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Thrifty gardening for the new season

Early spring garden events throughout Somerset to enjoy

Somerset gardens open up for visitors

WIN a pair of the best gardening gloves

Somerset www.countrygardener.co.uk


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Up Front!

“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle . . a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.”

- Barbara Winkler


Still time to see snowdrops

Snowdrop lovers still have a few precious weeks left to see some glorious displays in Somerset. East Lambrook snowdrops Throughout February, the gardens at FORDE ABBEY on the Somerset and Dorset border are full of spectacular displays of snowdrops. Every Saturday morning in February from 10am to 12 noon, Joshua Sparkes, head gardener, will be leading a tour of the gardens. Tickets £20 per person including entry to the gardens. Forde Abbey House and Garden: Adults £5, children £2.50 www.fordeabbey.co.uk

“Winter dies into the spring, to be born again in the autumn.” - Marche Blumenberg

The much loved garden at EAST LAMBROOK has its displays open through to February 28th and features informal talks and tours of the snowdrops with many on sale in the nursery. Garden, nursery and cafe are open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Garden entry £6, £5.50 for over 65s, under 16s free. RHS members free every Wednesday. East Lambrook Manor, South Petherton, Somerset TA13 5HH SNOWDROP VALLEY EXMOOR is a privately owned remote valley in a hidden part of Exmoor rightly famous for its snowdrops and is open through to Sunday, 3rd March. Parking £2 per car. Wheddon Cross, Minehad, Somerset TA24 7DP

Somerset gardens open up for NGS Daffodil Festival Three Somerset gardens open for the NGS Daffodil Festival in March. HESTERCOMBE – outside of Taunton opens for the NGS on Tuesday, 5th March from 10am to 5pm. Admission: £12.50, child £6.25. Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton TA2 8LG Tel: 01823 413923, www.hestercombe.com. LOWER SHALFORD FARM is open on Saturday, 23rd March from 10am to 4pm. Admission is £5 with children free. Shalford Lane, Charlton Musgrove, Wincanton BA9 8HE. NYNEHEAD COURT is a private residential care home and on Sunday, March 3rd a garden tour, approximately 45mins, will be conducted by head gardener Justin Cole, head gardener, at 2pm Nynehead, Wellington TA21 0BN. £5 admission-children free.

Last two Somerset Potato Days The popular potato days run by Somerset nursery Pennard Plants has been delighting visitors to the events since the New Year but there are still two dates in March for you to enjoy. Weston Village (Bath) Potato Day is held at All Saints Centre, High Street, Weston, Bath BA14BX on Saturday, 2nd March from 10.30am to 1.30pm. Admission 50p. Timsbury, near Bath, hosts its Get Seedy, Seed Swap and Potato Day on Saturday, 9th March from 10am to 2pm. It is at Timsbury Conygre Hall, North Road, Timsbury, nr Bath, BA2 0JQ Entry £1 www.seedysaturday.org.uk

Early season plant fair at Bishop’s Palace, Wells The historic gardens of the Bishop’s Palace at Wells hosts an early season Rare Plant Fair on Sunday, 17th March. There are 14 acres of gardens, including the beautiful well-pools from which the city takes its name. This year Rare Plant Fairs celebrate their 25th season. The nurseries attending are selected to ensure they are genuine growers who produce what plants they sell themselves and offer a wide range of plants, including perennials, shrubs and trees, alpines, bulbs and exotic plants. The fair opens from 10am to 4pm, and adult entry, which includes entry to the fair, garden and Palace is £6, -a substantial saving. Full details at www.rareplantfair.co.uk The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset BA5 2PD

Crocus Week at Forde Abbey Crocus Week, when the jewel-like flowers will carpet the lawns, takes place at Forde Abbey House and Garden from the Saturday, 2nd March to Sunday 10th March, although many bulbs will have been in bloom since mid-February. The early season Plant and Gardening Fair takes place on Sunday 3rd March, within Crocus Week (see page 5). www.fordeabbey.co.uk



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Neil Lucas- celebrating 25 years at Knoll

Events galore as Knoll celebrates 25th anniversary The popular Knoll Gardens in Wimborne will be hosting over 70 events this year as the Dorset gardens celebrates the 25th anniversary of owner, Neil Lucas’s arrival and features year-round horticultural masterclasses, walks and workshops, all led by Neil, alongside an increased line-up of guided walks, wildlife events and art, craft and photography workshops, as well as Knoll’s first Festival of Grasses. Knoll’s event programme starts on Saturday, 16th March with a mini-masterclass on preparing grasses for summer effect, followed by a willow-weaving workshop on 23th March. In April, events include an evening bat walk on Thursday, 11th April. The first of four seasonal garden walks, led by Neil, runs on Friday 26th April. More event details can be found at www.knollgardens.co.uk/events Knoll Gardens Stapehill Rd, Hampreston, Wimborne BH21 7ND

‘Rejoice’ celebrates Bishop’s Palace gardens ‘Rejoice’ a new art exhibition celebrating the beauty of the Bishop’s Palace gardens in Wells opens at the beginning of March. It will comprise a collection of joyful work from Wells-based artist Suzanne Welch and takes place at the exhibition space inside the medieval Palace. Suzanne says: “It is within the Palace Gardens that the peaceful spirituality of nature, assisted by the caring dedication and hard-work of the gardeners and volunteers, provides us with a place of tranquil reflection and joy. It is a place I love, and it has inspired this exhibition of my work.� The exhibition runs from Sunday, 3rd March through to 5th May.

Growers Organic enjoy boom in organic vegetables Growers Organics has opened their organic nursery after the winter season break. The thriving nursery has gone from strength to strength each year since it first opened in 2003, especially when it comes to their mail order service, which last year was up by almost 75 per-cent. Growers Organics owner Joa Grower said: “I’m not sure if it’s because more people are buying on line or whether more folk are getting into growing their own organic food.� Whether you buy online www.growersorganics.com or pop into the nursery the quality of their plants never ceases to inspire gardeners, new and old. They are next to Bens Farm Shop in Yealmpton, Devon open seven days a week. If you don’t manage to visit the nursery, Growers Organics regularly sell their organic plants at Totnes market every Friday and Saturday. Growers Organics, Kitley Farm, Yealmpton, Devon PL8 2LT. www.growersorganics.com

NICHOLAS WRAY LEADS TWO-HOUR GUIDE TO BRISTOL BOTANIC GARDENS There’s a unique opportunity to join an inspiring two-hour special tour of the University of Bristol Garden with the Curator, Nicholas Wray, at 10.30 on Sunday, 24th March. With luck the stunning Magnolia campbellii subsp. mollicomata ‘Lanarth’ will be flowering, along with the daffodil collection, early spring blossom and the emerging woodland bulbs. You will then be able to enjoy the treasures of the Amazon rainforest in the exotic glasshouses, enchanting orchids, bromeliads and a world of tropical food and medicinal plants. Admission is free to Friends, students and Bristol University staff; visitors ÂŁ8. Please meet at Welcome Lodge; no prior booking necessary. Bristol Botanic Gardens

Bristol Botanic Gardens, Stoke Park Rd, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 1JG www.countrygardener.co.uk



Somerset starts search for school gardeners of the year The search to find the next generation of star gardeners has started in Somerset as nominations open for RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2019. Now in its eighth year, the competition champions the benefits of school gardening, shining a light on young people who are passionate about gardening and the inspirational adults who teach them. The RHS is calling on schools in Somerset to nominate

gardening superstars across three competition categories: • RHS YOUNG SCHOOL GARDENER OF THE YEAR: Nominations open for pupils aged five to 16 who demonstrate a passion for gardening, show invaluable gardening skills and have made an outstanding contribution to their school or local community. • RHS SCHOOL GARDENING TEAM OF THE YEAR: Recognises an outstanding gardening team that has made a difference to their school environment or local community. • RHS SCHOOL GARDENING CHAMPION OF THE YEAR: Celebrates teachers, leaders and volunteers who have inspired a passion for gardening and have used the outdoors to help bring the curriculum alive. Schools can enter at https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/sgoty19 with applications closing at 5pm on Wednesday, 24th April.

Somerset plays key role as Garden Day goes national

Designing a forest garden with medicinal trees and shrubs

On 12th May, a community benefit project will be launching across the UK to encourage people to down tools and spend the day celebrating their gardens with friends, family and neighbours Garden Day was first piloted as Somerset Garden Day two years ago and, due its success locally, it is now rolling out nationwide. The organisers of the event have said anyone and everyone can get involved in Garden Day – from family gardeners and allotment aficionados to houseplant enthusiasts – by hosting get-togethers at home. Whether it’s for tea and cake, a plant swap or a more-the-merrier lunch, The frozen, misty mornings of February and March can change the celebrations of all shapes and sizes are encouraged. appearance of your patio stonework, by accelerating the growth of green algae, black lichen and white fungi. The aim of the day is to celebrate the joy gardens bring all year round and to connect with neighbours, family The slippery combination can quickly turn your patios, terraces and pathways into dangerous surfaces traps for young and old. There is a and friends. As a sign of their support, enthusiasts are invited to wear a flower crown on Garden Day. solution however. How do you grow medicinal herbs in a forest garden? Which native and introduced trees and shrubs can be used medicinally? What is a medicinal forest garden? A short course answering these questions is on offer in May. Based at Holt Wood in North Devon, a specialist project near Great Torrington which has transformed a redundant conifer plantation into a thriving medicinal forest garden. The guide is Anne Stobart, an expert herb grower and historical researcher and a founder of the Organic Herb Growers Co-op. The course is on Thursday 23rd May from 10.30am to 4pm. The full registration cost is £68. www.holtwoodherbs.com Tel: 01363 777531 Holt Wood, St Giles in the Wood, Torrington EX38 7EQ

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FORDE ABBEY HOSTS EARLY SEASON PLANT FAIR The first Sunday in March is always a significant date at Forde Abbey which again hosts an early season Plant and Gardening Fair. This year the event is on Sunday, 3rd March from 10am to 4pm. Entrance is £3. The popular event set in the wonderful gardens of the abbey will be hosting over thirty stalls selling plants and gardening sundries. All the stallholders are happy to chat about their plants and stock, and to offer expertise and share their enthusiasm. www.fordeabbey.co.uk

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Time to garden frugally? by Elizabeth McCorquodale Gardening can have a real impact on your pocket with the very considerable cost of plants, shrubs , seeds, fertilisers, compost and many more so maybe it’s time to become more of a thrifty gardener.

Plant plenty of cuttings to exchange

Tomatoes growing in a bottle greenhouse

Gardening can be an expensive business, and with UK households spending a mind-boggling five billion pounds on their gardens each year, the industry is doing rather well. With all the new products, gardening ‘essentials’ and, of course, plants - all those wonderful plants – there is always something in the garden centre or catalogue that can tempt us to part with our money. But if you were to stop and consider if you could plant and maintain your garden without spending much money at all; if you can still have a wonderful, productive and beautiful plot and not part with your cash, would you do it? When it comes down to it there is an awful lot to be said for gardening frugally. Call it guilt-free gardening; kind gardening; thrifty gardening. There is a lot of fun to be had in figuring out how little you can spend, how little you can buy new, and still have a fantastic garden, one that is kinder both to the pocket and to the environment. It is quite simple really. There is never any need to spend good money on plastic plant pots when there are so many alternatives. Yogurt pots, toilet roll tubes, egg box or newspaper pots are great for starting off seedlings and cuttings. Raspberry and strawberry punnets make perfect mini propagators as they come complete with snap-on lids. Plastic bottles have numerous uses in the garden from bottle sprinklers, winter bug houses and birdfeeders to 8

Repurposed seed pots

water reservoirs to upend in your potted plants when you’re away, but my favourite, quirky, use for bottles is to make growframes and cloches. Thread bottles onto long bamboo canes and when you have enough canes clothed with bottles, make up a frame for your structure using more bamboo canes. Attach the bottle-canes to the structure. This can make a lovely, bespoke shelter for growing peppers and tomatoes and it comes at the cost of a few bamboo canes. Old compost or mulch bags also have a rich after-life. Use them on pathways to stop weeds and to slow evaporation and use them to line hanging baskets to prevent water draining too quickly. They make good strong rubble sacks and are a great choice for composting leaves and of course, turned inside out, they make great planters to grow deep rooted crops such as potatoes – and they fold away small for storage. Tights make soft plant ties, melon slings, and a great bag to hold manure suspended in a barrel of water to make compost tea, but my favourite money-saving use for tights is to make cheap barley-straw pond clearers. Buy the smallest bag of barley straw from your local pet shop and stuff a 45 cm length of tights with straw. Tie the ends shut and weigh the straw sausage down in your pond. The biological reaction can take up to two weeks to work, but it will clear your pond of algae. Replace the straw sausage every month to keep your pond clear. This alone saves me about £30 every year!

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Beware of packaging Big pots don’t necessarily mean big plants, and a bogoff deal is only a saving if you really need all those plants and always question the wisdom of the dreaded coloured pot - would the plant be as attractive in tatty black plastic or are you falling for the pot, not the plant? Around half of all UK households now have water meters. According to the RHS about 70% of household water –cleaned and filtered wateris poured on gardens at peak times in summer! Instead fix gutters to all your garden buildings and make rainwater diverters from all the house, garage and garden downpipes. Visit websites such as Freegle, Freecycle or Gumtree to source pre-loved guttering, water butts and the other paraphernalia you need for the job. A well-made compost heap, especially one enriched with manure, is the best way to become self-sufficient in compost, and there are designs to suit every size of garden. Make seed and potting compost for free by reserving your kitchen waste to feed a wormery. People become fanatical about compost and compost heaps for good reason – it makes your garden grow better than anything you can buy from the shops – and it is free! Garden chemicals are expensive and very often unnecessary. Many pest controls can be made from simple household products. Arm yourself with a good natural pest control guide and reduce your chemical bill right away. The best and most used pest spray can be made in minutes by filling a spray bottle with a scant tablespoon of non-detergent soap or washing up liquid, a few crushed or chopped hot chillies and water. Use this to control white fly, aphids and other flying and crawling insects. Make pitfall traps for slugs and other crawlers and don’t forget that a gloved hand can dispense with most pests in a flash. Don’t get hung up on having lots of different fertilisers for different plants. At most all you need is a general purpose feed and a booster for fruit and flowers (such as tomatoes) and, at a pinch, one for acid loving plants such as blueberries and hydrangeas. Better yet, don’t buy any fertiliser at all. You can get everything you need simply and cheaply by using the things that you already have to hand. Comfrey and nettles have long roots that reach deep into the soil and draw nutrients up into their leaves. Fill a bucket with chopped leaves, cover with water and a tight-fitting lid, then leave it alone for a week or two. Use this feed on the soil around the base of plants. Tomatoes and other fruiting plants need a high potash fertiliser and that is just what you get from wood ash saved from bonfires

or woodburners. Stir a shovelful of ash into a bucket of water and drench the soil around the roots. Wood ash is also efficient at altering the pH of soils, so avoid its use wherever you want the pH to remain on the acid side (around potatoes, for instance) but exploit its alkaline properties wherever they can be of use, such as around brassicas, particularly if clubroot is a problem.

When buying plants don’t be seduced into buying new-to-the-market varieties that haven’t yet proven their worth. Let someone else do the trials, especially if the seed or plant is expensive. Sadly, new varieties often don’t live up to the hype. Grow from seed whenever you can, and if you must buy plants, buy small. Small plants establish very quickly and will soon grow into large plants, and they are almost always better value for money. Any seeds that you don’t use can be swapped with friends and colleagues for other varieties. Plants for free People who love plants love to share their passion and are usually willing to offer cuttings, seedheads or even a clump of a favourite plant when it comes time to lift and divide. Keep a supply of small plastic bags, newspaper, secateurs and a bottle of water in your car so that you are always prepared to collect cuttings, plants and seeds when you’re out and about. And always plant a few more seeds and pot up a few more of your own cuttings to offer as swapping currency. www.countrygardener.co.uk

Clockwise from top left: Grow from seed when you can; use water properly; dry out herbs



WINTER PRUNING It may be the task you haven’t got round to but in early spring there’s still time to prune, cut back and shape All our garden plants benefit from pruning, but it’s important to prune at the right time of year, in the right way. The darker, colder and short days of midwinter are not always ideal to get out and take on the task. But don’t fret it isn’t too late. There is still plenty of time in late February and well into March to prune, cut back and encourage new life into your plants and shrubs. Almost all plants benefit from being pruned in the winter months, while they’re dormant. Pruning in winter encourages flowers and fruit, can encourage a good shape, promotes strong growth and helps to stop disease taking hold. So as we start the hopeful downward spiral to spring here’s what action you can still take when it comes to pruning.

