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Gardening events

throughout Hampshire

The secrets of great composting

Christmas cooking from the garden

Growing and eating artichokes

Hampshire ISSUE NO 110 WINTER 2018 FREE

Colour, style and interest in the WINTER GARDEN

PLUS: The sense of touch in the garden; Natural dyes; Indoor plants for the bedroom; Hazel hurdles GA R DE N



SHOP www.garsons.c w w.garsons.c



TITCHFIELD Fontley Road Titchfield Hampshire PO15 6QX 01329 844336


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

West Parley branch OPEN all year round

392 Christchurch Rd. West Parley, BH22 8SW 9am - 5pm Mon - Sat ~ 10am - 4pm Sundays

Check web site for more details

Come to us for plants direct from the grower, you’ll get the best prices and plants that are fresh, full of vigour and bursting with life


Xmas Wreaths from £7.99 4-5ft Nordmann Xmas Tree: £24.99 5-6ft Nordmann Xmas Tree: £29.99 6-7ft Nordmann Xmas Tree: £36.99 7-8ft Nordmann Xmas Tree: £49.99 Xmas tree stands from £11.99 Free Mulled Wine & Mince Pies at weekends throughout December.

According to season we offer: ● Primroses and Polyanthus ● Pansies and Violas ● Bedding plants ● Cottage garden plants ● Hardy Shrubs ● Climbers and Wall plants ● Hanging Baskets and ready planted containers ● Ready sprouted bulbs in pots ● Christmas Trees


10% OFF ANY XMAS TREE WITH STAND Voucher valid until 24th Dec 2018

Think of us first when you need a gift for a special person - we always have the best quality, top value planted arrangements in the area We stock a full range of fertilisers, tools, composts, pots, seeds, gloves, propagation equipment and other items to help grow the plants we sell. For frequent special offers join our Email list on the Baskets and Blooms web site. PLEASE NOTE OUR FORDINGBRIDGE BRANCH IS CLOSED UNTIL EARLY FEB 2019 2

NORDMANN XMAS TREES IN STOCK FROM 26TH NOVEMBER Wreath making demonstrations 1st & 2nd December

BESPOKE GATE MAKING SERVICE In-Excess are proud to offer a bespoke gate making service. We can produce virtually any type of gate or door, made to your specifications. For more details please see a member of staff in store.

For more information and offers see our website:

Tea Room Opening Times Open 9.30am-4.30pm Mon–Sat, 10am–3.30pm Sun

Country Gardener

Up Front!

“I prefer winter when you feel the bone structure in the landscape - the loneliness of it - the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it - the whole story doesn’t show.” - Andrew Wyeth “From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens - the garden outdoors, the garden of pots and bowls in the house, and the garden of the mind’s eye.” - Katherine S. White

From vine to wine by Mark Porter

Afternoon recital at Chawton House


There’s a chance to hear how Mark Porter, Hampshire organiser for the National Gardens Scheme planted a one acre vineyard in his garden and now produces 300 bottles of wine a year when he talks at the Sir Hillier Gardens on Wednesday, 14th November. Mark will explain about grape growing and the wine making process and naturally will bring along samples to taste. Coffee is served on arrival at 11am followed by the lecture and a two-course meal. Price is £25 and booking is essential. Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Jermyn’s Lane, Ampfield, Romsey, Hampshire SO51 0QA.

Looking forward to Hampshire Potato Days It’s not too long to wait now for the popular Potato Days – the series of potato buying themed days organised by Pennard Plants. It’s the twelfth year the Somerset nursery have been organising the days and as well as a huge range of seed potatoes you’ll be able to buy onion sets, shallots and garlic bulbs and more. There are two special Hampshire events in January and February. Petersfield Potato Afternoon, Thursday, January 17th. Herne Farm Community Centre, Crundles, Herne Farm, Petersfield GU31. This is a new venue for the event which runs from 2pm to 5pm. Damerham Potato Day, Saturday, 16th February. Damerham Village Hall, Fordingbridge, Hamnpshire SP6 3HQ. Dareham and District Horticultural Society. Small admission charge. 10.30am to 1.30pm.

Jane Austen lovers have a treat in store on Thursday, 13th December when Chawton House hosts a dramatic recital of readings from Jane and Cassandra Austen’s letters prose and poetry about sisterhood, Chawton House itself and their love of the gardens. Following the recital there will be mulled wine and mince pies in the Old Kitchen 2pm to 4.30pm. Chawton House, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire GU34 1SJ.

WREATH MAKING WORKSHOP AT GILBERT WHITE’S HOUSE Rosemary Lanning will be giving her popular wreathmaking workshop at Gilbert White’s House in Selborne on Saturday, 24th November. It’s a relaxing day of making beautiful unique Christmas wreaths with good company, refreshments and the chance to visit the museum. The workshop runs from 11am to 1pm. Gilbert White & The Oates Collections, High Street, Selborne, Hampshire, GU34 3JH.

Magical after dark trail through botanic gardens There’s a magical after–dark winter lantern trail through Wakehurst’s beautiful botanic gardens and majestic woodlands every Thursday from Thursday, November 22nd until Sunday, 16th December- brought to life with glowing, handcrafted lanterns. It’s a chance to take in the architectural beauty of the 16th century mansion before marvelling at the UK’s tallest living Christmas tree and enjoy toasting marshmallows or chestnuts over fire bowls with hot chocolate or mulled wine in hand. Festive crafts, foodie treats and late-night opening of the Visitor Centre shop. Choose from eight time slots for the trails at half hourly intervals between 4.30 pm – 8pm. Wakehurst, Selsfield Road, Ardingly, Haywards Heath, RH17 6TN.

The March issue of Country Gardener will be available from Saturday, 23rd February 2019


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 ■ Tree Preservation Order Advice ■ Planning Applications - Advice and Reports (to BS5837 standards)


01202 876177


this Winter

Make your Christmas magical with Stewarts Garden Centres

Christmas Tree Lights

Real Reindeer at our omhill Christchurch & Bro Garden Centres

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



Tree & Home Decorations

Artificial Christmas Trees

Christmas Dinner in our Coffee Shop*

Real Christmas Trees

*image for illustrative purposes only. Stewarts Christchurch Garden Centre, Lyndhurst Road, Christchurch, BH23 4SA Tel: 01425 272244

Stewarts Broomhill Garden Centre, God’s Blessing Lane, Broomhill, Nr Wimborne, BH21 7DF

Stewarts Abbey Garden Centre, Mill Lane, Titchfield, Fareham, PO15 5RB

Tel: 01202 882462

Tel: 01329 842225 Country Gardener

...In Hampshire

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New kitchen garden delights at Mottisfont The historic priory and country estate at NT Mottisfont has a new £135,000 kitchen garden- aimed at bringing food production and sustainability back to the gardens for the first time in more than 30 years. The project is the result of Mottisfont’s biggest fundraising campaign to date and reflects the National Trust property’s medieval history and productive past. The completed garden was unveiled during an official ceremony. The kitchen garden will feature fruit, vegetables, salad and herb areas, decorative flowers and a central pond. Two pergolas will run the length of the garden and will eventually be covered in climbing gourds and vines. Their brick and flint supports include pieces of stone from Mottisfont Abbey

Mottisfont’s ruined abbey, and from the 19th century kitchen garden. All the vegetables planted at the site are heritage varieties, and have been grown at Mottisfont from seed. Louise Govier, general manager at Mottisfont, said: “I’m thrilled we are returning this section of our walled garden to its historic roots as a place for growing food for us all to eat. They represent each different group, from gallicas to albas in a bid to provide an introduction to the hundreds of varieties visitors find in the nearby gardens.

mass of colour underneath Mottisfont’s huge plane trees. Details on uk/mottisfont Mottisfont Abbey, Mottisfont, Romsey, SO51 0LP


Looking forward to New Year snowdrops in Hampshire Snowdrops are a welcome sign that spring will soon be on its way. We may have the winter to get through first but plans and hopes are already in place for the 2019 snowdrop season throughout Hampshire. The county has a proud tradition of having some of the most natural and dramatic setting for snowdrop lovers to enjoy.

NT MOTTISFONT ABBEY Swathes of snowdrop Galanthus nivalis cover the grassy lawns of this ancient priory, set on the famous River Test from late January into February inn the National Trust’s newest winter garden. Drifts of bright yellow winter aconites, and later, daffodils, produce a bright

One of the first sights to meet visitors in early spring is a pretty ribbon of pearly white colour from the snowdrop trails that wind their way from the estate’s car park to the walled garden. Further displays can be found in the wild garden, mingling with yellowpetalled winter aconites. The Vyne, Sherborne St John, Basingstoke RG24 9HL

HINTON AMPNER Hinton’s previous owner, Ralph Dutton, designed the East Lawn of the garden around the tiny parish church in the grounds. He knew that, even in colder months, the congregation was likely to gather on the grass after the Sunday service, so he planted the lawn with fragrant winter flowers such as daphnes, which have a zingy lime scent and tiny pink flowers.. Snowdrops, winter aconites and crocuses inject bright darts of jewel-like colour. Hinton Ampner, Bramdean, nr Alresford SO24 0LA

Beaulieu Victorian Christmas evening The Beaulieu Victorian Christmas Evening returns to herald the start of the festive season on Saturday, 17th November, from 4.30 to 8pm. The High Street will be closed to traffic, and returned to Victorian times. The Christmas trees and lights will be up, festive music will be playing, and staff will be dressed in period costume. A Park & Ride service will operate from the visitor car parks of the Motor Museum. Take the bus to and from the village or from 4.30pm, park and walk through the museum grounds to the village, entrance ÂŁ1. 5


Winter Wonderland at Stewarts Garden Centres There’s the chance to take the family to meet Father Christmas and his friendly elves, as part of Stewarts garden centres Christmas celebrations. The real reindeer will be at Stewarts Christchurch and Broomhill Garden Centres to keep Santa company! Tickets to Santa’s Winter Wonderland must be booked in advance and they do sell quickly. Tickets can be purchased online at for just £10.95 including a gift from Santa (7 months – 12 years), free for babies, 0 – 6 months (no present but ticket still required) and £1 for each adult.

Country Gardener will be back in February Country Gardener will be back for a new gardening season with the March issue of the magazine which you should be able to pick up from Saturday, February 23rd so please make sure you look out for it. Thanks also to the literally thousands of readers who took part in the Country Gardener Readership Survey in the September issue of the magazine. Your views help us to keep making sure we are supplying the magazine you want to read which helps you with your gardening knowledge and enjoyment. The five winners in the draw to win Niwaki garden secateurs were: Mrs Allison Darby, from Williton; John Orton, from Exeter; Mrs Angela Davies from Poole; Malcolm Taylor from Romsey and Miss Anna Woodbine from Moreton-in-Marsh.

Christmas at Stewarts Garden Centres is very special. Inspirational gifts and decorations, a choice of beautiful flowering plants and a wide range of real or artificial Christmas trees. Between 1st and 24th December you get ten per-cent off all tree lights when you buy a real Christmas tree (Voucher valid for day of purchase only and while stocks last) Stewarts coffee shops will be serving a home-made Christmas menu between 12 noon and 3pm from the end of November. For more information visit

New Baskets and Blooms opens at West Parley For more than ten years locally grown plant specialists Baskets and Blooms has been supplying top quality plants direct from grower to gardener at their Stuckton branch near Fordingbridge. That principle has proved such a success that they have now taken over the old Plowmans site at West Parley bringing affordable plants to a wider audience. Having opened in September with about half the store ready for business, gardeners have quickly taken to the Baskets and Blooms way and the response has exceeded expectations. Tracy Harris said, “We’ve been thrilled by the reactions to our new plant centre. It has been hectic but fun and we can’t wait for the spring when the whole centre will be ready with even more plants and gardening essentials”. Baskets and Blooms West Parley will be open all year round, customers of the Stuckton branch will know that centre takes a rest from mid November until early February. You can find out more at and basketsnblooms Baskets and Blooms 392 Christchurch Rd, West Parley, BH22 8SW. Tel: 01202 582169

GARDENERS TO KEEP ON JUICING AS APPLE ‘STORM’ BREAKS RECORDS It has been raining apples throughout Hampshire in October. The English Apples and Pears Ltd has announced the commercial English apple harvest is a record breaker with more quality apples than for many years. “High winds have brought a lot of apples down this year so there’s been a race to get them picked up and used properly,” said Ian Porter of EAP. “There are millions of tons of apples lying on the ground. People can’t give them away so we would urge gardeners not just to let them rot but use them and keep using them for as long as possible,” he added. Vigo Presses the juicing and fruit pressing specialists have some ideas for making the apple ‘storm’ last. APPLE JUICE TO KEEP: Wash the apples, cut out any wormy bits and bruises and invest in an apple crusher to pulp the apples and then a press to extract the juice. Either way you’ll want to blend sweet and tart apples to get a good balance of flavour. Store the juice for up to three days or a versatile pasteuriser for longer life juice. DRIED APPLE RINGS: Best for eating apples. Core your apples (no need to peel them unless you want to). Cut into slices, about 5mm/¼in thick, and store them in a purpose built fruit drier with a thermostat and timing mechanism. For Vigo Presses full range visit 6

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Large traditional family-run nursery We have a wide selection of trees, shrubs, perennials & fruit bushes that make perfect gifts Christmas trees & holly wreaths available 1st Dec 4-acre woodland garden & Tea Rooms Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm. Sun & Bank Holidays 10am-5pm Closing Christmas Eve & re-opening Monday 7th January 2019 MACPENNY’S NURSERIES BRANSGORE Burley Rd, Bransgore, Nr Christchurch BH23 8DB Tel: 01425 672348


Natural dyes - colour all around you Caroline Bawn from Cornwall based Gorgeous Yarns specialises in natural yarns, including hand dyed varieties and here she shares the secret of finding and using natural colourings Throughout history, since weaving textiles became common, people have used natural dyes to create colourful garments. People in medieval times would not have worn the dull browns we might think, but a range of subtle green, brown, yellows and oranges, all from foraged plants, berries, leaves and bark. The most rare, difficult to obtain and process colours, like purple for royalty, were reserved for the wealthy and reflected the wearer’s status. At this time in history, most woven fabrics were woollen or linen/flax and it is only later that cottons and silks became available.

