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Issue No 10 Spring 2017



Species tulips ready to be the first to dazzle Early season gardening events throughout Sussex

Great gardens to visit BY ARRANGEMENT


It’s time to make a start gardening jobs to get on with

Getting your soil into tip top shape

www.garsons.c w w.garsons.c

TITCHFIELD Fontley Road Titchfield Hampshire PO15 6QX 01329 844336

We’re delight to bring our hugely popular free gardening magazine to the gardeners of Sussex. Every month throughout the gardening season our high quality editorial and helpful advertising will make a huge difference to your gardening. You can pick this popular and colourful specialist gardening magazine up from a growing number of outlets throughout Sussex. For details on where you can find the magazine go to

S u ss e x

Welcome to Sussex Country Gardener!

Issue No

more editorial, more colour and importantly more local news and events

in six editions covering Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Hampshire, the

Cotswolds and now Sussex. It is published nine times a year and provides an inspirational mix of practical and authoritative editorial featuring some of the top writers in the West Country. It features all aspects of gardening from the pleasure of garden visits and gardening events through to gardening know how, plants and planting, eco gardening, wildlife, growing techniques and lots of local gardening news.

Gardening clubs Our Time Off section is available free to allow garden clubs to publicise their events, outings and club meetings. Just send us your details to but remember to give us plenty of notice.

Classified advertising It doesn’t matter if you are buying or selling – our busy classified section can come to the rescue.

Country Gardener online Our online service carries much more than we can carry in the magazine – extra feature, details of gardens open and gardening events advice and updates. Go to

The April issue of Sussex Country Gardener is available from early March



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“The f lowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” - Gertrude S. Wister

Our highlights Of the gardening calendar Over the cOming weeks in susseX


43 Coombe Drove Bramber, Steyning, Sussex BN44 3PW A new opening for the National Gardens Scheme this year, this half-acre garden is on the lower slope of the South Downs with a wide variety of plants, Portland stone terracing, and a small but steep woodland path with carpets of snowdrops, hellebores, aconites and cyclamen in spring. Summer colour with a white bed, hot bed, containers and hanging baskets and a beautiful pergola covered in roses and clematis. Visitors welcome by arrangement in March and June for groups of 10+. If your group is smaller, ask if you can join another group. Admission: £4, children free. Home-made teas. Due to steep slope and steps, wheelchair access only to lower lawn. Contact Lynne Broome on 01903 81417 or email Our four page guide to gardens open starts on Page 12.

All for the love of orchids Do you love orchids or would you like some advice on how to grow them and look after them? The answer could be found at the Bournemouth Orchid Spring Fair and Show which promises to be a great early season specialist events on Saturday, February 25th. This is always a well-attended colourful and intriguing show with lots to see, learn and available for purchase. It is being held at Allendale Community Centre, Hanham Road, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1AS. Entrance is £3. The day consists of free high quality cultural advice and orchid clinic: substantial variety of orchids and other quality items for sale and potting demonstrations – so take along your plants for free advice. It opens at 12pm and runs until 4.30pm.

SPECIAL DATES FOR YOUR DIARY Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September ToBy BuCkLand’S Garden HarveST feSTivaL Forde Abbey, Chard

The February joys of snowdrops at West Dean It may still officially be winter but it is a good time to get out on a crisp sunny day to enjoy the displays of snowdrops and Sussex boasts two wonderful opportunities to wallow in their beauty. The award-winning gardens at West Dean have now re-opened after the winter closure. Over 500,000 spring bulbs have been naturalised in the gardens and arboretum at West Dean, not only snowdrops but also narcissi, scilla, lilies, anenome, muscari, allium, chinodoxia, fritilleria, crocus and cyclamen. Among the top places to see snowdrops in the county is Nymans garden which is a couple of miles south of Pease Pottage. Nymans even has its own ‘flower line’, set up by assistant head gardener Phil Holmes, that you can call to check if the bulbs are out yet. Tel: 01444 405250

Diary date for magnolia lovers Leading horticulturalist, author, RHS expert and highly respected plantsman, Jim Gardiner will be to Borde Hill on 5th April to share his passion and expertise with a talk and tour, entitled ‘Magnolias, aristocrats for gardens of all sizes’. Borde Hill is known for having one of the finest collections of magnolias in England with seven listed as ‘Champion’ trees and two listed as ‘remarkable’ which are significant specimens. Many are the original plants collected by the Great Plant Hunters of the early 1900s and were planted over 80 years ago by the Garden’s founder Colonel Stephenson R Clarke. Tickets are £25 for RHS Members and Friends of Borde Hill and £30 for non-members. The talk begins at 11am.


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A look At news, events And hAppenings in sussex

Can Great Dixter capture Garden of the Year award?

Great Dixter in East Sussex has been shortlisted for a top national gardening award. The garden is nominated in the Countryfile Magazine Award categories. Alongside Great Dixter, the category of Garden of the Year has four other contenders - Hauser & Wirth in Somerset, Trebah in Cornwall, Scampston Walled Garden in Yorkshire and Interewe Gardens in Wester Ross. Incorporating many medieval buildings, the gardens at Great Dixter surround the house, each complementing the other. The garden was originally laid out by Lutyens. There is a wide variety of interest from yew topiary, carpets of meadow flowers, dazzling colourful mixed borders (including the famous Long Border), natural ponds, a formal pool, and the wonderful Exotic Garden. Christopher Lloyd and head gardener Fergus Garrett were constantly experimenting at this great garden which no garden enthusiast should miss. Voting can be done online at, or via post, sending in the form in the February issue of Countryfile magazine to BBC Countryfile Magazine, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol, BS1 3BN. The winner will be announced in mid-March. Voting closes on February 28

Gardening that gives Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a green fingered newbie, The Royal British Legion’s new Plant For Tomorrow Allotment Kit has everything you need to make sure your vegetable plot is in perfect order come spring. Included in the kit is garden twine, a wooden dibber, four seed markers and four seed envelopes all stored in a handy decorative tin, which takes inspiration from vintage war time posters, and is perfect for storing in a garden shed. All proceeds raised from the kits sale go directly to The Royal British Legion and help with their important work in providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces, past and present, and their families. Visit, where they cost £9.99.

Great camellia display at Chiswick House show The annual camellia show at Chiswick House and Gardens that brings such a burst of colour to the 65 acre park, runs from Friday 3rd March to Sunday 2nd April. The grounds scooped gold and Winner of the London in Bloom ‘Heritage Parks and Garden Award’ last year. They also won the Walled Garden category for the historic kitchen garden and members of the small team attained the ‘Horticultural Achievement Award 2016’ and their heritage camellias featured in a display which won gold at the RHS spring fair. Many of the camellias have been growing for over 200 years in what is now a Grade I listed conservatory. The collection is thought to be the oldest under glass in the Western world and includes rare and historically important examples, many believed to be descended from the original planting in 1828. There are 33 varieties housed in the 300 ft glass house, including ‘Middlemist’s Red’, one of the rarest camellias in the world. The Chiswick House Camellia Show 2017, Chiswick House, London, W4 2QN, from Friday 3rd March to Sunday 2nd April. Conservatory opening hours: daily 10am – 4pm (Closed Mondays). Admission: Free. 5


STILL TIME TO PLAN A GROUP DAY OUT AT POWDERHAM CASTLE There’s still time for garden clubs to plan a perfect gardeners’ day out at the two Toby Garden Festivals at Powderham and Forde Abbey. There’s been a big response to an information pack aimed at providing gardening club members with incentives to organise outings to the popular Powderham event near Exeter on April 29th and 30th next year and the new autumn event at Forde Abbey near Chard on Saturday and Sunday September 16th and 17th. BBC Gardener’s World Adam Frost and gardening author and broadcaster Pippa Greenwood head the high profile speakers at Powderham while BBC’s Charlie Dimmock and Christine Walkden will appear at Forde Abbey. The pack has details of entry price discounts available for clubs, free coach parking, plant crèche arrangements and catering options and sale or return tickets. Phone 01823 431767 or email

West Dean’s spring garden is ‘ready for lift –off ’

Arundel Castle gets ready for tulip glory in April From mid April until mid May, Arundel Castle is the place for tulip enthusiasts. 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. A wide range of varieties of tulips will be in flower at the castle creating an explosion of colour throughout its extensive walled gardens. Amongst the many tulips on display, visitors can delight in Olympic Flame, Lilac Time, Swan Wings, Fancy Frills, Apeldoorn’s Elite, Black Parrot and Negrita, plus the beautiful peony flowered Angelique. Planted in an array of unique horticultural designs, visitors can enjoy innovative displays throughout the Collector Earl’s Garden where 4,000 Pink Impression and Purple Prince tulips will be on show. Nearby, in the Wild Flower Garden, by the Stumpery, there will soon be a display of over 8,000 mixed tulips. Arundel castle opens for the new season on April 1st. 6

The spring garden at West Dean is ready to provide another wow factor this year .The garden features 1820’s flint and stonework which were virtually lost in encroaching vegetation until restoration in recent years. The award-winning Sussex gardens re-opened at the beginning of February after the winter closure. The area derives special character from the River Lavant and small tributary, a ‘winterbourne’ with intermittent seasonal watercourse whose flow is governed by the recharging of the chalk aquifers by rainfall. The wild garden at the most westerly end of the garden contains areas of woodland garden, dry gravel garden a naturalistic pond and extensive flowering meadows with captivating views out into to the serene parkland. The woodland garden, historically part of the woodland shelterbelt offering protection from prevailing westerly winds, with most of the tree cover lost in the Great Storms of 1987 has been restored as homage to Beth Chatto’s dry garden. The gardens are listed Grade II on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Become a Friend of West Dean and benefit from free access to the gardens year-round (except during major events). For opening times and prices visit Dogs on a short lead are welcome. Country Gardener



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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 sometime circumstances can force last minute changes. All NGS gardens open can be found on or in local NGS booklets. 11th March Making a Low Maintenance garden west dean college, chichester 01243 811301

throughout March gardens. Inside, you’ll discover a magnificent dolls’ house, underground tunnels and servants quarters that’ll reveal more about life ‘below stairs’ in this grand house. 25th March BoUrneMoUth orchid Spring Fair and Show allendale community centre hanham road, wimborne, dorset, Bh21 1aS

Colourful and intriguing show with free high quality cultural advice and orchid clinic. 12pm start. Entrance £3. Learn how to create a low maintenance planting scheme and discover many tried and tested trees, shrubs and perennials that will perform well all season with less work.

25th/26th March diScover BirdS weekend arundel, wetlands centre 01903 883355

18th – 26th March Spring FaMiLy traiL nt Uppark, petersfield 01730 825415

Families can hunt for signs of spring on this half-term trail that takes children around Uppark’s easy to navigate 8

Join the staff experts for two days of spring walks and talks, Explore the living collection of more than 40 species and 250 ducks, geese and swans on walks with the wardens each afternoon. 9.30am - 4.30pm. Talks in Sandpiper Theatre included in admission. Country Gardener

26th March caMeLLia heritage toUrS haywards heath, Borde hill garden 01444 450326 Join camellia enthusiast Nick Schroder on a tour of the camellia collection, learn how tea merchants brought the plants from China and Colonel Stephenson R. Clarke of Borde Hill sponsored the plant hunters, raising Camellia x williamsii ‘Donation’ in the 1930s, still thriving at Borde Hill. Opens 11am. Tours 11am and 3pm. Tickets £10 inc. garden entry, booking essential. 26th March Mother’S day at weSt dean gardenS chichester, west dean gardens 01243 818210 Free entry and a gift of daffodils for mums on this special day– see the displays of spring flowering bulbs then stop for lunch or tea in the café and browse in the gift shop. Dogs allowed. 9am-5pm. Adult tickets £8.50, free entry for mums, children free. 26th March Mothering SUnday Singleton near chichester, weald & downland open air Museum 01243 811348 Bring your mum for free! Celebrate Mothering Sunday and the start of spring at the museum with new-born lambs and budding flowers, the Tudor kitchen and historic buildings. 10.30am - 4pm. perform well throughout the seasons. 9am – 3.30pm, £111. a FULL LiSt oF gardening cLUB and other organiSationS eventS For SoMerSet iS on page 58

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H6 9



Witch hazels are loved for their delicious perfumed blooms that light up the short cold days of winter and become the harbinger of spring At the dimmest point in the year, when life in the garden seems at its most still and inert, the witch hazel breaks its first buds. The cinnamon-coloured beads, held in tight clusters up the stem, have been swelling since the foliage dropped in the autumn; now, they open like sea anemones awakening in rock pools once the tide has gone out. The tendrils of petal break bud, unscrunching themselves but not quite, so that each petal is crimped. They gather momentum as one catches up with the next until the whole bush is covered from top to bottom. For many the sight of this beguiling of winter flowering schrubs gets them out to see what else the garden has to offer. Witch-hazels prefer ground which is not chalky, but if you do possess alkaline soil you can still grow them in tubs and large pots on the patio. In the garden they will eventually grow to 10ft by 10ft in a kind of loose shuttlecock shape, but in a container their progress is much slower and they will only put on about four to six inches a year. Their flowers – which are the real winter attraction – are ribbon-like spiders of yellow, orange or red, and if you cup your hand around them, breathe on them through your 10

mouth and then inhale, you will detect the characteristic citrus fragrance which is sometimes hard to discern in cold weather. Better still, cut a sprig or two for a tiny pot or vase indoors and enjoy the flowers at close quarters, protected from the weather. When it comes to varieties, some prefer the paler yellows to the reds and oranges. Lovely as they are, these richer shades do not stand out as well as the lemon shades in the winter garden. Ancient it may be, but Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ remains a favourite. Pruning? Don’t even think of it. They need nothing other than the removal of any damaged wood (they are not at all prone to die-back) and the odd branch. The fading flowers are followed by coarse, hazel-like leaves, which have one final trick up their sleeves. In autumn, they turn a rich shade of butter-yellow in the case of yellowflowered varieties, and orange and red to match the flowers of ‘Jelena’ and ‘Diane’. Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has long been known known to have amazing properties for healing swellings and bruises. Now it is used in deodorants, pile cures, to clear spotty skin, remove bags under the eyes and much more. The ‘magic water’ was made by coppicing the whole plant and boiling up the bark, stems leaves and wood and then distilling it. It is still a natural product and, given its properties to soothe, one that should be in every

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gardener’s cupboard. Their common name is partly due to the resemblance of their leaves to the common hazel of which they are no relation and partly from the Old English ‘wice’ as in wych elm, which means pliable or bendy and relates to their twigs and young branches. These were also used for divining water. Some gardeners might worry about their size as they can grow to small trees, but they can easily be maintained at a far smaller size. This is done by cutting back the previous year’s growth to two buds after flowering every year once established. They will also tolerate more dramatic renovation pruning. There are a bewildering number of varieties to choose from, but not so many that stand out from the crowd. It is worth seeking out the best varieties of H.mollis if you want a gold-flowered witch hazel. These are still the most gloriously scented, but look for a named variety such as H.mollis ‘Boskoop’ or H. ’Jermyns Gold’, as they can be variable. H.mollis ‘Pallida’, a marvellous sulphur-yellow, now belongs with the group which offer the best range of colours. The true witch hazel H. virginiana will bloom with autumn foliage in October and November, but it is a subtle shrub and true gardeners’ favourite. So if you look ahead to winters to come imagine yourself right now being able to glance at a blaze of flower out there in the grey of January and February. You may in a few years have invested enough time in being able to bring a sprig inside to remind you to get out there into the cold. The wait will be worth it.

