Page 1




aper The newsp y for ever gardener

Plan ahead with our at-a-glance sowing guide


February 2 2010 £1.99

Everything you need to know in the garden this week

Carol Klein’s




Garden Diary

With our new 8 page pull-out

New Series

Inside Must-have hellebores for spring



Fern GARDEN GRABBING Britton Fight back against the developers taking our plots

“WHY I love chenies manor”


PRUNE CLEMATIS Plus ten jobs to do this week

free tree peony worth £15 for every reader


2 Garden News / February 2 2010

rInside this week 17

Never miss Garden News Turn to page 8 to find out to subscribe – and save money!


Did you know?

Essential jobs

Green space the size of 2,755 Wembley stadiums will be wiped out by 2016 if ‘grabbing’ continues

How to prune clematis and other great things to do in the garden this week


Carol Klein

Her new cottage garden diary starts with a look at the must-have hellebores for spring


Grow your own

Our 8-page pull-out is packed full of tips and advice for every gardener, from beginner to experienced


Star gardens

TV’s Fern Britton talks about her love for the gardens at Chenies Manor


Free tree peony for every reader Just pay postage and packaging to get your hands on this great freebie worth £15!

Garden menace

Councils must put in place guidelines to stop our gardens being ripped up by developers

Time to fight the ‘grabbers’ How the ‘garden grabbing’ developers are being allowed to swallow up Britain’s precious plots

rYour Weather 5-day forecast for your garden

Most places will become drier and brighter and nights will turn frosty as high pressure builds. rSee page 58 for more on the weather



News Editor


Carol Warters

High 7C Low 6C

High 7C Low 3C






High 7C Low 3C

High 6C Low 2C

High 7C Low 1C

RITAIN’S gardens are being swallowed up by property developers who are exposing planning loopholes that allow new housing estates to replace our flowers, lawns and shrubs. Garden grabbing – the practice in which developers snap up properties with large gardens and squeeze new homes into them – has blighted the lives of thousands of Garden News readers.

But the blame is being laid firmly at the feet of local planning authorities who have not yet established clear policies. Legislation introduced by John Prescott classified gardens as ‘brownfield’ sites and open to development. Housing and Planning Minister John Healey insists the issue isn’t widespread enough for major concern, but the Garden News mailbag is bulging under the weight of complaints from concerned readers who are seeing the British landscape altered forever. It’s been predicted that green space equivalent to 2,755 Wembley football pitches would be wiped out by 2016 if garden grabbing continues. The Minister DID admit local authorities are empowered to stop it but many have sim-

ply failed to put rules in place to protect our gardens. “Councils are leaving an open door for inappropriate development if they do not have a local plan in place. Councils already have the tools they need to deal with this issue,” he said. “Over time, so called garden grabbing can change the look and feel of a community without giving local people a choice,” he added. He did concede there were isolated hotspots where garden grabbing was a concern, but we believe the problem is far more wide ranging. That’s why we are calling on you to tell us the towns, villages and cities where garden grabbing is happening. John Healey used research carried out by a team at King-

ston University to show that garden grabbing isn’t on the up. Professor Sarah Sayce’s team looked into the scale and type of garden development across the country and asked planners whether they regarded building in back gardens as a significant problem in their area. All 363 local planning authorities in Britain were approached and 127 responded. The results showed that garden grabbing was of greatest concern in the south-east, but overall there had been no significant increase in garden developments between April 2003 and March 2008. Conservative MP Caroline Spelman, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, told Garden News: “In contrast to the Labour Government’s weak response, Conservatives will help local people protect the character of their area and give new powers to councillors to allow them to stop garden grabbing ruining local neighbourhoods.”

Your say We want to know if your council is opening its doors to garden grabbing developers. Go online to and add your comments.

February 2 2010 / Garden News 3

Carol Klein

Fern Britton

starts her new weekly cottage garden diary with a look at hellebores Page 26

Find out why Fern loves the tulips at Chenies Manor Page 44

Terry Walton

The Radio 2 star is chitting his potatoes Page 21


Research shows

363 local planning

authorities were approached for their views

127 responded 50 councils said it was an issue

7 councils (5 per cent) had

specific, local policies in plans Councils with local plans in place were more successful at stopping inappropriate development on garden land

6,892 homes in

2007/08 were refused planning permission on appeal


were granted permission – approximately 1 in 5

Government targets


new homes by the year 2016

3,000,000 new homes by 2020

rCase study rMarina Jordan-Rugg, of Sandy, Bedfordshire. row of three terraced houses, just metres away from the front of our property.” Marina believes that the tiny cottage next door to the pub may be to blame for setting the precedent for garden grabbing in her neighbourhood. “In 2001, two houses were squeezed on to the end of the cottage garden, before an additional detached property was shoe-horned into the last pocket of remaining land between them in 2008. This remains unsold,” said Marina. “A decade ago, our house overlooked two gardens, now we are faced with this.”