“The first khaki uniforms were wool dyed with stinging nettles for the First World War” The process for dyeing onto animal fibres is different to dyeing on plant fibres, and trial and error would have taught what worked best, often with stale and pungent urine as a fixative. Fortunately we can now use mineral salt fixatives for our natural dyes. Most natural dyes need this fixative or ‘mordant’ (from the Old French, Morder, to grip) as this helps the dye colour literally grip the fibre and remain fairly colourfast. Some dyes have their own built in mordant, especially barks and tree dye stuffs like oak galls and acorns. Natural dyes, of course have no harsh petro-chemicals in them and so are ideal if you are dyeing fabric or fibre to make something for someone with sensitive skin. It’s also a positive choice to reduce your carbon footprint, enjoy nature’s bounty and create something special and unique. The colour palette natural dyes give you are generally soft and subtle, and surprising colours go well together, for example mustard yellow of Rhubarb root (Rheum rhabarbarum) and rich rust of madder roots. (Rubia 8

tinctorum). Interestingly, lots of plants which have been used for centuries to dye with have tinctorum as part of their Latin name. Each season, the garden and hedgerows give us a foraging and harvesting opportunity, and many will continue to give colour throughout the season. Early stinging nettle leaves give a pale greenish yellow, but as the summer comes and goes, the colour darkens, and by the autumn, the colour is more of a khaki. In fact, the first khaki uniforms were wool dyed with stinging nettles for the First World War. So many uniforms needed, and not enough red dye which was traditionally used for British uniforms. Spring gives us gorse flowers, bracken fronds, daffodils, and young comfrey leaves. A favourite of mine is Dyer’s chamomile (Cota tinctoria) which gives a reliable and stable yellow and can be overdyed to give other shades, such a lime green with weak copper solution. Summer brings a riot of colour from flowers in the garden, hedgerow horse parsley, (Smyrnium olastratum) hawthorn berries, (Crataegus monogyna) rose hips (Rosa canina) and elderberries (Sambucus nigra) to name a few. The gentle colour changes in nature around us in Chamomile dye flowers autumn are reflected in the gentler dye shades you can obtain. Alder cones, (Alnus glutinosa) acorns and oak galls, (Quercus robur) willow (Salix alba) and copper beech (Fagus sylvatica purpurea) all give beautiful tones of honey, beige, brown and grey. In the winter, after a storm, lichen can be collected, but

Country Gardener

ONLY from fallen wood/twigs, and only in small quanities. I have never had any success with getting the lilac pinks you can get from lichen, so my advice would be don’t bother. Lichens are endangered so best left alone on the forest floor. The winter is the time to use the dye colours you have grown and harvested, like madder which grows like a weed in my garden. (Rubia Tinctorum) This year has been a great year from drying dye stuffs Early season stinging nettles naturally in give a pale greenish colour the sun, but the can be successfully dried in paper bags, hung up in a dry shed or outhouse. Kitchen ingredients like onion skins and tea can be used to dye with too, that’s an article for another day. Collect dye stuffs when they are dry, so that no mould will develop and either use them immediately, or dye then for later use. Generally, you will need 200 per-cent dye plant to fabric/fibre weight if using fresh, and 100 per-cent if using dry dye stuff. The mordant you use with your dye stuff will depend on what fabric/fibre you are using. Once the fabric/fibre has been mordanted, the colour is “extracted” from the dye stuff, often by gently heating to make an infusion. Some dyestuffs, like acorns, oak galls and alder cones are better crushed; madder, nettles and rhubarb roots need to be chopped, and some flowers like daffodils need to be pulled away from the calyx before infusion. They all need to be strained as all those bits in your wool fibre is a nightmare. Once you have the dye liquid, you are ready to go. Only use a pan which will not be used to cook in again. Dyes are pH

reactive, so stainless steel is best, aluminium can change the colour you expect. Even the pH of your water will make a difference, especially if you use spring or rain water. Dye your fibre gently, particularly wool which can shrink and felt in the pan, and once you are happy with the intensity of colour and/or it is not getting darker, remove your fabric/fibre, leave to cool, then wash in cool water until no further colour comes out. Dye gently in the air, out of the sun. Hand dyed yarns and fabrics like this will not have an even, solid colour, that’s normal and part of their beauty. You may notice there is still colour left in your pan. That’s because some dyestuffs are more generous than others and will give more colour. You can try dying another batch with this “exhaust” dye; the colour will be tonal but paler. I have managed to get 600g dyed Polwarth wool from 100g dried rhubarb root using the exhaust. Colours can be modified by changing the pH of the solution in the dye pan, try adding vinegar or bicarbonate of soda to blackberry or red cabbage dye to change the colour more red or purple. Copper and iron modifiers are often used too, and oak galls can ‘sadden’ a colour and reduce it’s brightness. Most of all, enjoy the colours of nature and the beauty they give us.

Now do you want to have a go? If this has interested you and you would like a go for yourself, Gorgeous Yarns sell DIY dye kits which have everything you need, perfect to have a go or give as a gift. and GorgeousYarns for luxury yarns, dye kits and naturally hand dyed yarns.

Further Reading: I can recommend The Wild Dyer by Abigail Booth and Wild Colour by Jenny Dean.

Useful Websites: and

When foraging natural dye plants, follow the common sense rules; • Only pick what you need, and no more • Don’t strip one plant of dye stuff, spread your foraging • Get any permission from the land owner to harvest what you need • Be very sure of what you are harvesting, and if necessary wear protective gloves and use secateurs • Don’t put yourself at risk by climbing up trees or foraging on main roads • If in doubt, don’t pick. (That’s why I never use fungi to dye with, I’m not sure what I’m picking and don’t want to poison myself.) 9

Warming winter colour

The winter garden can often feel a little sparse, with only a few plants still flourishing in the colder months but there ways of keeping colour in the garden Colour doesn’t have to fade away as autumn dips into winter– some plants come up trumps when the temperature drops. Interest in the depths of winter is there to be enjoyed if you make the effort. It may come from flowers, scent, berries, coloured stems or dramatic evergreen foliage. Plants with fragrance are best appreciated when planted by doorways or entrances in regular winter use. Many plants with winter interest are scented, most are shade tolerant, and some are adaptable to life in containers so can be moved in and out of the limelight according to the season. The sight and scent of these valuable plants can cheer up a dull time of the year. Hellebores produce a mass of beautiful white blooms in late winter, fading to a softer shade of pink, perfect for north or east facing patios, creating a calming outdoor atmosphere for entertaining. Here are some specific winter colour selections. White forsythia, Abeliophyllum distichum is the most elegant of winter plants – white, scented stars on bare branches between January and March. It should ideally be grown against a sheltered, south-facing wall, flanked by evergreens. Viburnum Tinus ‘Gwenllian’ is a compact shrub that most gardeners will be able to find a home for, and it’s well worth it for its winter value. From red buds in early winter come white flowers later in the cold season and finally blue almost metallic looking berries. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ (witch hazel) has bright yellow strands that promise to stand out against the usual grey hues of the winter garden. Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ has multi-coloured stems which give consistent bright colour from November to March.


Barmy and beautiful, Corylus avellana ‘Red Majestic’ charms all year. In winter its curly branches are on show and it is bejewelled with pink catkins, followed by purple leaves in spring and red nuts in summer. Squill ‘Tubergeniana’ Dainty ice-blue flowers between January and March. Scilla mischtschenkoana’Tubergeniana’ is breathtaking mixed with snowdrops and planted in carpets beneath deciduous trees. . Christmas camellia Camellia x vernalis ‘Yuletide’ is usually in flower on Christmas Day in appropriately festive colours – the scarlet and gold flowers are scented. It likes a sheltered, warm site in neutral to acidic soil. Plant a ring of red and yellow adonis around it.

Container pot


Containers plante d up with a selec tion of foliage and flowers can br ighten up a patio or balcony, giving colour and interest over the co ld season. Choose the bigges t container you ca n find space for, and make su re it’s frost proof. The larger volume of soil w ill give more resis tance against extremes of cold . Use classics like w inte add height with sh r pansies for deep colour and rubs that give a go od winter effect too. Consid er dogwood for its beautiful stems. Images clockwise from top left: White forsythia Abeliophyllum distichum; Camellia x vernalis ‘Yuletide’; Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’; Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’; Viburnum Tinus ‘Gwenllian’

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- the perfect time to get composting

Nicky Scott’s expertise in waste composting solutions has led him to be known as ‘Dr Compost’. Here he sets out what every gardener needs to know about creating their own garden compost Illustrations by Bob Gale

There is nothing quite as satisfying as plunging your hands into a pile of freshly sieved, homemade, mature compost. Knowing that it derives from that bucketful of peelings, tea bags and coffee grounds mixed with hedge trimmings, weeds and other general garden stuff is pretty miraculous. The alchemy of combining materials full of water, all those peelings and grass cuttings, with those full of air, those tough plant stems, twigs and so on create the ideal environment for the microbial life to flourish and generate that steamy heat, a bacterial bonfire, is always exciting. Completing the cycle of the elements by creating earth, or at least, providing humus and life back to the soil, is a rich, rewarding experience. I had the great fortune to have as a teacher the late and great Dick Kitto, who was the owner of ‘Powling’s Compost’. He collected all the organic matter he could locally including, fruit and vegetable waste from Totnes shops and market, and even the blood and hair from the bacon factory. This was all mixed up in huge steaming piles with spent mushroom compost. In fact when you bought a bag of compost you were likely to get mushrooms popping up in your window box. I was paid a pittance to bag up the compost but it 12

certainly taught me not to waste anything compostable. Being a ‘no-dig’ gardener I always want plenty of organic matter to mulch and compost, and I rarely have a problem finding what I need as there are so many people that want to rid themselves of it. We started a community composting project in Chagford on Dartmoor over twenty years ago, in the early 90’s, based on the amount of lovely compostable garden clippings being put in council skips every month in our town. This project, ‘Proper Job’ is now a thriving Re-use, compost and recycling site, with a café, and now a reuse/upcycled shop in the town centre. Community Composting can act as a kind of social ‘glue’ bringing people together socially and with economic benefits with so many environmental benefits. Instead of wastefully disposing we can compost building healthy soils, growing healthy plants and people. Being a compost obsessive got me thinking about the wastage of all kinds; especially food waste. We are told to exclude food waste from our compost because of the horrors of rats, flies and smell. It is true you have to be careful but there are many ways of solving these challenges from secure ‘in-vessel’ tumbling or turning bins to using fermentation systems called ‘Bokashi’ or E.M. (effective microorganisms). I have helped install over a hundred systems in schools, mostly in Devon and it all saves on wasteful disposal, instead creating wonderful compost. Composting and mulching are really simple techniques and have the bonus of also controlling weeds. A layer of flattened out cardboard boxes covered with sheets of newspaper and then layered with different organic materials, ‘greens’ such as grass cuttings or cut down plants and ‘browns’, like chippings or straw make a great barrier

Country Gardener

Composting - the key points PICK THE PERFECT SPOT It’s best to site it on a level, welldrained spot. This helps worms to get in and get on with the job of breaking down the content.

PUT THE RIGHT STUFF IN Good things to compost include vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant prunings and grass cuttings. These are fast to break down and provide important nitrogen as well as moisture. It’s also good to include things such as cardboard egg boxes, scrunched up paper and fallen leaves. These are slower to rot but provide vital fibre and carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. Crushed eggshells can be included to add useful minerals.

DON’T PUT THE WRONG STUFF IN mulch against grass and most weeds, leaving the field clear for the plants you want to grow, just look up ‘Lasagna gardening’ on the web to find out more on this. So much can be written about compost that I have already written three books which I hope you will be inspired to search out, see My simple message is; be mindful of your materials. By this I mean think about how they will be for the multitudes of microscopic organisms that will feed on them from bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, and the vast web of life that a compost heap contains, springtails, mites, woodlice, millipedes, centipedes and so on. All of the life in the compost heap needs air, water and warmth. A large heap, a metre cubed or more, can contain the heat that the composting process generates. All those creatures multiplying, especially the bacteria, which can grow exponentially, meaning one colony can become over eight million in 24 hours, all that life gives off heat. As long as there is sufficient air and water. So you must mix those tougher, often hollow plant stems, wood chips, sawdust, twiggy stuff etc with the fresh soft, water laden material roughly half and half. Save up the tougher drier material and layer it with the fresh arisings. It’s really very simple and it’s so satisfying to create your own compost. Nicky Scott is co-coordinator of Devon Community Composting Network and Director of Proper Job one of the UK’s first community reuse centres. He is also chair of Growing Devon Schools partnership and a lecturer and author of a series of books on composting.

Certain things should never be placed in your bin. No meat or dairy products. No diseased plants, and definitely no dog poo or cat litter, or babies’ nappies. Putting any of these in your compost will lead to unwanted pests and smells. Also avoid composting perennial weeds (such as dandelions and thistle) or weeds with seed heads.

GET THE BALANCE RIGHT The key to good compost lies in getting the mix right. You need to keep your ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ properly balanced. If your compost is too wet, add more ‘browns’. If it’s too dry, add some ‘greens’. Making sure there is enough air in the mixture is also important. Adding scrunched up bits of cardboard is a simple way to create air pockets that will help keep your compost healthy. Air can also be added by mixing the contents.

GIVE IT A GOOD AIRING A well-cared-for compost heap requires regular turning, which can be a tricky job without the right tools. Turning your compost helps to aerate and mix up the waste and cuttings, which leads to faster composting.

GETTING THE BEST OUT OF YOUR COMPOST When your compost is ready you’ll have a dark brown, almost black soil-like layer at the bottom of your bin. It should have a spongy texture and will be rich in nutrients. Spreading the finished compost into your flowerbeds greatly improves soil quality by helping it retain moisture and suppressing weeds. It also reduces the need to use chemical fertilisers and pesticides. 13

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Houseplants in your bedroom? A new survey reveals that more of us are introducing plants into the bedroom to brighten the room -and more importantly to help us sleep! You may not feel that having plants in your bedroom is a great way of improving sleep but the fact is, having vegetation in your sleeping space can and does improve the quality of your sleep. While any plant displayed in your bedroom will brighten the indoor environment, the key is to use the right plants to create a calm, and tranquil room.