Roses Many types of rose can be pruned in winter, including floribundas, hybrid teas, shrub roses and climbing roses. Rambling roses are pruned in late summer, but can be renovated in late winter. As a general rule, cut back thin, weak stems the most, and thick, vigorous stems the least. Aim to leave plants anything from 15cm to 45cm tall, depending on the original size of the plant and your preference.

Fruit bushes Fruit bushes, including blueberries and blackcurrants, plus gooseberries and redcurrants are best pruned in late winter. As a general rule, remove some old wood each year, creating a goblet shape and leaving healthy young branches that will produce large crops in years to come.

Apple and pear trees These can be pruned through to mid-March to encourage fruiting. Aim to create a wine-glass shape, with evenly spaced branches rising up from the trunk in a circle around a hollow centre. Cut off any water shoots at their very base and remove any dead, diseased or crossing branches

Deciduous ornamental trees Again prune through to March, remove smaller branches arising from the trunk to create a clean, bare stem at least 90-120cm tall. Remove any branches that impede access or block mowing, but cut sensitively, thinning out rather than chopping back the whole canopy.

Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush) New plants should be cut back now to create a short, stubby framework of branches 15-90cm high, depending on how tall you want the shrub to be. Thereafter, you can keep the shrub neat, vigorous and free-flowering by pruning back hard annually during early spring. As new growth starts to break, 10

remove all of the previous year’s growth to two or three pairs of buds from the main framework.

Forsythia Do not prune forsythia during the first few years after planting. However, once established, older plants that are left un-pruned become woody at the base where few flowers are produced. To avoid this, prune after flowering has finished, by cutting out one-in-three of the main stems at the base, starting with the oldest. Neglected plants can be rejuvenated by cutting back all flowered shoots to a strong bud near to the base of the shrub. Trim forsythia hedges after flowering too, then leave un-pruned until the following year otherwise you risk removing all of next spring’s flowers.

Hebe Hebes grown for their foliage rather than their flowers, can be pruned in spring to achieve a compact and neat habit. Neglected plants can be cut back hard since new shoots will be readily produced from near to the base. Hebes grown for their flowers and foliage should only pruned to remove frostdamaged, dead or diseased growth. You can also use a pair of shears to trim all hebes over lightly to encourage bushy growth. Variegated hebes that produce all-green shoots, should have these removed completely.

Spiraea Spiraeas are a varied group including spring and summer flowering forms, some of which flower on new growth produced this year and others that flower on old wood produced in previous seasons. Spirae. Late spring flowering spiraeas as well as summer-flowering varieties that bloom on old wood should not be pruned until after flowering. Also, spiraea hedges should be pruned annually, by lightly cutting back after flowering to maintain a dense and neat habit.

Why early spring is the best time to prune • The plant is dormant. It’s not putting energy into producing leaves, flowers, buds, or new stems. • There are no diseases or fungal pathogens in the air in winter. Late summer and fall are the worst time of year to prune because airborne pathogens reach their peak at that time. • You can see the plant structure better when there are no leaves.

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February into March can be a mixed month weather-wise, from sunshine warm enough to take your coat off, to snow or heavy freezing rain. So it’s all a question of timing. On good days, take time to get out in to the garden to work and look around and you will see that it is about time to make a start. If the ground isn’t too frozen or waterlogged, you can dig the soil over, or turn any compost that you have. Tidy up any debris on beds and the lawn, if it isn’t too wet or frozen to walk on. Get organised and buy all the seeds and compost that you are going to need for the coming months. The bulbs may be up among the wreckage of the winter, spearing the ground with signs of the new season. This is the clue that the beds need clearing. The remains of last summer’s perennials and the leaves that fell among them were left deliberately, and the recycled foliage and stems should have been pulled into the soil by the earthworms, and will now be improving the humus content. Some gardening jobs in February and March will help set the garden up for the rest of the year. It is a good time to mulch your borders, as long as the soil is wet. Mulch acts as a barrier against weeds, can provide nutrients, keeps the soil moist and insulates roots from the cold. Before you start, make sure you have thoroughly weeded the bed and that you have sufficient mulching material – this could be leaf mould, compost, well-rotted manure or bark chippings. Always leave a gap around the stem of Mulch your borders plants.

FOOD CROPS FROM THE GUTTER SALADS More and more gardeners are using gutter pipes to sow vegetables – especially salads. It is the best way, if you don’t have lots of room in your garden, and it keeps everything easy to look after and under control. Lettuce in the gutter! Radishes can be eaten straight from the gutter – they don’t need to see any garden and you’ll have a salad feast within six to eight weeks. Also sow peas in guttering just fill the gutter with soil, and then place the pea seeds on the top of the soil at regular intervals along the line. don’t push them in until you’ve laid it all out – that way you won’t forget where you’ve sown them! 12

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A new hedge for a new season Planting a new hedge is always one of those things which get included in the planning stage for a new season and then somehow gets forgotten in the rush to get early season things done in the garden. It may be getting cold in the air, but the soil is still retaining some warmth. So yes, it is a good time to plant that hedge you have always promised yourself.

T IDY UP YOUR HYDRANGEAS Deadheading hydrangeas is one of the best garden tasks for late February/early March, before new growth starts appearing. It’s best to leave the flowers on the plant over the winter as this protects it from the worst of the weather. For ‘Aspera’ hydrangeas there is no need to radically reduce the size of the shrub; just cut the flower close to a main stem. For mopheads and cinerea types, more pruning is generally required: cut to about one-third of last season’s growth. Shred the cuttings, or cut them up into sections, and place them in your compost heap.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING WHEN PRUNING CLEMATIS The correct time and method for pruning clematis depends on whether the plant flowers on old or new wood. Some varieties produce young shoots from which they will flower within the same year. While others flower on shoots grown in the previous year. Clematis plants are grouped based on their pruning requirements and you can usually identify which group they are in based on when they flower. February is the perfect time for pruning group 3 Clematis, before they start active growth. Group 3 Clematis include late-flowering species which will be in bloom from summer to late autumn, flowering on stems grown in the same year. These clematis flower on new stems, so you can afford to cut away a large amount of the plant’s old stems, resulting in rapid regrowth and flowering within the same year. Cut all of the stems of the plant down to a pair of strong buds 20-30cm above ground level.

Last chance to prune apple and pear trees There is still time to prune back your apple and pear trees by the end of February. If you don’t, your harvest may not as be as good because older branches won’t bear as much fruit as newer, fresh, healthy branches. This pruning is only for open apple trees though, not espaliers, cordons or fan-trained apples (you should prune these in July and August). When you’re pruning, bear in mind that you want to let light and air into the branches and prune to form the tree into a goblet shape.

Time is running out for cutting back vines If you haven’t pruned the grapevines, do so immediately, as they will bleed if left too late. Once you have a framework of primary limbs, prune laterals back to one or two buds.

Key tasks for the next few weeks • Top-dress your pots. Revitalise permanently planted pots by scraping out the top layer of old compost to a depth of two or three inches and adding the same amount of fresh. Fork it into the old compost surface. • If you haven’t already got one, invest in a water butt to catch the spring rain in preparation for dryer months ahead. • Make or buy a cold frame and/or compost bin. • Reactivate your compost heap – take advantage of any warmer, drier weather and turn the whole thing into a new bin and water on a compost activator, such as comfrey juice or seaweed. • Water indoor plants regularly now the weather is warmer. • Start mulching bare soil. Use at least a couple of inches of green waste from your local council. After a warm spell, it’s a good time to jump in before weed starts to germinate. • Check mowers are working, and service if necessary. www.countrygardener.co.uk

Time to get sowing and growing • Order your potatoes and chit seed potatoes, standing them in trays in a light but frost-free position. Check last year’s potato bed for any stray little ones left over from last year and remove to prevent any disease spreading. • Prepare the ground for planting asparagus. • Sow a pack of onion seeds or slot some sets into trays for planting out once the clocks change in mid March • Start to harvest early rhubarb – pick the stems of varieties such as ‘Timperley Early’ with a firm tug, rather than cutting them from the plant. Cover midseason rhubarb plants, e.g. ‘Stockbridge Arrow’, with forcers. This will elongate, tenderise and sweeten their stems. 13

March garden


Over the winter months readers have been sending in their requests for help and advice on a wide range of gardening themes For some reason I have always been suspicious of plug plants, whether they are value for money or help speed things up in the garden. Can anyone give me some re-assurance? It’s quite difficult to find a down side to plug plants - with the exception of course that they are more expensive than seeds. Plug plants are young plants or seedlings grown in trays of individual cells. When the roots have grown sufficiently they can be easily pushed out of the trays and either transplanted into larger pots or planted outside in the ground. They will have been professionally raised in a greenhouse to ensure a good root system and so are an ideal way to save time and will help you to quickly fill your borders and beds with strong Plug plants - value for your money plants. Depending on the size of plugs you choose, you can get decent value from buying plug plants. And you’re not limited to seed varieties. Some hybrids can only be propagated from cuttings so you’ll have access to far greater variety by ordering your plants this way. These garden-ready plug plants are more developed and you can plant them straight into the garden with no need to pot up or grow on. They cost a little more, but they’re ideal for people who don’t have a greenhouse or want instant results in a short growing season. All plug plants should be acclimatised to the lower outdoor temperatures for at least a week before planting outdoors. This simply means placing your plants outside during the day and bringing them back under cover at night.

I’ve been urged to get the soil tested in my new garden even though I don’t plan to grow vegetables. Is it worth the time and effort? Presumably at some stage you’ll be planting something, trees shrubs, border plants, so the answer is yes, it’s essential to know what type the soil in your new garden isand plan accordingly. At the very least, test your soil’s pH, which is a measure of how acidic your soil is. If the pH level isn’t in the correct range, plants cannot take up nutrients in the soil. You should also test for phosphorus 14


My experience of forcing rhubarb is that I get thinner, weaker stalks rather than just let nature and the spring take its course when I get bigger stalks. I wonder if other gardeners find this?

Forced rhubard stems can be picked after eight weeks covering

Forcing it will certainly give you tender, thinner stalks of pink rhubarb but what’s not to like about that? You need to remember that the artificial forcing of rhubarb by covering up the crowns with pots or more specialist forcers started very specifically to get an early crop when there was little else in store in the garden. So the system started to encourage the plants to make early growth. These pale, forced stalks can be harvested for use in cooking when they are 20cm – 30cm long. The answer most gardeners opt for is only forcing a few crowns, leaving the remainder to thicken out. Forced rhubarb stems can be harvested around eight weeks after covering, which may be up to a month earlier than unforced crops. However, try to avoid forcing the same rhubarb crown for two years in a row; this can weaken the plant and your crop will start to decrease.

and potassium because plants require both of these nutrients in relatively large amounts. Growing fruits and vegetables need nutrients to develop properly. While many of these nutrients come from fertilizer or compost that you add after planting, the roots absorb nutrients, as well as water and oxygen. A soil test lets you know which vitamins and nutrients are present in your existing soil. This includes major nutrients and micronutrients, all of which are important to the growth of your crops. Soil kits aren’t expensive, are very accurate and also quick and easy to use Once you get the soil right, let the growing begin.

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I’ve been struggling with my dahlias in recent years. We live in a sheltered corner of Dorset and I was advised not to dig them up but I lost a lot last winter and I am in danger now of being over cautious. This autumn I dug some up and moved them indoors but am not sure when they should be out and exposed. Dahlias struggle in cold soil and you certainly took a risk leaving them in the ground last winter although in fairness to you no-one expected the frost and snow we had to put up with. Having said that dahlias can and do survive if the soil is well drained and you have put a good thick layer of mulch over them. As to when they go out then you really should wait until the ground temperature reaches 60°F and certainly until you are sure the danger of spring frosts has passed. If in doubt give it another week or so is probably the best advice here. Tubers do best when they are stored in temperatures between 35 and 50°F. They shouldn’t be exposed to either too dry or too damp conditions and they fare much better when there isn’t too big a temperature jump when you finally get them out for the summer.

I’ve always been a bit of a late starter when it comes to growing tomatoes and I’d like this year to get going really early. My neighbour always seems to have tomatoes growing, flowering and ready to pick weeks and weeks ahead of me. Your efforts to get an early crop of tomatoes will in part depend on how much you want to spend. You probably need to get some sort of heated conditions to start seeds off really early – certainly in February. Generally early season tomatoes ripen fruit in 55 to 70 days after being transplanted to the garden as six-week-old plants. Sow seeds five to six weeks before the last expected frost and two to three weeks after germination pot up in large containers so you are not continually having to transplant them. Because great tomato flavour comes with just the right combination of sugars and acids that are the product of sunlight and photosynthesis, early season tomatoes are often dismissed as less tasty than midand late-season tomatoes (which require 80 to more than 100 days to ripen) because they spend fewer days in the sun. But many “early” tomatoes—which are often smaller and less leafy than later season tomatoes–can flower and set fruit in cool, early-season conditions. Some early season varieties: Latah (early salad type) This is the one for your earliest crop. It’s a super-early variety that tolerates short or cool summers. Urbikany (early salad type) The large sprawling bushes only grow about 3ft tall, but definitely need several stakes or strings to support the weight of all the tomatoes. Tall Bush, juicy and sweet, very early, with very heavy crops over a long period. Aurora As well as fruiting very early, it also germinates well at low temperatures.

I’ve become increasingly attracted by smaller specimen trees with attractive winter bark. I saw some recently at NT Knightshayes and I thought I would try and introduce some into my garden for this summer and autumn. Do you have any suggestions? In the depths of winter, the quiet charms of plants with strikingly coloured bark come into their own. Winter interest provided by bark on trees and shrubs is an important aspect of planting up a garden, and is sometimes overlooked in favour of more flamboyant flower interest. For maximum impact, plant the shrubs in groups and the trees where their bark can be seen and appreciated. You can also make the most of their appealing bark by legging-up (removing lower branches) plants as they mature and carefully under planting them to help draw out the dramatic colours, patterns and textures on show. Here are some ideas: Eucalyptus paucifolia subsp. niphophila (alpine snow gum, snow gum) – shades of whitish grey and pale brown bark to reveal yellow, bronze or greenish patches which grows to a height of 20 feet. Acer. griseum or paper bark maple – peeling red-brown bark and a lovely tree which grows to 30ft. Acer davidii ‘Ernest Wilson’ known as the snakebark maple, or Père David’s maple – spectacular green-andwhite striped bark. Another bigger tree and up to 20ft.




vegan gardening? The popularity of a vegan diet has spread to the vegetable patch with gardeners demanding animal-free fertiliser and compost It was inevitable. The trend in popularity of a vegan diet has led to the demand now for vegan compost and a new style vegan principle of growing vegetables. Vegan gardening avoids not only the use of toxic sprays and chemicals, but also manures and animal remains. Just as vegans avoid animal products in their diet, so now vegan gardeners also avoid using animal products in the garden as fertilisers such as blood and bone meal, fish emulsion, and animal manures. In vegan growing, soil fertility is maintained using vegetable compost, green manures, crop rotation, mulching, and other sustainable, ecological methods. Occasional use of lime, gypsum, rock phosphorus, dolomite, rock dusts and rock potash can be helpful, but not essential. Soil conditioners and fertilisers that are vegan-organic and ecologically sustainable include hay mulch, wood ash, composted organic matter (fruit/ vegetable peels, leaves and grass clippings), green manures/nitrogenfixing cover crops (fava beans/clover/ alfalfa/lupines), liquid feeds (such as comfrey or nettles), and seaweed (fresh, liquid or meal) for trace elements. Across the UK, more and more people are going vegan and vegetarian, for the planet, the animals, and for their own health. Now, according to the Royal Horticultural Society, consumers are also becoming increasingly concerned with their gardens and the products they put on them. According to the RHS, animal-free fertiliser and compost are the highest in demand, with many products, like manure pellets, currently coming from factory-farmed animals. The society notes that as the trend gains even more popularity, suppliers will have to rethink their products and consider producing more ethically 16

sourced vegan-friendly options. Guy Barter, Chief horticulturist at the RHS, explained: “Vegan gardening is similar to organic in that it avoids synthetic pesticides and fertilisers but goes further; eliminating anything of animal origin which includes popular feeds with animal materials such as fish, bones and blood and manures from intensive animal farming.” Landscape designer and allotment owner Jack Wallington has been dabbling in vegan gardening in an effort to be more environmentallyconscious. “Using homemade compost and fertilisers made from nettles and comfrey, plus shop bought seaweed fertiliser means my allotment is largely vegan already. “Vegan gardening is a rising trend because we now know so much more about what we eat. “Vegan gardening products are more limited when it comes to important bulky soil improvers like manure. For instance, most suppliers of chicken manure pellets can’t even offer a guarantee they come from free range chickens, because they don’t, so I refuse to use them.” The number of vegans in Britain has risen 390 per cent to some 625,000 people in 2016, according to a poll of almost 10,000 people carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Vegan Society and Vegan Life magazine.

