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Issue No 153 May 2017


Alluring alliums

filling the gap between spring and summer Hundreds of spring gardening events throughout Dorset

All year round lavenders

Great May gardens for you to enjoy Forcing veg for early picking

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GARDEN CENTRE Poulner Hill, Ringwood, BH24 3HW Tel: 01425 473113 Open 9am–5.30pm Mon–Sat 10am–4pm Sun Open all Bank Holidays



Stuckton Nr Fordingbridge SP6 2HG Tel: 01425 655150 Open 10am - 4pm every day Come to us for plants direct from the grower, you’ll get the best prices and plants that are fresh and bursting with life

● Basket plants including Fuchsias & 100 other varieties 89p each 20 pots for £16 ● Box bedding £2 (mostly 12 cell) ● Geranium box 12 cell pack £3 ● Geranium pots £1.85 each (12cm pot) ● 14”mixed wicker hanging baskets from £17 ● 14” Fuchsia and Geranium wicker hanging baskets £12 ● 1 ltr perennials selection £1.99 each ● Cottage Garden Plants: £1.99 6 for £9 ● Bush, Old , Specie, Patio and Climbing Roses: £5.99 4L Pot size ● Veg strips £1.75 Tomatoes from 99p ● Shrubs from £2.99 ● Herbs £1.49 ● Pansies & Violas £1.25 for 6 cell pack

For frequent special offers join our eMail list on our web site. 2

• Erin 75ltr Multi compost only £3.25 • Erin Tub & Basket compost 70ltr £3.99 • Erin Ericaceous compost 70ltr £3.99 • Erin Growbag 35ltr only £1.75 • 50ltr Horse Compost £2.65 • 50ltr Farm Manure £2.95 • John Innes No.3 Compost 20ltr £2.95 • Celebration Roses from £7.99 • David Austin roses only £16.99! • 1 Ltr Perennials only £1.99 • Tomato plants only 99p each • 6pk Veg only £1.99

TIMBER AND PROJECTS • 6x6 Fence Panel only £18.95 • 6x5 Fence Panel only £16.95 • 6x4 Fence Panel only £14.95 • 6x3 Fence Panel only £12.95 • Assorted plywood from £2.95 per sheet • Tanalised 3x3 Post 2.4mtr £4.95 • Tanalised 4x4 Post 2.4mtr £7.50 • Tanalised Decking 120 x 32mm £1.85/mtr • Tanalised 4x2 (100x47) 3mtr £5.40 • Tanalised 3x2 (75x47) 3mtr £4.00

Huge Variety of clearance garden furniture just in! From loungers to full sets. All at great prices!!

BESPOKE GATE MAKING SERVICE We now have an established gate making service. As well as our standard gates that can be bought from £29.95, we can make virtually any type of gate or door for your home or garden. See in-store for details.

Also visit our coffee shop on site Open 9.30am-4.30pm Mon–Sat, 10am–3.30pm Sun. Open all Bank Holidays Country Gardener

Up Front!

“‘Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!” Robert Orben


Two day Powderham festival ‘one of the best there is’

Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival which takes place at Powderham Castle on Friday April 28th and Saturday April 29th has won acclaim as one of the best garden shows of the year. The muchanticipated gardening event was named as one of ‘23 Best Garden Shows of 2017’ by the Sunday Telegraph. Garden writer Bunny Guinness placed it alongside RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Chaumont near Paris and the International Garden Festival in Berlin. “We’re second to none in terms of nurseries and chock-full of the region’s best plants but it’s the friendly, inclusive atmosphere that makes us different,” added Toby. Now in its fourth year, 2017 highlights include four speaker and demo stages hosting talks from Toby Buckland, and BBC radio and TV gardeners Pippa Greenwood and Adam Frost, plus over 180 plant nurseries, Devon food producers, live music, a Gardeners’ Pest Clinic and a new VIP Marquee. For information and tickets,



Netherbury, Dorset DT6 5LH Herbaceous borders, sloping lawns and primula-fringed streams run down to a lake in this three-acre garden see wonderful views; walk over the stream with hostas, gunneras, horizontal Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’, and around the lake; mature wellingtonias, wisterias, rhododendrons and planting round the house. Open for the NGS: Sunday 28th May, 2pm- 5pm. Admission £4, children free. Home-made teas. Mostly flat with some sloping paths and steps. Dogs allowed on short leads. Visitors also welcome by arrangement for groups of 10+. Contact Mr & Mrs Antony Hichens on 01308 488232 or email Find more gardens open for charity on page 24

Our full Festival preview starts on page 15 Smedmore House gardens open for all Smedmore House with its beautiful gardens and spectacular sea views of the Jurassic Coast is a hidden gem set in the glorious Purbeck countryside. On Sunday 28th May the house and gardens will be open to the public from 2pm until 5pm. There will be craft, plant, tombola & games stalls in the garden and tea with home made cakes in the courtyard with entertainment ably provided by the Wareham Town Band. Admission to the gardens is £5 and guided house tours is £3 to raise money for The Motor Neurone Disease Association. For more information about the event and MNDA please visit, phone 07811 871347 or you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Gardens open to look forward to: OWERMOIGNE OPEN GARDENS: Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th June. A rare opportunity to discover the lovely gardens six miles outside of Dorchester. The dozen or so gardens will be opening over two days in conjunction with the Flower Festival at St Michael’s Church. STURMINSTER MARSHALL OPEN GARDENS: Sunday 4th June 2017. The beautiful village of Sturminster Marshall in Dorset will throw open its garden gates to offer everyone a rare opportunity to explore the secrets of its inspiring gardens. SYDLING ST NICHOLAS: Sunday 28th and Monday 29th May. Sydling St Nicholas is a beautiful Dorset village, eight miles north of Dorchester, full of stone cottages and gardens, with a stream running through. 3

Mark Hinsley

MSc.Res.Man.(Arb), OND (Arb), F.Arbor.A

Arboricultural Consultants Ltd.

TREE ADVICE & REPORTING Established 1994

We are a Dorset based company offering a friendly, professional tree consultancy service for all areas of the South.

We specialise in:

■ Tree Condition Advice and Surveys ■ Tree Liability Assessments and Management Plans

Large traditional family-run nursery Wide selection of trees, shrubs, perennials & fruit bushes 4-acre woodland garden Many unusual plants Tea Rooms Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm. Sun & Bank Holidays 10am-5pm MACPENNY’S NURSERIES BRANSGORE Burley Rd, Bransgore, Nr Christchurch BH23 8DB Tel: 01425 672348

■ Tree Preservation Order Advice


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

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LARGE 5-6FT RHODODENDRONS AVAILABLE & PLANTING SERVICE Koirin, Crossroads Nursery, Woodlands, Wimborne, Verwood Road, Dorset BH21 8LN (Near Verwood) Mail order available

Tel: 01202 824629 Sorry, we don’t accept credit/debit cards

Horton Road | Ashley Heath | Dorset | BH24 2EE

A gracious new home, offering all the care you may need – at a realistic cost

St Ives House is a newly-built care home set in an attractive sylvan location near Ringwood. With well-appointed facilities and an abundance of light and space, the home offers a relaxed, safe and peaceful setting for those with nursing, residential and dementia care needs. Our caring, expertly trained staff offer high quality nursing care for all levels of need – from short-term respite, to high dependency and palliative care, as well as dementia care.

Come and see for yourself For enquiries please call

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Country Gardener Dorset

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NGS celebrates 90th anniversary weekend with gardens open in Dorset Gardens around Dorset will be opening their gates along with hundreds of others around the country for the National Gardens Scheme on the Late Spring Bank Holiday weekend of 27th - 29th May, marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the NGS, which raises thousands of pounds every year for nursing and caring charities. Nearly 400 gardens will be opening that weekend for the NGS in England and Wales, including 12 of the original gardens that first opened 90 years ago. Many of the gardens are in the counties covered by Country Gardener. The National Garden Scheme was started in 1927, to raise money for nurses. These days the scheme has around 3,800 gardens open every year to the public in England and Wales, and is the most significant charitable funder of nursing charities in the country, donating over £50 million so far. The beneficiary charities are: The Queen’s Nursing Institute, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Carers Trust, Hospice UK, Perennial, Parkinson’s UK and other guest charities. Knitson Old Farmhouse at Corfe Castle, Wareham, and the garden at 24 Carlton Road North in Weymouth will open on all three days of the anniversary weekend. Little Cliff at Sidmouth Road, Lyme Regis will open on Saturday 27th May, while Annalal’s Gallery opens on Sunday 28th May as does Edwardstowe Staddlestones at Witchampton at 50-52 Bimport, Shaftesbury,1692 Wimborne Road, Bear Cross and Slape Manor which is featured on page three of this issue. The Manor House, Beaminster will open on Sunday 28th and Bank Holiday Monday 29th May, and Staddlestones at Witchampton opens for the Bank Holiday Monday. For more details go to the NGS website at or pick up a county booklet available in many places. There’s also the main NGS handbook The Gardener Visitor’s Handbook 2017 available to buy in bookshops or order online from the NGS website or use our reader offer and buy the book at a discount. The Manor House, Beaminster See reader offer on next page.

BERE REGIS HOSTS GARDENS OPEN DAY Bere Regis is hosting an ‘Open Garden’ day on Sunday, 18th June from 10am to 5pm. A number of gardens around the village will be open, all within walking distance of the car park. No two gardens are alike; some small others large, some formal and some classic cottage gardens. In fact gardens of all shapes, sizes and styles. There will be places where visitors can stop for tea and cakes as they explore the gardens. Both village pubs will be open for Sunday lunch. The Rye Hill Farm shop and tea room will also be open where you can see a range of farm animals. Bere Regis is situated in the Purbecks in Dorset. It features in the Domesday Book and is associated with both King John and Thomas Hardy. In Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd Hardy describes the village using such colourful phrases as, “the half dead townlet of King’s Bere� or “the decayed old town of King’s Bere�. Bere Regis gardening club is now in its 27th year and still going strong. The club organises a monthly talk, garden visit or social event. The talks cover all aspects of gardening and country life. A particularly memorable one was by a besom broom maker. The club puts on a popular annual garden show, sponsored by the parish council. Proceeds from this event will go to Weldmar Hospicecare.


Gardeners’ cuttinGs in Dorset

Compost to your door at tempting prices With a history in organic composts, soils and aggregates, The Dorset Compost Company is making waves in the area, supplying local people with top-quality products, previously only available in garden centres across the UK. From top-soils, mulches, wood-chips, barks, and composts of every kind, the company has a long-standing 30 year history.

Making Britain bee-rilliant for bees Nature-lovers in Dorset are being urged by environmentalists, bee scientists and wildlife gardening experts to help the nation’s underthreat bees by creating pollinator-friendly gardens, schools and neighbourhoods, ahead of this year’s Great British Bee Count which runs from 19th May until 30th June. In its fourth year, the Great British Bee Count inspires members of the public to download a fun, free app to identify and find out more about how we can help some of the amazing bees that we share our towns and countryside with. More than 15,000 people took part in last year’s Great British Bee Count. This year’s app is even better, with more bees and plant species, clearer identification and more information on how to help bees. You can register to take part in the Great British Bee Count at

Country Gardener reader offer for the nGs hand book

Once again Country Gardener offers the National Gardens Scheme’s annual handbook to readers at a discount price. The Garden Visitor’s Handbook 2017 is available direct from the NGS at the reduced price of just £9.99 including postage and packing to UK addresses. The book is usually £11.99 from the NGS website and retails generally at £12.99. To purchase copies of the book using the code please either order via the NGS website at or by phoning 01483 211535. Remember the promotion code which is CGMGVH17. Please allow seven to 14 days for delivery. 6

Gone are the days of loading your car with compost and potentially making a mess; The Dorset Compost Company alleviate the stress by taking your order and delivering it direct to your home within three days. The company has a family heritage and has supplied private estates, private members clubs and even Buckingham Palace. Their goal is to help everyone grow healthier gardens all year round. Price examples include horse compost @ £3 per bag (50L) Multi-purpose compost @ £4 per bag (50L) Top-soil @ £3 a bag (25kg). Why not give it a go? See their advert inside this month’s Country Gardener, and the Compost team are on hand to offer advice for your garden on 01258 452592 or on 07518 372801.

Thorngrove open Day promises a fun saTurDay Thorngrove Garden Centre’s annual open day will be held on Saturday, 6th May from 10am to 4pm. Attractions include a fun dog show, back for the third year with lots of novelty classes for the family pet; reptiles; a display and advice from local bonsai and orchid clubs; various stalls such as tombola, cakes and hook the duck; and, of course, a choice of refreshments from Moo Moo Whippy’s ice cream van, a barbecue and afternoon tea. All the garden centre growing areas will be open with a vast selection of home-produced, top quality plants available to buy and Thorngrove’s horticulturists on hand to ask questions. Proceeds will go towards projects supporting disabled workers learn new skills and move towards independence. Call 01747 822242 or call into the garden centre in Common Mead Lane, Gillingham SP8 4RE for more information.

Country Gardener

JAPANESE MAPLES Acer palmatum varieties We produce and grow the largest selection available in the UK. We also offer many other choice seedlings and grafts ie. cornus, wisteria, conifers etc. Plants are pot grown and suitable for garden, patio or bonsai.

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

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

Tel: 01202 874283

Reach a passionate and affluent audience of gardening enthusiasts

Over 120,000 copies distributed every month If you would like to advertise your business or service in our Dorset magazine, please contact Tel: 01837 82660

Lynch Lane Garden Centre & Restaurant


Established 1901

162a South Street, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3NP

• Building aggregates, block & stone • Aquarium gravels and rocks • Water filtration gravels • Horticultural aggregates and cobbles • Pebble dashing and decorative aggregates • Caledonian cobbles and boulders • Decorative paving & garden features including Bradstone and Brett Stone products

Lynch Lane, Weymouth, DT4 9DN Telephone: 01305 766336

Any quantities available, large or small Crane lorry available for delivery of materials in 1.000kg tonne bag

The Gardeners Garden Centre

National garden gift vouchers sold and accepted here

Tel: 01308 422179 Fax: 01308 421956 OPEN TO RETAIL AND TRADE


Why not try our restaurant?

THE GARDENERS RETREAT All day breakfast served from 9am-3pm Monday-Saturday 10am-11.30am Sunday

✽ The best selection of plants in the local area ✽ Huge range of pots, composts and sundry items ✽ Seasonal bedding plants and bulbs ✽ Many special offers!