Bamboo Palm

The bamboo palm or reed palm is one that acts as an air freshener by absorbing odors and toxins. It is easy to propagate and grow. Palms have long been used for their versatility and their ability to bring a tropical flair to any space. Bamboo palms are no exception. These tend to be some of the most common palms grown, especially for the indoors because they are proven to filter the air in your home. This genus has more than 100 species to choose from. Most have lovely green foliage born on the typical pinnate leaves. A few varieties have smaller leaflets, and some have fused leaflets. Regardless of leaf size, most bamboo palms tend to stay fairly small. Container bamboo palms also like to have some room to grow, so if they look cramped in their current pot, consider bumping them up a container size. While bamboo palms like to be fed, don’t go overboard when fertilising them. The easiest and safest route is to apply a slow-release fertiliser every three months. To keep your plant looking its best, keep your bedroom around 20°C during the day and no lower than 15°C at night.

Jasmine Vine

As some studies have shown, the smell of jasmine vine bloom can reduce anxiety. This in turn will reduce stress and improve sleep. There are several varieties of jasmine that can live happily indoors as a houseplant, although by far the most popular is Jasminum polyanthum. A vigorous climber which bears numerous star shaped small

flowers that easily mislead because every flower, although tiny, packs an almighty punch to the nose. With just a few of these tiny Jasmine flowers open they can fill a room with their glorious, pungent and delicious heady, slightly sickly scent. You will never ever forget the smell and associations of jasmine once smelt, and it’s a delight in the bedroom.

Peace Lily

The peace lily is a superstar when it comes to enhancing the indoor environment. The blooms increase the humidity in a room by up to five percent. It also is known to kill airborne microbes and removes toxins in the air. This is why the peace lily is one of those plants that you really need in your bedroom. Whether you propagate your peace lily or you purchase one, you will need to move to a shady location. Exposure too much sunlight can burn the leaves and will not encourage the plant to bloom. Also, you will need to keep the soil evenly moist. Feed your plant with a balanced fertiliser every six to eight weeks.

English ivy

English ivy is another superstar when it comes to purifying the air. It needs a bright light but not direct sunlight. It does well under fluorescent lights that are found in bedrooms. A study found that English ivy reduces airborne fecal-matter particles. It has also been shown to filter out formaldehyde found in some household cleaning products. To keep the plant looking its best, mist your plant often or place the potted plant on a humidity tray. When it comes to feeding, only give your English ivy a dose of high nitrogen fertiliser during the spring and summer months. While there is are no guarantees that these plants will get you to sleep, they will improve the air quality in any room they are displayed in. Besides, having these beauties in your sight when you go to sleep and wake up will put a smile on your face.



Traditional hazel fencing – or ‘wattle hurdles’ as they are properly known – is now more popular than ever. They are a beautiful hand-made alternative in the garden to mass-produced fence panels. Hurdles are woven wooden fence panels made from coppiced hazel or willow. They were traditionally used as moveable agricultural fencing, especially for sheep on chalk downlands, and much of the surviving workable hazel coppice is situated close to those downlands – in Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex. Young trees are cut back to ground level in a regular cycle, the length of which depends on the species. Many shoots will reappear from one stump, providing a lot of new material in a relatively short time. Hurdles have traditionally had two main uses for the sheep farmer. Firstly, they were used to make lambing pens. Four hurdles make a quick, easy pen to keep a ewe and her lambs out of the worst of the weather, and to keep them close together so that they can bond properly. Secondly, they were used to make larger pens to contain sheep at night on arable land. The old agricultural uses have now gone, and farmers don’t tend to buy or make them these days, but use metal hurdles instead. Traditional hurdles are still used by smallholders but over the past few years their popularity in gardens has increased enormously as windbreaks or rustic fencing. Hurdle-making is a great skill to learn using locally-produced, natural materials. But you can’t make hurdles without coppicing, and it’s the production of the raw materials for hurdles via coppicing which has the most environmental benefits.

Hazel is arguably sturdier but willow may last longer. Both are natural products and will have a finite life but this can be enhanced by suitable treatment. The traditional method is linseed oil diluted in turpentine, but any suitable ‘off-theshelf’ wood preserver will help. The life of the hurdle will also be increased if it is lifted above ground level to allow an air passage underneath. These hurdles make brilliant wind breaks as the weave of the hurdle lets a small amount of wind filter through thus reducing the vortex effect that would be caused by a solid barrier. Depending on the level of exposure to wind and how well they are secured in place, they can be expected to last up to 10 years. They will age gracefully while maintaining sturdiness. Hazel and willow fencing are coppiced. This means that branches are cut only from new growth. The purpose is twofold: to ensure that the branches or ‘wands’ are flexible and of reasonably uniform thickness, and to allow more growth for next year. Methods used today are the same as thousands of years ago when local farmers cut what they needed for this year’s fencing, safe in the knowledge that more would grow back for next year if required. If you’re making your own hurdles, your biggest problem is likely to be sourcing the raw materials – often a stumbling block with old crafts. Most coppice in the UK is in a band along the south and west of England, so it will be much easier to get coppiced rods there. You could contact your local Wildlife Trust or other conservation organisation to see if they do any coppicing for habitat management.


1. how to split hazel rods – commonly done with a hooknosed billhook

The use of hurdles in gardens is now hugely popular as either an alternative garden fence, an effective wind break or to section off parts of the garden

If you decide that you want to make your own hurdles the way to start is to attend a course. It’s physically hard work, so it’s great exercise (the part that most course participants find hardest is putting the ‘twist’ in, which is a tricky technique and physically demanding). There are three key things to learn: 16

2. how to put the twist in, so that the rod can turn back on itself at the edge of the hurdle, which prevents it from falling apart 3. how to start off and finish the hurdles; i.e. the specific sequences at the beginning and the end Useful websites: - hurdle making in Okehampton, Devon www.windrush near Exeter

Country Gardener

Change your garden as you get older energy diminishes It comes to us all - the joints get stiffer, the arms a little weaker, and the ing garden - so adapting your garden could help prolong your active enjoyment of

Did you know that active gardening is second only to weightlifting for helping maintain bone density? Research has also proven that being out of doors and gardening can help with dementia, sleep and coping with chronic illness. So there are some very good reasons to keep gardening even though the years roll on and gardening becomes more physically demanding. For many the secret may be to adapt gardens as we grow older. A few simple adjustments will help make the work easier, allowing you to continue enjoying your hobby. Like an athlete, the gardener develops gardening skills through repeated activities like digging, weeding, mulching, etc. We learn how to use tools to get the job done with the least amount of efforts and the best results. For some it means the importance of proper lifting, carrying, and digging techniques for gardening. Recommended habits can be modified. Don’t wait for a back injury before taking a look at your gardening habits. Gardens are a collective of plants that we wanted to grow at one point or another. Some, though attractive will not be favourites. So select plants that are your favourites and reconsider how to handle the rest. Changes based on a landscape plan can be made all at once or over a period of years. If you decide to do the work yourself, start with your most labour-intensive space. Look for plants that need less attention. Reduce the overall maintenance of deep perennial beds by making them narrower then backing them with shrubs. Another solution might be creating a pollinator garden which requires minimum upkeep and can be mown off once a year. Reduce reaching distance and amount of leaning forward to pull weeds or spread mulch. If you can only access a bed from one side, ensure it is no wider than two feet. To make the work easier, use quality tools and keep them clean and sharp. A rusty shovel is more difficult to dig with because the soil will stick to it more. A sharp hoe will cut through weeds easier than a dull one. Consider automatic watering and semi-automatic watering systems to reduce the amount of hand watering. The design of large gardens will need to provide easy access to all the plants with wide, level walkways on both sides of

four-foot-wide beds. Create shaded areas in the garden using trellises, gazebos, and small trees so you can get out of the sun. And make sure there are spots all over the garden to sit down. Smaller garden areas can be created using a number of large containers grouped together or as single planters. Container gardening can reduce your gardening stress, and the many different attractive containers available add interesting focal points. You can also turn just about anything into a container garden. From teapots to milk jugs, wooden dressers to wine barrels, let your creativity run wild! RAISED BED GARDENING Consider installing raised beds, which reduce bending over by allowing you to work in a standing or seated position. Standing, you may be able to maintain a three-foot-deep bed, while two feet is manageable if seated. Height often varies from six inches to three feet tall. VERTICAL GARDENING Unique garden features like vertical gardening with wall planters and trellises allow you to work while standing up. Like container gardening, vertical gardening is an opportunity to get creative. Growing vegetables using vertical trellises reduces bending and picking. Many vegetables grow well on trellises. Cucumbers, beans, squashes and melons all climb the traditional garden trellis. You need to consider your body type and abilities when adapting your garden as you grow older. It is essential your garden is limited by your physical abilities and personal interests as well as the location of the garden itself. REDUCE YOUR GARDEN STRESS • Reduce the overall size of the garden. • Trade out high maintenance annuals and perennials for lower maintenance shrubs and trees. • Reduce the amount of reaching, leaning, and bending with raised bed and vertical gardens. • Garden small with container gardening. • Keep your tools in good shape so they’re easier to work with.


The amazing artichoke Architectually beautiful and underated in the kitchen

Elizabeth McCorquodale raves about the architecturally beautiful plant which provides a delicious, fun to eat and exotic vegetable in the kitchen Artichokes are wonderful plants; statuesque and stunningly beautiful when they are in flower, a magnet for bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects, tough and hardy and of course absolutely delicious into the bargain. Because of this litany of virtues it is often assumed that they must be difficult to grow, and it is widely accepted that they are an exotic in the kitchen as well. In reality they are neither demanding in the garden or in the kitchen. They can be disappointing if you begin with the wrong variety or if you treat them with too much respect in the kitchen, but with the right variety and an understanding that they need far more cooking than any other vegetable they will reward you with the most exquisite of flavours and a stunning display year after year. This venerable vegetable is a thistle, and the part that is eaten is the immature flower bud. When small, the bud can be eaten whole or they can be left to mature on the plant until they are four or five inches across when only the fleshy part of the leaves and the base of the bud at the top of the stem is used. Artichokes and their close relatives, cardoons, have been popular vegetables for hundreds of years. In Britain they were one of the many plants prized by King Henry VIII for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities and, by the time seed was being sent over to the new colonies in the Americas by the famous 18

gardener Miller and his cronies the popular variety ‘Green Globe’ was already in existence. Artichokes are equally at home in the flower garden and in a traditional veg plot, though my favourite place for a group of artichokes is growing, as if by accident, out of a gravel path or patio where their architectural beauty can be fully appreciated. Despite their exotic appearance they are very easy plants to grow. They like full sun and a moisture retentive soil in summer, and excellent Artichokes are equally at home in the flower garden or veg plot drainage in winter. If you are in a particularly cold spot, the crowns can be covered with layers of straw over the colder months. Feed and water them as you would any permanent crop to keep them healthy and productive.

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After four or five years, when they are coming to the end of their productive life, simply peel off some side shoots from the base of the plants and start all over again. You should get your first good crop in the second year from planting. There are more than 50 varieties of artichoke in cultivation around the world but the real work horse, and the one that you will find in most garden centres, is the ubiquitous ‘Green Globe’. It is, however, a variable variety ranging from terrific to just okay but as artichokes grow so easily from seed, an average packet of ‘Green Globe’ seeds will give you upwards of 50 plants and a good proportion of those will produce really good artichokes. If you have the space, this may be the way to go. There are, however, more reliable varieties to choose from; ‘Green Globe’ Improved and ‘Tavor’ are more uniform versions of the original and are more likely to produce a reliable bud. Some of the prettiest artichokes are the pointy, purple headed varieties, also grown from seed and so well bred that they come close-to-true each time. One of the best is ‘Violet de Chioggia’ (also called ‘Violet de Provence’) and another, ‘Romanesco’, while ‘Violetta Di Romagna’, ‘Violet Globe’ and ‘Purple Globe’ are all beautiful and delicious. ‘Gros de Laon’ is grown especially for its large heart. Whichever you grow there are a couple of things to watch out for. Aphids in all their forms like artichokes and they are often guarded by a colony of ants who will defend their aphid partners with vigour. The easiest way to deal with this pest is to wipe away the aphids - and any intrepid attendant ants - with gloved hands or by directing a strong jet of water at them to dislodge them. Persist with this method until the crop is clean.

A lady bird poses on the artichoke

Lettuce root aphid can also be a problem in some gardens. Deal with this one by checking any new plants and harvested side shoots before planting for signs of the bugs clustered around the roots and rinse them off with water or an organic fatty acid/soft soap spray. If you have some very precious plants that are worth trying to save, dig them up, destroy any aphids still in the soil (with a soil drench or the judicious use of a flame gun) and rinse the roots to remove any sign of the infestation, then plant them in a new position. Plants that have had their roots washed can take a while to recover so cut the plant back hard (leaves and all) and mollycoddle it until it has recovered.

Cooking the Gourmet Thistle For the uninitiated, large, whole artichokes are eaten by peeling off the bracts (scales) one at a time and, holding them by the pointy end, scraping the soft, delicious flesh from the bottom of the scale with your teeth, then discarding the remains on the side of your plate. It is a much more delicate operation than it sounds! When you reach the middle of the mature artichoke you will encounter the fibrous ‘choke’, which is discarded, but at the bottom of which is the real prize, the heart of the bud. This can be eaten whole, dressed with melted butter. To prepare your artichokes, cut the bud from the plant with a few inches of stem. Soak the whole artichoke in well salted water to remove any insects that may be lurking among the scales, then dry upside down in a colander or dish drainer. Trim off any sharp spines and peel the tough outer layer from the stalk. Rub any cut or peeled surfaces with lemon juice to stop discolouration. By far the easiest way to cook artichokes is to pick them young and cook them whole. Very small artichokes can be steamed, but larger specimens will need boiling. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice (to stop them fading as they cook) a large pinch of salt to a large pan of boiling water. Keep the heads submersed by laying a plate over buds to stop them bobbing above the water. Young artichokes will take about 20 to 25 minutes to cook, while large specimens (four to five inches across) will take 40 to 45 minutes. Test for tenderness by inserting a skewer in the thickest part of the bud and peel a scale from the bottom of the bud - it should come away easily. When cooked through, remove the artichokes from the water and drain the heads upside down, covered to retain the heat, until they are dry and then pile them on a hot plate in the centre of the table. Serve them with bowls of melted butter and finger bowls and plenty of napkins to mop up the drips. For a something a little more exotic you can char your artichokes in the embers of a BBQ, soak small cooked and dried heads, or the tender heart of larger buds, in flavoured oils or roast par-boiled artichokes in the oven with plenty of oil and a sprinkling of herbs.