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS? GREEN MANURES NITROGEN - FIXING CROPS) Green manure is a cover crop of plants, which is grown with the specific purpose of being tilled into the soil. Fast-growing plants such as wheat, oats, rye, vetch, or clover, can be grown as cover crops between gardening seasons then tilled into the garden as it Country Gardener

is prepared for the next planting. Green manure crops absorb and use nutrients from the soil that might otherwise be lost through leaching, then return these nutrients to the soil when they are tilled under.

LIQUID FEEDS SUCH AS COMFREY OR NETTLES Fill a container with grass cuttings, nettles, weed or comfrey leaves. Cover with water at a rate of one part brew to three parts water. Cover the container, and leave for two to four weeks. Preferably strain out (through an old stocking) the weed seeds and plant material that will block up the spout of your watering-can. Nettles give the best multi-purpose feed and comfrey alone will give a feed rich in potash.

HAY MULCHES Using a thick layer of hay to cover the earth feeds the soil with organic matter as it breaks down. It also suppresses weeds and encourages worms to live in your soil.

SEAWEED - FRESH, LIQUID OR MEAL Used for trace elements. Seaweed is best harvested fresh from the sea as opposed to washed up and sitting on beaches. Some vegan gardeners use bulk spirulina or kelp meal.

WHAT IS VEGAN SOIL AND WHY IS IT DIFFERENT? • Vegan soil should be organic so will use no chemical sprays or feeds. There’s also no use of fish or bone meal or any animal manure or any animal by products. All plant feeds are plant based to improve the soil structure and encourage gardening. • Many of the most popular organic fertilisers and soil amendments contain animal ingredients such as bone meal, blood meal, and chicken feather meal, fish-based fertilisers, and manures.

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KNOWING YOUR ONIONS! An early start is often the trick for growing what is a must-have vegetable in the garden

well-drained, loose soil with lots of organic matter. A sandy Onion sets are easy to grow and should be the first thing on loam with additional compost is ideal. the list for the new season. Usually onions have no problems, except for weeds and Your garden turns a small set into a full-sized bulb without perhaps for onion maggots. To discourage this pest, don’t any attention from you during the summer so it is not a plant too early in spring, and use row covers for the first difficult choice when it comes to adding them on to your few weeks to discourage the flies laying eggs. Onions don’t vegetable growing list. Sets are the immature plants that are compete well with weeds, so keep them weeded, particularly raised from seed the previous summer. Because they were when young. Mulching after planting with straw or grass sown at a very high density, they do not reach sufficient size clippings reduces weeding. to bolt. They just carry on growing instead. Another key to an excellent crop is to keep the soil moist Plant sets whenever you can given reasonable warmth and dryness from February onwards, pushing them gently into the during the first couple of weeks after planting out. Then, at the end of the season, the opposite applies. As plants soil so the tips are level with the surface. It’s a good idea to mature - no more new leaves and the tops fall over - reduce cover them with pea sticks or fleece to prevent birds pulling watering, and pull soil away from the tops of the bulbs. This them out. encourages them to go dormant and start the drying process. The chance of bolting is decreased if you avoid planting in Plants should be dormant before harvest, or the bulbs won’t cold, wet soil. They thrive in a sunny, well-drained situation. store well. The sign to harvest is when most of the tops have Keep weed-free, especially early on. It is important to move fallen over. Harvest when the weather is dry, remove loose the onion bed around every year to prevent the build-up of soil, then place in a warm and airy place, out of direct sun, diseases like onion white rot. for three weeks before storing. They don’t take up much room, are an easy and tough crop, and by growing your own you can get cultivars (cultivated varieties) not available at markets. First, you’ll need to choose which onions to grow. Consider the colour - they come in reds, yellows, and whites. Consider the size, which often relates to use, such as the small white pearl onions for stews or large ones for slicing. Consider if you want to eat and use them fresh or store them, as some store much longer than others. Of course consider taste - do you like sweet or strong flavours? Perhaps most important culturally is their day length requirement. Onions, depending on cultivar, require various amounts of light in order to form bulbs. e. Whether you’re planting sets, purchased plants, If so, there are some tricks of the trad or those you started yourself from seeds, plant the right ‘large bulb’ variety. e • Start early and make sure you hav out about two to four weeks before the last • Add plenty of nitrogen into the soil. usual frost date in your area. For northern . gardens, this may mean planting out late-April • Avoid onion sets, start from seed n to retain moisture through to mid-May. To avoid problems and get the best • Water frequently and mulch ofte crop, don’t plant them in the same area onions the growing season. or their relatives have grown the last couple e onions. • Sandy loam soil is the best for larg years, nor where legumes (peas and beans) have recently been grown. Onions grow best in a



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Hill Close Gardens a unique set of Victorian detached gardens

We can now really start looking forward to spring, the warmer weather, gardens and gardening and the opportunity to start planning for the best days out over the next few months. Every year, the variety of choices for gardening lovers of days out and visits gets more tempting. This year there’s another fantastic mixture of brand new events, traditional favourites, gardens open, shows, festivals, horticultural shows, charity events and just wonderful gardens to visit. Here are just a few of the great events we are happy to highlight over the next few months. So get the diary out and start filling in the dates.

Spectacular Cotswolds village opens up its gardens for charity Elkstone Open Garden takes place on Sunday, 9th June from 2pm to 6pm giving visitors the chance to enjoy the atmosphere of a beautiful Cotswold village and to see parts of it not accessible to the casual visitor. You can visit Grade 1 listed Norman church, the highest in the Cotswolds and renowned for its arches, decorative features and ecofriendly initiatives and hear the peal of bells and visit the bell tower. Elkstone is one of the highest villages in the Cotswolds, situated half way between Cirencester and Cheltenham just off the A417. More details on www.elkstonevillage.com

Melplash growing competition hots up again The successful annual Melplash Agricultural Society’s Garden and Allotment Competition is the most prestigious garden competition in the West Dorset area. It is open to all residents within a 12-mile radius of Melplash Village Church. Gardens and allotments of any size can be entered and there are prizes for the best large, medium and small garden and best allotment as well as a prize for the overall winner. The only stipulation is that they must not employ a gardener for more than eight hours per week. The winners of each category are presented with their prizes at the Melplash Agricultural Show in the horticultural marquee on Thursday, 23rd August. For application form visit www.melplashshow.co.uk

New series of charity plant fairs Plant lovers have a new series of plant fairs in the gardening calendar this year where they will be able to buy direct from knowledgeable plant growers with top quality plants at great prices. Specialist Charity Plant Fairs hold events at Digby Hall, Sherborne on 17th March; Yarlington House on 11th May and Mapperton Gardens, in fact this will be the 20th Spring Mapperton Plant Fair on April 14th. The Midney Garden Plant Fair near Somerton is moving to early autumn on 1st September, allowing access to the garden normally only open for groups. Full details of the fairs and stallholders can

Hill Close Gardens are the only remaining set of Victorian detached gardens open to the public in England. There’s the chance to find out about their unique history and take a step back in time to 1896 to a point where the gardens were created. Detached gardens have existed here since the 1830’s. There are 16 individual plots of the original 32 overlooking Warwick racecourse and some have brick built summerhouses where you can shelter and find out about the plots previous owners. Many events take place throughout the year including ‘Private Lives’ by Heartbreak productions on Tuesday 23rd July. Visit the‘green’ visitor centre that turns into a tearoom on weekends and bank holidays throughout summer. Hill Close Gardens, Bread and Meat Close, Warwick, CV34 6HF Tel: 01926 493 339 www.hillclosegardens.com

Forde Abbey March show packed with inspiration and ideas Packed with inspiration and ideas for the spring garden, Forde Abbey’s Plant and Gardening Fair is always held on the first Sunday in March, making it one of the earliest plant fairs in the South West. Again this year, the popular abbey and gardens on the Somerset and Dorset border will be hosting over thirty stalls selling plants and gardening sundries on Sunday, 3rd March from 10am until 4pm. Forde Abbey House and Garden, Plant and Gardening Fair Sunday, 3rd March, 10am to 4pm Entry £3. www.fordeabbey.co.uk

be found at www.plantfairs.com plus details of the local charities benefiting from the entrance money. Some of the charities include; School in a Bag, Multiple Sclerosis and The Catholic Church of St Luke and St Thereas in Wincanton. The organisers, professional horticulturists, Rob and Becky Cotterill also arrange garden coach trips. This May they are exploring Northern Ireland, visiting gardens in England and Scotland on route. The trip includes accommodation, coach travel from Somerset and visits to nine gardens including the recently restored walled garden at Hillsborough Castle. Details at www.gardenbreaks.co.uk or ring 01460 242620 www.gardenmaker.co.uk www.plantfairs.com



Alpine Garden Society heads for March date at RHS Rosemoor A specialist plant show with hundreds of specimen plants exhibited by members of the Alpine Garden Society — that’s what’s on offer on Saturday, 23rd March at RHS Rosemoor. There will also be specialist nurseries offering a fantastic selection of plants for sale, many of which are hard to find anywhere else. New exhibitors are welcome at the show. AGS members gain free entry to Rosemoor on the day (with a valid membership card). Join the AGS The AGS helps people discover more about alpines and other small hardy plants. Join the society and you get four quarterly journals, full of plant growing advice, and amazing plant photography from around the world, as well as access to one of the biggest seed exchanges in the world and exclusive offers on books and international planthunting tours. To find out more visit, www.alpinegardensociety.net


The boutique spring plant fair is back at East Lambrook Twenty two top independent nurseries and seed growers from all over the South West will be at East Lambrook Manor Gardens on Saturday, 23rd March for the eighth Early Spring Plant Fair, organised in partnership with the Hardy Plant Society, Somerset Group. This popular and prestige fair takes place in the grounds of cottage gardening doyenne Margery Fish’s former home and is a wonderful opportunity to source unusual and often rare plants. East Lambrook’s owner Mike Werkmeister comments, “There’s always a buzz at this event, described by one nurseryman as ‘his favourite plant fair’, and there’s always a queue at the gate by 10 o’clock waiting for it to open. Hot soup, tea, coffee and excellent cakes will be available in the Malthouse café. The plant fair runs from 10am to 4pm with the £4 per head entry price including reduced price entry to the famous cottage garden. RHS and HPS members need only pay £3.50. East Lambrook Manor Gardens, Silver Street, East Lambrook, South Petherton, Somerset TA13 5HH. www.eastlambrook.com

This hugely popular family and dog friendly, charity focused, weekend-long event on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd June held on the outskirts of Axminster, promises a feast of things to do, see, taste and smell on its 25th anniversary. There will be exciting entertainment in the ring and around the showground plus music, dancing, bouncing, bubble blowing and shopping galore.

2019 dates

17th March Digby Hall, Sherborne 14th April Mapperton Gardens 11th May Yarlington House New 9th June Hestercombe Gardens 1st September Midney Gardens 15th September Mapperton Gardens

TV and radio gardener Anne Swithinbank will be at the festival with a talk and a question and answer session. Seasonal flower arranging demonstrations with Sarah Broom or Angela Brooke-Smith will be another floral highlight. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or buy discounted tickets via the website. Parking is free. Tel: 01297 34517

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www.axevaleshow.com enquiries@axevalefestival.co.uk





Friendly, helpful advice VISIT www.andysairplants.co.uk 20

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Open to all within 12 miles of Melplash Village Church

www.melplashshow.co.uk or call 01308 423337 Entries by 12th June

Our 2019 dates

Rare Plant Fairs 2019

Specialist Plant Fairs in Unique Gardens Celebrating 25 Years! Our popular plant fairs are all held in unique and prestigious gardens, a number of which are not frequently open to the public, making a day out at one of our fairs an enjoyable and inspiring experience for everyone, whether a novice or experienced gardener.

Our Gardens Each garden has its own unique character, from those with histories stretching back centuries to more modern gardens created in recent years. Our fairs help to support the upkeep of the gardens, some of which are charitable trusts, and in some cases also benefit important local charities.

Our Nurseries We carefully select our nurseries to ensure that they are genuine growers, and we choose those that exhibit at each fair so that we can offer the widest possible range of plants to our visitors, including perennials, shrubs and trees, alpines, bulbs and exotic plants. All of our nursery owners are experts in the plants that they grow, and some are National Collection holders. They are all always happy to offer all the advice that you need to select and grow the right plants for your garden. Website: www.rareplantfair.co.uk E-mail: info@rareplantfair.co.uk Tel: 0845 468 1368 Calls to our information line cost 5p/min plus your network access charge.


