Issue No 11 April 2017
PLANT WISELY TO REALLY
save money this summer Dog friendly gardens open around Easter OFF THE WALL â€“ HANGING BASKET DELIGHTS
Growing for art - plant a painters garden Easter gardening events galore in and around Sussex
www.garsons.c www.garsons.co.uk w w.garsons.c o.uk
TITCHFIELD Fontley Road Titchfield Hampshire PO15 6QX 01329 844336
“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbour: ‘Winter is dead.’ “
OUR HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GARDENING CALENDAR OVER THE COMING WEEKS IN SUSSEX
GARDEN OPEN OF THE MONTH
- A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
Magnolias in bloom at Borde Hill
BANKS FARM Boast Lane, Barcombe, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 5DY A nine-acre garden set in rural countryside, where lawns and shrub beds merge with the more naturalistic woodland garden set around the lake. Extensive lawns in front of the house lead the eye down to the land that dips into luscious foliage below the splendid views that curve far to the south from Blackcap to Glynde There’s an orchard, vegetable garden, ponds and a wide variety of plant species. Open for the NGS: Saturday 29th April, Sunday 30th April, 11am-4pm. Admission £4, children free. On the open days there will be home-made teas in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. It’s a wonderful and welcome addition to the NGS year; go and enjoy! Dogs allowed on short leads. More dog friendly gardens to visit - page 12
There’s the chance over the next few weeks to enjoy the spectacular Magnolia ‘Campbellii’ in the Azalea Ring at Borde Hill Garden. Many of the magnolias are original plants brought back by the great plant collectors and have become ‘champion’ trees in the British Isles. Magnolias in bloom runs from Friday, March 25th to Friday, April 15th.
Tulip displays highlight new season at Arundel Castle Arundel Castle opens for the new season on Sunday April 1st and one of the highlights from mid April until mid May 2017 will be its wonderful tulips. Arundel Castle is certainly the place for tulip enthusiasts and during this period over 32,000 tulips will be blooming in the Castle’s stunning gardens providing visitors with one of the most impressive tulip displays in the country.
Family friendly bluebell walks There are seven walks over three working farms and 23 acres at Arlington Bluebell Wood near Eastbourne which run from Saturday, April 2nd to Sunday, May 8th. Open daily where the owners put a lot of store on being family friendly, one walk of note is designed for those with walking difficulties and disability scooters are available free of charge. Bates Green Farm, Tye Hill Road, Arlington, Polegate, BN26 6SH. www.countrygardener.co.uk
West Dean welcomes Roy Lancaster
West Dean Gardens near Chichester welcomes horticulture ‘royalty’ on Thursday 30th March when Roy Lancaster visits for a special event and lecture. From a boyhood interest in nature came a passion for wild plants and trees for Roy, and a desire to travel the world’s wild places to see them in their native habitat. West Dean Gardens is north of Chichester on the A286 towards Midhurst. www.westdean.org.uk 3
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A LOOK AT NEWS, EVENTS AND HAPPENINGS IN SUSSEX
HAROLD HILLIER GARDENS START TO WELCOME MAGNOLIAS One of the most exciting things about early spring is seeing magnolias gradually unfurl. First the furry buds start to crack open, showing tantalising streaks of colour, until a sunny day finally causes them to burst open, revealing those astonishingly luxurious waxy flowers in white, cream, purple, pink or yellow. Magnolias are among the earliest flowering trees in evolutionary terms and were growing in Europe, America and Asia over 100 million years ago; today they are only indigenous to southern â€˜Magnolia Avenueâ€™ at the Harold Hillier Gardens China and the southern US. The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, at Ampfield, near Romsey, has an extensive collection of magnolias with more than 200 different types of and more than 350 trees and shrubs in total. Most are spring flowering and the â€˜Magnolia Avenueâ€™ is one of the stars of the show. The avenue extends some 100 metres from the front door of Jermynâ€™s House flanked by mature trees with thousands of flowers, in white, cream, pink and purple. RHS Wisley (rhs.org.uk) has a superb collection of magnolias, including unusual yellow varieties such as â€˜Elizabethâ€™, â€˜Yellow Lanternâ€™ and â€˜Gold Starâ€™. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London (kew.org) has more than 250 magnolias, including M. campbellii. Magnolias are among the earliest flowering trees in evolutionary terms and were growing in Europe, America and Asia over 100 million years ago; today they are only indigenous to southern China and the southern US. www.hilliergardens.org.uk
Borde Hill gets ready for Easter The beautiful Grade II English Heritage Garden set in 200 acres of parkland at Borde Hill Garden is offering a free programme of Easter events, included in the price of an entrance ticket. The garden itself will be full of spring delights but thereâ€™s an emphasis on families . In addition to a daily trail around the garden (where clues need to be solved before meeting the Easter Bunny and being given a chocolate egg) there are a variety of additional activities on offer on selected days. On Sunday 9th April, there will be Easter and spring themed face-painting alongside the usual popular requests and on Tuesday 11th April, and there will be an interactive theatrically-based â€˜Mad Hatterâ€™s Easter tea partyâ€™ featuring â€˜Aliceâ€™ who will be involving her audience in games and songs. www.bordehill.co.uk www.countrygardener.co.uk
GARDENERS’ CUTTINGS IN SUSSEX
Would you like to help at a therapeutic project? There’s an opportunity for keen gardeners to help on a special Dorset therapeutic project Cherry Tree Nursery in Bournemouth and Chestnut Nursery in Poole provide sheltered rehabilitation in a supportive environment for over 100 people, known as volunteers, with severe and enduring mental illness. To assist this they rely on the help of friends from the local community who work alongside and do the work the volunteers are not able to. The need for help is greater this year as more volunteers need places. The nurseries welcome support in a number of ways, primarily during the peak season they Val and Julie – shop volunteers require help on the nursery and in the retail shop, an interest in plants helpful but not essential. One of the current friends at Cherry Tree said “As a keen gardener, I had visited and admired the work done there. I was looking for a new focus in my own life and volunteered as friend. I have never regretted that decision as the staff, volunteers and other friends and public are so friendly and supportive. If you would like to join as a friend please contact Cherry Tree on 01202 593537 or email Cherry201342@yahoo.co.uk or Chestnut on 01202 685999 or firstname.lastname@example.org
New look for the NGS hand book for 90th anniversary year
Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, the National Gardens Scheme has given its handbook a new, fresh look. The annual handbook which is published each spring and was previously known as The Yellow Book, is now called The Garden Visitor’s Handbook 2017 and beneath the title ‘celebrating our 90th year’. It has been given a bright yellow cover showing a wrought iron garden gate opening, with a small dog prancing in front of it, and large flowers decorating the design. The handbook is available at £12.99 from bookshops and online. Visit www.ngs.org.uk for more details.
P lant of the month A new and unusual hosta with stunning purple flowers available exclusively from Bakker.com is our Plant of the Month The hosta ‘Purple Sensation’ has striking purple blooms in abundance, which stand proud against the hosta’s iconic green foliage. The hosta ‘Purple Sensation’ is best planted in a shady border or corner of the patio. The shrub has sturdy, tall stems which support deliciously scented purple flowers. The plants are £8.95, for three and the hosta ‘Purple Sensation’ is supplied bare-rooted. Visit the Bakker.com website to purchase www.bakker.com/en-gb/p/hosta-purple-sensation-M54216
GREAT DIXTER COLOUR SECRETS How do you keep the colour going, month after month? There’s a chance to learn from the master, Fergus Garrett, who, as head gardener at Great Dixter Gardens in Northiam, East Sussex, will use the Long Border, as well as pictures in the Great Hall, for an intensive workshop, ‘Succession Planting in the Mixed Border’. It takes place on April 24, from 10am-4.30pm, light lunch included, £110. See more workshops and courses at www.greatdixter.co.uk 6
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Events in Sussex
Here’s a selection of gardening events in Sussex for your diary. We take great care to ensure that details are correct at the time of going to press but we do advise readers to check wherever possible before starting out on a journey because sometimes circumstances can force last minute changes. 29th March & 5th, 12th, 26th April SPRING EVENING GARDENING COURSE Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Romsey, 01794 369318
throughout March 1st April DESIGNING AND PLANTING GARDEN BORDERS Minstead Study Centre, Minstead, 023 8081 3437
Join Rosie Yeomans, known for her work with Radio 4’s Gardeners Question Time, for a master class on designing and dealing with the practicalities of planting. 9.30-3.30p.m. £50. 5th April BORDE HILL GARDEN RHS Talk: ‘Magnolias; aristocrats
A four-week course suitable for beginners or those confident in their gardening ability and looking to broaden their skills. Sessions start in the classroom before moving outdoors for practical outdoor learning. £100. 30th March WEST DEAN GARDENS
for gardens of all sizes’ with Jim Gardiner.10.30 to 1.30pm. RHS members £24.Non members £30. www.bordehill.co.uk 13th April SPRING GARDEN KITCHEN COURSE Gilbert White & The Oates Collections, Selborne, 01420 511275 Spend the day in the kitchen garden at Gilbert White’s House learning how to plan, prepare and sow your own vegetables for the kitchen. 10am – 4pm. £45.
Roy Lancaster’s lectures on ‘Life in Plants’. Hear about what inspired him and what led him to become a professional gardener. Price £30. www.westdean.org.uk 8
13th – 17th April EASTER TRAIL West Dean Gardens, Chichester, 01243 811301 Easter fun for all the family. Head to West Dean Gardens to follow the Easter Country Gardener
Egg Trail for a chocolate prize, enjoy the spring flowers and maybe enjoy lunch at the Gardens Restaurant. 22nd April SPECIALIST NURSERIES PLANT FAIR Knoll Gardens, Hampreston, 01202 873931
Meet expert growers and buy topquality and locally grown camellias, blueberries, azaleas, ferns and perennials, sold alongside Knoll’s own multiple award-winning grasses. 10am – 4pm. Free admission to plant fair and garden. 29th April – 1st May FOOD & FOLK FESTIVAL Weald and Downland Museum, Chichester, 01243 811363 The very best of the South East’s produce and folk traditions will be showcased at this bank holiday festival. Enjoy free cookery classes and short talks, traditional folk music and dancing, local produce and crafts and more. 10.30am - 5pm 30th April – 4th June SCULPTURE TRAIL Surrey Hills Sculpture Garden, Birtley Estate, Bramley, Guildford A striking sculpture trail will weave its way through the 48 acres of manicured grounds with breathtaking views, with more stunning exhibits shown in the indoor space. A FULL LIST OF GARDENING CLUB AND OTHER ORGANISATIONS EVENTS FOR SUSSEX IS ON PAGE 58
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ALL FOR A
‘bleeding heart’! by Gill Heavens
Most gardeners know them as ‘Bleeding Hearts’ but dicentra are wonderful oddly shaped, locket style flowers with finely divided leaves which are just spectacular
We have a problem. I am supposed to be writing about dicentra, the Bleeding Hearts, but the botanists have had another shuffle and a couple have been renamed. In fact this genus now only contains eight species. Has this put me off? Of course not! I shall include them anyway. So I will continue unabashed and undaunted. Dicentra, and “those formally known as”, are members of the poppy family, Papaveraceae, and are closely related to both corydalis and fumaria. The name Dicentra is derived from Greek, meaning ‘two spurs’ alluding to the distinctive flower form. These charming locket-shaped flowers have given rise to a plethora of descriptive common names. As well as Bleeding Heart they include Lady in the Bath, Lyre Flower and, my favourite and perhaps the most puzzling, Venus’ Car. They are herbaceous perennials with many of the species flowering from spring to early summer. In the wild they are inhabitants of deciduous woodland where they enjoy part shade and a moist root run. First let us consider Dicentra spectabilis, now Lamprocapnos spectabilis. The Asian Bleeding Heart comes from Siberia, Japan, Korea and North China and is perhaps the most familiar to us. It was first introduced into this country in 1816, got lost somewhere along the way, and was later reintroduced by Robert Fortune in 1847. Unlike some of its relatives it does not send out invading runners, instead creating substantial, but well behaved, clumps. It can reach one metre in height and has large pink heartshaped flowers with white inner petals on lax stems. There are many cultivars available which include the pure white blooms of ‘Alba’, ‘Gold Heart’ with its golden foliage and ‘Valentine’ with red and white flowers. Spectabilis means 10
spectacular, which indeed they are! Less common is Dicentra cucullaria, meaning hood-like, which has been cultivated in this country since 1731 when it was donated to the Chelsea Physic Garden. It is endemic to the North East USA, with a small, isolated, population in the North Eastern states. Native Americans used it as a blood purifier and to alleviate skin conditions. Perversely, it may cause dermatitis in the sensitive. The foliage is blue green and deeply dissected. In spring it produces yellow tipped, white flowers with long, narrow spurs, hence the amusing common name of Dutchman’s Breeches. For something a little different, there is a pale pink cultivar called ‘Pittsburg’. Closely related to D. cucullaria is Dicentra canadensis, an extremely graceful plant which can reach 30cm in height. Known commonly as Squirrel Corn, due to the appearance of its bulbils, it has ivory flowers which have the added bonus of fragrance. Another North American native, it hales from Eastern Canada and the East USA, extending as far south as Missouri. Like many of the Bleeding Hearts, it dies down completely in summer. This is known as being Spring Ephemeral, a delightful expression. From the other coast of the USA comes Dicentra formosa, formosa meaning beautiful. This lovely plant was first grown in the UK in 1796 and is known as the Western or Pacific Bleeding Heart. The delicate pink flowers are held on branching stems up to 50cm high. This species is ideal for ground cover as it holds its leaves long into summer and is an elegant coloniser. After a peak of flowering in spring it will offer up the occasional bloom until autumn. There are two outstanding cultivars, one is Dicentra formosa ‘Bacchanal’ with its deep, dark maroon flowers, the other the white flowered Dicentra formosa ‘Langtrees’.
Dicentra formosa ‘ Bacchania’
Lastly we have Dicentra scandens, renamed Dactylicapnos scandens. Although a truly magnificent sight to see in full bloom, this chap seems to have gone out of its way to be different. Unlike the others, its primary flowering time is summer. It is a vigorous climber which can reach 4m and the flowers are bright yellow! I have considered all the evidence and in this instance I can quite understand why it has been thrown out of the club. However, I would have preferred something a little easier to pronounce! The dicentra have a wonderful secret. Before we go further, I must warn you that we are going to get rather technical, so you had better pay attention. You will be tested later. Bleeding Heart seed is dispersed by ants. This process is called myrmecochory. The ants do not do this for love or money, but for food. Each seed has a fleshy (and delicious) organ attached called an elaiosome. Once the seed has been transported back to the nest the ants tuck in, not harming the seed, which remains in the nest to germinate in an enriched environment. Now I call that clever! If you wish to propagate dicentra, and you do not have your own highly trained ants, then it is best to divide the www.countrygardener.co.uk
plants in spring. They can also be easily grown from seed. I do not recommend that you eat the elaiosome first! They have shallow roots so dry out easily, especially in their dormant period. An annual mulch of organic matter will help prevent this. Whatever you wish to call them, old name, new name or common name, these are splendid plants for the garden. Describing Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Dicentra spectabilis) in her spring garden, Gertrude Jekyll wrote: “Its graceful growth arching out over the lower stature of pink tulips and harmonising charmingly with the pinkish-green of the tree peonies just behind.” When the first searching hands of fernlike foliage break the soil, you can be confident that spring is well and truly on the way. And you are in for a treat! Bibliography Gertrude Jekyll’s Colour Schemes for the Flower Garden First published 1908 Top: Dicentra canadensis Middle: Dactylicapnos scandens Bottom: Dicentra cucullaria 11
A new season guide -
choosing and growing roses Roses are perfect for growing in containers, borders or patios and are perhaps the most popular choice to make your garden special this year The rose is most definitely the ’Queen of the garden’ and an indispensable plant, regardless of whether your garden is classic or modern, large or small. They are easy to grow and come in a range of shapes, colours and fragrances to excite the senses. Roses are incredibly versatile; climbing roses can be trained up a wall or pergola, standard roses look lovely lining a garden path, while rose bushes in a traditional rose bed are beautiful. They can also be grown in pots on the patio and some can even be grown as a fragrant, colourful hedge. As an added bonus, most are excellent for cutting. If you choose the right rose for your growing conditions and learn the basics of maintaining roses they can be the highlight of your garden.