Delicious! 19

WINTER WALKING Gardens can be wonderfully dramatic and beautiful in winter, when it can be a delight to head outside for a walk to blow away the cobwebs More of us are now realising that winter gardens are to be enjoyed rather than endured and over the next few months winter walks will take us from autumn colour right through the January and February and the start of snowdrop displays. Certainly the build up to Christmas and the New Year shouldn’t deter regular garden visitors from wrapping up and getting out to enjoy the unique drama beauty of winter gardens, many which now stay open longer to allow people to enjoy nature trails through woodlands and gardens. Rangers and volunteers are often laid on to help with guided walks and whether its blustery coastal walks, countryside

Winter wonderland walks at magical Batsford Arboretum While Batsford may be famous for autumn colour and beautiful spring blossom, it is a delight in the depths of winter too. Wrap up warm and meander along paths beside streams and ponds and, if you’re lucky, the whole arboretum takes on a magical quality when covered in a coating of ice. It’s a wonderful chance to see the arboretum in all its deep midwinter glory, with the colourful stems of cornus and magnificent structure of the trees the stars of the show, followed by drifts of beautiful snowdrops in early spring. You can enjoy warming food in the Garden Terrace Café, a host of tempting plants and garden sundries in the garden centre and browse the wide range of gifts. Open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm, 10am to 5pm on Sundays Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos, GL56 9AD.

Snowdrops signal an end to winter

strolls or guided tours there’s so much to be said for winter fresh air. And then further ahead there’s no greater assurance that the brighter days of spring are on their way, than the prospect of snowdrops. Rightly called a harbinger of spring, snowdrops can start flowering in the depths of winter and are a sign the days are getting brighter and spring is indeed round the corner.

Colesbourne Park is the acknowledged home of snowdrops Started by Henry John Elwes with the magnificent Galanthus elwesii, the historic snowdrop collection at Colesbourne Park is the acknowledged home of snowdrops in England. The gardens, restored and extended by Sir Henry and his wife Carolyn, have around 350 varieties mixed with winter and spring bulbs: aconites, cyclamen, iris, miniature daffodils, snowflakes, hellebores and winter flowering shrubs. Visitors can walk beside the blue lake and along the woodland paths of the 10-acre gardens to see the snowdrops and planting schemes of winter and spring bulbs which complement the snowdrops. The gardens are open from 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays from 2nd February to 3rd March. Teas and plant sales are available. Colesbourne Park is halfway between Cheltenham and Cirencester on the A435. Colesbourne Gardens LLP, Estate Office, Colesbourne, Nr. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

Surely one of the best signs that winter is almost over is the sight of snowdrops pushing up through cold, dark earth and dead leaves. Whether it’s a single, brave flower standing alone that catches your eye, or great swathing clumps of white; the sight of the first snowdrop is a key moment in the calendar. That moment at the back end of January or early February when a dark hedgerow suddenly has light in it is enough to show that spring is really on the way. It’s the chance to discover the labelled snowdrop collection planted in herbaceous borders and naturalised with early flowering bulbs throughout the ten-acre garden. Enjoy the early signs of spring. Open throughout February and March, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 3pm. On Saturday, 2nd February the Garden House will be hosting an Avon Bulbs snowdrop sale, see website for details. The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7LQ. 01822 854 769 20

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Old Court Nurseries & The Picton Garden

Celebrate Christmas at Batsford... Enjoy magical winter walks, browse our gift and garden shops and treat yourself to a home-baked lunch or afternoon tea in our café. A perfect day out for all the family - dog friendly too! Open every day except Christmas Day.

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


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

It's a great time to plan your 2019 autumn displays. Mail order catalogue available on request or order online for delivery in May.

Please ask to go on our snowdrop list and be among the first to see what we have available. Closed to visitors over winter but please ring or email for help and advice. Open for the NGS on 22nd February, 11am - 4pm.

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

Cerney House Gardens A Romantic English Garden in the UK Cotswolds 46 acres of Cotswold parkland Romantic secret garden * Wildlife and woodland walks * Plants for sale * A large variety of snowdrops and hellebores * Refreshments available at the old Bothy Open from Saturday 26th January 10-5pm Admission: £5 adults, £1 children

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

Plant Sale and Show Saturday, 23 February 2019, 11am to 3.30pm Pershore High School, Station Road, Pershore WR10 2BX.

• • • • If you’re looking for an inspiring day out on Dartmoor you will love The Garden House Discover the snowdrop collection and enjoy the early signs of spring Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the Winter 11am - 3pm. Tearoom serving a ‘winter warmer’ menu and Sunday roast dinners Buckland Monachorum, Devon PL20 7LQ 01822 854769

Thousands of unusual plants for sale Hundreds of specimen plants on show Discounted books for sale Refreshments

Gain half price admission for up to two people with this advert. Admission £3. Under 18s and students free. For further information contact the Alpine Garden Society, Avon Bank, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3JP, call or visit our website.

T: 01386 554790

Reg Charity No. 207478 21


SNOWDROP DAY HAS UNIQUE PLANTS ON VIEW The Alpine Garden Society Snowdrop Day is a unique opportunity to see very rare snowdrops and also to buy some to take home and grow in your garden. Always a highlight of the year for the society, this is an opportunity to meet gardeners and plant enthusiasts of all abilities from across the country and to take home some special plants. The AGS Snowdrop Day is on Saturday, 2nd February at Ford Hall, Lilleshall National Conferencing Centre, Newport, Shropshire TF10 9AT. The day includes lectures, plant sales, Snowdrop ‘Question and Answer’ session and a twocourse lunch. Tickets are £35 for AGS members and £45 for non-members.

Abbotsbury Sub Tropical gardens offer calmness and serenity As winter sets into this ancient woodland valley, the pace and tone of the garden unwinds as Abbotsbury Sub Tropical gardens the change of season, shorter day length and misty mornings bring a calm and serene atmosphere to the garden. With the huge diversity of plants from all over the world comes an abundance of coloured fruits and turning leaves with brilliant yellows, reds and orange of Japanese maples and ginkgo trees. Throughout the winter months flowering mahonias, scented daphnes and early camelias continue to display along with evergreen fatsias, architectural bamboo and striking exotic looking palm trees. Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Bullers Way, Abbotsbury, Nr Weymouth, Dorset DT3 4LA. Gardens direct 01305 871387

Cerney House Gardens Winter Snowdrop and Hellebore Trail

Cerney House gardens is a romantic English garden for all seasons: beautiful on a sunny day with the scent of roses filling the Cerney House Gardens air and magical on a frosty winters day. The house and gardens reopen at the end of January for the arrival of the fabulous winter display of snowdrops and hellebores. There is a snowdrop trail winding through the woodland with over 150 different appearing amongst swathes of pink and purple Hellebores. Cerney House’s charm is in its apparent informality and tranquility, heightened at the beginning of a busy gardening year. Open from Saturday, 26th January 2019 10am-5pm. Cerney House Gardens, North Cerney, Cirencester, GL7 7BX. 01285 831300

SHAFTESBURY READY TO CELEBRATE SNOWDROP FESTIVAL Snowdrops have become synonymous with the Dorset town of Shaftesbury- and rightly so. The snowdrop celebrations now include a festival market and a snowdrop exhibition in the Shaftesbury arts centre which last year showed 106 items from exhibitors ranging from eight years to 80 years. More than 1,000 volunteers have planted over 220,000 common snowdrops for everyone to enjoy, free of charge and created a unique winter festival. Along the way, the Shaftesbury team have learned about the diverse and beautiful cultivars. Snowdrop Season and the Snowdrop Festival runs from Friday, 8th to Sunday 17th February next year. Shaftesbury Snowdrops, Swans Trust (Shaftesbury) Ltd, Swans Yard, Shaftesbury SP7 8JQ. 22

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East Lambrook Manor Gardens Festival of Snowdrops Cottage garden doyenne Margery Fish enthusiastically collected and popularised snowdrops, or Galanthus, which she planted in her now famous garden at East Lambrook Manor in Somerset. She was one of the first snowdrop devotees or ‘galanthophiles’ and amassed a significant collection in the 30 years she took to create this heartwarming garden. She began her collection with a gift of the green-centred, double Galanthus ‘Ophelia’, bred in Norfolk by Heyrick Greatorex, a World War I cavalry officer who became a recluse but produced the first double hybrids, causing a sensation at the time in the 1940s. The collection now includes over 120 different varieties and no longer fits in the display bed at the end of the nursery. The festival will feature talks and tours and the annual NGS Snowdrop Open Day on 17th February. Over 40 varieties of snowdrop will be on sale in the nursery with a ‘Snowdrop Sale’ from 25th February with bulbs at reduced prices. Throughout February the garden, nursery and cafe are open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 5pm, Readers of Country Gardener can take advantage of the Two-for-One entry offer featured on the East Lambrook advertisement on page 23.

£5 entry per person to the Gardens


(includes a hot drink)

This offer will run from November 2018 to February 2019. The offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Please check our website for opening times as we are closed some afternoons through the winter.


£5 entry per person to the Gardens (includes a hot drink).

(Country Gardener)


Visit the iconic cottage garden of gardening legend Margery Fish during the festival to see the sublime display of snowdrops and get in for half price with this ad. The festival runs throughout February. F LO IVA OPS T S E R F WD SNO


East Lambrook Festival of Snowdrops

Over 120 varieties of snowdrop to be seen with many rare snowdrops for sale in the nursery. Garden, nursery and café open Tues - Sun in Feb | 10am - 5pm Entry £6.00 | Over 65s £5.50 | Groups £5.25 | U16s free Silver Street | East Lambrook | Somerset | TA13 5HH 01460 240328 | | * Offer ends 28th Feb. Excludes group visits.

Shaftesbury Snowdrops Study, Sale & Social Day including the “Best in the West” Rare Snowdrop Sale

Saturday 9th February 1pm

The Guildhall, High Street, SP78LY Details of tickets from or from the Tourist Information Centre on 01747 853514

Image: ‘Snowdrop Words’ by Jane Shepherd 23



November garden

The garden begins to wind down in November as deciduous plants enter dormancy. But there are still gardening jobs to do this month to prepare for winter. Make sure to get outside and enjoy the garden as it fades, leaving structural plants and evergreens to take centre stage. Here are the key gardening jobs for the weeks ahead.

Stay on frost watch every night

It is the time of the year when the first frosts will have blackened dahlias. If you haven’t done so already, move tender perennials into the shelter of a cool greenhouse, frame or garage and water less to bring on a state of semi dormancy. In colder frost traps, tuberous-rooted cannas and dahlias should be dug up and stored in just-damp compost in a cool, airy place. If you feel it isn’t necessary to move them and are confident about avoiding frosts, an ample mulch of compost or leaf mould should protect them and they can stay put.

BE SELECTIVE WHEN IT COMES TO LEAVES IN THE GARDEN Only collect leaves where absolutely necessary. Don’t leave them too long on the lawns or they will kill the grass underneath. Where they have fallen in the beds and have not drifted too deeply, leave the earthworms to pull them into their burrows and to rot on the surface. However, where leaves have drifted deeply or are smothering smaller plants or silver Mediterranean herbs and perennials, clear to keep the plants dry and airy. Sweeping leaves off paths and terraces is all you need to keep the garden looking cared for and covers for a wealth of disorder in the beds.

Feed the birds

Chopping the leaves with the mower speeds rotting

Harnessing the benefits of fallen leaves To make leaf mould gather up fallen leaves (avoiding diseased ones) and collect them in a bin ideally made from chicken wire so that air can circulate. If you don’t have a bin you can put them in black bin liners and then punch in some holes. Stash these away somewhere out of sight and in a few months they should have rotted down. If the weather’s been particularly dry you might need to water the leaves before storing. Another trick to help break them down is to chop them up before storing by running the mowing machine over the top. NB: Do not make leaf mould using diseased leaves, rose leaves - which often harbour diseases - or evergreen foliage, which takes a long time to break down. 24

Country Gardener

Putting out high-fat (high-energy) foods for birds in winter will help our feathered friends to get through the worst of the weather. Adjust the quantity you put out according to demand, regularly wash bird feeders and throw away old food. A useful tip is to cut off the fine netting that fat balls come in so birds don’t get their feet tangled up. A tray is good for ground-feeding birds, such as blackbirds, starlings and chaffinches, but be aware of rats, which may also be attracted. One technique that can prevent rats climbing poles to reach hanging feeders is to thread the pole through an upsidedown plant pot.

The demand for high fat foods starts now

Put away the lawn mower By November, the weather should be cold enough for the lawn not to need regular cutting, although it usually needs an occasional tidy-up during warmer spells during the next few months. Before you abandon your mower in the shed, give it a bit of tender love and care so you’ll find it in good condition when you need it next. Clean the underside by scraping off dried clippings and make sure the collecting bag is empty. If it’s a petrol mower, drain off the fuel, as unleaded petrol doesn’t store well.


Buy pots of bulbs for indoors For colour and scent over Christmas, you can’t beat pots of bulbs such as hyacinths or paper-white narcissus. Don’t worry if you didn’t get around to planting some in autumn, as you can buy pots of ready-grown bulbs now. To keep them at their best for as long as possible, put them in a well-lit spot in a cool room. The long leaves of narcissus look good when supported by a few twiggy stems from the garden. After the bulbs finish flowering, you can either throw them away or plant them in the garden.

Order bare-root plants Save money by ordering or buying bare-root plants, which are usually cheaper than the pot-grown equivalents. They are only available in the dormant season, so you need to be quick. Fruit, hedging, Bare rooted plants are freat value trees, roses and shrubs are the plants most commonly sold this way, but some nurseries also offer perennials. Try to plant them as soon as they arrive. Otherwise, give them a good soak in a bucket of water then roughly plant in a corner of the garden until you’re ready to put them in properly.

