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Preserving our native wildflowers

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“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability in the garden.” - Sam Keen “Summer makes a silence after spring.”


- Vita Sackville-West

A celebration of meadows at Forde Abbey

Walking through Knoll Gardens with Neil Lucas

There is still time to enjoy the celebration of meadows at Forde Abbey on the Somerset and Dorset border, which runs until the end of June. Left uncut until July, swathes of natural meadow have proliferated in the gardens and become home to flowers such as green winged orchids, buttercups, common spotted orchids, knapweed and yellow rattle. Joshua Sparkes, head gardener, has embarked on a project to evolve the meadows further at Forde Abbey, which in turn will support a huge range of bio diversity and ecology for the gardens. You can join for a wander around the garden on Saturday, 29th June at 11am and Sunday, 30th June at 2pm with a discussion of the different approaches to meadow creation, using modern and traditional working practices, as well as learning about up and coming wild flower projects at Forde Abbey. Tickets will be £10 in addition to entry to the gardens. Please meet by the entrance to the shop. The gardens are open daily from 10am to 4pm. Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset, TA20 4LU.

As part of Knoll Garden’s 25th year celebrations there is a series of four seasonal walks through the popular Dorset gardens. ‘Changing Seasons in the Garden’ offers the chance to spend time with owner Neil Lucas as he wanders through the gardens. Find out a little more about Neil’s aim to have a flower in bloom on every day of the season, and how he is looking after the garden’s wildlife. The first seasonal walk is on Thursday, June 27th from 2pm to 3pm. The following walk will be on Thursday, 22nd August. Check online for all dates and more information about the anniversary celebration events. £10 per walk or £35 for all four. Knoll Gardens, Stapehill Rd, Hampreston, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 7ND. www.knollgardens.co.uk

Beach litter plant pots

Collecting beach letter and turning them into recycled plant pots sounds like a double whammy in terms of an eco friendly event. That is exactly what is happening on Saturday, 6th July at Kimmeridge Bay, Wareham from 1.30pm to 4pm. Starting with a mini beach clean it is the chance to explore the problem of marine litter and look at how some of it can be re-purposed to make plant holders for wildlife gardens. This event is for adults and older children from 13 years of age. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Access to the beach is over uneven, sometimes slippery rocks. All equipment is provided. Held at the Fine Foundation Wild Seas Centre, by the slipway, Kimmeridge Bay, Wareham, BH20 5PE. Please be aware that access to Kimmeridge Bay is via a private road for which a toll of £5 per car is charged by Smedmore Estate .Once parked walk to the slipway to find the Wild Seas Centre. Cost £5 per person. Dorset Wildlife Trust, Fine Foundation Wild Seas Centre, Kimmeridge Bay, Near Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5PE.

THREE DAY ‘ALL AROUND THE GARDEN’ FESTIVAL All Around the Garden is a three day garden festival staged by Sculpture by the Lakes devoted to everything for the garden from vegetable growing, to learning about Kew Garden’s trees, to plant hunting adventures around the world. It includes a Rare Plant Fair featuring fifteen independent nurseries. Sculpture by the Lakes is an art and sculpture garden set in 26 acres hugely popular with gardeners and art lovers. The festival runs Friday, 28th June to Sunday, 30th June and includes a series of talks on the opening two days with the Rare Plant Fair taking over on the Sunday. Talks at the festival include Claire Pullinger on the principle of no – dig gardening; TV and organic gardener Chris Coillins on the organic gardening experience and leading garden designer Andrew Wilson. Tickets prices and full details online. Sculpture By The Lakes, Pallington, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8QU. www.sculpturebythelakes.co.uk



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Well Cottage opens for the National Garden Scheme A one-acre garden brought back to life over the last six and a half years, Well Cottage in the village of Ryall is opening for the National Garden Scheme on Saturday 20th, Sunday 21st and Tuesday 22nd July. Owners Heather and John Coley have created more light after some trees were taken down and new areas cultivated. The planting is natural with the emphasis on colour, and there are wonderful views over the Marshwood Vale. The garden will be open each day from 1pm until 6pm. Admission is £6, children free, and this also admits you to nearby Pilsden View, a mature garden with beautiful water features, great views and a rose garden. There will be homemade teas at Well Cottage and Heather’s textile art Well Cottage - a number of openings for the NGS studio will be open to view. This garden also opens by arrangement until the end of September; contact the garden owners to discuss your requirements for a group or bespoke visit, on 01297 489066 or email jfrcoley@btinternet.com Well Cottage, Ryall, Bridport, Dorset DT6 6EJ.

Kingcombe reserve shares its wild meadow secrets

The interest in creating and managing wildflower meadows and grassland has never been higher. At the very peak of the wildflower season there’s the chance to visit Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve on Friday, 28th June to savour the species-rich hay meadows and to learn all about restoring and recreating flower-rich grassland. During the day there will be a mix of indoor presentations covering theory and technique, and work in the field. The 185-hectare reserve is managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust as a working farm, grazed by cows and sheep, using traditional methods without artificial fertilisers. The cost for the day is £68. Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve, Toller Porcorum, Dorchester, DT2 0EQ.


Love those nettles gardeners are told Gardeners are being urged to ‘love and appreciate‘ stinging nettles. They should think of the plant which usually causes a painful sting to be seen in a new light. The English Countryside campaign says a nettle patch is a jungle metropolis, hiding a secret community of life. Nettles are said to host more than 40 species of insect, including butterflies and moths. They are also a place for ladybirds to lay their eggs but are usually thought of as weeds. “Nettles are amazing things. They support an incredible amount of wildlife and gardeners are urged just to leave a space for nettles in their gardens.�

The Yetminster Fair is one of the oldest fairs in Wessex and has been running almost continuously since the 13th Century under a charter granted to the Bishop of Salisbury for a fair ‘to be held in his manor of Yetminster’. It takes place on Saturday, 13th July from 1pm to 5pm. The lively atmosphere of Fair Day in the village calendar adds to the charm of the old stone farm houses and manors evoking memories of a bygone age and attracts people from far and wide. The fair includes many stalls, plant sales, dancing from local dancers. The White Hart, High Street, Yetminster, Nr Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 6LF.





A new event, which taps into everyone’s concern about the current plight of the British bee, is being held in Poundbury on Saturday, 29th June. Bee Fest Poundbury will take place on the great field from 12pm till 4pm. The aim of this event is to raise awareness about bees. This is a free event for the family. The festival background is set against bee numbers taking a significant hit in recent years it is critical that we take up the cause to ensure that bees can continue to play their crucial role in our ecosystem. More details on www.beefest.org.uk Great Field Poundbury, Poundbury, Dorchester DT1 3RH.

Make your own willow dragonfly There’s the chance to learn the basic skills and techniques of willow weaving whilst creating a wonderful dragonfly to decorate your garden or pond. The workshop takes place under the shelter of a marquee at Knoll Gardens, so dress appropriately for the weather and bring lunch. Drinks can be purchased. Please bring secateurs if possible, although some will be available to borrow on the day. The course is on Saturday, 13th July and runs from 10.30am to 3pm. The cost is £50 including materials. www.knollgardens.co.uk/events/ or call 01202 873931.

Foraging on Dorset’s seashore

Seashore foraging is one of the big hits for this summer. You can join Fore / Adventure in Studland on a seashore scavenge to forage for coastal plants and hunt down the best of our Dorset seaweed, pull in pots and hunt out razor clams. Learn what wild species are edible, how to harvest them, their medicinal properties and how to prepare them for eating. They end this foray with a heart-warming soup on the beach flavoured with the wild ingredients they have shown you. Half day costs £40 for adults, £20 for children (min age 12+ but they do shorter courses for younger children) all equipment included. The next courses are being held on Sunday, 30th June and Sunday, 14th July but there are other dates in August and September. www.foreadventure.co.uk Fore Adventure, Middle Beach, Swanage, Dorset BH19 3AP.

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GROWING GINGER by Elizabeth McCorquodale

It may not be the easiest crop to grow but with wild grass-like leaves on verdant green stems growing ginger is enormously rewarding

Ginger doesn’t occur naturally in the wild and it is thought that it has been cultivated for so long that what we now think of as ginger is the result of many hundreds of years of cultivation and selection by the peoples of the warm climates of Asia. Ginger, the type you buy fresh in supermarkets and the source of the dried spice, is a tropical plant that originated somewhere in Indochina and it goes by the scientific name Zingiber officinale. As with all plants with the species name officinale, this particular ginger - for there are many different species within the Zingiber genus - was initially recognised as a medicinal plant used to treat nausea and inflammation, though it is now best known as an essential flavouring in numerous cuisines around the world. Ginger is grown commercially in the damp heat of tropical and subtropical rainforests all over the globe so it is rather surprising to find that, despite its fondness for heat, ginger can also be grown in our own gardens here in the UK, and, once established, it is possible to grow and harvest enough for a year-round supply. When the weather warms in spring ginger plants will settle quite happily in the garden and then grow on through the summer until, in autumn, the reed-like leaves are nipped back by the cold. Once it has died down it can be harvested for use in the kitchen or stored in its dormant state through the winter to grow on into a larger plant the following year.