ONE of the main attractions when the Jordan-Rugg family moved into their Bedfordshire home in 2006 was that they were not overlooked on any side. The view from the bedroom window was of the tree-lined greenery of the pub garden. But, as Marina explains, the outlook is now very different after the pub was sold last year. “Not only is the main building being extended and renovated into a residential dwelling, but also the trees, grass and plants in the former pub garden have been stripped away to be replaced by a quickly-emerging

View from a bedroom window showing pub and new houses emerging - lawns and trees are long gone.

Worried about global warming? Grow bamboo! BAMBOO does more to combat global warming than any other plant, nursery owners have claimed. It minimises carbon dioxide emissions and generates up to 35 per cent more oxygen than any other stand of trees. It’s also the fastest growing plant on the planet and new shoots of some species can grow up to 1.2m (4ft) a day! But would it survive in North East Scotland where temperatures in the recent cold snap dipped as low as -17C? The answer’s a definite yes as husband and wife team, Chris and Kerri Dall discovered when they turned their gardening hobby into a thriving business because they were fed up of being unable to source a variety of hardy plants with a tropical feel for their own Scottish garden. Young mum, Kerri, believes that Scottish Bamboo in Aberdeenshire, is the only nursery of its kind in Scotland. It stocks more than 40 varieties of the plants that will thrive throughout the UK – some are hardy to -30C (-22F). rFor mail order or information, tel: 01888 560834 or visit

Bumper bamboo

Phyllostachys vivax, one of the largest canes in the Scottish temperate garden

Cream strawberry baffles the birds FOOL the birds with an alpine strawberry that stays a cream colour when it’s ripe. While strawberry ‘Krem’ might not look as good as the red fruits of its partner ‘Czerwony’, birds ignore the berries, thinking they are unripe. The two new fruits are part of Johnsons Eastern European range and packets of the two varieties cost £1.69 for 50 seeds. Both are said to crop well in their first year before producing larger crops in following

Baffle the birds

This strawberry looks unripe, but it’s still sweet.

summers. They both have a sweet, aromatic flavour. rJohnsons seeds are available from garden centres and stores and from the website at

rAllotment news Campaign On target for 1,000 plots THE creation of new allotments that could produce 850,000 lettuces a year is in line to hit its target. The National Trust campaign aims to create 1,000 new plots by 2012 and has already achieved 300 in its first year. Allotments have been built in restored kitchen gardens, on farm land, or on vacant land close to Trust properties. Jenny Sansom, the NT’s local food co-ordinator, said the campaign had captured the imagination of thousands of people across the country. “Volunteers have been vital to our efforts with many helping us to clear and create new sites. There is a real mix of people from experienced gardeners to novices.”

“The new allotments could produce up to 850,000 lettuces a year or 16,000 sacks of potatoes”

£10k transformation for 50 new plots for the elderly Overgrown allotments in Keyham, Plymouth, are undergoing a £10,000 transformation to create more than 50 new plots for elderly and disabled growers. Since the allotments closed in the 1960s, the disused land has become a bramble and weed-infested rubbish dump. However, some residents have launched a campaign to stop the allotments, fearing they will bring increased traffic problems and

encourage skateboarders and anti-social youths. Meanwhile a bid to slash allotment waiting lists that stretch to almost a decade has been launched in West Wales. Ceredigion Council is releasing a new area of land to enable more Aberystwyth residents to grow their own fruit and vegetables. It follows action by campaigners who spoke out at last July’s Welsh Assembly, calling for a cut in waiting lists.

Buy-out bid saves London allotments

CAMPAIGNERS backed by TV celebs Monty Don and Kate Humble are celebrating victory as Thames Water agreed to sell them their treasured allotments. The plots at Fortis Green Reservoir in Muswell Hill will be offered to the Fortis Green Community Allotment Trust for £30,000, however the holders will have the job of raising the money by a March 31 deadline. In addition, the Trust has the job of securing the long-term future of the adjacent copse land, which Thames Water withdrew from the sale. If you’d like to find out more information about the campaign, visit:

18 Garden News / February 2 2010

How to / 10 Jobs

rMake a drain

How to drain a soggy area of garden


A French drain is a small gravel filled trench, with no drainage pipe, that allows standing surface water to drain away. To make a French drain, dig a trench about 15cm (6in) wide and 30cm (1ft) deep, with a slight fall (about 1cm in 100cm) so that the water is able to flow away. Line the trench with permeable sheeting and almost fill with medium-sized gravel. Backfill with topsoil and plant up or cover with turf if the area is on a lawn. Ideally a French

drain should lead in to a soakaway which is a large hole, dug into an area of welldraining soil, lined with permeable sheeting and filled with coarse gravel or rubble. From the French drain, the water should run into a soakaway and then, over the course of a few hours, soak into the surrounding soil. For this reason a French drain / soakaway system is unlikely to work in gardens with heavy clay soil, in which case a professionally installed drainage system may be the only solution.


Improving drainage

Tackle waterlogging now to prevent further problems in wet weather

You can improve drainage by spiking lawns and borders with a garden fork, relieving soil compaction.

10 jobs to do this week... If your garden is waterlogged after all the snow and rain that we’ve had, now is a good time to tackle it. You can make drainage holes with a fork or go for a more permanent solution such as digging a French drain


eeks of heavy rain, followed by snow at the start of the year have left many gardens boggy and waterlogged. If you have areas of standing water in your garden, you can improve drainage by spiking lawns and borders to open up drainage holes and relieve soil compaction. Push the tines of a garden fork well into the ground and

rock the fork backwards and forwards a few times to open up holes. Try to stay off the flooded ground until much of the water has drained away. Flooding can be an indicator of serious soil compaction so when conditions improve, dig in as much compost or well-rotted manure as possible to improve the soil texture and structure and help soak up the water. If you’re looking for a more

permanent solution, consider digging a series of gravelfilled drains or soakaways to draw water down and away from areas that seem to flood regularly (see Job 1). Or why not try to work with nature rather than against it and create a bog garden!

February 2 2010 / Garden News 19

Container gardening How to make the most of growing plants in your favourite containers Page 37

Your Questions

When to prune an overgrown hedge and other garden problems Page 54

rTake cuttings

rCheck over

Increase your stocks for free

Repair supports and tie in plants

of chrysanths

climbing plants

3 rSow sweet

peas now

Look forward to a great summer show


Early-flowering chrysanthemums should be producing lots of new shoots now which make ideal cutting material. Select new shoots near the base of the plant and cut off close to the parent. Remove all but the top pair of leaves and trim cuttings to about 5cm (2in) long. Push cuttings into a module tray of moist compost and stand in a heated propagator. New leaves forming indicate the cuttings have rooted – this takes about three weeks. Transplant rooted cuttings into individual pots and grow on in a light, frost-free place.

If you didn’t sow sweet peas in autumn, you can still do it now. Sweet pea seed has a hard outer coating that can make germination unreliable so chip this before sowing. Sow seed in trays, root trainers or individual pots of moist compost, covering it with a fine layer of compost. Don’t soak sweet pea seed to help with germination. It isn’t necessary and can cause rot. Stand your seed trays or pots in a heated propagator or somewhere warm indoors until seedlings appear and then move to a cold frame or unheated greenhouse to grow on.


rBuy summer

flowering bulbs

For your summer beds and borders


Summer-flowering bulbs make great plants for beds and borders. They combine well with herbaceous perennials and will often still be going strong when other plants are past their best. Many summer-flowering bulbs also work well in patio pots and containers. Order now from specialist suppliers to get the best choice and make the most of special offers. Grow something different this year and experiment with combinations you’ve not tried before. Your summer bulbs need to be in the ground by April, once the soil warms up, to get the best display this year.

The weather has taken its toll on many plants and structures around the garden. Heavy snow and ice have weighed down climbing plants so much that they have come loose from their moorings. If the weather is fine and calm, take a walk around the garden to inspect climbing plants on fences, trellis, obelisks and other supports. Repair or replace plant supports now before the climbers come back into active growth and tie back in any stems that have been pulled away from the supports. If climbers have been bent and damaged by heavy snow, prune them back to healthy-looking growth and tie in carefully.


Bring these plants into growth now

For fabulous patio displays this summer


rPrune wisteria

for flowers

How to coax your plant to bloom well


Wisteria that was last pruned in August or September should now be pruned again to encourage good flower production. Select the stems you pruned in summer and take these back even further. The aim is to cut back growth to two or three buds to create spurs that will flower in spring. At this time of year there’s no need to prune the wisteria to an outward facing bud. The idea to create short, stumpy spurs that will bear lots of flower buds in early summer.