Time to get citrus plants under cover The timing of getting your citrus plants under cover is critical and many gardeners lose plants at this time of the year through bad planning. Plants should now be kept indoors or under glass in a light frost-free place. It is important to continue feeding and watering as necessary using a proprietary winter citrus feed. Only water when the soil is dry. How often this is will depend on where the plants are being over wintered. Pick up and dispose of any fallen leaves.

Planting tulips in November won’t avoid the fungal disease tulip fire, but it is a good time to plant tulips, as they enjoy the cool, moist conditions that are associated with this time of year. Tulip fire is a fungal disease of tulips caused by Botrytis tulipae, which produces brown spots and twisted, withered and distorted leaves. It is so named because plants appear scorched by fire and can be a real threat to the health of your bulbs. Look for bulbs that have intact skins and don’t show signs of mould. Tulips should be planted two to three times the depth of the bulb. If squirrels are a problem in your area, cover the ground with chicken wire to stop them digging up the bulbs and eating them.

PLUS • Plant out rhubarb crowns in an open position from November to March as long as the ground is not frozen. • Cut back herbaceous plants that are not needed for winter interest or food and habitat for wildlife but leave ornamental grasses to provide protection for overwintering beneficial insects. • Protect planted containers with bubble plastic or bring under temporary cover, particularly during prolonged rain when compost can become sodden. Remove pot saucers and raise pots off the ground on pot feet. • Take root cuttings of plants such as Japanese anemones, campanula, phlox and oriental poppies. • Check bonfires before they are lit for sheltering and hibernating animals, such as hedgehogs, toads and frogs. 25

GET CREATIVE WITH GIFTS in the build up to CHRISTMAS When it comes to gifts with a gardening theme there’s a real opportunity to be really creative The countdown to Christmas can be a tense time especially if you have a lot of presents to buy. Finding the ideal gift for gardeners or garden lovers provides some oppotunites to be both original and full of lateral thinking! There’s nothing wrong at all with a gorgeous favourite plant or maybe the latest in the great selection of garden books this year, but this Christmas perhaps it’s time for a change. Increasingly popular are garden centre gift token (in units of £10 so they can be spent bit by bit) that you can buy over the counter or online at Many garden centres and nurseries have their own bespoke vouchers. Gift tokens from specialist plant suppliers are another option with many well-known nurseries offering their own exclusive vouchers. And then there are subscriptions to garden-related

Everyone needs a pair of

organisations and publications: a year’s membership of the Cottage Garden Society or the Royal Horticultural Society, both of which include a regular magazine, make great gifts, as would a subscription to Which? Gardening, a respected magazine published by the Consumer Association and based on independent research. RHS Gift Vouchers make the perfect present for any occasion and can be used in RHS gift shops, plant centres, and mail order. If you’re still stuck for ideas then National Trust gift cards or vouchers make an ideal alternative to spend at over 2,000 sites and venues

And here’s some very specific ideas...

Backdoorshoes an ideal present as the weather changes Backdoorshoes® has introduced more designs to its already vast range of waterproof, lightweight garden clogs this year. A revamped ‘Cats’ and also a beautiful ‘Daisy’ design means there is something for everyone. Prices start from £25 inc free standard delivery and sizes are available from UK 3-14. There are a range of flip flops featuring their unique prints to include ‘Poppies’, ‘Meadow’,’ Grass’ and ‘Camo’. However, as the weather is changing an ideal gift for Christmas would be a pair of stylish Chelsea ‘Jumpy’ Boots. They are waterproof and easy to clean. The fantastic designs featuring coloured soles make these a fashionable versatile gift that can be worn to work or out for an evening. Backdoorshoes is proud to be British designed. For the full range please visit or call 01202 232357

Unique plants make a stylish and original present

LOOKING FOR THE ESSENTIAL CHRISTMAS GIFT THIS YEAR? TRY A PAIR… Backdoorshoes® are lightweight, waterproof, durable and ideal for slipping on when you need to go outside. We are delighted to launch our waterproof, stylish, versatile Chelsea Boots available in many different colours. With over 30 backdoorshoes designs we are sure there will be something for everyone on your list this year!

To see our full range visit or call 01202 232357 26

Here’s a Christmas present which will make an impact for gardens and gardeners. Stone Illusions design unique planters which they make themselves in the heart of Somerset made from polymer which is strong, durable and 100 per-cent frost proof. They are a great and stylish asset for both small and large gardens, adding a height to the garden in any aspect and a thoughtful and stylish Christmas gift with primulas. The tops of the stones are screwed to the bases making them easier to move around as and when gardeners change our gardens around on and off the base. Full, the heads weigh about 30 kilos. You will be welcomed if you visit Stone Illusions at their Buttermarket Poundbury, Illminster, Somerset TA19 0NT. Tel: 07707 208328

Country Gardener



If you know friends or family who have a fish tank then a thoughtful and fine Christmas present which will be particularly appreciated by the fish is Tetra’s 14 day holiday feed for fish. If nothing else it will ensure the fish enjoy Christmas lunch even if the owners are away. The 14-day fish food doesn’t cloud or pollute the water and costs £3.45 from

As the weather cools down and the nights draw in, Dave Hulse, Tetra’s Aquatic Expert is keen to share his advice on how to prepare your pond for winter.He suggests switching to a wheatgerm diet, such as Tetra’s Wheatgerm Sticks, which offers fish a much more digestible protein, perfect for a slower metabolism. You need to switch off any filters and air pumps. Cold water holds much more oxygen while aeration increases the chance of contact between the water and cold air which can super chill the pond. When ice appears place a saucepan of boiling water on the surface to form a hole. Never smash the ice as this can shock, scare and even deafen your fish.


Proud winners of

Find out more at 4287-TETRA POND ADVERT-CL.indd 1

04/06/2018 11:29

Stone Illusions A completely unique type of garden planter, designed to emulate a traditional staddle stone. The planter is made of polymer, is strong, durable and 100% frost proof.

Perfect planted with beautiful winter colours, making a wonderful gift.



| 27



Specialist garden themed holidays are now hugely popular with escorted group tours very much in demand There’s a tough decision coming up for those planning gardening themed holidays for next year. Do they stay in the UK or head for the many and glorious delights of Italy, which still comes out on top when it comes to European garden visits? A recent poll amongst gardeners who were looking for an overseas garden trip and tour showed over half were planning to visit the ‘classical garden capital of Europe’ a country which boasts of the wonders of the Italian lakes, the gardens of Venice, Rome, Naples, Milan and Tuscany. Italian gardens it seems are setting the standard with classical designs ancient statuary, pools and fountains and all shades of green. But the wonderful summer in the UK this year has meant that there’s renewed interest in home based holidays taking in some of the great gardens in Devon and further afield covering everywhere from Suffolk to Scotland.

ITALY BECKONS AS EXPRESSIONS HOLIDAYS OFFER READERS A REDUCTION OF £100 Expressions Holidays operates garden tours for small groups of up to 14 people to the gardens and villas of Italy featuring the regions of Tuscany, the Veneto, the Amalfi Coast, the Italian Lakes and the Rome area. Each tour with local garden guides shows you the most outstanding gardens, their history and planting. Prices start at £2,590 per person (double or twin share) and a single supplement from £320. There’s a special offer for Country Gardener readers. Expressions Holidays offers readers a reduction of £100 per person for booking before 31st March 2019. Also, now featuring –four nights wine tours for small groups of Piemonte and Tuscany. Where you can experience some of the most stunning ‘winescapes’ and wines of Italy. Fully protected by ATOL 3076. Contact Expressions Holidays on 01392 441275 for full details. 28

It seems whichever option garden lovers opt for being part of escorted group and sharing the holiday experience with other garden lovers is very much in demand. If you thought a small group tour wasn’t for you, it’s time to shake off all those preconceptions. The overall garden touring market is expanding, with small-group travel in particular showing stellar growth. There are many advantages to travelling as a small group of no more than 25 people. It is easier to get to know your fellow group members, with a more social atmosphere prevailing as a result and the high quality experts who now accompany many garden holiday tours have succeeded in improving the whole holiday experience. Here are two options for the holiday market in the UK and in Italy from specialist travel companies who put emphasis on the quality of their escorted tours.

Brookland Travel tours explore beautiful and diverse gardens 2019 will be the 19th year that Brookland Travel has been taking people on heritage and garden tours. Based in Poundbury, Dorset, this small specialist tour operator offers escorted garden tours to see gardens at their very best and, where possible, without the crowds. Discover secret and famous gardens, stunning countryside, pretty villages and historic houses. Many garden visits are private with the opportunity to meet the garden owners or members of their gardening teams. Brookland Travel is one of the few tour operators specialising in UK heritage and garden holidays. Since 1999 they have been organising short breaks and cultural holidays in the UK for the domestic and inbound travel market, individuals, groups and organisations. An expert friendly horticultural tour leader accompanies every tour. Carefully selected three or four hotels, quality touring coaches and small groups (maximum 25 per tour) are the recipe for comfort and enjoyment. Whatever the level of garden interest, from amateur to professional, there is a joy to exploring beautiful and diverse gardens, not to mention the inspiration they provide. There are plenty of opportunities to purchase plants – rare, unusual or just a favourite! Contact Brookland Travel on Tel: 01305 259467 Country Gardener



• Maximum 14 people per group

Visits: Poggio Torselli, Villa Vignamaggio, Villa Geggiano, Villa Grabau, Villa Reale 2019: 19 May, 9 Jun, 8 Sep From £2,650 per person

• Local garden guides and guided garden visits included


• British Airways flights included

Visits: Villa Babbianello, Villa Carlotta, Villa Monastero, Isola Bella, Isola Madre 2019: 14 May, 4 Jun, 25 Jun, 3 Sep From £2,630 per person

AMALFI COAST, CAPRI & ISCHIA Visits: Villa Rufolo, Villa San Michele Axel Munthe, La Mortella 2019: 9 May, 23 May, 13 Jun, 12 Sep From £2,650 per person

• Six nights in 4 or 5 star hotels, two per tour

Special offers may apply - full details on our website


01392 441275 THE




ENVIRONS OF ROME Visits: Villa d’Este, Lante, Ninfa, Landriana, Castel Gandolfo 2019: 22 May, 12 Jun, 26 Jun, 11 Sep From £2,590 per person



Founded 1989

Country Gardener ad horizontal half page sept 2018.indd 2

Specialist Garden Tours 2019

• Led by Andy McIndoe, RHS award winning gardening expert or Duncan Coombs, BSc (Hons) Botany and Master of Horticulture • Private and “must see” garden visits • Below average group sizes for a more personal experience • Join in Romsey or Winchester or call for other options available

15/10/2018 17:29:33



Telephone UK: 01305 259467 • Overseas: +44 1305259467 • Established in 1999, Brookland Travel have provided tours for leading organisations such as English Heritage, National Trust and Fine Art Groups, horticultural and other clubs/associations with wide ranging interests



Autumn garden


Queries from Country Gardener’s postbag this issue cover a range of autumn tasks and problems

I don’t seem to have much luck when it comes to planting trees and shrubs in the new part of our garden. Too often they are slow to take off or as this year some of the die. Clearly I’m doing something wrong. The most common mistake inexperienced gardeners make is when they are planting. What they fail to realise is the importance of proper planting depth. New gardeners Planting at the right depth is key very often will do a great job preparing the soil with bone meal, peat moss, and other additives necessary to insure growth and survival. The mistake occurs at the final stage of the planting process. Dig a hole about one and a half times as deep as the height of the root ball on the tree you are planting. At the bottom mix a peat free compost and the original soil together in a 50/50 ratio. When the tree is placed into the hole, the level of the soil on the trunk of the tree should match the level of the soil you are planting into. Add soil to the bottom of the hole, if necessary, to bring the crown (the crown is the dividing line on the plant between what is above the soil and the part below the soil). Once this is done, finish planting by filling in the rest of the hole around the sides of the root ball. The top quarter of the hole should be filled in with the original soil with no more compost added. This is important below the tree to provide needed moisture and lure the root system down. Compost exposed to the dry air on the surface will dry out and act like a wick, drawing moisture from the soil below. Since you have dug a hole and put something into it, there is dirt left over. At this point, many opt to get rid of it by piling it up around the stem of the plant. Do not do this .It has the same effect as burying the stem too deeply. If the stem above the crown is covered with soil, it stops the plants ability to draw moisture and nutrients from the root system to the branches and leaves above. The importance of maintaining proper planting depth relates to all planting and transplanting situations. 30

This winter will be the first one where I have to try and keep the water quality in my pond as high as possible - specially for the wildlife we are encouraging. In the past in other gardens I haven’t been very successful. Ponds are huge assets to wildlife but a recent survey by the charity Pond Conservation showed as much as 80 to 90 per-cent had poor or very poor water quality. Poor quality usually means an excess of nutrients, especially nitrates which favour algal blooms and low oxygen levels. There are a number of ways nutrient build up can be prevented or at least managed in garden ponds. Don’t add garden soil to ponds- always use specialist aquatic composts and fertilisers which are specially designed to prevent nutrients leaching into the water. An excess of nutrients will damage pond water.

High nitrate levels will encourage algae

Country Gardener

Excessive amounts of grass cuttings or leaves which blow into the pond also release nutrients as they decompose so make it almost a daily task in autumn and early winter to keep the pond as clear of these as you can. If you have to top up the levels in your pond remember that tap water is a last resort- use rainwater instead. Pond fish such as koi carp or goldfish are not suited to well balanced wildlife ponds. They stir up sediment and add their waste to the water making a nutrient rich ‘soup’ often leading to excessive alga.

I am a great believer in preparing leaf mould in the garden but sometimes I get frustrated at the speed at which they decompose. Is it just down to the trees in my garden? There is a famous often-quoted study into leaf decomposition rates. Leaves from 125 British plant and tree species were monitored over two years for their decomposition rates. The results were that the plants that decomposed fastest were woody climbers, followed by flowering herbs, deciduous shrubs, deciduous trees, grasses, and deciduous subshrubs. The leaves that were slowest to decompose came from evergreens. In fact he best leaves for composting are those lower in lignin, which is important in the formation of plant cell walls and those higher in calcium and nitrogen. These leaves include ash, maple, fruit tree leaves, poplar, and willow. These ‘good’ leaves will typically break down in about a year. Leaves usually take this long to break down into compost on their own because they don’t contain the nitrogen necessary to speed the composting process. and le Leaves from fruit trees, ash, map r You can shorten that time to a few months if you build and tend your leaf faste se mpo deco willow will compost pile properly. Spread the dry leaves out in a one inch-thick layer. Mow over them with a lawn mower to shred the leaves. Collect the shredded leaves in the lawn mower bag, or rake them into a pile after shredding. Smaller pieces of leaves break down more quickly.