Top Left: Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Diane’ AGM Top Right: H. × intermedia ‘Jelena’ AGM Middle: H. × intermedia ‘Pallida’ AGM Bottom Left: H. mollis ‘Wisley Supreme’ Bottom Right: H. virginiana


Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Diane’ AGM: The finest red flowered witch hazel. It has a long flowering period throughout midwinter and is lightly scented. H. × intermedia ‘Jelena’ AGM: One of the best cultivars, coppery orange flowers appear in early to mid-winter but has little or no scent. H. × intermedia ‘Pallida’ AGM: Thought to be the best sulphur-yellow cultivar for garden use. H. mollis ‘Wisley Supreme’: Flowering in January and has a good scent and bright yellow flowers. H. virginiana: Bears yellow, scented flowers in mid-late autumn, rather than in winter. Traditionally witch hazels have always been planted in a woodland type garden with dappled shade. They will however grow quite happily in the open and flowering is more profuse in this situation. Avoid frost pockets if at all possible as witch hazels are susceptible to damage by late spring frosts, particularly young plants.

Witch hazel was first used, by the Native Americans. They watched for this plant to be in bloom; they took it as an indication that the frost was entirely gone and they might sow their corn. Witch hazel is a topical astringent derived from the bark and leaves of witch hazel shrubs and the ointment is mainly used externally on sores, bruises, and swelling. 11

GARDEN Visits THE BEST GARDENS TO VISIT compiled by Vivienne Lewis

GARDENS OPEN BY ARRANGEMENT It will soon be time to start planning gardening visits. Whether you’re in a group or want to visit a garden on your own, it’s good to know of gardens that open by arrangement for charity, on a day that’s mutually convenient to the visitor and the owner. Some gardens can take larger groups and also offer specific open days, some allow dogs. Here’s a selection of fantastic gardens across the counties Country Gardener covers. Please note that some gardens don’t open at all until April.


Hassocks, West Sussex BN6 9PH


Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire GL6 6TZ A three-acre woodland garden with panoramic views, wild flower areas and woodland walks planted with snowdrops and hellebores. By arrangement for the NGS, February to September (also open Sundays 12th & 18th February and 19th March, 11am-5pm; Sunday 16th & Monday 17th April, 11am6pm; Wednesdays 7th, 14th & 21st June, and Sunday 16th July, 2-6pm; Sundays 17th August and 10th September, 11am-6pm). Contact Celia and Dave Hargreave on 01452 814306 or email celia. hargreave@btconnect. com). Sheepscombe

Over the years Nick and Jane Baker had raised over £100,000 for the NGS caring charities and thought it was the time stop. That was in 2015. But they are opening again by popular demand for visitors to see the snowdrops in February and the hellebores in March, now by arrangement only. It’s a country garden, tidy but not manicured, always work in progress on new areas. Winding paths give a choice of walks through two acres which is in and has lovely views of the South Downs National Park. Visitors welcome by arrangement for the NGS February & March for groups of 10-30. Individuals can be added to groups. Admission including home-made teas £9. Contact Nick and Jane Baker by email: including your contact number (preferred) otherwise T: 01273 842805. Ditchling Road (New Road), Clayton, Hassocks, West Sussex 12

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Horndean, Hampshire PO8 0AB Five miles south of Petersfield, a partly walled plantsman’s garden with a rich variety of unusual plants and tender perennials, from hellebores to passion flowers and salvias. Bantams stroll throughout. Watercolours of flowers found in the garden on display and for sale. Visitors welcome by arrangement March to September. Home-made teas on request. Admission £5, children free. Contact Mr and Mrs Simon Privett on 02392 592662 or email Blendworth Lane, Horndean, Hampshire

Unusual half-acre wildlife friendly garden run on organic lines, set on a steep hillside with fine views with mixed borders, daffodils, tulips and hellebores, ponds, vegetable garden, greenhouses and polytunnel, chickens and bees, nearby allotment. Honey and hive products usually available and, weather permitting, observation hive of honey bees with beekeeper on hand. Visitors welcome by arrangement for the NGS from March to May for groups of 10+. Contact Bridget Bowen on 01300 348255 or email bridgetpbowen@hotmail. com Also open for the NGS on Sunday 26th March & Easter Sunday 16th April, Easter Monday 17th April, Sunday 30th April, Monday 1st May (2 - 5pm). Admission £4, children free. Home-made teas.

IVY HOUSE GARDEN Piddletrenthide, Dorset DT2 7QF

CONDERTON MANOR Conderton, Worcestershire GL20 7PR

A seven-acre garden/small arboretum of particular interest for tree lovers with magnificent views of the Cotswolds, recently replanted in a contemporary style. Flowering cherries and bulbs in spring. Formal terrace with clipped box parterre; huge rose and clematis arches, mixed borders of roses and herbaceous plants, bog bank and quarry garden. Visitors welcome by arrangement for the NGS from March to November, individuals and groups welcome, 30 max. Admission £6, children free. Light refreshments. Contact Mr and Mrs W Carr on 01386 725389 or email carrs@conderton. com Conderton nr Tewkesbury Worcestershire



THE COURT HOUSE Lower Woodford, Wiltshire SP4 6NQ


Fareham, Hampshire PO15 5HW Unusual small garden with large collection of herbs and plants of botanical and historical interest, many for sale. Box hedging provides structure; interesting use of containers and ideas for small gardens. Two ponds and tiny meadow for wildlife. Children’s garden trail. Visitors welcome by arrangement for the NGS from April to August for groups of 25 max. Light refreshments. Contact Brian and Vivienne Garford on 01329 843939 or email 80 Abbey Road Fareham, Hampshire

Developed by the owners over the past 26 years, the four and a half acre garden by the River Avon is on the ancient site of the Bishop’s Palace when Salisbury Cathedral was at Old Sarum, with herbaceous borders, waterside planting, yew hedges, rambler roses and wild flowers, unusual trees and a tree house. Visitors welcome by arrangement for the NGS from April to September, best months June/ July. No minimum number, maximum 30 for groups. Admission £5, children free, dogs allowed. Contact Mr and Mrs J G Studholme on 01722 782237 or email


Long Bredy, Dorset DT2 9DB This old rectory garden eight miles west of Dorchester has carpets of anemones spreading out under a huge copper beech tree on the lawn,large variety of daffodils and early spring bulbs amongst flowering shrubs, trees and herbaceous borders, and with a kitchen garden. Visitors welcome by arrangement for the NGS from February to July. Admission £4.50, children free. Dogs allowed. Some steep slopes. Coaches allowed. Contact Mrs J Greener on 01308. Teas at nearby Egg Cup Tea Rooms, Vurlands Farm, Coast Road, Swyre.


Bath, Somerset BA2 7DL Long established organic walled garden with fine, mature trees, shrubs and climbers in the centre of the village with splendid views over rolling countryside. Collections of clematis, hydrangea, grasses and bamboo. Explore the contrast of colours, shapes and an unusual variety of species. Visitors welcome by arrangement for the NGS, admission £3.50, children free. Wheelchair access restricted to lower part of garden. Contact John & Ursula Brooke on 01225 833153 or email Brewery House, Southstoke, Bath, Somerset 14

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Bideford, Devon EX39 4PS Approximately three acres in a valley setting with pond, lake, mature trees, two ha-has and a large mature raised border, large walled kitchen garden with yew and box hedging, rose garden, lawns with shrubs and rose and clematis trellises. Vegetables are grown, there’s a greenhouse and an adjoining traditional cottage garden. Visitors welcome by arrangement for the NGS from May to September. Admission £4, children free. Home-made teas. Partial wheelchair access. Contact Mr & Mrs J A Yewdall on 01271 858206 or email

ing n e p O New for 2017


Haywards Heath, Sussex RH16 2JN


Newton Abbot, Devon TQ13 7SP Nestled in a valley on the southern slopes of Dartmoor, intersected by a babbling stream, Greatcombe has rooms of planting schemes - bright colours, textual foliage, undulating paths and lawns bordered by flowering shrubs, herbaceous plants, ornamental grasses and rambling roses. Artist’s studio, acrylic paintings, prints and cards available to purchase. Opening for the NGS: Saturday 27th May, Sunday 28th May, Monday 29th May, Saturday 24th June, Sunday 25th June, Saturday 29th July, Sunday 3rd July, Saturday 26th August, Sunday 27th August, Monday 28th August (1 - 5pm). Admission £3.50, children free. Homemade teas. Dogs allowed. Visitors also welcome by arrangement April to September for groups of 10+. Contact Sarah Richardson on 07725 314887 or email Greatcombe, Holne, Newton Abbot, Devon

A beautiful and tranquil one-acre garden created by Sue and Jim Stockwell over the past 20 years, divided into different areas planted for interest all year with spring bulbs and woodland flowers followed by azaleas, rhododendrons, alliums, roses, and herbaceous perennials, with ponds, vegetable and fruit gardens. NB: Deep water. Visitors welcome by arrangement for the NGS from March to October for groups of 10-40. Admission includes tea, coffee & biscuits or home-made cakes. Admission £8, children free. Partial wheelchair access. Contact Sue & Jim Stockwell on 01444 459363 or email 47 Denmans Lane, Lindfield, Haywards Heath, Sussex


Moon planting:

is it a passing phase? Country Gardener reader Lisa Bowden finally got round last year to moon planting after years of thinking it might make her a laughing stock - and she’s still not sure if there’s anything in it! Have you ever thought about gardening by the phases of the moon? I had been meaning to try moon gardening for some time, but I held back thinking my fellow gardeners would ridicule me. It doesn’t work does it? There’s no proof to suggest it does. But thanks to the encouragement and guidance of a friend on the plot - I think I've mastered the rudimentary principles. I hope I did it right. I have never spend so much time looking at a calendar and trying to get the dates right. In a nutshell, people who garden by the phases of the moon believe that its gravitational pull on the earth's water (i.e. tides), has a bearing on plant growth. They never plant anything when the moon is waning in the last quarter because it's believed that the earth's water table is receding. After the new moon, the water table rises again and planting can resume. Farmers on the continent have been using moon phases to guide them for years, as indeed have many gardeners in the UK. You don't need to spend money on any special equipment. My friend directed me towards, from which you can print out universal lunar calendars for free. It's important to first understand the four phases of the moon: new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter. Period one is the period between the new moon and the first quarter, period two is between the first quarter and the full moon, period three is between the full moon and the last quarter and period four is between the last quarter and the new moon. Plant leafy crops in period one, fruit crops in period two, root crops and perennials in period three, and take a break in period four (do housework, hoeing, pruning, making raised beds. Don't plant anything unless you would like to limit its size). If you have a calendar showing the phases of the moon, you can work out when these different periods fall and mark the type of crop they correspond to. If you want to go one step further, you can fine-tune your calendar. Although we associate the 12 zodiac signs with particular months, each calendar month is also broken down into astrological signs. 16

Each sign has a typE of crop associatEd with it: aries: fruit taurus: root gemini: flower cancer: leaf Leo: fruit Virgo: root

Libra: flower scorpio: leaf sagittarius: fruit capricorn: root aquarius: flower pisces: leaf

So this year there’s a New Moon on February 26th, March 28th and April 26th. So I’ll wait for two days after the New Moon then in each month there will be 10 or twelve days when I can get sowing and planting. These are the perfect days I’ll gear my planting to I use leafy crops as an example, these will be planted in period one. When this coincides with the moon in Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces, this is deemed even better. These 'leaf' signs will make this the optimum time. So what do I think so far? Last year I had the best crops for about three years. Was it coincidence – probably? Am I going to persevere-yes because it would be sod’s law if it really was working and I gave up on it. And that’s the trouble .How am I supposed to make up my mind whether I am making use of the mystical and powerful forces of the moon or its just superstition. Have a go and try it for yourself. At worst you will do no harm, at best, you might find that you are on to something that will increase your yield and your enjoyment of your garden. gEtting to know thE moon The moon has four ‘phases’ or ‘quarters’ – each last about seven days. In the first two quarters, the ‘new’ dark moon you see gets bigger and more visible. This is known as the ‘waxing’ phase. You see an increase in light until the full moon is visible. The third and fourth quarters are after the full moon. This is when the light begins to ‘wane’ or decrease. Then the cycle starts again. The amount of moonlight at different times also influences the growth of plants. As the moonlight increases (new moon and second quarter), this stimulates leaf growth. After the full moon, the moonlight decreases, putting energy into the plant roots. At this time, the above ground leaf growth slows down. So this becomes a favourable time to plant your root crops and bulbs, because of the active root growth.

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Countdown to Toby’s Garden Festival POWDERHAM CASTLE Friday 28th & Saturday 29th April

'TOP 10' festival highlights



The well-known panellist from Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time is at Powderham on Friday 28th April, sharing her vast knowledge of pest problems and growing veg. Pippa will also join Toby for the popular Q & A session on Friday afternoon.



Bring your nibbled leaves and bug problems (safely wrapped in a plastic bag please) for identifying at a new Pest Clinic where Dr Ian Bedford Head of Etymology at the internationally renowned John Innes Centre will be on hand to help. The clinic is sponsored by Grazers who make pet and planetfriendly deterrent sprays to keep off everything from slugs and snails, to rabbits and even deer. Grazers will be giving away trial samples of their not-yet-on-the-market spray to combat lily beetle.



Ben Richards, Beer Sommelier from Beer with Ben will be at the show explaining not just how to drink beer (!) but how to taste the terroir in Devon’s myriad award-winning craft lagers and ales. He’ll also be enlightening us about a project Toby’s been involved with – growing his own beer or at least the barley and hops to make it – on his East Devon allotment.



The festival is delighted to welcome two new West Country artists to the Festival in 2017. Karen Thomas lives in Devon and paints beautiful watercolours inspired by the natural landscapes and animals of her surroundings. Also from Devon, Anne Mortimer has been an artist for 30 years and takes her inspiration from West Country wildlife, including little owls and magical leaping hares.




The BBC Gardeners’ World presenter will be at Powderham on Saturday 29th April, giving the inside track on designing your garden, what it’s like designing for shows like RHS Chelsea.



Festival host Toby Buckland will be giving talks and solving problems in the Gardeners’ Q & A session. Toby’s topic is Wonderful West Country plants – species suited to the wide variety of microclimates the regions offers, from sky-scraping echium found on the coast to woodland treasures and natives of the moorland.



All the best West Country nurseries are back including Whetman Pinks with their Scent First range, organic veg from Joa Grower, dahlias from Pheasant Acre, Chelsea awardwinners Avon Bulbs, Heucheraholics with their tapestry of evergreen foliage, tree specialists Thornhayes Nursery, Floyds Climbers and Clematis, Chrysanthemums Direct and many more – all offering expert advice and the best selection of plants you can find this Spring Bank Holiday!



Treat yourself or your loved one to a fabulous VIP experience this Valentines, Mother’s Day or birthday with our VIP ticket, giving entrance to the Festival, meets and greets with the gardening celebrities and all day access to the VIP area and cloakroom. Hosted by Exeter’s Hearth & Cook, VIPs will be served a buffet lunch by Manna from Devon and be reserved the best seats in the Speakers’ Tent. Tickets cost £50 from



The world-renowned bonsai grower from Somerset, John Trott, is giving demo’s on how to grow and train these marvellous miniatures. He is also showcasing his range of handcrafted bronzes designed and sold exclusively by him, including detailed sculptures no bigger than a matchstick!



Learn how to cook creatively in your garden with a celebration of outdoor cooking and lifestyle, featuring Beer with Ben, Hearth & Cook with their Morso range of outdoor ovens and stoves along with local food growers and producers. To order your tickets, get up to date with who’s exhibiting and lots more information on the festival visit

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Jobs in the garden

It’s tIme to make a start...

The bulbs are already up among the wreckage of the winter, spearing the ground with signs of the next season. This is the clue that the beds need clearing. The remains of last summer's perennials and the leaves that fell among them were left deliberately, and the recycled foliage and stems have mostly should have been pulled into the soil by the earthworms, and will now be improving the humus content. Where new life is coming up, it is time to make a start.

Deal with the debris Waste material from the beds can be gathered up and put on the compost heap rather than burned, as many of the stems are still home to insects that will crawl from the heap when they hatch. The beds should be raked clean in readiness for spring mulching and to make way for the bulbs.