How to grow a rose? The popularity of the rose is probably largely due to the fact that they are undemanding plants and are easy to grow. They should be planted in autumn or spring, but not during periods of frost. They need to be watered during dry periods as they are sensitive to drought, but they like soil with good drainage so they do not become waterlogged. The best planting situation is a light place with some shelter from strong winds.
Which colour? Roses come in just about every colour, from snow white to almost black-red and from almost translucent yellow to bright orange. There are even blue varieties, although these will never flower truly blue, but will have more of a lavender shade. If the final colour is important to you, be wary of roses bought from 'cut-price' garden centres or supermarkets. These are rarely colourfast. 12
Where to plant? With climbing roses you are spoilt for choice. They can grow up a trellis or an old hedge, over an unsightly wall, up a pergola or into an old tree, as an obelisk in the middle of your garden or even as a flowering garland. The key conditions for success are always (and this goes for all roses) that the rose is planted in: • Well-fertilised, loose soil • A sunny and aerated, though sheltered spot. Further, it is always important to: • Fertilise regularly with a low nitrogen, high magnesium fertiliser. • Water regularly (especially when temperatures rise above 22°C and in the first growing season) • Check regularly for pests and diseases. Roses climbing up a trellis or over an old hedge Choosing a variety that is selfclinging or only needs a bit of guidance to wind through a trellis or hedge will save you a lot of work cutting and training.
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GARDEN Visits THE BEST GARDENS TO VISIT compiled by Vivienne Lewis
Dog Friendly Gardens For dog lovers who want to visit special gardens there’s always the wish to take their four legged friends with them to enjoy the exercise rather than leave them cooped up at home. But many gardens that open their gates for charity also welcome dogs, as long as they are kept under control and on short leads. Here is a selection opening in April across the counties we cover. We advise checking before starting out on a journey as circumstances can force private gardens to cancel open days. The National Gardens Scheme website is www.ngs.org.uk
Grange Road, Dorridge, Solihull, Warwickshire, B93 8QA
Ibberton, Dorset DT11 0EN
A lovely place for a picnic, a semi-wild garden managed organically where dogs and children are welcome, landscaped with pools, lawns and trees, beehives, adjoining stream and wild flower meadows. Bring stout footwear to follow the nature trail. Dorridge Cricket Club is on-site with the bar open, and country pub, The Railway, is at the bottom of the drive. Open for the NGS: Sunday 16th April 2pm-6pm. Admission £5, children free. Home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement for any group size. Contact John Woolman on 07818 082885 or email email@example.com www.broadacregarden.org It’s worth driving twisty narrow lanes to reach this rural 2½ acre streamside garden framing a thatched cottage, the remote setting which inspired the bestselling novel Mr Rosenblum’s List, with its succession of ponds, mown paths, rustling trees, spring bulbs, primula candelabras, aquilegia and hellebores, plus views of Bulbarrow and the church. Open for the NGS: Saturday 15th April, Sunday 14th May, 2pm-5pm. Admission £4, children free. Home-made teas in village hall, in aid of the village church. Visitors also welcome by arrangement March to September for groups of 10+. Telephone: 01258 817361 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.countrygardener.co.uk
DOG FRIENDLY GARDENS T O V ISI T
PENNS IN THE ROCKS
Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells, Sussex TN3 9PA
Beverston, Tetbury, GL8 8TU Dogs can feel at home in this terraced garden, overlooked by a romantic ruined castle, leading over a moat to shrub borders and a sloping lawn abundantly planted with spring bulbs. Open for the NGS: Sunday, 2nd April, 2pm5.30pm (and also on Sunday, 11th June). Admission £4, children free. Home-made teas. Partial wheelchair access.
Built for the family of William Penn who founded Pennsylvania, the partly 18th century house (not open) is surrounded by a large garden with a spectacular outcrop of rocks, lake, 18th temple and woods, with masses of daffodils, bluebells, azaleas, magnolias and tulips; old walled garden with herbaceous borders, roses and shrubs. Open for the NGS: Easter Sunday 16th April, Sunday 14th May, 2pm-6pm). Admission £6, children free. Home-made teas, refreshments in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Restricted wheelchair access. No disabled WC. Dogs on lead in the park only. www.pennsintherocks.co.uk
Stancombe Lane, Bavins, New Odiham Road, Alton, Hampshire GU34 5SX
If you are a keen walker you’ll have much to explore on the long meandering paths and rides dotted with secluded seats in this unique 100-acre ancient bluebell woodland. Enjoy a leisurely pace to experience the perfume of the carpet of blue, listen to the birdsong and watch the contrasting light through the trees. Remember to always keep your dog on a short lead to protect the woods. Open for the NGS: Friday 28th April, Saturday 29th April (11am - 4pm). Admission £5, children free. Light refreshments served in an old rustic wooden building with soups using natural woodland ingredients, and in aid of Shalden Church. www.bavins.co.uk 14
THE OLD RECTORY
Netherbury, Beaminster, Dorset DT6 5NB This five-acre garden has been developed by owners Simon and Amanda Mehigan over 20 years with formal areas near the house and a decorative vegetable garden and naturalistic planting elsewhere including fritillaries, erythroniums, tulips and wood anemones, magnolias, cornus and a hornbeam walk. A bog garden with pond and stream is edged with candelabra primroses and other moisture loving plants. Open for the NGS: Easter Sunday 16th April, Tuesday 18th April, Sunday 21st May, Tuesday 23rd May, 11am-5pm. Admission £5, children free. Home-made teas. www.oldrectorynetherbury.tumblr.com
Crawley, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 2PR A one-acre traditional English country garden surrounding a period thatched cottage (not open), with a two-level pond and waterfall, a small orchard with rare anenomes, and a small vegetable garden. A variety of bulbs and wild flowers in spring, herbaceous border and old varieties of climbing roses in summer – and ducks from the adjacent village pond walking through. Open for the NGS: Good Friday 14th April, Easter Monday 17th April, 2pm-5.30pm. Combined admission with Little Court £6, children free. Also Thursday 6th, Sunday 9th July, 2pm-5.30pm. Combined admission with Tanglefoot £6, children free. Home-made teas in the village hall in aid of Crawley Village Hall Trust.
Lower Westwood, Bradfordon-Avon, Wiltshire BA15 2BA
Romantic award-winning, Grade I listed Italianate garden, the home of Edwardian architect and designer Harold Peto from 1899 until his death in 1933, with steps, terraces, sculpture and magnificent rural views. This year sees the end of a five year historic replant of the Great Terrace and rose garden. Opening for the NGS: Sunday 23rd April, 2pm-5pm. Admission £5.50, children free. House not open. Housekeeper’s cream teas and home-made cakes at weekends; light refreshments in Loggia at other times. Summer Arts festival June to August, www.ifordarts.org. uk. For other opening times and information, phone 01225 863146, email info@ifordmanor. co.uk or visit www.ifordmanor.co.uk. 15
DOG FRIENDLY GARDENS T O V ISI T
92 Church Road, Winscombe, Somerset BS25 1BP A ¾-acre mature Edwardian garden with colour-themed, informally planted herbaceous borders, a pergola with varied wisteria, unusual topiary, box hedging, a lime walk, pleached hornbeams, cordon fruit trees, two small formal ponds and growing collection of around 80 clematis, unusual trees and shrubs and small vegetable plot. Open for the NGS: Sunday 23rd April, Sunday 21st May, Thursday 8th June, 2pm-5.30pm. Admission £3.50, children free. Home-made teas, gluten-free available. Visitors also welcome by arrangement April to July, any size of group welcome. Some steps but most areas accessible by wheelchair with minimal assistance. Telephone: 01934 842666 or email: email@example.com
SEDGEWELL COACH HOUSE GARDENS
Olchard, Devon TQ12 3GU World-famous sculptor Heather Jansch brings an innovative use of recycled materials to gardening, in 14 acres that has stunning driftwood sculpture, fabulous views from a woodland bluebell trail down to a stream-bordered water meadow walk, pools, herbaceous border, a medicinal herb garden – and plenty of seating. Perfect for a picnic. Open for the NGS: Saturday 29th April, Sunday 30th April, Saturday 6th May, Sunday 7th May, Saturday 19th August, Sunday 20th August, 11am5pm. Admission £4.50, children free. Most sculpture is on level areas near the house. Limited disabled parking but there is a drop off point. No wheelchair accessible WC. www.heatherjansch.com 16
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DELIGHTS by Andrew Midgley Yeovil
Minterne House and Gardens Lyme Regis Dorchester Weymouth
The unsung Minterne Gardens is tucked away in stunning Dorset countryside at Minterne Magna , where magnolias and rhododendrons tower over small streams in spring making it the best time for a visit The Himalayan woodland garden at Minterne House in the village of Minterne Magna is saddled between Dorchester and Sherborne on the A352 in Dorset. The gardens surrounding the Edwardian Arts and Crafts house built in the local Ham Stone designed by Leonard Stokes in 1905, were landscaped in the style of Capability Brown who was involved in the landscaping at Sherborne Castle. The hills surrounding Minterne are chalk but crucially the woodland garden is situated on green sand and, coupled with the dappled shade of the beech trees and the humus from fallen
decayed leaves, creates an ideal environment for acid loving loving plants like rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias. The richness of the acidity of the soil ensures that the plants produce a spectacular show of deep coloured flowers. The Himalayan themed gardens are laid out in a horseshoe over a mile long behind the house which are adorned with rare plants from well known plant hunters such as Kingdom Ward, George Forrest and Edmund Loder who were partially sponsored by the Digby Family under the aegis of the Royal Horticultural Society. After the American War Of Independence in 1768, Admiral Robert Digby had decided to employ redundant sailors on his estate to carry out all the landscaping including creating small lakes and cascades as well as using the ballast from the retired naval ships to create boulders along the valley and around the stream to create a natural look. It’s incredible to think that Digby’s foresight set the foundations of a man made garden we see today. Today, the Hon. Henry Digby is involved in running the estate and garden and very much believes in successional planting for the future generations of Digbys to enjoy. He is justly proud of the botanical collection held here at Minterne and its history.
Minterne - on a par with some of the great gardens in Cornwall 18
Mark Bobin, the head gardener, showed me around the grounds. He and I were startled that we actually knew of each since I knew his father, Derek Bobin, who was the head gardener at Bateman’s in Sussex, and who was instrumental in forging my interest in horticulture. It’s a small world in horticulture.
Crucially the young Mark’s playground was at Sheffield Park in Sussex where Bobin senior worked as a gardener renowned for its rhododendrons and this background will prove to be invaluable in furthering the garden’s development. One of the things about woodland gardening is that there are very few books to instruct you on how to manage an ornamental woodland. It’s a relaxed style of managing the woods, almost intuitive. Mark’s tip on creating a natural look here is to “shape shrubs carefully to achieve a natural look, standing back throughout the process to get different angles”. It’s getting the balance of creating a garden that appears natural but structured with a diversity of plants showing interest throughout the season. Brambling is an ongoing task here as well as the judicious pruning of shrubs. The glades are strimmed to encourage wildflowers and butterflies. As you would expect, bird life here is abundant and bird songs are evident everywhere you go. As for most most woodland gardens, spring is the best time to visit with snowdrops making their appearance in February, followed by primroses, daffodils and bluebells carpeting the valley floor with drifts of candlebra primula in the wetter areas of the garden. Osmunda regalis, (Royal Fern) unfurls its fronds in spring. The paths criss cross the valley taking the visitor around different levels where you can catch glimpses of the pastoral scenes of sheep grazing contently by the river edge on the other side of the woodland. The main path takes you around a more level route around the valley which follows the stream, cascades and pools to the picturesque Eleanor’s Bridge built in 1785. The man-made water features at Minterne create a sense of serenity with the sounds of trickling water falls which can sometimes be noisier in wetter weather. The water edges are softened with assorted ferns (Osmunda regalis), Gunnera manicata, Persicaria, Alium, Rodgersia, Primula and so forth. In honour of the plant hunters, Mark, at the time of my visit, was creating a clearing on a slope looking out across fields to create a hut in a Himalayan vernacular style for visitors to enjoy. The area will be planted with appropriate plants from that region including dwarf rhododendrons, sorbus and betula. Minterne has an eclectic collection of choice rhododendrons which is mentioned in The Rhododendron and Camelia Year Book 1956 produced by the Royal Horticultural Society. The large leaved rhododendrons are very much
in evidence and R. falconeri, R.millotum, R. macabeanum and R sinogrande are just a few of these here. Minterne also has some wonderful examples of trees such as Davidia involucrata otherwise known as the Pocket Handkerchief Tree, Parrotia persica with its fiery autumnal colours, Japanese flowering cherries for their flowering
Mark’s tip on creating a natural look is to “shape shrubs carefully to achieve a natural look, standing back throughout the process to get different angles” brilliance in the spring to gladden anyone’s spirits, acers, and the white flowering Stewartia pseudocamellia. To me this garden is on a par with some of the great gardens in Cornwall renowned for their diverse botanical collections of rhododendrons and coupled with the connections of prestigious plant hunters, this is a garden that will appeal to serious plant enthusiasts and amateur gardeners enjoying the tranquillity and ambience of Minterne. Plants of particular interest in March and April are the deciduous pink flowering Magnolia campbellii which flowers before the leaves develops, the large leaved white flowering Rhododendron pravernum, Pieris taiwanensis with its white flowers, Prunus sargentii with its brilliant rose pink flowers in spring and its fiery autumnal colours in the autumn, and Arum maculatum, commonly known as Lords and Ladies or cuckoo pint.
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Ring barking of
MATURE TREES Mark Hinsley looks at a technique used to try and bypass planning issues by the peeling of a ring of bark from a tree starting a slow process of death In the Great War soldiers lost their lives in many different ways. Every loss was tragic and the horrors they went through still strikes a sobering chord to this day. Of all the terrible ways that men died, there is one that seems nastier than the rest and which stirs up anger and disgust even 100 years later; I mean, of course, the use of gas. A gassed soldier was no more dead than one killed by a bullet, but somehow the anger, the disgust and the desire for revenge that gassing creates is stronger than any other. I am not comparing the value of a human life to that of a tree because there is no contest.
“Ring barking is generally done when the owner of some land recognises that trees are in the way of whatever they want to do”.