I’m become a real enthusiast for growing sweet peas but have never tried sowing them in the autumn. Is this worth the effort? The answer is yes- there is a distinctive advantage. Sweet peas are naturally adapted to an autumnto-summer cycle. In the garden, sowing seed in the autumn ensures that by March or April, plants have bushy top growth and extensive root systems just at the time when many gardeners are sowing their seeds Sweet peas can be started off in the autumn in There’s a huge benefit in sowing autumn sweet peas most of the south and southwest. If it’s really cold where you grow – the sort of penetrating, winters that freeze the ground solid for months at a time – wait until spring but if you can, autumn sowing gives a head start and hence early flowering. Sowing itself is straightforward. Sow into pots of quality compost, setting one seed to each three-inch pot or several seeds into a larger pot. Seeds sown in autumn need to be kept protected, so place the pots into a cold frame or greenhouse. Cover the pots with newspaper until the seedlings emerge. Seeds will likely need a little additional heat to help them pop up. Once they have germinated, remove the heat source to encourage the plants to grow stout and sturdy rather than tall and leggy. Autumn-sown sweet peas should be kept in their cold frame or greenhouse to overwinter. While you don’t want to mollycoddle seedlings too much (cool temperatures will keep plants stocky and sturdy) they won’t appreciate being repeatedly frozen, so add extra protection in frosty weather. Encourage plants to bush out by nipping out the top two leaves as soon as plants have grown four leaves. This stimulates new side shoots, which means more stems and, ultimately, more flowers! Watch out for the usual suspects: slugs, snails and mice have a penchant for early foliage and seeds respectively.



‘If the ash trees die, some of us will die with them’ Mark Hinsley implores us to take action and fight back against a tree disease which has wider implications for all of us Many of you will have already heard of ash tree die-back and the sobering predictions for the potential massive loss of trees that will be caused now it has reached our islands. Much has been said already about the changes to our landscape of a magnitude that has not occurred since Dutch elm disease. Also, the enormous cost that will fall upon private individuals and Government bodies dealing with millions of standing dead trees in our towns and adjacent to our roads. But there is a third, even more sobering, effect that has come out of research from the United States of America. The work has been conducted in the Great Lakes Area of the USA and was published by Elsevier Inc on behalf of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. The Great Lakes area of the USA has witnessed an infestation of Emerald Ash borer beetle, a pest that has not reached us yet, but is likely to eventually mop up any of our ash trees which survive die-back. The emerald ash borer, which is a phloem-feeding borer from East Asia was first identified in the USA in 2002. By 2012 this beetle had killed approximately 100 million trees in this area. That trees have a positive impact upon human health is not a new idea. Work done by R S Ulrich in 1984 found that a view of trees and countryside through a window seemed to have a positive impact upon recovery rates from surgery. However, research has always been difficult to undertake and quantify. What this mass loss of trees in a clearly defined area has provided is the opportunity for a closer correlation between cause and effect. The survey is split between respiratory-related mortality and cardiovascular-related mortality. Over the survey period of 2002 to 2007 there was an increase in respiratory-related mortality of 6.8 additional deaths per 100,000 adults per year where the beetle had wiped out the trees, a total of 6,113 excess deaths over the whole survey 32

area in the survey period. In the same area and over the same period there was an increase in cardiovascular-related mortality of 16.7 additional deaths per 100,000 adults per year, a total of 15,080 excess deaths. In all, the loss of the trees is believed to have contributed to the premature deaths of 21,193 people over five years. Whilst the above figures are averages, it was noted in the survey data that the biggest impact on health relating to the loss of the trees was felt in the more affluent areas. Winston Churchill, paraphrasing George Santyana, said, “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This is recent history. The Americans did not know what was coming and how it would affect them. We know what is happening to our ash trees and we know from the American experience what the consequences will be. There is no excuse for not doing something about it. What can we do? There are techniques such as bio-char soil injection that seem to significantly improve a tree’s immune system. We could be planting trees of other species in areas reliant upon ash and we could think twice about felling any of our other species, until we have a better idea of what is going to be left when the disease and the beetle have finished with our ash trees. The authors of the paper were G. H. Donovan PhD, D. T. Butry PhD, Y.L.Michael ScD j.p.Prestemon PhD, A.M.Liebhold PhD D.Gatziolis PhD and M Mao. Mark Hinsley is from Arboriculture Consultants Ltd.

Country Gardener

Fast growing trees Some trees take decades to mature, like the traditional oak tree. Others are able to reach their full height in a few years. So for many, fast growing trees are much sought after. Although it is not so simple as selecting a speed merchant variety that you just happen to like the look of. It is important you choose a variety that is disease and pest free and suitable for your soil type. You also need to consider whether you want an evergreen tree or a tree that will shed its leaves in winter. Often unconsidered factors include weak wood, invasive roots, short life spans, a tree’s width and interference. As with all trees, you will need to prune in order to get the shape you want. Growth can be staggering and certain varieties will be impossible to manage after a certain point. Often ignored, but important is the effects of interference – the effects of nearby plants – on tree growth. Unlike how tree roots are traditionally represented, most absorbing roots are in the upper few feet of soil and root systems tend to spread horizontally, often extending well beyond a tree’s circumference. It is here that a tree’s roots will come into contact with other plants roots, where they both will compete for nutrients and moisture. Especially detrimental to trees is grass that is known to retard root growth so you need to remove grass and mulch four inches deep at least a foot beyond the root ball when planting. Expand the radius of mulching one or two feet per year to allow the tree to establish its root system. So let’s look at some fast growers.

Cider tree Eucalyptus gunnii

This is a beautiful tree which can easily grow two metres annually, has peeling cream and brown bark and elliptic grey-green foliage. Originating from Tasmania, the gunnii is suitable to grow throughout the UK. The tree tends to take a columnar shape, reaching a maximum height of 25 metres and is highly versatile and will flourish in all soil types.

Weeping willow Salix babylonica

As a genus Salix trees which are mostly willows, are all fast growing, but the weeping willow is the most famous. The tree is distinctive for its low, sweeping branches that droop to form a canopy and will grow up to two metres a year and will flourish in waterlogged soil and will

Gardeners understandably want trees that will bring additional interest to a garden in years, rather than decades, so the speed that they become established is becoming more important

even absorb standing water. Despite its name, the babylonica actually originates from China. It was named by botanist Carolus Linnaeus, who wrongly believed it was the tree described in the Bible in the opening of Psalm 137 which begins: ’By the rivers of Babylon’.

Lombardy Poplar Populus nigra ‘Italica’

This tree is known for its upright form and is often planted in rows to form a screen. It grows quickly with reported annual growth rates of three metres reaching a maximum height of 20 metres. The tree is deciduous and is identifiable by its catkins that come in two forms: crimson red (male) and cottony white (female). Scottish horticulturist John Claudius Loudon deemed it ‘a most dangerous tree’, due to its capacity to destroy the harmony of the landscape when left in the hands of the amateur landscaper -because of its speed of growth.

Silver Birch Betula pendula

A wonderfully hardy tree native to the UK which grows as far north as Lapland, reaching a maximum height of 30 metres. This isn’t a record breaker when it comes to speed of growth but is no slouch and can grow half a metre annually. The branches are notable by the fact that the ends are pendulous. The bark is white often with black diamond shaped markings.

Golden False Acacia Robinis pseudoacacia ’Frisca’

A tree which produces fantastic colour throughout the year with its pinnate leaves and gorgeous white flowers. Bushy in appearance, its leaves emerge golden-yellow in spring, before turning greenishyellow in summer and orange-yellow in the autumn. Wonderfully fragrant, the tree will grow half a metre per year and is suitable for most soil types. It is generally disease free but in more recent years there have been dieback problems.


Bringing the garden in for Christmas cooking by Kate Lewis

Anti clockwise from top centre: carrots and parsnips with maple and orange glaze; celeriac and garlic puree; parmesan Brussels sprouts; honey-roasted swede with chilli and cumin

There are lots of wonderful winter vegetables around which deserve to find pride of place on the festive kitchen table If you have memories of over-boiled cabbage in school dinners then you may not be exhilarated at the thought of cooking winter vegetables. For many people, a portion of vegetables is an afterthought to the meat, fish or vegetarian main event on a dish, and often boiled or mashed with little thought given to flavour. But there are many other ways of cooking that make your portion of veg really stand out on the plate. The summer crop might be over but there are many wonderful vegetables - including carrots, parsnips, swede, celeriac and sprouts - to be picked and turned into inspirational and flavoursome dishes. While boiling root veg is an adequate place to start, it is imperative that they are not over boiled – they quickly break to a watery mush - and should be seasoned well and lifted with a dressing of good quality butter or extra-virgin olive oil. The boiling process for vegetables that grow underground should start in cold water; this ensures the outside does not cook before the inside. However it is the dry heat of the oven that really brings 34

these winter vegetables to life. This process reduces moisture, caramelises the sugars and therefore greatly enhances the flavours. Roasting a variety of root vegetables with a good drizzle of olive oil and a handful of herbs is the perfect side or even main dish for a cold winter’s evening. Potatoes are the only root vegetable that need to be par-boiled before roasting. If using a variety of types such as roots, squash and tubers, it is worth bearing in mind they need to be cut to different sizes according to their cooking times. Although mashed potato is commonplace in many households, fewer home cooks think of using other root vegetables for purée. Parsnip, swede, sweet potato, celeriac can all be cooked and mashed (or blitzed with a hand blender) into a creamy purée. One of the easiest ways to really enhance your vegetable dishes is to play around with added flavours – fresh or dried herbs, spices, flavoured oil, chillies, citrus fruit, honey.. the list is endless. Here are four delicious and flavoursome recipes to get you started…

Country Gardener

Method: 1. Place the celeriac and garlic in a pan with just enough milk to cover, and a pinch of salt. 2. Bring to the boil, put a lid on the pan, then simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Drain any remaining milk and reserve. 3. Using a stick blender, whizz the celeriac to make a purée, pouring in just enough of the reserved milk to give a smooth consistency. 4. Add the spices, cream and butter, then whizz again. 5. Stir through the parsley, season to taste and serve.

Celeriac purée Ingredients: 2 celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks 3 garlic cloves 600ml whole milk Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg Pinch of ground ginger Splash of double cream Knob of butter Small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped

Carrots and parsnips with maple and orange glaze

Honey-roasted swede with chilli & cumin

Ingredients: 400g chantenay carrots, cut into batons 400g parsnips, cut into batons 2 tbsp olive oil Small handful fresh thyme leaves Grated zest and juice of ½ orange 4 tbsp maple syrup Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. 2. Put the carrots and parsnips in a large roasting tin, drizzle with the oil, salt and pepper and most of the thyme, and roast for 30 minutes. 3. Drizzle over the orange juice and zest and maple syrup, and roast for 10 minutes until caramelised. Scatter with thyme before serving. (Copyright: Delicious Magazine) To freeze: Parboil the carrots and parsnips for 4-5 minutes, drain, and cool on a baking sheet. Freeze until solid then transfer into freezer bags. When ready to eat roast with olive oil for 15 minutes then add the glaze.

Ingredients: 1 large swede, peeled and cut into large chunks 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp clear honey 1 tsp cumin seed 1 large red chilli, deseeded and chopped small bunch coriander, chopped Method: 1. Heat oven to 200°C/gas 6. 2. Toss the swede in olive oil in a shallow roasting tin, then season. Roast in the oven for 35-40 mins, tossing occasionally, until the swede is golden and soft. 3. Stir in the honey and cumin seeds and continue to roast for 10 mins until just starting to catch. Remove and stir through the chilli and coriander to serve. (Copyright: BBC Good Food)

Parmesan Brussels sprouts Ingredients: 1kg Brussels sprouts 2 tbsp olive oil 1 lemon 1 tsp chilli flakes 4 tbsp grated Parmesan Salt and pepper

Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 7. 2. Trim and halve the sprouts and put on a baking tray 3. Add the oil, grate over the lemon zest, mix in the chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. 4. Roast for 10 minutes until starting to caramelise. Then scatter over the cheese and roast for a further 15 minutes until the cheese is crisp and golden brown, and the sprouts are tender. (Copyright: Jamie Oliver)


Getting the feel of gardening

Gill Heavens completes her popular series on the part that the senses play in gardening by looking at the pleasures, benefits and dangers of touching plants If you are anything like me, who can’t resist running muddy paws over everything, it is an involuntary reaction to hold out my hand and touch my surroundings. So many things can be learned from feel alone. Things that other senses may have missed. Many years ago I was assisting an extra-mural class at the local museum. It was a class for the visually impaired who were being given the opportunity to handle some of the exhibits. We passed the carefully selected items around and discussed them with the students, all whilst their guide dogs snored beneath the desks. One gentleman was examining a rather wonderful slipware dish when he pointed out that in the base there were raised initials. It was something I hadn’t noticed. An example of the power of touch. First we must have a short science lesson. The nerve endings and receptors that allow us to experience touch is known as the somatosensory system. There are four different types of receptors which are located throughout the body. These assess variously pressure and texture, heat, pain, and where different body parts are in relation to each other. Every one of which may be utilised in the garden. As with all of our senses, not every horticulturally tactile experience is a good one. The most obvious villain is the

spikey character. The garden is full of these dubious charmers, such as pyracantha, holly, and berberis, all of which should be avoided by the scantily clad. Shrubs do not hold sway in this category as there are plenty of well-armed herbaceous specimens, including sea holly, acanthus and Berkheya purpurea. Beauty should be carefully weighed against jeopardy. Some plants leave their vicious marks in other ways. They sting, burn and irritate. The common stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, is the most obvious culprit, great for wildlife but bad for unfortunate gardeners. We can also point the accusatory finger at other pain inflictors. The sap of rue, Ruta graveolens, will produce painful welts if spilt onto skin and exposed to the sun. The same can be said for the milky euphorbia latex. When dealing with these it is best to keep well covered. Some plants keep their irritation for a chosen few, goose grass brings me out in hives and others are sensitive to daffodils and hyacinths. A few species are sticky, and as with spines and stings, this is a protective adaption. They includes Salvia viscosa and Cuphea viscosissima whose specific names mean sticky and very sticky! The most widely known of the tacky (only to the touch of course!) plants are petunias. I would rather admire them from afar as to me the sensation of the foliage is anathema. There is of course a much more pleasant side to touch in the garden. There are many downy plants to fondle, including Salvia argentea and Stachys alpina. The spectacular Himalayan poppy, Meconopsis napaulensis, has a wonderful ginger form which really is like having a small pet in the border! Some grasses have flowers heads that are pure pleasure to run your fingers through. Lagurus ovatus or hare’s tail, has cotton wool seed heads and Miscanthus nepaulensis has plumes like skeins of silk. Be careful though, another grass, the much maligned pampas, Cortaderia selloana, has razor like edges to its slender leaves. Another opportunity for the pain receptors!