GROWING GINGER Just like citrus fruits in this country, it is possible to grow the plant for both decorative and culinary use, and the ideal place is a warm conservatory or greenhouse. In the warmth and the shelter of a moist bed or a large pot the plant can 8

grow on to produce an abundant crop of stem ginger. If indoor space is in short supply, the next best place is a warm bright corner of the garden with moist soil and dappled shade - south facing with a little afternoon cover is ideal. Wait for your area’s frost-free date to come and go and plant your ginger out when the ground warms up properly in late spring. Once planted, cover the roots with a good dark mulch to raise the soil temperature and ensure it stays moist but not wet. The flowers, ranging from deep pink to white, will grown to about a metre in height - just a little taller than the leaves. The plant is often grown for the flowers alone. When planted in February and grown on indoors, a strong established plant will produce a beautiful flower spike by July. Growing ginger is easy, though it can be a little slow to begin with. To begin, source your ginger root from your local supermarket. There is no need and no benefit from hunting down a specialist supplier as the roots – botanically recognised as rhizomes - are just the same as those you will find on your supermarket shelves. If you are fortunate enough to find some ginger that are already shooting, all the better, though it’s easy enough to coax them into growth. First give the rhizome a careful wash in tepid water to remove any growth retardant that may have been applied to stop sprouts forming on the supermarket shelves. Then cut the hand of ginger into fingers, each with its own growing tip. The growing tips are the leaf shoots which sprout from the upper surface of the rhizome, and these are produced before the roots. Carefully slice a piece of ginger off the hand and plant up each piece 3cm deep in good compost. Ginger will not tolerate drying out or languishing in standing water, so choose a soil-

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Clockwise from top left: Ginger is essential in flavouring dishes all over the world; ginger in an English garden; nine fingers of ginger under heat; ginger root sprouting

based compost which will retain moisture but drain well, and water it regularly. Seed composts are too free-draining so choose one that is designed for growing on such as a John Innes #2. Once planted and watered, enclose the pot in a plastic bag to preserve moisture. A heated, covered propagator will do a fine job of encouraging quick growth, but a warm airing cupboard or another warm sheltered spot will do. Check your pots daily for signs of sprouting. As soon as the growing tips sprout move the pot into a bright spot out of direct sunlight. A warm conservatory, under a bench in a warm greenhouse or a north facing windowsill is the ideal spot to encourage good strong growth. If you are going to grow your ginger in pots rather than in a bed or border, transplant your ginger plants into a pot one size larger as soon as they fill the space. Continue to pot on through the year until the plants finish the year in 12 inch pots. Feed your plants every two weeks with a good, balanced feed (one where the NPK figures on the side of the packet are roughly the same) and make sure that the plants are kept moist and warm. It is always a good idea, for plants that come from rainforest environments, to sit them on a bed of damp gravel to ensure that the humidity around their leaves remains constant.

HARVESTING GINGER You can harvest ginger at two different stages and the first is a crop of stem ginger in early autumn of the first year when the base of the stem has grown into a mild and delicious golf-ball sized swelling. These basal swellings are the source of the ginger that you find in jars preserved in syrup. You can get a good crop - enough for a few jars of preserves - from one or two hands of planted ginger. This is the most efficient

and effective way to grow your own ginger, but it doesn’t have the same shelf life as root ginger, nor the powerful flavour so set aside a few stems to grow on to grow into root ginger. To grow root ginger for use in the kitchen cultivate it over the first season just as you would stem ginger, but rather than harvesting it, leave the plant in the pot over winter and grow it on again the following spring to harvest at the end of the second year - or later - by which time the flavour will have developed and strengthened, the crop will be larger and the resultant harvest can be brushed clean of soil and stored in a bag in the fridge or dried off and stored in a cool, dark cupboard for later use. Given a spot that is bright and warm and damp, but out of direct sunlight, there is no reason that anyone cannot grow a crop of this exotic spice in their own garden.

OTHER SOURCES OF GINGER FLAVOUR • For a hint of ginger in teas and fruit cups you could also try growing ginger mint Mentha x gracilis ‘Variegata’ or ginger rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Green Ginger’ to use in stir-fries or over glazed carrots. • Japanese ginger, Zingiber mioga, is grown for its ginger flavoured leaf shoots and flower buds and it is hardy in most parts of the UK. • Steer clear of the very hardy and very pretty Asarum species that are sometimes recommended as ginger substitutes as they have recently been found to contain aristolichic acid, an unpleasant chemical with long term side effects.






July is a very productive month in the garden. All the hard work put in during the spring now starts to pay off, with so much fruit and vegetables ready for harvest. By the end of July we can be swamped with delicious veg such as cucumbers, courgette, Swiss chard, lettuce, beetroot and French beans. Whilst it’s a great month for relaxing a little and enjoying your garden, it’s also important to keep on top of weeding, watering, deadheading and pests.

Keep your pond in top condition Ponds and other water features really need some extra care in July and August to keep them healthy and looking good. Look out for any yellowing leaves If they are left on water High summer ponds need lilies and other constant attention water plants, remove them promptly. Allowing them to fall off and rot in the water will decrease water quality. Remove blanket weed. This will let oxygen into your pond. Use a net or rake and remember to give aquatic life a chance to get back to the water by piling the weed next to the pond for a day. Top up water levels. Water can evaporate rapidly from water features and ponds in the height of summer, so top them up if the water level drops significantly. Rainwater from a water butt is best – chemicals in tap water can affect the nutrient balance in the pond.

Borders will be brighter and longer living with regular feeds

IT’S TIME TO FEED AND WEED Flowerbeds and borders will be blooming by now, but don’t leave plants struggling to find nutrients in depleted soil. Apply a good quality liquid feed to plant roots once a week to keep growth healthy, increase flower production and longevity and ensure a good yield in the case of food crops. This is especially important for containerised plants that rely entirely on the compost in their pots to meet their nutritional needs. Always ensure plants are hydrated before you feed them, otherwise fertiliser can burn roots and inhibit nutrient uptake.

Deadheading one of high summer’s most important tasks

Deadheading can be one of the more tedious summer jobs but is very essential. It also keeps containers and hanging baskets looking immaculate throughout the summer. Plants that respond well to deadheading include pansies Deadheading - an important summer task and violas, geraniums, roses, lupins, delphiniums and phlox. Note that some plants, such as fuschias, lobelia and salvias, don’t need deadheading, as they do not set much seed. Also avoid deadheading plants that have ornamental seeds or berries, such as Love-in-a-mist and alliums Most flowering plants will produce more flowers with regular deadheading. Removing fading flowers stops them from going to seed, preventing the plant from thinking it has achieved its reproductive goal and directing its energies into producing seeds rather than further flowers. 10

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Check soft fruits regularly Producing fruits at this time of the year makes plants thirsty, currants particularly so. Water at the roots so as to avoid encouraging damp related diseases. Strawberries are prone to these so don’t wet their leaves and avoid overwatering which can also cause trouble such as botrytis. Mulch around fruit trees and bushes to conserve moisture. Apply a two-inch layer of mulch after its rained when the ground is damp, making sure not to let the mulch touch the trunks or stems. Make sure the ground is first clear of grass and weeds. If you train your apple and pear trees they will need a summer prune. This should be done when the bottom third of the new shoots have toughened up and become woody. Depending on where you live this could be any time from now until early August. The idea is to prune to let light reach the fruit.

Prune back fruit to let in more light

First: prune new shoots that are growing from the main stem (but only those longer than eight inches) to about five leaves from the base Second: prune new shoots growing from side shoots to one leaf from the base (not cutting off any fruit!) Third: prune out vigorous vertically growing shoots. If more shoots grow cut these out in September.

Tasks in the busy vegetable patch Weed between rows, especially if it’s dry so as to stop the weedlings stealing all the moisture. Watch out of signs of powdery mildew on courgettes and squashes and remove infected leaves – binning or burning but do not add to the compost. Keep sowing salads, carrots and beets remembering that if it’s very hot you’ll need to plant lettuces and beets in cooler spots. Sow seeds of varieties bred not to bolt and water well. Keep watering beans and pick pods before they get too big. If slugs have got to them there’s time to sow some fast growing beans now. Or sow some dwarf beans which will mature by autumn. Capitalise on rain by mulching around the base of your beans. Pinch out the side shoots of tomatoes. These are the small leaves that form at the base of the main leaves where they meet the main stem. Feed regularly every 10 to 14 days and make sure they do not dry out or developing fruits will split. See more on tomato growing. Harvest early potatoes and garlic. Wait for garlic leaves to turn yellow but lift before all the foliage dries out. Second Powdery mildew on courgette leaves early potatoes will be ready • Pinch out annuals -almost all flowering annuals to lift around now once the (e.g. zinnias, antirrhinums, cleomes, cosmos and flowers have opened or the sunflowers, as well as pot plants such as fuchsias) buds dropped. need pinching out. Remove the tip of main Water well. Fruit in containers flowering shoots to encourage them to bush out in particular will need a • Start taking cuttings of tender perennials such thoroughly good soaking as salvias, pelargoniums and penstemons. when the surface of the soil • Clear the earlier-flowering biennials such as feels dry. Water until water sweet william and sweet rocket, which are over drains out from the bottom. Don’t water again until the now with seed pods starting to brown. Plant surface has dried out. In dry the last of the half-hardy annuals in their place weather water every fortnight – cosmos, nicotianas, zinnias and cleomes – for or sooner if the soil is dry a flowers into the middle of autumn. good spade’s depth down. Pinch out side shoots on tomatoes • Thin biennials




July gardening



More questions and queries on a whole range of gardening issues from a still bulging Country Gardener postbag. Every year I look forward to growing greenhouse tomatoes but more often than not end up with a lot of the crop affected by either splitting or what I think is called blossom end rot. Is there any way this summer I can avoid them both and start growing perfect tomatoes? Ian Davies, Petersfield

I have an area in my garden which overlooks open fields and it has been suggested that rather than a formal hedge I should try something different such as ornamental grasses as a hedge. I must admit I have no idea what this would entail. Ornamental grass cultivars can be used to create attractive informal screens and hedges to divide garden spaces or in your case a hedge barrier to a garden. Most are suited to open sunny situations in well-drained soils. There’s another advantage in that such grasses can prove as attractive in winter as in summer. Here are a couple of options: Miscanthus x giganteus: which forms vertical flower stems growing up to six feet in height and which bleach to a lovely cream and yellow colour in the autumn. Very dense and spectacular.