A great way to make more perennials


rPlant lilies in


Overwintering rhizomes of cannas can be brought back into growth, ready to plant out in June, once all danger of frost has passed. Take them out of store and check for new shoots. Split any with multiple shoots and plant one rhizome per pot using multi-purpose compost. Cover with compost, leaving any shoots exposed, water sparingly and stand somewhere light and warm (16C/ 61F). Pot on as growth develops and harden off plants before planting out in June.

root cuttings

Propagate perennials such as phlox and verbascum from root cuttings. It’s an easy way of producing new plants and is useful for propagating perennials such as Oriental poppies that can’t be propagated from stem cuttings. Dig up a vigorous clump and cut off one or two pencil-thick roots. Trim off any fibrous side roots. Cut each root into pieces about 5cm to 10cm (2-4in) long, making a horizontal cut at the top and an angled cut at the bottom. Push the cuttings into pots of compost, spacing them about 5cm (2in) apart and cover with a fine layer of grit or sand. Water the pots and stand them in cold frame. Pot on in summer when the cuttings are well rooted.

“Grow something different this year and experiment with summer bulb combinations you’ve never tried before”

rRevive canna

rTake some


rCheck your


Tidy up your plants after the winter


New shoots of herbaceous perennials and spring bulbs may already be emerging so it’s time to cut down any remaining dead stems of perennials that you left for winter effect. If you leave this job too late you might damage new growth. Keep weeding and start checking for slugs as they can quickly decimate fresh shoots. It’s also a good idea to fork in a slow-release organic fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone or pelleted chicken manure.

If you want lilies in flower this summer, plant them now in pots in the greenhouse. When they sprout you can then plant them out in the garden or wait until they come into bud and drop the pots into gaps in the border. Plant three or four in an 18cm (7in) pot. Put some drainage crocks in the bottom of the pot, half-fill with compost, sit the lily bulbs on top and then cover with more compost (lily bulbs should be planted to at least twice their depth). Stand the pots in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse and water whenever the compost feels dry.

Lily bulbs

Buy firm, healthylooking bulbs with no signs of mould or sprouting shoots.

26 Garden News / February 2 2010

How to / Cottage Garden Diary


cirrhosa balearica Welcome winter-flowering clematis



Corsican hellebore is one of the best


member of the buttercup family, ranunculaceae, the fern-leaved clematis flowers through the coldest


rom the hillsides of Corsica, this big, bold hellebore with silvery leaves makes an emphatic feature. Its big green chalices are held several to a

months with pale yellow flowers spotted heavily with reddish purple. Its sweet perfume is a delightful surprise on a winter’s day.

stem. A sprawling plant, it uses its elbows to support its flowers. Overtidy gardeners are tempted to truss it up and restrict its laid-back habits. What a shame.

New beginnings Spring is the time to start afresh

Welcome to my cottage garden... In part one of her new Garden Diary series, Carol counts the cost of the big freeze, rejoices in the beauty of hellebores and sows some early rocket

Carol Klein TV gardener and author


hat a perfect time of year to be starting off a brand new project. It’s true that the saga of our gardens is ongoing, there are no beginnings or endings, but the onset of spring gives

us a chance to think afresh about what we are going to do with our plot, not just to dream but to scheme and start to put our plans into action. Each week I’m going to tell you what is happening in my garden, about the jobs we’re engaged in here, the plants that are looking at their best and where the garden is up to. You’ll hear about our successes and failures and stay up to date with the progress of all our enterprises, from seed sowing to planting out, planning a border to seeing it planted out and finding out how well it progresses. Gardening is so thrilling and it’s

always a treat to share what you are doing with other people. I hope you are going to enjoy reading my diary. In common with the rest of the country we have been coming to terms with the consequences of the big freeze. The garden is littered with casualties but there are plenty of pleasant suprises, too. Perhaps most of us have been lulled into a false sense of security by successive mild winters. Though we had a reminder last year of how cold things could get, this last onslaught was shocking. Despite carrying all our portable tender plants into a polytunnel, many of them look the worse for wear. Still, the compost was only superficially frozen and there are already glimmers of recovery with the tips of new shoots emerging. In the open garden there are more active signs of life. The most exciting plants right now are hellebores, but

they are not smack-you-in-the-eye, drop-dead gorgeous – far from it. What is it about hellebores that makes them so alluring? Part of it is to do with when they put on their best show. Perhaps if they flowered in the midst of summer they might go unnoticed. They are not tall plants and none of them could ever be accused of being flamboyant. Their ‘flowers’ are composed of sepals rather than petals; these last for months and eventually all fade to a subtle green. The range of colour when they are in flower is staggering, ranging from immaculate white to almost black and in between through pinks, purples, clarets, yellows and

Get up close

to enjoy the subtle charm of hellebore flowers

greens. Some have the subtlety of a wood pigeon’s breast, others the depth of claret. They hang their heads demurely so all you can see at first is the back of the flowers, making them mysterious and unpredictable.