Venus fly trap, Dionaea muscipula - the snapping plant 36

That is not all, there are the smooth stems of bamboos, the felty indumentum on the underside of rhododendron Country Gardener

Mimosa pudica, a very sensitive plant which folds in when touched

Cortaderia selloana, razor like edges to its slender leaves

Meconopsis napaulensis, ‘like having a small pet in the garden’

leaves, the waxy leaf of the citrus and varnished camelia foliage. A close encounter of the tactile kind with any of these will add an extra dimension of pleasure to your gardening. Some plants respond to touch themselves. When this is a relatively rapid movement it is known as haptonasty. The Ruta graveolens, its sap can Sparmania africana, a member of the lime family cause welts on the skin with a phenomenal power of attraction compound leaves of Mimosa pudica, the known as thigmotropism. sensitive plant, fold up when touched and is thought to I am surpassing myself with big words today! be an adaption against predators. Another instance of this phenomenon is Sparmania africana, a member of the Touch often reinforces another sense, it colours in the lime family, whose long yellow stamen move towards any picture. We often associate feeling with our hands, but it is pollinator (or finger) when it land on the flower. The most not confined to this part of the body. gruesome example has to be the infamous Venus fly trap, It could also be leaves brushing against our cheeks, the Dionaea muscipula. This carnivorous plant snaps shut on its warm earth on our knees as we weed, or even when we sit prey when it unfortunately triggers one of the boobytrap on the darned agave! I suggest you go out in your garden, hairs on the adapted leave surface. Roots can also “feel” with a renewed perspective, and try a bit of “hands on” their way through soil and tendrils wind their way around gardening, but beware, some things bite! obstacles/supports when they sense their presence. This is


number of gardeners will be going The search for a new A‘backrecordto school ‘ this winter to hone their

GARDENING SKILL skills or to get to grips with something new The search for new gardening skills is booming. Almost a third of amateur gardeners now want to develop a new skill when it comes to making the most of their hobby. The boom in learning is set against a recent claim that Britain has lost a lot of its gardening skills which need to be learnt afresh. The claim is the loss of knowledge stems from people born after it became common for both parents to work so basic gardening skills were not handed down from parent to child-because there was no time in a busy working schedule. There’s a new top five list when it comes to the skills gardeners are looking to add to over the winter months. So if you are one of the many thousands who want make the best use the next few months by learning one of the wide range of courses and workshops available you might like to know what the RHS says is in vogue at the moment. The most popular courses are built round: • Grafting and propagation • Planting a wild flower meadow

• Making a garden more bee friendly • Flower arranging and floristry • Willow weaving

Flexible training opens up career opportunities Increasingly women are looking for flexible training for a gardening career that fits around their family commitments, a fact that the Women’s Farm and Garden Association has tapped into. It runs an apprenticeship scheme called WRAGS - Women Returners to Amenity Gardening - which enables recruits to work alongside professionals in private gardens or nurseries. Barnsley House, the garden of the late designer Rosemary Verey, was one of the first training gardens in the scheme. The organisation was established in 1899 by a formidable set of upper-class women who were interested in training other women in horticulture and agriculture. The WFGA is a membership association offering training in gardening skills. The membership subscription includes; The unique practical training scheme • Excellent value workshops and skills days • Garden visits and garden tours • Access to Christine Ladley Fund, bursary initiative • Members discounts - seeds and tools • Members forum and newsletter • Online garden recruitment As a WFGA member you can apply for WRAGS placements. The association holds a register of working gardens, each offering practical training in gardening skills for one year. By the end of the year, trainees will be able to actively seek a career in horticulture. To apply for membership or offer a placement opportunity please go to

Not just a Sculpture Park?

Sculpture by the Lakes has already become the go to venue for art, gardens and peaceful days out, but over the past few months this iconic Dorset sculpture park has added much more to what it offers. Combining arts and gardens the team has devised a practical range of garden and outdoor workshops – rose pruning, fruit tree pruning, propagating, wildlife gardening – just a small selection of what is available. Also launching this year is the Winter Art School, featuring highly talented lecturers and tutors from around the globe with courses on offer from oil portraiture to tassel making, stone carving to jewellery making plus a choice of drawing and painting disciplines. The Gallery Café serves lunches, cakes, cream teas, plus hosts a monthly ‘Dining at the Lakes’ evening, ‘ all supplied by the vegetable garden just metres from the kitchen door. Visit the website at and sign up to the newsletter for all the latest offers, courses and events. Tel: 07720 637808 Email: Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington, Dorset DT2 8QU.

Women are increasingly looking for flexible training


Country Gardener

Advancing horticulture Changing lives Join the WFGA to access our unique WRAGS placements and learn the skills you need for a new career.



SCULPTURE BY THE LAKES An exciting and inspiring series of workshops and lectures that run through winter and into next spring. See below for what’s coming up this November and January.

Time honoured skill training at The

Husbandry School

The Husbandry School near Ashburton in Devon won ‘best training school 2018’ in the food and drink Devon awards. They offer a wide range of fascinating hands-on courses, running from March to November. If you are interested in learning how to tend your garden or growing more of the food you eat each week, a in a natural, ethical, time honoured and sustainable way then the skills courses could be for you. Or perhaps you would like to learn a new skill such as basket making, stonewalling, hedge laying, wood whittling. Or felt making. You can explore new skills up on the hill, surrounded by the beautiful Devon countryside and enjoying the food provided from produce grown at the school. Gift vouchers available for all courses. For more information, dates and booking details please visit Tel: 01626 821145 Mob: 07980 253677 or 07806 563373 Liddy Ball, Bickington, Nr. Ashburton, Devon TQ12 6NZ

PRACTICAL COURSES AND LECTURES Perfect Christmas Gift Ideas for Gardeners!

Winter Propagation Workshop

Saturday 24th November Propagating new plants from your existing favourites is fun and a great way to save money.

The Rose Masterclass

Wednesday 16th January Two one and a half hour talks and Q&A sessions covering The Mighty Rose – the nation’s favourite flower.

Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop

Saturday 26th January The secrets of getting the best out of your fruit trees.

Hardy Geraniums and Winter Interest Plants

Wednesday 30th January Two one and a half hour talks and Q&A sessions covering fabulous hardy geraniums and winter interest plants for your garden. The Husbandry School, its gardens and its inspirational and knowledgeable tutors combine to offer a range of fascinating hands-on courses for 2019.

Liddy Ball, Bickington, Nr. Ashburton, Devon TQ12 6NZ. 07980 253677 or 07806 563373

For timings, ticket prices, directions and further information, contact: Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington Lakes, Tincleton, Dorchester DT2 8QU T: 07720 637 808 E: • 01626 821145


CLASSIF IED Accommodation Lazydaze Holiday Chalet. Nestled Between The Quantocks, Exmoor & Blue Anchor Bay. 5 Miles From Minehead. Sleeps 3. Private Enclosed Garden. Dogs Welcome. Phone Jan For Brochure & Details On 01984 641321 Cornwall, near St Just. Chalet, sleeps 4, heated indoor pool, open all year – near gardens/coast, golfing nearby. Prices from £300 pw. 01736 788718 Bosworlas near Sennen/St Just, Cornwall. Cosy Cottage, rural views, Sleeps 2-4 01736 788709 Glorious North Devon. Only 9 cosy caravans on peaceful farm. Wonderful walks in woods & meadows. Easy reach sea, moors & lovely days out. £125395pw. Discount couples. Nice pets welcome. 01769 540366

Accommodation Holiday Cottages

Three Cotswold Barn Conversions Sleeps 4-10 people. Visit England Four Stars In between Upton House, Hidcote and Chastleton

Sidmouth Devon Holiday bungalow in AONB overlooking Donkey Sanctuary. Sleeps 4. April – October. Ideal for walkers, nature lovers and children. 07842 514296

Creekside Cottages, Near Falmouth, Cornwall Carmarthen Bay South Wales Seafront chalet situated on estuary. Sleeps up to 6. Seaview. Well Behaved Dogs Welcome. Open from 1st March - 31st Dec. For brochure Tel: 01269 862191

Pinnock Wood Shepherd Hut A Bespoke Craftsman Built Shepherds Hut situated on a working livestock farm in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Ideally located for visiting all Cotswold Towns and Villages. Excellent walking Tel: 01242 604189 40

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 Padstow house, 4 + baby, gardens, parking, Wi-Fi, Camel Trail, beaches 07887 813495 Wye Valley/Forest of Dean. Fully equipped 4-star single storey cottage. Two bedrooms both en-suite. Central heating/bedlinen provided. Rural retreat with shops/pubs one mile. Short breaks available. Warm welcome. Tel: 01594 833259 Self-catering cottages in countryside near Lyme Regis. Japanese food available. 01297 489589 Lanlivery near Eden and other Cornish Gardens lovely woodland lodge 2/4 people 01726 430489 Country Gardener

or Karen on 01608 684240

Accommodation with Beautiful Gardens North Devon near Clovelly. 3 delightful cottages situated in 12 acres of idyllic countryside. Sleeps 2-4. 1 Wheelchair friendly. Prices from £190 p.w. Brochure: 01237 431324

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

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


Garden Furniture

International dealer requires records (all types) old gramophones, phonographs, music boxes, radios, valves, telephones, early sewing machines, typewriters, calculators, tin toys, scientific instruments etc. Parts also wanted. TOP CASH PRICE PAID 07774 103139

Bed & Breakfast Somerset 5* Restaurant with Rooms. Close to many NT Gardens, Houses and Dorset Coast. Sculpture by the lakes in Dorset. Pet Friendly 01935 423902

Home Services UKs leading supplier of Teak Furniture for the Garden


Tel: 01256 809 640 sales

Garden Services


Cards & Prints 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 2018 catalogue Mill House Fine Art Publishing, Bellflower Gallery, Market Place, Colyton, Devon EX24 6JS

Tel. 01297 553100


Yenstone Walling Dry Stone Walling and Landscaping Patrick Houchen - DSWA member. Tel: 01963 371123 Wisteria Pruning, Improvement, Oxfordshire, surrounding area. Richard Barrett 01865 452334

Polytunnels from £399 available to view by appointment 01363 84948

Potato Day Events

Potato Days 2019 Coming soon to a venue near you!

‘Grow Your Own and Seed Potato’ days

Garden Tools/Sundries RECOMMENDED GARDENING TOOLS AND SUNDRIES DIRECTLY FROM A Request NEW & FREE 2019 catalogue on 01376 570 000 or

Apple trees from £8.50 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 given.

Tel: 07870 576 330 / 01404 841166

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Situations Vacant

Fruit Trees

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Full Listing at: See me at the Cothay Christmas Fair 8th Dec

Cook/Housekeeper required for 20 hours work at weekends in exchange for three bedroom cottage in Warwickshire CV47 2YB. References please. 07836 539378

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CLASSIF IED Specialist Garden Products Log cabins


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Thornhayes nursery Devon’s specialist tree grower for a wide range of ornamental, fruit, hedging trees and a selection of choice shrubs.

‘The Killing of Cristobel Tranter’ 1930’s detective novel by me, Dennis Talbot finalist in ‘The People’s Book Prize 2016’

Courses, expert advice, arboretum, display fruit garden.

Tel: 01884 266746


Garden Offices

Mushroom Compost, Farm Yard Manure, Horse Manure, Top Soil, Wood Chip Mulch, Wood Chip, Compost and Chicken Manure. ALL £1.50 PER BAG PLUS DELIVERY

Discover the Diversity of Hardy Geraniums!

For more information or advice call Nick on 01404 891684 / 07860 459745

We stock up to 200 varieties throughout the year

Call Gary: 01684 770 733 UK and or 07500

600 205


DORSET WATER LILY COMPANY The Uk’s largest selection of established pot grown water lilies for public and landscape supply.

Speciality hardy marginals and moisture loving bogside.

Catalogue available or visit us MON/ FRI or SAT 9 - 4pm, Yeovil Road, Halstock BA22 9RR

Consultation/Design & Landscape Service Tel: 01935 891668

Available on Amazon £8.99 Kindle £2.15


Specialist Nurseries & Plants

Mail order

Look at the characters and plot on my website

Treat yourself for Christmas!

Ex-display buildings for sale | Anything to order

Free printed catalogue & emailed guide available upon request.

For Sale

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

Wanted Wanted Old Radio Valves And Audio Valves. Tel: 07557 792091

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Dorset ISSUE NO 162 rygardener

Are you part of a garden club or society?


MAY 2018



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• HIGH DORSET, APE SERVING RE WHITE of ON LANDSC nIRE & WILTSHI HAMPSH CTORS home grow WITCHAMPT • NO CONTRA , organic and wowgarden ….juicy, tasty 840082 www.

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Calling a spade A SPADE!

Consumer writer John Swithinbank launches a new product testing series in which he looks in detail at some of the most popular gardening tools and accessories

I always loved to call a spade a spade, but I’m beginning to rethink this phrase because I’ve just come across three very different spades which make gardening easier. Two are from a Dutch company Sneeboer and one comes from a British company Burgon and Ball. Before I tried each one out I couldn’t help admire their beauty and craftsmanship. I then got cracking and put each one through its paces. Some proved more useful for general soil work but they all did a job on a variety of ground operations. So, what’s special and different about them?