Blossom end rot is caused by inconsistent watering

Tomatoes are very rewarding to grow but the developing fruit does need perhaps more attention than gardeners think. The problems you mention alongside greenback, which is hard green tissue on fruit shoulders and catfacing which produced misshapen fruits with corky scars, can all be avoided. Tomato skins tend to split due to too dramatic variations in moisture and/or temperature. In greenhouses water regularly but use both shade and ventilation to prevent any big changes in temperatures which will cause damage. Blossom end rot is quite different and is caused by a lack of calcium in the tomato which produces black, sunken areas at the base of the fruit and makes it uneatable. Again it is a moisture issue. Keep the growing conditions as even as possible, if you water regularly but not too heavily the roots absorb dissolved calcium more easily. In hot periods this can mean watering twice a day or even more.

Pennisetum ’Fairy Tails’

Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’: a fountain grass with an upright habit which grows to five feet and produced masses on light pinkish white flowers. This makes an ideal lower hedge and ideal for the south west. It also has a very long season turning yellow and orange in late autumn.

MY FATHER, WHO WAS A GREAT PROPAGATOR OF PLANTS IN HIS GREENHOUSE OFTEN TALKED ABOUT TAKING HEEL CUTTINGS FROM PLANTS AND I AM NOT SURE WHAT IS MEANT BY THIS TERM BUT I HEARD IT REFERRED TO ON THE RADIO THE OTHER DAY. Andrea Kelly, Bridgwater Heel cuttings of plants are made using side shoots taken off woody stems that are at least two years old. The cuttings are taken by gently pulling the shoot off the main stem, which usually leaves a heel or small piece of the main stem attached. Heel cuttings are often used to propagate plants that are otherwise fairly difficult to root. The base of the current season’s growth contains higher levels of growth hormones (auxins) so is better able to produce roots. 12

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I have extended and redecorated my bathroom and it has space for some plants. Are there any which I can keep in there and if so what options do I have? Anne Liff, Exeter There’s no reason why if you select your plants carefully you can’t adorn your new bathroom with some greenery Many plants will thrive in the low-light, humid environment of the bathroom. Plus, having a little greenery will certainly help help purify the air. An aloe vera plant is a great choice in a house and will do well in a bathroom as long as it has some access to a sunny position. It needs more than just a little light to really thrive Aloe Vera is an ideal bathroom plant Cast iron plants were extremely popular in the Victorian era –probably become Victorians loved austerity and these super hardy plants can tolerate almost everything-including your bathroom. For best results let the soil dry out before watering. Snake Plants, also known as ‘mother-in-law’s tongue’, are low-maintenance and will thrive in a bathroom atmosphere. As a bonus, this plant will filter out the formaldehyde that is often found in cleaning products and toilet paper.


This May I have noticed loads of flat green bugs on my plants both in the greenhouse and in the vegetable beds. I was told they are called Shield bugs but no one seems to know if they are harmful or not? Pam Burkhill , Taunton It is unusual to see these Shield bugs so early in the season as they normally are only active in high summer. They have become more prominent in recent years but are harmless and cause no noticeable damage to cultivated plants even when numerous. These bugs are sap-sucking insects that can be found on a wide range of plants. The adults, when viewed from above, have a distinctive shield-like shape. There are more than 30 species of shield bug in Britain; most are brown in colour, whilst the species are green in the adult stage. The name shield bug is due to the shield-like shape of the adult insects when seen from above. The native common green shield bug is harmless and control measures are not required.

Organic mulching will help retain soil moisture

Standing spraying plants with water from a distance certainly isn’t the answer. You are right it takes a long time and doesn’t work for the plants either. The key to being able to water less is to make sure you water correctly. However, the most effective and easiest place to store rainwater is in the soil. Add organic matter to create a more open structure, allowing plants to grow down and reach the soil’s moisture effectively. To conserve water and to be able to water less, water the soil at the base of plants until it is at a depth of 12 inches -as that is where most roots grow. Check soil moisture before you water with a trowel by digging down near plants and see how moist the plants really are. Keep soil cool in hot weather by adding a four-inch layer of mulch and irrigate earlier in the morning or evening to avoid evaporation. Potted plants really benefit by standing them in trays which catch the run off water.

Sap sucking but otherwise harmless Shield bug



HIGH SUMMER IDEAS for days out for gardening lovers We’ve a great selection of suggestions for day trips out for those gardeners who want to take a break from their own gardens to visit and enjoy some great days out 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 and within reach of a day out. Most of the gardens will be at their peak of colour and beauty and the high summer days offer another dimension when it comes to travelling that bit further afield to see a garden or lingering later on a particular visit. We’ve just a few suggestions which we know you’ll enjoy.

One day show a mecca for gardening enthusiasts Gillingham & Shaftesbury Agricultural Show takes place on Wednesday, 14th August. With 73 of the 200 classes devoted to fruit, vegetables and flowers, the horticultural marquee is a mecca for gardening enthusiasts from a wide area. The fragrance and atmosphere is very special at this one-day event and the displays need to be seen to be believed. Entries are staged on the morning before show day and judged that afternoon, so that the marquee is open for visitors all day at this traditional agricultural show. So make it a date in your diary- the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Agricultural Show, Turnpike Showground, Motcombe SP7 9PL. For schedules call 01747 823955 or email enquiries@gillshaftshow.co.uk

CELEBRATING LILIES AT CADHAY HOUSE AND GARDENS July is expected to be an excellent month for the collection of lilies at Cadhay House at Ottery St Mary. The various water lilies in the medieval fishponds, which were planted three years ago, are coming into their own and the collection of asiatic and tree lilies are still in full flower. The new garden that has been made beyond the pond will now be open to visitors, as it has taken some time to establish the grass. There will also be a profusion of roses in the formal gardens and the allotments should be at their best for visitors to enjoy. The gardens are open from 2pm every Friday afternoon and more details can be found on cadhay.org.uk Cadhay House and Gardens, Ottery St Mary, EX11 1QT.

Cotswold Garden Flowers will offer inspiring ideas for your garden Visitors can enjoy many new and traditional garden favourites in the borders at Cotswold Garden Flowers at Badsey near Evesham. It’s a chance to review your own borders and think about adding some new plants, for example phlox, with their magic scent, come in many colours. It’s best to choose the varieties that are looking good in situ in the garden. Campanulas or bell-flowers come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colours including blue. You can use these to add some height and colour to your border. Contrast these with day lilies available in various colours including yellow and orange. Don’t forget dahlias which can add colour from now until the first frosts of autumn. Cotswold Garden Flowers, Sands Lane, Badsey, Evesham, WR11 7EZ. Tel: 01386 833849 Email: info@cgf.net www.cgf.net

A long lazy summer day at Hartland Abbey A visit to Hartland Abbey and Gardens in July is a wonderful opportunity to have a long, lazy day out taking in the glories of the house, the 18th Century Walled Gardens, the Bog The Rose Garden at Hartland Abbey Garden and the Victorian Fernery, created with help from Gertrude Jekyll. The Old Kitchens Tea Room serves delicious home made light lunches and cream teas. Dogs are really welcome. Outdoor theatre on the lawn, a glass of Pimms from the bar and a picnic or the delicious barbecue, is a wonderful way to finish the day. Stunning Hartland Quay, a mile away, has good accommodation. Hartland Abbey, Hartland, Nr. Bideford, N. Devon, EX39 6DT. 01237441496/234 www.hartlandabbey.com

Boscrege, a breath of Cornish fresh air Boscrege Caravan and Camping Park in Cornwall is a peaceful and picturesque park, set at the foot of Tregonning Hill amongst Cornish lanes in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The park, open all year through, is situated close to the wonderful Cornwall coast and only a few minutes drive to Praa Sands, one of Britain's best beaches. St Ives, Penzance, Hayle, Lands End, The Lizard Peninsular, Helston and Falmouth plus other Cornwall attractions and beaches are very easily visited from the central location in West Cornwall. So if you are looking to take a holiday in Cornwall in a self-catering caravan, camping, or even purchasing your own holiday home then contact Boscrege Caravan and Camping Park. New this year is an exciting development of twin lodges available to buy with a 20-year site licence. Boscrege Caravan Park, Boscrege, Ashton, Cornwall, TR13 9TG. 01736 762231 www.caravanparkcornwall.com 14

Country Gardener

Hartland Abbey & Gardens Enjoy a day out in the beautiful Hartland Abbey valley Visit this fascinating, historic house, in the same family for generations, with its stunning architecture, collections and exhibitions. Beautiful walled and woodland gardens leading to the beach. * Dogs welcome * Holiday Cottages * * Light lunches & cream teas * * Hartland Quay 1 mile * Outdoor Theatre * House, Gardens and Café: open until 29th September, Sunday to Thursday 11am - 5pm (House 2pm - last adm. 4pm)

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

Castle Hill Gardens

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

Cotswold Garden Flowers

Stanway House & Fountain

Delightful gardens to inspire you

The world’s tallest gravity fed fountain

Easy and unusual perennials for the flower garden

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

Jacobean Manor House, home of the Earl of Wemyss, together with spectacular fountain. Open in June, July and August on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 2pm till 5pm. Also by appointment for group visits.

Contact 01386 584469 for details.