Lunch time special Monday-Saturday 2 Meals for £10 Sunday lunch choice of 4 meats served 12pm-2.30pm Or just come in for a tea or coffee and a slice of homemade cake Telephone: 01305 759503

Open 9am - 5.30pm Mondays - Saturdays and 10am - 4pm on Sundays




Events in Dorset

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

throughout May

5th May MORNING CHORUS BREAKFAST The Kingcombe Centre, Lower Kingcombe, Dorchester, 01300 320684

This open day is a chance to find out about the charity and the volunteering opportunities it offers. 10am – 4pm

29th April – 14th May TULIP FESTIVAL Forde Abbey, Chard, 01460 220231

27th, 28th, 29th May FLOWER GALA Rise with the lark and head out for an early morning guided bird walk to learn how to recognise different bird song. The morning ends with a hearty cooked breakfast. £18. 5.30am – 8.30am

Enjoy spectacular swathes of fresh new colour in the borders and grounds during April and May when more than 34,000 tulips come into bloom. 5th May

St Peter’s Church, Stourton, NT Stourhead, 01747 841152

7th May PHOTOGRAPHY WALK Moor Valley Country Park, Ashley Heath, 01425 470721 Spring floral displays including blooms from Stourhead Garden bring colour and fragrance to this historical church. 10am – 7pm

COASTAL WILDLIFE WALK NT Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour

30th/31st May Learn how to capture wonderful wildlife photos on a photographic safari around Moors Valley. Suitable for complete beginners. £8. 10am – 12noon 12th May

Explore the wildlife that lives along Brownsea Island’s shoreline. Join a marine expert on this free guided walk and discover many of the creatures that make our coastlines their home. 11am – 1pm 8

KNOLL GARDENS FOUNDATION VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT OPEN DAY Knoll Gardens, Hampreston, 01202 873931 The Knoll Gardens Foundation promotes a sustainable, wildlife friendly gardening style with little maintenance. Country Gardener

WILDLIFE DAYS NT Barrington Court, Ilminster, 01460 241938 Outdoor fun for all the family! Enjoy wildlife crafts and a variety of hands-on activities with Somerset Wildlife Trust, Wildlfowl & Wetlands Trust, Somerset Moth Group and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. 11am – 4pm A FULL LIST OF GARDENING CLUB AND OTHER ORGANISATIONS EVENTS FOR DORSET STARTS ON PAGE 58

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Allium ursinum, sometimes known as ransom

The delights of

onion f lowers

Gill Heavens selects her favourites from wonderfully colourful alliums -ideal for filling the gap after spring flowers have finished and before the summer ones arrive. They are ideal for filling the gap after spring flowers have finished and before the summer ones get going. Many years ago, as we meandered home from school, my little brother picked some flowers from the path-side for our mother. With a nose crinkled in disgust I said “but they are wild garlic, stinky!� When we got home my mum assured him that they were beautiful and lovingly arranged them in a vase. These pretty white flowers, which in my defence are also very smelly, are alliums, more specifically Allium ursinum, sometimes known as ransoms. Over the years I have grown to love this genus of plants, which is thought to contain over 800 different species, most of which are confined to the northern hemisphere. 10

Country Gardener

Apart from the indisputable contribution they continue to make to the culinary world, onions, leeks and garlic are all alliums; they also make an exemplary addition to the decorative garden. Alliums belong to the family Alliaceae and typically have umbels of tiny flowers, packed together to form one, great big, gorgeous whole. Mostly they enjoy dry sunny conditions, and well-drained soil, although like any rule worth its salt, there are exceptions. Here are a few of my favourites. Let us begin with Allium sphaerocephalon, the round headed garlic, which is native to Europe and Asia Minor. Actually the head is more egg shaped, with green buds opening to maroon giving a charming tie-dye affect. The flowers are held on slim stems up to 60cm tall. It cleverly produces aerial bulbils in the flower heads. To propagate, just remove the bulbils and plant 1cm deep. The onion that keeps giving!

The golden garlic, Allium moly, flowers in early summer with egg-yolk yellow umbels of star-shaped flowers reaching 25cm high. It will grow in light shade, but will tolerate some sun, making it ideal to brighten the darkness below shrubs. It comes from southern and south-western Europe, and will naturalise easily, producing many offsets. This is a polite way of saying, watch out or it will take over. Allium karataviense, the Kara Tau onion, to my mind should be called the chunky onion. In late spring it sends up thick spikes to a mere 20cm which hold pale pink flowers on a large spherical umbel the size of a tennis ball. A hefty pair of broad glaucous leaves lie prone at the base of the plant. As wide as it is tall, now who does that remind me of? The noble cultivar ‘Ivory Queen’ has pure white flowers. I can rarely resist a plant with the name giganteum in it. Allium giganteum can reach 1.5m in height with strapshaped leaves which die back before flowering. Fortunately it produces strong stems to hold the lilac flower umbels aloft, and they make wonderful spot plants in the border. Another monster is Allium ‘Mount Everest’ whose white flower heads can soar to 1.2m. If it is purest blue you are after, then look no further than Allium caeruleum, the azured flowered garlic. Thirty to 50 sky blue flowers are tightly packed onto the head creating orbs hovering up to 80cm in the air. It is found in the wild in Siberia and Turkesan and will thank you for planting it in a sunny well drained border. There are two American natives worth mentioning. Firstly Allium unifolium which was introduced into this country in 1873. It has large Barbie pink flowers on a domed umbel and looks best when planted en masse. Then there is the nodding onion or lady’s leek, Allium cernuum, which crossed the Atlantic a little earlier in the 19th century. In early summer the pendulous flowers emerge. They are a beautiful rose pink with more than 50 of them held on a loose spherical head. These would make a dramatic statement in a summer meadow. Finally we have two opposing characters. The reliable Allium cristophii, also known as the Star of Persia, starts flowering in late spring and will continue into early summer. The violet blue flowers, with an attractive metallic sheen, contain up to 80 individual blooms and when dried make ideal ornamental seed heads. Allium schubertii, sometimes called the Persain Onion, is the joker in the pack. Reaching 60cm tall, it has pinkish purple flowers which are held on uneven flower stalks, giving the impression of a crazy pink firework. As it is found from southern Syria to Israel, it can be a little tender, so best grown against a warming sunny wall or in pots. These are just a few examples of the alliums available to grow in our gardens. They are ideal for filling the gap after spring flowers have finished and before the summer ones get going. When they have finished flowering the seed heads are decorative, extending their interest right through the year. What is more they provide a great food source for pollinators. As the foliage of many of these species die back as they flower it is as well to use them in a mixed border where other plants can mask the messiness. Unless you like that kind of thing. Admittedly it took me a few years to catch up with my brother’s love of the onion flower, but now I’ve arrived, I’m definitely here for good.

Allium moly flowers in early summer with brilliant egg-yolk yellow umbels

Allium karataviense – grows to the size of a tennis ball

Allium sphaerocephalon - the round headed garlic

Allium giganteum – big, bold and architectural


All summer long

Lavenders are amongst the most easily grown plants for sunny, well drained sites and have long been cherished by gardeners. Now it’s possible to enjoy them over a long season and now is the time to get planting

L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ AGM

When it comes to plants that earn their keep, lavender tops all the charts. They look good all year round with neat mounds of narrow grey leaves and the aroma they impart when brushed against is a great delight. Then wonderful spires of purple flowers open in summer and can be cut to make into lavender bags. Some lavenders have great presence as architectural specimens, most are ideal for low hedging while all of them are wonderful for bees. They have renowned medicinal properties, decorative and culinary uses and are great for producing lavender oil. If pruned correctly they should last for years making them fantastically rewarding for very little cost and effort. Although normally associated with early and mid summer with the right selection it is Lavender plants provide possible to enjoy the elegant pathway options serene spectacle of lavenders over a longer season. But choose your lavender variety carefully. Lavender is best planted between April and May as the soil is warming up. It thrives in any poor or L. angustifolia ‘Nana Alba’ 12

Country Gardener

moderately fertile, free-draining soils in full sun, and is ideal for chalky or alkaline soils. On heavier soils, like clay and clay loam, lavender tends to be fairly short-lived, becoming woody at the base. To prolong the life of your lavender on heavier soil, add organic matter and gravel to improve the drainage and plant on a mound. If growing as a hedge, plant on a ridge to keep the base of the plants out of wet soil. Space plants three feet apart, or if growing a hedge, a foot apart or 18 inches for larger cultivars. Once established, lavender is fairly droughttolerant and is suitable for coastal planting and gravel gardens. Little feeding is required, although a sprinkling of potash around the base of plants will encourage more prolific flowering and improved flower colour. Don‘t add bulky manure or high nitrogen feed as your lavenders will grow very sappy and flop open.

Growing in pots Lavender can be grown in large pots, using a multipurpose or loam-based compost such as John Innes No 3, with some extra coarse grit, up to 30 per cent by volume, to improve the drainage, and some controlled release fertiliser granules. Ensure that the compost is regularly watered in summer, but for improved cold tolerance, kept on the dry side during winter by standing in a cold greenhouse or in the rain shadow of walls. Most lavender can be grown in pots, but it is ideal for tender types - H3 (half hardy) or H2 (tender), such as Lavendula canariensis, L. dentata var. dentata ‘Royal Crown’ , L. lanata or L. pinnata, which need to be brought undercover during winter and provided with light, well-ventilated conditions.

Pruning Pruning lavender varies according to the type of lavender you’re growing. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most commonly grown and the hardiest lavender of all. It has needle-like silvery leaves and bears short, upright spikes of flower in midsummer. The foliage and flower are very neatly balanced and for this reason English lavender is often used as a low hedge. You prune English lavender by cutting it back by two thirds in the second half of August and you can cut into the bare wood, if needed. New shoots will quickly appear at the base of the bush and these will have enough time to grow and harden up before winter comes. This pruning regime will keep an English lavender plant compact for many years and a wellpruned plant can last for 20 years or more without becoming L. angustifolia Little Lottie ’Clarmo’ woody. You can give English lavender another tidy in April to delay flowering time. This is particularly useful close to roses, because the main flush of lavender follows the June flush of roses. The ‘tufted lavenders’ have a flag-like petal at the top of each thick flower spike and they are often labelled Spanish or French lavenders. They flower much earlier, often in May, but are much less hardy than most garden lavenders. Give them a very gentle trim after the first flush of flowers has faded, often in late June, but don’t ever cut them back hard. It will kill them.

Cultivar Selection Gardeners can be spoilt for choice with lavenders. Some of the best purple-blue flowered English lavender, and good for hedging: L. angustifolia ‘Ashdown Forest’: Grey-green foliage and pale-lavender flowers from early summer. L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ AGM: Very popular cultivar with compact, bushy grey-green foliage. Dense, dark-violet flowers on stems from late June.

Dwarf cultivars for low hedging or front of border: L. angustifolia Little Lottie ’Clarmo’ AGM: Very compact grey-green foliage and pale pink flowers, late June. L. angustifolia ‘Nana Alba’ AGM: Light green foliage on a compact plant with profuse white flowers. Variegated foliage: L. angustifolia Garden Beauty ’Lowmar’: Compact, rich yellow variegated leaves in spring fading to cream in summer then green in winter and lavender-purple flowers, mid June. Silver foliage: L. × chaytoriae ‘Sawyers’ AGM: Silvery-grey foliage and tall conical bushy lilac-blue flowers, early July. Pink flowers L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote Pink’: Grey-green foliage and very pale pink/lavender flowers from late June. White flowers L. angustifolia ‘Blue Mountain White’: Pale grey-green foliage and pure white flowers from mid summer.

The best lavenders for bees A study at the University of Sussex has discovered that two lavenders, late blooming ’Edelweiss’ and purple variety ‘Gros Blue’ both reach 30 inches in height followed by the taller cultivar ‘Sussex’. The study found these were the most frequently visited by all bees - most of which were bumblebees.

Taking lavender cuttings French lavenders are short-lived and usually only last for five years. Take lavender cuttings from all your varieties every June and July. Choose young two- to three-inch shoots that have just started to harden up. Trim them under the leaf node, remove the lower leaves and plunge them into a 50 per cent compost-and-horticultural-sand mix. Sow seed collected from dry seedheads. Note that seeds of cultivars will not breed true resulting in a variety of flower colour. L. angustifolia ‘Ashdown Forest’


Vegetable seeds and plants, summer flowering bulbs, propagation and more! Orchard Park, Shaftesbury Road, Gillingham SP8 5JG T: 01747 835544 E: MON - SAT 9 - 5.30 SUN 10 - 4.30 Discover spring at



Country Gardener


Show Time!

Toby Buckland's Garden Festival

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What, where and when: Friday, 28th April 10am to 5pm; Saturday, April 29th 10am to 5pm Tickets £12.50p. Children under 16 free. Entry includes admission to Powderham Castle. Free parking. Sorry no dogs other than guide dogs.

Save £2.50p by booking your ticket online at by Weds 26th April.


New gardeners ’pest clinic’ There’s a new attraction at the festival this year. It’s in the form of The Gardeners’ Pest Clinic and visitors will be able to bring along their nibbled, mottled and spotty leaves and get advice from Britain’s top plant doctor – Doctor Ian Bedford of the world-famous John Innes Centre in Norwich. Ian will be on hand with his microscope to identify pests and offer advice. Slugs and snails now top the list of UK gardeners’ biggest pest problem, according to figures recently released by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Visitors will also be able to access a new eco-friendly way of dealing with slugs and snails: a deterrent spray from Grazers which applied to leaves stops slugs and snails from nibbling leaves but which doesn’t harm pets or wildlife. Festival visitors wanting advice are asked to bring affected plant leaves in a sealed plastic bag and to head to the Gardeners’ Pest Clinic. An audience with Ian is free and is on a first come, first serve basis.



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Treat yourself to the VIP trip A new, exclusive ‘VIP experience‘ is available at the festival this year for those who want to make it a very special day. The VIP marquee provides a base for visitors whilst enjoying coffee and pastries on arrival, a complimentary glass of fizz and award-winning locally produced food from Manna from Devon. There’s cooking and gardening demonstrations and the chance to mingle with other VIPs and celebrity guests. The VIP experience is sponsored by Exeter firm Hearth & Cook, suppliers of stoves and range cookers for over 40 years. Included in the price is entrance to the garden festival, all-day access to VIP marquee, complimentary glass of champagne, tea and coffee, soft drinks, canapes and buffet from Manna from Devon, gardening and cooking demo’s, cloakroom and goody bag. Tickets £50 each available at

FANCY BEING A VOLUNTEER AT THE FESTIVAL? Would you like to lend a helping hand and be actively involved in Toby Buckland's Garden Festival this year? We are looking for volunteers to help out with a variety of tasks over the two days of the popular festival on Friday ,April 28th and Saturday, April 29th. It won't be hard work but hopefully will be fun and you'll be involved in helping us make sure the whole event runs smoothly-generally assisting visitors, making sure they know where facilities are and where to go. We'll make sure you have a full briefing at the start of the day about what to do ,where to go and generally how to help make it a great day out. You can just do a few hours or more if you like. It will be up to you. We'll give you two free tickets for the festival, pay for your lunch and invite you to our Friday early evening festival party for exhibitors, celebrities and guests. It's a great opportunity to be part of what is now the leading gardening event in the South West.

If you'd like to join us as a volunteer just send an email to 16

Country Gardener

High quality, great prices and advice from the growers - why specialist nurseries are the heart of the garden festival The idea behind Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival came from the conviction of supporting specialist nurseries and plant growers and to give the public the chance to meet and buy plants from the people that grow them and tap into their specialist knowledge. Visitors to the festival will again see some of the best growers in the country. It's again one of the best line ups of nurseries seen in the West Country, with a lot of emphasis on Devon growers but also specialist nurseries from Wales, the Midlands and the North. Atlantic Botanic Barnstable based showing plants for coastal gardens. Avon Bulbs Award winning Somerset nursery -quality rare and specialist spring bulbs. Barracott Plants Shade loving plants including ferns and on this stand you will find specimen plants including podophyllum and myosotidium. Bean Place Nursery from Kent showing hardy herbaceous perennials. Calmazag a wide range of both hardy and annual an extensive range of dianthus. Chrysanthemums Direct the only nursery growing cut flower chrysanthemums in the UK.

SUPER SATURDAY SEED GIVEAWAY AT THE FESTIVAL Saturday at Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival will be a seed giveaway bonanza for visitors. The first 1,000 visitors who bring along the attached Country Gardener coupon will be given £10 worth of Thompson & Morgan high quality flower and vegetable seeds. This is a special treat for gardeners planning to visit on Saturday as leading seed specialists Thompson & Morgan donate their high quality seed packets to the festival.