Root out the weeds Weeds become visible with the clear-up, so take your time to winkle out buttercup, nettle and couch. Bindweed might be more of an issue, as it delves deep when established. Where it is getting a hold, dig out plants that might be affected, carefully fork out and burn the white roots, and replant anything displaced by the upheaval. There is plenty of time for plants to get their feet back in again before spring, but work in some goodness now to improve their opportunities for the year ahead.


Mulch, mulch and more mulch Some gardeners like to leave mulching until the ground is a little warmer, but where bulbs are coming through it is timely to work in a 5cm layer of weedfree organic matter before they grow any more. Never mulch on weedinfested ground, as you will simply be creating a better environment for the weeds.

Keep an eye on your lawn

Our increasingly unpredictable climate means we can get mild periods of weather even in the depths of winter. Grass is quick to respond to this mildness and puts on lush growth. As long as the ground isn’t wet or frozen, it’s a good idea to cut the grass, no matter how early in the year. It’ll keep your lawn looking tidy and avoids the grass getting long and difficult to cut. Don’t leave grass cuttings lying on the lawn – it’s too cold and damp to allow decomposition. Collect cuttings and add them to the compost heap or put them in your green waste bin if your council provides one.

Time to start sowing Though it is early, it is time to start off the slower-growing half-hardy annuals and perennials. Pelargoniums, begonias and osteospermums are easy from seed if you have a warm windowsill or a heated corner in a glasshouse. Some seed takes two to three weeks to germinate, by which time it will nearly be March and the light levels will be improving. There is no point in sowing fastgrowing tagetes or tomatoes as it is far too early.

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HOLD FIRE WITH THE ROSE PRUNING... Don't prune roses until next month, as it will encourage growth and frost can burn new cuts. However, now is an ideal time for planting. If you are planting roses where they have been growing before and want to avoid replant disease, the addition of mycorrhizal fungi is said to avoid the problem by increasing the uptake of nutrients. The granules contain fungi that coat the roots, helping them absorb minerals and water.

summer's growth to within a couple of buds of the old wood. Prune hard to about knee height and retrain clematis on to their support, as the buds will be away as soon as weather warms.

…BUT THERE’S STILL TASKS FOR YOUR SECATEURS If you haven't pruned the grapevines, do so immediately, as they will bleed if left too late. Once you have a framework of primary limbs, prune laterals back to one or two buds. The same principle applies to wisteria, which should be pruned this month. Buddleia and summerflowering clematis should also be pruned, reducing last

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

Plant a hedge for February


Seed potatoes need to be kept in a cool, light environment while they are being ‘chitted’. If you encourage growth too early, energy will be wasted, and it is at least a month before the earliest potatoes can be put in the ground. Leave seed potatoes in open trays under a glass roof in the garage, where they are bright, cool and frost-free.

It may be getting cold in the air, but the soil is still retaining some warmth. So it's a good time to plant that hedge you have always wanted. If you have old yew or holly hedges in need of renovation, the end of the month is the time. Prune into old wood on one side of the hedge and leave the other to feed the re-growth. It will look terrible for a couple of years before it comes back, but the clean start will be worth the shock.

PLUS some other jobs

• Plant new rhubarb crowns in February in well-cultivated soil and mulch with ‘strawy’ manure. • Sow broad beans and peas directly into the ground from mid- to late February. They’ll be ready to harvest in early summer. Feed them by adding a little fish, blood and bone fertiliser to the soil before you sow. • Plant garlic 15cm apart and about 2cm deep in well-drained soil. If the soil is too wet or cold, start the cloves off in pots or wait until next month. It’s also time to plant onion and shallot sets. 21



pineapples in England

by Vivienne Lewis How exotic the first pineapples must have looked to people in Britain when they first arrived here in the 1600s – and how did gardeners manage to grow them? The arrival of pineapples in this country was such an event that they were presented to the monarch – an oil painting shows the gardener to King Charles II, John Rose, thought to be the figure pictured in the formal garden of a grand country house (possibly Dorney Court near Windsor) and kneeling before the fashionably dressed King, proffering the exotic fruit to him. It could have been an imported fruit although it was supposed to be the first pineapple grown in England (the painting dates from 1675-80). Historians have pointed out earlier references to the fruit in writings by 17th gardeners including John Parkinson and John Evelyn. But whatever its origins in this country the pineapple was soon established as the most prestigious fruit of all and soon gardeners were trying to find ways of growing it. It became a symbol of health and prosperity, so much so that it was used in stonework on grand gate piers, and interior decoration – and even a huge version as a summer house on the Dunmore estate in Scotland (now rented out for holiday accommodation). The pineapple originated in Brazil in South America and on their voyage to A pineapple – gosh thank you Mr Rose! Charles II the West Indies being offered a pineapple by his gardener, John Rose 22

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Christopher Columbus and his crew members were probably the first few people from the European continent to have tasted the fruit. The word pineapple in English was first recorded in 1398, when it was originally used to describe the reproductive organs of conifer trees (now termed pine cones). When European explorers discovered the tropical fruit they called them pineapples (the term first recorded in that sense in 1664) because of their resemblance to the pine cone. Pineapples were grown in Barbados, then the richest British colony, and there were many reports by travellers of seeing them grow. There are also stories of the fruit rotting en route to London, so to see them was special. It was another thing to get them to flourish in Britain. In the 1680s the Dutch developed a hothouse suitable for growing pineapples and in 1689 when William of Orange acceded to the throne similar stoves were built at Hampton Court. The innovation was to create narrow sloping glass walls which were heated and ventilated; they measured 2.4m (8 ft) front to back to ensure the maximum amount of light to help the plants grow. Soon gardeners on grand estates had access to written instructions on growing pineapples, in Richard Bradley’s A General Treatise of Husbandry and Gardening of 1721. They take three years to flower, and produce only one large plant with some smaller ones on each plant. That must have been disappointing. By the 18th century pineapples were considered a necessary fashionable decoration for gatherings and parties, and some were bought or even hired, so desperate were hosts to have them on display. Large hothouses known as pineries were built in the kitchen gardens of great houses to meet the demand of owners and guests.

Tatton Park’s traditional pinery was completed in 2007 at a cost of £2.5million and now produces as many as 300 pineapples a year.

By the Victorian period glasshouses were becoming more affordable and amateur gardeners tried growing the fruit. In her book The Victorian Gardener, author Anne Wilkinson tells of an article published in Floral World in 1868 of a gardener growing pineapples in a pine pit that covered 500 square feet divided into three sections: a first pit, a succession pit and a fruiting pit. There were 136 plants of which 42 were showing signs of fruiting, and it was expected that at least 50 fruits of three and a half to four pounds each would be produced that year. The average outlay for maintaining the pine house was just over £27 for coke, tan, soil, sand, rotten dung, pots, and general maintenance – painting and repairs. Also, the cost of labour of two hours a day throughout the year was at least £15. Total: £42 in Victorian times, a huge sum to grow plants. Although the writer pointed out that it would be possible to grow pineapples on a smaller scale it would still need a paid gardener to look after the plants constantly. No wonder they were mostly cultivated by the rich on their estates. The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the restored pineapple pits The Victorian method of growing pineapples had been lost but thanks to the restoration of the gardens on the Heligan estate near St Austell in Cornwall we know a lot more. The art of pit management was lost and in the absence of any written instructions, the staff had to learn through trial and error. They found that temperature control and humidity are all important and the plants must not be over watered. Frequent changes of fresh horse manure are essential to keep up the temperature during cold periods and emptying and re-filling the trenches, either side of the pit, are tough and unpleasant manual tasks. These trenches are covered with boarding to maximise the delivery of heat into the pit itself, through holes in their double-skinned walls. They have also realised that as the days of horse-power have long passed it’s increasingly difficult to source the quality, and expensive to transport the amount needed of freshly rotting

horse manure required for a whole winter’s heating. It has been quite a learning curve for the staff at Heligan. The current variegated variety when ready to harvest took five years before it even began to fruit, then another two to grow the fruit. With the hours it has taken to look after the pineapple, transport costs of manure, maintenance of the pineapple pits and other tasks, each pineapple would probably cost more than £1,000 to grow. Although pineapple pits are heated by fresh horse manure but the pineapples themselves do not come into contact with any manure or urine at any stage. Manure is loaded into manure trenches behind and in front of the pit itself. The heat generated from the manure travels through the hollow walls and through the bark beneath the potted plants to recreate a tropical environment for them to grow in. So this is a valuable exercise in learning just how the Victorians grew the exotic fruit and after restoring the pits at Heligan, keeping them in use is rewarding for the staff and for the visitors. Any pineapples that grow are given to members of staff as a thank you for their hard work. Pineapple pits: growing them was a case of trial and error for the Victorian gardeners

Want to try yourself? Patience is the thing

If you are thinking you might try to emulate the successes of Victorian gardeners in growing pineapples yourself then be warned. It isn’t easy and you’ll need a lot of patience. Pineapple plants need it hot, must never get chilled and need two or three years to crop. If you’d like to try then choose a healthy crowned pineapple, cut off the crown immediately above the fruit and let it dry for several days. Peel away the lower decaying leaves and you should see the first roots appearing. Pot up in a bucket sized pot of rich well-drained compost and find the warmest sunniest position you can. Keep the centre dry and warm in winter – and then wait. Good luck!


GardeninG days out

Dates for your diary in another busy year for GARDENING DAYS OUT It’s going to be another year to remember if you are someone who loves gardening, garden visits and garden events. Every year the variety of choices for gardening lovers in terms of days out and visits just seems to get bigger and bigger. In 2017 there’s a wonderful mixture of new events, traditional favourites, gardens open, shows, festivals, horticultural shows, charity events and much more. It’s a wonderful chance at this time of the year to plan what you want to visit. Here are just a few of the great events we are happy to highlight over the next few months.

Honiton ready to celebrate 127th show Honiton & District Agricultural Association holds their 127th show on Thursday, 3rd August. Honiton prides itself on being a truly traditional agricultural show with a unique atmosphere which brings new and traditional agriculture together. The grand parade is one of the many highlights of the main ring activities where the day’s livestock winners proudly parade. The main ring will be a hive of activity with a wide variety of fantastic acts. The lower field incorporates all that is best about the countryside with hurdle making, ferret racing, a blacksmith’s guild and a trip down memory lane with a vintage tractor section. The show plays host to the West of England Hound Show, which attracts a huge following countrywide. Advance tickets are £14.50 under 16’s are free. More details on the show, trade enquires, or becoming a member of the association contact the secretary on 01404 41794.

Hill Close Gardens Trust pleasure gardens The restored gardens at Hill Close, Warwick, offer a rare opportunity to visit 16 hedged Victorian pleasure gardens, reconstructed to capture the planting and personality of their original owners. March and April are a busy time at Hill Close Gardens, on Thursday 13th April with an Easter Family Workshop. The bank holiday weekend of Saturday 15th April to Monday 17th the gardens host a ‘Very Victorian Easter’ with Victorian styles tea rooms costumes and Easter displays. Heading in to May on Saturday 6th there’s a ‘Celebration of May Day and springtime’ event with maypole dancing. June and July are the height of season at Hill Close Gardens, the gardens are in bloom and the centre is a hive of activity. Events during this period include: ‘Half Term Family Workshop Boggling Bugs & Curious Critters’ on Thursday 1st June. ‘Midsummer Music in the Gardens’ on Saturday 24th June 6pm-9pm. Also Heartbreak Productions are performing Murder on the Terrace on Tuesday 25th July.

Friars Court – summer opening days to look forward to Enclosed within the remaining arms of a 16th century moat, the gardens of 17th century Friars Court at Clanfield in Oxfordshire divide into ‘room-like’ areas of borders and specimen trees. The front of the house boasts ponds of water-lilies whilst a woodland walk lies beyond the imposing Yew Arch and ‘Monet’ style moat bridge.


Agricultural Show Thursday 3rd August 2017

Acts Booked So Far... Bolddog Lings Freestyle Team, Joseph's Amazing Camels, The Sheep Show, Twistopher Punch & Judy, Grand Parade, Livestock, Horses, Vintage Tractors, Poultry & Dog Shows, Over 400 Trade Stands. Please apply for Trade, Horse and Livestock Schedules Secretary: Marcelle Connor, Bank House, 66a High Street, Honiton, Devon, EX14 1PS


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Our 2017 dates

Rare Plant Fairs 2017

Specialist Plant Fairs in Unique Gardens Now in their 23rd season, our popular plant fairs are all held in beautiful and prestigious gardens, making a day out at one of our fairs a really enjoyable and inspiring experience for everyone, whether a novice or experienced gardener.

Our Gardens All of our fairs are held in beautiful gardens, a number of which are not frequently open to the public. Each garden has its own unique character, from those with histories stretching back centuries to more modern gardens created in recent years.

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

19th March The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset BA5 2PD 2nd April Evenley Wood Garden, Brackley, Northants NN13 5SH 9th April The Old Rectory, Quenington, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5BN 14th May Winterbourne House and Gardens, Birmingham B15 2RT 28th May Kingston Bagpuize House, Oxfordshire OX13 5AX 4th June High Glanau Manor, Lydart, Monmouth NP25 4AD 11th June Hanham Court Gardens, Nr. Bristol BS15 3NT 25th June Waterperry Gardens, Wheatley, Oxfordshire OX33 1JZ 2nd July The Walled Gardens at Cannington, Nr Bridgwater, Somerset TA5 2HA 23rd July Highnam Court, Nr Gloucester GL2 8DP 30th July Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, Birmingham B36 9BT 20th August The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset BA5 2PD 3rd September Adwell House, Nr Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 7DQ 17th September Llanover House, Llanover, Nr Abergavenny NP7 9EF The admission fee for each of our fairs is a combined package and includes access to both the fair and gardens. Full details of admission fees and times of opening can be found at our website, together with a complete list of the exhibitors attending the Fairs. Please check all event details before setting out, particularly if travelling some distance to the fair.


GardeninG days out The grounds of Friars Court are open on Monday, 29th May then Tuesdays and Thursdays in June, July and August from 2pm to 6pm. And for those who want to enjoy the hospitality this historic family house has to offer, home-made cakes and cream teas are served in the Garden Room with plants for sale by the gift

meadow and an Eco-Loo, play garden games, and enjoy cream teas, homemade cakes or ice creams and a tractor ride through farmland with sensational views. The gardens open on Sunday 11th June from 2pm to 6pm. Proceeds help support the church and village hall. Adults £5, children free, parking included. No dogs.

Four new events in new Rare Plant Fairs season

Spetchley Specialist Plant Fair returns

A new season of Rare Plant Fairs starts with the very popular event at The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, on Sunday, 19th March. Now in the 23rd season, Rare Plant Fairs are held in unique and prestigious gardens across the country, with a wide range of styles, which provide a wonderful setting for the Fairs. There are 14 fairs in 2017 with four new events, including Highnam Court in Gloucestershire, Hanham Court near Bristol, The Walled Gardens at Cannington, in Somerset, and a new summer fair at The Bishop’s Palace. There is a great selection of specialist nurseries attending each of the fairs, all of whom are experts in the plants they grow. Visit for full details including a list of the exhibitors attending.

June opening date for Cotswold Gardens at Elkstone Here’s a June date for your diary – a chance to visit the private gardens and the Norman church in the unique Cotswolds village of Elkstone with its environmental initiatives including bug houses, an emerging wild flower COTSWOLD GARDENS AT ELKSTONE

Sunday 11th June 2017 2 - 6pm A chance to amble through a selection of beautiful private Cotswold gardens not usually open to the public. Cream teas, homemade cakes, ice creams, garden games and free tractor rides

Adults £5.00, Children free

Parking included No dogs please Satnav - GL53 9PD follow car park signs




FREE to enter Prizes for Best Small, Medium & Large Garden & Allotment

The popular Plant Fair at Spetchley Park Gardens, near Worcester, is one of the Midlands’ recognised gardening events and returns on Sunday 23rd April. With more than 35 independent nurseries offering thousands of rare and interesting garden plants for sale, there is something for every garden, plus Pershore College will be on hand to answer any gardening dilemmas. Entry to the 30 acres of historic gardens is included within the £5 admission (free for children under 16 years) and free tours will be available throughout the day. Refreshments will be available on the lawn and in the Old Laundry Tea Room.

