCHSIA & GERANIUM GROUP EVENING PELARGONIUM SHOW
12th OGWELL GARDEN SOCIETY ‘LILIES AND MORE’ – JULIAN SUTTON Details on 01626 364543 13th SEATON GARDEN CLUBS ‘PRODUCING FOOD ECOLOGICALLY’ – BRUCE REED Details on 01297 22896
21st – 23rd COLYFORD COLYFORD BLOSSOMS – FESTIVAL OF FLOWERS St Michael’s Chapel of Ease daily 10.30am – 4.30pm 22nd OGWELL GARDEN SOCIETY OGWELL FETE Details on 01626 364543
16th SOUTH ZEAL OPEN GARDENS 10.30am – 6pm
25th EXMOUTH GARDEN CLUB ‘IRRESISTIBLE GARDEN PLANTS FOR BUTTERFLIES’ – ROY CHEEK Details on 01395 223848 YEALM GARDENS SOCIETY ‘THE FASCINATING WORLD OF AROIDS’ – BEN CANDLIN
17th WHITESTONE GARDEN CLUB ‘WATER WATER EVERYWHERE’ – BECCA FLINTHAM 18th BICKLEIGH, ROBOROUGH & DISTRICT GARDEN SOCIETY ‘CHILLIES’ – PHIL PALMER Details on 01822 855413
26th IPPLEPEN GARDEN CLUB ‘WILD FORAGING WALK ON ORLEY COMMON’ – PHIL IRELAND Details on 01803 431374
19th FREMINGTON GARDEN CLUB ‘ADVENTURES WITH FANCY FOLIAGE’ – JULIAN SUTTON Details on 01271 371790
27th DAWLISH GARDEN SOCIETY ‘FLOWER ARRANGING FOR A SHOW’ – CAROLE CARTER Details on 01626 862250
20th BARNSTAPLE & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘SUMMER PERENNIALS’ – NICK OLIVER Details on 01769 574551
28th BUDLEIGH SALTERTON GARDEN CLUB ‘VICTORIAN GARDENING INGENUITY’ – CHRISTINE STONES Details on 01395 445112
Dorset ISSUE NO 162
Are you part of a garden club or society?
DO YOU HAVE ANY EVENTS YOU’D LIKE TO PUBLICISE?
Long live ... ER LAVENDmer long and now all
al Sensationout in May
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Please send us your diary for the year we’d love to include your talks and shows
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Send them into us by email, giving us 10 weeks notice of the event to: email@example.com or by post to: Mount House, Halse, Taunton, TA4 3AD. Your event can also be listed on: www.countrygardener.co.uk Sign up to add your events today
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survivors! Sempervivums, hardy succulents of the family crassulacae are known as house leeks, or sometimes as live forever. These plants are survivors, and are suddenly in vogue Sempervivums are survivors by nature. They originate in mountainous and arid regions of southern Europe and North Africa where they are often found thousands of feet above sea level. Their succulent leaves arranged in rosettes enable them to survive for long periods without water because they store it and conserve it in their thick leathery leaves. This property has been harnessed by the gardener making these useful plants for containers that get only occasional water, to fill crevices in the rock garden and to create imaginative arrangements. The botanical name sempervivum comes from the Latin word ‘semper’- meaning forever, and ‘vivus’ meaning living. They are able to exist with little soil and virtually no water. In the past few years their popularity has boomed amongst gardeners who want attractive no fuss plants. In classic gardens you will often find them in pots positioned or grouped around the edge of formal ponds or on walls where they can be left to enhance with little attention. There are about sixty identified species and over three thousand named cultivars. The leaves vary in size and colour in shades of green, purple, red, grey and bronze. The colour is at its best from spring to midsummer and full sun is essential for good colour and growth habit. The majority of sempervivum are frost hardy but it you prefer to grow a variety that is not, plant it in a pot or flat bowl and move indoors for winter.
Houseleeks, to give them another name, are most valued for their distinctive rosettes of succulent, spirally patterned foliage, although they also bear attractive flowers from spring to summer. Each rosette is a separate plant, and is monocarpic – it flowers once and then dies, but is soon replaced by other new rosettes, called offsets. These offsets can be separated and planted up, and will then grow into new clumps. Sempervivums don’t need feeding, but do benefit from being repotted each year into compost containing slow-release fertiliser. In containers use a loam-based growing medium with the addition of some horticultural grit or sharp sand. Sempervivums do not want a rich compost and they quickly lose their character if the growing medium is rich in organic matter and nitrogen; so do not be tempted to overfeed. Generally feeding is not something to worry about. If you think the plants need it a very small application of controlled release fertiliser at the beginning of the growing season is all that is required. The flowers produce clusters of starry flowers on fleshy stems. The flower is said to resemble Jupiter’s beard but it isn’t anything to get too excited about. They do produce fertile seeds and these can give rise to exciting new forms and colours and add to that pool of named cultivars. These are fascinating plants that really can ignite your creative spark in the smallest outdoor space.