‘Seedy Saturday’ COUPON

FREE THOMPSON & MORGAN SEEDS WORTH £10 Just take this coupon along to the ‘Seedy Saturday’ desk outside the Tea Tent on the Lower Lawn at Powderham Castle Terms and conditions. The offer is available only to those who have purchased a ticket to Toby Buckland Garden Festival for Saturday. One pack per coupon, photocopies not accepted. The offer is strictly Saturday only and not available for the Friday. Seeds available on a first come first served basis while stocks last.

Dartmoor Chilli Farm growing over 100 varieties of sweet pepper and chillies. Devon Pond Plants Wonderful quality aquatic plants for ponds, watersides and other damp places. Floyds Climbers quality clematis and climbers. quality bulbs, tubers, corms and rhizomes. Garden of Japan popular Japanese maples. Gardeners’ Delight Nursery trees, roses, shrubs, perennials, herbs, alpines and bedding plants. Growers Organic organic vegetable, herb and flower plants and seeds from South Devon. Heucheraholics over 400 varieties of heucheras, xheucherallas and tiarellas. Hidden Valley Nursery an award-winning three-acre garden and specialist plant nursery, specialising in hardy perennials shade loving plants. Hoyland Agapanthus One of the few nurseries in the UK which grows agapanthus and tulbaghia. Over 30 varieties on sale Ice Alpines A specialist Worcestershire nursery producing British grown quality alpine plants.. Kelnan Plants West Cornwall nursery specialising in Restios, southern hemisphere plants -awarded gold medals galore at Chelsea Flower Show. Lands End Nursery Hardy shrubs and perennials and British grown. High quality plants in two litre to seven and a half litre pots, evergreen plants. Lewis Cottage Plants Wonderful plants from deep in the Mid Devon countryside, surrounded by four acres of wild, informal but beautiful gardens and nursery. Lilies & Chillies rare and quality lilies plus an outstanding selection of martagon lilies, perennial plants and bulbs, some unusual, some rare and some just traditional. Lincs Fuchsias, fuchsia specialists and enthusiasts. Meadow in My Garden high quality flower seed mixes and seed balls to give beautiful low cost low maintenance wildlife. The business is based on a love of flower meadows. Mendip Bonsai Studio one of the leading national exhibiting bonsai nurseries in the country. Mendip Bonsai Studio has numerous RHS gold medals. Millwood Plants - unusual plants for woodland gardens and shady places, also cottage garden plants, alpines and old fashioned roses. 17

New Forest Hostas Family run nursery in The New Forest specialising in hostas and hemerocallis. Oska Copperfield. You will find chrysanthemums, phlox, geums, geraniums, nepta, melittis, lamium, epimedium and violas. Palm Traders one of the countries leading suppliers of palms and exotic plants. Petrichor Bulb Specialists experts in flowering bulbs, corms, tuber, roots and bulbous plants. 'Petrichor' means the fragrance of rain on dry ground. Pheasant Acre specialise in gladioli corms, dahlia tubers, plugs and plants and bulbs for all seasons. Plants for Small Gardens helianthemums, aubrieta, dianthus and sedum. Pounsley Plants Jane Hollow expanded her nursery to include difficult-to-find old roses and other more modern varieties, which thrive in the West Country. Stretegate Camellias camellia specialists from Torquay Sunray Plants From Newton Abbot in Devon. Tartendown Nurseries A traditional Cornish nursery which offers a huge variety of well tended plants, traditional and exotic varieties. lots of perennials, shrubs, alpines, hedging and trees. Thornhayes Nursery A famous Devon nursery run by Kevin and Pat Croucher and celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a series of events. Torbay Topiary A family business, established in 2012, offering locally grown topiary trees and evergreen plants for hire to events in South Devon. Tortworth Plants a range of alpines and herbaceous perennials, including rare and unusual varieties, plus classic favourites. All plants are grown on their nursery in Gloucestershire. Urban and Rural Devon nursery specialising in the unusual. Based at Matford near Exeter, the nursery is just a few years old but has a fantastic reputation. Westcountry Nurseries Popular Bideford nursery specialising in shrubs. Whetman Pinks award winning and famous nursery Whetman Pinks has eye catching and nose tickling displays of pinks award winning, superior varieties of pinks. Wild Thyme A mother and daughter team, growing a selection of native British wildflowers, bee and butterfly friendly perennials and scented shrubs philadelphus, buddleias, tree lupins and perennial stocks.

Buy now and pick up later The PLANT CRECHE marquee on the North Lawn at Powderham means you can buy your plants and then leave then in safety while you continue to look around. The PLANT CRECHE is sponsored by Renaissance Villages, the developer behind Millbrook Village, Exeter's only retirement village. Millbrook Village offers a total of 164 apartments and cottages, in addition to a luxury resident clubhouse. 18

Country Gardener

WHO’S SPEAKING! Our Speakers' Tent has a fantastic line up of celebrity speakers, plus inside Powderham Castle itself is a wonderful selection of gardening themed talks over the two days of the festival. Talks will also be taking place at various other locations across the festival - check the website for more information

The Speakers' Tent line up includes: TOBY BUCKLAND Festival host and Devon-born gardener, Toby is out and about and on stage at the Festival both days, talking on Top West Country Plants, as well as speaking in the VIP Marquee and the Chill & Grill down in the Deer Park. You can catch Toby back on TV in late May when he is back with the BBC team reporting from RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

PIPPA GREENWOOD Trained botanist, author and Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Pippa is famed not just for her knowledge of pests and diseases but vegetable-growing and it is veg that Pippa will be talking about on Friday 28th April. Pippa has her own website, where she offers her ‘AskPippa’ garden advice service plus a topical garden comment and garden products.

ADAM FROST Award-winning Chelsea Flower Show designer, Adam Frost, cut his horticultural cloth working with Geoff Hamilton

In the Speakers' Tent at Barnsdale and now can be seen on BBC Gardeners’ World on Friday nights sharing the development of his own Lincolnshire plot. Adam will be joining us on Saturday 29th April to share his passion for plants and designing gardens as well as his belief that gardening is good for us mentally and physically – “It’s better than the gym!” he says.




Popular television and radio gardening expert Pippa Greenwood, ‘GROWING YOUR OWN VEGETABLES’

Gold winning Chelsea Flower Show designer and BBC’s ‘Gardeners World’ presenter Adam Frost, talks on ‘DESIGNS ON YOUR GARDEN’


Festival host Toby Buckland, ‘GROW SOMETHING DIFFERENT’ choice plants for the West Country

Festival host Toby Buckland, ‘GROW SOMETHING DIFFERENT’ - choice plants for the West Country


‘GROWING BEER’ with Beer Sommelier Ben Richards – the story of growing beer on a six metre allotment in East Devon

Ollie Hutson, head gardener The Pig Hotels and Alex Coutts, head gardener, The Pig at Combe, Gittisham. Ollie and Alex on HOW HEAD GARDENERS AND HEAD CHEFS WORK TOGETHER.


Pippa Greenwood returns for IN CONVERSATION with Jim Buttress, one of the UK’s leading gardening experts

Adam Frost IN CONVERSATION with Jim Buttress


Q&A SESSION with Pippa Greenwood, Jim Buttress and Kevin Croucher from Devon specialist nursery Thornhayes

Q&A with Toby Buckland, Adam Frost and Jim Buttress

JIM BUTTRESS Back for a third year, TV gardener and author, Jim Buttress, is best known for BBC’s Big Allotment Challenge. His horticultural career has taken him from superintendent of the Royal Parks, to RHS shows judge and head judge for Britain in Bloom for 25 years. Hear Jim interviewing in his amusing, inimitable style in the Speakers’ Tent and on various stages around the Festival. See boards for details.

Kitchen Cuttings FRIDAY 28TH APRIL



Matt Jackson, Trustee, The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum ‘WHAT NEXT FOR THE GARDEN HOUSE?’ The Garden House should carry a health warning as it is addictive! Ten acres of extraordinary gardens on the edge of Dartmoor.

‘BONSAI DELIGHTS’ with John Trott from Mendip Bonsai. John has won 90 gold medals for his work, and has now established Mendip Bonsai as one of the leading national exhibiting bonsai nurseries in the country.



Rob Evans, from Pheasant Acre Plants, on ‘DAZZLING DAHLIAS’ Gold medal winning nursery specialising in dahlias and gladioli.


‘HENS AT THE BOTTOM OF MY GARDEN’ with David Rowe, of the British Hen Welfare Trust

‘TOPIARY TALKS’ with Andrew Tolman, 10 years as senior gardener for HRH Prince of Wales at Highgrove.


Tom Hynes from the North Devon Biosphere Service and Devon Hedge Group discusses why ‘DEVON HEDGEROWS ARE WORLD CLASS’





Properly layering strawberry plants can make a huge difference to the size and quality of your crop- and the good news is it’s a very straightforward operation Considering their exquisite taste, strawberries are very easy to propagate. You would think that such a luxurious food would be a bit tricky to grow, not at all, propagating strawberries is straightforward and rewarding. The easiest way to propagate strawberries is from an existing strawberry plant that you already have in your garden. Most strawberry cultivars produce young plantlets along their stems, this is a natural process that you can take advantage of.

Propagation by layering Layering of these stems or 'runners' involves pinning the stem to the soil surface or pot of compost and severing the young plantlet when it has taken root. This is best done in late summer. Because strawberries naturally send out these runners and young plantlets root along their lengths it is not always necessary to pin down the stem in order for the plantlet to root. If you want to propagate your own strawberries in your garden it is best to start afresh by investing in a few virus free parent plants from a good nursery. Two or three plants should be enough if you want to propagate enough new plants to fill a strawberry patch. If you already have an established strawberry patch in your garden and are aiming to start another, maybe of a different variety then keep it well away from the established patch which might have virus carrying plants in it. The first thing to do with the parent plants that you intend to propagate from is not to allow them to flower. This encourages them to produce plenty of runners that will produce the young plantlets. As the runners develop and spread out from the parent plants they will root and produce the young plantlets at the points where they root, you can encourage this by pinning the runners down carefully, maybe with a tent peg. Once the young plantlets have rooted, lift them carefully with a handfork or trowel, being careful not to damage the roots. You can then severe the plantlets from the runners and move them to their new home or pot them up and grow them on. Propagating strawberries by layering is by far the easiest method, but new plants can also be grown from seed or large plants can be carefully divided. 20

During the growing season, give strawberry plants a liquid potash feed – such as a tomato feed – every seven to 14 days. In April or May, apply general fertiliser such as Growmore at a rate of 50g per sq m (2oz per sq yd). In a heated greenhouse or conservatory, it is possible to bring forward flowering by several weeks, so long as the temperature does not go above 16°C (61°F), because this will inhibit flowering. You will also need to hand pollinate the flowers. As fruits start to develop, tuck straw underneath them to prevent the strawberries from rotting on the soil. Otherwise use individual fibre mats if these are not already in position. The straw or matting will also help to suppress weeds. Weeds that do emerge should be pulled out by hand. After cropping has finished, remove the old leaves from summer-fruiting strawberries with secateurs or hand shears. Also remove the straw mulch, fibre mat, or black polythene, to prevent a build-up of pests and diseases. Expect strawberry plants to crop successfully for three years before replacing them. Crop rotation is recommended to minimise the risk of an attack by pests and diseases in the soil.

Strawberry types Summer-fruiting varieties are the largest and most popular. They have a short but heavy cropping period over two or three weeks. There are early, mid-, and late fruiting cultivars cropping from early to mid-summer. Perpetual strawberries – sometimes called everbearers – produce small flushes of fruits from early summer to early autumn. The crops are not so heavy as the summer-fruiting ones and the fruits are smaller, with the plants less likely to produce runners. Perpetual strawberries are useful for extending the season. To concentrate strawberry production in late summer and early autumn, remove the early summer flowers.

The Harlequin ladybird was introduced from Asia to North America in the 1980s to control aphids that were feeding on crops


Ladybirds – THE GOOD AND THE BAD! Did you know there are good and bad ladybirds in gardens these days – and telling them apart is difficult Who would have thought it? Pretty little ladybirds loved by children so much through the years that their name adorns the famous series of books, but now some pose a threat to plants – and other ladybirds. There are good and bad ladybirds in some parts of the UK these days. While the black and red spotted ladybirds are good for the garden, killing off thousands of aphids and other insects, there are others, notably the larger Harlequin ladybirds that have swept in from abroad are definitely not the gardener’s friend, and there were reports last autumn of swarms of them. Distinguishing the good ones from the bad is not easy – and there are a lot of ladybird species around. Ladybirds are beetles of the order Coleoptera. They have biting mouth parts and colourful hard wing cases. In Britain there are 46 coccinellid species (from the Latin meaning scarlet), with 26 species recognisable as ladybirds. Ladybirds are regarded as beneficial to the garden as they eat lots of insects that damage plants, such as aphids, scale insects and thrips. Some ladybirds such as the 16-spot, 22-spot and orange varieties feed on mildew which also damages garden plants. There are just a couple of species, the 24-spot and the bryony varieties, that feed on plant material. But Harlequin ladybirds pose a threat to our native ladybirds because they have such voracious appetites that they easily out-compete native ladybirds for food. It is almost certainly the reason why our two-spot ladybird is now so scarce. The Harlequin ladybird was introduced from Asia to North America in the 1980s to control aphids that were feeding on crops. However, they quickly spread across the United States to become the most common ladybird there. Its arrival in Britain in 2004 was probably accidental but it might have blown over in strong winds following its spread across Europe where it was introduced from North America, again for aphid control. More than 100 different colour patterns have been recorded which makes it difficult to identify them, especially from the seven-spot ladybird, which is also variable. Unlike most other ladybirds, the Harlequin doesn’t stick to one type of food. Once it has finished feeding on aphids in the crops it then turns its

attention to other ladybird eggs and larvae and even the eggs and caterpillars of moths and butterflies. The Harlequin ladybird is also known as the multicoloured ladybird, because the colour patterns of these beetles vary so much. The first specimen of Harmonia axyridis (its scientific name) was identified by Carl Linnaeus, the 18th-century scientist who named and classified many organisms; it was of the chequer pattern colour variant, and so he called it the Harlequin. In America, it is often called the Halloween ladybug (although it is a beetle, not a bug), since it can be seen gathering in houses about that time of year.

How to tell a Harlequin ladybird from British species

If it is less than 5mm (1/5 in) in length, it is not a Harlequin ladybird. If it is red with seven black spots it’s a 7-spot ladybird. If it has white or cream spots it is a striped ladybird, an orange ladybird or a cream-spot ladybird. If it is large, dark red with 15 black spots it’s an eyed ladybird. If it is black with four or six red spots, with two spots at the front of the outside margin of the elytra (the wing case) it’s a melanic form of the two-spot ladybird. If it has an orange pronotum and fine hairs over the elytra it’s a bryony blackbird. It sounds complicated and it doesn’t help that the Harlequin ladybird is very variable in appearance. The main thing is that they will be bigger than the usual ladybird, with black wings instead of red, and red spots instead of black. They won’t harm you but you may not like too many in the house, so just catch any in a glass, cover it with paper and put it outside. The advice is not to squash any ladybirds in case they are a native species. Report any sightings of any ladybirds to the Ladybird Survey so that a picture can be built up of the activity of Harlequin and native species in the UK. You can find an online form to fill in at or write to The UK Ladybird Survey, CEH Biological records Office, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB.