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

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

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




400 trade stands at bumper Honiton show

Rare Plant Fairs visits Highnam Court The 25th anniversary programme of Rare Plant Fairs continues in July with a return to the fabulous gardens at Highnam Court, near Gloucester, on Sunday, 21st July. These stunning gardens have been lovingly restored to their former glory, with many new additions being made to complement and enhance the original design, during Credit: ©Bob Train Photography the last 20 years by owner Roger Head. This year the gardens feature a brand new herbaceous border, designed and planted last year. The fair runs from 11am to 4pm, with 19 exhibitors, and supports the work of important local charity Cobalt Health, who support patients with cancer, dementia and other conditions using state of the art, sophisticated scanning equipment. There is a total of 13 Fairs this year. Visit the website at www.rareplantfair.co.uk for details of all the events, including a full list of the exhibitors attending each one.

Castle Hill gardens – spectacular in high summer Castle Hill gardens near South Molton, is a garden for all seasons but especially spectacular in high summer. Visitors can discover 50 acres of ravishing landscape set against the beautiful 18th century Palladian house and explore pathways and woodland. July highlights include the Millennium Garden, which throughout the summer boasts a stunning display of colourful herbaceous planting with lavender edges - vegetables are growing in The Walled Garden. Wander by the river to the Ugley Bridge then climb to the castle for magnificent views of Exmoor, Dartmoor and beyond. Dogs on leads welcome. The Tea Room is open through to October. Castle Hill Gardens, Filleigh, near South Molton, EX32 0RG. Tel: 01598 760336 www.castlehilldevon.co.uk

The historic Honiton & District Agricultural Association holds the 129th show on Thursday, 1st August. An action packed main ring includes Jamie Squibb and his Freestyle Motocross Arena Stunt Show and The Devil’s Horsemen, Europe’s number one stunt and trick riding team with recent film credit; Les Miserables and Viper Aerobatics flying display. The Sheep Show returns with their Dancing Sheep. The Grand Parade is the heart of the show – the cattle and sheep prize winners parading. You might like to enter the Home Baking and Preserves Competition, make a ‘Honiton Show Stopper’, and there are classes for the under 11’s. The show also has vintage tractors and classic cars. Over 400 trade stands will be at the show for visitors to enjoy. Admission charges are held for 2019, advance tickets are £14.50. For further details on the show or details on becoming a member of the association contact the secretary on 01404 41794 or visit www.honitonshow.co.uk

Empathy take high profile at Hampton Court Empathy, the makers of rootgrow mycorrhizal fungi will be exhibiting at the Royal Horticultural Societies prestigious Hampton Court Flower Show on the 2nd to the 7th of July. Empathy products are endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society as they are natural, sustainable but above all highly effective in feeding and nurturing not only plants but the soil in UK gardens. Why not visit them at the show where you will also be able to see their new range of RHS licensed wild bird food.

TUESDAY AND THURSDAY OPENINGS AT THREE-ACRE FRIARS COURT GARDENS 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

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, 2pm-5pm. The fountain plays twice each day. Group tours can be arranged at other times. Dogs welcome. Stanway House, Stanway, Cheltenham, GL54 5PQ. www.stanwayfountain.co.uk 16

Country Gardener

AGRICULTURAL SHOW ‘The Show where town & country meet’

Wednesday 14th August 2019 8.30am - 6.30pm Attractions include: Events & Displays in Three Rings Over 500 trade stand including 14 tractor dealers Competitive classes for Dairy & Beef Cattle, Sheep, Poultry, Grain & Fodder. K.C. Dog Show Huge Horticulture, Home-Handicraft Marquee including Fruit & Veg, Flowers & Floral Decoration, Photography, Honey, Cookery, Handicraft, Wine & Cordial - With many classes especially for children Held at the Turnpike Showground SP7 9PL 2 miles north of Shaftesbury - Free Car Parks Tickets (pre-show prices in brackets) Adult £16 (£14) Child (5-16yrs) £4 (£3) Family ticket (2 adults + 3 Children) £39 (£33)

Agricultural Show




Acts Booked So Far... Viper Aerobatics Flying Display, Jamie Squibb (Freestyle FMX Show), Devil's Horsemen, The Sheep Show, Twistopher Punch & Judy, Grand Parade, Livestock, Horses, Vintage Tractors, Poultry & Dog Shows, Over 400 Trade Stands.

Secretary: Marcelle Connor, Bank House, 66a High Street, Honiton, Devon, EX14 1PS info@honitonshow.co.uk www.honitonshow.co.uk



all Summer long

Ashton, Cornwall TR13 9TG

Small, peaceful and picturesque site open all year round Luxury holiday homes and lodges for sale and hire Used static caravans for sale offsite

Disabled facilities - Dogs on leads

CALL: 01747 823955 EMAIL: enquiries@gillshaftshow.co.uk WEB: www.gillshaftshow.co.uk FACEBOOK: GillandShaftshow

For the latest garden news, events & advice - don't miss COUNTRY GARDENER

01736 762231


July Fair 21st July Highnam Court, Nr. Gloucester GL2 8DP 11am-4pm

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

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

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Turning on the


No other plant sums up high summer and colour in the border than the versatile and spectacular rudbekia Right on cue for the high summer days of July and August, black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) illuminate gardens and borders everywhere like bright rays of sunshine. If any plant could be the poster of late summer it would be this one. The brightly coloured flowers in cheery shades of lemon-yellow, orange, and gold bloom for weeks with minimal care. They also attract a continuous procession of pollinators, bringing even more colour and vibrancy to the summer garden. Many gardeners revere rudbekias as one of the most spiritual of plants. Its flowers are certainly among the most yellow of yellows. Large golden discs their colour made all the more intense by black, velvety centres - open in huge abundance exactly when the high summer light is at its sharpest. In some years they go on glowing into the murkiness of November. It can also be an archetypal ‘Indian summer’ plant. But before the yellowness gets going there is a green lull. Towards the end of summer, each bushy plant finishes its construction phase. Branches and stems pause, buds swell imperceptibly. As the pointed green calyxes open into green stars, the slender, green backs of the petals are revealed. Slowly they broaden and stretch, until they lie on the horizontal beds the calyx has provided. Given even a modicum of sunshine, flower follows flower until the entire plant glows. At the height of its glory it is so overpowering that its leaves are 18

almost unnoticed. Rudbekias are tough survivors brought up in the valleys of eastern North America. Its requirements are simple - decent soil and adequate moisture. It will not die in droughty conditions, but an occasional boost of compost in spring will be welcome. The common names black-eyed Susan and coneflower echo the contrast between Rudbeckia’s colourful, generally yellow petals and the prominent dark brown or black cone that protrudes from the centre of the flower. The name was given to the plant by Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy who formalised the modern system of naming plants and other organisms, to honour his patron and botany teacher at Uppsala University in Sweden, Professor Olav Rudbeck. Because it is late into flower it sometimes gets tucked at the back of a border, but it deserves a front seat where its beautiful blue-grey foliage can be appreciated. Another advantage is that its flower stems are almost bare, so are easy to see through. Annual rudbeckias are rewarding plants to grow from seed. One packet will yield more plants than most of us can cope with. Best to share packets rather than end up with trays full of starved seedlings with nowhere to go. Sow seed thinly in trays in spring and, if you have the patience and space, prick out individually and pot on once, so that plants are sizeable when planted out in May or June. Country Gardener

SIX VARIETIES TO OPT FOR HALF-HARDY ANNUALS Rudbeckia ‘Golden compass’ Golden compass produces masses of classic bright yellow and black Rudbeckia flowers on a bushy plant. It grows up to 70cm in height, and can be grown from seed as a half-hardy annual or a short-lived hardy perennial. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Rustic dwarf’ mix Available as packets of mixed seeds that produce a colourful display of 50cm to 60cm tall flower border plants in various shades of orange, red, mahogany and gold. They are good for cutting and will repeat flower. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian summer’ This well-named half-hardy annual or hardy perennial has very large golden yellow flowers that can be up to 18cm in diameter. It is very erect and strong-growing, up to 60cm tall, and is relatively droughttolerant. It has an RHS Award of Garden Merit. PERENNIALS Rudbeckia fulgida This is the classic ‘Black-eyed Susan’, with sunflower-yellow flowers and a very black central cone. It does better in damper ground than many of the varieties. Rudbeckia ‘Prairie glow’ This stunning plant is one of the larger varieties with a height of 1.5m and a spread of 90cm, giving it a bush-like appearance in the height of summer and into early autumn. Rudbeckia ‘Irish eyes’ An unusual variety with a yellowish rather than brown cone as well as yellow florets. Its brilliant large, golden flowers keep coming from July through to October.