The act of ring barking trees that, at the time, were not under any statutory protection is not illegal, despicable maybe, but not illegal. I have worked in town and country planning for 30 years. I am aware that sometimes a development proposal has more merit than the trees on the site and sometimes the reverse is true. In the case of ring barking, the owner has clearly calculated that the trees are more important than the proposal and has opted to remove them from the equation in a manner that rather waves two fingers at the local community. So – what can be done? Well, the trees are still there, and will take some years to die. The 2012 changes to the TPO Regulations removed ‘dying’ from the list of exemptions, so as the trees are not either dead or dangerous, they could, in my opinion, still be worthy of a TPO. A TPO would make the trees a material consideration of any planning application on the site whilst they are still there. Bridge grafting is sometimes suggested in these situations. However, it cannot restore the structural integrity of the tree, so it would not extend a tree’s life by much and it cannot be enforced as the damage was done before the TPO. However, there are two aspects to tree preservation. One is the trees and the other is the space they occupy. The removal of trees for a building is a far greater loss than the removal of trees that are replaced with new trees. A TPO cannot ultimately save the trees but it can secure the space that they occupy for future generations. Mark Hinsley is from Arboricultural Consultants Ltd www.treeadvice.info
What I wanted to illustrate is that there is one method of destroying trees that produces an emotional response of the same kind of intensity as that of the use of gas in WWI, and that is the ring barking of mature trees. Ring barking is generally done when the owner of some land recognises that trees are in the way of whatever they want to do. The owner is also aware that said trees are of such value that they would attract a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) if they were known to be under threat, and that a TPO would prevent their removal. The idea behind ring barking is that a large number of trees can be effectively destroyed without being removed in a relatively short space of time, thus reducing the chances that the local council, if alerted, turn up on site with a TPO in time to halt proceedings. People in the local community can be devastated by such actions and feelings can run high. The council will be put under enormous pressure to ‘do something’ about it, and locals will vent their anger at them Ring barking – also called girdling - is the when they have to explain complete removal of a strip of bark from around the entire circumference of a trunk which results that there is almost in the death of the area above the girdle over time nothing they can do.
An artistâ€™s palette Elizabeth McCorquodale delves into the garden for the richest possible source of natural pigments you could ever imagine A painterâ€™s garden, like a dyers garden, is part studio, part market, part chemistry lab. Each plant is a pigment just waiting to be discovered. Dyes, paints and stains of all sorts have always been made out of natural materials and in temperate climates the richest source of pigments have always been found in the garden and hedgerow. This is as true now as it ever was. Keep in mind that what you see is not always what you get when making stains and paints from your garden plants and to achieve a complete colour palette requires a little experimentation. Success in extracting pigments can all be boiled down to trial and error and to assiduous note taking. Pigment can be extracted from berries (which are the most reliable source of like-for-like colours), from seeds and nuts, leaves, fruit skins, stalks, bark, roots and wood. Colours can be extracted by a simple soak in cold water, by boiling the plant material, by adding another ingredients such as iron, or by soaking the plant material in an acid solution or in an alkaline one; just think of that old science experiment where you can change the colour of cabbage juice simply by adding vinegar (an acid) or washing soda (an alkali). It is a simple chemical reaction and it can achieve amazing results, or no results at all. Black Hopi sunflower seeds, for instance soaked in water will only achieve a watery grey. Add an alkali in the form or washing soda and there will be no change at all, but soak them instead in an acidic bath with a pH of about four and you will get a beautiful purple pigment. Some flowers have several layers of pigment hidden in their leaves or petals. Safflowers (Carthamus tinctorius) can produce three very different colours from the same bunch of flowers - a yellow from the first soak of the petals, an orange if those petals are squeezed out and then placed in a very acidic solution, 22
and a pink if that solution is then brought up to almost neutral. Extracting colour from plants is all about chemistry, so adding modifying agents is a sure way of achieving all sorts of interesting colours. Iron, tin, aluminium, alum, copper and ammonia as well as many things that are found around the home can all be used to alter the colour in some way. For the really committed DIYâ€™ers among you, household ammonia can, of course, be substituted with urine, but most of the other things are rather more mainstream and can be found around the home or garden. Household vinegar, of course, is a great way to lower the pH, while washing soda, to raise the pH, can be replaced with a solution made by soaking wood ashes in water. Iron water can be made by soaking old iron nails or scouring pads in water, while copper wire or a short length of copper pipe added to the bath will give a very weak neutral copper solution or they can be soaked in vinegar for an acid copper solution. Each of these will result in a different pigment. If you can source a real tin can (most are aluminium now) you can do the same thing to make a weak tin solution or you can hunt out a selection of cooking pans made of tin, aluminium, iron or copper and use them to prepare your pigments. A certain amount of the metals will leach into the solution. For a test run with alum, pick up an alum stick, otherwise known as a styptic shaving pencil, from your local chemist and see if adding it to the soaking water will have the usual effect of brightening your pigment or if it will change the colour completely as it will if used on alkanet roots. Alkanet (Anchusa officinallis) will offer up a blood red stain when boiled in plain water, but will only produce a watery grey-green if alum is added. Heat, or the lack of it, is also a decisive factor in the extraction process. Some materials need to be boiled to achieve any colour, while the pigments in others, such as the safflowers mentioned earlier, will be destroyed if the temperature of the soaking liquid is raised to a simmer. It is fascinating stuff. Once you have chosen your plants and your extraction method you need to prepare your Country Gardener
Tips • If the plant or the soaking or boiling liquid you are using is not generally thought to be edible, best to invest in an old pot that you reserve just for extracting pigments. I have a collection of iron, copper, aluminium and tin pots for soaking and boiling that I select for each job on the premise that some of the metals will leach into the liquid and will influence the final colour of the pigments. • Remember the effect of acids and alkalis on your pigments particularly if you are mixing different pigments to obtain new colours, or over- painting on top of other colours on the page, even if they are dry. Some very exciting and unexpected results can be achieved in this way.
material. Berries can simply be crushed and strained and the juice used undiluted, while flower petals can generally be added to your chosen solution just as they are. Leaves on their own or with stalks should be chopped finely to reduce the bulk and allow complete submersion in the extraction liquid, and bark, twigs and thin roots can be chopped or whizzed up in a robust food processor. Seeds, seed heads, hulls and buds can be ground or bruised in a mortar and pestle, but heartwood, woody roots and very large seeds such as walnuts should be pounded with a hammer to bruise them before they are immersed.
Sumac leaves, with copper Meadowsweet (the whole plant)
Black sunflower seeds Alkanet root with alum
Blueberry fruit (acid) Purple carrots, roots Baptisia, false indigo Woad leaves
Hopi sunflower – seeds (acid) The berries only of: blackberries, blueberries, elderberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, bilberries, raspberries,
Safflower petals (alkali, then acid) Rose petals Strawberries Beetroot Lady’s bedstraw - roots, Gallium verum (alkali) Yellowish in an acid bath
Apple, leaves and bark Artichoke, flower buds Sage, Salvia officinalis, growing tips Betony Stachys officinalis, all parts Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare Spinach, liquefied and strained Nettles, as above Rhubarb leaves in an aluminium pot (wonderful acid lime green) Red cabbage with strong alkali
Yellows and oranges
Yellow onion skins Safflower petals (cold water soak) Sunflower petals Bay leaves Calendula flowers Marguerite, Anthemis tinctoria flowers Goldenrod - flowers (Solidago sp) Weld – leaves and flower stalks Coreopsis tinctoria - flowers
Madder roots Beetroot root Strawberry fruit, crushed and strained Alkanet (Anchusa officinalis) root Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) root (play with tin, aluminium and cream of tartar to alter the shades)
Green walnut hulls Tea leaves
NEW PLANTS & ACCESSORIES
The delights ahead in a NEW GARDENING SEASON The great thing about gardening is that it continually gives you a chance to refresh your outlook. And so when a new gardening season arrives it’s the chance for all gardeners young or old always on the look out for something different- a new challenge and a new opportunity. Yes, it’s good to plan ahead, but when the growing season starts in earnest and you find yourself gazing on a garden which needs some inspiration then it becomes a challenge to find that new accessory or some inspiring new plants, something special. The answer for many of us is a local specialist nursery or garden centre which will yield rich pickings of things in bloom that offer instant impact. Where should you shop? Specialist nurseries are always worth supporting because they grow plants you might not find
elsewhere – be they pelargoniums, alpines or ferns, roses or camellias – and the advice you’ll get is first hand and reliable. Support them whenever you can – they are usually run by individuals who don’t make a vast profit and who do the job for love as much as anything else. They should be your first port of call. They are nurserymen, many of them specializing in either a specific varieties or ranges of plants and their knowledge is second to none and will certainly inspire you. They offer first hand knowledge of what to grow and you’ll often get caught up in their passion and enthusiasm. So as the season starts to capture our imagination we’re delighted to offer you some options of where to buy that something special.
Hill House Nursery
P O T T E R Y Classic Hand-made English Flowerpots
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Landscove, Nr Ashburton, Devon TQ13 7LY 01803 762273 email@example.com Open 7/7 inc. Easter Sunday & Bank Holidays 11am-5pm A family-run nursery with a vast range of plants from the well known to the rare & unusual, all well grown & priced. We grow most of our stock ourselves & our staff are all trained and highly experienced in various gardening disciplines. The historic garden is open free of charge and Hill House Nursery Tea Room is open from 1st March to 30th September.
Handmade in England
Inspired by the work of William Morris, this stylish terracotta flowerpot is handmade by Whichford Pottery, makers of top quality, British, frostproof flowerpots.
Dogs on leads in garden only. Mail order available, please see our web site.
Westcountry Nurseries Devon’s specialist supplier of herbaceous Chelsea Gold Medallists perennials. Holders of the National Collection of Lupins.
10 Year Frostproof Guarantee
Wide range of plants on offer mail order; plus climbers, ferns, grasses and alpines.
Free delivery (saving £29.50) £59.50 each Special price of £99 for a pair (saving a further £20)
Free colour brochure quote CTRYGAR17. Open weekdays by appointment March to June only. Mail order all year round.
www.westcountry-nurseries.co.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org 24
Each pot measures 25cm high x 39cm wide
Free delivery applies to mainland UK only. Offer subject to availability. Pairs of pots must be delivered to the same address. Offer ends 30/04/17. T&Cs apply.
PHONE TO ORDER: 01608 684416 Country Gardener
Trehane offer wonderful camellia choices Most gardeners are familiar with the colourful springtime blooms and glossy leaves of Camellia japonica, but there are other, less well-known, varieties of this popular evergreen shrub. One of the most striking is Camellia transnokoensis, an entirely different species of camellia that comes from the mountains of Taiwan. Blooming from mid-winter to early spring, the small, single, white flowers open from pink-tipped buds along the stems, and are followed by reddish-bronze young growth, turning to green as it matures. Graceful, airy and upright with small leaves, C.transnokoensis makes a beautiful feature plant in a container or the garden border. Available, along with many other unusual camellias, from Trehane Nursery near Wimborne Tel: 01202 873490 www.trehanenursery.co.uk Trehane Nursery, Stapehill Road, Wimborne. BH21 7ND
Lightweight, comfortable and practical garden shoes
Grass, British Brogue, Camouflage, Nuts ’n” Bolts and Tyres, are available in sizes UK8-14. Visit www.backdoorshoes.co.uk for all designs. To celebrate ten years in business they are offering readers a 15 per cent discount when spending £25 or over and ordering online using the code 15%COUNTRYDISC valid until 31st May. UK residents only.
Rare and special varieties at Koirin Koirin Rhododendron and Azalea Centre specialises in rare and unusual varieties including old varieties from family collectors such as ‘Waterer’ and ‘The Rothschild family of Exbury’. They produce their own plants from their own cuttings and have more than 800 varieties of plants including many scented varieties of deciduous azaleas and rhododendrons. Koirin have been established for over 20 years and the nursery is a total of three acres and in the spring is an abundance of colour from hot fiery reds, orange and yellows to all the pastel colours you can think of. The
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THE RHODODENDRON & AZALEA CENTRE Visitors Welcome Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.30pm all year round Sat 10.00am-4.00pm Apr-May
2 X FREE 50LT BAGS OF ERICACEOUS WHEN YOU SPEND OVER £100 Koirin, Crossroads Nursery, Woodlands, Wimborne, Verwood Road, Dorset BH21 8LN (Near Verwood) Mail order available
Northcote Hill, Honiton, Devon, EX14 9TH Tel: 01404 43344 Growers and suppliers of native trees, shrubs and hedging for: • Native, Formal & Evergreen Hedges • Screening • Woodland • Amenity • Wood Fuel • Gardens Now stocking wildflower seed and soft fruit bushes Call us for friendly and expert advice for species selection, planting & tree protection. We can also provide a planting & maintenance service.
Email: email@example.com www.perriehale.co.uk
Tel: 01202 824629
firstname.lastname@example.org www.azaleacentre.co.uk Sorry, we don’t accept credit/debit cards
Enjoy more of the Country Gardener experience by visiting our website
u r s e r y
Quality Trees and Shrubs Hedging, fruit (including heritage apples) and amenity trees from whip to standard. Conifers and broadleaves. New range of choice shrubs. Advisory/design service.
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
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NEW PLANTS & ACCESSORIES nursery is well worth a visit. Koirin, The Rhododendron & Azalea Centre, Woodlands, Verwood Road, Nr.Verwood, Wimborne. BH21 8LN. Tel: 01202 824629 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hill House boasts reputation for hard-to-find plants Hill House Nursery is run by father and son team Raymond and Matthew Hubbard. While the nursery doesn’t specialise and carries a range of more than 3,000 plants, it has a high reputation for unusual and hard-to-find plants. Some of their more tender plants are beautiful additions to conservatories or grow outdoors in the milder parts of the UK. The house (not open) is a Victorian Gothic former vicarage and the garden, as it is now, was originally laid out by famous writer and plantsman, Edward Hyams in the 1960s and much of his work and planting can still be seen. The garden is open free of charge and there is a seasonal tea room. Open all year, seven days a week, including Easter Sunday and Bank Holidays, 11am4.45pm. Dogs on lead in garden only. Tel: 01803 762273, www.hillhousenursery.com,
Fifteen acres of plant heaven at Dulford Nurseries Dulford Nurseries is a long established family business, specialising in a very large number of species of trees and shrubs. The nursery covers 15 acres planted up with both native and ornamental trees and shrubs with sizes ranging from small to mature trees. There is also a wide range of containerised specimens for summer planting requirements. Dulford can source plants that they may not have, or have run out of stock of. However, most of their stock is propagated on the nursery from seed, grafts or cuttings. The nursery is open from 7:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday (closed weekends & Bank Hols). You are welcome to walk round the nursery but phone first for an appointment. Dulford Nurseries, Cullompton, Devon, EX15 2BY Tel 01884 266361 email@example.com www.dulford-nurseries.co.uk
Plant sale weekend at West Kington Nurseries Spring has finally arrived and to mark the occasion West Kington Nurseries near Chippenham in Wiltshire, specialist herbaceous and alpine grower, is again opening its gates for another giant plant sale weekend on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th April. This special event is again supporting local charities, including Wiltshire Air Ambulance, through the catalogue sales. The nursery raised almost £2,500 for
West Kington Nurseries
West Kington, Nr Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 7JQ Tel 01249 782822 www.wknurseries.co.uk
MASSIVE PLANT SALE!
“PROBABLY THE LARGEST PLANT SALE IN THE WEST!”
The Michaelmas Daisy Specialists since 1906 APRIL 29th & 30th SATURDAY 9AM-5PM SUNDAY 10AM-4PM
FREE ENTRY OVER £2,400 RAISED LAST YEAR FOR LOCAL CHARITIES
111 years of knowledge, passion and plants
Order now for May 2017 delivery. Catalogue free on request. Picton Garden open 14th April 11am-4pm for the HPS. Jointly open with Perrycroft on the 30th April 12-5pm for the NGS. OPEN: May - 31st July Wednesday - Saturday 2pm 5pm or by appointment. Garden closed until August except on special event days.
Tel: 01684 540416 www.autumnasters.co.uk Old Court Nurseries, Walwyn Road, Colwall WR13 6QE 26
local charities last year and hope to raise even more this year. There will be a huge choice of plants on sale at bargain prices - from perennials to roses and topia. Gardening experts will be on hand for advice. West Kington Nurseries, West Kington, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 7JG. www.wknurseries.co.uk Tel: 01249 782822.