17th March The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset BA5 2PD 7th April Evenley Wood Garden, Brackley, Northants NN13 5SH 14th April The Old Rectory, Quenington, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5BN 19th May Winterbourne House and Garden, Birmingham B15 2RT 26th May Kingston Bagpuize House, Oxfordshire OX13 5AX 2nd June High Glanau Manor, Lydart, Monmouth NP25 4AD 16th June Waterperry Gardens, Wheatley, Oxfordshire OX33 1JZ 23rd June Rodmarton Manor, Nr. Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL7 6PF 30th June Sculpture by the Lakes, Nr. Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8QU 21st July Highnam Court, Nr. Gloucester GL2 8DP 1st September Adwell House, Nr Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 7DQ 8th September The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset BA5 2PD 22nd September Llanover House, Llanover, Nr Abergavenny NP7 9EF The admission fee for each of our fairs is a combined package and includes access to both the fair and gardens. Full details of admission fees and times of opening can be found at our website, together with a complete list of the exhibitors attending the Fairs. Please check all event details before setting out, particularly if travelling some distance to the fair. 21

HONITON SHOW PUTS FARMING ISSUES FIRST AGAIN The Honiton & District Agricultural Association hold their 129th show on Thursday, 1st August with over 400 trade stands to attract visitors. Acts booked for the Main Ring include Jamie Squibb and his Freestyle Motocross Arena Stunt Show, The Devil’s Horsemen, Europe’s number one stunt and trick-riding team performing with some of the world’s best-known horses .The Grand Parade is the heart of the show. Livestock judging starts at 9.00am. Horses are another big theme of the day with classes ranging from Shetlands to shires. Admission charges are being held this year so advance tickets are £14.50. For further details on the show or details on becoming a member of the association please contact the secretary on 01404 41794 www.honitonshow.co.uk

Striking and easy to care for houseplants with a difference Tillandsia’s are a genus of plants commonly known as Air Plants. There will be plenty of opportunity to see these exquisite plants this summer at shows around the country with Andy’s Air Plants from Newlyn who is fast gaining a reputation for these plants with a difference.They are in the Bromeliad family whose most famous member is the pineapple. While the pineapple is a terrestrial Bromeliad (growing on the ground) the ‘Air Plants’ are epiphytic which means they grow on other plants or up in the air which is how they get their common name. Their roots are only for attachment and they take all moisture and nutrients through their leaves. The Tillandsia genus comprises of around 600 plus species. There is a huge variety in the genus from silver or green foliage with beautiful flowers of many colours and some species have flowers that are wonderfully fragrant. Andy has been collecting and growing these amazing plants in Newlyn, Cornwall for over a decade and you can see his wonderful displays at many flower shows across the country including RHS Chelsea Flower show and RHS Hampton Court. For a full list of events that Andy’s Air Plants will be attending visit his events page at www.andysairplants.co.uk

Once a year chance to enjoy Badminton House gardens There is a unique chance to enjoy the stunning gardens and grounds of Badminton House on Sunday, 16th June when the private gardens are only open once a year to the public. There is a wealth of variety to explore from the formal beds on the east side of the House designed by Russell Page to the South Gardens with its water squares, hedges, beds and borders reminiscent of one of the great Loire Valley gardens. Glorious displays of roses and borders of soft summer colours with herbaceous perennials, tulips, campanulas, penstemons, geraniums, phlox and anemones. There will also be some wonderful gift stalls and local nurseries to browse. Homemade refreshments and tasty treats served all day. This event is family-friendly and wellbehaved dogs are welcome in the park. The gardens open from 10am to 5pm and the entry fee is £5. In aid of The Centre Walk Fund in support of Richard Preest. More details contact theoldhall@badmintonestate.com


Rare Plant Fairs celebrate 25th anniversary in style The popular and successful Rare Plant Fairs which produce high quality garden fairs in stunning locations are this year celebrating their 25th season The fairs were originally founded by Derry Watkins in 1994. At that time, there were far fewer events available for nurseries to attend, and Rare Plant Fairs were founded to try to remedy this. There are 13 Fairs this year, commencing with the-popular fair at The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, on Sunday, March 17th. The programme includes the first Dorset fair, set in the stunning gardens of Sculpture by the Lakes, near Dorchester, in June. There is a great selection of specialist nurseries attending each event, all of whom are experts in the plants that they grow. Visit the website at www.rareplantfair.co.uk for complete details of all the events, including a full list of the exhibitors attending. 22

Come and explore 16 unique restored Victorian gardens Open weekdays NovMarch: 11-4pm

Open every day April-Oct: 11am-5pm with tearoom Sat, Sun and Bank Hol Mon Midsummer Music in the Gardens, Sat 22nd June – 6.00-9.00pm Tickets Adult £14.50 / Child £11.50 Book in advance Heartbreak Productions Drama: Private Lives, Tues 23rd July 5.00-9:30pm Tickets Adult £14.50 / Child £11.50 Book in advance Art in the Gardens, Sat 17th August 11am – 4:30pm Summer exhibition of arts & crafts with music. Normal entrance Garden entry £4.50 Child £1.00 HCGT & RHS Free Tel. 01926 493339 www.hillclosegardens.com Access by racecourse to Bread & Meat Close, Warwick CV34 6HF. 2 hrs free parking.

Country Gardener



Sunday 9th June 2019 2 - 6pm Visit beautiful private gardens, the Norman church and wild flower meadow, allotments, art exhibition. Enjoy cream teas, homemade cakes or ice creams and enjoy sensational views on a tractor ride.

Adults £5.00, Children free

Parking included. No dogs please Proceeds help support our church and village hall

‘Cream teas in a beautiful garden - this is England at its very best.’


Badminton, Gloucestershire GL9 1DB


HPS Somerset HPS Somerset Group Group

10.00am - 5.00pm Entrance £5, Children U16 FREE

EEarly arly S pring Spring

A unique opportunity to see the gardens in full summer bloom Gift stalls and local nurseries Homemade refreshments Family and dog friendly event

P LANT SFALE AIR PLANT Saturday Saturday

23 2019 31March March 2012

Supporting 'The Centre Walk Fund in Support of Richard Preest'


10:00 4:00 pm pm 10:00 am am –– 5:00 at East Lambrook at Manor Gardens East Lambrook Manor Gardens Silver Street, East Lambrook, South Petherton,


Agricultural Show

Thursday 1st August 2019

Somerset TA13 5HH South Petherton, Somerset 21 of the South West’s TA13 5HHtop nurseries will be attending. to plant fairtop andnurseries gardens £4.00 16 Admission of the South West’s will be or £3.50 for RHScharge & HPS members. attending. Admission to the plant sale


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

and the gardens will be £4.

For a list of the nurseries attending visit somersethps.com or eastlambrook.com For more details visit: http://hps-somerset.btck.co.uk/

Please apply for Trade, Horse and Livestock Schedules Secretary: Marcelle Connor, Bank House, 66a High Street, Honiton, Devon, EX14 1PS info@honitonshow.co.uk www.honitonshow.co.uk

01460 240328 enquiries@eastlambrook.com www.eastlambrook.com

Support your local community


2019 We publish a 128 page full colour quarterly Journal for members containing articles on a wide range of plants and information on how to grow them. Why not visit one of our show and plant sales events: 352




Alpine Garden

∙ The Alpine Gardene

Pershore Show - 23 February Pershore High School, WR10 2BX

22nd – 23rd June 10am – 5.30pm





r | 2018 ∙ pp. 240-

South West Show - 23 March RHS Rosemoor, EX38 8PH

VOL. 86 ∙ No. 3 ∙ SEPTEMBER

Loughborough Show - 9 March Iveshead School, LE12 9DA

Journal of the

Alpine Garden


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The Showground, Trafalgar Way, Axminster, EX13 5RJ Discounted online tickets available now or purchase tickets at the gate

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Charity number: 1130829 The Axe Vale Show is a charitable fundraising event for the charity ‘Axe Vale Festival Limited’



Leek and rice bake

All year round


by Kate Lewis

For many gardeners the very early months of spring offer slim pickings in the vegetable patch. However, with some forethought your plot can provide you with a larder-full of vegetables right through to spring. If you planned well ahead last year you may be lucky enough to be reaping the benefits with a productive winter vegetable plot in February. Vegetables in season and ready to harvest this month include kale, chard, celeriac, leeks, parsnips, swede, Brussel sprouts and sprouting broccoli.


Kale has led the way in filling the hungry gap from January to March for thousands of years - so much so that the Romans dubbed February ‘Kalemonath’. Its popularity is not just down to its well-documented health benefits – it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet – but also its ease to grow. It is incredibly hardy and relatively pest-free. There are three types of kale: Cavolo Nero, Curly and Red Russian. Cavolo Nero, otherwise known as Black Tuscan Kale, is the original kale from Italy and sometimes called ‘the prince of kale’. Red Russian is the sweetest and most delicate variety, while curly, which resembles an old-fashioned parsley, is the easiest to grow. Raw kale is a fantastic base to a salad. Before adding further ingredients to the salad massage the kale leaves together with some olive oil and salt, this tenderises them by breaking down some of the cellulose structure. Blanching kale before adding it to other dishes is a good way of fixing its vibrant colour and making sure it is not overcooked. Drop the kale into a large pan of boiling salted water 24

and cook for 30 seconds for red Russian, or 1-2 minutes for Curly and Cavolo Nero. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge into a bowl of cold water to prevent further cooking. Squeeze well to get rid of the water. Kale should not be restricted to just a side dish. Try adding it to a hearty bean soup, a chicken pie, a pilaf or stirred through pasta. Combine wilted kale with fried potatoes and bacon for a brunch hash.


Chard is another dark green leafy vegetable that is easy to grow and suffers few pests and diseases. Even outside it will survive a cold winter and, alongside kale, is one of the earliest greens in the garden. Like kale it is a powerhouse of nutritional goodness. Unsurprisingly, Chard is very closely related to spinach and can be used interchangeably in cooking. There are two types of spinach – true and perpetual. True spinach is dark green with thin, tender leaf stalks. Perpetual is more robust in taste and texture and easier to grow. Chard is hardier again and has large dark green leaves with thick stems which can be white (Swiss chard), reddish (ruby chard) , yellow or a mixture of all three (rainbow chard). Chard pairs well with Asian flavours, and the stems also work well finely chopped into stir fries, alongside pork, and in bean soups.

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Leeks are one of the most prized vegetables of winter. They grow readily in our climate; with a combination of early mid-season and late varieties you can be in home-grown leeks from September to spring. Leeks are the more refined cousin of the onion, but more subtle and tender. Unlike onions which have to be lifted and dried, leeks will stand in the ground all winter, so they can be picked as needed. They store well in the bottom drawer of the fridge for a week or more. The dark tops of the vegetable are certainly less tender but still full of flavour and nutrients so should always be kept for the stockpot. In most recipes leeks can be used in place of, or as well as, onions. They make a good base for stocks, braises and soups and give the dish a more refined flavour than just onions. Leeks, however, do need more care when being cooked than onions. They are nearly always best when cooked gently, over a low heat with butter for a good 10-15 minutes until they look pearlescent and taste sweet and soft.

Leek and rice bake (see picture opposite) Serves two

INGREDIENTS: 400g leeks, washed, trimmed and cut into 5mm rounds 85g Arborio rice 2 eggs, lightly beaten 100ml extra virgin olive oil

4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan 3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

METHOD: 1. Put the leeks and rice in a bowl. Add the beaten eggs, half the olive oil, 3 tbsp of the parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix well and leave to rest for 1 hour to soften. 2. Heat the oven to 160C. 3. Grease an oven dish with some of the remaining oil and spoon in the mixture. Combine the remaining parmesan with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Drizzle with the remaining oil. 4. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the rice is tender. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving. (Copyright: Anna del Conte)

Celeriac and apple soup

Parsnip and lemon muffins

INGREDIENTS: 4 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, sliced 1 garlic clove, chopped 1 leek, washed and sliced 1 celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped 2 bramley apples, peeled and roughly chopped

INGREDIENTS: 150g raw parnsip, peeled and grated 250g plain flour 2 tsp baking powder ½ tsp bicarb of soda 1 tbsp poppy seeds 120g softened butter

2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked from the stem 2 litres vegetable or chicken stock Sea salt & black pepper To serve 50g hazelnuts 3 tbsp yoghurt or crème fraiche

METHOD: 1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions, garlic and leek. Sweat for around 10 minutes over a medium heat until softened. 2. Add the celeriac, apples and thyme leaves. Cook for a further 3 minutes. 3. Add the stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes. The celeriac should be soft. 4. Take off the heat and blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Loosen with some water or more stock if needed. Adjust seasoning if needed. 5. Toast the hazlenuts in a dry pan for a few minutes, ensuring they don’t catch. Roughly chop. 6. Pour the soup into bowls, drizzle with yoghurt or crème fraiche and sprinkle with the toasted hazlenuts. Other suggested toppings: crumbled blue cheese, fried sage leaves, fried pancetta or croutons.

130g caster sugar ¼ tsp salt 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 lemon, zest and juice 150g plain yoghurt 50g ground almonds 1 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD: 1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a muffin pan with paper muffin cases. 2. Mix together the flower, baking powder, bicarb of soda and salt. Stir in the grated parsnip and poppy seeds. 3. In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar either with an electric mixer or by hand until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs followed by the lemon juice and zest, vanilla extract and yogurt. 4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mix gently until just combined. 5. Spoon the mixture into muffins cases. Sprinkle with ground almonds. Bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. 6. Cool on a wire rack. Drizzle with honey.



Growing blueberries is easier than you think For too often this super food berry has had a reputation of being troublesome needing acidic soil, cross pollination and patience before you get the first fruit - but it is worth the effort Growing blueberries isn’t as difficult as many would make out. They do certainly prefer an acid soil in a nice sunny or semi shaded position. And even if your garden soil is not acidic then you can try growing blueberries in containers using an ericaceous compost mix. It’s certainly worth the effort. Blueberries are delicious and extremely high in antioxidants which is why they are so often branded as a super food. Getting the pH level is critical but not too difficult. The pH should be at least as low as 5.5 and if your soil is alkaline (above 6.0) then you need to add ericaceous compost, preferably loam based. One top tip to remember is that like all acid loving plants, blueberries are best watered with rainwater whenever possible as tap water can make the compost more alkaline over time. There are several different forms. The main blueberry type is the northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) which is very hardy, has large fruits and high yields. It needs a significant period of winter cold to initiate flowers and therefore fruit. While some cultivars can set a fair crop on their own, all yield much heavier if planted near to another different cultivar. Flowering can occur early or late in the spring depending on the variety. When you buy a plant make sure they have multiple shoots at the base. If growing them in garden soil add plenty of organic matter such as pine needles or composted conifer clippings. Avoid farmyard manure, as this is too rich and will scorch them.

Growing blueberries - the facts • Blueberries can take three to four years before they will produce fruit. • Blueberries also produce better if they are crosspollinated. This means that growing blueberry bushes of different varieties will help with their production. • Native to North America, blueberries grow best 26

Space plants at least three feet apart to allow for their spread. If you are going to use a pot plant then it needs to be at least 15 inches wide to allow for the fruit to develop. Pruning blueberries is really straightforward once you know what you are trying to achieve. The idea is to ensure that your plant always has a good selection of productive young red stems with plenty of fat fruiting buds. These buds are much rounder than the vegetative buds so you can easily tell which stems will produce the most fruit. It’s the two-yearold wood that is most productive. Cut back the just very oldest stems to ground level each year to encourage new stems to be produced - creating a constant process of rejuvenation.

in acidic soil well composted and organic soil. They’ are in fact perfect for organic gardeners since they can easily be grown without pesticides. • March and April are ideal months to place new blueberry plants in the ground because of winter threat of frosts, but make sure the ground has thawed before planting. • They do well in pots and you can get a reasonable crop whatever the size of your garden.

Country Gardener

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


Spring Flower Festival with competitions & displays

16 & 17 March Saturday 11.30 (after judging) – 4pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm Book garden admission online at rhs.org.uk/rosemoor and save 10% Great Torrington, Devon, EX38 8PH Every visit supports the charitable work of the RHS

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Nynehead Court, Nynehead


With lengthening, brighter days, spring flowers are bursting through and garden owners are opening their gates for charity. We advise checking before starting out on a journey as weather or circumstances can force cancellations in private gardens (general enquiries can be seen on the National Gardens Scheme website at www.ngs.org.uk)

NYNEHEAD COURT Nynehead, Wellington, Somerset, TA21 0BN These elegant gardens, the historic home of the Sandford family and for many years a private residential care home, won an historic landscape award and have many superb specimen trees, a pinetum and ice house built in 1803. Open for the NGS on Sunday 3rd March, 2pm-4.30pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact 01823 662481 or email nyneheadcare@aol.com www.nyneheadcourt.co.uk

We’re introducing a key to facilities on offer at the gardens: Refreshments available Plants usually for sale Wheelchair access to much of garden Partial wheelchair access

Unsuitable for wheelchairs Dogs on short leads Visitors welcome by arrangement Coaches welcome consult owners

HESTERCOMBE GARDENS Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, Somerset, TA2 8LG There’s 50 acres of woodland walks, temples, terraces, pergolas, lakes and cascades to ramble around at Hestercombe in the Georgian landscape garden designed by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde, apart from the Victorian terrace and shrubbery, and the Lutyens/Jeykll designed formal garden. Hestercombe House is open with a contemporary art gallery and second-hand book shop. Open for the NGS on Tuesday 5th March, 10am-5pm. Admission £12.50, children £6.25. For more details contact 01823 413923 or email info@hestercombe.com www.hestercombe.com

ROCK HOUSE Elberton, South Gloucestershire, BS35 4AQ A two-acre garden ten miles north of Bristol with pretty woodland vistas, many snowdrops and daffodils, some unusual, spring flowers, cottage garden plants and roses, old yew tree and pond. Open for the NGS on Sunday 24th & Sunday 31st March, 11am-4pm. Admission £3.50, children free. For more details contact Mr & Mrs John Gunnery on 01454 413225.