– the father of amateur gardening by Vivienne Lewis

The bestselling Victorian garden writer with the unusual name brought gardening to the masses in this country in the 1870s with his books and journalism including the magazine Amateur Gardening, still published today In the 1870s amateur gardeners were trying to copy the complicated carpet bedding style. Then seen in parks and great gardens, with patterns of plants created in all colours and shapes. The idea was that carpet bedding emulated the popular Oriental carpets to be seen in many Victorian sitting rooms. It was hard work, planting out hundreds of tiny plants to a template design. One of the bestselling garden writers of the period spoke out against this, well before better known writers William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll. His name was unusual – James Shirley Hibberd, and he became a household name. Shirley Hibberd is sometimes thought of as an archetypical Victorian who loved elaborate plantings, but he opposed it for the amateur gardeners he wrote for, saying that it wasn’t suitable for small domestic gardens. Today the gardens he created are long gone and his books were out of print for many years before facsimile editions were produced, but he should be remembered as a pioneer of promoting gardening for the masses in his books and the magazines he edited, including the popular Amateur Gardening, still published today. He was not brought up in a leafy middle class area or in a rural part of the country and he had no connection with gardening until later in life. He was born in 1825 in the Mile End Road

Victorian gardens started to emulate designs found on Oriental carpets in living rooms 22

in Stepney, east London, the son of a retired sea captain who went on to become a printer. His father died when he was in his teens and he became a bookbinder and bookseller. There are lots of references to his writings in books about the history of gardening, but he remained an obscure figure of the past until the garden historian Anne Wilkinson researched his life, eventually writing his biography. In 1998 she published a paper on Shirley Hibberd in the journal of the Garden History Society, and that told us a lot more about this man who had been so influential in Victorian gardening for the general public, and a pioneer in the horticultural industry. The intriguing second name ‘Shirley’ could be because of a connection to the wealthy Shirley family who had owned land in the Mile End area in the previous century. James Shirley Hibberd was primarily a journalist and writer. He became interested in vegetarianism for a while and contributed to the journal of the Vegetarian Society (he was possibly also the editor). This lasted about three years; he was also an ‘operative chemist’, the name for scientists who lectured, often to medical students as well as carrying out some research. He published a book on chemistry for beginners in 1850, the first of a range of about 15 books, and as his interest in gardening increased he published books on various aspects of gardening including conservatory and greenhouse gardening, on roses, ferns, ivy and vegetables. He edited gardening magazines apart from founding Amateur Gardener. He wrote from personal experience as an amateur gardener to other amateur gardeners, trialling varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables, introducing innovative horticultural methods, some of which worked better than others. He was particularly interested in the potato, after the famine in Ireland, and trialled 200 varieties. Sadly, although he moved around and so made more than one garden, none have survived – his gardens and houses were in suburbia but later the capital’s development encroached on these areas and now there are rows of houses and blocks of flats covering the sites.

Country Gardener

His communication skills were honed by his time as a lecturer and he became a popular after-dinner speaker. Weekly newspapers and magazines were the popular medium of the day and he became a famous figure. His perhaps best known book, Rustic Adornments for Homes of Taste published in 1856, went into several editions, one the following year. The book covered various aspects of gardening as well as bee keeping, fern growing, aquariums and keeping birds, making summer houses and growing plants in the elegant glass Wardian cases that had started out as a way of transporting plants by long sea voyages but became fancy, miniature glasshouses for keeping plants in domestic parlours. There had been books published before on these subjects but Shirley Hibberd put them in a single volume with illustrations and quotations from poetry. It appealed to the growing middle classes who aspired to having lovely homes without spending a fortune and could not afford employing expensive labour. In 1858 he moved with his wife Sarah to a house with a long garden in Stoke Newington; he began editing The Floral World and Garden Guide, a monthly newspaper for amateur gardeners and used the renovation of his garden to show practical gardening to his readers. As the garden progressed they read about the emergence of a rockery, a fern garden, jardiniere, fruit and vegetable experiments. He wrote about plunging plants in pots into the border to spruce it up when it lacked colour and interest. The amateur gardening market was growing but it was still small and the gardening publications of the day were used to addressing the owners of large gardens and estates and their teams of professional gardeners. Shirley Hibberd wrote about town gardens that weren’t grand and needed plants resilient to smoky conditions, and other garden writers such as John Lindley, the editor of The Gardeners’ Chronicle were forced to acknowledge the changing pattern of gardening in this country. James and Sarah Shirley Hibberd moved house a couple more times and created more gardens, and next to one of them he made an experimental garden from a rough field exposed to the east wind, making a specially designed shed for his bees, breeding dark coloured poultry so that thieves couldn’t see them at night, and glasshouses – which were wrecked along with crops in a hurricane and hail storm in July 1874. Windows in his house were smashed, and local market gardens and nurseries were so devastated that he set up a fund to help them.

Sarah was a semi invalid with a heart defect (she used to look after the fernery glasshouse, unable to do more); she died aged 56 in 1880 after 30 years of marriage. They had no children. Shirley Hibberd remarried four years later his cook Ellen Mantle aged 28 and 31 years his junior. In 1885 they had a daughter also called Ellen but known as Nellie; while the baby survived, Ellen died four days later of septicaemia. Some of his ideas on fruit pruning and vegetable growing were ridiculed but he remained an influential figure, starting Amateur Gardening in 1884, and he was a constant public speaker. He edited a scientific journal, revived the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Chiswick and organised international conferences. He died in 1890, quite suddenly, from exhaustion during a conference he had organised on the centenary of the introduction of chrysanthemums to Britain. We have to thank Anne Wilkinson for delving into the life of an extraordinary Victorian who helped so many ordinary gardeners in fulfil their dream of an attractive garden without outside help, a man who in his time was as famous as Alan Titchmarsh is now, but who was forgotten about for so long. If you want to read more about James Shirley Hibberd, look out for Anne Wilkinson’s biography of him entitled Shirley Hibberd: the Father of Amateur Gardening, His Life and Works 18251890, and there are several classic facsimile editions available, including Rustic Adornments for Homes of Taste and the lesser known Brambles and Bayleaves: Essays on the Homely and the Beautiful.


GARDEN Visits THE BEST GARDENS TO VISIT compiled by Vivienne Lewis

Gardens with water features Having a water feature in a garden, however small, gives it a completely different dimension. The sound of water trickling, the way water catches the light, give a calming experience, and it often attracts wildlife too, so that in spring you may have frogs and tadpoles while on summer days you can see dragonflies flitting about. Here’s a selection of gardens opening for charity in the areas we cover with a variety of water features ranging from lakes and a massive fountain to small streams and ponds.


Stanway, Cheltenham GL54 5PQ There can be few more spectacular water features than Stanway’s 300ft gravity fountain, the world’s highest and the centrepiece of one of the most interesting Baroque water gardens in Britain, which opens for the National Gardens Scheme on Sunday 7th May, 2pm-5pm. There are 20 acres of planted landscape in an early 18th century formal setting; the fountain runs for 30 minutes at 2.45pm and 4pm.


Shute Road, Kilmington, Axminster, Devon EX13 7ST

This lovely three-acre garden has two ponds and a bog garden with interesting displays of bog primulas and other plants, colour emerging in the flower beds and rhododendrons and azaleas under mature trees, extensive shrubberies and a small orchard - all coming into blossom and leaf. Open for Devon Hospiscare on Sunday 14th May, 1.30pm-5pm. Admission: By donation. Teas. Limited wheelchair access, dependent on state of ground. Dogs allowed on short leads. No parking at property, parking on Shute Road. 24


Broadway Road, Winchcombe, GL54 5JN A trip to Japan inspired Richard Wakeford to create a pool right up against his house; visitors can enjoy the planting and sculptures by which it is surrounded on the NGS open days on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st May, 11am5.30pm. The main lawn is fringed by a splendid semi-circle of trees, all planted by the Wakefords, and wonderfully colourful in May. The garden opening also coincides with an annual sculpture selling exhibition.


Chippenham Lane, Biddestone, Wiltshire SN14 7DJ A longer opening than usual to enjoy the peaceful acres of wide lawns, lakes and ponds, arboretum, wild flowers, kitchen garden, cutting garden and fruit garden. Open for the NGS: Sunday 28th May, 3pm-7pm. Admission £5, children free. Bring a picnic or cheese and wine served. Refreshments in aid of Biddestone Village & Recreation Trust. Wheelchair access to most parts, a few steps, help always available.


Kingston St Mary, Taunton, Somerset TA2 8AN


Cote Lane, Westbury on Trym, Bristol BS9 3UN A mix of old established borders and new planting, formal and informal, in the gardens of the retirement community, with an impressive tree collection (tree guide available), ponds and woodlife area, and scented garden. Open for the NGS: Sunday 28th May, 10.30am-3pm. Admission: £5. Children free. Light refreshments, in aid of St Monica Trust.

Brian Bradley’s unusual five-acre garden around a 17th century house (not open) with views within the garden and out to the vale and the Quantock Hills, three ponds and a fine tree collection, with more than 300 rare and unusual cultivars, both broad leaf and conifer, all differing in form and colour, trees listed on the NGS website at Guided tours of trees at 2pm & 3.30pm. Open for the NGS: Friday 12th May, 11am-5pm, light refreshments; Saturday 13th May, Sunday 14th May, 2pm5.30pm, cream teas; Monday 15th May, 11am-5pm, light refreshments. Admission £4.50, children free. Refreshments in aid of St Thomas church Sat/Sun. Mostly wheelchair access. Dogs allowed. Visitors also welcome by arrangement May to October. Telephone: 01823 451350 or email 25



Allington, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 6LW Informal country garden of one and a half acres around a 17th century farmhouse (not open); a white garden with fountain, colour-themed borders, pergola with clematis and roses, walled potager, small orchard with chickens and wildlife pond. Open for the NGS: Sunday 28th May, Monday 29 May (2 - 5pm). Admission £4, children free. Home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement February to June for groups. Mainly level with ramp into potager. Dogs allowed on leads. Telephone: 01249 447436. Email:


Shalden Lane, Shalden, Alton, Hampshire GU34 4DU A three-acre garden with wonderful views, herbaceous borders and sloping lawns down to a reflection pond, wild flower meadow, lime avenue, rose and kitchen garden. Marcus Dancer will be selling his selection of clematis. Open for the NGS: Saturday 27th May, 1.30pm5pm. Admission £4, children free. Refreshments in aid of Shalden Church.


Bocombe, Parkham, Bideford, Devon EX39 5PH

An undulating landscape of five acres with streams, three bog gardens, pools, 12 water features, a Japanese pavilion with Buddha cascade, shell grotto and hermitage with a real hermit, a hillside orchard, soft fruit and kitchen gardens and a wild meadow. Circular walk of around a mile boots suggested. Open for the NGS: Saturday 27th May, Sunday 28th May, Monday 29th May, Saturday 10th June, Sunday 11th June, 12pm5pm. Admission £4.50, child £1. Home-made teas and ploughman’s lunches. Visitors also welcome by arrangement March to September for groups of 10+. Contact Mr Chris Butler & Mr David Burrows on 01237 451293 or visit the website at


Fletching, Uckfield, Sussex TN22 3ST Lady Collum’s six-acre garden overlooking parkland with old roses, a William Pye water feature, double white and blue herbaceous borders, yew hedges, pleached lime walks, a copy of an 17th century scented herb garden, medieval style potager, vine and rose allée, wild flower garden, canal garden, small knot garden, shady glade and orchard. Opening for the NGS: Sunday 7th May, Monday 12th June, Monday 26th June, Monday 31st July, 2pm-5.30pm. Admission £6, children free. Home-made teas. For other opening times please phone 01825 722952, email garden@ or visit 26

Country Gardener


Wall Hill, Forest Row, Sussex RH18 5EG Adele and Jules Speelman’s five-acre Japanese inspired gardens are planted with mature rhododendrons, azaleas and acers surrounding large pond with boathouse, rockery and waterfall, beneath the home of the late Sir Archibald McIndoe (house not open); Japanese tea house and courtyard. Open for the NGS: Friday 19th May, Saturday 20th May, 2pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. Home-made teas. Also open: 2 Quarry Cottages. This garden also makes a donation to St Catherine’s Hospice, Crawley.


Mill Road, Bridgerule, Holsworthy, Devon EX22 7EL This historic water mill was restored to working order in 2012, with an acre of organic gardens, including a small cottage garden, a herb garden, fruit and vegetable garden, woodland and water garden, a 16-acre smallholding open for lake and riverside walks through wildflower meadows. Open for free educational visits throughout the year to school groups. Open for the NGS: Sunday 28th May, 11am-5pm. Admission £4, children free. Home-made teas. Wheelchair access to part of garden. WC with access for wheelchairs. Visitors also welcome by arrangement May & June for groups of 15+. Contact Rosie & Alan Beat on 01288 381341 or email


Legsheath Lane, near Forest Row, Sussex RH19 4JN


Nettlecombe, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3SS Intriguingly, a monks’ rest house with stew pond and dovecote, south-facing gardens on four levels with ancient monastic route, in approximately four acres. Many old trees and old roses, a haven for bees and butterflies. Open for the NGS: Thursday 25th May, Tuesday 6th June, 12pm-5pm. Admission £4, children free. Light refreshments. Dogs on leads. Partial wheelchair access, gravel and stone paths, steps. 150 yard walk from car park, limited parking by house.


Litton Cheney, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 9AH

Panoramic views over Weirwood Reservoir in Mr and Mrs M Neal’s ten-acre garden with woodland walks, water gardens and formal borders, wild orchids, a fine Pocket Handkerchief Tree, acers, eucryphia, rhododendrons and different species of meconopsis. Open for the NGS (and donation to Holy Trinity Church, Forest Row): Sunday 21st May, 2 pm4.30pm. Admission £5, children free. Home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement April to September for groups of 15+.

Steep paths lead to four acres of natural woodland with springs, streams, two pools, one a natural swimming pool with native plants. The formal front garden designed by Arne Maynard has a pleached crabtree border, topiary and tulips, peonies, roses and verbascums. A walled garden with kitchen garden, orchard and 350 rose bushes for a cut flower business. Open for the NGS: Sunday 7th May, Wednesday 10th May, Sunday 2nd July, Wednesday 5th July, 2pm-5pm. Admission £6, children free. Home-made teas. Not suitable for wheelchairs. Dogs allowed. Telephone: 01308 482266



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gardening in mind DAyS ouT WiTH GARDENS AND

May is a special time of year for gardeners and garden lovers – especially with what is on offer when it comes to taking a relaxing day off. We are heading for the busiest time of year for garden openings, plant fairs and garden shows. So isn’t it time you planned and treated yourself to a trip out? Perhaps taking a break from the hard work in the garden or just getting away from a busy lifestyle. The many beautiful gardens throughout the Cotswold’s, south of England and south west are also now ready to welcome visitors. There’s a huge choice of where to go and what to do. We’ve just a few ideas for you to think about – all with gardens and gardening in mind. Whatley Manor ‘garden rooms’ are a visitor’s delight Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa boasts 12 acres of gardens created by garden designer, Elizabeth Richardson, who used the original 1920s plans and realised a design that recreates an English country house garden, complete with beautifully manicured lawns.

The gardens are divided into 26 distinct areas or ‘garden rooms’, each one leading to another, a series of quiet areas to take in the peaceful Wiltshire countryside. Each ‘room’ has its own theme, whether based on colour, scent or style. This year, there are new plans for the rose garden as well as the refurbishment of the summerhouse to create a summer snug. Whatley Manor, Easton Grey, Malmesbury SN16 0RB Thatched holiday cottage an idyllic retreat Set in three quarters of an acre of beautiful landscaped gardens, surrounded by fields and nestled within easy reach of the market town of Romsey, Hampshire, this cosy, homely thatched country cottage provides a peaceful location, ideal for a relaxed holiday break for up to five people. Many places of interest are closeby such as Mottisfont Abbey gardens and the New Forest National Park which offers ample walking, cycling and other outdoor pursuits as well as wildlife spotting opportunities. There is parking for two cars. Call Mrs Crane 01794 340460 on for further information.