Alpine Garden Society – plant sale delights Don’t miss the Alpine Garden Society’s plant sale and show at Pershore College, Worcestershire, on Saturday, 25th February. Specialist nurseries will offer a wide range of alpines, woodland plants, dwarf shrubs and unusual spring bulbs that are often difficult to find elsewhere. And you can feast

Cornwall Garden Society

SPRING FLOWER SHOW 2017 Sponsored by Atkins Ferrie Wealth Management

Open to everyone who lives within 12 miles radius of Melplash Village Church or call 01308 423337

SPECIALIST PLANT FAIRS Athelhampton House Puddletown DT2 7LG

Sunday 7th May & Sunday 10th September 2017 10am - 3pm

Admission £5.00 includes beautiful gardens & grounds. 25-30 nursery stalls.

Boconnoc Estate

near Lostwithiel, Cornwall PL22 0RG Saturday 1st April 10am to 5pm Sunday 2nd April 10am to 4pm Celebrate Cornwall’s rich garden heritage and be inspired by the south west’s first major horticultural showcase of the year Advance bookings: 01726 879500

Tickets: £7.50 in advance (£9.50 (cash only) on the gate) CGSSpringShow or your local TIC

CGS members: £5.50 in advance (£7.50 (cash only) on the gate) Under 16s free

Supporting Plant Heritage in Dorset 26

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your eyes on hundreds of specimen plants brought along for exhibition by AGS members from around the country. There will be plenty of experts on hand to answer questions about how to grow these wonderful plants, as well as a wide range of gardening and plant books for sale. Open from 10am to 3.30pm.

Traditional agricultural show is a growers dream The Gillingham & Shaftesbury Agricultural Show is a traditional gardeners’ event. With 73 of the 200 classes devoted to fruit, vegetables and flowers, the horticultural marquee is a mecca for gardening enthusiasts. The fragrance and atmosphere is very special and the displays need to be seen to be believed. Entries are staged on the morning before show day and judged that afternoon, so that the marquee is open for visitors all day at this traditional one-day agricultural show. So make a note of the date, Wednesday 16th August. Gillingham & Shaftesbury Agricultural Show, Turnpike Showground, Motcombe SP7 9PL. For schedules call 01747823955 or email

Charity Specialist Plant Fairs 01460 2426


Buy direct from local specialist nurseries for personal advice, wide variety and great value.

Saturday 11th March (10am – 2pm) Digby Hall, Hound Street, Sherborne DT9 3AA Free entry - donations requested. Indoor venue with a wide selection of early spring plants. Easy car parking and refreshments available.

Sunday 9th April (10am – 4pm) Mapperton House, Nr Beaminster, Dorset DT8 3NR Now in its 18th year, with 30 stands, this is one of the biggest plant fairs in Dorset. Set in magnificent surroundings with house, garden, café and shop to visit.

Saturday 13th May (10am – 4pm)

Hellens Manor – a festival to celebrate gardening

Yarlington House, Yarlington, Wincanton BA9 8DY

A ‘must go to’ date for your diary is the Hellens Garden Festival, on Saturday and Sunday 10th and 11th June. Nestled below the Much Marcle ridge, Herefordshire, this festival shimmers in the glorious meadows and gardens of Hellens Manor. The festival experience offers visitors a delightful array of plant and specialist exhibitors, engaging

Sunday 17th September (10am – 4pm)

Over 30 stands surrounding this pretty manor house with a two acre garden. Refreshments available in the courtyard.

Mapperton House, Nr Beaminster, Dorset DT8 3NR 25 stands selling seasonal plants and garden related gifts.

10th & 11th June PLANTFAIRS_country gardn_84x126.indd

Photo: Anya Mittelholzer

Hellens Manor, Much Marcle, HR8 2LY


25/01/2017 10:28

Put the Spring in your step with... Snowdrop weekends throughout February Plant & Gardening Fair on 5th March Crocuses in bloom Alice in Wonderland Easter Egg Trail


Beautiful, educational and unique. Be inspired throughout the year

University of Bristol

Botanic Garden

2017 Festivals and Events‌

Easter Sculpture Festival and Quilting Exhibition 14-17 April 2017

Fascination of Plants day 21 May 2017 National Garden Scheme Open Day 25 June 2017 Bee and Pollination Festival 2-3 September 2017 Guided tours available to garden clubs and societies

RHS Level 2 & 3 horticultural courses available Garden open Monday to Friday all year, plus Saturdays and Sundays from April to October. For admission charges please see website below University of Bristol Botanic Garden Stoke Park Road BS9 1JG Tel: 0117 428 2041

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GardeninG days out children’s activities, authentic craft demonstrators, walks and talks around and in the landscape, fascinating, interactive workshops, delicious local food and drink, and music to linger by. Follow the new sculpture trail in the dreamy meadow and discover the evocative Standing Stones. This promises to be a weekend to celebrate the glory of nature and gardening whilst raising vital funds in support of St Michaels Hospice and Back to the Wild project. For full details

Time to plan your garden entries The Melplash Agricultural Society best kept garden competition is now open for entries. The competition, organised by the Melplash Agricultural Society, is open to all residents within a 12 mile radius of Melplash Village Church. The only stipulation is that they must not employ a gardener for more than eight hours per week. Gardens and allotments of any size can be entered. There is a prize for the best large, medium and small garden and allotment, as well as an overall winner. Judging will take place on 20th and 21st June. The competition is free to enter. Entry forms can be obtained from the Melplash Society Office, 23 South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NT, or be downloaded from the entry form section of the website . Closing date for entries is 5pm on 14th June. The winners will be presented with their prizes at the Melplash Show on Thursday 24th August.

Dorset Plant Heritage host two popular plant fairs Athelhampton House, near Puddletown, will be hosting a large plant fair on 7th May and a plant and craft fair on Sunday, 10th September. There will be a wide range of specialist nurseries and independent growers plus a selection of craft and gift stalls. Admission is £5 and includes access to gardens. Fair is open from 10am to 3pm, gardens open until 5pm. There will be excellent refreshment facilities and free parking. Proceeds support Plant Conservation activities in Dorset. DT2 7LG.

Plant Heritage Devon Plant Fairs 2017 Every year plant conservation charity, Plant Heritage, puts on hugely popular plant fairs right across Devon. Specialist nurseries bring all sorts of interesting plants, most of them things you are unlikely to find at garden centres. Real plant enthusiasts will not want to miss the opportunity of so much choice; get the dates in your diary! This year the Ivybridge plant fair on Saturday 20th May is being held at Delamore Estate in conjunction with Delamore Arts exhibition; you can combine buying tempting plants with seeing indoor displays of art and sculpture positioned in the lovely gardens with flowering rhododendrons at their peak. For more details contact Caroline Stone on 01566 785706

Plant Sale and Show Gain half price admission with this advert. Saturday, 25th February 2017, from 10am to 3.30pm. At Pershore College, Learning Resources Centre. Admission £3. Under 18s and students free. • • • • •

Thousands of unusual plants for sale Hundreds of specimen plants on show Discounted books for sale Visit the AGS garden next to the show Refreshments

For further information contact the Alpine Garden Society, Avon Bank, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3JP, phone 01386 554790, or visit our website at:


GardeninG days out

Cornwall show one of the first major shows of the year With stunning show gardens; more than 100 horticultural trade stands; competitive classes for daffodils, camellias, rhododendrons and woodies, floral art and photography; lectures and ‘Gardeners’ Questions’; children’s activities and Cornish food and drink, the Cornwall Garden Society Spring Flower Show 2017 is a popular day out for all the family. Sponsored by Atkins Ferrie Wealth Management and staged within the magical setting of the Boconnoc Estate near Lostwithiel on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April, the CGS Spring Flower Show celebrates Cornwall’s rich garden heritage and is the south west’s first major horticultural showcase of the year. For information and tickets, visit

Devon County Show a county in all its glory The Devon County Show on Thursday 18th - Saturday 20th May at Westpoint, Exeter is the only place in Devon where on just three days of the year the county is revealed in all its glory. Visitors will be treated to the best of food, farming and entertainment in a packed celebration of country living. This year the wonderful Crafts and Gardens Pavilion will feature a tribute to the 11,000 men and women who lost their lives in the First World War.

Country Gardener readers are invited to get involved and make hand-crafted poppies for ‘Devon Remembers’. The show website has more information: Tel: 01392 353700

Put the Spring in your step at Forde Abbey There’s nothing more cheering at this time of year than clusters of delicate snowdrops gently nodding their heads. Throughout February the 30 acres of award-winning gardens at Forde Abbey are carpeted in a spectacular display, heralding the start of spring. The camellia buds are bursting into life and early spring bulbs are starting to make an appearance. Hellebores will be followed by purple, cream and mauve crocuses in March - a magical sight to bring cheer to a winter walk. The tearooms will be open every weekend throughout February and will be gathering together the very best of what’s in season for hand-tied posy making on Mothering Sunday, the perfect way to say thank you. Forde Abbey Estate, Chard TA20 4LU. Tel 01460 220231

East Lambrook plant fair ready to inspire East Lambrook Manor, the iconic cottage garden and former home of 20th century gardening legend Margery Fish, hosts the Hardy Plant Society, Somerset Group, early spring Plant Fair on Saturday, 25th March. Roy Stickland, chairman the Somerset group says, “As we enter the sixth year of collaboration with East Lambrook’s


AGRICULTURAL SHOW ‘The Show where town & country meet’

Wednesday 16th August 8.30am - 6.00pm Attractions include: The Adrenaline Tour Quad & Motorcycle Stunt Show Over 500 trade stand including 14 tractor dealers Competitive classes for Dairy & Beef Cattle, Sheep, Poultry, Grain & Fodder. K.C. Dog Show Huge Horticulture, Home-Handicraft Marquee including Fruit & Veg, Flowers & Floral Decoration, Photography, Honey, Cookery, Handicraft, Wine & Cordial - With many classes especially for children Held at the Turnpike Showground SP7 9PL 2 miles north of Shaftesbury - Free Car Parks Tickets (pre-show prices in brackets) Adult £15 (£12) Child (5-16yrs) £4 (£3) Family ticket (2 adult = 3 Children) £37 (£29)

Disabled facilities - Dogs on leads

CALL: 01747 823955 EMAIL: WEB: FACEBOOK: GillandShaftshow 30

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owners Mike and Gail Werkmeister, we have booked 16 top class nurseries. Some will be familiar faces but there are some new ones. The wonderful range of well-grown plants they bring means there will always be something for everyone.” Mike Werkmeister added, “The end of March is a wonderful time at East Lambrook with everything bursting into growth and the plant fair is a great excuse to enjoy an early visit to the garden. There will be Margery Fish favourites, primulas and hellebores in bloom plus pulmonarias, spring bulbs and blue Scilla bithynicahows.”

Bristol Botanic Gardens host Easter sculpture bonanza Contemporary and traditional garden sculpture set within the beautiful Botanic Gardens and an exhibition of award winning quilting coordinated by internationally acclaimed quilter Lynn Quinn are highlights of the Botanic Gardens Easter Sculpture festival which runs from Good Friday 14th April 10am – to Easter Monday 17th April 2017,at 5pm. Demonstrations of pottery, wood turning and quilting give visitors a chance to meet the artists and see how they work. A display of narcissus illustrating all horticultural groups of this colourful spring flower forms a trail through the garden for adults and children to enjoy. With thousands of different well labelled plants set within an intensely planted award winning garden and glasshouses the Botanic Garden attracts people year after year.

HILL CLOSE VICTORIAN GARDENS WARWICK Come and explore 16 restored Victorian gardens Open weekdays NovMarch: 11-4pm

Open every day April-Oct: 11am-5pm with cafe Sat, Sun and Bank Hol Mon A Very Victorian Easter Sat 15th – Mon 17th April Victorian costume and Victorian Easter Traditions A Celebration of May Day and Springtime Sat 6th May Traditional Maypole dancing amongst spring flowers Midsummer Music Sat 24th June Concert by singer Katie Leaver, 6pm-9 £11 / £6 child


Plant Fair 23 APRIL 2017 Sunday 11am – 5pm

A fabulous day out with up to 35 stall holders offering thousands of rare and interesting garden plants for sale. Admission includes entry to the Gardens. Adults £5 under 16s free

Become a Friend of SPG and get your admission refunded

Spetchley Park Gardens, Worcester WR5 1RS t: 01905 345106 e: • /SpetchleyParkGardens • @SpetchleyPark

Devon Plant Fairs 2017 Support the conservation of garden plants while enjoying a wide range of specialist West Country nurseries selling popular, rare and unusual plants.

Sunday March 19th Tavistock Pannier Market 10am-3pm Sunday April 9th South Molton Pannier Market 10am-3pm Sunday April 16th Burrow Farm Gardens, nr. Axminster 10am-3pm

Sunday April 23rd Totnes Civic Hall 10am-2pm Saturday & Sunday May 13th/14th RHS Rosemoor, Great Torrington 10am-3pm Saturday May 20th Delamore House, Cornwood, Ivybridge, PL21 9QP 10am-4pm Sunday July 9th South Molton Pannier Market 10am-3pm Sunday September 17th Tavistock Pannier Market 10am-3pm Sunday September 24th RHS Rosemoor, Great Torrington 10am-3pm More details contact Caroline Stone on 01566 785706

Garden entry £4.00 Child £1.00 HCGT & RHS Free Tel. 01926 493339 Access by racecourse to Bread & Meat Close, Warwick CV34 6HF. 2 hrs free parking.


SOIL CONDITIONERS Few gardens have the perfect soil - fertile, well drained with moisture retentive loam. Even if you think you are one of the luckier ones when it comes to soil quality it’s always possible to add to it and improve it to make it better suited to growing particular plants and crops. Soil conditioners must be organic, such as manures, grit, lime or gypsum. Organic and chemical soil improvers function differently.



Leaf mould is what’s left when the dead, fallen leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs are heaped up and allowed to rot down. As they slowly moulder, only the toughest bits remain, eventually forming spongy, dark brown crumbs to rival any dessert topping. Leaf mould is easy to make, free of pests, diseases and weeds (unless you gather it from where they’re seeding), a delight to handle, and you can’t possibly overdose your soil on it. The hidden alchemy that brings it about – the countless microorganisms that drive decay – gives leaf mould its almost magical quality. Leaves that are low in fibrous lignin and high in nitrogen and calcium will produce leaf mould within a year. Add directly to a mesh bin or bagged without chopping. 32

Leaf mould helps open up the soil without drying it out Leaves to use: ash, beech, birch, cherry, elm, hornbeam, lime, oak, poplar, willow. DRAWBACKS: The only one is that it’s not commercially available so must be made at home and can be hard to produce in sufficient amounts. The best leaf mould will take three years to reach its best.


Manures are strictly speaking derived from animal faeces, mainly cattle or horses’ urine and bedding, typically straw but sometimes wood chips or hemp fibre. Manure can be ‘fresh’ straight from the farm or stable, or it can be wellrotted. The latter is much more hygienic and easy to use, but the former can be richer in nutrients. Any manure with recognisable straw or wood chips is best stacked and allowed to rot for a season, ideally under cover or at least covered with a plastic sheet to exclude rain.

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‘Composted manure’ is often offered, usually baled or bagged, and this manure has not just been stacked but it has been turned or mixed, wetted in dry weather, resulting in a very uniform relatively hygienic product that is usually more expensive than manure from the farm. Manure is usually alkaline and as such provides a quick release of nutrients, then a slow gradual release if supplies are limited. It is best applied in early spring and encourages worms and improves moisture retention DRAWBACKS: Bagged products can be heavy and costly. Herbicide residues can be a problem.


Mushroom compost has a high organic matter content that makes it a useful material for soil improvement and mulching.