February 2 2010 / Garden News 35

Martin’s Diary

FREE tree peony

See page 49 for this fabulous giveaway worth £14.99 – just pay postage

Martin Fish celebrates getting out to do some real gardening at last Page 43

Your Garden

We find out how two readers created an oasis of calm near London Page 52

Photography: Jonathan Buckley


Did you know?

ay Tue sd

M on


Sorrel grows best in moist soil and in sun or dappled shade



Thu rs


Stinking hellebore will flower for months

Wed nesd ay

rJobs to do

Morecambe Bay. If it likes you, it will seed profusely making carpets of leaden leaves with green bells rimmed in crimson. We replant from time to time and add lime rubble.

Cleaned soggy leaves from sorrel and chard ‘Sibylla’ to reveal fresh green leaves.


Sowed rocket for early pickings.




Frid ay

snow. A plant which braves such inhospitable conditions must earn our respect but it also earns our thanks for giving us such a display and transforming our gardens at a time when they could be discouraging. Another attraction is hellebores are easy-going plants which fit in with the modern gardening ethos. They lend themselves to naturalistic schemes and informal plantings. Not only are they easy to place, they are also easy to grow; providing conditions are right, their successful cultivation needs no special skills and anyone can propagate them. That’s what we’re doing now, transferring pollen from the anthers of one plant’s flowers to the stigma of another, using a black Biro cap. In late May or June you can read about whether or not our crosses worked when hellebore seed-collecting time comes round.


Started to clear Alice’s garden, named after my youngest daughter but with care since there are clumps of extra special snowdrops.


Sowed the first ricinus seeds, one per module and put them on a warm bench. They’ll make big plants by summer.


A quick trip to London to meet up with Alice. Went to see the Van Gogh exhibition. His love of plants shines through all his work and the scenes of sizzling Provence sun warmed me to the core.



Everyone who grows hellebores understands the joy of gently turning up their flowers to appreciate the subtleties within. Sometimes there are spots and blotches arranged in symmetrical patterns, sometimes subtle shading with perhaps a picotee edge. At the centre all have a breathtaking arrangement of nectaries and a boss of golden stamens topped with pollen-rich anthers. The reason the flowers hang their heads is to protect this precious pollen from destruction by violent wind and rain. After all, these are flowers which are at their height when the weather is at its most deplorable. Looking at some of these magnificent clumps loaded with buds you can hardly believe that a couple of weeks ago they were covered in a thick blanket of

Pushed some neglected garlic into cell trays in the greenhouse.



native plant that loves alkaline soil and poor conditions. It’s at its best on the limestone pavements in places such as the hinterland of


Played with Fifi, our new puppy and her mum, Fleur (left). Fifi decided picking snowdrops is her new favourite pastime.

4 Garden News / Grow Your Own special

Grow Your Own Special / Part 1

8 pages to help you grow great fruit and



g e v t o o R


rKeep your veg problem and pest free rEasy guide to crop rotation rThe latest disease-resistant varieties


OTATION sounds complicated but it’s little more than a commonsense solution to avoiding pests and disease. If the same crop is grown in the same soil for too long, soil pests and diseases build up. By moving crops around, the soil has a chance to recover and different

nutrients are replaced. A simple method divides plots into three: In the first year grow legumes such as peas and beans on plot 1, root crops on plot 2, and brassicas on plot 3. In the second year move the brassicas to plot 1 (peas and beans fix nitrogen in the soil so following them with nitrogen-hungry brassicas

makes perfect sense), the peas and beans to plot 2, and root crops to plot 3. Do the same in year three, moving everything along one plot. In year four start again. Every year add organic matter (not manure) to the root crops, manure to the peas and beans and lime (on acid soils) for the brassicas. Salad crops can be fitted in anywhere.