GREAT PLACES T O V ISI T May delights at Harland Abbey May is a perfect time to visit Hartland Abbey gardens on the north Devon coast. The tulips dazzle visitors to the walled gardens and the huge, ancient wisteria over the front door fills the house with its heavy scent. Bluebells and wildflowers line the walks to the beach and the gardens and foxgloves spring up where St Nectan walked with his head under his arm! The house is filled with the pot plants grown in the greenhouses. The cliffs on the Hartland Abbey Estate are a wonderful sight with their carpets of wildflowers.

green of the beech trees and fill the air with exotic perfumes. Wild blue bells and campions abound by a pretty Dartmoor stream and the ‘hankies’ on Lukesland’s popular Davidia trees are a picture. Dogs welcome on a lead. open Sundays, Wednesdays and Bank Holidays from 11am –to 5pm until 11th June. For details go to or www.facebook. com/lukeslandgardens or phone 01752 691749

Alpine Garden Society show is a Cotswold’s summer highlight The Alpine Garden Society’s plant sale and show at Pershore College, Worcestershire, on Saturday, 1st July is a summer Elkstone set to show of its very best highlight. Specialist nurseries will offer a wide range of alpines, There’s a chance to amble through some beautiful gardens in woodland plants, dwarf shrubs and unusual bulbs often difficult the lovely Cotswold village of Elkstone on Sunday, 11th June and to find elsewhere. Hundreds of specimen plants brought along see it in a way detail not normally accessible to visitors. Amble for exhibition by AGS members from around the country. There through gardens, browse stalls, enjoy cream teas, homemade will be plenty of experts on hand to answer questions about cakes or ice creams, play garden games, enjoy a tractor ride how to grow these wonderful plants, as well as gardening and through farmland with sensational views. plant books for sale. open from 10am to 4pm. Pershore College Visit the beautiful Norman church, the highest in the Cotswolds, Pershore , Worcs WR10 3JP hear the bells, visit the bell tower, emerging wild flower meadow £100 off when visiting the gardens of the Veneto and bug houses .open 2pm- 6pm. The gardens of the Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni near Padua take the Adults £5, children free, Parking included. No dogs. form of an amphitheatre surrounded by hills, and reached by avenues containing all the attributes of an italian garden: box hedges, lemon trees, sculpture, water features including water Dazzling spring colour at Lukesland Gardens games that may soak the unsuspecting visitor. Discover this Lukesland Gardens, in a hidden valley just north of ivybridge, and more of the gardens of the intriguing Veneto region on the South Devon, offers spring delights for all ages. Brilliant banks departure on 6th September. Maximum of 14 people on the of azaleas and rhododendrons are luminous against the new

Become a Member Now and Receive a £5 AGS Book Voucher, Plus: • FOUR copies of our full colour 128-page Journal each year • Free entry to our Plant Sales and Shows • Big discounts on gardening and plant books • Access to our seed exchange - the largest in the world!

You will be supporting our charitable research and conservation work. Call 01386 554790 today or visit our website quoting R221 for this limited membership offer. 30

Country Gardener

tour. Prices from £2,140 per person. Expressions Holidays is offering Country Gardener readers a reduction of £100 per person for booking this Veneto tour before Friday, 30th June. Contact Expressions Holidays on 01392 441275 for full details.

Rhododendrons an early summer highlight at Bowood House Bowood House and gardens, near Calne in Wiltshire, stands in one of ‘Capability’ Brown’s most beautiful and wellpreserved parklands. open until 1st November, it offers a variety of gardens to visit, from the beautiful terrace gardens surrounding the house to the monthly guided tour of Lord and Lady Lansdowne’s private walled garden. Located two miles from Bowood House arethe spectacular woodland gardens which open from 28th April to early June displaying a vista of colour, covering 30 acres of bluebells, azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons. Bowood House, designed by Robert Adam holds a wealth of unique art and a fascinating antique collection. Bowood House, Derry Hill, Calne SN11 oLZ.

Cerney Gardens - a ‘romatic secret’ Cerney Gardens is a romantic ‘secret garden’ in 40 acres of Cotswolds parkland with a walled garden. A vibrant riot of colour is appearing throughout the garden as the herbaceous borders awaken. in the walled garden, ‘the knot garden’ is brimming with colourful tulips and the collection of oriental poppies starts to appear which adds to the colour and drama with their vivid reds and pinks. Enjoy the peacefulness and tranquillity of nature on a bluebell woodland walk. open seven Gravity fountain focal point for Cotswold manor days a week. 10am to 5pm. £5 entry, £1 for children. Dogs on leads welcome. The spectacular gravity fountain at Stanway House is the Cerney Gardens Cerney House, North Cerney, Cirencester GL7 7BX world’s highest, reaching 300ft, a focal point for the Cotswolds manor lived in by the same family since the 16th century. The Little Malvern Court –gardens at their May best house and gardens are open throughout June, July and August, The gardens at Little Malvern Court sit below the wooded Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2pm-5pm. The fountain plays at slopes of the Malvern Hills, with views across the Severn Valley certain set times, subject to drought and other adverse weather to Brendon Hills and the Cotswolds. Particular features to look conditions. . out for in May include the beautiful pots of tulips, grouped Stanway House and gardens Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, according to colour, surrounding the house. The many and GL54 5PQ. varied magnificent flowering cherries and crab apple trees are Hellens Garden Festival a ‘must-visit’ event in blossom. Wildflowers begin to appear in the grass banks and lovely blue camassias pop up in the tall grass of the meadow. in A ‘must go to’ weekend event in June is the Hellens Garden the rose garden, alliums literally burst into flower and the early Festival, on Saturday and Sunday 10th and 11th June. This roses start to open. Tel: 01684 892988. festival shimmers in the glorious meadow and gardens of


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Hartland Abbey & Gardens A special day out in a spectacular, wild corner of North Devon

Visit this historic family home with its fascinating architecture, collections and exhibitions. Beautiful 18thC walled and woodland gardens, bluebell and wildflower walks to the beach. Wonderful tulips. * Delicious light lunches & cream teas * * Dogs welcome * Holiday Cottages * House, Gardens and Café: March 26th - Oct 1st Sun to Thurs 11am - 5pm (House 2pm - last adm. 4.15pm)


For all information and events see Hartland, Nr. Bideford EX39 6DT 01237441496/234 (Only 1 mile to Hartland Quay)



10th & 11th June

Photo: Anya Mittelholzer

Hellens Manor, Much Marcle, HR8 2LY

• Engaging exhibitors • Creative, fun activities • Knowledgable plant sellers • Inspired talks and walks

Visit the Earl of Devon’s 600 year old family home Entertaining Guided Tours for all ages. Friendly Animals, Deer Park Safari, Adventure Play Castle & Zip Slide, Treasure Trails and much more! Famous Themed Weeks and Special Events all Season. Open 1 April to 27 October 2017. Sun to Fri 11.00 to 4.30. 8 miles from M5 Jctn 30/Exeter on the A379 Dawlish Road. TEL: 01626 890243 31

Charity No. 1130829

Trade stands - hobbies - art - live music - vintage, retro & antiques...

Arena events - floral marquee - crafts - food hall - children’s activities


One of the finest gardens in Britain

Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7LQ 01822 854769

Cerney House Gardens A Romantic English Garden in the UK Cotswolds 46 acres of Cotswold parkland Romantic secret garden * Wildlife and woodland walks * Plants for sale * Walled garden with roses and herbaceous borders * Refreshments available at the old Bothy Open from Saturday 28th January 10-5pm Admission: £5 adults, £1 children Dogs welcome

Telephone 01285 831300 Cerney House Gardens, The Garden House, North Cerney, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 7BX

May Fairs 14th May Winterbourne House and Gardens, Birmingham B15 2RT

28th May Kingston Bagpuize House, Oxfordshire OX13 5AX Please visit our website for full details of admission fees and times of opening. 32

Country Gardener

Just some of our upcoming events...

Tulips in May ‘A landscape of Objects’ exhibition Seasonal flower workshops Family fun in the gardens

GREAT PLACES T O V ISI T Hellens Manor, offering visitors a delightful experience of the glory of nature and gardening. Acclaimed landscape designer Sir Roy Strong will be giving a talk reflecting the festival theme, ‘Growing Today for all our Tomorrows’. you can buy from knowledgeable plants people and varied exhibitors, engage with creative childrens’ activities, listen and join inspired talks and walks, sample delicious local food and drink, discover the new sculpture trail and beautiful standing stones in the dreamy meadow. For full details Bishop’s Palace announces third summer festival The third English Country Garden Festival takes place at The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens in Wells, from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th June. The event, first launched by Alan Titchmarsh, is a celebration of the horticultural heritage held within the plantsman’s paradise of the palace and gardens. Visitors can experience the award winning gardens, which recently featured on BBC Gardener’s World, filled with talks, stalls, hands-on demonstrations, refreshments, entertainment, top gardening personalities, a full schedule of activities and inspirational ideas on how best to use and enjoy their gardens. other activities will include a range of ‘have a go’ skills and crafts including flower arranging, felting, card crafting, a ‘Gardener’s SoS’ giving advice on all nature of gardening problems and issues, barbeque food on the South Lawn, live music and an ‘English Country Ceilidh’ on Saturday afternoon.

Tickets are £6.99 in advance and £7.99 on the door (Concessions £5.90 and £6.90) and available from the Palace Shop, by telephone on 01749 988 111 or on the website. 10am to 5pm The Bishop’s Palace & Gardens, Wells, Somerset. BA5 2PD. Tel: 01749 988111. Friars Court celebrates 100 years family residency with summer garden openings Friars Court, on the edge of the village of Clanfield, oxfordshire, home of the Willmer family is celebrating 100 years of their residency this year. owner Charles Willmer is opening his gardens to share their beauty throughout the summer. Friars Court dates back to the 12th century when it was established as the first Hospitallery under the Monastic orders of St John in oxfordshire. The Willmer family have been in the house since 1917. Designer Jeffrey Cleaver and gardener Kris Hellard have divided the grounds into a series of ‘garden rooms’.. These areas include the moat ponds, fire border, the rainbow bed, a rose garden and privy garden. The gardens are open for the National Garden Scheme on Monday 29th May 2pm until 6pm then re-opens every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during June, July and August. Visitors can enjoy these peaceful gardens at leisure and follow their transition through the years in the new museum and exhibition with pictures and historical artefacts on show. Friars Court, Clanfield, Bampton oX18 2Su or call 01367 810206.

ITALIAN GARDEN HOLIDAYS Small group tours with guided visits of Italian gardens

Travel by luxury small •coach

TUSCANY Visits to: Poggio Torselli, Villa Vignamaggio, Villa Geggiano, Villa Grabau, Villa Reale 2017: 4 Jun, 25 Jun, 10 Sep From £2,350 per person

14 people •perMaximum tour Local guides and guided •garden visits included

LAKES COMO AND MAGGIORE Visits to: Villa Babbianello, Villa Carlotta, Villa Monastero, Isola Bella, Isola Madre 2017: 9 May, 23 May, 6 Jun, 27 Jun, 5 Sep From £2,290 per person

Stay at 4 and 5 star •hotels, two per tour, 3 nights in each British Airways flights •included

AMALFI COAST, CAPRI AND ISCHIA Visits to: Villa Rufolo, Caserta, Villa San Michele Axel Munthe, La Mortella 2017: 4 May, 18 May, 8 June, 14 Sep From £2,280 per person

to each tour •canExtensions be arranged SPEAK TO OUR EXPERTS

01392 441275

ENVIRONS OF ROME Visits to: Villa d’Este, Bomarzo, Villa Lante, Giardino di Ninfa, Landriana 2017: 10 May, 17 May, 7 Jun, 6 Sep From £2,250 per person VENETO Visits to: Villa Barbarigo, Villa Emo, Villa Pisani, Giardino Giusti, Villa Rizzardi 2017: 7 Jun, 6 Sep From £2,240 per person Country Gardener 6 Oct 2016 MH FIN.indd 1


06/10/2016 16:17:45


GREAT PLACES T O V ISI T Rare Plant Fair Season Continues in May The popular programme of Rare Plant Fairs continues in May with two events. on May 14th it’s a return to Winterbourne House and Gardens in Birmingham-a rare surviving example of an early 20th century suburban villa and garden, built for industrialist John Nettlefold in 1903 for his growing family. Then the largest in the series of fairs, with over 30 participating exhibitors, takes place at Kingston Bagpuize House, near Abingdon, oxfordshire, on Sunday, May 28th. This 18th century house is in a unique setting on the edge of The White Horse Vale, and surrounded by gardens and parkland. Both fairs run Cadhay opens doors for another impressive season Cadhay, near ottery St Mary, one of the top manor houses in the from 11am-4pm. Visit for full details of all the 14 events, country, opens its doors for another season on Friday, May 5th including a list of the exhibitors attending each one. at 2pm The current house was built circa 1550 and the fine timber Cerne Abbas celebrates 42nd year opening roof dating between 1420 and 1450 can still be seen. The Cerne Abbas open Gardens celebrates its 42nd opening this year surrounding gardens are understated, gracious and beautiful. over the weekend of Saturday, 17th and Sunday, 18th June, the Double sided herbaceous borders, backed by yew hedges contain proceeds benefiting local charities. About 25 private gardens a mixture of popular shrubs and roses, which will provide which are normally hidden from view will be open from 2pm to an impressive show throughout the coming months. Lawns 6pm. Day ticket for entry to all gardens £6, accompanied children and irish yews lead you to the medieval fish ponds which are free, tickets available in the car park (open from 11am) or in the surrounded by native bog plants. village square from 1pm. All the gardens are within easy walking open 2pm – 5pm, every Friday between distance of free carpark (postcode DT2 7GD). Tea and cake served Friday, May 5th and Friday, September 29th. in the church from 2pm and an excellent plant stall in the village square from 1pm This is a quintessential English weekend in the Cadhay Manor Cadhay, ottery Saint Mary EX11 1QT friendliest of villages. See shade in a new light at The Garden House. Nick Haworth, head gardener at this remarkable 10-acre garden on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, will host a masterclass on Wednesday,May 10th that will benefit experienced gardeners and novices alike. Delegates will learn in the classroom and the garden about soil types, plant choices and maintenance for woodland and shaded areas. Nick will share his knowledge about how to garden for a longer season and deal with changing light levels. Places are limited to just ten, and cost £30 for ‘Friends of The Garden House’ members, or £32 for non-members.