Country Gardener


THE ISLAND Greatbridge, Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 0HP With six acres either side of the River Test, spring flowering trees, wisteria and peonies, the main garden has borders, fruit trees, rose pergola, lavender walk and extensive lawns, and an arboretum planted in the 1930s by Sir Harold Hillier. Open for the NGS on Saturday 30th & Sunday 31st March, 2pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free.

IVY HOUSE GARDEN Piddletrenthide, Dorset, DT2 7QF

BERE MILL London Road, Whitchurch, Hampshire, RG28 7NH On the Upper Test with water meadows and wooded valleys, find early bulbs, herbaceous borders, bog and Mediterranean plants, a replanted orchard and two small arboretums, species tulips, wisteria, irises, roses, and semi-tropical planting. Open for the NGS on Sunday 31st March, 1.30pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Rupert & Elizabeth Nabarro on 01256 892210 or email rupertnab@gmail.com

An unusual, challenging wildlife-friendly half-acre garden set on steep hillside with fine views, spring flowers, mixed borders, ponds, propagating area, vegetable garden, fruit cage, greenhouses and polytunnel, chickens and bees, nearby allotment. Honey and hive products available and beekeeper to answer queries. Open for the NGS on Sunday 31st March, 2pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Bridget Bowen on 07586 377675 or email beepeebee66@icloud.com

BEECHENWOOD FARM Hillside, Odiham, Hook, Hampshire, RG29 1JA A two-acre garden with a lawn meandering through woodland with drifts of spring bulbs, fritillary and cowslip meadow, walled herb garden, orchard, vegetable garden, rock garden, and belvedere. An eight-acre copse of native species has grassed rides. Open for the NGS on Wednesday 27th March, 2pm-5pm. Admission £4, children free. For more details contact Mr & Mrs M Heber-Percy on 01256 702300 or email beechenwood@totalise.co.uk www.countrygardener.co.uk



BROADLEAS HOUSE GARDENS Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 5JQ A six-acre garden of hedges, herbaceous borders, specimen trees, bee garden and orchard, kitchen and herb gardens. Overlooked by the house and arranged above the small valley garden with magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, cornus and hydrangeas. Open for the NGS on Sunday 24th March, 2pm – 5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Mr & Mrs Cardiff on 07884 340103 or email broadbridge_jon@hotmail.com

SUMMERS PLACE Little Bowlish, Whitestone, Devon, EX4 2HS Rambling rustic paths and steps (some steep) lead down a shaded woodland garden; unusual trees and shrubs with a profusion of spring bulbs; an ornamental orchard with follies, sculpture, stream and ponds; intimate gardens around the house and recently revamped new vistas. Open for the NGS on Sunday 17th March 1.30pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Mr & Mrs Stafford Charles on 01647 61786.

HOLBROOK GARDEN Sampford Shrubs, Sampford Peverell, Devon, EX16 7EN Lose yourself on tracks through the stone garden, the wet garden or in woodland glades, with songbirds and nests everywhere in spring, many bees and butterflies in summer; productive vegetable garden and polytunnel. Open for the NGS on Friday 29th to Sunday 31st March, 10am-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Martin Hughes-Jones & Susan Proud on 01884 821164 or visit the website www.holbrookgarden.com

HALDON GRANGE Dunchideock, Exeter, Devon, EX6 7YE This 12-acre garden has camellias, magnolias, azaleas, various shrubs and rhododendrons, rare and mature trees, small lake and ponds with river and water cascades. A five- acre arboretum was planted in 2011. Open for the NGS on Saturday 23rd/Sunday 24th & Saturday 30th/Sunday 31st March. 1pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free. Contact Ted Phythian on 01392 832349. 30

Country Gardener



Maenporth Road, Mawnan Smith, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 5HT

Fletchersbridge, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 4AN A three-acre riverside garden specialising in trees and shrubs chosen for their flowers, foliage and form, a Gothic lodge remodelled in 2016, once part of the Glyn estate, campbellii magnolias overlooking camellias in a recently extended water garden with ponds, waterfalls and sculptures framed by swathes of daffodils. Open for the NGS on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th March, 1pm-6pm. Admission £4, children free.

Nine acres of sub-tropical valley garden created in 1800 by the Fox family, wealthy Quakers and shipping agents whose packet ships brought exotic trees and shrubs from around the world. Formal garden, herbaceous borders, and sunken pond area; meander down to Bream Cove, a private beach. Open for the NGS on Sunday 17th March, 12pm-5pm. Admission £7, children free. For more details contact Tessa Rabett on 01326 250541 or email wecare@meudon.co.uk www.meudon.co.uk

FRANKHAM FARM Ryme Intrinseca, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 6JT A three and a half-acre garden created since 1960 by the late Jo Earle for year-round interest, filled with a wide variety of plants, spring flowers, roses, unusual labelled shrubs and trees, productive vegetable garden, clematis and other climbers. New toilets in 2019. Open for the NGS on Sunday 10th March, 11.30am-5pm. Admission £5, children free. For more details contact Susan Ross on 07594 427365 or email neilandsusanross@gmail.com

TREWIDDEN GARDEN Buryas Bridge, Penzance, Cornwall, TR20 8TT An historic Victorian garden with magnolias, camellias and magnificent tree ferns planted within ancient tin workings, unusual exotic plantings, water features, specimen trees and artefacts from Cornwall’s tin industry. Open for the NGS on Sunday 24th March, 10.30am-5pm. Admission £7, children free. For more details contact Mr Alverne Bolitho - Richard Morton, Head Gardener on 01736 364275/363021 or email contact@ trewiddengarden.co.uk www.trewiddengarden.co.uk




Grenville Sheringham longs for the days of peace and quiet and backbreaking work with blunt shears Spring isn’t too far away now and you might have noticed, the grass is starting to grow, and its time to get the lawn mower out again and ready for action It’s also significantly the start of the strimming season where the grass starts to grow in places the mower can’t reach and there’s those awkward clumps of grass which it seems only the strimmer can reach and tidy up. When I first started working as a professional gardener in the 1960’s, strimmers didn’t exist. Untidy corners and steep banks had to be cut by hand using shears or grass hooks (a lightweight sickle with a long sharp blade). I can remember many long hours spent cutting back overgrown areas that today could be cleared in minutes with a powerful strimmer. Often these areas would be left all summer when there was so much else to do, and then cut back in late autumn once growth had stopped. Because of the intensive labour needed to maintain these overgrown parts of the garden, grass areas tended to have clearly defined edges, and lawns would be neatly edged where they adjoined buildings or walls. The first strimmer was invented in the early 1970s by George Ballas of Houston, Texas who conceived the idea while watching the revolving action of the cleaning brushes in an In the United States they are still known as ‘weed whackers’ automatic car wash. His first trimmer was made by attaching pieces of heavy-duty fishing line to a popcorn can. Ballas developed this into what he called the ‘weed eater’, since it chewed up the grass and weeds around trees.In the United States it is still known as a ‘weed-ship’ or ‘weed whacker’ which makes it pretty clear what its main purpose is. Ballas went on to make a fortune from his invention, but whether it was a blessing or a curse is a matter of opinion. In my view it is both. I first started using a strimmer in the early 1980’s, and didn’t find it a pleasant experience. The early petrol 32

strimmers were heavy, noisy and smelly, and there seemed to be something savage and brutal about flinging bits of chewed up weeds and grass all over the pace, and I couldn’t help thinking about those tiny creatures living in the undergrowth wondering what on earth was happening. But gradually year by year I found myself using it more and more. Gardens I worked in imperceptibly changed as it was easier and quicker to strim than to keep maintaining all those tidy edges. There is no doubt they cut through more than just grass, as their name suggests. Now I couldn’t manage without a powerful strimmer. I use it almost every day, not just for overgrowth but also for an instant tidy up of weedy patios or old brick Reaching the parts that no other tool seems able to. paving (don’t try this at home unless you have a helmet, goggles and protective clothing! Even a tiny stone can be turned into a lethal projectile in a fraction of a second). Yes I do see the occasional mashed-up little creature, though I try to strim a few inches above ground level to give them a chance to escape, and the noise is usually enough to send them scuttling off. And yes I do get covered in chewed up bits of grass and weeds, but I have to admit it is satisfying to see a weedy, overgrown corner or bank transformed in a matter of minutes. As great as strimmers are, I can guarantee that you’d be very hard pressed if you had to mow any sizeable garden with a strimmer alone. Even with one of those strong bladed models, just hovering the thing over your grass and weeds all day is enough to leave you severely fatigued and cramped up. A few hours in and you might just run out of elbow grease. So it looks like strimmers are here to stay for the foreseeable future, and there are some encouraging developments, such as powerful rechargeable electric motors which promise a quieter and less smelly experience. But a part of my gardening persona still yearns for those peaceful days spent quietly edging and hoeing and trimming, conveniently forgetting the hours of backbreaking labour cutting back an overgrown bank with blunt shears!

Country Gardener





The days are finally getting longer so what better time to plan a trip out Spring is of course is a special time of year for gardeners and garden lovers – the chance to finally throw off the restrictions of the winter months and to get out and about to find one of the gardens which are now ready to welcome visitors. As we head toward the really warmer weather there will be a huge choice of where to go and what to do. We’ve just a few ideas for you to think about now – with gardens and gardening in mind.

Follow the changing seasons at Knoll Gardens Known as a naturalistic garden and acclaimed for its grasses, Wimborne’s Knoll Gardens is also home to a wonderful collection of rare and unusual trees and shrubs many of which are at their best in the spring, including the unusual Australian snowdrop tree, southern sassafras. Rarely seen in the UK, its delicate scent and masses of velvety cream flowers begin long before the brighter camellias and magnolias start to flower. Then the hugely dramatic flowers of Magnolia ‘Charles Raffill‘ take centre stage, creating a breathtaking effect displayed on perfectly bare branches. As the seasons change so do the garden’s highlights. This year, as part of his 25th anniversary celebrations, Knoll’s owner, Neil Lucas is leading a series of four seasonal walks taking you on a personal tour of the garden’s annual journey from the bright greens of spring to the stunning glow of autumn colour. Knoll Gardens opens Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 4pm. Go to www.knollgardens.co.uk for more information. Knoll Gardens Stapehill Rd, Hampreston, Wimborne BH21 7ND.

Delight in daffodil day at Hartland Abbey Daffodil Day at Hartland Abbey on Sunday, 17th March hopefully heralds spring in the beautiful valley leading to the Atlantic cove at Blackpool Mill. Put winter behind you and enjoy the gardens at a reduced admission rate before the opening season. Spring bulbs and beautiful shrubs will be flowering in the woodland walks and walled gardens. Hot pasties, light lunches, delicious cream teas and homemade cakes await the hungry and those who have enjoyed some or all of the three and a half miles of paths and walks. It’s a great walk for dogs. The fascinating house and exhibitions will be open from 12pm until 3pm. For information and all 2019 events at Hartland visit www.hartlandabbey.com Hartland, Nr. Bideford EX39 6DT. Tel: 01237441496/234 34

Country Gardener

Castle Hill Gardens, Filleigh Situated on the southern edge of Exmoor in the small village of Filleigh, Castle Hill offers visitors a great garden experience whatever the season. Discover 50 acres of privately owned 18th century gardens and explore winding pathways and beautiful woodland. Terraced walks offer visitors stunning parkland views, and the opportunity to stroll amongst statues, follies and temples. From spring the woodland garden is carpeted with primroses under ancient specimen trees, snowdrops, 176 different magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Throughout the summer and autumn the gardens display an abundance of colourful shrubs and mature planting. The Millennium Garden boasts a wonderful display of herbaceous planting with lavender edges. Wander by the river to the Ugley Bridge then take a climb to the castle to enjoy panoramic views of Exmoor, Dartmoor and beyond. Groups welcome by prior arrangement. Tea Room open April-October. Open daily except Saturdays, visit the website for current ticket prices and event information. www.castlehill-devon.co.uk Tel: 01598 760336 option 2 events@castlehill-devon.com

Hartland Abbey & Gardens

Time to explore Buscot Park house and gardens The Georgian mansion at Buscot Park at Buscot near Faringdon in Oxfordshire, contains an extraordinary collection of antique furniture and Objects d’Art including paintings by Rembrandt, Reynolds, Rubens, Murillo and its famous saloon decorated with The Legend of the Briar Rose by the Pre-Raphaelite Sir Edward Burne-Jones. All this is set in grounds that are a treat to explore. The ‘Four Seasons Garden’ within the old vegetable garden walls, and the Pleasure Gardens beyond the house has five tree-lined avenues leading to a citrus garden, a ‘Swing Garden’, the tallest sundial in England, a lake, and the water garden cascades designed by Harold Peto in 1903. Buscott Park, Faringdon, SN7 8BU. Tel: 01367 240932 www.buscotpark.com

DAFFODILS AND SPRING FLOWERS Sunday 17th March 11am - 4pm

Come and enjoy our beautiful historic daffodils, spring shrubs, bulbs and wildflower walks to the beach. * Dogs really welcome * * Delicious light lunches & cream teas * * Special rate: Adults £7 Children over 5 £1 * House open 1pm £4 * 2019 SEASON - Sunday 31st March - 29th September Sunday to Thursday 11am - 5pm (House 2pm - last adm. 4pm)

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

Castle Hill Gardens

FILLEIGH, NR SOUTH MOLTON, DEVON EX32 0RG Tel: 01598 760336 www.castlehilldevon.co.uk Explore 50 acres of stunning landscape on pathways leading to follies, statues and temples. River walk and panoramic views from the Castle. Dogs on leads welcome. Tearoom offering light lunches and delicious homemade cakes.






Open daily except Saturdays Adults £7.50, Seniors £7, Child (5-15) £3.50, Family £17.50, Groups (20+) £6.50




BUSCOT PARK & THE FARINGDON COLLECTION One of Oxfordshire’s best kept secrets

Horticultural Masterclasses Creative Workshops

inc photography, willow weaving, art, mosaics, terrariums

Wildlife Walks, Family events New seasonal walks with Knoll’s owner Neil Lucas

Knoll Gardens, Wimborne BH24 7ND - follow the brown signs 01202 873931 Open Tues - Sat, from 10am

Full details of all events online www.knollgardens.co.uk THE UK’S LEADING ORNAMENTAL GRASS SPECIALIST

Open 1 April - 30 September Contact: Info line 01367 240932 or website www.buscotpark.com for opening times.




spring garden feed right

Gardens are about to start waking up after the winter rest and the chances are your plants will need feeding to get them on the march into spring proper. Many won’t have been fed since the autumn. When the sap rises growth starts to be renewed and plants, trees and shrubs need some sustenance for healthy foliage, flowering and fruiting in the weeks ahead. In the past gardeners relied on well rotted manure or farmyard manure to give their plants an early season lift but today gardeners are bombarded by better feeds, more efficient feeds which promise lots of growing clout based on millions spent on research and development. It’s true that in the early months of spring plants benefit from slow release feeds and soil improvers. These normally come in granular or powder from and are applied directly to the soil and rooting areas of plants and then dug in. They are better in general from liquid feeds. Although it may take longer for the plants benefit from them they remain in the soil and continue to release goodness for up to six months. Fertilisers are concentrated sources of plant nutrients. They feed plants rather than feeding the soil. There are many different types of fertilisers available, all with different nutrient values. Garden compost, well-rotted manure, spent mushroom compost, poultry manure and seaweed are also used to feed plants, but contain much lower concentrations of plant nutrients. Most fertilisers are based on the three major plant nutrients:

Finding organic soil enrichers If you are following organic principles as a gardener then going for products made of something which was alive is always a good place to start. Whether plant or animal they will be rich in trace elements which are vital for plant health and growth. Organic products on the market include mulches and enrichers such as shredded bark, garden compost and farmyard manure as well as more weighty products such as bone meal, blood, fish and bone based products and of course seaweed base fertilizers. The Organic Garden Catalogue has a list of Soil Association approved products at wwww.organiccatalogue.com or deal direct with the Soil Association at www.soilassociation.org or call their helpline on 0117314 5000. 36

Most of us are about to be tempted to use spring fertilisers to help our plants make the most of the new season - but care is needed

• Nitrogen (N): For green leafy growth • Phosphorus (P): For healthy root and shoot growth • Potassium (K): For flowering, fruiting and general hardiness There are many ways to apply fertilisers, and the method you choose will greatly depend on the product you are using.