It’s free and environmentally friendly! Home grown garden compost provides you with rich organic matter that does wonders to improve the quality of your garden soil. Whether you sprinkle compost on the surface of the soil or work it in, your garden plants and landscape will grow healthier and stronger thanks to the addition. When making your own avoid letting one material dominate, especially grass cuttings which can form a smelly, slimy mess. The effect on soil structure is dramatic. It has bulk, improves moisture retention and is a good alternative to animal compost. DRAWBACKS: It’s unlikely you will ever be able to make enough yourself. Ready to use compost takes six months especially in winter. Emptying the bin and turning it is hard work. In some cases weed seeds and fungal spores aren’t destroyed and transfer to the garden plot.

It can sometimes be obtained cheaply and in large quantity from local mushroom farms, soil and manure suppliers. Traditionally made with well-rotted stable manure, mushroom compost is now generally made using composted straw. Mushroom compost often contains chalk and is alkaline in nature. When using mushroom compost, remove any large pieces of chalk that are visible, and use it in moderation, alternating with well-rotted manure or garden compost, these being only slightly alkaline or neutral in their reaction. This avoids excessive build up of chalk in the soil. Mushroom compost is most useful on acid soils that are low in organic matter, where the liming effect of the chalk is an added benefit to soil fertility. Mushroom compost is not recommended for neutral, alkaline or chalky soils, which would be made excessively alkaline by the addition of further chalk.


This is material based on gypsum and available from specialist horticultural suppliers and garden centres. It corrects soil structure problems of heavy clay without affecting pH. It can open up clay soils but the effects can be unpredictable and it’s best to test out on a small area first.


A waste product of the timber industry, composted bark works particularly well on clay spils, dug into surface layers to open up the soil. It is cheap to buy and also has a longer term effect (3-5 years is possible). Airborne weed seeds, that will attack garden borders anytime after the mulch is laid, find bark chippings an unsuitable place to germinate and grow. Even if they do survive the early part of life, they are very easily removed by hand from the bark chips as their roots are unable to lock everything together. It has a low pH and may acidify the soil after prolonged use. Due to its bulky nature it helps improve aeration and drainage. DRAWBACKS: The bark compost contains few nutrients but does have high quantities of carbon that the soil microorganisms break down, possibly depleting the nitrogen levels in the soil.


Divide & rule! Timing is everything when it comes to bringing new life and vigorous growth to your plants by splitting your perennials One of the wonders in a garden is the opportunity to rejuvenate even the oldest plants by dividing them and bringing them into new vigorous life. When dividing perennials, timing and technique are important. Perennial plants are healthiest and most productive when they are young and have room to spread. It’s a myth that all plants benefit from regular division. Many can be left for several years before they need dividing. Dividing plants is done for two reasons, to get more plants, or to restore vigour. Generally, those plants that form a dead patch in the middle need rejuvenating. There was a time when every herbaceous perennial was divided yearly - but this isn’t the

case now. Nowadays you only need to split most if your plants are either losing vigour, or if you want to propagate more. Don’t wait until a plant has become decrepit or monstrous to divide it. One rule of thumb is when it looks its best, divide it at the end of that year. Watch for the early signs of trouble: when the centre of the plant has smaller leaves, fewer flowers, and weaker blooming stalks than the outer edges or when the plant runs out of growing room on its edges and has nowhere to go but into neighboring plants. The well-accepted rule regarding dividing hardy herbaceous plants is: If it flowers before Midsummer’s Day - generally 21st June - you should divide it in autumn, allowing it plenty of time to recover. If it flowers after Midsummer’s Day you should divide in spring, just as the growth re-shoots.

‘Dividing plants is done for two reasons, to get more plants, or to restore vigour’ What not to divide Hellebores do not respond well to being divided. If you do so, cut into large sections and not small noses. Dieramas hate being divided. Leave them to get on with it. Japanese anemones, which have roots 34

like thin shoelaces, place themselves. Lift them in late winter and early spring and lay the roots on to trays of light compost. Some plants are tap-rooted and therefore can’t be divided successfully, however they usually produce copious amounts of seed. Tap-rooted plants Country Gardener

such as most verbascums, most eryngiums, hollyhocks, most poppies, acanthus and lupins are raised by root cuttings taken in very early spring.

However, those who garden on heavy, waterlogged clay will lose plants if they’re divided in the autumn. So if you’re on heavy clay you should wait until spring before lifting anything, or indeed planting anything. Basically, you need to divide just as the new foliage emerges. So earlier flowering plants, which shoot from the base first, can be divided in early spring. Later flowering plants, which shoot later, should be left until late spring.

How to divide

into small pieces. These woodier roots are often best done in late spring when the soil is warmer. Achilleas and all irises are also best divided in late spring as well.

Dividing tender plants Divide tender plants in late spring, when the soil is warm. Agapanthus, kniphophia and alstroemeria come into this category. Keep well watered. Members of the daisy family can also be raised from basal cuttings taken from the new growth. Aim to take some cuttings when the new growth is three inches in length. Just take a knife and remove the shoot above a node, the bumpy bit where the leaves emerge. Pot the cutting up into gritty compost, either in a pot or in small seed tray. If you remove a wheelbarrow full of perennials, then you should put a wheelbarrow full of compost back into that site before replanting to renew the soil, stay ahead of pest problems, and maintain fertility. Without additions, the plants will not have the advantage of renewed, fertile soil and the bed will settle after planting, putting the plants at a disadvantage in terms of drainage and air circulation.

What plants need regular division

You will need two border forks, a spade and a tarpaulin. Lift the whole plant and drag it onto the tarpaulin. If the roots can be teased between the fingers (as they can with many perennials) pull away some of the outer pieces, because these are the most vigorous, and discard the middle section. Shake off the soil and replant individual pieces. Water well. If your plant resists your fingers, use two forks back to back and lever pieces away by pulling the handles in opposing directions. Shake off the soil and replant the vigorous outer pieces. Larger pieces separated like this can be planted straight back into ground enriched with a slow release fertiliser - like blood, fish and bone. Smaller pieces are often best potted up in soil based John Innes number 2. These can be planted out properly once the roots reach the bottom of the pot - usually after four to six weeks. If the rootstock is solid or woodier,try the spade. Failing this, use a large knife or a saw to cut into the rootstock. Don’t cut solid rootstocks

Most plants can stay undivided for many years without being a problem. But some, such as heleniums and phloxes, are the exception. They need regular division every second or third year to maintain vigour. Do follow your instincts because plants can vary in vigour. If a plant is doing well, leave it well alone. Plants with fleshy roots, such as heucheras and primulas, are best divided regularly once the plants become lax and leggy.

Why divide • It will keep your plants healthy. Many perennials grow quickly, forming large clumps. If you don’t divide them every three to four years, these clumps can die out in the middle. • Protect plants from fungal diseases and insect infestations. • It will keep them beautiful. Overcrowded perennials often have fewer and/or smaller flowers than their well-spaced and divided counterparts. If your perennials are drastically in need of division, they may even appear stunted. • Keep them in bounds. Some perennials are especially vigorous or even aggressive. Dividing these plants will help keep them from overwhelming their neighbours. • Make more plants. Dividing perennials leaves you with more plants of the same variety - perfect for adding to other places in the garden.



‘I have never found a garden that cannot be a nature garden.’ by Rob Parkin

Rob Parkin is passionate about organic and sustainable growing, combined with working with wildlife. He is a former head gardener and now a designer and hands on gardener, artist and illustrator. He argues for a new approach to wildlife in the garden Nature needs you. For what? Well actually to survive, believe me, it needs a hand. I’m not going to trot out the figures for what we have lost in the way of meadows, hedges and wetlands, it’s just too depressing. A garden has become one of the few remaining places where wildlife can find a home that is sustainable and safe. So let’s get down to the positive by first abolishing a misconception. We do not ‘let our garden go wild’, nor even part of it, it never works well. Diversity of habitat is what we want. Nature alone is the great ‘wild’ gardener, allowing for scale and timeless evolution. We are creating for now. A garden has become a vital sanctuary for nature and that includes ourselves, yes we are, like it or not, ‘wildlife’. And I for one am happy to be that. Sustainable growing and organic growing make one plus one equal five. The addition is wildlife and nature, with a stunning landscape. We create a plan for life, and that, like any good garden is where to start. That is exactly where I begin when I’m designing a wildlife garden, or a nature reserve.

“For me wildlife gardening and sustainable gardening with organic thrown in is a form of ‘forest gardening’ that makes sense” What do we need that nature loves? Variety of habitat is one. Something to eat and drink, somewhere to hide, a place to know, a place to relax, a home to give us shelter, how many more? Think that you are living in the wild, what would you need to not just survive, but to thrive?. What do you want your garden for? To look good, of course, and it should. To spend time in, heck yes. 36

Rob Parkin’s illustration of wildlife and vegetables in harmony

To protect a family, just like wildlife needs. To give you peace of mind in knowing that what you eat is good, safe and wholesome, yes please. Well, not so different from a hedgehog, a thrush, a newt, an owl, a fox. We are nature remember so it’s not that surprising really. For me wildlife gardening and sustainable gardening with organic thrown in is a form of Forest Gardening that makes sense. That alone can already put a picture in your mind. A nature garden is not a garden of nettles and thistles, nor expansive brambles, important though they are in the wild. It is not an excuse for neglect. Sorry, you cannot just sit and watch the rugby. It is a place of continual but subtle change, habitat variety, richness and variation of planting. Basically - sky, trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants and wild flowers. Upturned plant pots, log piles, leaf litter, bark, marsh and water. I am not even going to begin giving you plant names, we would be here all week. It needs gentle management. Throw in for you, and the wildlife (you have to learn to share) fruit, the greenhouse, the compost area, the garden frame, patio, raised beds maybe, decking and a BBQ to eat then and there, when the food is fresh and at its best, and we have the basics to work with. What we do with them is what, of course, makes the garden work. How do you build a nature reserve in a garden? The good news is that its more straightforward than you might

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Rob’s illustration of lapwing and chicks

think. A nature garden can be one square metre. Let’s start by looking where that one metre might be, and in your own particular case it might be one metre and many more. You are creating Eden for you and the other guys who want to share your patch, but if there is no way for nature to travel to it, you have a problem. It’s not unsolvable just look harder and think a bit more. I have never found a garden that cannot be a nature garden. If you have trees in the vicinity, hedges, footpaths, verges, other gardens around you then you have the starting point. Look and think how you would fly to your garden, how you would run, walk, crawl or swim to it. From what direction is the prevailing wind, where does the shadow fall, which part of the garden is protected and a sun trap, which is in shade,

what is the topography in the garden now? Armed as it were with all this the ideas begin to form, the design begins to evolve. What part of the garden is the most accessible for nature? What part of the garden do you want for growing good grub? That will depend again on aspect and, where is the soil good, or at the very least where can it be improved by using lots and lots of organic material. Where can you make that? This is always exciting and challenging, all of it, it becomes obsessive, I love it. Now you’re beginning to think like wildlife

“A garden has become a vital sanctuary for nature and that includes ourselves, yes we are, like it or not, wildlife”. thinks. You are taking advantage of opportunity. But, you are at the top of the chain and have the ability to create a living, breathing, sustainable, rewarding and satisfying ark. Believe me you will never create anything more rewarding and challenging, exciting and intense. It brings to life a whole new world that sadly few people now see in real life.



Why wildlife needs our help ALL YEAR ROUND As the weather warms up there’s always the question about when you can let nature take over and stop being so active in terms of helping wildlife. The answer will be the temperature gauge. Birds will need help for a while yet but its also the time when you can plan your year round support for all wildlife. Think local; by planting and growing some wild flower seed you can attract butterflies and bees to your garden. Look out for the first bumblebees on warm days in spring. The first queen bumblebees lumbering around the garden, the mining bees emerging from their underground cells leaving neat little piles of soil around the exit holes, and then the first butterflies will appear feeding on the newly opened blooms. Only feed selected foods as winter moves into spring – depending of course on the temperature. Black sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mild grated cheese, mealworms, waxworms, mixes for insectivorous birds, good seed mixtures without loose peanuts are all ideal. Birds time their breeding period to exploit the availability of natural foods: earthworms in the case of blackbirds and song thrushes, and caterpillars in the case of tits and chaffinches. It is now known that if the weather turns cold or wet during spring, severe shortage of insect food can occur, and if the weather is exceptionally dry, earthworms will be unavailable to the ground feeders because of the hard soil.

sunflower seed without the husk. Sunflower hearts are super high in energy and leave very little waste. Bird suet fat balls have a high energy content, are convenient to handle and are great for year round feeding to a wide variety of wild birds. People often think that providing wild bird food is purely a winter activity. However, wild birds actually benefit from food during the summer too. They need high protein food for periods when they are breeding and moulting. For more information call 08000 933221 or visit

Rosybee: plants for bees

Why have plants in your garden that don’t support pollinators when you can have all that beauty and a soothing buzzing too? Rosybee only sell plants that attract the most bees; they have been counting bees on plants for the last five years so they really know which ones are best. The plant range includes a selection of perennials and herbs which are sold in great value trays of six or 10. The website also provides tips for gardeners as well their research and blog. Deliveries weekly anywhere in mainland UK.

High quality bird food at low prices

Little Peckers offer a wide range of high quality bird food including sunflower hearts, wild birdseed mixtures, peanuts, fat balls, meal worms and niger seeds. Plus a massive variety of wild bird feeders and nest boxes all at very reasonable prices. Peanuts are rich in fat and are popular with tits, greenfinches, woodpeckers and siskins. All of the peanuts are tested for aflatoxin. Niger seed are very small black seeds with very high oil levels especially loved by goldfinches, redpoll and siskins. Black sunflower bird seed is an excellent year-round food and great value too. Sunflower hearts are essentially the

Robert Parkin

Natures Way Nature and sustainable gardens Landscape design Consultation

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Another new series in 2017 looks at providing gardeners with advice on a whole range of gardening issues, problems and opportunities

Raised beds: to dress or dig in ? Vegetable beds, raised or flat are rightly very popular with gardeners. Unlike borders, such beds escape compaction since they are never usually walked on. Weed control is the main reason for digging them. Gardeners are often unsure whether they should apply organic matter to the surface and let it work its own way in or fork or dig in when the bed is empty. So what are the pros and cons? For Digging Digging can bury seedling weeds and allows removal of larger perennial weeds. Sandy and other instable soils can settle and become airless. Mixing in organic matter helps counteract this. Digging means that phosphorous and potassium released by the organic matter are at root depth and these nutrients move slowly through soil.

How to prune and renovate wisteria Wisteria can live a long, healthy life with no pruning at all, happily twining, climbing, and sprawling over everything in its path. But it will take over the garden! For the gardener who has limited space and wants to enjoy more visible and abundant wisteria flowers, a pruning routine becomes a necessary chore. So you need two pruning regimes-once in summer and once in winter. Flowers develop on the previous year’s growth, so pruning wisterias biannually not only keeps these vigorous vines to a manageable size but also creates a system of short branches close to the structure, where you can more easily enjoy the blooms. To accomplish this, simply prune the long shoots of the current year’s growth back to six inches long in early summer after the vines have flowered. Also at this time, completely remove any shoots not needed for the main framework of the plant and prune away root suckers, especially on grafted varieties.

Planting snowdrops in the green? against Digging Digging moist ground often damages the natural soil structure. It disturbs beneficial soil organisms such as worms. Digging brings weed seeds to the surface where they can thrive. In many soils exposed earth loses valuable moisture in spring. 40

Everyone seems to think that snowdrops should be divided and moved‘ in the green’- in other words while they are in growth, usually after flowering. But is this the best advice? Snowdrops (Galanthus species) are true bulbs, but unlike tulips or daffodils they do not tolerate storage for along time. This is why lifting ‘in the green’ became commonplace. Snowdrops tend not to thrive in pots. Unlike herbaceous perennials many of which readily form new roots if lifted and replanted, once the roots of a bulb are broken they do not regrow that season so the plant becomes dormant

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earlier. The real problem however is that regularly lifting snowdrops in the green appears to weaken stock – especially the rare or unusual cultivars. Some varieties can tolerate lifting in the green. Clumps of common snowdrops are often offered for sale in February at reduced prices. It’s best not to divide these but drop the whole clump into fertile soil, water in and replant individually when the bulbs are fully dormant.