Sneeboer Pointed Spade rrp. £96.95 Digging with this one was easy as this lightweight number was able to slice into the ground by way of its point of its blade. An important added feature is t the rear of the blade is made to be 90 degrees perpendicular with the back of its handle. This allows the blade to penetrate the ground with the minimal of effort with the only drawback of it is not taking out as much soil as a traditional spade but with much less effort and each spade full I would guestimate at about 50 per-cent load of a normal spade. The woody roots of brambles did not stand a chance with this spade as it was accurate and very light to use. If it’s got a downside then I would say don’t put too much torque on it when digging out root systems of established plants.

Sneeboer Transplanting Spade rrp. £96.95 Have you ever wished for a spade that could dig up established shrubs and small stumps? Well, this could be exactly what you may have been missing. To me, this is the world number one spade. Its narrowish blade is slightly concaved and the bottom of the blade has been designed to slice though the toughest of soils. I used it on compacted ground full of brambles and was blown away by its willingness to blitz out the root systems. I’ve lost count of the number of times in the past that I have broken a spade or fork trying to dig out an established plant. Within a few seconds using this I knew. I found myself excavating and undermining the established root systems with ease and with confidence that this spade was indestructible. Put this one at the top of your Christmas list and you won’t need the gym this January!

Burgon and Ball Ladies Groundbreaking Spade rrp. £34.95 This spade, in my book, isn’t specifically for ladies. It is simply a great spade for all gardeners and is an affordable alternative to rival the Sneeboer pointed and transplanting spades. The wooden handle has a long metal sleeve cover which gave me confidence to really get stuck in without the fear of it breaking.

Sneeboer Dandelion Spade rrp. £59.95 To look at this tool I doubt if anyone would call it a spade, yet, once put to use, it’s qualities are many. Yes, I did find it useful for dandelion removal it the lawn but it was also a bonus put to use in a crowded border where few other long handled tools would be too cumbersome. In the border it withdrew the roots of docks and other taprooted ‘nasties’ as well as titivating the soil around existing plants.

All the above tools and more information are available online in the UK from HARROD HORTICULTURAL Tel: 0333 400 1500. BURGON AND BALL - Tel: 0114 233 8262. Some garden centres also stock these tools where you can get a feel for them before you buy.

Next issue: Wheelbarrows for a new garden season




Here’s a selection of gardening events throughout Hampshire to look out for through to the end of February. 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 We take great care to ensure that details are correct at the time of going to press but we advise readers to check wherever possible before starting out on a journey as circumstances can force last minute changes. All NGS open gardens can be found on or in the local NGS booklet available at many outlets.








6th WHITE HORSE GARDEN CLUB AGM & ‘BEER AND HOPS’ Details on 01367 820251








Country Gardener






FEBRUARY 7th RINGWOOD & DISTRICT GARDEN CLUB ‘MY A-Z OF FUCHSIAS’ – DEREK DEXTER Details on 01202 574875 11th MICHELMERSH & TIMSBURY HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY HORTICULTURAL QUIZ AND AGM www.michelmershandtimsbury. org/directory/clubs-and-societies/ michelmersh-and-timsburyhorticultural-society WEST MOORS HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘WOODCARVING AND STICK MAKING’ – MIKE TUCK Details on 01202 871536




Dorset MAY ISSUE NO 162



It’s free!

Long live ... ER LAVEallND summer long and now


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FREE Seductive alpines; 2018 APRIL ISSUE NO 167 beating the weed


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• HIGH DORSET, PE SERVING E WHITE of ON LANDSCA nIRE & WILTSHIR HAMPSH TORS home grow WITCHAMPT • NO CONTRAC , organic and owgardens.c ….juicy, tasty 840082 www.w

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Banbury Farnborough,

Open Bank hgardencentre.c



Stockists of Country Gardener Hampshire Country Gardener is available free of charge throughout the area at the outlets listed below where we have included postcodes to make it easier for you to find them. For amendments to details or deliveries call Pat Eade on 01594 543790 email Alresford Natural Talents (Westlea Farm Shop), SO24 0QS Alton Farm & Country Supplies, GU34 3HL Lavender Fields, GU34 3HS Alton Home Hardware, GU34 1FG Mill Farm Organics, GU34 4PN Andover Vigo Nursery (C Blake & Son), SP10 1HP Mole Country Stores, SP10 3UX The Weyhill Farm Shop, SP11 0PP Basingstoke Conkers, RG24 7JL Manydown Farm Shop, RG23 8PU Mole Country Stores, RG27 0HP The Vyne NT, RG24 9HL Beaulieu Fairweather Garden Centre, SO42 7YB Brockenhurst Setley Ridge Garden Centre, SO42 7UF Bursledon Pickwell Farm Shop, SO31 8GD Grandessa Farm Shop, SO31 8QG Cadnam Cadnam Garden Centre, SO40 2NB Eastleigh George Beckett Nurseries, SO21 2RT Emsworth Emsworth Home Hardware, PO10 7AQ Fair Oak Allington Nurseries, SO50 7DD The Garden Society, SO50 7DE Fareham Mud Island Nurseries, PO17 6JF Mole Country Stores, PO17 5BY Fleet Peacocks Garden Centre, GU10 5BB Fordingbridge Baskets & Blooms, SP6 2HG

Bleakhill Plants, BH24 3PX Hyde Garden Shop, SP6 2QB Scent Sational Plants, SP6 1BN Wolvercroft World Of Plants, SP6 3BE Woodgreen Community Shop, SP6 2AJ Four Marks, nr Alton Garthowan Garden Centre, GU34 5AJ Gosport Tourist Information Centre, PO12 1EP Hartley Wintney Organically Speaking, RG27 8NY Havant Staunton Country Park, PO9 5HB Hayling Island Meadow Farm Nursery, PO11 0RL Terracotta Pot Shop, PO11 9LU Tourist Information Centre, PO11 0AG Stoke Fruit Farm, PO11 0PT Hinton Ampner Hinton Ampner NT, SO24 0LA Hook Hook Garden Centre, RG27 9DB Lindum Nurseries, RG27 0NJ Newlyns Farm Shop, RG29 1HA Wellington Farm Shop, RG27 0LT Whitewater Nursery, RG27 8LQ Horndean Queen Elizabeth Country Park, PO5 0QE Landford Landford Garden Centre, SP5 2BE Lasham Avenue Nurseries, GU34 5SU Liss Hillier Garden Centre, GU33 6LJ Lyndhurst Furzey Gardens, SO43 7GL Lymington Mole Country Stores, SO41 9ZS Everton Nurseries, SO41 0JZ Tourist Information Centre, SO41 9BH St Barbe Museum, SO41 9BH

Newbury Fairoak Garden Machinery, RG20 0NG Yew Tree Garden Centre, RG20 0NG New Milton Redcliffe GC, BH25 5RY Ferndene Farm Shop & Plant Shop, BH25 5SY Bashley Plant Centre, BH25 5SG Danestream Farm Shop, BH25 5QU Park Gate Carters of Swanwick, SO31 1BD Petersfield Friends of Petersfield Physic Society, GU32 3JJ Tourist Information Centre, GU32 3HH Ringwood Penn Lawnmowers, BH24 3SG In-Excess Garden Centre, BH24 3HW Romsey Gilberts Nursery, SO51 6DT Choice Plants Nursery, SO51 0NB Romsey Home Hardware, SO51 8GE Romsey World Of Water, SO51 0HB Mole Country Stores, SO51 8EB Cedar Nurseries, SO51 0PD Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, SO51 0QA Pococks, SO51 0QA Rowlands Castle,PO9 6XX Rowlands Home Hardware, PO9 6BW Stansted Park Garden Centre, PO9 6DX Salisbury Salisbury Garden Centre, SP2 8PR Wilton Garden Centre, SP2 0BJ The Shed Shop, SP2 0QW Selbourne Gilbert White’s House, GU34 3JH Southampton Mayfield Nursery, SO19 9HL

NEW Newfields Gardening CIC, SO16 9QU Woolston & Dist Allotment Association, SO19 6GT Stockbridge Garden Inn Garden Shop, SO20 6HF Longstock Park Nursery, SO20 6EH Tadley Mowers UK, RG26 5QW Elm Park GC, RG26 5QW Wolverton Plants, RG26 5RU Titchfield Stewarts Garden Centre, PO15 5RB Garsons, PO15 6QX Hambrook’s Garden Centre, PO14 4PR The Ultimate Shed Company, PO15 6QX St Margarets Fuchsia Nursery, PO14 4BL Trotton NEW Aylings Garden Centre, GU31 5ES Waterlooville Rumsey Gardens, PO8 0PD Southern Mowers, PO8 0BL Whitchurch Hardy’s Cottage Plants, RG28 7FA Whiteparish Courtens Garden Centre, SP5 2SD Wickham Park Place Farm Nursery, PO17 5HB Westlands Farm Shop, SO32 2JW Winchester Kings Worthy Garden Machinery, Winnall, SO23 0LF Mole Country Stores, SO23 7RU Sparsholt College, SO21 2NF The Goodlife Home & Garden, SO23 7LD Tourist Information Centre, SO23 9GH Winchester City Mill, SO23 8EJ

Country Gardener Magazine Editorial Publisher & Editor: Alan Lewis Tel: 01823 431767

Distribution Pat Eade Tel: 01594 543790

Time Off: Kate Lewis

Advertising Sales Cath Pettyfer - Devon & Dorset Corina Reay - Cotswolds Tel: 01837 82660 Tel: 01823 410098

Ava Bench - Hampshire, Somerset & Classified Tel: 01278 671037

Accounts Sam Bartholomew Tel: 01823 430639

Design & Production Aidan Gill Gemma Stringer

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


Wolvercroft Garden Centre

Garden Centre

FORDINGBRIDGE ROAD, ALDERHOLT, SP6 3BE 01425 652437 Facebook “f ” Logo

CMYK / .ai

Facebook “f ” Logo

CMYK / .ai

New to Wolvercroft this Winter

• Santa visiting Saturday and Sunday during December 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm, slots available for £5 including gifts. Booking recommended please call.

• Locally Grown Real Christmas Trees Available from the end of November, collection or delivery available.

• New range of indoor plants and accessories, including cacti and orchids • We now stock a range of Flo Gas (propane, butane and patio/BBQ gas) • New delivery service for all products, including gas bottles and patios


Christmas display is now open Christmas Hampers Marvellous selection available and bespoke hampers made to order

Winter fuels now available

• Kiln dried firewood • Kindling • Smokeless and

• New afternoon tea menu • New drinks menu, including alcoholic

Top quality plants available

• Full breakfast menu served until 11.30am • Tea, coffee and cakes available all day • Home cooked lunches and snacks • Large selection of gluten free options • Clotted cream teas

drink options available

Flo Gas

• Trees • Shrubs • Climbers • Roses • Herbaceous • Alpines...

• A wide range of gifts, including jams, chutneys,

biscuits, cards, puzzles and much much more!

and much more!

Dev on



ld Old Go ge daffodils


the perfect tomato!

Let herita welcome in spring

….juicy, tasty, organic




for you to enjoy

Prepare for Spring

and now all summ

from your

your How to spruce up season garden for the new

PIt’slustime to think summer

Compost wisdom; VING Sundials;PRESER Growing rocket; No-dig beds; Your own cut flowers

ing events

The best Easter garden throughout Devon


10.30am - 4.30pm 9am - 5pm Sunday: Mondays

Open Bank Holiday


Sensational in May garden days out




AT THE Tel: 01295 690479 Banbury OX17 1EL. ay: Road, Nr. Farnborough, Week - Tuesday-Saturd On A423 Southam Open Six Days a


Long live .. LAVENDER. er long

and home grown

this summer Make teas own garden

In search of


2018 FREE ISSUE NO 167 APRIL www.countrygardene

2018 FREE ISSUE NO 139 SPRING www.countrygarden

Quality Verandas, Carports, Canopies and Awnings or

P lus

P lus WITH the taste of Italy

BLES VEGETA How to feed your lawn, hyacinth delights, growing chard, April gardens to visit

Seductive alpines; beating the weed invasion; summer squashes; grow your own loofah’s

Gardening events galore THROUGHOUT DORSET

Glass Rooms,

brochure Phone today for a FREE no obligation quote | Devon | TQ13 8JU Stone Lane | Chagford 01647 432321 www.allweat




Tel: 07966 258267 / 01258 840082 www.wowg

Our readers say*... “I can’t wait to pick up my copy every month.“ “I doubt if there’s a better gardening magazine.”

Love your garden? Love Country Gardener

“A lovely read, well written and I love how local it is.” Country Gardener produces editions covering THE COTSWOLDS, DEVON, DORSET, HAMPSHIRE and SOMERSET. Available at over 650 LOCATIONS throughout our circulation area. To find your local pick up point go to * 2014 Readership Survey


Colour your Garden with DECORATIVE STONE of

Est. 48 years



Colour your Garden with DECORATIVE STONE Berwyn Green14-16mm £5.99

Berwyn Green14-16mm £5.99

Cotswold Buff 13-20mm £5.99

Cotswold Buff 13-20mm £5.99

Seashore 10-20mm £5.99

Seashore 10-20mm £5.99

Cheshire Pink 11-14mm £5.99

Moonstone 20mm £5.99

Moonstone 20mm £5.99

Tweed Pebbles 20-40mm £5.99

Tweed Pebbles 20-40mm £5.99

Blue Slate 20/40mm £5.99

Black Slate 40mm £5.99

Blue Slate 20/40mm £5.99

Black Slate 40mm £5.99

BUY ONE GET ONE FREE* Also available WE Plum Slate 20mm DELIVER! in Bulk Bags £5.99


Cheshire Pink 11-14mm £5.99

Green Slate 40mm £5.99

Green Slate 40mm £5.99

£118.50 Open 7 days a week Mon-Sat 8am - 5pm • Sun 10am-4pm

Find us at PO14 4PR

Find• Sun us at10am-4pm PO14 4PR Open 7 days a week Mon-Sat 8am - 5pm 01489 01489 572285 572285

Hampshire Country Gardener Winter 2018  

The Winter 2018 issue of Hampshire Country Gardener Magazine

Hampshire Country Gardener Winter 2018  

The Winter 2018 issue of Hampshire Country Gardener Magazine