Top dressing:

This is the application of quick-acting fertilisers to the soil surface around plants to stimulate growth, and is usually carried out in spring at the start of the growing season. Take care to avoid leaf contact, which can cause scorching, and to protect against over application, which could cause root damage and pollution of ground water.

Watering on:

Liquid fertilisers or soluble powders and granules can be dissolved or diluted and watered onto plant roots during the growing season to give them an instant boost. They are mainly used for feeding glasshouse crops, pot plants and bedding. The nutrients in liquid fertilisers are instantly available.

Foliar feeding:

This is the application of a dilute solution of fertiliser to the leaves of plants, useful as an emergency treatment for correcting nutrient deficiencies or for providing quick supplementary feeding. The absorption of liquid fertiliser is greatest where leaf surfaces are tender, particularly on the under surfaces of leaves or on young leaves that are just expanding.

Is feeding always the answer? A lot of well established trees shrubs and border plants in your garden will be able to get all the goodness they need from the soil and will not need anything extra. If your plants aren’t doing well there may be other causes, not just a deficiency. Gardeners often assume that poor growth in garden plants is related to lack of soil nutrients and give fertiliser. In fact, results from the RHS Soil Analysis Service show that shortages of plant nutrients in the soil are quite rare. Usually poor growth is due to other environmental factors such as drought, waterlogging and weather damage. Pests and diseases are also responsible for plants making poor growth. Make sure you buy the right feed for your soil; it sounds obvious but you have to have a clear picture of the composition of your soil before you will be able to decide what to add to it.

Country Gardener

TV presenters head line up for new look Toby Buckland Garden Festival The leading West Country garden festival has a new site layout at Powderham, welcomes dogs for the first time and provides a unique chance to hear expert growers share their knowledge Garden presenter Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival is back for a sixth year in May at Powderham Castle near Exeter in Devon on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th May. It promises to be a must for fans of TV gardening. Popular presenters from BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World - Joe Swift and Frances Tophill - are speaking at the award-winning event, along with actor John Challis - better known as ‘Boycie’ from Only Fools and Horses - and RHS judge Jim Buttress. Garden designer Joe Swift has been one of the main presenters on the BBC Two’s flagship gardening show since 1998 and is speaking on Friday 3rd May. Frances Tophill is at the festival on Saturday 4th May. Frances hails from Kent but now lives near the sea in Exeter and takes a keen interest in coastal gardens. Talks are held in Powderham Castle’s magnificent woodpanelled Dining Hall and are free to festival visitors. Other highlights include a new larger VIP area, a new layout providing more under-cover space in the castle’s old riding

Frances Tophill now lives in Exeter

Joe Swift - popular returnee to Powderham

stables and a new talks tent, plus the festival is now dogfriendly for the first time. Tickets are now on sale online and cost £10 for adults. VIP tickets cost £55. See www.tobygardenfest.co.uk for more information.

Learn first hand from the nursery experts A new unique series of free talks organised by Country Gardener Magazine gives festival visitors the chance to hear some of the country’s top nurserymen and growers share their secrets A new Country Gardener talks theatre in May will bring the unique knowledge of nursery growers in front of festival visitors. The Country Gardener Talks Tent will allow gardeners to hear leading nursery exhibitors sharing their passion and knowledge in a unique series of talks. Speakers include award-winning growers, leaders in their field from the West Country and beyond, and Gold Medal winners from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, all revealing insider tips learnt from years of raising plants for sale. In the build up to the festival Country Gardener has been talking to the nursery owners about their plants, knowledge, passion and willingness to share their unique knowledge and over the next three issues we will be highlighting the plants they grow. Marcel Floyd of Wiltshire nursery Floyds Climbers is a

specialist on clematis and all their many glorious shapes and colours, from early spring ramblers, delicate summer hybrids for combining, exotic and cottage types – there are even clematis for special occasions! Richard Woods of Cornwall’s Lilies & Chillies wants you to meet Itoh peonies, a best-of-both-worlds cross between the herbaceous types and tree peonies which have a strong framework, blooms as big as your palm and a long flowering time. Sara Ritterhausen of Devon’s Burnham Orchids will be sharing practical tips and enthusing on the diversity of these exquisite house and conservatory plants. Talks last around half an hour with an opportunity to get your questions answered by the experts and are free.

Overleaf: Meet the nursery owners



“You can have a clematis in flower every month of the year” Marcel Floyd “Second only to roses” is the way expert grower Marcel Floyd describes the popularity of clematis in the hearts of gardeners. “They are so versatile, easy to grow, wonderfully colourful and you can have a clematis in flower every month of the year, “he adds. A passionate grower of the flowering climber for over 27 years, Marcel is acknowledged as one of the country’s leading experts in the plant and its many varieties. There’s a unique chance to hear him share his knowledge, enthusiasm and advice of climbers at the Powderham Garden Festival when he plans to delve into the wonders of these hugely popular climbers and will offer advice on what variety to grow where and when. He has been an ever present exhibitor with his display of climbers in flower at the Devon early season show at Powderham Castle and says it is the perfect time of year for his climbers to go on display. Marcel owns and runs Floyd’s Climbers, a busy, successful and popular nursery based just outside of Calne in Wiltshire which started in 1992 as a wholesale nursery just supplying local garden centres. Within a few years Marcel was winning show

Marcel Floyd

awards and selling to the public. His nursery now has over 170 varieties including some exclusive cultivars such as Viticella ‘Jolly Jake’ and Clematis ‘Sara’. Early season Alpina varieties such as ‘Francis Rivis’ and ‘Frankie’ will have their blue flowers open in late April and early May but Marcel says the early weeks in May are really the time for what he calls the ‘big players’- the large flowered varieties such as ‘ Guernsey Cream’ with its wonderful single cream flowers, ‘Fireworks’ a soft lilac with dark pink stripped flowers or ‘Rebecca’ with its massive large bright red flowers. His love for the plant started in 1984 when he was bewitched with them on a visit to Chelsea Flower Show. “It was too long until my parents garden had 90 varieties in their garden”. What’s his one top expert tip when it comes to growing clematis? “I‘ll be sharing a lot of what I’ve learned with people but you don’t need to water clematis every day. A good soaking once a week is perfect. Nobody seems to use their second digit to stick it in the soil see how dry it is any more.” Floyds Climbers, Dowding Drive, Lower Compton, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 8QL.

“Itoh peonies - the best of both worlds” says Richard Woods Like peonies? Then you’ll love Itoh hybrids, says Richard Woods, owner of Lilies and Chillies Nursery at St Keyne, Cornwall. Originally bred in Japan in the early 1950s, Itoh hybrids are an intersectional cross between herbaceous and tree peonies giving the progeny the best characteristics of both parents. Still relatively rare in UK gardens, they have a strong framework – so there’s no need for staking – a regular spring job for the heavy-headed herbaceous varieties. They also flower for longer, from April to June, and once plants have reached maturity, the plant can be covered in 30 or more blooms, and size of side-plates. Established in 2008, Lilies and Chillies is a nursery borne out of a love of gardening, plants and propagation. He runs the nursery with his wife Leigh, who breeds Suri alpaca and Richard Woods makes 100% alpaca products from their unique fleece. The pair have recently upped sticks and moved their nursery from Derbyshire down south to the warmer climes of Cornwall, and Richard says he’s interested to see how his plants, and the Itoh hybrids in particular, perform in the milder maritime climate. In the early days of breeding, an Itoh hybrid peony could set you back as much as £1,000, now prices start at a more reasonable £20 with varieties in every colour from yellow to white, pink, lilac, red and magenta. Richard, along with Leigh and accompanied by their two dogs Lily and Luna, will be have Itoh hybrid peonies for sale at the festival along with his range of plants for shade and lilies in pots, such as ‘Miss Feya’, ‘Anastasia’, scented Regale, ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘Alice’. Lilies and Chillies, St Keyne, Cornwall. 38

Country Gardener

“We avoid plants which need too much molly-coddling” Kay Tudor from Atlantic Botanic Nursery “The secret to growing orchids is to keep it simple” Sara Rittershausen from Burnham Nurseries To have the chance to hear Sara Rittershausen talk about orchids is perhaps the nearest thing to having horticultural royalty in front of you. Sara is the third generation of her family to run Burnham Nurseries in Newton Abbot, which has the largest selection of orchid species and hybrids available the UK. She is a celebrated author on the subject and Sara Rittershausen: Early May runs a nursery which can is a good time to show orchids boast of 20 Gold Medals at Chelsea Flower Show. Her talk at Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival in May will she says: “be aimed at encouraging and inspiring more gardeners to grow orchids and care for them properly”. It will be a wonderful chance for festival visitors to share some of her vast knowledge on the subject built up not only from running the Devon nursery but from the skills learnt from her parents Brian and Wilma, the second generation owners and also well known authors on the subject. “I’ll have a whole range of orchids for people to look at and urge them to start with something straightforward such as Phalaenopsis. My message is that it is easy to grow orchids and the main point of the growing culture is to keep it simple and don’t make it too complex. “It will be lovely to show off varieties and talk through the orchid community of plants. At specialist orchid shows we take along perhaps more collectable plants not in flower but at Powderham I think the interest will be in showing orchids which are in flower and at the height of their beauty. I want to enthuse people about how diverse the orchid family is and again to re-assure those who are perhaps a little nervous about caring for orchids that it is mostly about creating the right sort of environment and then everything falls into place after that.” “Early May is a good time to show some of these wonderful plants in all their glory”. Sara Rittershausen runs Burnham Nurseries at Forches Cross, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 6PZ. Tel: 01626 352233

Don’t be fooled by the name. The Devon nursery run by Alan Godsmark and Kay Tudor may be called Atlantic Botanic but the inspiring range of plants they sell appeals to far more than just in coastal garden conditions. Kay will be speaking at the Powderham Castle festival about her passion for plants grown on a three and a half Kay Tudor and Alan Godsmark acre North Devon nursery that thrive on the coast. “Luckily some of the loveliest plants from around the world can thrive by the coast. South African perennials such as agapanthus, kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) and osteospermums are colourful, tough and we grow many which are hardy in the nursery and which I will have to show people.” The plants grown by Atlantic Botanic are often characterised as being drought tolerant, low maintenance and wind resistant – a combination which opens up the levels of interest in these plants to many more non coastal gardeners. Strong drying winds and poor sandy soil certainly typify coastal gardens and these are exactly the conditions on the sandy, salty and windy conditions close to the Braunton Burrows and Saunton Sands site where the couple opened for business four years ago this spring. “The festival comes at a really good time of year for us”, says Kay,”there will be so much colour and variety around.” Agapanthus will certainly feature in Kay’s talk at Powderham, as her enthusiasm for them is evident as they feature strongly in her CV. She is a qualified garden designer who worked alongside her partner Alan at RHS Rosemoor, has worked at Chelsea Flower Show and behind the scenes at BBC’s Gardeners’ World and then to gain more experience worked at Pine Cottage Nursery in Eggesford, holders of a National Collection of agapanthus. It was from here she obtained stock plants. Her coastal pedigree also extends to a period working at the famous Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Scillies. “Another group of plants we grow which work really well by the coast are ornamental grasses. They give a really relaxed ‘beachy’ look and move with the wind”. Kay will also be stressing the option of growing some of these spectacular plants in containers. Atlantic Botanic Nursery, Whitegates, Moor Lane, Braunton, North Devon EX33 2NU.

See the April issue to meet more guest nurserymen www.countrygardener.co.uk



by Gill Heavens

the start of life It’s the start of a new growing season so what better time for a new series on how different plants parts work in the garden - from seeds, then roots, stems and branches, then leaves, f lowers, and fruit which completes the circle! We start with seeds It is the time of the year when gardeners start thinking about sowing seed. Some of the more eager of you may have already begun. Seed sowing is one of the heralds of spring, starting off our tomatoes and peppers, keenly looking forward to warmer days. There is little more satisfying in the world of horticultural than when a seed germinates and the plantlet grows on to maturity. Everything starts with a seed, and you may be surprised as to the impact that nugget of potential has on our lives. First a little science. Every seed contains within its confines an embryo which consists of a radicle, which will become the root, and a plumule which develops into the shoot. Also contained within is the endosperm, a food source for the emerging plant. In some circumstances, such as beans and peas, seed leaves or cotyledons nourish the plants until they produce true leaves and thereby create their own sustenance. All this is wrapped up securely in the seed coat or testa, impervious to both water and oxygen. In this state it is known as “dormant” and can remain safely viable for often long periods of time. In order for germination to occur this protective seed coat needs to be breached. Dormancy must be broken to allow the plant to begin to grow. Breaking dormancy is not always easy. Once the seed coat begins to breakdown water can 40

Country Gardener

be sucked up, allowing things to get started. In order for this to happen some species require a period in cold moist conditions, known as stratification. Others such as lettuce require light, whilst phlox will be inhibited unless in total darkness. Certain species require precise temperatures, whilst some need fire, smoke, or even to pass through a digestive tract! Sometimes there is a double dormancy when plants need, for example, a period of warm, followed by a period of cold. It is a minefield for the domestic gardener! All these requirements are not designed to make our lives more difficult, they have evolved to signal to the seed when it is the optimum time to germinate. Some orchids have such small seed that the amount of internal nutrient is insufficient. They need a little help. Their knight in shining armour is a fungi which nourish the seeds until they are large enough to return the favour. Nature is indeed a wonderful thing. Of course not all seed is tiny. The coconut is a good example of an oversized seed. The delicious milk is the liquefied endosperm and the flesh we eat is the embryo. Doesn’t sound quite so tasty anymore! Seed is also a very important worldwide food source. Many of our spices are seeds, such as fennel, cumin, nigella seed and nutmeg. Sesame, sunflower and hemp can be eaten and also processed into valuable cooking oils. Pulses such as beans and peas, sweetcorn and nuts are all, yes you’ve guess it, seeds! And we must not forget those that give us our daily bread, the grains.

There has also been much speculation and research into oils, such as mustard seed, being used as a fuel source. The seed of coffee is roasted and ground to create our morning cappuccino. Although we call them coffee beans they are in fact seeds. Theobroma cacao seed are first fermented and then roasted and processed into cocoa, which gives us our blessed chocolate in all its guises. No wonder the species name comes from the Greek meaning “Food of the Gods”. Not only do they provide sustenance for us, seeds are also an important food source for birds and animals. Teasels are worth growing alone for the chance of watching goldfinches extracting seed from the spiky heads. In order to extend the life of our seed we are encouraged to keep our seed in a cool, if not cold environment. How many of us have received disapproving looks for storing our seed amongst the salad leaves? On a much larger scale, and infinitely more important than our small stashes, are the seed banks set up around the world to preserve our seed for prosperity. Habitat reduction and climate change, amongst other factors, have endangered many plants worldwide. Think of it as a back-up plan. It is sad to think that they are necessary, but it is a relief to know that they exist. The seed is dried until only a small proportion of moisture content is left, and then stored at -20°C. Every so often small samples are thawed out and tested for viability. In these specialised conditions seed can stay viable for decades, centuries, and in some cases millennia. Not quite the same as the salad section of the fridge!