Traditional North Devon nursery fits the bill If you are looking for quality and good value plants from a traditional plant nursery then Westcountry Nurseries will fit the bill. Based in Devon they supply a large range of herbaceous perennials, have the national collection of lupins and many more choice plants. It’s a plantsman’s paradise. They are primarily a mail order service sending plants to UK destinations only. Visit www.westcountry-nurseries.co.uk for more details. You can get a free colour brochure by quoting reference CG17.
Devon nursery specialises home grown hedging plants Perrie Hale Nursery is a family business celebrating its 60th year growing in Devon. They specialise in UK grown hedging plants shrubs, trees and wildflower seed. Spring marks the end of the winter bare-root planting season, so there is just time to plant your trees and hedging - before the leaves start to emerge. During late spring and summer, hedge plants can be bought as root trainers or in pots and are a great alternative. March-April is the best time to sow wildflower seed - have a look at their tailored range designed to suit a variety
DULFORD NURSERIES SPECIALIST TREE & SHRUB GROWERS
Growers & suppliers of the widest range of Native & Ornamental Trees, Shrubs & Hedging in the West Country Many varieties, including rarities, in many sizes For directions & a visit with expert & friendly advice
Tel: 01884 266361 www.dulford-nurseries.co.uk Free catalogue or view it on online
Dulford Nurseries, Dulford, Cullompton, Devon EX15 2BY
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of situations. More information can be found on their website www.perriehale.co.uk or by calling 01404 43344. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Perrie Hale Nursery, Northcote Hill, Devon, EX14 9TH.
Cornishwear smocks ideal for any practical job If you’re looking for sturdy, practical gardening wear then Cornishwear makes a great range of gardening smocks in various fabrics, colours and sizes. Their three large pockets make them ideal for any practical job and the choice of materials (cotton twill, linen/cotton, waxed cotton or fleece) means that there is a smock for every season. All of the products, which include waxed cotton gardening aprons, are made in West Cornwall and can be seen at RHS Wisley and Boconnoc Spring Show on the weekend of 1st and 2nd April, the Royal Cornwall Show in June and the Hampton Court Flower Show in July. Cornishwear, Lamorna, Penzance TR19 6XL. Tel: 01736 732236. www.cornishwear.com. email@example.com.
Thornhayes offer ‘second to none’ quality The quality and range of plants at Thornhayes Nursery near Cullompton was described recently by Roy Lancaster as “second to none”. Specimens of much of the range can be viewed in the garden, orchards and arboretum on site and all the stock is on display in the large nursery area. Besides the catalogue, there is a wealth of information available as sheets or on the well-illustrated website www.thornhayesnursery.co.uk. Knowledgeable staff are always available to guide visitors in selecting the right plant. For trees, shrubs, hedging, fruit trees and sound advice it’s the place to go. Thornhayes Nursery, St Andrews Wood, Dulford, Cullompton, Devon EX15 2DF. 01884 266746 firstname.lastname@example.org
Whichford Pottery in Warwickshire Established in 1976 by Jim and Dominique Keeling, Whichford Pottery is a family-run business with a worldrenowned reputation for making handmade British frostproof flowerpots. Whichford pots are designed, handthown and decorated at the pottery by more than 25 highly-skilled craftsmen and women. The flowerpots are practical as well as beautiful, from longtoms to seedpans, from huge jars to hand-pressed urns – all made from Whichford’s own clay blend, giving
NEW PLANTS & ACCESSORIES pots a ten year frostproof guarantee. A visit to Whichford Pottery is a real treat! See the website for pottery and café opening hours. www.whichfordpottery.com
Old Court Nurseries shows off its spring delights The Picton Garden and Old Court Nurseries are best known for the stunning displays of colour in the autumn from their impressive collection of Michaelmas Daisies backed up by some fabulous shrubs and trees. But there has been a long tradition of growing a large range of other unusual plants and this year sees the garden open on selected dates to showcase some of the gems at their best earlier in the year. April is great for the first woodland perennials, ferns, heritage narcissus and other bulbs. The peonies and flowering shrubs come into their own in May, while June and July sees the beauty of summer perennials. Much of what you see in the garden is stocked in the specialist nursery alongside it. The Picton Garden and Old Court Nurseries Walwyn Rd, Malvern WR13 6QE. www.autumnmasters.co.uk
Tree lupins - underrated plants loved by Woodseaves
Woodseaves Garden Plants have been growing tree lupins and are keen so share their love of the plant with gardeners. Tree lupins are evergreen shrubs, semi-evergreen in harsh winters, flowering in late May, June and into July, and which grow to a height of between four and six feet with a second flush of flowers in the autumn, if pruned. They require welldrained soil, not necessarily rich soil, and poor soil is fine. Woodeaves’ range of tree lupins are yellow, blue, shades of pink, burgundy, lemon, and pink and lemon two toned (a cross with a Russell); their flowering impact is delightful to see. Woodseaves Garden Plants, Sydnall Lane Nursery, Woodseaves, Market Drayton, Shropshire, TF9 2AS. 01630 653161.
Affordable plant supports for any garden job
Tree Lupin (Lupinus arboreus) is an underrated plant and the only thing that has let it down is the knowledge of how to maintain and increase its longevity. Over the past 17 years
Plant Supports (UK) Ltd are a family run business who are extremely proud to be a totally British supplier of robust affordable supports. They manufacture high quality plant supports not only for the herbaceous and shrub borders but also for the vegetable garden. Keeping the garden pristine has never been so easy thanks to the great range of supports available from Plant Supports (UK) Ltd and should be regarded as an essential investment as the best will last for years. Order online at www.plantsupports.co.uk or call 01584 781578.
Woodseaves Garden Plants Woodseaves, Market Drayton, Shropshire, TF9 2AS. Tel: 01630 653161
For a full range of supports for the vegetable plot, herbaceous and shrub borders visit our website www.plantsupports.co.uk Plant Supports (UK) Ltd, Skipperley, Rochford, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, WR15 8SL
01584 781578 email@example.com
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Practical advice every issue on a range of gardening issues, problems and opportunities which prevents them from maturing into large heads. Their mild flavoured leaves are perfect for salads and several harvests can be taken from each plant - it’s called cut and come again cropping. These crops are perfect for grow bags. These have the valuable advantages of being easy to defend against slugs and snails and can be free of weeds - initially at least. Sow seeds in rows a finger’s width apart at two-week intervals from late March until late August for a steady supply of leaves throughout spring, summer and autumn. Each batch should yield three or four cuts and then the next sowing will take over.
GETTING A BETTER SHOW FROM AGAPANTHUS Agapanthus plants have never been more popular with their wonderful blue, white or even mauve displays standing out in borders. They form compact lumps of strappy leaves and flowering stems and they thrive in rich well drained but moisture retentive soil. One of the problems which affects their overall performance is that they can become congested at root level and become stunted. The trick is to become quite ruthless when it comes to dividing them out. This can be done in spring. Lift clumps and divide with back-to-back forks. Remove old stems and damaged roots. Large divisions mature to flowering size sooner than smaller pieces. You should aim to split large clumps about every five years. Food and water are also key to good flowering. Apply high potassium fertiliser fortnightly in the growing season and a general-purpose fertiliser twice over the summer.
SALADS AND HERBS IN GROWING BAGS Bags of ready to use salads on supermarket shelves are very expensive. It is easy to grow the freshest salad leaves yourselves, making sure you cut leaves when they are young 30
LILIES – PERFECT FOR POTS Lilies are perfect for pots and can bring wonderful colour to a patio. Lilies can still be potted in spring. They need a well-drained mix of equal parts John Innes No 3 and ericaceous compost with added grit. They are heavy feeders so add a time-release fertiliser when you plant. Plant them at roughly two and a half time the depth of the bulb. Place your pots in a bright, cool, airy spot such as a cold glasshouse or frame to encourage good root development. If forcing bring the pots indoors when the first flower buds show colour and place in a sunny position. As the stems begin to wither repot or transfer to the garden.
GETTING YOUR TIMING RIGHT FOR HARDENING OFF
A LATE PRUNE FOR WILLOW AND CORNUS
This is the time of year when it is important to get your timing right when it comes to hardening off plants to get them used to colder conditions. Plants raised in protected conditions indoors or in glasshouses need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement outdoors for about three weeks- known as hardening off. This thickens and alters the plants’ leaf structure and increases leaf waxiness ensuring new growth is sturdy enough for outdoors. Cold frames are ideal for hardening off. Prop the lid open slightly during the first week then increase the lid, opening gradually.
This is your last chance to cut back coloured-stemmed willow and cornus. If you have been giving such plants cautious haircuts, try chopping them right down to the ground now.
TACKLING TULIP FIRE DISEASE Tulip fire is a fungal disease of tulips caused by Botrytis tulipae, which produces brown spots and twisted, withered and distorted leaves. It is so named because plants appear to be scorched by fire. The disease shows itself in distorted or twisted leaves appearing soon after emergence from the soil and may wither or fail to develop. Brown spots of dead tissue appear on leaves. In severe cases the spots enlarge and extensive areas become brown and withered, giving the impression of fire scorch. A fuzzy grey mould may grow over dead areas in damp conditions. To fight back against this disease check bulbs carefully and discard any with signs of the small black sclerotia in the outer scales, or with any signs of decay. Remove infected bulbs promptly to avoid contaminating the soil with sclerotia. Do not plant tulips for at least three years in sites where tulip fire has occurred (five years if the disease is grey bulb rot). If a contaminated site must be replanted, dig the ground deeply to try and bury the contaminated upper layers deep enough to be below planting depth.
Now is the perfect time before bud break and this forces them to put on a surge, and it is that young, fresh, lessthan-a-year-old growth that will provide the strongest, most vibrant stem colour after the leaves fall in autumn. Anything that gets hard pruned needs to be fed and mulched regularly to replace those stored reserves. Now’s the time for this, too.
ONIONS – BULBS VERSUS SEEDS? You can grow onions and shallots either from seed or from onion sets -small bulbs. The main advantage to growing onions and shallots from seed is that seed are much cheaper. Seed grown onions and shallots also have the potential to produce larger bulbs as they can be sown in the greenhouse in winter, thereby extending the growing season. However it will require a little more time and effort, as well as taking up valuable greenhouse space, so many people prefer to opt for sets which can be planted directly into the garden. Some onion bulbs are heat treated. This simply means that they have been specially prepared to help prevent bolting - something which tends to occur particularly among red varieties. This process extends the growth period of the onions which allows heavier yields to be produced. Shallots and onions are of the same family and share many characteristics. From a culinary perspective, shallot bulbs are smaller and tend to have a milder flavour than onions. The main difference in the garden is that shallots form in clumps or rings of bulbs whereas onions grow as individual bulbs. Regardless of this, they are planted and grown in exactly the same way.
More than just hanging around! They are not every gardener’s favourite, but the rich choice of plants when planting can make hanging baskets look spectacularly colourful and stylish rather than just ordinary It sounds obvious but when it comes to making a spectacular hanging basket first choose your plants… It could well be that one of the reasons hanging baskets divide opinion amongst gardeners is that so many of the finished versions are just not very good on the eye. Most striking, perhaps, are the hanging baskets filled with verdant ivy geraniums, fuchsias and impatiens, all bearing brilliant blossoms and glossy foliage that spill out over the top and literally cover the sides of the containers. When hanging baskets are done well the result is dramatic. What could be more appealing than a hanging basket massed with flowering plants that will go on giving pleasure the entire summer? They can also serve a variety of functions, from accenting a front porch to filling an empty wall. No matter what the purpose, they offer an opportunity to play with plant combinations to create a riot of colour. It is also one of the easiest ways to connect your garden with your home. Creating a hanging basket is not difficult, even for a novice gardener. They can be planted up 32
in under an hour, if you put a little thought into it. So the first step toward creating such a lush, beautiful hanging basket is in choosing your plants. Long-trailing plants such as trailing petunias require only top planting. For shorttrailing plants such as ‘Tapien’ purple verbena, plant on the sides of the basket as well as the top for a full-looking floral display. Most soil mixes for hanging baskets are peatbased, and can be difficult to moisten after they dry out, so add some loam or humusbased potting soil, as well as kelp meal for trace elements. Baskets lose water through evaporation, so closely monitor their moisture level and in hot weather, check baskets daily. Water thoroughly but allow baskets to dry out slightly between waterings. A tablespoon of slow-release fertiliser as extra nutrients are needed for voluminous floral displays.
HOW TO PLANT UP HANGING BASKETS Choosing plants for baskets isn’t easy as there’s such a wide choice, but there are some
key rules to creating a tasteful display. Avoid putting too many different plants with lots of contrasting colours together or your basket will end up looking like an over elaborate wedding cake. Instead keep your choice of plants simple, using colours that work together well, such as soft yellows, pinks and white, or for something with a bit more zing, try different tones of red. When creating a hanging basket you will need several different types of plant. To give height in the centre of the basket choose pelargoniums, marguerites or fuchsia. Lobelia, pansies and cineraria are great for filling in gaps, while dichondra, petunia and trailing begonias can be planted at the edges to cascade over the sides of the basket. Dramatic effect comes from a single plant choice – this time lobelias
CHOOSING YOUR CONTAINER What kind of hanging baskets should you choose? Well, it comes down to taste, but 16inch wire baskets are great as you can plant up the sides, while natural rattan and Victorian style cast-iron baskets look more classy – these are fairly heavy, so make sure you screw the bracket to hold it securely to the wall.
PLANTING UP YOUR HANGING BASKET To make planting up easy stand your basket on top of a large pot to prevent it moving and remove one of the chains so they don’t get in the way.
What to plant and why LOBELIAS: Trailing lobelia have been used in baskets since they first became popular, but the old seed-raised types tend to fade towards the end of summer, or suffer badly if allowed to dry out. Fountain Mixture Trailing’ is ideal -red, pink, white and mauve flowers. FUCHSIAS: These will flower all summer if kept watered and fed; double-flowered types have more impact but make more mess than singles do when the dead flowers fall on to paving below. SWEET PEAS: Try ‘Pink Cupid’ -
Cover the inside of the basket with a liner and add an inch layer of hanging basket compost to the base. Select plants for the sides and from the inside of the basket, thread each through a slit until the rootball is snug against the liner. Firm soil around the rootballs.