A couple of avid Country Gardener readers (John and Tony) approached me regarding last month’s issue that dealt with the transplanting of ancient olive trees from Spain. They were surprised that such old trees could be dug up and moved. I once looked into the practice of tree transplanting for a planning appeal against a local authority that had questioned the efficacy of the process. I discovered that it is not a new thing. The earliest reference I could find to a tree being dug up, its roots wrapped in sacking and it then being carried to a new site by two men slung under a pole, was an 11th century BC Egyptian tomb painting. The Greeks and Romans were also movers and planters of trees. Roman manuals have been found that give guidance on preventing damage to roots, excavation of an appropriate planting pit and, most interestingly, marking one side of the tree with paint before it is lifted so that it can be planted with the same orientation to the sun and wind that it had at its original site - something that is frequently forgotten these days, but can make a difference to establishment. Trees were transplanted in specially made baskets. The Romans are credited with introducing into this country the cultivated apple, the sweet chestnut, the walnut, the black mulberry, the medlar and the fig. All for eating. Tree specialists existed in Roman times – they were called ‘arborators’, a term that I recall was still in use in Woking, Surrey in the 1970s, where the Tree Officer for the council was known as the ‘Foreman Arborator’! It took us 1,000 years to get back to where we were under Roman rule. Wealth and stability are what is required for people to start ornamental gardening. By the time of Henry II wealthy citizens were planting large gardens for their personal pleasure. In the 1500s it was the Dutch who took the process of transplanting trees forward by recognising the benefits of pre-moving preparation. Operations such as undercutting, or transplanting were undertaken to promote extra fibrous growth in the rootball prior to the tree being shipped out to its final destination. Another significant tree event in the 1500s was the introduction into this country of the horse chestnut from the Balkans – a tree destined to have a significant impact upon our English

There’s nothing new about moving and replanting huge trees around the landscape. Mark Hinsley provides the historical perspective landscape. The planting of avenues had become fashionable among wealthy landowners by the 1500s. One of the earliest is the sweet chestnut avenue at Stourhead in Wiltshire, some of the trees of which survive to this day. In the 1600s Charles II returned from exile in France and Holland bursting with enthusiasm for avenues; lime and sweet chestnut trees were among his favourites. Arboricultural features became fashion items and whatever the King had all the large estate owners had to have too. By the 1700s Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown began his reign as a landscape designer. Brown’s clients were not the sort of people who wanted to wait for decades to see the fruits of their wealth, so Brown was using primitive equipment to move large trees around the landscapes. In the 1800s William Barron made a business simply out of moving large trees around the landscape. He invented horsedrawn tree moving machines. His most famous achievement was the successful transplanting of the massive 1,000 year old yew in the churchyard at Buckland near Dover. Specialised tree moving companies exist to this day, so John and Tony – it is not a new thing – just an extremely expensive luxury one! Mark Hinsley is from Arboricultural Consultants Ltd. www.treeadvice.info


Some wonderful contraptions have been moving trees around the landscape



Why I haven’t

CUT MY LAWN this spring

Jim Bennett from Dorchester decided not to cut his lawn this spring and summer and his piece of turf has become an unexpected haven for wildlife and wild flowers. By the first week in March this year, my neighbour with his bad knee and petrol driven, noisy mower had already cut his lawn twice. By the end of the year, I bet he will have done it 40 times. Now I know that for some people a pristine bowling-green lawn is one of their biggest prides in life, but for most in our time-stretched society it is a downright chore. I think my neighbour is one of these lawn loving folk. He feeds the lawn spring and autumn and one day last year I saw him struggling over it with a heavy roller, which would not have looked out of place on a Test Match wicket. In and around the villages near Dorchester I see a lot of this passionate, expensive and time consuming tending of lawns –big and small. I, for one, do not believe there is any scientific reason why a piece of grass needs to be chopped to within a millimetre of its life every week, so it is largely a cultural thing. My lawn is roughly 20 metres deep and give or take the odd curve is about 60 metres long. I hate cutting it. The grass box on my mower is broken and keeps falling off when I mow it and I normally end up with a unattractive lawn with grass cuttings strewn all over it. The key date in my story came in early April when I read in my Weekend Supplement that the RSPB is challenging everyone to give the mower a rest and leave at least part of his or her lawn to grow longer this year. I grabbed the idea with a passion If we didn’t cut lawns quite so much, said the RSPB, it would be great for all sorts of garden wildlife, from hedgehogs to sparrows to butterflies. It would also cut down on carbon emissions in the garden. And a longer lawn is generally better able to withstand hot, dry weather. And here how it has been for me - nice and simple: I haven’t mowed the lawn yet and it is early June. Admittedly there is a narrow path mowed through to the flowerbeds and 20

roses arch but the lawn is generally long -and I mean long. I don’t plan to mow it for another four weeks until early July. Then I will mow like normal until the end of the year. What does the overgrown lawn look like? The grass has grown lush throughout the spring, and has had spring bulbs pushing through such as Snake’s-head Fritillary and crocuses magically appearing from nowhere. I’ve seen little flowers appear that normally never get the chance to bloom, like speedwells, medicks and daisies. Getting down on my hands and knees and you can see beetles and other minibeasts gratefully using their new little jungle, while at night it is richer feeding for hedgehogs. But what about how it looks? If you mow neat edges around your longer areas of grass and a path through the middle of it, and pull out the odd huge weed it’ll show nosey neighbours that you know what you’re doing and it can look really quite beautiful. It is clearly one of the best ways to encourage wildflowers in a garden. What comes up in your no-mow patch depends very much on what you start with. If, like me, your lawn is old, rather weedy, and probably hasn’t encountered weed killers or fertilisers for years, a bit more conscious neglect could transform it into a thriving mini-meadow. This is because the average lawn is usually home to what many would describe as weeds. Shift your perspective slightly and, many of these so-called weeds will grow into wildflowers. I am a convert and I urge you if not this year then next to leave part of the lawn alone and a modest expectation from your turf would be plants such as daisies, speedwell, selfheal, buttercups and clovers. But oxeye daisies, cowslips and even orchids might appear too. It doesn’t suit everyone. It is after all quite wild and many people would say it makes for an untidy garden but there are other joys believe me.

Country Gardener

Weeding out the problem This is the time of year when gardeners spend too much time weeding so now is the time to look at a proper strategy for coping with the problem At this time of year if you were to log every hour spent in your garden, you would probably find that you do an inordinate amount of weeding. And while the first few weeks of tearing up these intruders can prove mildly satisfying, the task soon wears thin. Weeds are nature’s healing remedy for sites that are in a wounded, plantless state, but weeds and gardeners have different ideas of what makes for a good recovery. Armed with a better understanding of weeds, you can win every future skirmish with them, giving you more time for more worthwhile tasks.

Let sleeping weeds lie Every square inch of your garden contains weed seeds, but only those in the top inch or two of soil get enough light to trigger germination. Digging and cultivating brings hidden weed seeds to the surface, so assume weed seeds are there ready to erupt, like ants from an upset anthill, every time you open a patch of ground. Dig only when you need to and immediately salve the disturbed spot with plants or mulch.

Mulch, mulch, mulch Mulch benefits plants by keeping the soil cool and moist and depriving weeds of light. Some light passes through chunky mulches, and often you will discover—too late—that the mulch you used was laced with weed seeds. It’s important to replenish the mulch as needed to keep it about two inches deep (more than three inches deep can deprive soil of oxygen). In any case, you can set weeds way back by covering the soil’s surface with a light-blocking sheet of cardboard, newspaper, or biode¬gradable fabric and then spreading prettier mulch over it.

Weed when the weeding’s good The old saying ‘Pull when wet; hoe when dry’ is wise advice when facing down weeds. After a drenching rain, plan a rewarding weeding session with gloves, a sitting pad, and a wheelbarrow. As you head out the door, slip an old table

fork into your back pocket because there’s nothing better for twisting out tendrils of deep rooted leaves. Under dry conditions, weeds sliced off just below the soil line promptly shrivel up and die, especially if your hoe has a sharp edge. In mulched beds, use an old steak knife to sever weeds from their roots, then patch any open spaces left in the mulch.

Lop off their heads When you can’t remove weeds, the next best thing is to chop off their heads. With annual weeds, dead¬heading buys you a few weeks of time before the weed ‘seed rain’begins. Cutting back the tops of perennial weeds, like bindweed, reduces reseeding and forces them to use up food reserves and exhaust their supply of root buds, thus limiting their spread. No matter which method you choose, chopping down weeds before they go to seed will help keep them from spreading.

Mind the gaps between plants Close plant spacing chokes out emerging weeds by shading the soil between plants. You can prevent weed-friendly gaps from the get-go by designing with mass plantings or in drifts of closely spaced plants rather than with polka dots of widely scattered ones.

Water the plants you want, not the weeds you’ve got Make sure you deprive weeds of water. Placing drip or soaker hoses beneath mulch efficiently irrigates plants while leaving nearby weeds thirsty. In most climates, depriving weeds of water reduces weed-seed germination by 50 to 70 per cent. Watch out, though, for the appearance of deeply rooted perennial weeds, such as bindweed in areas that are kept moist. Enrich your soil with organic matter every chance you get. Soil scientists aren’t sure how it works, but fewer weed seeds germinate in soil that contains fresh infusions of good compost or organic matter. One theory makes elegantly simple sense: When soil is healthy and well fed, weed seeds sense that they are out of a job and are less likely to appear.



Benter Gardens, Somerset

GARDEN Visits THE BEST GARDENS TO VISIT compiled by Heather Rose

We’re introducing a key to facilities on offer at the gardens: High summer heralds all sorts of glorious gardens to visit, from rolling lawns and gracious herbaceous borders to intimate cottage gardens, many with quirky individual features that may give you ideas for your own garden. Here’s a selection from the areas we cover. We advise checking if possible before starting out on a journey as circumstances can force closures in private gardens. (For gardens opening under the National Garden Scheme visit the website at www.ngs.org.uk

KENTISBEARE HOUSE Kentisbeare, Cullompton, Devon, EX15 2BR Surrounding the listed former Kentisbeare rectory, the gardens have been redesigned and planted by the present owners to complement the surrounding countryside, with formal beds, lake view, kitchen garden and glasshouse, recently established wildflower meadow, and an interesting collection of trees and shrubs. Open for the NGS on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th July, 10am-5pm. Admission £5, children free.