How seeds start the five steps of germination 1. Imbibition: water fills the seed 2. The water activates enzymes that begin the plant’s growth 3. The seed grows a root to access water underground 4. The seed grows shoots that grow towards the sun 5. The shoots grow leaves and begin photomorphogenesis There are many of these facilities across the world including the largest of all, Millenium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, which aims to eventually store seed from every species on the planet. This is an ambitious challenge, and they are well on their way to achieving their projected 25% by 2020. I hold my hand up to being a seed addict, a hoarder. I have a large box full of seed, some of which is destined never to be sown. Every so often, in the depth of winter, I rummage through this box, dreaming of the possibilities. And I am not alone. Across the country there are annual seed swaps; look out for them in your area. Here like-minded people share their bounty with others, and maybe take a few more home for themselves! And given a little water and the right conditions the root emerges... www.countrygardener.co.uk



by Matt Rees-Warren

Magnolias and their astonishing goblet or star-shaped flowers are perhaps the oldest genus in the world and of course the admired and loved icons of spring Magnolia trees still retain a reverential place in the hearts and minds of the English gardener and its ubiquitousness does nothing to diminish their regal splendour. In fact, they’re as admired as they’ve ever been and gardens all over the country are filled with their exuberant blooms, elegant Magnolia. x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ shape and attractive apple green leaves. They lay their claim to infamy in the spring, and as one of the heralds of spring, they join the patchwork tapestry of colours, shapes and forms that help to make spring the vibrant, life affirming time of year we all love. When, exactly, ‘spring has sprung’ can be a communal, national celebration, or a very personal and unique moment depending on your outlook. 42

Country Gardener

I, for one, have a deep-seated mistrust for ‘official’ calendar dates or being told by newsreaders that it’s time to go outside and look at the daffodils. For me it changes every year and it’s the plants that guide the way. So, as the weather turned last year from the wicked bitterness of winter, to the embracing rays of the mild late spring, I was out walking on favoured ground in the eastern Mendips, when I happened across a superb specimen of the Magnolia stellata, poking its head over a garden wall. Living up to its name, and breaking out like a riot against its bare branches were its chalky white blooms - like fireworks or floppy stars – and then, for me, spring had truly sprung. Although coming across a favourite plant in a stranger’s garden can be one of life’s simple joys, it’s not always quite the fortuitous endeavour, so we may need to look a little harder for some guaranteed magnolia magnificence. Here though, we are blessed by our geography, as living in the south west of England has ample advantages, but when it comes to seeing magnolias we’re in an exclusive club of rare excellence. And Cornwall and South Devon in particular, are the jewels in the crown. The Great Gardens of Cornwall has taken

“I have a deep-seated mistrust of ‘official’ calendar dates or being told by newsreaders that it’s time to go outside and look at the daffodils. For me it changes every year and it’s the plants that guide the way.” this bestown honour rather seriously and starting running the ‘Spring Story’ – a barometer of spring that waits until 50 blooms have appeared on each of the Great Gardens’ Magnolia campbellii to declare the beginning of spring. A nice touch of a modern tradition that not only shows the balmy conditions of the region to bring spring so early but also the joy of getting into the garden early in the year to appreciate the early awakening. The gardens include Caerhays Castle, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Trebah, Tregothnan, Trewithen and Trewidden. As a personal side note, I would add both Greenways and Overbecks on the South Devon coast. If you miss the early campbellii show there are plenty of other varieties to look out for as spring develops: M. x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ is always popular due to its hardiness, light pink colour and more compacted shrubby form; M. denudata offers the range of buttery yellow blooms but is not suitable for small gardens; and M. liliiflora ‘Nigra’ is a much later flowering variety with delightful tulip shaped, dark purple blooms. Most of the these varieties suffer from the age old problem of taking at least five years from inception to flowering but some nurseries are beginning to introduce cultivars that have overcome this through vegetative growing techniques such as cuttings and grafting - allowing the blooms to appear much earlier. This means looking out for the new named hybrids or going to specialist nurseries like Junker’s in Somerset. I had the personal satisfaction of looking after M. x soulangeana whilst head gardener at Kilver Court and if you have the room (and the years!) to let it grow to its full height, then you will be richly rewarded. The Saucer Magnolia as it is more commonly known, has the most outstanding, upright flowers (or tepals) that really are unmatched in their beauty and usually in a two tone white to pink blush effect. With appreciation for colour, shape and leaves comes, I think, an appreciation of where these majestic plants came from. And with all plants, if you understand their origins, you’ll understand on a much more intuitive level how best to nurture them and unlock their greatest potential. It’s a little known fact that the magnolia genus is one of the oldest in the world. Appearing, rather remarkably, before bees, leaving many scientists to speculate that they must have been pollinated by beetles instead. The genus’ natural state is mainly is the east and south east of Asia but, possibly due to its ancient beginnings, is also found in central and south America. The name, Magnolia, is an honour to the French botanist, Pierre Magnol – an early botanical innovator and the first person to adopt the classification system of order that is still used today. If all that is interesting enough but no help whatsoever when it comes to understanding the needs of the plant, then look to plant in a humus rich, moist, but well drained, soil -

Top: Magnolia campbellii Middle: Magnolia stellata Bottom: Magnolia. x soulangeana

avoiding chalky if possible. Almost all magnolias will benefit from light shade but will also be more than happy in a sunny position. Pruning always gets the uninitiated in a bit of a twist but, as is increasingly common, people seem to want to keep a tree that wants to grow ever larger to a restricted size. This is fine but it takes a continuous regime of pruning over many years – if you hard prune a large species Magnolia you will likely bring about upright water-shoots and a loss of elegance in form and shape. Magnolias will leave us charmed and enthralled for many years to come, I have no doubt about that. But each year is an opportunity for pleasure and wisdom so don’t let this year slip away without getting close to some of these majestic plants at their absolute best.



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www.ascott-barns.co.uk or Karen on 01608 684240

Discover the Cotswolds. S/C Cottages. Tel: 01386 438513 info@ discoverthecotswolds.com Devon. Tamar Valley. Pretty cottage sleeps 2-4. Wood burner, garden, small dog welcome. 02073 736944/07940 363233 www.northwardshippon.co.uk Country Gardener

South Devon bungalow Overlooking River Dart. Sleeps 4 01395 271793 Padstow house, 4 + baby, gardens, parking, Wi-Fi, Camel Trail, beaches 07887 813495 holidaysat55@gmail.com

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

North Devon Coast The Dell House, Malvern Flexible accommodation with stunning garden. www.thedellhouse.co.uk Tel: 01684 564448

Creekside Cottages, Near Falmouth, Cornwall 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 www.creeksidecottages.co.uk 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 www.cowshedcottage.co.uk Self-catering cottages in countryside near Lyme Regis. Japanese food available. www.hellbarn.co.uk 01297 489589 Lanlivery near Eden and other Cornish Gardens lovely woodland lodge 2/4 people www.poppylodgecornwall.co.uk 01726 430489

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 www.foxwoodlodge.co.uk

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 www.romanacres.com

Apartment and garden overlooking the sea. Tel: 01271 866941

Bed & Breakfast Home Farm B&B in beautiful Cotswold village nr Chipping Campden. Close Hidcote and Kiftsgate - phone 01386 593309 www.homefarminthecotswolds.co.uk Somerset 5* Restaurant with Rooms. Close to many NT Gardens, Houses and Dorset Coast. Sculpture by the lakes in Dorset. Pet Friendly 01935 423902 www.littlebarwickhouse.co.uk

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 info@millhousefineart.com


Catalogues 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 www.penricecastle.co.uk

Request NEW & FREE 2019 Early Starter Spring Catalogue on 01376 570 000

or www.kingsseeds.com

Advertise here... ...from just £2 per word Call 01278 671037 www.countrygardener.co.uk

Advertise here... ...from just £2 per word


CLASSIF IED Courses and Open Days

Garden Services

Specialist Garden Products

Wisteria Pruning, Improvement, Oxfordshire, surrounding area. Richard Barrett 01865 452334 wisteriapruning@tiscali.co.uk

CustomTimberBuildings.co.uk Log cabins


01935 891195 Garages

Holt Wood Courses Learn about growing medicinal trees and shrubs at our forest garden near Great Torrington. For details tel: 01363 777531 or see www.holtwoodherbs.com


Garden Offices

Ex-display buildings for sale | Anything to order

Yenstone Walling Dry Stone Walling and Landscaping Patrick Houchen - DSWA member. Tel: 01963 371123 www.yenstonewalling.co.uk


Plant Growth Enhancer

Do You Want a More Beautiful Garden? Discover How Science Can Help Your Garden Grow • Tips to make a greener, more beautiful garden • Help to Get to Know Your Plants • How Thinking Scientifically will Help you Horticulturally

Tony Arnold MCI Hort Amazon www.scienceforthegardener.com

A natural bio-stimulant made from sustainably hand-harvested seaweed in Dorset.

Specialist Nurseries & Plants

- Promotes Flowering and Fruiting - Stimulates Root Growth - Increases Nutrient Uptake - More Resilient Crops

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

www.dorsetseaweeds.co.uk Free delivery on all orders

Fruit/Veg Cages

Polytunnels from £399 available to view by appointment 01363 84948 info@ferrymanpolytunnels.co.uk


Potato Day Events

Potato Days 2019 Coming soon to a venue near you!

‘Grow Your Own and Seed Potato’ days Full Listing at:


Garden Plants/Accessories

THE GARDENER’S BLACKSMITH jonne@jonne.co.uk 07770 720 373 Artist blacksmith with a forge in Axminster designing and manufacturing garden plant supports, structures and furniture. Commissions welcomed.

www.thegardenersblacksmith.co.uk 46

The Walled Garden, East Pennard, Somerset BA4 6TP


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

Advertise here... ...from just £2 per word Country Gardener

Established 1984

Free Guide & Catalogue on request

Discover the Diversity of Hardy Geraniums!

We stock up to 200 varieties throughout the year

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

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


Advertise here... ...from just £2 per word

CLASSIF IED Wanted/For Sale ‘The Killing of Cristobel Tranter’


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

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

Look at the characters and plot on my website www.dennistalbot.co.uk

www.growersorganics.com Tel: 01752 881180 Growers of many plants suitable for coastal areas including hedging plants

All propagated and grown in Devon Established suppliers to landscape designers

www.coastalhedging.co.uk www.seasideplants.co.uk

Available on Amazon £8.99 Kindle £2.15 A great holiday read!



www.devonlogstores.co.uk Made from sustainably harvested locally grown timber, these log stores are sturdily and attractively designed, yet light enough to be easily moved. Also wheelie bin/recycling storage and cycle stores.

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

Available in a range of sizes suited for the courtyard/patio or larger garden.

For further details call Nick on 01392 681690

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

Facebook “f ” Logo

CMYK / .ai

Facebook “f ” Logo


Are you part of a garden club or society?

Enjoy more of the Country Gardener experience by visiting our website

It’s free!

Please send us your diary for the year - we’d love to include your talks and shows Send them into us by email giving us 10 weeks notice of the event: timeoff@countrygardener.co.uk or by post to: Mount House, Halse, Taunton, TA4 3AD. Your event can also be listed on: www.countrygardener.co.uk Sign up to add your events today

More news & events, plus exclusive features can be found online In depth profiles on local gardens Planting and design suggestions Business directory giving you the chance to search for gardening products and services Many free and paid advertising opportunities



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


COUNTRY GARDENER www.countrygardener.co.uk


QUIZ ANSWERS from page 49: Q1 C, Q2 B, Q3 C, Q4 A, Q5 D, Q6 A, Q7 C, Q8 C, Q9 A, Q10 D, Q11 A, Q12 B, Q13 A, Q14 C, Q15 D, Q16 B, Q17 C, Q18 B, Q19 C, Q20 A, Q21 B, Q22 D, Q23 B, Q24 C, Q25 D.



CMYK / .ai

Barn Close Nurseries

Taunton’s plant plug centre, Henlade


For home-grown plants

Always something new and unusual Herbaceous perennials, shrubs and climbers Pansies, violas and polyanthus Tools, seeds and compost Glazed and frostproof terracotta pots National Garden Gift Vouchers On the A38 Wellington by-pass

www.chelstonnurseries.co.uk Tel: 01823 662007

Hardy Exotic Plant Centre Visit our new cacti and succulent house.

We also have a new range of restio and protea as well as great ranges of bamboos, tree ferns, ferns, cannas, gingers, bannas and shrubs, perennials, trees.

Open 7 days a week 9am - 5.30pm On the main A358 Taunton to Ilminster road next to Henlade post office • Geraniums £3.00 for ten • Busy lizzies, lobelia, Petunias £10.00 per 100 • Bedding begonias £10.00 per 100 • Basket plants 60p each • Baskets now being refilled from £11.50 for 12 inch basket • Planted wheelbarrows £30.00 each • Levington professional compost 75 litres £6.40 per bag 5 bags £30.00 Why use mail order or garden centres when you can buy quality plants locally at lower prices?

Open every day 10am-5pm Lower Henlade, Taunton, TA3 5NB (5 mins from J25, follow A358 to Yeovil, then signs to the Mt Somerset Hotel)

Pay us a visit and be surprised Tel. 01823 443507

Tel: 01823 443701 www.deserttojungle.com

BROWNE’S GARDEN CENTRE Come and relax in our coffee shop and then select from our large selection of container grown shrubs, perennials, roses, fruit & ornamental trees Huge selection of terracotta & glazed pots Fencing, paving & aggregates Garden buildings

Plus all your garden sundry requirements Large range of summer bedding & basket plants OPEN: 9am-5.30pm Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm Sunday

Coffee shop open 10.30am-4pm Monday-Sunday


LOCKYER FUCHSIAS 1000s available for collection or mail order (Dept SCG) Lansbury, 70 Henfield Road, Coalpit Heath, Bristol BS36 2UZ

TEL: 01454 772219 Nursery Open Most Days Mar-Sept 10am-1pm and 2.30pm-5pm PLUS

Various Special Nursery Open Days with FREE talks and demos April - Sept Please ring for further details and before visiting to avoid disappointment DVD's 'Fuchsias The Easy Way' and 'Fuchsias Advanced Techniques' £14.99 plus £1.50 P&P MAIL ORDER DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE ON WEBSITE


Where Quality is higher than the price

Primroses and Polys in flower Spring Bulbs Seed Potatoes and Onion Sets Hardy Perennials Shrubs and Roses Climbers Many Composts available Ornamental Pots Nursery Sundries available

Open every day Godney Road, Glastonbury Somerset BA6 9AF

01458 834602


01460 243100 Secure, Easy & Flexible Self Storage Units Lopen Business Park . Mill Lane . Lopen . Somerset . TA13 5JS

Buy Online or collect from Lopen Soft Toys, Wooden Toys, Ride-Ons 01460 241800 www.beehivetoyfactory.co.uk 48

Country Gardener

The ‘almost very interesting’

Treevia quiz

Arboriculture consultant Mark Hinsley puts on his quizmaster gown and makes a bold move away from his hugely popular regular Country Gardner column to offer you a demanding test of your knowledge of all things trees. The answers for this fun quiz are on page 47. Q1. The Emerald Bark Borer is a type of... A. Timber drill B. Irish Miner C. Beetle D. Dog Q2. The Forestry Commission was set up after WWI to address a shortage of... A. Christmas Trees B. Pit Props C. Paper pulp D. Butterflies 2

Q3. The mighty sailing ships of Nelson’s navy were predominantly made from… A. Elm B. Ash C. Oak D. Yew Q4. A tree surgeon can remotely attach a pull rope to a branch with the use of a... A. Running Bowline B. Timber Hitch C. Sheet Bend D. Granny Knot Q5. The fruits of the Prunus spinosa are used to make... A. Pink Gin B. Cherry Gin C. Fast Gin D. Sloe Gin Q6. The notification period for works to trees in a Conservation Area is... A. 6 weeks B. 8 weeks C. 13 weeks D. 4 months Q7. Englebert Kaempfer was... A. A pop singer in 1964 B. The man who first made moth balls from tree bark in 1720 C. The first westerner to see a Ginkgo tree in Japan in 1690 7