A basic guide for good hanging baskets • Use as many plants as you can stuff in them, and then a few more! Ensure you do get good trailing plants with a good central unpright one. You can use around 20 plants for a 16-inch basket. Buy them small and let them fight over the root space; they will manage, they’re only going to be there for a season. • Plant them up and keep them indoors until they are growing well - a small cool greenhouse is ideal and then hang the baskets from the roof for about six weeks before they go out. • Feed and water far more than you imagine is needed. Use some loam compost and vermiculite in the mixture to give the basket weight and the ability to hold on to the water. • Deadhead, daily, twice a day in high summer • If it rains, take them down and put them out in the rain, they will do better for that than any watering you can do. If it is very windy, take them down anyway or they will end up rather tattered. • Finally - enjoy them, they can be stunning if well done.
fragrant pink and long lasting flowers . PETUNIAS: These are probably the most important hanging basket plants of all.. Try Petunia ‘Purple Velvet’ - rich purple flowers appear on long stems. BEGONIAS: The familiar Illumination Series bego have long combined good colours with good habit but, now that many more of the 900 begonia species are being used in their development, with some superb new types, including the gorgeous ‘Glowing Embers’. or Begonia ‘Chanson Pink’ - long stems with blousy pink blooms. GERANIUMS: Long lasting and low maintenance geraniums make excellent plants for placing in the centre of a hanging basket to add some vibrant colour. The flowers are available in www.countrygardener.co.uk
Forty Begonia ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’ plants went into this Devon hanging basket
many colours and appear on tall stems which rise up from the centre of the plant and can reach 40cm tall, just enough to be seen above the other plants. 33
grow your own Sp eCiAL
the bank balance in mind Grow-your-own fruit and vegetables tastes better, are fresher and can cost less too. We all grow our own for many reasons, but one of the most common is to save money. This looks like being the year to grow wisely and more profitably It’s almost here. That time of the year you decide what to grow when it comes to fruit and vegetables. Is it the same old tried and tested options, or time for a re-think? After a couple of years in decline it seems the grow your own ‘movement’ is again reaching record numbers. But after a winter short of some everyday vegetables in the shops there’s a new theme being considered more and more by gardeners –a much more critical choice about what are the best crops to grow to save money and get best value. The trend is now for less potatoes, carrots, parsnips and other root vegetables to be home grown . They are good value in stores and can take up a lot of space. Compare those to leeks, courgettes, asparagus and even spring onions and grow-again
salads and you can see how the discerning gardening is taking a fresh look about what is the best crop to grow. Choosing the vegetables to grow largely depends on a balance between what vegetables are the most expensive to buy in the shops, yet at the same time are the vegetables most in demand. It is all very well growing expensive vegetables such as artichokes, but how many people actually use them in their kitchens! Carrots, onions and potatoes may taste wonderful when grown at home, but unless they are solely for you and your family to eat, they are not very profitable to grow. Tomatoes are a higher maintenance crop, with high watering and feeding requirements. But they make the must-grow list because they are so high-yielding and tasty. Growing your own allows you to try a wide range of varieties which just aren’t available commercially - everything from small, golden cherry tomatoes, to large chocolate-black ones, all depending on what you’ll be using them for. If you are new to gardening, choose a reliable variety of small cherry tomato – these are the easiest to grow and make a tasty addition to salads.
Rhubarb is a high value crop because it’s so easy to take care of, comes back year after year, and is a distinctive fruit that’s often expensive to buy
Rhubarb often generates a mixed reaction from people, but it’s a high value crop because it’s so easy to take care of, comes back year after year, and is a distinctive fruit that’s often quite expensive to buy. When stalks are ready you can either harvest for immediate use, or store chopped and frozen for later. The only real care they need is adding some well-rotted manure at the start and end of the growing season, taking care not to cover the crowns which could easily rot. Fruit trees and bushes can yield an abundant crop for the space they occupy, but they do take a year or two to establish. If you’re short on space, you can train many as fans, espaliers or cordons against a sunny fence or wall. Cane fruit such as raspberries are also a great choice – they just need some pruning and feeding at the right time of the year, and they’ll provide a tasty abundant crop. Courgette plants are high yielding, producing between three and nine pounds) of fruit from each plant in a growing season. There is a wide range of different colours, sizes and tastes of fruit available if you are prepared to grow them from seed. If you’re growing on a balcony or small plot, climbing or tumbling varieties will make maximum use of your space. What a high-value crop is for you will depend on where you live and what you and your family like to eat, but the principles are the same. Look for what’s expensive to buy from the supermarket and what you can successfully grow in large quantities in the space you have (especially your favourite tasty varieties) to save money and enjoy a bounty of home-grown food.
QUICK GROWING MEANS SAVINGS Another way of breaking down the savings to be had is to consider the time taken to reach harvest point from sowing. So while a single ﬂush of radishes may not yield great riches, the fact that they take just three to four weeks to maturity means that the diligent re-sower will enjoy considerable savings over the course of the growing season. Beetroot takes maybe twice as long to grow but is still
W hy raised beds may be t he answer
Raised beds have become synonym ous with growing vegetables. They ca n be easier to acce ss than ground level vegetables an d easier to water than a lot of pots. But they really co me into their own when it comes to ease of improving the soil You can en hance poor soil in a garden by filling the raised bed with plenty of organic matter-well rotte d compost, manur e or leafmould. Using raised beds also tends to avoi d impacting the so if they are narrow il enough to be wor ked from either sides without tread ing on the bed its elf. Raised beds also make crop rotatio n a more straightforward ex ercise.
relatively quick and exceptionally versatile in the kitchen. But the number one quick-growing cash crop is any of the rapid-fire salad leaf mixes. These cut-and-come-again collectives have become incredibly popular over the last few years thanks to their ease of growing, delicious variety of textures, leaf shapes and colours – and no doubt because bags of salads leaves are so expensive.
DON’T FORGET A TOUCH OF LUXURY There are those vegetables that really are luxury items in the shopping basket: asparagus, sprouting broccoli, mangetout peas and globe artichokes to name a few. A couple of plants of any of these will produce plenty of spears, heads and pods. Asparagus is the most luxurious and perhaps easiest to grow considering how little effort it takes; plant a few asparagus crowns and you’ll be able to enjoy the spears from late spring to early summer for many years! Everybody knows that herbs transform dishes into something special. A permanent herb bed or planter takes up minimal space and will save a small fortune on the often quite measly sprigs offered in food stores.
grow your own Sp eCiAL
Top value crops Here’s the best crops for maximising your vegetable growing profits.
The most profitable crop of all to grow if you have the patience to wait until they can be harvested. From seed it will take three years, from crowns about two years. However, you will have
These are very expensive vegetables in the shops. Bearing in mind that each courgette plant can produce 20 courgettes or more over a season, this means that filling a large area of your land with courgettes can potentially generate many pounds in income.
an ongoing crop for anything from 15 to 25 years afterwards. Although each year your harvest period is only six to eight weeks, the price of these is very high, and each row will produce pounds of asparagus per year.
If you have access to a greenhouse so much the better as the indoor cucumbers are exactly the same as you buy in your local supermarket and lack the spines outdoor cucumbers have on their skins. You can get away with growing these in a sunny sheltered spot outdoors, (such as against a south facing wall). Each plant will produce about 15 to 20 cucumbers in a season. An essential ingredient in any salad, most families use these and therefore they are in high demand. Again a vertical crop ensures maximum return on a minimal amount of space, and these can be grown in a grow bag if you don’t have enough space.
Another high value crop, although the growing season can be rather long. Mind you, look at the price in the supermarket for three or four of them and you may be quite shocked. They are a little more tricky to grow as you may well need to plant most varieties in a hole and water carefully in order to ensure producing a long, thick, white stem to the resulting leek.
An easy crop to grow and again expensive to buy. A popular salad onion and delicious in sandwiches they are used in the majority of summer salads by a huge percentage of the population.
Crazily enough although these crops grow to maturity in around six weeks, they are fairly expensive to buy as a vegetable. A small bag holding about 150 grammes will still cost you the best part of a pound to buy in a supermarket. Better still they can be grown as a ‘row marker’ with slower to mature crops such as spring onions, beetroots and carrots, and can be harvested before the main crop in the row requires the space.
This delicious crop is ever popular and yet expensive. One of the best reasons to grow this profitable bean is the fact they take up little space because being climbers their cropping space is largely vertical rather than horizontal.
If harvested when small (golf ball sized), these are a pricey vegetable to buy. One of the advantaged of beetroot in the vegetable plot is that you can grow them throughout the season, pick when small and tender and they don’t take up a lot of space. 36
“THIS YEAR I’M BEING
Vegetables in containers
Country Gardener reader Jon Ardle says the trick in planning what to grow is seeing what’s expensive in the shops Around a quarter of us are growing our own food, according to the latest surveys at the end of last year. The primary motivation, it seems, is money – or rather, the lack of it. But does growing your own save much money? Six in ten growers said a rise in food prices meant they were trying to be more economical by growing their own, with two in ten saying they had less disposable income to spend on food. The rest are trying to eat more healthily. I’ve got a part share in a Somerset allotment, and for a few short and blissful weeks last summer I became being self-sufficient in soft fruit, potatoes, Swiss chard, courgettes and runner beans. I don’t think I saved money. I think my family and I ate so much better and it is one of the greatest pleasures to bring home grown vegetables into our kitchen to be cooked that night. According to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, a 250sq m plot of fruit and veg is ‘worth’ £1,362 a year – the figure would be considerably less just for veg (soft fruit gives the best return, as it’s always expensive to buy). However, most of us don’t have an allotment and have limited room for growing, so is harvesting veg from a small space really going to save anyone any money?
‘Concentrate on growing vegetables which are expensive in shops’
Lack of a garden or allotment need not limit the possibilities for growing vegetables. So many vegetables are now happy growing in pots or compost bags on a windowsill or balcony. In general use as big a pot as possible with a minimum depth of 15ssm. Choose a contained to suit the ultimate size and growing habit of the cropping plant. Root crops such as carrots need deep pots, while lettuce has a larger surface area so does better in a windowbox or growing bag. Watering is the key when growing in pots as plants will suffer if they are over or under watered, particularly those vegetables susceptible to mildew such as courgettes and peas. Make sure you check the compost every day- it should be moist but not sodden. Water thoroughly until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot- a light splash will encourage the roots to the surface where they will dry out faster. Make sure the pot has good drainage and raise the put off the ground on ‘feet’. The best vegetables to grow in containers are carrots, green beans, lettuce, cucumbers, courgettes, spinach and tomatoes.
The trick I have learnt comes from growing veg that’s expensive in the shops. It has now been established that you could save pounds by growing leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, fennel, tender stem broccoli, pattypan squash, shallots, watercress and spinach. I must say, I’m feeling pretty smug every time I see tiny punnets of raspberries on sale at extortionate prices. But if I worked out what I’ve spent on fruit bushes, plants, horticultural ﬂeece, cloches, netting, tools, preserving pans, cellophane discs and Tupperware containers I’ll be surprised if I’ve saved any money. I could even be down on the deal. I’m not complaining. I grow my own for the pleasure of growing, eating and sharing organic food – not to save money. Which is probably just as well. It’s just this year I’m being more selective and we will be enjoying some pretty sensational vegetables this summer. www.countrygardener.co.uk
cia e p S n io mpetit
WIN A NEW GENERATION JOHN DEERE MOWER FOR THE NEW GARDENING SEASON
If your lawn mower is past its best or if you are dreading the lawn cutting season which is about to awake then here’s something to lift your mood - the chance to win a new John Deere new generation walk-behind mower. It’s an exclusive competition for Country Gardener at the beginning of a new gardening season. Every John Deere lawn mowing solution has more than 175 years of experience built into it. So however big or small your lawn, you’ll enjoy the same advanced engineering and technology as the professionals who rely on our agricultural equipment around the world. The company is so confident about quality that on Select Series walk-behind lawn mowers, they give you a 15-year warranty on the mower deck. Our prize offer is the John Deere ‘Run 46’ - one of a new generation of mowers from the famous US manufacturers who have a worldwide reputation for farm and gardening machinery and instantly known for their green and yellow machines.
The Way to RUN your Garden The new John Deere RUN models are so easy to handle, your garden will be done in no time.
Ready to go The RUN Series models use proven, reliable four-stroke ReadyStart petrol engines. Even on chilly mornings, they start straight away – thanks to an automatic choke system that works just like the one in your car. This model is named after its cutting deck size - 46cms or 18 inches.
In 1837, the year the company began in Grant Detour, Illinois, John Deere, blacksmith and inventor, had little more than a blacksmith shop, a piece of discarded polished steel, and an idea that would help farmers, changing the face of agriculture and eventually gardening for all time.
How to enter All you need to do to enter this exclusive competition is answer a simple question and send your answer on a postcard with your name and address to John Deere 'Run 46 Mower Competition', Country Gardener, Mount House, Halse, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 3AD to reach us by Thursday13th April.
Question: In what US state did the John Deere company begin operating in 1837?
WIN a pair of Fiskars famous orange handled scissors This year will mark the 50th anniversary of Fiskars’ famous orange-handled scissors, a design icon that revolutionised the scissor world and which are hugely popular with gardeners. Originally known for their lighter, comfortable and easy to hold handles, the classic scissors were the world’s first plastic-handled scissors. Used by anyone and everyone, from families snipping wrapping paper to gardeners doing every day tasks, these orange-handled scissors have graced kitchen draws, sewing boxes, garden sheds and work tops since 1967. Originally, the handles were supposed to be black, red or green. However, as the prototype went into production the machinist decided to finish off them off in orange, and as a result Fiskars’ orange-handled scissors were born. The company have sold over a billion pairs in the past 50 years. 38
The origins of the company date back to 1649 when the ironworks were founded in Fiskars, Finland which was under Swedish rule, and Sweden was one of Europe's biggest producers of iron in the seventeenth century. Country Gardener has a dozen pairs of these wonderful scissors for readers to win. All you need to do is answer this simple question and send your answers on a postcard to ‘Fiskars Competition,’ Mount House, Halse Taunton Somerset, TA4 3AD to reach us no later than Thursday 13th April.
Question: What is the country of origin of the famous Fiskars scissors?
SPRING V ISI TS
don’t look now but its time to
Finally after months of patient waiting, spring is on the way.
March is for gardeners and lovers of gardens the perfect time to start filling up the diary with places and events to get out and see. it’s the start of the busiest few weeks of the year - full of garden shows, festivals, gardens open, event days at garden centres to visit ,opportunities to visit nurseries and whether you are in a buying or just a visiting mood there’s lots more to see and learn about. we’re spoilt for choice with gardens just beginning to show off every early season horticultural delight from camellias to rhododendrons and not forgetting wonderful displays of daffodils the trick is to get dates in the diary and plan the next month or so. enjoy your days out.
sPecialist Plant Fair at knoll gardens Plant lovers can meet up with some nationally-renowned local growers, see the best of their spring range and get some top growing tips at wimborne’s knoll gardens on saturday, 22nd april. this is a specialist spring plant fair with a difference, featuring a selection of locally grown plants from nationally recognized nurseries. alongside knoll’s own extensive display of grasses and ﬂowering perennials, visitors will be able to browse and buy a range of quality plants from leading nurseries. this year there will also be an opportunity to take home locally made willow sculptures, find out more about local wildlife organisations and meet up with representatives of local plant societies. the specialist Plant Fair runs from 10am to 4pm on saturday, 22nd april and admission is free. Visit www.knollgardens.co.uk or call 01202 873931.
Nynehead Court CHARITY ‘NATURE DAY’
For spectacular spring walks... Wander through clouds of confetti-like blossom at beautiful Batsford Arboretum. Enjoy fabulous food and a wonderful selection of gifts and gardening goodies and plants. A perfect day out for all the family - dog friendly too!
HARFORD, IVYBRIDGE, PL21 0JF
Saturday 25th March 11am - 4pm
To be opened by Naturalist and Broadcaster Chris Sperring MBE, Featuring talks from local wildlife experts, demonstrations, and activities. Adults £5, children free.
Nynehead Court, Nynehead, Wellington TA21 0BW Tel: 01823 662481 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our Facebook page for details of forthcoming events.