Stanway House & Fountain


The world’s tallest gravity fed fountain Rare Shrubs & Trees Pools & Waterfalls Home-made soups & teas 26th March - 11th June Open Sundays, Wednesdays, Bank holidays 11am - 5pm

Tel: 01752 691749 n ay y pe id a O y Fr h M t er 5 ev om fr

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

HOUSE, GARDENS & TEAROOM Open every Friday 2pm - 5.30pm until 29th September Also Summer 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 Association

CADHAY, OTTERY ST. MARY, DEVON, EX11 1QT 01404 813511 34

Country Gardener Stanway, Cheltenham, Gloucs, GL54 5BT

Exploring the gardens of Somerset Somerset has some wonderful gardens and often too many of them overlooked. There’s the chance to learn more about them and plan a visit with the help of the new 2017 Discover Somerset Gardens Leaflet. The leaflet, previously known as the Classic Gardens of Somerset, has been redesigned and renamed to highlight the wide range of gardens there are in the county. you will find an impressive selection of styles and character that have evolved over centuries, from intimate cottage gardens to large meandering country houses and all sizes in-between. Many offer the added attraction of an historic house to explore and a tea-room or restaurant serving locally produced food. There are also shops selling plants and gifts to take home and walks into the adjacent countryside for people (and dogs) to enjoy. A fortnight of tulip sensations at Forde Abbey Forde Abbey on the Somerset and Dorset border is preparing to host a tulip spectacular when over 30,000 tulips bloom across the abbey gardens. its tulip festival runs between Saturday, 29th April and Sunday, 14th May when the bulbs are at their best and when you can enjoy wandering around the gardens in a spectacular sea of colour. it’s an annual delight that started in autumn of 2013, when 13,000 bulbs were planted in the herbaceous beds to give an early start to colour in the Park Garden, on the Mount and in the Kitchen Garden. The tradition of tulips continues to evolve and this years display will include the varieties ‘Fontainebleau’, ‘Rem’s Favourite’ and ‘Queen of the night’. Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset TA20 4Lu Tel: 01460 220231

Powderham Castle offers a warm summer welcome A warm welcome awaits visitors and their dogs to Powderham Castle and the family home of the Earl and Countess of Devon. Entertaining guided tours, delicious cream teas and beautiful gardens to explore. The American Garden is open until 1st September. Created by the 3rd Viscount, this is a secluded haven of peace and tranquillity with its exotic trees including the first Wollemi pine in Devon and a beautiful castellated summerhouse. open until 27th october; Sun to Fri 11am to 4.30pm. Fifty per cent offer on admission for National Trust and English Heritage members. Gardens only admission available. Award winning pedigree at Howle Hill nursery Howle Hill Nursery, near Ross on Wye has the highest pedigree when it comes to awards –one of the many reasons it deserves a visit. The nursery was formed by Peter Dowle in 1996 and currently employs over 20 people. it has been awarded two Gold medals at the RHS Malvern show and ten Gold Medals at Chelsea Flower Show, most recently for ‘L’occitane Garden’ Chelsea last year. The nursery on Howle Hill is open to the public and stocks a wide range of plants and specimen trees in a picturesque location. The nursery grows and tends a wide range of plants and larger specimens for use in private and show gardens. opening times: Monday to Friday - 9am to 5pm, Saturdays 10am - 5pm. Howle Hill, Water Edge Howle Hill, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire HR9 5SP. Tel 01989 567726

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

14 acres of RHS partner gardens See the Wells that give the City its name Stunning Paulownia flowering in May Daily Guided Tours & Horticultural Tours Half Term Holiday Family Activities Community Garden & Contemporary Garden of Reflection • Cafe & Shop T 01749 988111 ext.200


Whatley Manor Garden Tours Enjoy a private guided tour of the 12 acres of beautiful English country gardens at Whatley Manor with head gardener Andy Spreadbury followed by lunch. The garden tour lasts approximately two hours.

Tuesday Garden Tours 2017 6th, 13th, 20th & 27th June and 4th, 11th, 18th & 25th July £49.50 includes tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival, the garden tour and a two-course lunch with a glass of house wine followed by coffee.

Call Events on 01666 834 026 to make a booking or email Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa Easton Grey Malmesbury Wiltshire SN16 0RB Web @Whatley_Manor

42nd Cerne Abbas


Open Gardens About 25 Private Gardens Open

Sunday 11th June 2017 2 - 6pm A chance to amble through a selection of beautiful private Cotswold gardens not usually open to the public. Cream teas, homemade cakes, ice creams, garden games and free tractor rides Adults £5.00, Children free • Parking included • No dogs please Satnav - GL53 9PD follow car park signs

17th & 18th June, 2-6pm Day ticket to all gardens Adults £6.00 Ticket for 2 days £10.00 Accompanied children free Teas in St Mary’s Church Plant Stall Free Car Park (DT2 7GD) from 11 am Proceeds divided equally between: Cerne Valley Young People’s Trust & The Miss Bush Riding for the Disabled Group

Thatched Self-Catering Cottage Sleeps 3-5 Peaceful surroundings near Romsey, Hampshire. Near New Forest and other places of interest. For details phone Mrs Crane on

01794 340460

01249 812102 Bowood House & Gardens Calne, Wiltshire, SN11 OLZ 6786 - Bowood House - March Adverts The Country Gardener Magazine Ad.indd 1

Little Malvern Court Nr Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 4JN Open 19th April until 20th July Wednesday & Thursday afternoons

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GREAT PLACES T O V ISI T Celebration garden is an East Devon treat Pecorama is one of East Devon’s leading visitor attractions and home to the Peco Millennium Celebration Garden. Designed by Chelsea Flower Show medal-winner Naila Green, five stunning garden ‘rooms’ based on a celestial theme, feature herbaceous plants and shrubs from around the world. Also found within the grounds are the mile-long Beer Heights Light Railway, with its fleet of miniature steam locomotives and the PECo Model Railway Exhibition, which houses superbly detailed layouts in every major gauge. There’s full catering facilities, indoor and outdoor play areas for younger visitors and free parking. Pecorama, Beer, Devon. EX12 3NA. Tel. 01297 21542 Email: Axe Vale festival – a date worth keeping. At this family friendly festival everyone will be entertained and inspired. For enthusiastic gardeners, the floral marquee full of colour and scents is a delight. Crafts of great variety and skill will amaze, toys and hobbies will intrigue, art, antiques and collectables will tempt and the mouth-watering fare in the food marquee is not to be missed! The main arena is host to an exciting programme of events to thrill and entertain –so make sure you keep the date! it takes place on Saturday, 17th and Sunday, 18th June at the Showground, Trafalgar Way, Axminster

Firle Park event notches up ten successful years Firle Place Park and gardens, the historic village and country estate in the South Downs National Park, hosts the annual Garden Show over three days from Friday, 21st April to Sunday, 23rd April. The show has amazing plants, garden goodies and a great day out for all. it is now in its tenth year and continues to grow and expand. An eclectic range of exhibitors, marquees and gardens have products galore to enhance home and garden. The Firle Place Herb Garden in the 18th century walled gardens will show how ‘the garden grows’ into a third year of growth. Lady Gage, with a long interest in the medical uses of herbs, is creating a correlation between colour and medicinal use. open daily 10am - 5pm (last entry 4pm) Adults £7, children under five free and a £5 concession for seniors. Firle Place, Firle, Nr Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 6LP Eckington village opens it door for June festival Eckington Village in Worcestershire holds its annual flower festival and open gardens on Saturday, 17th and Sunday, 18th June, from 10am to 6pm. over 30 gardens will be opening and Eckington Holy Trinity church opens also for stunning array of floral displays . Additionally, activities such as classic cars, stalls, pudding parlour (cooked by the villagers), refreshments with home-made cakes, plant stall and much more. Free car parks and transport around the village. Marked disabled-friendly gardens. An informal day out, browsing much-loved gardens at your leisure, marvelling at the floral displays. Tickets are £6 and parking is free.


To bee or

NOT TO BEE Julie Elkin is a member of Devon Beekeepers and a course tutor for the North Devon training courses. Too many people think keeping bees is the only way to help honeybees. ‘Taster days’ gives people the opportunity to handle bees and decide if keeping them is really for them but the emphasis is on how we can do much more in our gardens’ own plots to help all pollinators. Spring at last, the garden a joy to behold filled with colour and fragrance, the hum of the bumblebee queens preparing to start their nests and my honeybees foraging on hellebores and crocuses as I write this. It is still too soon here in North Devon near the edge of Exmoor to take a peep inside risking disrupting that fragile developing nest of eggs, larvae and sealed brood, so carefully nurtured and maintained at 35°C by their older sisters. I know without disturbing them that the first workers of the season have emerged and are out foraging, their youthful appearance in stark contrast to their old work worn and now tattered winged sisters who have lived through the winter and nursed the colony back to life as honeybees have done for millions of years. Soon the queen will be laying 1,500 to 2,000 eggs a day and the nest will burgeon into the large rugby ball shape that mirrors the shape and size of the swarm you see hanging in a bush or tree later in the year. 38

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Swarming is the honeybees’ natural way of reproducing that has enabled them to spread far and wide fleeing adverse climatic conditions, leaving pests and diseases behind, evolving and adapting to the world around them. A swarm should be a sign of prosperity, that all is well in the bee world but sadly that isn’t always so now. Bees and all our native pollinating insects, bumblebees, hover flies, butterflies, solitary bees and wasps are all in decline. Alarmist tales of mass honeybee deaths in the USA (referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder), higher than usual colony losses in many other countries including the UK mean that a huge amount of research is being done to explain and reverse this decline. Pollinators certainly have problems but with honeybees we sometimes lose sight of the fact that losses of the weak, diseased and ill adapted are essential to the survival of the species. The history of mankind is inter woven with bees, first as gatherers of honey from wild bee

nests and later as keepers of bees to enjoy the products of the hive, honey and wax and that essential service of pollination they and other insects provide. A third of our food crops and 90 per cent of our wild plants need cross pollinating. We all know the reasons given for these declines, all man made; in our greed and stupidity we have destroyed so much of their world. Loss of habitat to grow more food for us, huge areas of monoculture, yet our pollinators need a mixed diet, and the concreting of so much land. Many of these factors are beyond the average person’s control but progress is being made, road verges are blooming again, Wildlife Trusts and other bodies are restoring, creating and maintaining habitats and the public are willing to share their gardens with insects that many people used to want removed! Beekeepers too are responsible; while most want to do their best for their bees we have stressed bees to the limit with our unreasonable expectations of them. We have coerced them into boxes, given them wax foundation containing many residual toxic chemicals on which to build their combs and when they succumb to pests and diseases, many of which we have imported we dose them with yet more chemicals. DEFRA describes bees as ‘food producing animals’ but unlike other farm animals honeybees are and always will be wild and free spirits whose natural instincts cannot be subdued and denied without damaging their natural defences against pests and diseases. Fortunately many beekeepers are reviewing the way they have been taught to keep bees and looking for ways to work with the bees and not frustrate their natural instincts. At our teaching apiary in North Devon we enjoy teaching would-be beekeepers, guiding them up the steep learning curve that beekeeping can be. So is the answer to pollinator decline to train evermore people to keep bees?

The answer has to be a resounding no! We need to encourage younger people to replace those of us getting too old to teeter on ladders catching swarms but there are limits to the number of hives that an area can support and undernourished bees soon become sick bees. We know that between 2007 and 2010 the number of beekeepers increased hugely in response to pollinator decline and maybe encouraged by “celebrity” beekeepers making it a trendy thing to do. I’m not suggesting that people’s intentions were other than very well intentioned! Figures for 2013 give 274,000 hives kept by hobbyist beekeepers and about 40,000 hives kept by about 200 commercial beekeepers in the UK. The problem with these figures is that we just don’t know how many other beekeepers there are out there. Responsible beekeepers become members of the British Beekeepers Association and/or register their hives with ‘Beebase’, part of the National Bee Unit which monitors bee health throughout the UK but many don’t and their hives aren’t counted. I am the last person to want to deny others the great pleasures of keeping bees. I love my bees, my garden would feel empty without them and I go out almost every day to sit on the hive stands to watch and listen to them; yes I am a little obsessed! I also know that beekeeping is not for everyone but if you really, really want to keep bees look at the Website of your County Beekeeping Association and sign up for a taster session to find out if it is for you. If so then sign up for a beginners course, usually an eight week course which will give you hands on experience and help you source your first bees safely. Please never be tempted to buy bees on the web, you may unwittingly buy in diseased or aggressive bees. Your local Beekeeping Association is there to help you.


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A helping hand when it comes to home and garden improvements Making improvements to your home and garden is a priority for most home owners. It’s all year round challenge, which needs the right selection of quality products and suppliers. Whether its making the home more comfortable or life in the garden a little easier and practical we are all looking for help. It could be the basics of garden design, buying raised beds, sorting out decking, caring for plants or adding something new such as a polytunnel or veranda which makes life much easier, gardeners are always looking for help. We’ve a few suggestions for you.

Spring sale makes a veranda to your home more affordable The opportunity to enjoy more outdoor living is made easier with a veranda to your home. It’s an option that more and more owners are opting for as it links the garden to the house. Nationwide Home Improvements verandas offer a range of shading solutions as well as optional heating and lighting which can transform the outdoors into an area you can use all year round. They offer a ‘free no obligation’ design consultation, will visit your property and go through all available options. Nationwide is currently holding a spring sale, with discounts of up to 40 per cent. To request a free brochure visit or call 08007879561.

Econergy solar shields solution to conservatory temperatures A conservatory can be a wonderful addition to any home – but it can also bring with it problems. Many conservatory owners complain of the huge swing in temperatures between the seasons- too hot in summer; too cold in winter. One decisive way of dealing with these highs and lows in temperature is to have a Solar Shield fitted. Both glass and polycarbonate can be fitted with a highlyreflective (but transparent) metallized Solar Shield. This internal barrier permanently minimises the amount of solar energy penetrating the conservatory and keeps it cooler. A Solar Shield prevents over 80 per cent of the sun’s energy from entering the conservatory and the virtual elimination of glare. The Solar Shield also performs in winter, preventing up to 50 per cent of heat loss through the roof and all this is achieved without a significant loss in light. Call Econergy Systems for a no obligation quotation on 08009047827 or visit

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HOME & GARDEN IMPROVEMENTS Plant Supports –helping to keep the garden pristine Adding vigour and strength into new plants Plant Supports (UK) Ltd are a family run business who are extremely proud to be a totally British supplier of robust affordable supports. They manufacture high quality plant supports not only for the herbaceous and shrub borders but also for the vegetable garden. Keeping the garden pristine has never been so easy thanks to their quality rage of supports available from Plant Supports (UK) Ltd and should be regarded as an essential investment as the best will last for years. Order online at or call 01584 781578 or visit the event section of their website for details.

If you are looking for a way to get your plants established with more vigour and strength this gardening season then Rootgrow could be the answer. Many gardeners find using rootgrow mycorrhizal fungi an essential starting point to success when planting. You can treat any size of plant with Rootgrow, from mixing a couple of teaspoons into the compost of a seed tray to larger plants. It will quickly colonise new plants enabling them to explore a much greater volume of soil in search of nutrients and water.

Professional help to make the most of your garden

A polytunnel offers one of the best ways of producing ‘grow your own’ all year round. It extends the season and provides so many more options and opportunities in your garden. It’s also a purchase which is appealing to more and more homeowners and gardeners. Ferryman Tunnels, based in mid-Devon, has an impressive range of polytunnels with a choice of covers made from polythene, shade or fruit net. You can have whatever size of polytunnel that best suits your garden with eight standard widths, made to their own required length. The full range of polytunnels are on view at Ferryman Polytunnels, Morchard Rd, nr Crediton EX17 5LS. Tel: 01363 84948, but please make an appointment to view. A free brochure is available at

More gardeners than ever are turning to professional help to make the most of their garden and its features. Merristem is one company offering gardens and ground maintenance and tree surgery services. They work with clients to make the most of gardens. The development of a woodland style garden can be a wonderful addition. Starting with a well-managed tree canopy, there are a whole host of shrub and flower species that create fantastic interest at every level. The company provides qualified and experienced gardeners, sympathetic tree surgery and pruning, alongside woodland management services . Merristem Gardens Ltd are based in Bovey Tracey in Devon. Tel: 01626 836 279 Email:

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A Solar Shield fitted to your existing roof will reduce the heat & glare by 80% in summer, and stop up to 60% of your expensive heat disappearing through the roof in winter. Thereby keeping your conservatory warmer whilst lowering your carbon footprint. We are also able to provide a service starting with a complete valet, to replacing blown units, damaged panels etc., even replacing complete roofs where necessary. We are happy to provide a guide on price over the telephone.