How to rotate crops in your veg plot Rotating your vegetables is vitally important to the health and productivity of your garden. From disease prevention to nutrient balancing, the benefits of crop rotation make it worth the extra planning required to put the system in place. Simply put, crop rotation involves dividing the garden into sections, and planting a different plant family in each section every year. A systematic rotating schedule ensures that every section eventually receives each plant family.

vegetable growing, your vegetables will ‘move up’ one bed. Your group two vegetables will be planted where the group three vegetables previously were, group three moves to the group four bed and so on. This allows the soil to recover, and the rotation can even be beneficial to future vegetables: for example, the nitrogen that peas and beans naturally deposit in the soil is perfect for encouraging growth in cauliflowers and cabbages.

Tips for great tomatoes There’s few more rewarding experiences in summer than stepping into the garden and placing a whole cherry tomato into your mouth, straight from the vine. The explosion of taste is intense and you’ll never get it from shop shelves. So it’s time to start planning for those moments. Don’t start too early Many gardeners are impatient to germinate their seeds very early in the year. Tomatoes benefit from restraint. Started too early, there is a danger the young plants will become ‘leggy’. The RHS recommends sowing at the end of February if planting under glass or at the end of March if planting in open ground. Planting in or out? Tomatoes are short lived, tender perennials grown as annuals; some need protection in a greenhouse while others are happy growing outside. Pollination is critical Final planting should be done when the first flowers appear on the a truss. Outdoors pollination occurs naturally; under glass some intervention is needed. In a dry summer plants can be sprayed to help pollination. In a wet one extra moisture encouraged disease so give the plants a shake from the stake they are tied to. Do this at noon when the pollen is driest and most available. FeeDing anD watering Water in the morning when plants have a growth spurt. Half a litre per day is a rough guide. Once you see the first fruit on a truss that’s the time to start feeding.

Vegetables fall into four main groups, so choose the vegetables you like from each of these groups. • Group one - Potatoes, beetroot, carrots, chicory, artichokes, parsnips and salsify • Group two - Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, swede and turnips • Group three - Peas, all types of beans • Group four - All other vegetables and salad crops Continuous cropping of the same plant can exhaust the soil of nutrients and pests and diseases can build up. The answer is consistent plot rotation: in your second year of 41

Welcome ‘Cary Grant’ and ‘Audrey Hepburn’ into your garden Roses have been named after famous people for over 60 years but now some gardeners find it tempting to collect these themed high quality named varieties ‘Audrey Hepburn’ is very scented and free blooming while ‘Cary Grant’ is sturdy and disease resistant. They both remain as elegant and stylish as their Hollywood hey days but their appearance in gardens as quality roses marks something of a popular trend amongst gardeners to select roses not only for their colour, scent and resistance to disease but for their names of famous personalities and particularly film stars. What could be more natural? After all, many famous people have their own perfume. But perfumes come and go, and roses don’t. It’s much easier to become ‘immortal’ by having a rose named after you. That’s why some rose lovers opt now to fill their gardens with ‘royalty ‘ ‘film stars’ or even ‘composers’. So, for example, Rose ‘Queen Elizabeth’ is an exquisite floribunda rose and is a perfect way to commemorate the Queen’s 90th birthday. It became an instant hit after the start of her reign, a robust, disease resistant variety with a tall upright habit with a profusion of long-stemmed rounded pink flowers. You can easily add to this Rosa ‘Prince Charles’ a deciduous shrub with nearly thornless stems bearing reddish-purple flowers in summer. To complete the royal family dynasty you can add Duchess Catherine and Duke William Of Cambridge as the royal couple have two beautiful roses named after them. The Catherine rose is peachy pink and is sweet-scented while the William rose is a vibrant red. So this is where the themes start to build. Rose historian Malcolm Grantham says while there are thousands of roses named after everyone from Mozart to Abraham Lincoln, Agatha Christie to Freddie Mercury, Stephen Fry to Bobby Charlton he is aware that gardeners love adding some famous film star names when it comes to roses. “I, for one, would have great fun inviting people into my garden and saying, come and have a look at Marilyn 42

Monroe, she’s a bit blowsy today, or ‘I was looking at Audrey Hepburn this morning and she’s gorgeous’. I might even risk it with ‘I think ‘Elizabeth Taylor, needs a drink today’. “But there is a serious point that all these roses are of the highest quality, carefully propagated to give the rose lover something that’s more than just a name . It seems however than the name is important”. The first rose to be named after a person was ‘Dorothy Perkins’. Jackson and Perkins was a company formed by Charles Perkins and his father-in-law, Albert Jackson in the USA in the 1800s. Charles Perkins had a grand-daughter named Dorothy and they developed a rambling rose which they named after her. The roses named after famous people and the list literally runs into thousands have to be the best of roses. The fashion for the roses names after the popular movie stars began in the 1950s. Women dominated the names of flowers but then the male actors joined in. So if you want your own Oscar winning line up what is on the market?

Naming your own rose If you like the idea of naming a rose after a loved one then there’s a number of options - but it isn’t cheap. It can cost anything from £1,000 to £20,000 depending how ambitious you want to be. The cheapest option is to have a rose which is exclusive to you but not catalogued. For £1,000 you choose from a pre-selected group of roses and pick the colour and classification. You receive 30 plants of your selection. If you desire something more of an horticultural statement then it’s more expensive and can cost up to £20,000. Your rose goes through the same selection process but is offered to growers nationwide for inclusion in catalogues and needs to conform to UK Plant Breeders’ Rights applications.

David Austin roses has a large collection of named roses Historic Roses group also has named roses amonst its historic collection

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‘Cary Grant’ Rose

The ‘Cary Grant’ rose was commissioned by Cary Grant’s fifth wife, Barbara Harris Grant, for her husband as a Valentine gift in February 1986 and were planted along the driveway of their home. It’s bright red was a favourite colour of Cary Grant. A beautiful long stem rose whose colour lies between red and orange.


‘Barbra Streisand’

Barbara Streisand said that if a flower was named after her, she would want it to smell good and be disease free. Botanists have since bred and named a sweet smelling, purple rose with a hearty immune system just for her! The hybrid tea rose that’s named after Streisand has large blooms, a striking colour and the requested strong scent!


‘Audrey Hepburn’

Audrey Hepburn had an interest in roses and loved gardens. This modern hybrid tea rose is named in her memory. It is a beautiful apple-blossom pink with a rosy flush on the opposite petal and a pleasant fruity scent. This plant is just right in a bed with good succession of blooms throughout the summer, average height, and dark green foliage.


‘Marilyn Monroe’

This is an extraordinary and beautiful flower of soft apricot and cream shade. It seems that breeders were captured by the charm of the greatest blonde of the cinema world , so they created a rose that looks more like a confection than a rose.


‘Ingrid Bergman’

This rose is a stunner named after the actress born in Sweden. It has a long list of other awards which means it is hardy and disease resistant. Its petals are dark red and velvety.


‘Elizabeth Taylor’

The Elizabeth Taylor Rose is a showstopper, just like the charismatic entertainer. The rose is glamorous deep pink with large double blooms. It is lightly scented. The flowers are perfectly formed, very long lasting and make an excellent cut flower.


‘Julie Andrews’

This salmon pink rose is hugely popular, named after the actress singer who portrayed the flower seller Eliza Doolittle in the original stage production of My Fair Lady. She was ‘ever so flattered’ to be honoured at the Chelsea Flower Show which saw the rose launched.


Species TULIPS to die for

T. humilis ‘Lilliput’

We all love tulips in spring but Gill Heavens steps back to look at where these loved plants evolved from - the sensational early flowering species tulips Tulips are some of our best loved spring flowers, and quite rightly so, with the kaleidoscopic range of shapes, sizes and colours available. This plethora of choice is due to extensive breeding over the 400 years since they were first introduced into Western Europe. Shall we step back from these bold beauties and take a look at where it all began? Let us look at where these well-loved garden plants evolved from, their parents, the species tulips. Tulips are in the lily family, Liliaceae, and there are approximately 75 wild species, only a small proportion of which are in commercial cultivation. Many of these are found in alkaline soils on hot, well drained hill sides, in climates where long cold winters, short springs and baking hot summers are the norm. They were first introduced from Turkey in the late 16th century which resulted in the much publicised “tulip mania”. At this time bulbs could change hands for the price Tulipa tarda, the late tulip 44

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of a small car, or perhaps I should say a small horse and cart. Although they have not retained such crazy popularity, or luckily the prize tags, they have remained a garden staple ever since. Here are a few of the better known species, any of which would make a welcome addition to your spring garden. One of my favourites is Tulipa sylvestris, or the wild tulip. Its natural habitat is far ranging, running from the Mediterranean to western China, with the occasional site in North America. This tulip is a rare find in the UK but is thought to have been introduced rather than truly native. In April it produces buttercup yellow flowers flushed with green which are lemon scented. These flowers are pendant in bud, becoming more upright as they mature, and reach 25cm in height. Sylvestris means “of the woods” and in the wild they can be found in open woodland positions and, although they will tolerate light shade, they flower better in a sunny position. They spread by means of underground stolons, making this a wonderful plant to naturalise. A meadow full of these golden gems would brighten the dullest of days. A particularly long flowering species is Tulipa turkestanica, the Turkestan tulip, which will bloom for up to six weeks. That is a lot of flower for your money, especially when you consider that each plant produces racemes of up to 12 flowers heads which are held 30cm above grey-green leaves.

The yellow centred, white flowers throw themselves wide open, appearing like starshaped fried eggs! This is another excellent tulip for naturalising. Tulipa tarda, the Late Tulip, come from central Asia and are at their best from the end of April to early May. Although “bijou” at only ten cm tall, each flowering stem has up to six perfumed flowers. They are held on very short stems, and are deep yellow, edged in white. The strappy, glossy leaves have a red edge. This is a perfect rock garden plant and works well in containers or at the front of a sunny border. It is an easy tulip to grow and is equally easy on the eye! Another diminuative species is Tulipa humilis, sometimes known as Tulipa pulchella. Humilis means low growing and, although a little larger than T. tarda, this little chap only reaches 15cm in height. Its homelands cover parts of Turkey, Iraq and Iran. The star-shaped flowers can be variable in colour, from pale purple to mauve red, all with a yellow centre. It is a very early flowerer, if you are lucky this could begin in February, but is more likely to be March to early April. There are several worthy cultivars including T. humilis ‘Lilliput’, which is crimson with a violet base, and the tongue-twisting Tulipa humilis var. pulchella Albocaerulea Oculata Group which has white flowers with an indigo centre and midnight black stamen. Another rockery must have! The lady tulip, Tulipa clusiana, is named after Carolus Clusius, a Flemish botanist, and is found from Iran to the Himalayas and Tibet. The flowers, which appear in April, can reach 40cm tall. The white buds have broad, vertical candy stripes. These open to reveal star-shaped white flowers with a deep purple centre. Again cultivars are readily available including the elegant rose and white flowered ‘Lady Jane’ and T. clusiana var. chrysantha which has stunning sunshine yellow flowers, russet on the outside. Tulipa sprengeri, the Sprenger tulip is the last to bloom, waiting until the end of May to begin flowering and continuing until early summer. And it is definitely worth the wait. Goblet shaped flowers are deep red both inside and out, standing up to 50cm tall and held above slim, elegant leaves. If semi-shade is all you have then this is the one to try. Unfortunately it is thought to be extinct in its native Turkey, all the more reason to appreciate its ruddy blooms with golden anthers. Care of these tulips is not difficult. If conditions are right, the ground well drained

and the bulbs are planted deeply, you can leave them in the soil to bulk up. If you must dig them up, first ripen them in a greenhouse for a few weeks and store away safe from rodents, in dry cool conditions. If they are left in situ, in late winter apply a fertiliser high in potash to encourage flowering. In the spring, as they are emerging, be vigilant for the onslaught of slugs and snails. Hopefully this will be the extent of your worries, however one year a deer systematically bit the heads off every emerging tulip in the garden I was tending! Species tulips may look more delicate than the big blousy hybrids, but their appearance belies the truth. If planted in the right place they are far more likely to return year after year, eventually increasing your display. They are long flowering and often fragrant. And they are undoubtedly extraordinarily beautiful. Surely you can’t say fairer than that?

Top: Tulipa turkestanica, the Turkestan tulip Bottom Right: Tulipa humilis var. pulchella Albocaerulea Oculata Group Bottom Left: Tulipa sylvestris, or the ‘wild tulip’


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Country Gardener

Three NEW plant delights for 2017 Country Gardener and home and garden plant specialists Bakker launch a new service to readers offering exciting new plants at special prices

Hosta ‘Purple Sensation’ stunning purple booms A new and unusual hosta with stunning purple flowers is available for the first time The hosta ‘Purple Sensation’ has striking purple blooms in abundance, which stand proud against the hosta’s iconic green foliage. Gareth Richards, gardening expert, said the new hosta is certain to be popular: “Hosta’s are eye-catching and look the part in all borders, but gardeners love them because they’re so undemanding and low-maintenance. “This new hosta is a hardy perennial, which will grow fresh, bright, heart-shaped leaves each spring. Although the fabulous leaves are a treat on their own, this plant really is a show stopper during the flowering season between July and September, it’s truly spectacular.” ‘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. Priced at £8.95, for three The hosta ‘Purple Sensation’ is supplied bare-rooted. Visit the website to purchase.

‘Queen of the Night’ lily

New ‘Queen of the Night’ lily is a colour sensation The ‘Queen of the Night’ Lily is unique. The petals of this Asiatic lily are near-black in colour, contrasting with the vermilion red stamens and creating an unforgettable beauty. The deliciously sweet fragrance of the lily only adds to its appeal. It is exclusive to Adrian Nind at Bakker praised the plant for its unusual colour scheme: “The ‘Queen of the Night’ Lily is such a versatile plant. It is striking in the garden where it will contrast well or looks great on its own in a pot on the decking or patio. This exceptional lily also makes a great cut flower – pick them in the early morning and be sure to remove the pollen to avoid staining clothing. Keep cut lilies away from direct sunlight and your fruit bowl and they will last much longer.” It is an early bloomer to welcome in the start of summer, flowering from June to August. The bulbs are best planted in spring or autumn at a depth of 10-15 cm in light, welldrained soil. They will thrive well in a corner sheltered from the elements or between other plants in direct sunlight. 'Queen of the Night' Lily bulbs are available in packs of five (£6.85) or you can purchase two packs of five for only £9.75 on special offer -

‘Bare-rooted’ anthurium

New style hassle free hydroponics plant Hydroponics - growing plants in water is set to be one of the gardening trends of the year. If you’d like to delve into this new market here is the ‘Barerooted’ Anthurium! is the first company to bring the anthurium in water to customers. By rinsing the roots and placing the plant in a vase like a bouquet, you will create a real eye catcher for your home! And no more ‘I forgot to water my plants. A way to do this is by rinsing the plant roots and placing the plant in water, instead of in soil. When magnified by the water, the roots will look fabulous, really adding something extra. Besides the wow factor, the plant is easy to look after as it will always have enough water, you only need to refresh the water weekly! It is very easy to create the anthurium in water for your home. All you need, is a large bucket and a vase. Use the bucket to rinse the roots. Then, fill the vase with water and make sure the roots are sitting below the water level. The complete arrangement of the anthurium with vase is now available at, POBox 113, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 9WL. Order line 0844481 1000.