Rare Shrubs & Trees Pools & Waterfalls Home-made soups & teas 26th March - 11th June Open Sundays, Wednesdays, Bank holidays 11am - 5pm
Tel: 01752 691749 www.lukesland.co.uk
Visit www.batsarb.co.uk for details on our forthcoming events BATSFORD ARBORETUM AND GARDEN CENTRE Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9AD. Tel: 01386 701441 E: email@example.com www.batsarb.co.uk BatsfordArboretum
SPRING V ISI TS
caerhays woodland gardens are now oPen caerhays castle woodland gardens are grade ii listed spanning over 140 acres as part of the caerhays estate and are home to an nccPg national Magnolia collection. the beautiful gardens are also home to the world famous x williamsii camellias and marvellous rhododendrons making caerhays one of cornwall’s famous and much loved spring gardens. visitors to the gardens can also relax in the Magnolia tearooms at caerhays, which serves a variety of locally sourced and homemade produce from tea and homemade cakes to light lunches and snacks. garden admission: adults £8.50, seniors £7.50 for seniors, £4.50 for children 5-16 years. children under 5 free. £2 discount for Pl25, Pl26, tr1 or tr2 postcodes. caerhays gardens are now open; caerhays castle will be open from Monday 20th March. Caerhays Castle and Gardens, Gorran, St. Austell, PL26 6LY. Tel: 01872 501310. www.caerhays.co.uk
hartland aBBey ready to celeBrate its Favourite Month april is one of the loveliest months in the north devon hartland abbey gardens. spring really has sprung with the daffodils, narcissi and spring bulbs and the tulips setting the walled gardens alight. each year there are loved old favourites and exciting new varieties. azaleas and
rhododendrons in the woodland gardens are bursting into ﬂower and the glorious bluebells put on their annual treat all the way from the walled gardens to the sea. easter Bunny hunts will be lots of fun for children on easter sunday and Monday, and a special, reduced entry, Bluebell day the following sunday. daffodil sunday is a special day on 12th March and a chance to see early spring in the valley before the season begins. www.hartlandabbey.com
caMellias, and rhododendrons galore at lukesland gardens lukesland gardens, situated in a peaceful woodland valley on the fringe of dartmoor (just ten minutes off the a38), has a wonderful collection of camellias, rhododendrons, magnolias and azaleas, set against a wonderful backdrop of wild ﬂowers. the tumbling addicombe Brook is criss-crossed by many charming bridges and its ponds and pools are home to plentiful wildlife. with home-made soup and cakes served up by the howell family in the victorian tea room and a children’s trail to keep the younger generation amused, these 24-acre gardens have something for everyone. dogs are welcome on a lead. this year spring openings are from 11am to 5pm on sundays, wednesdays and all Bank holidays from 26th March – 11th June. Tel: 01752 691749 or go to www.lukesland.co.uk
Specialist Plant Fair Saturday 22 April 10am - 4pm
AZALEAS, HARDY PERENNIALS, CAMELLIAS, BLUEBERRIES, RHODODENDRONS, FERNS & ORNAMENTAL GRASSES Meet nationally renowned expert growers and buy from the best of their stock
Morton Hall Gardens
Rare & unusual plants • willow sculptures local wildlife organisations • free admission Knoll Gardens, Stapehill Rd, Wimborne BH21 7ND Tel: 01202 873931 www.knollgardens.co.uk
Open from April to September 2017 NEW: NGS OPEN DAYS 22/04 & 17/06
All other visits for groups by appointment only
Open every day from 31st March
For details please visit www.mortonhallgardens.co.uk or call 01386 791820 40
Free daily composting talks 10th - 16th April Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7LQ 01822 854769 firstname.lastname@example.org
castle hill estate oFFers an array oF sights and scents now is the perfect time to explore the beautiful gardens of north devon’s castle hill estate. set against the magnificent 18th century Palladian style house and located in the rolling hills of north devon, the 50-acre gardens offer visitors an array of sights and scents with an abundance of plants and trees in breath-taking scenery. a network of paths interspersed with follies and temples lead to the castle set high on the hill with panoramic views across exmoor and beyond. the gardens change with the seasons making them a delight throughout the year. no visit would be complete without a tasty light lunch or delicious cream tea. Tel: 01598 760336 Ext 1. Email: email@example.com Castle Hill Estate, Filleigh, South Molton EX32 0RQ.
soMerset grouP oF hardy Plant society’s annual Plant sale the hardy Plant society somerset group will be hosting their popular annual plant sale on saturday 22nd april from 10am to 12.30pm at west Monkton village hall, Monkton heathfield, ta2 8ne, just outside taunton (half a mile from Monkton elm garden centre, ta2 8ne). a variety of stalls will be run by specialist nurseries and member growers selling a large selection of quality locally grown hardy plants, including some rare and unusual varieties, at competitive prices. entry is £1 and refreshments available, with free parking.
castle drogo gardens ready to coMe alive hidden behind the immaculate yew hedges at national trust castle drogo stands a unique lutyens designed terraced formal garden. the garden comes alive in spring, so it’s the perfect time visit and wander through borders bursting with the vibrant colour of azaleas and rhododendrons. in the teign gorge the ancient woodlands emerge from their winter sleep and the ground becomes a carpet of heavily scented bluebells and wild ﬂowers. you can also pay a visit to the castle where the conservation project to save the castle is continuing. Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, Exeter EX6 6PB Tel: 01647 433306 www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-drogo
insPiration galore at the garden house
CA ST L E & G A RDENS
Gardens open: 20th February – 18th June. Castle is open for guided tours: 20th March – 16th June
As one of Britain’s horticultural treasure troves, holders of a National Magnolia Collection and members of the Great Gardens of Cornwall, Caerhays Castle and Gardens are nothing short of spectacular for a spring time visit. Whilst here, pop into The Magnolia Tearooms and the gift shop. If your postcode is PL25, PL26, TR1 or TR2, bring proof of your address and save £2 on all entry prices.
01872 501310 firstname.lastname@example.org
new gardeners looking for inspiration and seasoned gardeners wanting to dig a little deeper behind the scenes are all welcome at the garden house at Buckland Monachorum. during national gardening week the gardening team at this ten-acre garden on the edge of dartmoor, devon will be sharing their experience about the composting process. “Mulching is vital to improve the soil, keep weeds down and support healthy plant growth. we make as much compost as we can and we’re happy to share the know-how,” says nick haworth, head gardener. the garden house is open from Friday March 31st, seven days a week, with national gardening week running from Monday april 10th to easter sunday 16th april. compost talks are at 11am and 3pm daily, with no extra charge for the talks, normal admission applies. www.thegardenhouse.org.uk
MindFul walks within Bowood’s woodland gardens it has been said that gardeners and ﬂorists are among the happiest workers, so the sense of wellbeing promoted by visiting gardens will be particularly highlighted shortly at Bowood’s woodland gardens in wiltshire. its magnificent displays of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas burst into colour for six weeks from late april when bluebells herald the start of the season. with Mental health awareness week from Monday, 8th to sunday, 14th May falling neatly within this time frame, the woodland gardens will be featuring ‘Mindful walks’ from sunday, 7th May to sunday 14th
Woodland Gardens at Beautiful Bowood
Over two miles of winding paths; an oasis of Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Magnolias
Open 28th April to early June, 11am to 6pm Admission Prices
- Adult £8.00 - Senior Citizen £7.25 - Children under 12 are free - Same day combined discounted tickets to Bowood House & Gardens and the Woodland Gardens are also available
Bowood House & Gardens, Calne, Wiltshire, SN11 OLZ email@example.com 42 6739 - Bowood House - February Advertising 2017 Woodland Gardens Ad.indd Country Gardener 1
01249 812102 www.bowood.org 10/02/2017 14:56
May, encouraging visitors to connect with nature and the calm of their surroundings Visit www.bowood.org/events for more details.
Breath-taking views at Morton hall gardens Perched on top of an escarpment with breath-taking views, the late 18th century manor house of Morton hall, near ink Berrow in worcestershire is nestled within ancient woodlands and meadows. its eight acres of garden and park have recently been restored, and now combine historic and new features in a unique fashion. there is interest all year round, with one of the country’s most impressive fritillary meadows, sumptuous herbaceous borders, a striking potager, a majestic woodland rockery and an elegant Japanese style garden. Both landscape and intricate planting are best explored in a continuous journey which takes the visitor through a succession of linked garden rooms. Tel: 01386 791820. www.mortonhallgardens.co.uk
sPetchley Park gardens Boasts huge narcissus collection spetchley Park gardens connection with the daffodil is a long and largely unsung story. home to the Berkeley family for 400 years, the victorian garden was designed in part by ellen willmott who was a prolific narcissus grower creating a catalogue any collector would envy. the displays of spring bulbs in april and May, including drifts of narcissi ‘spetchley’, are some of the best in england and are complemented by a springtime shrub garden containing
rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias and azaleas. set within 30 glorious acres spetchley has one of the largest private collections of plant varieties outside the major botanical gardens. open april to september, wednesday to sunday 11am-6pm (and bank holidays), weekends only in october 11am-4pm. www.spetchleygardens.co.uk
Barnsley village garden Festival saturday, May 20th is the day of this year’s Barnsley garden Festival. started in the late 1980’s by the late rosemary verey, the festival has gone from strength to strength. this photogenic cotswold village boasts some fine gardens including Barnsley house, Barnsley Park, the little house and herbs for healing. Festivities will include stalls, music, dancing, home-made teas, a cricket match and a pub barbecue. the judge this year will be gardening writer Mary keen. she will assess the gardens at 12 noon. garden passports £7 children free. Barnsley is 4 miles from cirencester on the B4425.
colourFul gardens on disPlay at historic Friars court enclosed within the remaining arms of a 16th century moat, the gardens of 17th century Friars court divide into ‘roomlike’ areas of borders and specimen trees. Friars court is an historic, privately owned, predominantly 17th century house set in four acres of partly moated informal gardens of three and a half acres. the front of the house has ponds of waterlilies and a woodland walk lies beyond the imposing yew arch and ‘Monet’ style moat bridge.
Spring Days Out at The Bishop's Palace • 14 acres of RHS partner gardens • See the Wells that give the City its name • Spring Flowers • Daily Guided Tours & Horticultural Tours • Easter Holiday Family Activities • Medieval Falconry 14th April • Community Garden & Contemporary •
Garden of Reflection Cafe & Shop
T 01749 988111 www.bishopspalace.org.uk www.countrygardener.co.uk
SPRING V ISI TS the grounds of Friars court are open on Monday, 29th May then tuesdays and thursdays in June, July and august from 2pm-6pm. and for those who want to enjoy the hospitality of this historic family house there are home-made cakes and cream teas, with plants for sale by the shop. Friars Court, Clanﬁeld, Oxfordshire, OX18 2SU. www.friarscourt.com
evenley wood hosts second rare Plants Fairs the unique woodlands gardens of evenley wood garden near Brackley hosts the second rare Plant fair of the season on sunday 2nd april. this is followed by the long-standing event at the old rectory at Quenington, near cirencester, on sunday, 9th april. set amongst the beautiful northamptonshire countryside, evenley wood is a 60-acre, private garden which has been developed over a period of 37 years by the late tim whiteley. the garden’s unusual band of acid soil in this otherwise predominantly alkaline area provides the opportunity to cultivate plants such as rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias, which would not ordinarily thrive in this location. carpets of named snowdrops run into wonderful spring bulbs and the garden’s 800m long scilla ‘stream’ as the garden jumps into life. the nurseries that attend the fairs are carefully selected to ensure that they are genuine growers who produce most or all of the plants that they sell themselves.
the fair is open from 11am to 4pm, and adult entry, which includes entry to the fair and garden costs £5. Full details, including a list of the nurseries attending the event, can be found at www.rareplantfair.co.uk Evenley Wood Gardens, Evenley, Brackley, Northamptonshire, NN13 5SH.
nynehead court organises second naturewatch event Following the success of their previous naturewatch event, nynehead court near wellington in somerset are hosting a spring ‘nature day’ on sunday 25th March. entry is £5 per adult and attractions will include expert speakers on otters, owls, langford heathfield, and wildlife on the avalon Marshes. activities for children and adults alike will include bug hotels and wildﬂower bombs, demonstrations and a hawk display. visit nynehead court Facebook page for details of the naturewatch day programme. Tickets from Nynehead Court on 01823 662481 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
BlossoM sPectacular at BeautiFul BatsFord arBoretuM this sPring home to one of the largest private tree collections in the country, it’s in the spring that Batsford arboretum’s national collection of Japanese Flowering cherries and the stunning davidia (or Pocket handkerchief) tree take centre stage.
Barnsley Village Garden Festival
Hartland Abbey & Gardens
Easter Egg Hunts on Sun 16th & Mon 17th April Bluebell Sunday 23rd April Visit this fascinating house, its beautiful gardens, spring flowers and bluebell walks to the beach. ‘Filming on the Hartland Abbey Estate since 1934’ exhibition. * Dogs welcome * Delicious light lunches & cream teas * Holiday Cottages * House, Gardens and Café: March 26th - Oct 1st Sun to Thurs (inc Good Friday) 11.00 - 5pm (House 2pm - last adm. 4.15pm)
For all information and events see www.hartlandabbey.com (Only 1 mile to Hartland Quay) Hartland, Nr. Bideford EX39 6DT 01237441496/234
ANNUAL PLANT SALE at West Monkton Village Hall, Monkton Heathfield, Taunton, TA2 8NE on Saturday 22 April 2017 10am - 12.30pm * All Welcome * * Free Parking on Site * * Entry £1 * * Refreshments on Sale *
Castle Hill Gardens
FILLEIGH, NR SOUTH MOLTON, DEVON EX32 0RH Tel: 01598 760336 (ext 1) 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 £6.50, Seniors £6, Child (5-15) £3, Family £15.50, Groups (20+) £5.50 44
Wander at the Add some colour spring colour intothe your weekend this Castle Drogo autumn at Gibside garden. Go crunching through fallen leaves and discover a forest The garden is open daily teeming with wildlife and autumn colours, with walking routes for all ages and abilities. 10am-5.30pm.
nationaltrust.org.uk/gibside Call 01647 433306 for details nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-drogo When you visit, donate, volunteer or join the National Trust, your
©support National Trust The places National helps us to look2016. after special <in the region> <like property Y and Proeprty Z> in for ever, for everyone. Trust is X, anproperty independent registered charity, number 205846. © National Trust 2016. The National Trust is an independent © National Trust registered charity, number Photography Photography ©205846. National Trust #nationaltrust Images. #nationaltrust Images.
Sat 20th May 2017 - 10.30am
r (free fo u14’s)
Open Gardens include: BARNSLEY HOUSE BARNSLEY PARK HERBS FOR HEALING GARDEN
with music, morris dancing, barbecue, craft stalls, & village hall teas!