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Whichford Pottery – quality handmade flowerpots Established in 1976 by Jim and Dominique Keeling, Whichford Pottery is a family-run business with a world-renowned reputation for making handmade British frost proof flowerpots. Whichford pots are designed, hand thrown and decorated at the Pottery by over 25 highly-skilled craftsmen and women. The flowerpots are practical and beautiful, from longtoms to seedpans, from huge jars to hand-pressed urns – all made from Whichford’s very own clay blend, giving their pots a 10-year frost proof guarantee. A visit to Whichford Pottery is a real treat! You can choose from their full range, meet the team, be inspired by the romantic courtyard garden, shop British in The Octagon and enjoy homecooked food at The Straw Kitchen. See their website for pottery and café opening hours.


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HOME & GARDEN IMPROVEMENTS An organic option for cleaning paths and decking One of the biggest concerns about using products which will clean paths and decking is how strongly chemical some of them are. There’s now an organic solution to solve that problem as you keep the exterior of your property clean and presentable for a number of months with a simple application of Algon Organic Path, Patio and Decking cleaner. You can use it on your driveway and brighten up the exterior of your house and garden. It can also be used on fence panels, brickwork, patio flags, conservatories, roofs and more. Simply wet the surface with the Algon and leave it to work. No need to rinse it off or scrub.

Looking to create a cooler conservatory As the warmer weather hopefully approaches, you may find that your conservatory gets too hot during the day or glare prevents you from reading a book or viewing a screen without squinting. Conservatory Blinds Limited offer an amazing range of blinds designed to reduce heat and glare, including pleated, duette and pinoleum blinds. These specialist blinds also protect your furniture and furnishings from fading due to ultra violet rays. With up to 30 per cent off the most popular fabrics in a spring sale, now is the perfect time to transform your conservatory for less. For price guides and inspirational online gallery visit or call 0800 071 88 88.

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There are plenty of people who will prune roses, remove weeds, spray pests and mow lawns; but there can be significant problems associated with doing any of these things the wrong way. To be a really good gardener, you need: • to be identify at least 500 of the most commonly cultivated plants in your locality • an understanding of the principles of plant growth; managing soil, fertiliser, water, light • an ability to differentiate weeds from garden plants • to safely and properly use garden tools and machinery Learn how to develop these skills with ASC Distance Education distance education courses specialists for online home study courses.

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The creeping menace of the TURKEY OAK

Mark Hinsley sees problems with the infiltration into our countryside of an Eastern oak which falls well below the standards set by its English counterpart.

who know a bit about keeping out invaders, ordered all Turkey oak on their land to be removed. Another, more subtle, problem I read about recently is that Turkey oak acorns contain more tannin, which makes them more durable and less palatable to wildlife. As a consequence, if both species are present in woodland, the English oak acorns will be eaten first, with more of the Turkey oak acorns being buried for winter supplies. Add this to the number of English oak acorns that are already sterile, and you have a pretty effective long-term takeover plan. There are plenty of Turkey oaks out there that are subject to Tree Preservation Orders, particularly the indiscriminate Area or ‘Blanket’ type. Some local authorities in our area recognise the threat and will allow them to be removed whilst others do not. We are currently dealing with one that will not allow a mature Turkey oak to be felled that is within 50 metres of a designated woodland wildlife conservation project, despite the fact that young Turkey oaks are already appearing in the woods! I recently visited an estate in rural West Dorset to undertake a tree safety liability assessment. The countryside was beautiful: rolling hills, fields of sheep, copses and shelterbelts – ‘chocolate box’ Dorset. The client pointed out that the estate was mostly covered with beech and oak. I looked at the tree closest to me, “But this is a Turkey oak”, I said. “Yes”, answered the client, “All our oaks are Turkey oaks”. Rather chilling really – because without a close look, you would not spot the difference. Mark Hinsley is from Arboriculture Consultants Ltd.

It is quite fashionable at the moment to be concerned about infiltration into England from South-West Asia and much of the media is full of dark warnings and deep concerns, so, never one to resist a ride on a good band wagon, I need to tell you that there is one major infiltration that is being missed, a group that has been here quite a while softly, softy, taking over our countryside, squeezing out our natives, stealing our women (well, perhaps not the last bit). What tiny sneaky insidious creature am I talking about, I hear you ask. I’ll tell you – the tiny sneaky insidious 39 metres tall with a seven-metre girth Quercus cerris – the Turkey oak. An awful lot of you, gentle readers, despite the fact that picking up a copy of Country Gardener does place you in the horticultural elite, will not know the difference between a Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) and a native English oak (Quercus robur or Quercus patraea). The easiest way to recognise a Turkey oak is to take a close look at the twigs as the buds are surrounded by ‘whiskers’ approx 10mm long; the acorn cup has a similarly shaggy appearance and the leaves tend to be more deeply lobed with pointy ends. Also, frequently, it will be big. It grows at a ferocious rate and does make a magnificent specimen tree. They were first recorded in this country growing as an ornamental in 1734 and first recorded as having ‘escaped’ into the wild in the early 1900s. Compared to our native oaks their timber is rubbish and their There is a subtle difference between the leaves of the English oak (left) and the wildlife conservation value is low. Turkey oak (right) whose leaves tend to be more deeply lobed with pointy ends One well documented problem with Turkey oak is Andricus quercuscalicus (the knopper gall wasp), which has a dual host life-cycle between Turkey oak and English oak that results in the English oak producing deformed and sterile acorns, thus leaving the field more open for the Turkey oak to colonise. In 1998 the Ministry of Defence, 46

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Marwood Hill Gardens

Discover the stunning views at Marwood Hill Gardens, 20 acres of private gardens with lakes in North Devon.

The New Forest’s leading centre offering you the quality and choice of Trees, Shrubs and Hardy Plants grown on our own 25 acre nursery.

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.

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Tel: 01271 342528 | Marwood Hill Gardens, North Devon EX31 4EA

L A N G TO N N U R S E R I E S CW Abbott & Son

Bedding & Basket Plants Fruit Trees: Apple, Pear, Plums etc Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Compost, Franchi & Kings Seeds Large selection of ceramic & terracotta pots Langton Nurseries, Langton Long, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 9HR Tel: 01258 452513

Our shop is filled with a wonderful selection of early spring offers. There are Seed Potatoes, Seeds, Bulbs and a large range of ‘Kinder’ young plants. We have everything to help you grow your own. Get started now! Relax in ‘Camellias’, our Coffee Shop and Restaurant, where you can enjoy coffee, tea, and a selection of lunch specials prepared fresh every day Visit our website, for info and gardening tips! EVERTON, on A337, Near LYMINGTON. 01590 642155 Open every day 9-5.30, Sunday, 10.30-4.30

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Gardening jobs in May

May sees the seasons changing again, with spring rolling into early summer. It is a glorious month, greener than any other, with potential still in the air with a danger of being overwhelmed with all the growth in the garden

Planning ahead with beans

Keep a watch on tomatoes Tomatoes originate from South America and suffer as soon as temperatures drop below 10°C. Keep them under cover until you can be sure that the weather is warm enough to plant them outside, and then find the warmest spot to give them all the help they can get. If you are growing in the ground out of doors, keep well away from the potatoes, as blight can travel from one to the next. Try to keep the plants in a position that is warm but with air movement, as the blight favours humidity. Bush varieties are great in pots on the terrace.

Pinch out the tops of the broad beans once the flowers are visible, as it helps to keep the black fly at bay. Keep the tops, as they are delicious steamed and dressed with a little olive oil and lemon. Wait until the end of the month to put in the French beans, and hold back until early June for the runners, as they need the heat to do well and will rot in ground that lies wet and cold. It is good to learn that most fastgrowing annuals catch up if you get the timing right. Put your efforts into successional sowing of lettuce and salad leaves. Radish make great fillers between rows of slower-to-develop veggies.

Get tough on weeds now

If there is one priority in the garden over the next few weeks it is weed control. The message should be zero tolerance on weeds until the ground covering foliage of perennials closes over to suppress seedlings. Little and often takes the monotony out of weeding, so set a half hour aside every time you garden.

TRY GROWING STRAWBERRIES IN HANGING BASKETS Everyone can have delicious strawberries by growing them in hanging baskets. You don’t need a large garden or allotment, just somewhere sunny to hang your baskets. When growing strawberries in hanging baskets, the fruit hang down over the side of the basket which has two main advantages. Firstly, air can circulate around the fruit, keeping them dry, which will prevent mould and mildew forming, especially during wet summers, and secondly slugs and snails can’t reach the fruit. Hanging baskets do not hold much soil (strawberries don’t mind this as they are shallow rooted), but it is important to keep the basket well watered, and the plants will need feeding. Once they have flowered, feed with a liquid tomato feed every couple of weeks. You can also incorporate a slow release granular feed into the compost at potting time, which will provide the plants with nutrients. 48

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Time for a lawn feed Apply a spring lawn feed if you didn’t do it last month. Repair thin or bare patches in the lawn or bald lawn edges before the end of the month. If you have newly laid turf, don’t mow until it has rooted itself securely into the soil. If the grass has grown tall, raise the blades to the highest setting to start, gradually lowering the height over a couple of weeks. A new lawn which has been grown from seed should be left for a while. Cut the tips of long tufts down with a pair of shears until the grass has made longer roots.

PLANTING OUT PUMPKINS AND SQUASHES You can tell the new gardening season is well on its way when squash seeds spring into life. The young plants will need acclimatising to conditions outdoors before planting out. A couple of weeks before the last frosts are forecast place the plants outside for the day and bring them in at night. In the second week leave them out in a sheltered spot day and night. By the middle of the month it should be safe to plant them out.

Get ready to earth up As soon as potatoes break through, earth them up. Coving up the foliage in an inverted trench may seem like rough treatment, but their tops will recover quickly – and keep the fleece handy. They need moisture, so water (wisely) if we have a dry period. The tubers start to swell as the plants come to flower, but don't be tempted to harvest until the flower trusses are fully out. Earthing up is not limited to potatoes. With brassicas especially top-heavy crops such as Brussels sprouts that must grow through the gales of the autumn and winter as it helps prevent damage from wind rot. Leeks, celery and florence fennel are all earthed up to blanch the developing stems or bulbs.

Be patient when it comes to mowing bulbs There’s a temptation once the spring bulbs in your grass pass their best to mow over them. It’s neater and tidier. But this year try and be a bit more patient as it will reward you in the long run. Don't be tempted to mow off bulbs in grass until five to six weeks after the last flower. They need this time to replenish their energy and the wildlife will enjoy the long grass, so leave it to do its thing for a while yet, if you can. Overcrowded daffodils will flower less reliably. Now is an ideal time to lift, divide and re-plant.

Other tasks this month

• Harvest rhubarb, picking only a third of the total amount of stems. • Protect crops from carrot fly by covering with horticultural fleece or enviromesh. • Prune your penstemons now - cut all the old shoots back to the base provided there is new growth at the bottom of the plant. If there are no new shoots at the base, cut just above the lowest set of leaves • Tie in your sweet peas with plant support rings to encourage them to climb. • Prune spring-flowering shrubs after flowering. • Cut back flowered shoots of choisya to promote a second flush of flowers in autumn. • Trim lavender plants now, cutting off any old flower heads and about one inch of the current year's growth. 49


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


Early starters - chard, beetroot and kohl rabi

VEGETABLES THAT WILL GROW AT THE DOUBLE As spring speeds into summer, vegetables can grow rapidly. So now is the ideal time to sow quick maturing quick crops for picking in July and August. Beetroot Beetroot is reliable, mostly free from diseases and versatile in the kitchen for leaves and roots. Choose traditional varieties and direct sow an inch deep in any fertile soil in a sunny position. Chard For ease of growing, hardiness and resilience to bolting, chard is one of the best leaf crops. It can be used as a bold resistant substitute in soups, stews and sauces. Sow thinly in May and when they are large enough to sow, remove alternative plants and allow the others to grow on or harvest as a cut and come again crop. Kohl rabi A vegetable good for sowing fortnightly right through until mid July, use raw in salads. The green cultivars mature quickest. Try ‘ Quickstar’ ‘Lanro’ or Kongo’. Sow in cell trays to plant out later to get the quickest return. Keep the crop well watered throughout the growing period and harvest when the stems are between golf ball and tennis ball size - about seven weeks. 50

Pear rust is a fungal disease of pears, causing bright orange spots on the leaves. It also affects junipers, causing perennial canker-like swellings on the branches. On pears it appears as bright orange spots on the upper leaf surface. As summer progresses, brown, gall-like outgrowths develop on the corresponding lower leaf surface. Fruit may be affected, but this is much less common. On junipers there are swellings on stems and branches, producing orange, horn-like outgrowths in spring following periods of high humidity. The best way to treat it is by careful pruning of junipers to remove rust infections from the stems, or simply by removing whole plants from the vicinity of pear trees will reduce the likelihood of infection, but note that the spores are airborne over quite long distances. Removing leaves on heavily infected trees may cause more harm than good.

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Pear rust - very often the fruit isn’t affected

GHERKINS TO GROW OUTDOORS Gherkins are cultivars of cucumber that produce many small fruits with few seeds and thick skins that are harvested quite small. The best time to plant is the third week in May, once all frosts have gone. Plant 45cm apart in wellprepared soil in a sunny sheltered position. They can be grown indoors and/ or they can be moved out later. They can be left to grow wild along the ground but its best to train along a trellis, fence, stake, wire or string. Carefully train them to grow clockwise up a string picking Gherkins – May is the ideal time to plant the side shoots and flowers off up to 30cm high. Then only pick the side shoots off and let the plant carry on growing up to about six feet tall. Once it has reached the top of the support let the plant grow wild coming back down towards the ground. Only begin to feed once you see the first two cucumbers growing!

severe during warm humid periods. Slugs can make a meal of a wide range of vegetables and ornamental plants, especially seedlings and other soft growth. Hostas, delphiniums, dahlias, gerberas, sweet peas and tulips are regularly attacked by slugs, and it can be difficult to grow these plants if you have a big slug problem. In the vegetable garden peas, beans, lettuce, celery and potato tubers are often damaged. Slugs are so abundant in gardens that some damage has to be tolerated. They cannot be eradicated so targeting control measures to protect particularly vulnerable plants, such as seedlings and soft young shoots on herbaceous plants will give the best results. Do a night patrol with a torch or flashlight. The best time is dusk or early morning, especially when it’s damp or raining. Try control barriers, eggs shells, pistachio nuts, even sawdust also claim to have some success. Then there’s the traps wine, honey-water, yeast mixed with water, vinegar or beer.


SUMMER SLUG AND SNAIL CONTROL There are many control options available for slugs and snails but despite this they remain a persistent pest. Slugs can use their rasping tongues to make holes in leaves, stems, buds, flowers, roots, corms, bulbs and tubers of many plants.

You can afford to be aggressive when it comes to thinning fruit

Fruit trees often set too much fruit. While some of the excess is shed in early summer – ‘June drop’- more thinning is often needed. Nature is in on the act – sloughing off excess fruitlets so that those left behind have a better chance of reaching the ripening stage. The gardener just takes this natural process one step further, removing a few more fruits to concentrate on the production of beautiful and delicious fruits of a decent size.

Most slugs feed at night, and the slime trails, if present, can alert you to the level of activity. Damage is usually most

Not all tree fruits need thinning. The usual suspects requiring a trim are apples, plums, peaches and nectarines and, to a lesser extent, pears and apricots. Every tree is different. Start by removing any malformed or otherwise suspect-looking fruitlets; only the best-looking fruitlets go through to the next round! You should also remove the ‘king’ fruit, which lies at the centre of each cluster, plus any fruitlets that are poorly positioned. Now thin out those left behind so that there’s one fruit every 10-15cm (4-6in) for dessert/eating varieties and one fruit every 15-23cm (6-9in) for culinary/cooking varieties.