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

BENTER GARDENS Benter, Oakhill, Radstock, Somerset, BA3 5BJ Two contrasting gardens: Fire Engine House has lawns, generous borders, narrow, enticing paths, and a small orchard with specimen trees. College Barn garden has swathes of perennials and prairie planting with ornamental grasses, hazel and hornbeam hedges, and intimate walled garden with vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit. Open for the NGS on Sunday 21st July, 10am-5pm. Combined admission £5, children free. For more details contact 01761 232605 or email alex@crossmanassociates.co.uk

BRENT KNOLL GARDENS Highbridge, Somerset, TA9 4DF Two garden openings: Ball Copse Hall is a south-facing Edwardian house (not open) on the lower slopes of Knoll with views to the Quantocks and Polden Hills, its front garden with curving slopes and paths; wild area and kitchen garden. Laburnum Cottage has more than 100 varieties of hemerocallis (day lilies), and sweeping mixed borders. Open for the NGS on Sunday 7th July, 2pm-5pm. Combined admission £6, children free. For more details contact Mrs S Boss & Mr A J Hill on 01278 760301 or email susan.boss@gmail.com 22

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HOLWORTH FARMHOUSE Holworth, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8NH This unusual garden offers an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity with many unusual trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, ponds, fish and water features, interesting hard features, wild spaces and beautiful views. Open for the NGS on Sunday 7th July, 2pm – 5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Anthony & Philippa Bush on 01305 852242 or email bushinarcadia@yahoo.co.uk

FOXHOLE COMMUNITY GARDEN Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6EB A beautiful community garden and orchard on the Dartington Estate, with a nature trail and garden crafts for children, talks and walks run on organic, no-dig low maintenance principles. Raised veg beds, orchard, herb, wildlife, wildflower, cutting flower, pond and potager planting areas. Open for the NGS on Sunday 28th and Tuesday 30th July, 11am-4pm. Admission £4, children free. For more details visit www.foxholecommunitygarden.org.uk

COTTESMORE FARM Newmans Lane, West Moors, Ferndown, Dorset, BH22 0LW Wander through a plantsman’s tropical paradise of giant gunneras, bananas, towering bamboos and over 100 palm trees, a garden of over an acre with large borders and sweeping island beds overflowing with phlox, heliopsis and helenium. Open for the NGS on Sunday 21st and 28th July, 2pm-5pm. Admission £4, children free. For more details contact Paul & Valerie Guppy on 07413 925372 or email paulguppy@googlemail.com

MEON ORCHARD Kingsmead, North of Wickham, Hampshire, PO17 5AU A one-acre garden with an exceptional range of rare, unusual and architectural plants including a National Collection of Eucalyptus - dramatic foliage plants from around the world. Visitors can also explore the 20-acre meadow and half mile of Meon River frontage attached to the garden. Open for the NGS on Sunday 28th July, 2pm-6pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Doug & Linda Smith on 01329 833253 or email meonorchard@btinternet.com www.countrygardener.co.uk



LECKHAMPTON COURT HOSPICE Church Road, Leckhampton, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 0QJ A new opening for the NGS on Saturday 6th July, 10am4pm. Admission £5, children free. Set within this Grade II listed medieval estate, the informal gardens at Leckhampton Court Hospice surround the buildings and includes a feature garden designed by RHS Chelsea gold medal winner Peter Dowle. There’s a new walk around a pond and into woodland, and protected mature trees. The gradient site offers spectacular views. For more details visit www.sueryder.org/ care-centres/hospices/leckhampton-court-hospice

CLOVER FARM Shalden Lane, Shalden, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 4DU A three acre garden with far reaching views. Herbaceous borders and sloping lawns down to a reflection pond, wild flower meadow, lime avenue, rose and kitchen garden, and ornamental grass area. Open for the NGS on Sunday 7th and Monday 8th July, 1.30pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Tom & Sarah Floyd on 01420 86294.

ANVIL COTTAGE South Hill, Cornwall, PL17 7LP Two garden openings: a plantsman’s garden with winding paths through a series of themed rooms; higher up, a path leads through trees to a formal rose garden and a raised viewpoint with spectacular views of Caradon Hill and Bodmin Moor. Windmills has formal paths leading to an extensive vegetable and soft fruit area; pond, pergola, and large lawns with trees and shrubs. Open for the NGS on Sunday 7th July, 1.30pm-5pm. Combined admission £5, children free. For more information contact Geoff & Barbara Clemerson on 01579 362623 or email gcclemerson@gmail.com

CHERRY ORCHARD BARN Luckington, Wiltshire, SN14 6NZ A charming one-acre garden created over the past five years from the corner of a field, with open views of the surrounding countryside. Containing seven rooms, three of which are densely planted with herbaceous perennials, each with individual identities and colour themes. Open for the NGS on Sunday 7th July, 1.30pm-5pm. Admission £5, child £2. For more details email both@tgpf.info 24

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Spreading bellflower - Campanula patula

Rare wildflowers at risk Matt Rees-Warren identifies some of Britain’s rarest and most beautiful wildf lowers and urges us all to fight for their survival A few years ago I spent some time working and studying in Australia where I was looking at indigenous plants species and natural ecosystems in the wild, and also their conservation and preservation in botanical gardens. It didn’t take long to realise that the native, endemic plant species were of vital importance and needed protection. If they disappeared from their local region they would cease to be wild anymore and only exist in botanic gardens, seed-banks or curious garden collections. Australia is unique and its isolation and size make it a very special place for fauna and flora but Britain too has its own collection of indigenous plants and heritage that needs to be protected too. The problem lies in the way Britain’s plant populations are a melting pot of native, naturalised and plain un-wanted - a by-product of centuries of gardening culture and the trade and movement of people from the times of the Romans to present day. This makes understanding and identifying the species native to Britain a hard and demanding task and not something that comes naturally to the horticultural world, let alone the British public. 26

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Many of the plants that have become naturalised – that is to say have taken on a wild nature – are seen as friendly invaders, coming from North-eastern Europe and fining their way here to settle and slowly integrate into the British climate. Some, however, are not friendly and these generally come from the farther regions of the world, taking hold with devastating consequences. This is not only true here but also in the rest of the world, where the problem is reversed and innocuous species here take on monstrous capabilities in their foreign environments. Purple loosestrife in USA and Gorse in Australia to name but two. Our most devastating is, of course, the deadly Japanese knotweed. If you combine this process with the monumental loss of habitat for our native species in the last fifty years you have an unsustainable situation that will, without us actually noticing it, result in a devastating loss of our heritage of many millennia of natural flowers. With that in mind let’s take a closer look at some the rarest species in Britain today and see why we should be looking out for their survival.

The Deptford Pink - Dianthus armeria

You may think you buy loads of pinks every year so what’s the problem? But with a dizzying array of cultivars to choose from the native species are being pushed to boundaries and less and less are being bought. The Cheddar Pink too is in

woodland-edge plant, like a foxglove. Critically endangered in the wild this elegant little plant would be a fine addition to any shady planting. The bright blue flowers open wider than other Campanulas – hence the name ‘spreading’ – and its elegant airy habit would work perfectly against large leaves or upright shapes.

Meadow clary - Salvia pratensis

decline in the wild and although bought more often it shows that it doesn’t necessarily mean we just buy these plants to bring the back. It’s more a consciousness that we have our very own group of Dianthus – The Cheddar Pink is the county flower of Somerset – and they are on the brink of extinction so without action to save them they will be lost to history.

Corncockle - Agrostemma githago

A perfect example of the battle that has raged between the farmer and the flower. Corncockle has endured the wrath of many over the

centuries for its poisonous properties that, before the advent of modern farming practices, found their way into bread due to its favoured natural habitat of the arable field. The farmer won. Corncockle is now on the edge of the extinction abyss and it seems beyond belief that some would, still today, see that as progress. Corncockle is part of the fabric of our national plant heritage and if you happen to be lucky enough to have an area of long grass then add the seeds of the corncockle and relish in preserving British botanical heritage.

Spreading bellf lower - Campanula patula

Now you may not be able to replicate the perfect conditions for this plant to thrive coppiced woodlands i.e. ancient practices that would disturb the ground. But it really is just a

It would seem that meadow clary is finding popularity in the modern buying habits of the nation but I would hope with that comes a recognition of its drastic decline in the wild. A far superior flower to non-native wild sage Salvia nemorosa, its conspicuous violet flowers pepper the hedgerows and woodland edges of Southern Britain. It’s been used medicinally for centuries and was known in the middle ages as an antidote to a sore throat and to clean teeth.

Lady orchid - Orchis purpurea

It would be remissive of me not to add an orchid to this list as we all know they are one of the most well-known of native plant species in decline. The surprising thing is how little we know about these mysterious plants and how detached we are from them. They are difficult to buy and to grow but not impossible, and if in doing so we reconnect ourselves to these inconspicuous beauties then that can only be a good thing. The lady orchid is, in fact, a bit bolder and has less elegance and more blowsiness than others. Its flowers are a bit like Bergenias but with an enormous amount more to give, and on closer inspection rewards the eye with classic beautiful orchid shape flowers of pale lilac. The list could go on and on as more are being added each year, as more of their wild habitats get swallowed up by our endeavours. We all garden for the discovery and wonder of plants and for most of us that doesn’t just end at the garden gate, yet we are losing our wild spaces to inspire us and inspire our children and grand-children, so maybe its there that we need to look and its there that we need to direct our knowledge and energies to. www.countrygardener.co.uk


Goat’s cheese, lentil and cherry salad


sensations by Kate Lewis Plums and cherries can rightly claim to be the real stars of British summer fruits and it is gardeners who are bringing them back into the spotlight Plums and cherries are two summer fruit trees that, in spite of their important place in British food heritage, have suffered a sad demise in numbers over the centuries in the UK, with up to 90 per-cent losses of commercial acreage since the 1950s. But more and more gardeners, in both rural and urban areas, are introducing these trees into their gardens, acknowledging the fact that the harvest is tastier, fresher and cheaper than the often-imported fruit in shops. Strawberries are often thought of as the star of British summer fruit, but both plums and cherries deserve as much attention in the kitchen… if they get that far and are not eaten straight from the tree!