Walking over the site to firm the soil also helps. If your soil is acidic, apply a scattering of lime to raise the pH (acid/alkalinity level). How rotation helps: Clubroot is a real pain, especially since this soil-borne disease persists indefinitely. On a new plot, try to grow your own plants to minimise the risk of contamination from bought-in seedlings. Moving crops onto uninfected soil helps, but leaves you with a reduced growing area. Raising the soil’s pH to 7 or above lessens the disease’s severity, as will growing resistant varieties and raising plants in pots so they can establish a good root system before they’re planted out into the soil.

r Broccoli; kale; Brussels sprouts; cabbage; calabrese; pak choi; Chinese cabbage; kohl rabi; cauliflower; land cress; mustard greens; swede; turnip; radish. Give them: If possible, dig in plenty of organic matter the previous autumn. Brassicas love a nitrogen- rich soil, so do well following the legumes. Leaving a gap before planting allows time for soil to settle – brassicas like a firm root run.

s a c i s s a Br


r If you carry out crop rotation AND arm yourself with the latest diseaseresistant varieties, you have a better chance of healthy crops. r T&M’s disease-resistant varieties include: Potatoes - T&M’s ‘Sarpo’ range show amazing resistance to blight. Tomatoes - ‘Ferline’ and ‘Legend’ both show good resistance to blight. Grow outdoors or under glass.

Cabbage - ‘Kilaton’ shows resistance to clubroot. Cauliflower - ‘Clapton’ also shows resistance to clubroot. Onion sets - ‘Santero’ has resistance to downy mildew. Carrots - ‘Resistafly’ and ‘Flyaway’ both show partial resistance to carrot fly. Lettuce - ‘Ultimate Mixed’ has good resistance to aphids and mildew.

or spinach can be squeezed in wherever you see fit. One way to use crops such as lettuce or salad leaves is as a catch crop or an intercrop (see right).

r We’ve put fruiting vegetables (such as tomatoes, sweetcorn and cucumbers) in with the legumes, but actually if you prefer these can go in any of the groups – wherever you have space to fit them in. Permanent crops such as asparagus and artichoke will stay put, and ‘homeless’ plants such as lettuce , chard

Disease-resistant varieties

Crops you don’t need to rotate

Grow Your Own special / Garden News 5

Part 1r

of you free grow your own guide

Did you know?

Spreading lime helps combat clubroot in brassicas

Root veg r Beetroot; carrot; fennel; garlic; leek; onion; parsnip; potato; salsify; scorzonera; shallots.

Give them: This group is a mixed bag, containing different plant families with varied growing needs. Traditional wisdom suggests that carrots and parsnips should not be grown on freshly-manured ground because their roots will fork, but a well-placed stone can also cause a split so dig the site thoroughly before sowing. Onions and leeks are tough plants that like a well-drained soil that hasn’t been freshly manured as it can

encourage rot. Other root veg appreciate plenty of organic matter so top up their soil with compost. How rotation helps: A combination of rotation and netting will keep carrot fly at bay, while parsnip canker can be controlled through rotation and resistant varieties. Rotating leeks onto fresh soil helps control fungal leek rust as well as disposing of infected leaves. Rotting onion bulbs and white fluffy growths can be a sign of white rot. It’s a persistent disease so avoid growing onions on the site for as long as possible. The risk of potato blight can be slightly lessened

through crop rotation, but as its fungal spores are carried in the air you’ll need other preventative treatments too, or choose blight-resistant varieties.

“Runner beans need a moist root-run to help them through hot weather”

Legumes and fruiting veg

L e g u m

r Aubergine; beans: broad, French and runner; celery; courgette; cucumber; marrow; okra; peas; pepper: sweet and chilli; pumpkin; squash; sweetcorn; tomato; tomatillo Give them: Plenty of well-rotted organic matter such as compost. This ensures a moisture-retentive soil that the legume family love. Runner beans in particular need a moist root-run to help them through hot weather, so it pays to lavish extra care on them, digging a trench where they’re going to be grown and filling it with compost or veg and fruit peelings straight from the kitchen

before topping it with soil. Cut peas and beans to ground level after cropping, leaving their roots with their precious nitrogen-fixing nodules in the soil. How rotation helps: Bean chocolate spot is controlled by rotating crops and clearing away fungus-infected material (although the disease will always be worse in warm, damp summers). Root and foot rots on beans are caused by soil-inhabiting moulds and tend to be worse on heavy soils. Rotation should help where this is a consistent problem.

Catch cropping and inter-cropping r These two terms do mean slightly different things. Catch cropping means planting fastgrowing crops such as lettuce and radish in a temporarily empty part of the veg plot. Typically this is done early in the growing season before

other crops are ready to be planted and late in the season, when main crops have been harvested, creating a gap. Inter-cropping means planting fast-growing crops between rows of slower growing ones, such as lambs lettuce or

spring onions between rows of parsnips or swede. Not only does this help to mark where the slower growing crops have been planted but it also means that you can get two different crops out of the same space. By the time the slower

growing crops have matured to fill the space, their fast growing neighbours will have been harvested. With a bit of planning you can intercrop and catch crop without causing overcrowding or unduly affecting your crop rotation.