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Accommodation: Holiday Cottages Delightful cosy Shepherds Hut for 2 on Cotswold Farm Pretty villages, Bustling market towns excellent walking NT and gardens Tel: 01242 604189 52

Carmarthenshire. A charming holiday cottage, rural setting, stands alone, Sleeps 3. Short breaks available. Pets welcome. 01239 711679 Lanlivery near Eden and other Cornish Gardens lovely woodland lodge 2/4 people 01726 430489 Country Gardener

Pembrokeshire, Wales 4 star luxury cottages in idyllic surroundings. Fully equipped, open all year. Children & pets welcome. Tel: 01239 841850

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Come and explore the Rewilded Valley of Dittiscombe, set in the beautiful South Hams, South Devon. Stay in pretty stone cottages with woodburners and cottage gardens. Dog friendly. Near Slapton and Slapton Ley. Find out more at or ring Ruth & Jon on 01548 521272


Waters-edge, Rural & Village Cottages Sleeping 2-8. Peaceful & Comfortable. Available year round. Dogs Welcome. Open Fires. Call us on 01326 375972 for our colour brochure

16 holiday cottages on an 18th century Estate on the Gower Peninsula with beautiful Grade I listed historic park and gardens. Tel: 01792 391212

Available April to October. Regret no pets/smokers. Reduced rates for over 65’s. Contact: Liz Davies 07842418140 or email

Accommodation With Beautiful Gardens

Creekside Cottages, Near Falmouth, Cornwall

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Near Stratford-upon-Avon Lovely self-catering cottage in peaceful location: Large garden, Sleeps 2. Perfect for famous gardens, NT properties & Cotswolds. Tel: 01789 740360

Alpaca Manure Alpaca manure has high levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. It is an excellent all-round fertiliser and can be used without ageing as it does not burn plants.

30 litres sealed bag £2.50 Delivery if required within 8 miles of Taunton for 5 bags or more.

Stoke Wood Alpacas

Cornwall luxury holiday bungalow sleeps 4, near St Ives. Sidmouth Devon Holiday bungalow in AONB overlooking Donkey Sanctuary. Sleeps 4. April – October. Ideal for walkers, nature lovers and children. 07842 514296

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CLASSIF IED Country House B&B Ideal location for Malvern Spring Garden Show and surrounding gardens. Visit or Tel 01885 482471 for details. Home Farm B&B in beautiful Cotswold village nr Chipping Campden. Close Hidcote and Kiftsgate. Tel 01386 593309 Charming B&B in garden cottage annex. Double with en-suite. Village location near Jurassic Coast, Bridport. Tel: 01308 488177 Explore Devon and be spoilt. 2 nights DBB £190 per couple. Farmhouse hospitality. Great trip advisor reports. 01566 783010 Somerset 5* Restaurant with Rooms. Close to many NT Gardens, Houses and Dorset Coast. Countryside Location with Lovely Garden. Pet Friendly www. 01935 423902 Quality B&B Truro Cornwall. Ideal for visiting beautiful cornish gardens and coast. £40 pppn 01872 241081 Paignton, Devon, 4* B&B. Ideal location for coast, countryside and NT gardens. En-suite rooms, garden, parking. Green Tourism Gold Award. 01803 556932

Garden Buildings Leigh Goodchild Ltd

Garden Buildings

AA 5 Star Gold Award B&B SE Cornwall Ideal location for many gardens. 10% discount use code CG10, min 2 nights, ex July/Aug Tel: 01579 321260

Superior cedar greenhouses by Gabriel Ash. Free survey and quotes; all work undertaken.

Call Leigh 07971 251261

Garden Furniture UKs leading supplier of Teak Furniture for the Garden

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Cards & Prints

Tel: 01256 809 640 sales

Garden Services Wisteria Pruning, Improvement, Oxfordshire, surrounding area. Richard Barrett 01865 452334

A range of over 200 greetings cards and prints from the flower paintings of


We sell to both individuals and trade. No order too small. Contact us for your free 2017 catalogue

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Fruit Trees

Adam’s Apples Apple trees from £8 Over 100 varieties Dessert, juicing, cider & cookers to suit your farm, garden or smallholding Many other fruit trees & bushes. Discounts for wholesale, community projects & schools. Advice and free catalogues.

Tel: 01404 841166 Country Gardener

Drystone Walling and Paving Mortared work also undertaken. Patrick Houchen - DSWA member. Tel: 01963 371123


Professional Garden Services Services include Consultations, Garden Design, Borders, Orchards & Meadows. Specialist Pruning; Climbers, Fruit & Topiary. Supply of Trees, Plants & Bulbs. Talks on Gardens & Plants.

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Gardens To Visit

IA GARDENS AUREL Open every weekend and Bank Holidays 10am - 4pm ♦ ♦ ♦ Tea Room ♦ ♦ ♦ For group bookings and coaches please call: 01202 870851 Aurelia Gardens, Newman’s Lane, West Moors, BH22 0LP

Burrow Farm Gardens

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Dalwood, Axminster, EX13 7ET

Polytunnels from £345 available to view by appointment 01363 84948

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

Specialist Garden Products Ex display sheds. Stables, field shelters, garages, summerhouses, offices, workshops/agricultural 01935 891195

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Advertise here... Call on 01278 671037 for details, or email: 55

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Growers of many plants suitable for coastal areas including hedging plants

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The Terracotta Pot and Gift Shop

Chelsea Gold Medallists

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Wanted/For Sale Farmyard manure, mushroom compost, topsoil, horse manure, woodchip, compost, woodchip mulch and chicken manure. All £1.50 per 25kg bag + delivery. Also available in bulk. 01404 891684/07860 459745 Wanted Old Radio Valves And Audio Valves. Tel: 02392 251062

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Country Gardener Editorial Publisher & Editor: Alan Lewis Tel: 01823 431767 Time Off: Kate Lewis Advertising Sales Cath Pettyfer Devon & Dorset Tel: 01837 82660 Ava Bench Somerset & Classified Tel: 01278 671037

Corina Reay Cotswolds Tel: 01823 410098 Rob Houghton Hampshire & Sussex Tel: 01614 283230

Design & Production Aidan Gill Gemma Stringer

Accounts Sam Bartholomew Tel: 01823 430639 Distribution Pat Eade Tel: 01594 543790 Follow us on Twitter @countrygardenuk

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

BEING BLUE in the garden Introducing a blue theme into the garden is becoming increasingly popular, but you will need to be careful and selective if you want your colour theme to overlap the seasons True blue flowers in the garden are a thing of rare beauty, and it’s not uncommon to see purple flowers with names which depict them as being ‘blue'. The rare nature of true blue flowers makes them all the more appealing. There are lots of blue flowers that you can grow to follow your colour scheme including tall, elegant floral spikes such as delphiniums and lupins, flowering shrubs with clusters of blue flowers such as California lilac and hydrangeas, and a range of small blue flowers such as forget-me-nots. Remember that flowering seasons will overlap, especially when the weather is variable. Be sure to research the plants you like to check that your garden can provide their growing requirements; for example, whether the plants need a sunny spot or shade, sandy or moist soil, and so on. Blue represents serenity and can help to create a calming space in the garden. Blue flowers can also symbolise hope, and are often bought as gifts for people who are sick or stressed. Spring blue flowers Anemone blanda – strictly speaking a tuber rather than bulb – has azure blue daisy-style flowers. In late spring it’s the turn of native bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta, which can be distinguished from the Spanish interloper (H. hispanica) by its delicate stem that droops at the top so that the flowers tend to hang from one side. Spanish bluebells are much more upright, with flowers on all sides of the stem. Blue climbers Early flowering clematis come in shades of blue: Clematis alpina and Clematis macropetalahave delicate bell-shaped flowers; varieties such as Clematis ‘Daniel Deronda’ have big saucer-shaped blooms. Blue shrubs The truest blue-flowered shrubs come from the genus Ceanothus, the California lilac, which features plumes of baby

blue flowers. C. arboreus ‘Trewithen Blue’ is a big vigorous evergreen; C. ‘Blue Mound’ is smaller, with more compact flower heads. Rhododendrons also come in a variety of lilacy baby blue shades, including 'Bob's Blue', 'Blue Diamond' and 'Blue Baron'. Other blue plants for spring flower Ajuga reptans is a perennial ground-cover plant, with spikes of blue flowers – ‘Bronze Beauty’ has contrasting bronze-tinged foliage. Familiar forget-me-nots (Myosotis alpestris) will seed around your garden once you’ve got them; for a more unusual effect look out for Brunnera macrophylla, which has similar forgetme-not style flowers above big heart-shaped leaves. Summer blue flowers Summer gardens can be a shimmering haze of blue, from the tall spires of classic delphiniums and lupins to the azure blue petals of the fabled Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis grandis) that is notoriously difficult to grow, to the small daisystyle flowers of felicia. As well as the familiar blue lobelia bedding plant, seek out its perennial cousins such as Lobelia siphilitica and ‘Blue Shadow’, which are tall upright plants rather than trailing. Blue bulbs Agapanthus are the classic summer blue bulbs with rounded heads clustered with funnel-shaped flowers. If you want to grow them in the garden rather than in pots, ‘Headbourne Hybrids’ are the hardiest. Camassia leichtlinii ‘Caerulea Group’ is like a large upright bluebell with starry flowers. Blue flowers to grow from seed Love in a mist (Nigella) has papery pale blue flowers with a ruff of feathery foliage; Phacelia tanacetifolia has curious flowers packed in tightly in a neat spiral – hence its common name of fiddleneck – bees love it; Jacob’s ladder, Polemonium caeruleum, has open blue flowers with yellow stamens. A blue rose? A blue rose is the rose-breeder’s so far unattainable goal, as the pigment needed does not exist in roses. ‘Veilchenblau’ is the closest thing: its flowers open in shades of lavender and take on a bluish tinge as they age. Blue roses sold in florists will have been dyed.




Here’s a selection of gardening events to look out for during the next few weeks throughout Dorset. Send us details of your event at least ten weeks before publication and we will publicise it free of charge. Make sure you let us know where the event is being held, the date and include a contact telephone number. We are keen to support garden club events and we will be glad to publicise talks and shows held during the year where clubs want to attract a wider audience, but we do not have space for club outings or parties. We suggest that garden clubs send us their diary for the year for events to be included in the relevant issue of the magazine. Please send to Country Gardener Magazines, Mount House, Halse, Taunton TA4 3AD or by email to and copy to We take great care to ensure that details are correct at the time of going to press but we advise readers to check wherever possible before starting out on a journey as circumstances can force last minute changes.








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A weedfree strategy? It may not be possible to entirely keep your garden free from weeds but if you need to keep winning the weed battle you need a strategy If you were to track 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 chore soon wears thin. Even more maddening—you are a few simple strategies away from your garden not needing weeds anymore. LEt sLEEpIng wEEds LIE Kill weeds at their roots but leave the soil-and dormant weed seeds—largely undisturbed. 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. Keep in mind that weed seeds can remain dormant for a long, long time. MuLch, MuLch, MuLch Mulch benefits plants by keeping the soil cool and moist and depriving weeds of light. Organic mulches, in particular, can actually host crickets and carabid beetles, which seek out and devour thousands of weed seeds. 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). If you’re a new gardener—or you’re working in a wild and weedy space—the first season will likely be a rough one. commit and stick to a weeding schedule, and don’t take on more space than you can manage. If you have more weeds than you can handle, keep weedy areas mowed until you’re ready to conquer them. the old saying ‘pull when wet; hoe when dry’ is wise advice when facing down weeds. After a drenching rain, stage a rewarding weeding session by equipping yourself with gloves, a sitting stool, and a trug for collecting the corpses. 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 henbit or chickweed. when going after bigger thugs, use a weeder to pry up taprooted weeds, like dandelion or dock. 60

under dry conditions, weeds sliced off just below the soil line promptly shrivel up and die, especially if your hoe has a sharp edge. LOp thEIr hEAds Off when you can’t remove weeds, the next best thing is to chop off their heads. with annual weeds, deadheading 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. wAtEr thE pLAnts yOu wAnt, nOt thE wEEds yOu’vE gOt put drought on your side by depriving weeds of water. placing drip or soaker hoses beneath mulch efficiently irrigates plants while leaving nearby weeds thirsty. In most areas, 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. they can take off in a flash when given the benefits of drip irrigation. Enriching your soil with organic matter every chance you get can move your garden along down the weed-free path. 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.

Country Gardener

ONE DAY wonder

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

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




• Watch the weath er closely – the be st time to harden pl ants off is on wet or overcast days under cover of a greenhouse or cold frame. • Once hardened off and planted ou t, watch the weather – even if a late frost is fore cast, plants can be covered w ith fleece and still survive. • When taking plan ts outside, don’t pl ace them on the ground whe re slugs can get to th em. • Limit the amount of direct sunlight they receive – choosin g a place which is shaded in the afternoon. • ‘Hedge your be ts’ and keep a few plants back inside as an insura nce policy.

It's time to plant young seedlings, raised indoors, out in the garden or allotment. But do it too abruptly and you'll kill them. Here’s how to 'harden off' plants safely Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures, lower humidity and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors. This ‘toughening up’ process is known as hardening off. Without this vital step it is all too easy to lose precious plants or have them wilt from the sudden change in conditions between a warm windowsill and a draughty garden. How best to harden plants off is the subject of much debate amongst experienced gardeners. Young plants bought from nurseries or grown from seed or cuttings at home for summer display outdoors when the weather improves often need to be hardened off. Hardening off allows plants to adapt from being in a protected, stable environment to changeable, harsher outdoor conditions. If suddenly placed outside, the shock can severely check a plant's growth. Although plants usually recover eventually, hardening off is thought to be preferable to a sudden shock. The effect of hardening off is to thicken and alter the plant's leaf structure and increase leaf waxiness. It ensures new growth is sturdy although growth will be much slower than in the greenhouse. But be warned: hardening off does not make frost-sensitive plants hardy.

WHEN TO HARDEN PLANTS OFF Typically hardening off takes two to three weeks, but the warmer the initial growing conditions, the longer the hardening off period. Hardy plants acclimatise faster than halfhardy or tender types. To be on the safe side, do not plant out tender plants before the date of the last frost which is usually late spring in the south of England, later in the north and Scotland.

HOW TO HARDEN PLANTS OFF All plants are hardened off in gradual stages. Plants raised in heated glasshouses and on windowsills 62

should go first into a cold glasshouse if available. When moving plants out of propagator it is best to do so on an overcast dull day as this will help reduce wilting. After two weeks in these cooler conditions, plants should be moved into a well-ventilated cold frame. If you don't have a greenhouse, move plants into a cold frame, with the lid open slightly during the days of the first week and closed at night. Gradually raise the lid during the next fortnight until removing it entirely prior to planting. A cloche may be used but this does not give as much frost protection as a cold frame. If there are no specialist facilities available, place plants in a sheltered position in front of a south-facing wall or hedge and cover with two layers of fleece to prevent sun scorch and temperature shock. For the first week, leave outside during the day, but bring in at night. In the second week reduce to one layer of fleece. Towards the end of the fortnight remove the fleece during the day. If the weather is suitable leave the plants outside at night but ensure they are covered. Towards the end of the third week leave them uncovered before planting out. Covering with an old curtain or extra fleece can protect from sudden sharp night frosts that occasionally occur in late spring.

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Dorset Country Gardener May 2017  

The May 2017 issue of Dorset Country Gardener Magazine

Dorset Country Gardener May 2017  

The May 2017 issue of Dorset Country Gardener Magazine