PLUMS The six-week UK plum season starts mid to late July and within a few weeks the trees can be straining under the weight of the fruit. Once picked you only have a few days to use them before they start to turn. Thankfully it is a perfect glut fruit and enhances many dishes, both sweet and sour. Grown since Roman times, the plum perfectly suits the British climate. It is well worth making space for at least one tree in a small garden. Even better to grow two, as even self-fertile varieties are more likely to fruit with a compatible partner. ‘Victoria’ is probably the easiest to grow, especially if planting just one tree, and justifiably dominates the plum market. It is a high-yielding fruit and its initial tartness on picking is perfect for pies and crumbles. Its sweetness comes through after a few days of ripening in a warm room. Don’t forget the gages - small, round varieties of plum named after Sir Thomas Gage who imported them from France more than 200 years ago. They are often green, gold or yellow and beautifully sweet, and can be used interchangeably with plums for cooking. Both plums and gages are wonderfully versatile in the kitchen, especially lending themselves to puddings, and in any dish where you would use apricots, peaches or cherries... a plum clafoutis or frangipane for example. They are the perfect crumble fruit – the slight tartness balancing out the sweet topping. They are just as good in pies and definitely in a plum tarte tartin. One of the simplest, and most delicious, ways to cook plums is a compote – eaten at breakfast with yoghurt or after 28

dinner as a light dessert. Add 1kg of quartered plums to a wide pan with a splash of water and 100g sugar or honey, and a split vanilla pod. A couple of star anise or ½ tsp ground ginger are good additions. Cook gently to start with then increase the heat and summer for around 10 minutes until the plums are soft. On the savoury side of things, plums and gages play a similar role to apples and pears – add to salads with ham, mild cheese and nuts, or roast whole for a side to rich meats like goose or pork.

CHERRIES The British cherry season also lasts for around six weeks at the height of summer. Although Romans first introduced the fruit to the UK it is believed that Richard Harris – fruiterer to Henry VIII – established the commercial cherry industry which peaked in the 1950s with 7000 hectares of cherry orchards across the UK. Sadly, some 30 years later this number dropped to under 400. There are two types of cherry – sweet (Prunus avium) and sour (Prunus cerasus). The sour varieties are too tart to eat raw but are superior for cooking, especially for jams and pies. ‘Morello’ is the cream of the crop. Sour varieties are, however, harder to find so growing your own is the best option. Ideally, and with the right amount of space, grow a sweet tree and a sour tree. There are many varieties but, as with plums, choose varieties within compatible pollination groups if they are not self-fertile. Both favour deep, fertile and well drained soil. Sweet cherries love full sun, but sour cherries prefer a shady position in the garden, especially north- or east-facing walls. The biggest battle when growing cherries is keeping them from the birds. It is no coincidence that avium means ‘for the birds’. Trees will need to be netted and the fruit picked regularly. Cherries are as good a glut food as plums. Cook in pies, cakes and sauces. A pickled cherry is the perfect way to enjoy their sweetness into autumn as is a cherry liqueur. Don’t overlook their affinity with chocolate – cherries are delicious dipped in melted dark chocolate and left to chill, or in the centre of a rich chocolate cake. Like plums, they also freeze well, and although they won’t retain their freshness when defrosted they will still be good for cooking.

Country Gardener

Cherry clafoutis

Sweet plum chutney

Serves 4 INGREDIENTS: 400g cherries, stoned 70g butter 80g caster sugar 2 eggs 90g plain flour 150ml milk ½ tsp vanilla extract Icing sugar for dusting METHOD: 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 2. Lightly butter a 20cm diameter baking dish with some butter, then dust with a couple of tablespoons of the sugar. Tip in the cherries 3. Put the remaining sugar in a bowl and beat in the eggs, flour, milk and the vanilla extract with a large whisk. 4. Melt the rest of the butter in a small pan, then beat into the mixture. 5. Pour the batter over the cherries and bake for 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out damp but clean. 6. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Perfect with cold meat and cheeses. INGREDIENTS: 750g plums, halved and de-stoned 350g onions, finely chopped 125g raisins 250g light muscovado sugar ½ tsp crushed dried chilli 1 tsp sea salt 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds 150ml cider vinegar 150ml malt vinegar 1 cinnamon stick METHOD: 1. Put all the ingredients in a large pan. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. 2. Spoon into sterilised jars and seal

Goat’s cheese, lentil and cherry salad Serves 2 (main course) INGREDIENTS: 250g pack pre-cooked lentils 1 fennel bulb, finely slices, fronds reserved 200g cherries, pitted and halved 150g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled into chunks 50g pine nuts 150g salad leaves 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper METHOD: 1. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook for 2 minutes until toasted. Keep stirring to avoid burning. Set aside to cool. 2. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Heat the lentils according to the pack instructions. 4. Pile the salad leaves into a bowl. Add the lentils, fennel and cherries. Fold the dressing through. 5. Top with cheese and reserved fennel fronds.

Plum & oat bars Makes 12 bars INGREDIENTS: 150g unsalted butter 50g light soft brown sugar 10 tbsp golden syrup 400g rolled oats Pinch sea salt 25g crystallised ginger, finely chopped 50g blanched whole almonds 50g flaked almonds 5 plums, halved, stoned and cut into 1cm chunks METHOD: 1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Grease and line a 30-21cm baking tin with baking parchment. 2. Melt together the butter, sugar and half the syrup. Gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool. 3. Mix the oats, salt, nuts and ginger together in a large bowl. 4. Pour the melted butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Add the plums and mix together. 5. Spoon the mixture into the tin, press down with the back of a fork and bake for 30 minutes. 6. Gently heat the remaining syrup in a small pan. After the 30 minutes baking pour the melted syrup over the oats. 7. Bake for a further 20 minutes. 8. Turn the oven down to 120°C and bake for around 30 minutes until hardened. 9. Leave in the tin until cool, then cut into bars.



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Garden Offices

Forton Nursery Top quality Perennials,Shrubs and Trees. Located in Forton village, near Chard TA20 4HD Tel 01460 239569 fortonnursery@ btconnect.com Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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Visit us at Kitley Farm, Yealmpton, PL8 2LT Or order plants at

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Putton Lane, Chickerell, Weymouth DT3 4AF

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We stock up to 200 varieties throughout the year

Contact Gary: 01684 770 733 or 07500 600 205 Gary@cranesbillnursery.com www.cranesbillnursery.com


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For the latest garden news, events & advice - don't miss COUNTRY GARDENER

Call on 01278 786139 for details, or email: ava@countrygardener.co.uk

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

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


Country Gardener

n o i t i t e C omp




t on the high quality steel weeding tools jus We’ve 15 of these wonderful new rdener competition market to win in a great Country Ga

How is your garden coping with the onset of weeds this summer? It remains one of the hardest tasks to keep on top of at this time of the gardening season. Country Gardener has a solution to help out 15 lucky readers in our competition to WIN A BRAND NEW WEEDING TOOL from specialist tool manufacturers Burgon & Ball. It’s a new SUPER SLICE which will mean super-fast weeding for your gardens. This is a new way to tackle weeding this summer, with the launch of the new SUPER SLICE from Burgon & Ball. Super Slice is superb at weeding in contemporary garden finishes, and is also ideal for speedy weeding of larger areas. Hand forged in Sheffield, SUPER SLICE is a highly effective weeder with an extra-wide head for rapid weeding. It extends the effectiveness of the best-selling Weed Slice, effectively tackling weeds in additional areas of the garden and even the allotment. The arrow-shaped head is an impressive 23.5cm in width, and makes short work of weeding in larger areas. Skimming just below the surface, the high carbon steel head slices through weeds with minimum soil disturbance, cutting on the push and the pull stroke to get weeding done in half the time. It’s ideal for tackling larger weeding tasks, such as veg beds or even allotments. It is also particularly effective at weeding in the contemporary surfaces used in today’s gardens, such as aggregates, which can prove a challenge for some other weeding tools. With these finishes increasingly featured in gardens as part of the trend for outdoor living, SUPER SLICE is set to offer the weeding solution gardeners have been looking for. SUPER SLICE has been designed to retail for £29.99p. Burgon & Ball have been working with steel in Sheffield since 1730 and the company produces a range of tools which have been endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society which come with a ten year guarantee against manufacturing defects. Their range includes secateurs and pruners to suit all gardening jobs and all gardeners. To win one of these outstanding new tools all you have to do is answer the following question:

WHICH YEAR DID BURGON & BALL START WORKING WITH STEEL IN SHEFFIELD? Put your answer on the coupon below or send on a postcard to Burgon & Ball ‘Super Slicer Competition’, Country Gardener, Mount House, Halse, Taunton, Somerset TA4 3AD. The closing date for entries is Friday 26th July. NAME ______________________________________

Burgon & Ball start working with steel in Sheffield in:

ADDRESS ___________________________________


___________________________________________ POSTCODE __________________________________ *The competition to win a pair of new style Backdoor Shoes will be included in the August edition of Country Gardener





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

JUNE 15th CHEDINGTON OPEN GARDENS 10.30am – 5pm Details on 01935 891925






CERNE ABBAS OPEN GARDENS www.cerneabbasopengardens.org.uk




WIMBORNE MINSTER WIMBORNE IN BLOOM Details on 01202 880131 www.wimborneinbloom.org.uk



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Send them into us by email to timeoff@countrygardener.co.uk or by post to Mount House, Halse, Taunton, TA4 3AD. Your event can also be listed on www.countrygardener.co.uk - sign up and start adding your events today.