Batsford garden centre is a haven for garden and plant lovers, offering an unusual range of quality, affordable plants and sundries and gift shop, perfect for books and unusual gifts. no visit is complete without enjoying home-baked cakes, lunches and afternoon teas on the wooden deck of the garden terrace café. Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos, GL56 9AD. Tel: 01386 701441 Email: email@example.com Visit www.batsarb.co.uk
east laMBrook welcoMes annual early season Plant Fair the popular somerset cottage garden at east lambrook Manor again hosts an early spring plant fair on saturday, 25th March. the garden and former home of the legendary plantswoman and gardening writer Margery Fish stages the event in collaboration with the hardy Plant society’s somerset group. there’s a strong demand from nurseries for pitches at this popular event and this year there will be 17 excellent independent nurseries offering choice and unusual plants of the kind not always found in garden centres. the plant fair will run from 10am to 4pm with the £4 per head entry price also giving full access to the famous cottage garden, a reduction on the normal garden entry price of £6. For royal horticultural society and hPs members there is the further reduced price of £3.50.
east lambrook’s owner Mike werkmeister comments, “the end of March can be a wonderful time in the garden here with everything simply bursting into growth, so the plant fair is a great excuse to enjoy an early visit to the garden as well.” tea or coffee and excellent cakes will be on sale in the Malthouse café, where as usual the wood burner will be blazing away. East Lambrook Manor, East Lambrook, South Petherton TA13 5HH. www.eastlambrook.com
the BishoP’s Palace announces third annual garden Festival here’s a summer date for your diary: the third english country garden Festival will take place at the Bishop’s Palace and gardens in wells, from Friday 9th to sunday 11th June, 10am-5pm each day. the annual event was launched by alan titchmarsh two years ago, and is a celebration of the horticultural heritage held within the plantsman’s paradise of the Bishop’s Palace and gardens. on Friday 9th June Matthew Biggs, panellist on BBc gardeners’ Question time, will open the festival. gardening writer and broadcaster anne swithinbank will speak in the afternoon on ‘My life with Plants’. on saturday 10th June alan Power, the garden and estate manager at nt stourhead will be speaking in the afternoon about the estate and its management. tickets are £6.99 in advance and £7.99 on the door (concessions £5.90 and £6.90) Available from the Palace Shop, by telephone on 01749 988 111 or on www.bishopspalace.org.uk
Spring into Spetchley from 1st April Visit 30 acres of beautiful gardens and enjoy all that spring has to offer: • The largest private collection of plant varieties outside the major botanical gardens • Enchanted Fairy Door Trail, Guided Tours, Events and Workshops • Tea Room, Gift Shop and Plant Sales
Golden Egg Trail 12th April - 17th April
Join us for Spetchley Specialist Plant Fair Sunday 23 April 2017 Facebook “f ” Logo
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Facebook “f ” Logo
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t: 01905 345106 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: spetchleygardens.co.uk Spetchley Park Gardens, Spetchley, Worcester WR5 1RS www.countrygardener.co.uk
VICTORIAN GARDEN SECRETS
POISONOUS intentions! by Vivienne Lewis Arsenic, strychnine and nicotine were just some of the poisons used by Victorian gardeners who thought nothing of using them to keep pesky insects off their cabbages and flowering plants What we would certainly consider to be poisons, not to be used, were commonplace in Victorian times. Opium, in the form of laudanum, was a universal painkiller, while arsenic was even used as a cosmetic to lighten the skin and if you had toothache you could buy cocaine tablets! Strychnine and cyanide were readily available and used in many ways. Cyanide was everywhere, used in paints and wallpapers. Strychnine was widely used a pesticide to keep rodents and other pests under control in large cities. It’s no wonder that gardeners then thought nothing of using mercury, arsenic and other hazardous substances to keep insect pests at bay. Nicotine was the favourite insecticide, proven to work to kill off aphids and other unwanted insects, and tobacco plants were grown in domestic gardens. The Victorian gardeners made tobacco water by dissolving a pound of tobacco in four gallons of water to which a quarter of a pound of soft soap was added.
Victorian Gardeners were well versed in the horticultural uses of arsenic and strychnine 46
Although there were an increasing number of patented fumigator containers the most basic and often used method was just to make a hole in an old flower pot, put some coal in and paper impregnated with tobacco water, light it and using a pair of bellows slowly blow the fumes over plants. This was particularly recommended to deal with aphids on apples. Sometimes a tent was made of flimsy cloth to stop the fumes escaping too quickly. What about the effects on the gardeners? Nicotine liquid is poisonous – and left around, animals might drink it and children might get hold of it. Flowers of sulphur were used in the same way as a fungicide. The bellows used with this were called sulphurers. Gardeners also used phosphorous paste to poison cockroaches, and to kill rats they put arsenic into roasted apples or boiled potatoes and left them out. Pity the poor dogs and other animals that were around. Bordeaux mixture originally from France as its name implies and was formulated to use on grape vines, was a mixture of copper and slaked lime and was considered especially effective against potato blight. An alternative was carbonate of copper mixed with ammonia or iron sulphate with sulphuric acid. Quassia, a South American wood, was chipped and steeped in water then the liquid used in a syringe. Ashes, soot (also used as a fertiliser), dung, soap suds, soft soap and petroleum jelly, cart grease, train oil – all were in the array of Victorian gardeners’ weaponry against pests in the home garden and market garden. By 1859 Gishurst Compound had been patented and was being advertised in the bestselling gardening magazine Gardeners’ Chronicle. Gardeners were instructed to use 2oz to a gallon of water to rid roses and greenhouse plants by spraying or sponging by hand, to get rid of greenfly, red spider, aphids, mealy bug and thrips. But customers were advised not to make the solution too strong. It was sold well into the 20th century, finally superseded by synthetic pesticides which had begun to be produced during World War II. Suttons, the seed company, were still offering
it in the early 1950s but by the time the product had been selling for 100 years it had disappeared from the catalogues. It had been one of the most successful of the old pesticides. Rhubarb water was made from rhubarb leaves boiled in water, then strained and sprayed on to the foliage of pot plants to get rid of greenfly. Aphis brushes came in different designs, one of the most common resembling a pair of scissors with a small soft-bristled brush on the end of each blade, and brushed over foliage. Carnivorous plants, especially Sarracenias helped Victorian gardeners keep down the insect pests – but could also trap beneficial insects, even bees. Dionaea, better known as Venus fly traps, which had long fascinated 19th century botanists, were often used. At first it was thought that the liquid formed inside the plant which killed the insects came from the prey as it decomposed, but from a series of experiments (including feeding bits of raw meat to the plants!) it was concluded that the fluid came from the plant itself and it acted like gastric juice. Various experiments included those done by Charles Darwin, whose book Insectivorous Plants published in 1875 detailed his findings. Gardening was not only a male preserve in the 19th century. There had always been the labouring weeding women who were paid a pittance, and this work was very like field work, which they also did. But it became fashionable for middle class ladies to take up gardening, urged on by writers such as Jane Loudon, the wife of the celebrated horticultural writer and editor John Claudius Loudon. To reach this new market, lighter gardening tools were produced that included those used for treating plants with pesticides. Advertisements of the times show such useful tools as a ‘Ladies’ Floral Syringe’ to be used in ferns and the popular window cases that were small greenhouses and became popular adornments of Victorian sitting rooms. The syringe was made of brass with a polished rosewood handle and fine holes to spray the plants, and came in various sizes.
Pyrethrum is mad e from the dried flower heads of Chrysant hemum cinerariif olium and Chrysanthem um coccineum an d is a traditional natura l insecticide that has been used universally fo r centuries, still us ed in organic agricultu re, with synthetic ally produced pyrethroids based on the natural pl ant. But there are drawba cks – it can cause skin complaints, sneezin g, The best way to us a runny nose and asthma. e it in gardening is to use chrysanthemums as a companion pl ant vegetables, as it w ill repel pest insect near s from nearby crops and ornamental plants .
Outside, in the kitchen garden, the male gardener could use a powerful Hydronette, which relied on manually pumping pressure and revolutionised the watering and washing down of plants and one of the special liquids made from steeping plants could be used. We are amazed that the Victorians used lethal chemicals, but then DDT was used for decades before it was realised how much environmental damage had been caused. DDT, a chlorine-based pesticide, had been synthesised in 1874; its insecticidal action was discovered in 1939 and in World War II was very effective in treating malaria and typhus. It became widely used in agriculture as an insecticide but Rachel Carson’s famous book Silent Spring which was published in 1962 made alarm bells ring. In it she advocated that society should take a much more careful approach to the use of chemicals when long term effects were not fully understood. She claimed that DDT was causing cancer and was a threat to wildlife, especially birds. The book caused an outcry and ten years later DDT was banned in the USA, with a worldwide ban following, although there is still some controversial, limited, use of DDT because of its effectiveness in reducing malarial infections.
HIGH STAKES! Perennials in borders often put on strong lush growth that makes them vulnerable to collapse, especially after heavy rain or strong winds. Staking them early in the season will avoid disaster. It is a misconception commonly entertained by new and old gardeners that herbaceous perennials, looking just fabulous as they power upwards and start to form their buds, will stay bolt upright all by themselves for the summer. The reality is most of them don’t – and they will need some help. It only needs a downpour or a gust or two and flowercovered clumps (herbaceous geraniums and asters) can open up and collapse, while majestic spires (delphiniums and verbascums) may lean, tumble and snap. Any attempts to shore everything up can make a border look as though a herd of cattle has been on the loose. Plant supports should be ideally inserted in spring, before plants have made too much growth. The plants will then grow through the support and hide it from view. Later staking is difficult as plant growth is more advanced and can easily be damaged. It may be necessary to continue tying the stems or raise the level of the used supports as the plant grows. However, emergency staking is often necessary. Badly bent or snapped stems should be cut off cleanly. Regrowth may follow and the cut flower stems can be enjoyed in the vase. Otherwise, make-shift supports should be set up as soon as possible to minimise further damage and prevent flopped plants smothering neighbouring plants.
Where to use staking So here’s some points to consider when staking: When choosing the most suitable support, you need to match it to the vigour of the plant Don't tie in plants too rigidly; they should be able to move in the wind When tying in individual stems, use a figure-of-eight technique so the string passes between the stem and the cane to prevent rubbing Use 3-ply soft twine for tying small plants, but 5-ply soft twine is required for larger specimens
Specific plant types Upright, tall, clump-forming perennials e.g. delphinium, perennial sunflower and Rudbeckia laciniata can be supported with canes or rods and twine Single stem ring supports can be used to support stems of plans with large single blooms such oriental poppies, 48
foxgloves and more compact delphinium cultivars Bushy clump-forming perennials such as aster bellflower, Leucanthemum and phlox grow well through netting or grow-through circular grid support frames. Alternatively, use link stakes or back to back border restrains. Top-heavy plants such as herbaceous peony and dahlias are also well-suited to grow through circular grid supports or use Y-stake supports. Spiral rings are useful to prop up such plants later on when blooming. Pea-sticks are useful for both short front-of-the-border (e.g. penstemon, yarrow and flax) as well as taller back-border plants (e.g. Crambe cordifolia and Heliopsis) Using border restrains is practical way how to keep the front of the border neat and prevent flopping plants damaging the turf.
Problems Prevent physical damage to plants during the staking process by inserting supports starting early in the season when the growth commences. Tying stems too tightly to the support can lead to stem damage. Secure growing stems regularly or add another tier of string or netting to prevent the plants outgrowing the support and subsequent damage. Make sure that supports for tall plants and large clumps are well anchored in the ground to prevent the support with the plants to be blown over.
Why stake perennials • Plants with tall brittle stems and substantial flower spikes such delphinium are easily damaged by strong winds • Clumps of many perennials can split and flop on the ground in bad weather or under the weight of their own flowers • Even shorter perennials may droop over the edges of the border damaging the turf and will require staking • Flowers of others, e.g. peony or dahlia, can be too heavy and may need to be staked individually to be able to appreciate the blooms • Collapsed stems can also smother adjoining plants
JOBS IN THE GARDEN
JOBS in the
Perhaps more than any other month it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the weather during April. Frosts are still common, and many plants and flowers may need protection in the form of fleece or cloches. Hopefully, the ground will not be too wet and so now is a good time to finish off digging over your plot in preparation for all the vegetables you are going to grow. As the weather gets warmer, the weeds will grow in earnest. So a mantra for the month is regular weeding, before they take over...
POTATOES AND ONIONS Plant out seed potatoes once ‘chitted’. Grow half a dozen in a dustbin if you have room in the greenhouse for a plate of earlies. Line out then just plunge onion sets and shallots into ground that has been firmed and raked. They like soil that's been manured the previous year.
Get your lawn in shape After a winter of neglect, your lawn will benefit from a bit of tender love and care now. Start mowing once a week, beginning with the blades at the highest setting and gradually lowering them over the weeks.
Ready, steady, sow As soon as the ground reaches 6°C you can start to sow salad, beetroot and annual herbs, such as dill and rocket. The same goes for hardy annuals, such as larkspur, nigella or seed mixes. If your soil still feels cold lay fleece directly over freshly sown seed to hold in the heat. Continue to sow seed of half-hardy annuals under cover. Sow in small pots rather than trays to save space, and prick out after the first leaf is fully formed. A pinch of anything as fine as salt will be enough for most gardens, but larger seed such as ipomoea, tagetes and squash can be sown in pairs in 10cm pots. Never handle seedlings by the stem when pricking out. To avoid damage, gently grasp the first set of primary leaves.
Evergreens, such as rosemary, lavender, bay, myrtle, sage and thyme, can be pruned as soon as the winter is over. Never cut into old wood and always leave enough foliage to help draw energy back into the limbs.
For a perfect finish, trim the lawn’s edges with long-handled shears or a grass trimmer. Bare or thin patches of grass can be thickened up by raking over the surface and then resowing. Lastly, give the lawn a feed. If it contains weeds or moss, treat these at the same time with a weed, feed and mosskiller treatment. If you are turfing, this is the perfect time to do so. Work from boards to tap the sods gently into place and spread your weight. Stagger the joints as you would bricks in a wall. If the weather is dry you may need to water to prevent curling at the edges. Feed established lawns with a slow-release organic fertiliser high in nitrogen to get things off to a good start.
PLANT OUT SWEET PEAS After pinching out sweet peas last month, they should have strong side-shoots that will flower well. Plant them next to a support that they can climb by wrapping their tendrils around; they’ll need to be tied in with string at the start to get them going.
Bed of roses Foliage-feed the first new growth on the roses and continue to do so every three to four weeks to avoid the use of toxic rose sprays. A rose ‘tonic’ from your garden centre will help to ward off blackspot and mildew which will be lying dormant and ready to pounce. A handful of slow-release organic blood, fish and bone spread evenly about the roots will set up the health of your plants.
START AN ASPARAGUS BED Early April is not too late to start an asparagus bed. Make sure the ground is prepared ready for the arrival of the asparagus crowns as you will need to plant them shortly after they arrive. The crowns must not be allowed to dry out.
CLEAN UP YOUR STRAWBERRY BEDS OR POTS Remove any dead or damaged leaves and old runners from the plants. If the plants are getting older, thin out the smaller crowns leaving three to four crowns per plant. Apply a fresh layer of straw if using as a mulch. All soft fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, and gooseberries will benefit from a mulch. Garden compost, leaf mould, organic manure, straw, hay and spent mushroom compost can all be used. Hay is more beneficial than straw as it breaks down more easily and releases more nutrients into the soil. Apply an acidic mulch to blueberries and cranberries. These are acid loving plants, so mulch with an 8cm (3in) layer of acidic material such as bark or old pine needles – kept from your Christmas tree!
MUST-DO JOBS • Feed bare soil between plants with generalpurpose fertiliser and dose acid-loving rhododendrons and camellias with sequestered iron. • Prune the ﬂowered shoots of hydrangeas and winter jasmine. • Sow peas, broad beans, brassicas, leeks, root veg, spinach, chicory, Swiss chard, salad and hardy herbs. • Pinch-out fuchsia, sweet peas and pelargoniums to encourage bushiness and heavier flowering. Deadhead daffodils and tulips as the flowers finish but leave the foliage intact allowing it to die back naturally. • Divide hostas before they come into leaf. • • Plant out strawberry beds, making sure you enrich the soil first with plenty of well-rotted manure. Place cloches over your strawberry plants for earlier crops. • Mulch fruit trees with well rotted manure or garden compost taking care not to mound mulch up around the trunk.
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COMPILED BY KATE LEW IS DIARY EVENTS FROM CLUBS AND ORGANISATIONS AROUND SUSSEX
Here’s a selection of Sussex gardening events to look out for over the next few weeks. Thank you to all those gardening clubs who have sent us their details of events for us to publicise. Send us details of your event at least ten weeks before publication and we will publicise it free of charge. Make sure you let us know where the event is being held, the date and include a contact telephone number. We are keen to support garden club events and we will be glad to publicise talks and shows held during the year where clubs want to attract a wider audience, but we do not have space for club outings or parties. We suggest that garden clubs send us their diary for the year for events to be included in the relevant issue of the magazine. Please send to Country Gardener Magazines, Mount House, Halse, Taunton TA4 3AD or by email to email@example.com.