44 Garden News / February 2 2010

Your Garden / Celebrity Gardens

Bulbs a big turn-on at Chenies Home to thousands of tulips, a yew maze, a physic garden and a Victorian potager, Chenies Manor garden is an English paradise


henies Manor garden is a haven for tulip-lovers. More than 6,000 bulbs light up the garden in spring to get the growing season off to an incredibly colourful start. Part of the garden is a show garden for bulb growers Bloms Bulbs, which is full to bursting with swathes of tulips. The tulips are skilfully planted, with myosotis making a great purple carpet to mingle with the incredible range of spring blooms. After the initial colours provided by the tulips fade away, it’s time for roses and dahlias to take over. Set in the grounds of Chenies Manor, a Grade 1 listed 15th century building once visited by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, this is a special garden day out in return for some spare change. The house and garden are very much the complete package, with the rich and varied colours and individual garden ‘rooms’ giving a perfect mix of wow factor and planting ideas, set among centuries of history. Lovingly created by owner Elizabeth MacleodMatthews, who has a hands on role in the design of the garden, there are ideas and inspiration for everyone around every corner. “The garden is divided up into smaller-sized gardens which is a style that is coming into fashion now. The layout of the garden had to be re-thought when I started

work on it. I’ve always liked, small, compact gardens, though. “We grow a lot of smaller dahlias with larger plants behind. Dahlias used to be frowned upon but from the first week in June they really come into their own. They are absolutely charming,” said Elizabeth. The Victorian potager is a formal feast of box hedges and trained fruits and – mainly divided into 6ft squares – you can take home instant inspiration for your own veg plot or allotment.

“The garden is divided into smallersized gardens – a style that is coming into fashion now” “We like to blend colours in the different squares because vegetables have some wonderful colours and we plant marigolds with them too to keep aphids away,” said Elizabeth. Other garden rooms include a physic garden full of medieval herbs separated into beds for dyes, medicines and poisons, a rose garden, white garden and formal maze made out of yew hedging. “We all love working in the garden,” said Elizabeth. And whether you love dahlias, tulips, herbs or veg, you’ll love visiting it too.

rBeautiful roses


eeping standard roses are the best standard roses money can buy. Smothered with flowers throughout the summer they are an ideal way to add colour and height in one go. Share the trick used at Chenies, of planting them among other tall shrubs and perennials. This helps them blend into the garden and also hides their bare legs!

rClever combos

rFeast of tulips


he key to Chenies’ success is colour and there are some really clever combinations that produce eyecatching results. Oriental poppies only flower for a few weeks, but they mark the point

where it finally feels like summer and produce wonderful colours. Blooms are best sheltered from strong winds. The new and fading colours make a great contrast with the yellowy/green of Alchemilla mollis in the background.


ith over 6,000 tulips to feast your eyes on, you’re bound to have a few favourites. Maybe you’ll become a fan of this ruffled pale pink variety ‘Angelique’? It sums up the freshness of spring and the light and dark contrast of colours when it’s underplanted with myosotis ‘Blue Basket’ is a real crowd pleaser. Tulips will have 10 times the impact if you cover the bare soil underneath them.

February 2 2010 / Garden News 45

Fern Britton

Why television presenter Fern Britton loves the gardens at Chenies Manor House, near Rickmansworth in Buckinghamshire

Free tree peony

Garden of the Week

Just pay postage and packaging to get your hands on this superb free plant Page 49

Carol and Terry Brighten’s colourful garden in Buckhurst Hill Page 52 for

Manor stats


tulips in the garden


visitors to last year’s plant fair at Chenies



The length of the herbaceous border

osmos is a bright and breezy star of summer that you can grow on a budget. A brilliant border filler with its fine, feathery leaves, it is a very useful plant for bulking out a new

area of garden while you wait for it to mature. Buy some cosmos seed and pair pink and white varieties with roses and foxgloves and you’ll have an ‘easy peasy’ corner of an English country garden.

20 years

that Chenies has been home to Bloms bulbs show garden

8 garden ‘rooms’ for you to choose from

5 acres

of garden to explore

Fern Britton’s Favourite garden Chenies Manor Bucks I love it because it is truly a four seasons garden. A series of beautiful outdoor rooms, bursting with inspiration. The spring tulip bulbs are the famous time to visit, but I prefer May and June when an English garden is at its best. The lady of the house is the gardener. She is an outstanding plantswoman and planter. This house and her work should be as well known as the gardens at Great Dixter. rFern Britton is currently presenting All Star Mr and Mrs on Saturday nights on ITV1.