Hosta 'Purple Sensation’


Cerney House


A new series for 2017, former National Trust head gardener Andrew Midgley visits some of the great gardens of the region and casts his professional eye on what makes them so worth a visit Cerney House Gardens lies in the secluded Churn Valley in the Cotswolds outside the Roman town of Cirencester, in Gloucestershire on the outskirts of North Cerney. It’s a garden that oozes romance and style whatever the season. The Bathurst Arms, on the A435, is the indicator that you are near these wonderful gardens approached opposite the pub up a winding lane towards the church. You arrive at Cerney House through a drive with sweeping lawns on either sides with the Georgian house nestling in a dip surrounded by majestic beech trees providing a much needed windbreak. The car park is situated to the left of the house and visitors are entrusted to pay their admission via an honesty box. There is a small, self-service tea room in the Bothy within the Walled Garden where again you pay via another honesty box. The house and gardens 48

Country Gardener

were bought by the late Sir Michael and Lady Angus in 1983 and it was Lady Angus and her daughter Barbara MacKenzie who set about rejuvenating the walled garden and the wider parts of the garden. On leaving the car park, the path leads to the walled garden and another path takes you through the woodlands which is adorned with various cultivars of snowdrops in February which the gardens are deservedly famous for, giving you tantalising glimpses of the formal garden below you. Here you’ll find 150 different varieties of snowdrops. The woodland track leads around the rear of the property and eventually you find yourself in front of the house where you can walk across the lawn to the ha-ha via a path to an area known as the Avenue Beds, created in the mid -1990s, which has two long and deep borders with a tall prunus trimmed into a hedge to act as an backdrop. Close by is a young arboretum that’s beginning to establish itself with a good collection of Japanese flowering cherries plus a stately Liriodendron tulipifera, tulip tree. Beyond is a water garden which was extended approximately 15 years ago and has a stream trickling through. Looking back up to the house, your eyes are surprisingly drawn to the right hand side of the building and not the centre as you would expect, as to the left of the borders is a wildflower meadow that stops near the drive. When the snowdrops finish, clumps of wood anemones and aconites take their place followed by bluebells within the woods before it’s the time for the daffodils to have their turn. As you wander through it becomes clear this is a garden full of unexpected surprises and a credit to the late Lady Angus and Barbara. The garden is now run by her son, Nick Angus and his wife, Janet with the help of four part time gardeners, who want to further the garden’s development and potential. The walled Victorian garden is gardened organically and loosely in the style of the English Romantic Garden with old-fashioned roses and drifts of perennials. It is approximately three and a half acres and the borders are long and rectangular in shape. The entrance to the walled garden is via a wrought iron gateway with two stone acorns on the walls. To the right is a Victorian greenhouse and the old gardener’s bothy. Below the glasshouse are a group of both red and yellow flowered tree peonies. Essentially the walled garden is divided into two halves divided by a central gravel path. The walled garden on the right is on a south-facing slope catching the maximum sunlight for the fruit and vegetable garden. Intriguingly, the walls on this side are made of traditional red Victorian bricks whilst the lower side of the walled garden consists of dark stones which makes for a direct contrast in texture

and colour. The bricks help to capture the warmth of the sun which radiates heat at night that aided fruit production back in the olden days. Along the top path there are old espaliered apple trees where in the corner is a venerable old medlar tree (Mespilus germanica) underplanted with hybrid hellebores in the spring. Behind the trained fruit trees is an old asparagus bed. The walled garden are hosts to Roman snails which can cause a few headaches for the gardeners in the vegetable garden but are legally protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. On the left is the ornamental half with drifts of perennials consisting of hardy geraniums, astrania, hemerocallis, spires of lupins and delphiniums and so forth and bordered by a straggly line of old,

bedraggled, yet gnarled characterful lavenders and hyssops which helps softens the edges of the path. On entering the walled garden, the eye is lead up to the imposing gazebo built in the 1990s as an anniversary present for Sir Michael and Lady Angus. From the gazebo, you can see the walled garden in its entirety and there are plans to change the planting around the gazebo in 2017 in memory of the late Lady Angus using white and green flowers and renaming that spot as the Legacy Garden. The skeletal frameworks of the roses will burst into leaf and be at their best in June. The renowned roses, ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’, ‘Rambling Rector’, ‘William Lobb’ and ‘American Pillar‘ are just four of the roses jostling for attention in the bustling but harmonious borders whilst the early, yellow flowering Rosa lutea grows on the wall. So many formal gardens can be too manicured and in some sense become soulless but you get the impression that the garden here is allowed to run riot with timely intervention by the gardeners to temper the plants and thereby making it a serene, quiet and relaxing garden to wonder around enjoying the intoxicating scents from the roses and from the scented garden near the Knot Garden. One of the features here is the intricately woven clipped box hedges in the Knot Garden with four quince trees planted in each border with a stone sundial in the middle. In the spring, the beds are planted with bold drifts of tulips which are superbly set off by the bright green leaves of the hedges; an absolute classic planting combination for a formal garden. Each year, different colour combinations are used to freshen the display and the spent tulips are then replanted in the herbaceous borders. The Knot garden is surrounded by grass paths and by old fashioned scented roses supported on rustic wooden trellises via a spectacular Laburnum arch. Every garden needs to change and Cerney Gardens are no exception. Plans are afoot to rejuvenate the vegetable garden using old fashioned heritage vegetables. This year the new custodians of Cerney House will allow well behaved dogs on leads into the garden and there are plans to create more interests for children too. You could, like me, quite happily spend a few peaceful hours soaking up this wonderful old atmospheric garden. Cerney House Gardens The Garden House, North Cerney, Cirencester. Glos, GL7 7BX. Email: Tel: 01285 831300. Opening times are seven days a week, 10am till 5pm, end of January to the end of October. Call to arrange visits outside these times. 49


Planning your ‘WISH LIST’ of gardening events to look forward to The chances are the worst of the winter is almost over. If not then at least there’s the consolation that it won’t be too long before the days really lengthen and we can start looking forward to spring and summer. And with that comes the chance to line up ‘wish lists’ for the months ahead –gardening trips, visits, explorations. We will again be spoilt for choice at the events lined up but planning and looking forward to them is after all, half the pleasure.

Caerhays Spring Gardens re-open this month 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.

Bank Holiday weekend plant sale at West Kington Spring is on its way and to mark the occasion West Kington Nurseries – specialist herbaceous and alpine growers is again opening its gates for another giant plant sale weekend on the 29th and 30th of April. This special event is again supporting local charities, including Wiltshire Air Ambulance, through the catalogue sales. Almost £2,500 was raised for local charities last year. There will be a huge choice of plants on sale at bargain prices - from perennials to roses and topiary – a great range for all seasons. Gardening experts will be on hand for advice. West Kington Nurseries Nr Chippenham, Wiltshire. Tel: 01249 782822

Hartland Abbey & Gardens Special Opening: Daffodils and Spring Flowers Sunday 12th March 11am-4pm

Come and enjoy early spring in beautiful gardens with spring shrubs, bulbs and wildflower walks to the beach. House open too. * Dogs really welcome * Delicious light lunches & cream teas * Exhibition ‘Filming on the Hartland Abbey Estate since 1934’* 2017 SEASON starts on Mothering Sunday March 26th - October 1st Sunday to Thursday 11.00am - 5pm (House 2pm - last adm. 4.15pm)

For all information and events see (Only 1 mile to Hartland Quay) Hartland, Nr. Bideford EX39 6DT 01237441496/234 50

The world famous Caerhays gardens overlook Porthluney Cove on the English Channel

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. They re-open on Monday, 20th February.

Nynehead Court

West Kington Nurseries


West Kington, Nr Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 7JQ Tel 01249 782822

Sunday 19th February 2-4.30pm


Garden tour with head gardener Justin Cole at 2pm Nynehead Court, Nynehead, Wellington TA21 0BW Tel: 01823 662481 Email: Visit our Facebook page for details of forthcoming events

Country Gardener




Visitors to the gardens can relax in the Magnolia Tearooms, which serves a variety of locally sourced and homemade produce from tea and homemade cakes to light lunches and snacks. Visitors can also pre-book a special ‘high tea’ to celebrate Mothering Sunday on Sunday 26th March. Garden admission is £8.50 for adults, £7.50 for seniors and £4.50 for children (5-16 years). Children under 5 free. £2 discount for PL25, PL26, TR1 or TR2 postcodes. Caerhays Castle and Gardens, Gorran, St.Austell, PL26 6LY. Tel: 01872 501310

Award-winning Hartland Abbey opens for ‘Daffodil Sunday’

Early daffodils at Hartland Abbey

Sunday 12th March heralds spring at Hartland Abbey with a special day to enjoy the beautiful, early spring flowers. The daffodils, many of them historic varieties dating back

150 years, should be looking lovely as well as the profusion of camellias, mimosas, hellebores, chinodoxia and many other beauties! It is a chance to visit, at a reduced entry, before the season proper begins on Mothering Sunday, later in March. The fascinating house will be open and the exhibitions, including ‘Filming on the Hartland Abbey Estate since 1934’ Displaying images from the many productions filmed over the years on the estate, it includes award winning, The Night Manager filmed recently. The house and gardens are the 2016 winners of The North Devon Journal Gold Award ‘Best House and/or Garden in North Devon’.

Save £150 per person on Expression Holidays Expressions Holidays is offering Country Gardener readers a reduction of £150 per person for booking before 31st March 2017. Expressions Holidays 2017 garden tours are for small groups of up to 14 people to the gardens and villas of Italy and feature the regions of Tuscany, the Veneto, the Amalfi Coast, the Italian Lakes and the Rome area. Each tour with a local guide shows you the most outstanding gardens, their history and planting. Prices start at £2,250 per person (double or twin share) and a single supplement from £300. New features for 2017 include the papal gardens of Castel Gandolfo! Contact Expressions Holidays on 01392 441275. Fully protected by ATOL 3076.

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


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.

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

If your postcode is PL25, PL26, TR1 or TR2, bring proof of your address and save £2 on all entry prices.

01872 501310 51


Nynehead Court ready with primroses and snowdrops

Nynehead Court’s 13 acres of parkland are open to the public and are tended by professional gardeners, and the home usually participates in the NGS scheme during the spring and summer. Visitors to the event on 19th February will be able to see Nynehead Court’s grounds in a different way, with an abundance of primroses and snowdrops. The grounds will be open 2pm-4.30pm (entrance £4) and head gardener Justin Cole will be conducting a tour of the gardens at 2pm. Homemade teas and hot soup will be available in the home’s Orangery. Nynehead Court, Nynehead, Wellington TA21 0BW Tel: 01823 662481 Email:

Buscot Park prepares for spring opening Buscot Park, home of Lord Faringdon, who looks after the property on behalf of The National Trust will open for the new season on 1st April. Its walled gardens feature mixed plantings in borders with walks between high hornbeam alleys. There are sculptures and a fountain, all overlooked by the “faux falls” - a modern water feature mimicking a waterfall. The pleasure gardens were begun in the 18th C. Five treelined avenues radiate from the mansion, each leading to a feature such as the Water Garden designed by Harold Peto in 1904, a “Swing Garden”, Egyptian sculptures, and an obelisk sundial on the far end. Open 1st April to 30th September. Gardens open Mon-Fri 2pm-6pm and some weekends including Bank Holidays. Entry £7. Information Line: 01367 240932

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

Travel by luxury small •coach

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

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

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

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

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

to each tour •canExtensions be arranged SPEAK TO OUR EXPERTS

01392 441275

ENVIRONS OF ROME Visits to: Villa d’Este, Bomarzo, Villa Lante, Giardino di Ninfa, Landriana 2017: 10 May, 17 May, 7 Jun, 6 Sep From £2,250 per person VENETO Visits to: Villa Barbarigo, Villa Emo, Villa Pisani, Giardino Giusti, Villa Rizzardi 2017: 7 Jun, 6 Sep From £2,240 per person 52

Country Gardener 6 Oct 2016 MH FIN.indd 1


06/10/2016 16:17:45

CLASSIF IED Accommodation

Sidmouth, Devon Lovely self-catering house. Sleeps 4. Undercover parking. 10 mins walk to seafront. Tel: 01934 862840 Email:

Glorious North Devon. Only 9 cosy caravans on peaceful farm. Wonderful walks in woods & meadows. Easy reach sea, moors & lovely days out. £125395pw. Discount couples. Nice pets welcome. 01769 540366 Cornwall, near St Just. Chalet, sleeps 4, heated indoor pool, open all year – near gardens/coast, golfing nearby. Prices from £260 pw. 01736 788718 Bosworlas near Sennen/St Just, Cornwall. Cosy Cottage, rural views, Sleeps 2-4 01736 788709 Hampshire coast, New Forest, Milford on Sea. Village centre holiday apartment sleeps 2-3, private parking. Wonderful walks, lovely all year round. 01590 644050

Gloucestershire, Cosy annexe for two

non-smokers, lovely garden, beautiful countryside. Pets welcome. Tel: 01452 840531

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

Pembrokeshire, Wales Carmarthen Bay South Wales Seafront chalet situated on estuary. Sleeps up to 6. Seaview. Well Behaved Dogs Welcome. For brochure Tel: 01269 862191

North Devon Rustic Retreat, sleeps 2-4, 30 minutes Dartmoor, Sea, RHS Rosemoor. Tel: 07896 014661 Three Scandinavian lodges. Set in beautiful Worcester countryside. All with Accommodation: Holiday own hot tubs and wood burners. Go to ref nos UKC 392 W43950 Cottages Lanlivery near Eden and other Cornish and W44036. Gardens lovely woodland lodge 2/4 people 01726 430489 Devon. Tamar Valley. Pretty cottage sleeps 2-4. Wood burner, garden, small dog welcome. 02073 736944/07940 363233 Carmarthenshire. A charming holiday cottage, rural setting, stands alone, Delightful cosy Shepherds Hut for 2 on Cotswold Farm Sleeps 3. Short breaks available. Pets welcome. 01239 711679 Pretty villages, Bustling market towns Padstow house, 4 + baby, gardens, excellent walking NT and gardens parking, Wi-Fi, Camel trail (bike storage), Tel: 01242 604189 beaches. 07887 813495

4 star luxury cottages in idyllic surroundings. Fully equipped, open all year. Children & pets welcome. Tel: 01239 841850 Cornwall. Village location between Truro and Falmouth. Fully equipped renovated cottage. Peaceful garden. Off road parking. Ideal for 2 adults. No children/animals. Good public transport. Good pub and shop. Easy reach of Heligan and Eden. 01279 876751 Northumberland Luxury self-catering cottage, sleeps 2. Rural location. Near to major tourist attractions inc Hadrian’s Wall 01884 841320 Self-catering cottages in countryside near Lyme Regis. Japanese food available. Wye Valley/Forest of Dean. Fully equipped 4-star single storey cottage. Two bedrooms both en-suite. Central heating/bedlinen provided. Rural retreat with shops/pubs one mile. Short breaks available. Warm welcome. Tel: 01594833259 53


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

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

COSY COTTAGE IN DEVON SLEEPS 4 1½ MILES FROM THE SEA Available April to October. Regret no pets/smokers. Reduced rates for over 65’s. Contact: Liz Davies 07842418140 or email

North Devon Coast Apartment and garden overlooking the sea. Tel: 01271 866941

Cornwall luxury holiday bungalow sleeps 4, near St Ives.

Ideal peaceful base for walkers, garden and beach lovers.