THREE TO TRY:
S. erythraeum is a mat-forming, evergreen perennial with open rosettes of succulent, ovate to spoon-shaped leaves coloured green with a purple tinge and covered with dense, short hairs giving the leaves a velvety look. Flowering stems, up to 20cm long, carry pink to reddish-purple flowers up to 2cm in diameter.
Sempervivum ‘Othello’ Houseleek ‘Othello’
Sempervivum arachnoideum var. bryoides
S. ‘Othello’ is an evergreen cultivar with large dark red rosettes of broad leaves. Starry pink flowers are borne by older rosettes in summer. Although individual rosettes die after flowering, each plant will survive by forming offsets.
S. arachnoideum var. bryoides is a matforming, evergreen perennial, to 12cm tall, comprising very small rosettes, up to 1cm in diameter, of oval, fleshy green leaves tipped with red and covered in a web of white hairs. Mature rosettes can form a stem with a terminal cluster of pink flowers in the summer.
- red white and blue! POPPIES
Growing poppies from seed is an easy way to add striking swathes of colour to your garden and in wonderful varieties of colour. Once planted, they’ll come back year after year, forming graceful drifts over time. Bright and blowsy, blue or plumed, poppies have great charisma. Even their name is suitably evocative. What’s more, many of these cheerful plants are uncomplicated to grow. The name may originate from the sound made by chewing the seeds, or from the Celtic word papa, a liquid food for infants, as poppy juice was given to crying babies to help them sleep. You can choose from approximately 120 different varieties of poppy including annual, biennial and perennial flowers.
The Flanders or field poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is the simplest to grow, and is best known as a symbol of remembrance for soldiers who gave their lives in the First World War. It’s an annual, bee-friendly variety that’s ideal in a wildflower garden. If you want a longer-term plant, biennial and perennial poppies make a vivid addition to your garden or border. Oriental poppies have larger, blousy flowers, while Icelandic and Japanese poppies come in unique shades like mauve and gold. The true poppies are Papaver, a genus of some 70 species, including annuals, biennials and perennials, such as the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum; the common poppy, P. rhoeas and the large flowered herbaceous oriental poppy. But the family also includes the coveted blue poppies, (Meconopsis), plumed varieties (Macleaya), horned (Glaucium) and tree poppies (Romneya). 54
They are hybrids of the perennial poppy and are a breakthrough in that their flowers last much longer and repeat. The first flowers usually appear in June, with an individual flower frequently lasting for 18 days. A clump can be in flower for four to six weeks. The clump then revives with new leaves and a second flush of flowers from July to September. One of the most highly coveted poppies is the stunningly blue Meconopsis, the best known being Meconopsis betonicifolia. They are frequently regarded as a picky, connoisseur’s plant, but are not difficult to grow provided you have acid soil and a moist atmosphere. The blue ones to try are M. betonicifolia, and M. grandis. There are other Meconopsis that aren’t blue, such as M. cambrica, the Welsh poppy, which is prolific when planted in damp, shady places. It blooms non-stop from late spring to the first frosts, only stopping in hot and dry weather. Once its first flowers are over, shear them off and off it goes again.
Papaver rhoeas ‘Mother of Pearl’
The Californian poppies, elscholtzias, are dominated by the very familiar E. californica, which is easy to grow in almost any soil and is a prolific annual or perennial. There are many strains of Shirley poppies, (bred by the vicar of Shirley), a great one is Papaver rhoeas ‘Mother of Pearl’, one of the most subtle, with soft mauve, pale pink and greyish tones. Country Gardener
Field poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
Do poppies spread? Perennials such as the Oriental poppy can be left in place for years. They gradually spread into plant clumps that can be divided into new plants. These poppies spread both through seeds and roots. These poppies die back in late summer and foliage often disappears, only to emerge in spring from the root base. What month do poppies bloom? These poppies are perennials, forming a clump of hairy foliage that dies back every year after the painfully short bloom period in late spring and early summer. The plant only flowers about four weeks but the exact flowering season varies among cultivars. Can you cut back poppies after they bloom? Cut back foliage after the poppy flower dies, if desired, but leave the plants long enough to enjoy the unique seed pods. In autumn a small mound of new foliage should begin to emerge from the ground. Leave it in place, cut off any dead stems, and apply mulch. How to sow poppy seeds • Choose a sunny spot with good drainage. • Pour some poppy seeds into your hand and sprinkle them very thinly across the ground to create natural looking drifts. • Allow between seven and 30 days to germinate, depending on the variety, soil condition and growing temperatures.
ROSE FESTIVAL 15TH - 23RD JUNE Come along and enjoy the scents and colour of our roses Special Offers in store Plus enter the ‘Prettiest Rose Competition’. Simply bring one rose stem cut from your garden in a small bottle/suitable container on Saturday 15th June and it will be put to the vote. You could win a bundle of rose goodies worth £25.
VISIT ONE OF OUR GARDEN CENTRES TODAY - OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK Old Rydon Lane, Exeter, EX2 7JY & Sidmouth Road, Clyst St Mary, EX5 1AE Monday-Saturday 9am - 5.30pm Sunday 10.30am - 4.30pm Bank Holidays 9am - 5.00pm
The June 2019 issue of Devon Country Gardener Magazine