“I love it because it is truly a four seasons garden”

rThings to see and do... 1

1 Be inspired by the beautiful kitchen garden 2 Take planting ideas from the herbaceous border 3 Visit the annual Plant Fair in July 4 Take a look around the 15th century manor

rSee the


The garden is open every Wednesday and Thursday from April to October from 2pm5pm and Bank Holiday Mondays 2pm-5pm. Home-made teas and freshly baked cakes are available. Admission is adults £5.50 for house and garden, £4 garden only, children £3 house and garden, £2 garden only. rChenies Manor holds its annual Plant Fair on Sunday July 19 from 10am to 5pm. Tickets are £5 adults and £2.50 for children under 15. For more information phone 01494 762888 during the open season or visit www.


rSummer star





rHow to get there


Did you know?

Roald Dahl’s garden at Gipsy House, HP16 OAL - just 30 minutes away - is open on April 22

By Road From the M25 From Junction 18 of the M25 travel approximately 2 miles in the direction signposted for Amersham, then follow the signposts for Chenies to the right. From the M40 Take the Beaconsfield exit (junction 2) and follow the A355 for Amersham, then the A404 for Watford. The turning for Chenies is left off the A404 a mile after Little Chalfont. The Manor House and garden

are signposted from the green in the centre of the village. There is ample free parking at the Manor.


Chesham k Amersham k

By Rail From Central London Take either the Metropolitan tube line from Baker Street (45 minutes) or the Chiltern railways line from Marylebone Station (30 minutes) to Chorleywood. Chenies is a 30 minute walk up the hill or a five minute taxi ride. To book a taxi phone Tudor Cars at Chorleywood: 01923 774466.

oChenies Manor House


oWatford oRickmansworth



Chenies Manor House k

How to

February 17 February222010 2010//Garden GardenNews News 13

Plus inside FREE 8-page Grow Your Own pull out

13 pages to make you a better gardener this week

FREE 4-part series Week 1

Prune your ? clematis

rClematis you

can prune now

Did you know?

The Victorians thought clematis meant artifice in the language of flowers

How to make sure you get more flowers than ever this year

Group 2 such as ‘Daniel Deronda’ Jackie Whittaker Garden writer

The first crop of flowers in late spring and early summer will be produced on these old stems


Start at the top and work down looking for healthy buds in the leaf joints

Group 3 such as ‘Jackmanii’

Healthy buds

Start at the bottom and work up looking for healthy buds

Remove the cut growth to leave about 15cm to 30cm (6-12in) of old stem

Always prune back to a pair of healthy, viable buds. These are ready to shoot out into fresh new growth when the weather turns milder. They look plump and feel waxy to the touch

lematis are divided into three main groups, depending on when they flower, and now is the time to prune those in Groups 2 and 3. Group 2 clematis just need a light prune to tidy them up while Group 3 need harsher treatment. As a general rule, Group 2 clematis are the large-flowering types that produce flowers from early summer to midsummer and may also bloom again in early autumn. Well known varieties in Group 2 include ‘Daniel Deronda’ and ‘The President’. The flowers develop from sideshoots on last year’s stems so pruning too hard now could reduce flowering this year. Prune lightly, just to tidy your clematis. The aim is to retain an evenly-spaced framework of healthy wood while stimulating the growth of new shoots to make as many flowers as possible. Remove any dead, weak and crossing stems completely and cut back all other stems to just above a pair of fat, healthy buds as these will produce the flower shoots this summer. You should also remove any old leaves left on the plant, whether they are dead or green. Carefully tie all remaining

stems back on to their support, spacing them out as evenly as possible to give each stem plenty of room for leaf and flower development. Group 3 clematis flower from midsummer onwards on current season’s wood and need to be cut hard back now to stimulate new growth. Well known varieties in this group include ‘Jackmanii’, ‘Bill MacKenzie’, ‘Hagley Hybrid’ and the yellowflowering Clematis tangutica. If you don’t prune them, Group 3 clematis will grow into a tangled mess of old stems producing fewer and fewer flowers.

“Clematis are divided into three main groups, depending on when they flower” Pruning clematis in this group is very simple. Just cut back all stems to between 30cm and 75cm (12–30in) above ground level, making sure that each pruned stem has at least one pair of large, healthy buds on it. New shoots will develop quickly in spring and these should be carefully tied in to their supports to create an even framework of stems.

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