MARCH 16th ALTON HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘EXPLORING NEW ZEALAND’S SOUTH ISLAND’ – ROSEMARY LEGRAND Details on 01420 54419 RINGWOOD GARDEN CLUB ‘WEEDS. CAN WE EVER WIN’ – DR ALICK JONES 18th PORTSMOUTH & DISTRICT BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION, TRAFALGAR SCHOOL, LONDON ROAD, PORTSMOUTH CONVENTION Details on 02392 468609 19th SUSSEX HARDY PLANT SOCIETY ‘TALES FROM THE POTTING SHED’ – JEAN GRIFFIN email: firstname.lastname@example.org 20th HAMPSHIRE ORGANIC GARDEN GROUP ‘HOW WE CAN BEST USE MATERIAL GROWN FROM OUR OWN GARDENS’ – GEORGIE NEWBERRY www.hampshire-organic-gardening.org
25th CHERRY TREE NURSERY, BOURNEMOUTH PLANT SALE Details on 01202 593537 FARLINGTON & DISTRICT GARDEN CLUB SPRING SHOW Details on 02392 326114 27th FORDINGBRIDGE & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘ELEMENTS OF GARDEN DESIGN’ – RICHARD CRIPPS 29th WARSASH HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘NATURE OF THE VERCORS – A SECRET CORNER OF FRANCE’ - MIKE READ www.warsashhorticulturalsociety.btck.co.uk
30th IBSLEY & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘CLIMBING PLANTS FOR SUN AND SHADE’ - MARCUS DANCER Details on 01425 653834 SOUTH WONSTON GARDEN CLUB ‘HILLIERS THROUGH THE YEAR’ – DAVID JEWELL Details on 01962 882031
HEATHFIELD & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘RURAL RYE’ – COLIN PAGE Details on 01435 830725
31st BOURNEMOUTH ORCHID SOCIETY ‘ORCHID PROPAGATING IN LAOS’ – DINO ZELENIKA email:
23rd WOOLTON HILL & DISTRICT GARDENERS’ CLUB ‘UNUSUAL EDIBLES’ – PAUL BARNEY Details on 01635 254151
APRIL 1st DENMEAD HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY SPRING SHOW Email: email@example.com HEATHFIELD & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY SPRING SHOW Details on 01435 830725 TUPPENNY BARN, MAIN ROAD, SOUTHBOURNE SPRING FLOWER SHOW www.tuppennybarn.co.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org 3rd SALISBURY BONSAI SOCIETY MONTHLY MEETING Details on 07785 565510 4th BURSLEDON AND DISTRICT GARDENING CLUB SPRING SHOW Details on 02380 402986 BRITISH CACTUS & SUCCULENT SOCIETY ‘THE HUNTINGTON DESERT GARDEN & LA COUNTY ARBORETUM’ – BEN TURNER Details on 023 80551173 DENMEAD HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘TALK ON PLANTS & BEES’ – ANDY WILLIS Email: email@example.com SOLENT FUCHSIA CLUB ‘GROWING AND SHOWING DAHLIAS’ – RAY BROOKS 6th RINGWOOD GARDEN CLUB PLANT AUCTION
DIDBEN PURLIEU GARDENING ASSOCIATION ‘PLANTING UP HANGING BASKETS’ – ROGER SAVAGE THE ROMSEY ORGANIC GARDENERS ‘THE DESIGNER’S GARDEN’ – ALAN EDMONDSON Details on 01794 521905 9th KINGSCLERE GARDENING ASSOCIATION SPRING BULB AND FLOWER SHOW Details on 01256 781892 10th MIDHURST GARDEN CLUB ‘COLOUR IN THE GARDEN’ – VAL BOURNE 11th BOURNEMOUTH IN BLOOM - THE BOURNEMOUTH HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY SPRING FLOWER SHOW Details on 01202 752014 12th GRAYSHOTT GARDENERS ‘GARDEN PHOTOGRAPHY’ – MARK SAUNDERS Details on 01428 722000 TOTTON & DISTRICT GARDENERS’ SOCIETY ‘THE HILLIER PARADISE’ – JOHN COMBES Details on 02380 292761 13 FARNBOROUGH FUCHSIA & PELARGONIUM SOCIETY SEFF QUIZ Details on 01276 36392 th
WINCHESTER FLORAL DESIGN SOCIETY LIGHT LUNCH & VIDEO AALSMEER FLOWER AUCTION Details on 01962 851699
HEATHFIELD & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL Society ‘OUT ON A LIMB – TREE SURGERY TALES’ – LESLEY BAKER Details on 01435 830725
14th SANDHURST GARDENING CLUB GOOD FRIDAY WORKSHOP AT TRADING HUT: ‘VEG, SEEDS, PLANTS & QUESTIONS’ – GRAHAM TALBOT Details on 01420 768965
25th HAMPSHIRE GARDENS TRUST, HAMPSHIRE RECORD OFFICE, WINCHESTER ‘THE SECRET LIFE OF THE GEORGIAN GARDEN’ – KATE FELUS www.hgt.org.uk
17th HAMPSHIRE ORGANIC GARDEN GROUP AGM & GROUP DISCUSSION www.hampshire-organic-gardening.org
19th MILFORD GARDENERS CLUB ‘FUCHSIAS MY WAY – A YEAR IN THE GARDEN’ – DEREK DEXTER Details on 01425 612287 SANDHURST GARDENING CLUB LATE SPRING SHOW & ‘UNDERSTANDING YOUR SOIL’ – GRAHAM TALBOT Details on 01420 768965
27th HAMPSHIRE ALPINE GARDEN SOCIETY ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Details on 02380 265672 IBSLEY & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘RHS WISLEY’ – RAY BROUGHTON Details on 01425 653834 SOUTH WONSTON GARDEN CLUB ‘PLANTS FOR FREE’ – ROSIE YEOMANS Details on 01962 882031 WOOLTON HILL & DISTRICT GARDENERS’ CLUB ‘STARTING A GARDEN’ – HELEN & ANTHONY ALLEN Details on 01635 254151
20th ALTON HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY SPRING SHOW Details on 01420 54419 Ringwood Garden Club MEMBERS EVENING 24th FORDINGBRIDGE & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘THE HARMONIOUS GARDEN – BETTER PLANT ASSOCIATION’ – PATRICIA ELKINGTON
Are you part of a garden club or society?
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28th BOURNEMOUTH ORCHID SOCIETY ‘PLATEAU OF THE ORCHIDS’ – GORDON JAMES email: info@ bournemouthorchidsociety.org.uk
Issue No 118
26th WARSASH HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY ‘TWELVE MONTHS OF COLOUR’ – JOHN NEGUS
TITCHFIE LD Fontley Road
Titchfield Hampshire PO15 6QX 01329 844336
ESHER Rd Winterdown Esher West End, Surrey KT10 8LS 01372 460181
The Brimstone – the original ‘butter-coloured fly’
The Brimstone – signalling the first
signs of spring
One of the first signs of spring on a clear sunny day is a butterfly fluttering from plant to plant – the Brimstone, Peacock and Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, and Comma. Here we look at the life of the Brimstone The Brimstone is thought to be the original 'butter-coloured fly’. Usually the first butterfly to be seen, coming out of hibernation in early March if the weather is mild enough. In mild winters they can be spotted on a January day, but they will return to hibernation in a cold spell. One of the longest living of British butterflies, and the only species outside the Nymphalidae family to hibernate as an adult butterfly, Brimstone butterflies (Gonepteryx rhamni) may be seen throughout the year in southern England (there are far fewer to be seen in the north) even though there is only one annual brood. The bright rich yellow of the male Brimstone cannot be confused with any other UK butterfly. The female however is a very pale yellow, almost white in colour, and can be confused at a distance for a Large White. The distinctive shape of the Brimstone and the intricate veining of the wings make it a remarkably beautiful and graceful butterfly and a master of disguise as it rests on branches and against leaves with its wings closed. The larvae feed on the leaves of buckthorn and alder buckthorn. The egg is approximately 2.5mm tall and is skittle shaped as are all eggs laid by butterflies of the Pieridae family. They can be found on fresh leaf growth on the larval food plant during the spring and are easy to find. The caterpillars feed on the food plant and are easily found lying along the mid-rib of the upperside of a leaf, remarkably well camouflaged being the same green as the leaves of its food plant. The chrysalis is attached by the tail to a stick or branch of the foodplant by silk and a silken thread as a support girdle. The pupal stage lasts around 14 days. The chrysalis changes colour when the butterfly is about to emerge. 60
The Brimstone is usually found in open areas such as grasslands, woodland rides, gardens and waste places, usually in areas adjacent to woodland, scrub and hedgerow and often seen visiting suburban gardens in spring and late summer. They can be easily seen in flight in meadows, sipping nectar from teasel, knapweed and buddleia. In early spring, the yellow males become particularly noticeable on warm sunny days in search of females awakening from hibernation. The pale females tend to be more elusive, hiding among thick vegetation. Several days after mating, the female will become more conspicuous as she takes to the air in search of tender shoots of buckthorn to lay her eggs. Each pale cream shuttle-shaped egg is laid carefully and individually on only the most tender new shoots in order to give the emerging caterpillar the best start in life. To attract butterflies such as the Brimstone into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along and climbing ivy and shrubs for winter protection. Plants rich in nectar include wallflowers, heather, lavender, and buddleia. Plant some in a sunny spot which will give butterflies warmth as they feed. Even a windowbox will attract butterflies if you plant plants such as lavender and marigolds. Try to leave some areas unweeded for the larvae and caterpillars to feed on, such as nettles, thistles, mixed grasses. Let the grass grow tall for the summer in one part of the garden. Ivy on garden walls, leaves on the ground, trees and shrubs, all provide shelter for overwintering butterflies.
The heat fact or
the heat! Growing chillies from seed is easy but you need to start in March to give them the chance to ripen and really make an impact Chillies have become a global phenomenon-one of the world’s favourite spices. They are very easy and rewarding to grow. March usually works out best for sowing chilli seeds. You can sow earlier, but you may need a heated propagator. Germination can be very variable between varieties and can take as much as five weeks, though most varieties should all germinate within ten-14 days, some sooner. When chilli seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them into individual three-inch pots of compost and grow them on until all risk of frost has passed and they are large enough to be transplanted in their final positions. From an early sowing this will normally be from May onwards in most parts of the UK. You can grow chillies in pots undercover in a warm greenhouse, conservatory, or polytunnel. Alternatively grow chillies in a sheltered, sunny position outdoors. Transplant them into grow bags (three per growbag) or individually into two litre containers. When growing your own chilli plants outdoors, gradually acclimatise them to outdoor conditions over a period of seven to ten days. Once acclimatised, transplant them into well-prepared beds of fertile, moist, well drained soil. Space chilli pepper plants at a distance of 50cm (20") apart. If you are short of space, try growing chillies indoors on a sunny windowsill.
The perceived ho tness of a chilli va ries from person to person and is expressed in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), named after the American chemist Wilbur Sc oville (1865 to 19 42). The scale increase s from zero (swee t peppers with no heat) to an SHU of 16,000 ,000 for pure capsaicinoid. Mild chillies, giving on ly a tingle in the mouth, ha ve SHU below 1,00 0 up to medium hot at ab out 5,000.
Water chilli pepper plants regularly throughout the growing season and feed weekly with a high potash tomato fertiliser once the first fruits have set. Pinch out the growing tip of the first flowering shoots to promote more branching and therefore increase your harvest. When growing chilli plants it’s best to keep them a little on the dry side as stressing them very slightly helps to produce hotter peppers. Taller varieties of chilli peppers may require staking. You can provide a thick mulch of organic matter around the base of the plants to help conserve moisture and reduce weed growth. When growing chillies indoors, don’t forget to open windows and doors to provide insects with access to the flowers to ensure good pollination. Alternatively you can hand pollinate chillies - simply move from flower to flower tickling the centre of each one with a fine paint brush. Chillies contain a chemical called capsaicin that stimulates the nerve endings in the mucous membranes, making them taste hot. Of course, some are hotter than others! The choice has never been greater with breeding taking on a distinctly competitive edge to see who can breed the hottest chilli.
Top tips • Chillies can be planted any time up to May, but starting early means they have more chance to ripen in time for summer. • By mid-May it should be warm enough to put the plants outside, in a sheltered, sunny spot. • The hottest and more unusual varieties, such as the habanero, take longer to ripen. • Make sure the plant is free from pests and that the compost is relatively fresh. Place plant on a warm windowsill and give an occasional liquid feed. • An overwintered plant will produce fruit earlier and more prolifically. After four or five years, yields begin to fall and it is time to retire that plant.
Many gardeners decline the joys of indoor flowering plants which almost seem a pleasure of a bygone era There was a time when houses large and small sported a succession of home-grown indoor plants all year round. From the smallest succulent to the mightiest tree fern, gardeners always made time and space for plants that did well in the house. This is much less likely to be the case nowadays. Many of us appear to have dismissed the idea that it is possible to grow plants for the house easily and well. There seems to be a belief that specimen houseplants are old hat and difficult to grow. But if we are bold we can keep plants flowering well each year without too much effort. Many worry what to do with plants in the off-season and holds many back. This, along with the belief that we need a greenhouse. But in many cases there is no need for this, merely a little space outside in the shade during the season when the plants are not flowering, where they can be kept until the following year. Bulbs are a good example. Why not grow a big tub of freesias or tuberoses that come back year after year? Freesias give excellent value because they come back strongly with very little needed in the way of attention. Corms planted in spring will flower in summer and afterwards can remain in their pots for several years before they begin to weaken. All they need are twigs to support the leaves and flowers, a cool frostfree place to spend the winter and a top-dressing of compost before they shoot again in the spring. Hardy climbing Jasminum officinale is a plant that suits a cool, indoor room well and is possibly the finest of all scented indoor plants. The joy, apart from the magnificent scent, is that it can be pruned to any size. The key to shaping a jasmine, and to keeping it for a long time, is to cut the flowering stems hard back after flowering. In alternate years, prune the roots back fearlessly by a third and repot with fresh compost. Both species need a cool winter to set flower buds so, after they have flowered, remove them to a cold room or even outdoors. They are frost hardy but are vulnerable in pots. Old-fashioned gloxinias (now known as sinningia) are easy to grow and cinerarias make excellent pot plants from a packet of seeds sown in spring. A shallow tub with an arrangement of four or five two-litre pots of these annual daisies makes an excellent display through to autumn. 62
Flowering houseplants for the new season Clivias (Clivia miniata) Guaranteed to flower year-onyear. They tend to perform in autumn and must then be Clivias (Clivia miniata) removed to a cool spot in order to set flower buds for the following year. Cut off stem at the base after flowering. Then ease off watering and lower the temperature for winter. Bring back into growth and feed from late spring through the summer.
African violet (Saintpaulia) Related to gloxinias, too much heat and water will kill them. They flower all year but like a period of dormancy in winter. Give them a cool spot, ease back on the watering and repot plants before bringing back into growth. Avoid watering the leaves.
African violet (Saintpaulia)
Phalaenopsis Moth Orchid Don’t worry if you don’t have a green thumb, ’cause these plants are tough to kill. Low to medium light, warm temperatures and minimal watering will get you months of pretty petals
Aspidistra elatior If you hark back to the Victorian era when evergreens filled every corner then the aspidistras fit the bill on account of their tolerance of low light and dry conditions. 'Snow Peaks’ is a popular variety with white dappled leaves.
Aeonium arboreum 'Schwarzkopf’ This succulent that you see growing everywhere on the Isles of Scilly functions brilliantly as a houseplant in a gritty compost. Impossible to kill but don’t overwater. Any temperature.
Aeonium arboreum ‘Schwarzkopf’
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The April 2017 issue of Sussex Country Gardener Magazine