Growing your own

WATERCRESS It may sound a bit quirky but watercress is very easy to grow and doesn’t need a waterlogged area or a stream for that matter

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is a wonderfully tasty crop, hot and peppery, and you may be surprised to hear, very easy to grow. Watercress also has many health benefits accredited to it and has a superb flavour. It contains more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach. It is a very versatile kitchen ingredient and can be used to make soups, added to smoothies or with cheese dishes and sandwiches. It used to be that the gardening books recommended growing watercress in waterlogged areas or streams, which just isn’t always possible! You can grow watercress, very quickly and easily, in plastic plant pots. Watercress can be sown, outdoors from March to August. If using a cold greenhouse or cold frame, it can be sown and grown from February through to September. It can be harvested from March through to November Fill a plant pot with compost, pressing down firmly, until the pot is almost full. It can be filled almost up to the lip of the plant pot. and well a Liberally sprinkle the Growing watercress in watercress seed over often watered pot is remarkably easy the surface of the compost, too much is better than not enough, and cover. The seed can be covered with compost, but as it is so small you can cover with vermiculite. Vermiculite is very lightweight and offers little resistance to the growing seeds, whereas when covered with compost sometimes it can dry out and create a ‘cap’. Once covered, place the plant pot in the saucer. Watercress is low maintenance, except for watering. As a semi-aquatic plant it must always have access to water. This is achieved by permanently keeping water in the plant saucer. Initially, fill the plant saucer with water and keep topping up until the compost is thoroughly wet. If possible, avoid wetting the compost from the top of the plant pot, as this will disturb the tiny seed. Once the compost is thoroughly wet, ensure that at all times 36

the plant saucer is full of water. The water can be changed weekly, if it starts to discolour, but it must always be full. If possible, use rainwater to water watercress, as it is softer. Watercress does Watercress contains more benefit from vitamin C than oranges being in a cold greenhouse or cold frame. From March onwards, it can be placed outside, on a patio perhaps, where it also benefits from any rainfall. Just ensure that the saucer never dries out. Your watercress will be ready to harvest from about four to seven weeks after sowing, depending on the time of season sown and weather. It positively benefits from being harvested, quite hard, and being treated as a cut and come again crop. Start picking when the stems are large enough to handle, about four inches in length, ensuring that a couple of leaves are left on the plant at the base. They will then readily re-sprout and a continual harvest can be achieved, throughout the summer and autumn months. Even if you don’t have outdoor space, you can still grow watercress as a windowsill microgreen, harvesting tiny leaves of peppery goodness once 5cm or so high. Watercress can be sown year-round as a windowsill green because it needs only a little heat to get going.

..OR YOU COULD JUST CHEAT! If this sounds like a little too much work, cheat. Go to the supermarket and hunt out a packet of watercress with visible white roots around the base of the stem. Place the stem in a glass of water, removing any lower leaves that will rot underwater, and watch the roots grow. Change the water regularly to stop it going slimy and pot into compost once you have clear signs of growth. A single stem will happily grow in a 15cm pot on a windowsill.

Country Gardener

Home brew! Making your own herbal infusions is so easy, so economical and rewarding when you use plants from your garden Tea drinking is a national pastime. We as a nation are famous for it involving as it does the infusion of dried leaves from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) from which comes the leaves from all forms of white, black, green and oolong teas. But there’s some alternatives – probably out there in the garden -a range of herbs and fruits and spices which can also be steeped in boiled water to make aromatic infusions, known as tisanes. Many of us enjoy the taste and freshness of a tisane. But when it comes to growing a choice of flavours, the UK lags behind northern and southern Europe, which have much stronger traditions of growing and making a range of herb teas. Camomile flower, fresh mint and lemon verbena are already popular, but which are the best mints and what about scented-leaf pelargoniums? These are delicious as flavourings for cordials and cakes, so why not teas too? They’re easy to grow, and with the protection of a greenhouse you can harvest them from May to December. Delicate flowers of common and German chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and Matricaria recutitia) are also widely used. Lemon verbena is probably the top-ranking homegrown herb tea, easily outdoing lemon balm and lemon grass. Lemon verbena’s flavour is brighter, stronger, cleaner and very lemony. It’s a tender, deciduous shrub, but planted with good drainage in a sheltered spot. The scented-leaf pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’ is a favourite. It’s easy to grow, prolific, quick to strike from cuttings and nice-looking, with its downy, bright green leaves and pale pink flowers. It has a lovely rose flavour, reminiscent of Turkish delight, mixed with a bit of lemon. True Moroccan mint is a spearmint (Mentha spicata var. crispa ‘Moroccan’) that famously has the best and most intense flavour for tea. It produces a delicious infusion but

many tea makers prefer black peppermint (Mentha x piperita ‘Black Mitcham’), which is intensely minty, with a strong and delicious aftertaste. It seems to be prolific and easy to grow, allowing for a continual late- spring and summer harvest. These mints make delicious tea and they’re good for us too, excellent at soothing an upset stomach and aiding digestion, ideal for drinking at the end of a meal. Mint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of the digestive juice and bile secretions, aiding digestion. Several studies support the use of mint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome, where it has been shown to ease pain, bloating and gas. Ensure you use the right mint, as garden centres may try to sell you the wrong one. True Moroccan mint has a bright green, smooth leaf, pointed at the tip, with a leaf surface quite strongly indented by its veins, so it looks almost frilly. It has green stems that are purple at the base. Black peppermint has bigger leaves than Moroccan mint, which is smoother and less indented, with dark crimson main and leaf stems. They are both upright growers. Orange mint is more of a sprawler, with rounded leaves so smooth that they are almost shiny. Mints are famously invasive, but whatever people say, you can’t just leave them in the same pot for years at a stretch. The soil elements needed for the synthesis of the essential oils, which give them their flavour, will become depleted over time and you end up with leaves that are almost tasteless. If grown in containers, mints need to be replanted in new soil every year to maximise their taste. And keep harvesting so that the roots continue to produce fresh, strong-tasting leaves. So here’s five to try – lemon verbena, lemon basil, Pelargonium ‘Mabel Grey’, black peppermint and Moroccan mint – all which reduce or totally avoid caffeine, so are healthy as well as delicious.

Tea or tisane? To make a herb tea, tear a small palmful of leaves into small strips and place in a jug or tea pot. Or, if you have one, into the central chamber of a tisaniere. A tisaniere is a glass teapot with a central chamber. This holds the leaves but allows them to infuse the water with flavour. The clear glass allows you to see the beautiful green leaf and judge when the tea is ready. Pour over boiling or nearly boiling water and leave to infuse for five minutes – or to taste. www.countrygardener.co.uk


? e s ro t a th fy ti n e id u o y o d w o H identify s one of the hardest tasks is to try and With over 12,000 registered cultivar task easier. There are ways however to make the It can be quite a task to identify an unknown rose, especially as rose development has gone on for centuries with huge variations in colours, shapes, sizes and scents. One estimate suggests there are over 12,000 registered rose cultivars so it can be a real challenge. Flower colour, growth habit and relative vigour, foliage colour, flower shape, scent, flowering frequency will all help you narrow down the group to which any rose you are trying to identify falls into. You will find it can be daunting. Very specific identification is often only possible by comparing fresh, flowering specimens with plants in large reference collections. You can of course compare any mystery rose with pictures in books but bear in mind rose flowers can change in shape and colour as they mature. It may help to visit a rose garden which specialises in roses such as NT Mottisfont in Hampshire or Devon’s RHS Rosemoor where there are abundant varieties to look and compare with. Specialist rose nurseries will be able to help with advice. It isn’t however all doom and gloom. There is a checklist which will significantly help you get closer and closer to the answer. First make sure you have a correct rose group. Is it a shrub rose, or a climber or tea rose for example? Then be very specific about the colour, including shading and patterns that may be present. Then check the plant height and width - at different stages of growth of the plant. Next the growth habit - defined on the website as describing the shape of the plant - What season or conditions will result in flowering summer or autumn. And finally fragrance - how strong is the fragrance? Once you narrowed it down it’s time to go searching books, catalogues or one of the many flower identification apps available.

ROSE GROUPS: WILD SPECIES AND OLD ROSES This type includes roses which produce only one flush of blooms often on old wood and includes wild species which still find their way into gardens and true old garden roses such as Alba, Gallica and Damask. Often open petalled and therefore not immediately obvious as a rose variety.

a specific rose.

MODERN BUSH ROSES The largest of the group and therefore ones which need more explanation. These are bushy roses which can produce clusters of up to 25 blooms especially with the Floribunda group. The Hybrid Tea group are also bushy but have larger blooms either singly or in clusters of up to three. These roses typically bloom through to the autumn. These are the result of crossing hybrid perpetuals with tea roses and are upright, robust plants with long cane growth and less branching than some. The flowers are large, usually single, with Old roses high centres. Floribunda roses are the result of crossing polyantha roses with hybrid teas. These are more dense, twiggy, and rigid than the parents.

RAMBLES AND CLIMBERS Easier to identify as they differ in habit and in flowering from other rose types. Ramblers send up vigorous stems from their base each year and have a dramatic summer flush of blooms in large trusses. Climbers have more moderate growth and larger flowers on lateral stems – another significant identification clue.

Rambler roses



These are usually based on Groundcover roses old English roses, and are developed to stay around two feet high or lower. Grown on their own roots in general.

Roses which have evolved to combine the characteristics, vigour and survival ability of the old garden roses with disease resistance associated with modern cultivars and significantly the ability to repeat flower which has become so much in demand from rose growers.

This group is recognisable for its spreading and training habit with clusters of single or double flowers and usually repeat flowering all summer. They need little pruning or deadheading and are very resilient.



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

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

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

Hill Gardens

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

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

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

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