D. Winner of the German Grand Prix in 1962 Q8. The number of trees there are for each human being in the world is approximately... A. 4 B. 40 C. 400 D. 4,000 Q9. If you were holding a Gymnosperm you would be... A. Holding a conifer B. Arrested C. Holding a broadleaf tree D. Holding a party at a sports centre Q10. Holly Johnson was lead singer with... A. The Crickets B. The Verve C. The Bonzo Dog Doo Da Band D Frankie Goes to Hollywood Q11. Rowan Atkinson is a famous comedian and comic actor. The botanical name for a Rowan is... A. Sorbus aucuparia B. Sorbus aria C. Sorbus intermedia D. Sorbus torminalis Q12. One of the 5 classic British horse races first run in 1779 is called the... A. Ashes B. Oaks C. Pines D. Conkers Q13. A semi-mature tree planted in an urban location may not achieve carbon neutrality for how many years? A. 33 B. 2 C. 10 D. 21 Q14. The actor Will Smith has a daughter called... A. Holly B. Mimosa C. Willow D. Rowan Q15. The Bronze Age boat found at Dover had planks of oak bound together with withies of... A. Willow B. Poplar C. Hornbeam D. Yew 16

Q16. The bark of the Cinchona tree found in South and Central America and the Caribbean gives us... A. Aspirin B. Quinine C. Tannin D. A nasty rash Q17. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy sang about the Trail of the Lonesome... A. Oak B. Spruce www.countrygardener.co.uk

C. Pine D. Goatherd Q18. In the awful cringe-worthy pop song of 1973 Tony Orlando and Dawn tied a ribbon round an old oak tree, the colour of the ribbon was... A. Blue B. Yellow C. Rainbow D. Pink Q19. The North American Tree Frog lives in... A. Rivers B. Bamboo thickets C. Trees D. The White House 20

Q20. Ailanthus altissima the Tree of Heaven comes from... A. China B. Japan C. Jordon D. India Q21. Only one of the following is a real tree name, it is... A. Quercus maximus ‘Bamber Gascoigneii’. B. Quercus bambusifolia. C. Quercus confusifilia. D. Quercus trumpus ridiculous. Q22. Ancient Britons made spears out of... A. Larch B. Hickory C. Sweet Chestnut D. Yew 23

Q23. Legend has it that the Glastonbury Thorn was planted by... A. King Arthur Pendragon B. Joseph of Aramathea C. Alfred the Great D Edward the Confessor Q24. The best charcoal for making gun powder was traditionally made from... A. Ash B. Hazel C. Alder D. Black Poplar Q25. If you were to eat 50gms of yew foliage... A. Your hair would fall out B. You would hallucinate C. You would feel no harmful effects D. You would die Mark Hinsley is from Arboriculture Consultants Ltd. www.treeadvice.info 49



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




Country Gardener






25th CLEVEDON GARDENERS’ CLUB ‘PRUNING’ – JON MASON Details on 01275 847879





There’s an RHS Garden for every group


Group Trave l Guide

– 2019 /

Group Tour Organisers

save up to 50%

on repeat



hs.org.u k/group s Call 020 7821 3195 planning to your group start visit today



RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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Order a free 2019 Group Travel Guide www.rhs.org.uk/groups 0207 821 3170




Bridgwater Mowers • Sales • Servies • Repairs • 01278 651300 Main Road, Cannington, Bridgwater, Somerset TA5 2LD www.bridgwatermowers.co.uk info@bridgwatermowers.co.uk



All types of horticultural equipment serviced & repaired. Open Monday to Friday 8am - 5.30pm and Saturday 8am - 2pm


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

COUNTRY GARDENER www.countrygardener.co.uk



vonfield Gardens Marwood Marsh Road, Hilperton Wiltshire BA14 7PL Tel 01225 571331

We offer a wide range of high quality trees, shrubs, conifers, alpines and herbaceous perennials, complemented by a range of key gardening products such as composts, fertilisers, tools, seeds terracotta and glazed pots and garden sundries. The centre prides itself on excellent levels of service, horticultural advice and a clear no-nonsense, no-gimmicks approach.

Hill Gardens

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

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

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


Open Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm Sun 10am-4pm


CROFT GARDEN NURSERY W EST & FARM SHOP Great range of trees, shrubs, climbers, conifers, roses, herbaceous perennials, top and soft fruit and hedging. Home grown fuchsias, geraniums, patio plants, vegetable and herb plants. Lots of compost and garden sundries too! Planted containers and hanging baskets for sale and made to order. Red Road • Berrow • TA8 2LY • Tel 01278 782687


Country Gardener

“Picked up a cop y of your September issue yesterday. I have to say that it was easily the best free magazine of its type I have ever read. Congrat ulat ions on such a great publicat ion.”

“I had the opportunity of reading it from cover to cover. It’s a real gem and I look forward to ever y issue. Thanks to all your team for their input and what must be one of the best magazines around.”

Stockists of Country Gardener Somerset 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 pateade8@gmail.com Axbridge Mawr Agri, BS26 2JD Banwell Banwell Garden Centre, BS29 6NX Bath Gardenalia, BA1 6PT Prior Park NT Landscape Gdn, BA2 5AH Prior Park Garden Centre, BA2 4NF Berrow Westcroft Nurseries, TA8 2LY Bitton Fonthill Garden Centre, BS30 6HX Brent Knoll Sanders Garden World, TA9 4HJ Bridgwater Bridgwater College, Cannington, TA6 4PZ Bridgwater Mowers, TA5 2LE Gwillam Kellands, TA7 9JN Prompt Cabins, TA6 4TN Walled Garden, Cannington, TA5 2HA Wynnstay Agricentre, TA6 6DF Bristol Brackenwood Garden Centre, BS8 3RA Chief Trading Post Ltd, BS30 6QY Cleeve Nursery & Garden Centre, BS49 4PW Kemps Plants, BS37 8QZ Lockyer Fuchsias, BS36 2UZ Pucklechurch Village Store & PO, BS16 9RA Riverside Garden Centre, BS3 1RX University of Bristol-Botanic Garden, BS9 1JG Burnham on Sea Visitor Information Centre, TA8 1BU Castle Cary Dave Marsh Hardware, BA7 7BG Heather’s Florist, BA7 7BQ Chard Chard Garden Centre, TA20 3AA Forde Abbey Plant Centre, TA20 4LU Tourist Information Centre, TA20 1PP Charlton Adam Charlton Adam Post Office, TA11 7AY Cheddar Cheddar Garden Centre, BS27 3RU

Chew Magna Chew Valley Trees, BS40 8HJ Chilcompton Norton Green Garden Centre, BA3 4RR Congresbury Cadbury Garden Centre, BS49 5AA Middlecombe Nursery & Gardens, BS49 5AN Tincknell Country Stores, BS49 5JG Crewkerne Crewkerne Horticultural, TA18 7AW Wynnstay Agricentre, TA18 7AD Curry Rivel Sandpits Garden Centre, TA10 0ES Ditcheat Maryland Farm Shop, BA4 6PR Dunster Dunster Castle NT, TA24 6SL Forton Forton Nusery, TA20 4HD Frome Barters Plant Centre, BA13 4AL Frome Reclamation, BA11 1RE Oakley Garden Machinery, BA11 4AT Tourist Information Centre, BA11 1BB Galhampton NEW Galhampton Country Store, BA22 7BH Glastonbury Sweet Acre Nursery, BA6 9AF Hambridge Brown & Forrest, TA10 0BP Heywood Home Farm Shop, BA13 4LR Highbridge Rich’s Cider Farm, TA9 4RD Hilperton Avonfield Garden Centre, BA14 7PL Hinton St George Community Shop, TA17 8SE Ilminster Loxston Garden Machinery, TA19 0QU Keynsham TT Mowers, BS31 2SE Langford Blagdon Water Gardens, BS40 5DN

Langport Kelways Plant Centre, TA10 9EZ Long Sutton Village Store and PO, TA10 9HT Lower Severalls CB Plants, TA18 7NX Lydeard St Lawrence Elworthy Cottage Plants, TA4 3PX Martock Paulls of Martock, TA12 6EX Mells The Walled Garden, BA11 3PN Minehead West Somerset Garden Centre, TA24 5BJ Montacute Montacute House NT, TA15 6XP Montacute Post Office, TA15 6XH North Perrott North Perrott Garden Centre, TA18 7SS North Petherton Carrotts Farm Shop, TA6 6NH Porlock Tourist Information Centre, TA24 8NP Shepton Mallet Dobbies, BA4 4PE Kilver Court Gardens, BA4 5NF Tourist Information Centre, BA4 5AS Somerton Lytes Cary, TA11 7HU Overt Locke, TA11 7PS South Petherton East Lambrook Manor, TA13 5HH The Rose and Crown, TA13 5HF The Trading Post, Lopenhead, TA13 5JH Stoke-sub-Hambdon Tourist Information Centre, TA14 6RA Stoke St Gregory Willows & Wetlands Centre, TA3 6HY Street Oaklands Nurseries, BA16 0EP Taunton Avery Nurseries, TA1 5AA Galmington Garden Machinery, TA1 5LY Greenshutters Nurseries, TA3 6PT Hestercombe Gardens, TA2 8LG

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

Distribution Pat Eade pateade8@gmail.com Tel: 01594 543790

Time Off: Kate Lewis timeoff@countrygardener.co.uk

Advertising Sales Cath Pettyfer - Devon & Dorset Corina Reay - Cornwall & Cotswolds cath.pettyfer@countrygardener.co.uk corina@countrygardener.co.uk Tel: 01837 82660 Tel: 01823 410098

Ava Bench - Hampshire, Somerset & Classified ava@countrygardener.co.uk classified@countrygardener.co.uk Tel: 01278 671037

Accounts Sam Bartholomew sam@countrygardener.co.uk Tel: 01823 430639

Monkton Elm Garden Centre, TA2 8QN Nicky’s Flower Studio, TA1 1JJ RJ Sheppy & Son, TA4 1ER Rumwell Farm Shop, TA4 1EJ Taunton Sheds & Toys, TA2 6NS Tourist Information Centre, TA1 1JD Tickenham Garden Park, BS21 6RE Tintinhull Tintinhull NT, BA22 8PZ Trowbridge Palmers Garden Centre, BA14 8QJ Warminster Lakeside Garden Centre, BA12 8AP Washford Pickard Country Store, TA23 0JY Wellington Chelston Nurseries, TA21 9PH Stawley Village Shop @ Appley, TA21 0HH Willowbrook Garden Centre, TA21 9HX Wells Browne’s Garden Centre, BA5 1QQ Rocky Mountain Nursery, BA5 3HA Tincknell Country Stores, BA5 1TH Tourist Information Centre, BA5 2UE Wells Reclamation Co., BA5 1RQ West Bagborough Triscombe Nurseries, TA4 3HG West Coker Greensleeves Nursery, BA22 8TW West Harptree New Manor Farm Shop, BS40 6HP West Quantoxhead Wibble Farm Nurseries, TA4 4DD Whitchurch Whitehall Garden Centre, BS14 0BT Williton Gliddons Garden Machinery, TA4 4NH Wraxall Tyntesfield NT, BS48 1NX Yeovil Brimsmore Gardens, BA21 3NX Mole Valley Farmers, BA21 5BJ Tourist Information Centre, BA20 1SH

Design & Production Aidan Gill aidan@countrygardener.co.uk Gemma Stringer gemma@countrygardener.co.uk

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.




a pair of great GARDENING GLOVES

n – or Are you fully prepared for the new gardening seaso gardening n more specifically are your hands? Hard early seaso just the has work needs extra protection so Country Gardener win. to s answer with six pairs of unique gardening glove by the The Gold Leaf Gardening Gloves, which are endorsed ction prote of level high Royal Horticultural Society, offer a ible soft incred an ing against thorns and the like, whilst retain so robust glove a for rity feel which results in very unusual dexte th, warm and rt comfo as this. This glove also offers exceptional lly specia being r leathe grain with the added benefit of the gold which cuff ded exten An . treated to offer resistance to water m adds to affords additional protection for the wrist and forear . glove ning garde b the overall appeal of this, quite super ged Launched in 2004, by Jayco, a family owned and mana the as nised recog e becom now has company, the range of hand ting eleva s, glove ning garde of world’s premier brand of quality, wear in the garden to never previously seen levels comfort and style. ort, It is a glove which is unsurpassed in terms of comf truly a feel and durability, and is ideal for those requiring luxurious and stylish pruning gauntlet. • The only gardening gloves endorsed by The Royal Horticultural Society. er • Luxurious, comfortable, durable, thorn resistant leath pruning glove. ant • Made from soft, supple, high quality, water resist deerskin leather.

wrist and • Featuring an extended cuff for protection of the forearm. with your All you have to do is send a postcard to us Gloves name and address to Gold Leaf Gardening Mount e, azin Mag ener Gard Competition, Country and 3AD TA4 t erse House, Halse, Taunton Som answer the following question.

Q: In what year was the Gold Leaf range of

gardening gloves launched? The closing date entries is Saturday, 23rd March.


ons tt u S f o s le p m a s E E R F Try our

ds e e s s n io n O d n a f e e B new

There’s so much that’s new for vegetable growers in the new season. One of the most talked about is the ‘Beef and Onions’ plant launched by Sutton Seeds priced £2.99. Otherwise known as toona sinensis or Chinese Mahogany, this unique plant will prove the talking point of any vegetable garden. Celebrity gardener James Wong claims the leaves taste like beef and onion crisps, which has to be a good enough reason to try it at least once. The seeds are part of the James Wong Collection and are perfect to add to salads and garnish meats, especially for a barbecue. Plants can be grown on if given winter protection for the first two years, then new growth can be harvested each spring. 54

Country Gardener

The plant, in addition to having tasty spring shoots, is also a stunningly beautiful garden tree with peeling bark, rich green leaves and fragrant flowers that the bees just love. Harvest January-December.

To receive a sample pack of seeds write on a postcard with your name and address to Beef and Onions Seeds Offer, Mount House, Halse, Taunton Somerset TA4 3AD. We have 100 packs of seeds to give away to the first readers who apply. Average packet content 50 seeds.


rare | unusual | exciting

Jewel of the Desert


£1.90 EACH

Collection comprises: Garnet, Rose Quartz, Peridot, Moonstone and Topaz All plants labelled individually

Take a look at our brand new website


15off %

Register for email offers online, to receive an email with your online discount code


Carpet-like mats of succulent foliage with masses of neon coloured daisy flowers. Bred in Japan, where garden space is limited so flower power is very important, these incredible plants produce flowers continuously from spring until the first frosts. Commonly known as the ice plant, they can withstand the toughest environments and still shine like a jewel. Beautiful when planted alongside paths or grown in crevices. Loved by butterflies. Unfussy on soil conditions in sun or part shade. Height 10-15cm (4-6"). Spread 25cm (10"). Fully hardy perennials. Your order will be confirmed along with a copy of our latest catalogue and your young plants will be delivered from April onwards with our No Quibble Guarantee.

ORDER • ONLINE hayloft.co.uk • PHONE 0844 335 1088 QUOTE CG0319




5 PLANTS (one of each)




10 PLANTS (two of each) YPDEL10-CG0319





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Thank you for your details which will be kept securely and will not be shared with third parties. We may send Hayloft gardening catalogues in the future, if you prefer not to receive them, please call 01386 562999. Occasionally the advertised delivery date may change, however, this will be clearly stated on your order confirmation.


Profile for Country Gardener

Somerset Country Gardener March 2019  

The March 2019 issue of Somerset Country Gardener Magazine

Somerset Country Gardener March 2019  

The March 2019 issue of Somerset Country Gardener Magazine