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

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

Bed & Breakfast Home Farm B&B in beautiful Cotswold village nr Chipping Campden. Close Hidcote and Kiftsgate - phone 01386 593309 Charming B&B in garden cottage annex. Double with en-suite. Village location near Jurassic Coast, Bridport. Tel: 01308 488177 4 Star Gold Award B&B in Stoulton, Worcestershire. Luxury accommodation in beautiful surroundings. Perfectly situated to visit Worcester, The Malvern’s, Pershore, Cheltenham and Cotswolds. 01905 841129 Explore Devon and be spoilt. 2 nights DBB £190 per couple. Farmhouse hospitality. Great trip advisor reports. 01566 783010 Somerset 5* Restaurant with Rooms. Close to many NT Gardens, Houses and Dorset Coast. Countryside Location with Lovely Garden. Pet Friendly www. 01935 423902 Quality B&B Truro Cornwall. Ideal for visiting beautiful cornish gardens and coast. £40 pppn 01872 241081

Accommodation With Beautiful Gardens North Devon near Clovelly. 3 delightful cottages situated in 12 acres of idyllic countryside. Sleeps 2-4. 1 Wheelchair friendly. Prices from £190 p.w. Brochure: 01237 431324 Northumberland Luxury self-catering cottage, sleeps 2. Rural location. Near to major tourist attractions inc Hadrian’s Wall 01884 841320

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

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

CLASSIF IED Paignton, Devon, 4* B&B. Ideal location for coast, countryside and NT gardens. En-suite rooms, garden, parking. Green Tourism Gold Award. 01803 556932

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


We sell to both individuals and trade. no order too small. Contact us for your free 2017 catalogue Mill House Fine Art Publishing, Bellflower Gallery, Market Place, Colyton, Devon eX24 6JS

Tel. 01297 553100

Fruit Trees

Adam’s Apples

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

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

Tel: 01404 841166

Garden Buildings


FdSc Hort. MCI Hort. 01626 836279 / 07903943757 Garden Design | Tree Services Garden Maintenance Based in Bovey Tracey

Leigh Goodchild Ltd

Garden Buildings

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

Call Leigh 07971 251261

Garden Products Request your FREE 2017 catalogue 01376570000

The Head Gardener

Robert Smart for beautiful gardens Email: Mob: 07743353103

Greeting Cards Handmade greeting cards encapsulated (pressed) flowers. £3.50 each + postage/packing. 01386 424919



Polytunnels from £345 available to view by appointment

REQUEST YOUR FREE CATALOGUE TODAY! Or call 0845 371 0518 (Open 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week). Calls cost 3p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge. Remember to quote promotional code: F17RCG

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Potato Day Events

Craft & Stationary Paper Unusual paper with an extra surprise, even Ellie Poo! 100% recycled made in UK. 01458 251662

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Mortared work also undertaken. Patrick Houchen - DSWA member. Tel: 01963 371123

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Country Gardener



Don’t be deterred by cool temperatures – it's time to get under way with the new vegetable season Because a vegetable needs either warm or cool weather, crops sort themselves into two distinct categories: cool season for spring and autumn and warm season for summer. Planting at the right time is the first step to a bountiful garden.

When gardeners start thinking about growing vegetables their first thoughts are beans, tomatoes and peppers - when the weather starts to warm up. However, home grown vegetables can start much earlier and you can grow vegetables that do better in cool weather. Cool temperatures in spring have fewer pests around to bother your vegetables which means they are less prone to damage and problems. The cool weather vegetables include salad vegetables, kales, chards, onions and the cabbage family. Just like the warm weather vegetables, most cool weather varieties are started from seed indoors. These spring vegetables, all of which can be easily planted from seed, are all great choices for an early garden, and are usually foolproof enough to grow so that even the most beginning gardeners can reap a good harvest.



Fresh baby spinach is quick to sprout and grow in a spring garden, and can be remarkably frost-resistant, especially when grown under cover. There are a lot of varieties of spinach, most of which can be categorized by being either savoy and semisavoy (which tend to have crinkled or curly crisp leaves), or smooth-leaf (with flatter leaves and a softer texture), so try growing several varieties to see which ones work best for your soil and location.

2. CHARD This is another excellent spring vegetable that is easy to grow from seed. Chard comes in a variety of colours and sizes and textures, although most of the colour tends to be in the thick stems, with the leaves being mostly green. Growing some red and white and yellow chard along with the traditional green chard can add some color to spring salads while also livening up the look of the garden. Some varieties of chard can be harvested as baby greens in about 25 days, with the leaves taking about twice that long to get to full size.

Growing lettuce for baby greens is not only quicker and easier, but will provide a near-constant supply of salad greens from spring until well into summer. Opt for a mixed lettuce seed and instead of sowing the seeds farther apart, as is recommended for head lettuce, sow very close together in each row, which will yield a solid row of lettuce leaves that is easy to harvest, and which can be cut repeatedly throughout the season. Baby greens can be harvested in a couple of weeks, and by planting successions of seeds every week or two, you can have a constant supply.

4. RADISHES Radishes are one of the fastest vegetables you can grow, aside from the various greens, as many varieties are ready to be harvested in as little as three weeks. Radishes are great for planting with lettuce or other spring greens, and can help to naturally thin those crops as the radishes get harvested. Many are only familiar with the round red or pink and white radishes, but they come in a lot of different colours, shapes, and sizes, and can be spicy or sweet, depending on the variety.

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




Clubs and organisations throughout Sussex are welcome to send us details of their gardening events to look out for over the next few weeks. IT’S A FREE OF CHARGE SERVICE. 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





SUSSEX HARDY PLANT SOCIETY ‘WINTER COLOUR IN THE GARDEN’ – GEOFF HODGE Answers to Treevia quiz on p62: 1 = C, 2 = C, 3 = D, 4 = D, 5 = D, 6 = A, 7 = B, 8 = B, 9 = A, 10 = D, 11 = D, 12 = A, 13 = A, 14 = B, 15 = A, 16 = D, 17 = A, 18 = C,


Country Gardener


Warming up your body FOR THE GARDENING SEASON 80 per cent of all gardening sprains and injuries happen at the start of the new season when we are probably not as fit and supple as we need be so its a time to get prepared Gardening is hard work at the best of times and can really do some damage to your back and spine. It doesn’t matter whether you are 25 or 65 you’ll need to be careful. It's no surprise that the start of a new gardening season brings with it all the joys of more fresh air and exercise but it also brings the biggest risks of injuries. The ligaments that line the back of the spine overstretch a bit when we round forward for long periods of time, like when weeding. This means you want to work in a flat or neutral back as much as possible, which means sticking out your bottom. Every time you bend forward, whether you're on your knees or feet, hinge at your hip joint and do not round your back. It helps to think of your torso as a solid unit rather than an articulating spine. So here’s some tips to make sure you stay injury free.

GARDEN TOOLS Position the shovel's blade so that it is level. Ideally, it should be parallel to your hip bones (pelvis) in the front, assuming your hip bones are level. Lean your weight forward onto the shovel. Let the weight of your body sink the shovel into the ground. Leveraging the dirt or snow in this way will help you avoid muscle strain associated with digging or shovelling. To begin lifting the dirt up, shift your weight to your back leg, using a gliding motion of the pelvis. Make sure you bend at hips and knees, and not the back. If you don't initiate the lifting from the pelvis you will be working harder than you need, and may cause yourself back or neck strain.

WEEDING -SITTING ON A BUCKET If you have knee, hip or back pain, sitting will help you avoid putting pressure onto those areas. But even sitting and weeding can take its toll on your back if you don't know how to move efficiently. Grab a bucket. Position yourself so that the weight of your body is supported through the bones. Locate your two sitting bones (on the bottom of your seat) and make a firm connected between them and the bucket.

Keep your feet planted firmly and evenly on the ground. Spread your legs apart, and position your arm into your leg to help secure your sitting posture. You can support yourself as you begin to reach for the weeds. Just use your elbow on the inside of your knee to create an external brace for your body posture.

ON ALL FOURS Keep your whole spine long and be aware of any pockets of muscle tension along your trunk. Once you become attentive to unnecessary tension, you can relax out of it. A long spine goes from the top of your head to the bottom of your tailbone, and includes the pelvis. Try imagining that your spine is a garden hose - long and flexible. When you reach forward to grasp the weeds, push your body forward from your pelvis - this way, the pelvis will support your weight and allow your shoulders to relax.

STANDING AND WEEDING Try a short warm up before you begin gardening. Doing exercises like the pelvic tilt and a gentle lying twist with bent knees (if your back can handle it) will warm up those hips and ready them for a back-safe weeding session. Grasping weeds from the standing position is not just an arm action. Try to reach from your shoulder blade all the way out your arm and hand. This will help keep your spine long and may provide a good upper back stretch, too.

WHEELBARROW WORK That old adage, 'bend from the hips and knees, not the back’ comes in especially handy here. This is because when you straighten up, you will have leverage power to use that can save your back muscles from strain and injury. Once you are straight, keep a long spine and lean your body weight in toward the wheelbarrow to tilt it and empty out the contents. When you bend from the hips, you have the advantage of using very strong muscles to lift the load. By comparison, back muscles are much weaker; the structures of the spine are vulnerable to strain and injury. To empty the wheelbarrow, straighten all the way. Lean your weight forward onto your front leg. Keep a nice long line from your head, through your spine down to the very bottom.



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ALLOTMENTS THREATENED BY ‘developers charter’ The battle to protect community spaces across the country will go on but a High Court ruling means that now no allotment plot can be truly safe 2017 is certain to be a challenging time for allotment holders. The demand for allotment plots is stronger than ever and many sites throughout the south and south west have long waiting lists. Yet holders have been given a stern warning that closure remains a constant threat as local authorities try and keep up with housing and development targets yet some allotments are battling against closure. Gardeners at Farm Terrace allotments in Watford lost a case at the High Court to defend their allotments from development. The legal battle was to prevent their allotments being built over, which they hoped would help protect green spaces from development. They believed that a favourable ruling would save not only their own allotments but other similar sites under threat. However, after Mrs Justice Lang ruled Watford Borough Council and the secretary of state for communities and local government – who backed the local authority’s plans – were entitled to concrete over them, the gardeners warned that her judgment was a ‘developer’s charter’.

‘In a freedom of information request, Save All Allotments found that between 2007 and 2014, 194 of 198 applications to close allotments were granted by the secretary of state.’ Other plot holders started 2017 with a similar fight on their hands. The threat to allotment holders comes under the 1925 Allotments Act, which means councils can build on allotment sites only if stringent rules are followed, but the government updated guidance in 2014 granting the secretary of state power to allow development of allotments in “exceptional circumstances”. The Watford gardeners had argued that those two words indicated a “strong presumption against the grant of consent” but that interpretation was rejected. The council had argued that the allotments needed to be removed in order to address

the town’s “acute” housing crisis and the communities secretary highlighted the benefits of the regeneration scheme. In a written judgment, Lang ruled that “the interference with the ...rights of the allotment holders was justified and proportionate because of the wider public benefits to be gained”. The gardeners said after the judgment that “there is no clear benchmark for what is actually exceptional. We feel the term can and will be applied to close other allotment sites throughout the country and we are being made aware almost every week that a new allotment site is under threat of closure for development.” One allotment holder said: “At the time, the site was about 90 per cent occupied and although we didn’t know anybody else we started to recognise people and chat to our neighbours. Two years later we got the letter from Watford Borough Council saying that the allotment land might be needed for an expansion of the adjacent hospital. "We were devastated, but how could we argue? However it soon became clear that there was no hospital expansion and that the land was actually going to be used for flats.” Allotments, were first introduced by philanthropic Victorians to provide a healthy diet and lifestyle for factory workers – and today, when their appeal has crossed the class divide, they offer the same benefits. Over the years, the popularity of the allotment has risen and fallen in inverse proportion to the nation's wellbeing. In times of trouble, we turn to the soil – most obviously during the Second World War, when millions became vegetable gardeners in the Dig For Victory campaign. Public and private spaces, including London's Royal Parks, were transformed into productive patches. By the war's end, there were 1,300,000 allotments in Britain. A mere 250,000 survive, and despite a waiting list of 100,000 frustrated trowel-wielders, many are under threat as local councils and others decide that they can put the land to more lucrative use.


The ‘quite interesting’ Treevia quiz Tree expert Mark Hinsley invites you to try out his unique and demanding test of your tree knowledge The Blandford Town Museum Victorian Garden Club annual Potato Day, which pulled in a larger crowd than President Trump’s inauguration, has once more blazed across the firmament of the Blandford and District Social Calendar to alight again at Pimperne Village Hall. Everybody who is anybody was there. Amongst the many potatoes and other attractions on offer was my now infamous annual ‘Treevia Quiz’, which I present for you below to have a bit of fun with but beware! Emotions can run high and bloodshed is not uncommon in the fever of competition that this seemingly innocent challenge can generate. No prize is on offer here other than the richest prize of all: knowledge. So have a go yourself or take it along to your garden club and see how they get on. All you have to do is select the correct answer: A, B, C or D for each question below. Question 1. The disease threatening our entire population of Ash trees is called... A. Honey Fungus B. Sudden Ash Death C. Ash Die Back D. Dutch Ash Disease Question 2. The tradition of a spruce tree being erected and decorated at Christmas came from... A. Norway B. Canada C. Germany D. Russia Question 3. The longbows of the English archers at Agincourt were predominantly made from... A. Elm B. Ash C. Oak D. Yew 3

Question 4. A British native tree named for the toughness of its timber is... A. Redwood B. Ironwood C. Maple D. Hornbeam

Question 13. A semi-mature tree planted in an urban location may not achieve carbon neutrality for how many years? A. 33 B. 2 C. 10 D. 21

Question 5. The native fruits used to make gin are... A. Sloes B. Hawes C. Rowan D. Juniper

Question 14. Topiary was a favourite way of pruning bushes of... A. Morecombe and Wise B. William and Mary C. Peter and Gordon D. Brown and Repton

Question 6. To build Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory took how many oak trees? A. 6000 B. 2000 C. 400 D. 4000 6

Question 7. Acer campestre is the botanical name for which British native tree? A. Hornbeam B. Field Maple C. Whitebeam D. Mountain Ash

Question 16. The Horse Chestnut or Conker Tree is a native tree of... A. England B. India C. North America D. Albania 16

Question 8. The number of native birch species found in England is... A. 1 B. 2 C. 3 D. 4 Question 9. Cornus sanguinea was given its common name because its fruit was not fit for even a... A. Dog B. Horse C. Pig D. Pauper Question 10. The Martyrs tree in Tolpuddle is a specimen of... A. Red Oak B. Aesculus corbinifolia C. Red Maple D. Sycamore Question 11. The tallest broadleaf tree in Britain is a London Plane of 49m 67cm standing in the grounds of.... A. Harrow School B. Canford School C. The London School of Economics D. Bryanston School Question 12. In Northern England the Alder was traditionally used for making... A. Clogs B. Cloth Caps C. Wagon beds D. Spoons


Question 15. Dutch Elm Disease came into England through Southampton Docks from Canada in the 1960s. However it originally crossed the Atlantic to America in the 1920s from which European Country? A. France B. England C. Holland D. Hungary

Country Gardener

Question 17. The Monkey Puzzle tree was first grown by Archibald Menzies in the late 1700s from seeds he was given as a dessert at a Governor’s Dinner that he chose to plant rather than eat. In 1990 it was made a National Monument of which country? A. Chile B. Peru C. Mexico D. Argentina Question 18. If you discovered a Cedar locally that you knew was 200 years old it would have to be a... A. Deodar Cedar B. Western Red Cedar C. Cedar of Lebanon D. Atlas Cedar ANSwErS oN PAGE 58 Mark Hinsley is from Arboricultural Consultants Ltd


HOMES AND GARDENS LITTLEWORTH LANE (OFF A272) COWFOLD, SUSSEX, RH13 8NA OPEN EVERY DAY | AMPLE PARKING | TEL 01403 864773 The Camelia Botnar Foundation was set up in 1979 and is situated in the heart of the West Sussex countryside, midway between Brighton and Horsham and spreads over 500 acres of mixed arable, open grazing and woodlands. The Foundation provides residential training and work experience, helping young people to learn a skilled trade, embark on a useful career path and successfully make their own way in life. The Foundation aims to train and educate 16 - 21 year olds who are in problematic situations at home due to circumstances outside of their control. Our Horticulture trainees work with their expert managers to produce top quality plants which are all competitively priced. Customers supporting the charity by purchasing our plants for their gardens, get superior products whilst helping us to achieve our aims. We have a large retail shop with extensive stock including high quality items made by our carpentry, metalwork and ceramic training departments. We also have an onsite Coffee Shop serving homemade food and cakes.




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Sussex Country Gardener Spring 2017  

The Spring 2017 Issue of Sussex Country Gardener Magazine

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