Posted by editor on Thursday, 28 November 2013
After hearing of the appalling destruction wreaked by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines earlier this month and the continuing relief effort, we felt we really needed to help in some small way. So we are having a Garden House Raffle!
The prize is a £50 voucher to be spent at the Garden House on one of our courses and workshops. Tickets are £1 each and can be bought by email email@example.com or by buying in person at one of our Christmas Wreath-Making workshops.
Please do get in touch and show your support. Thank you!
Posted by editor on Saturday, 16 November 2013
Catch the colour before it goes! If you live in Sussex, Sheffield Park is bound to be on your ‘must visit’ list; but for beautiful colour, fine trees, a wonderful walled garden and a fascinating family history, another National Trust garden, Nymans, is hard to beat. It’s a Garden House favourite and well worth a visit in any season.
A crisp Saturday morning in November brought out the amateur photographers, all happily catching the extraordinary light as it played through the yellow, orange and red leaf displays. Fortunately there was relatively little damage here following the mid-October storm that swept across the country (unlike the ‘great storm’ of 1987 which wreaked havoc at Nymans!) - though a beautiful Catalpa (Indian Bean Tree) was a casualty .
Late autumn is an ideal time for a brisk walk in the Nymans woods or gardens; an opportunity to excite the children about nature’s extraordinary variety; and a time to note the last of the late summer’s hydrangeas, salvias and fuschias. The garden’s ‘winter walk’ is just starting to come into its own, fragrant Viburnum and Sarcococca are starting into flower, and even some very early camellias have opened.
Areas of the garden are being put to bed, borders tidied and tender plants lifted, leaving an emerging skeleton of sculptural seed heads and pods, bringing focus to the structure and bark of the many unusual varieties of trees and shrubs. The dogwoods (Cornus sanguinea) and the bark of Acer griseum are richly red and coppery.
Nymans is home to 26 ‘champion’ trees – trees that are the tallest, oldest or largest examples of the species in a given region. It is also home to many plants collected from the wilds of China or Japan by Ludwig Messel, who in 1890 bought Nymans house and its 600 acres, and his head gardener and avid plant-hunter, James Comber.
Don’t forget to check out the well-stocked plant centre – many of the plants are propagated in the Nymans glasshouses, where even now preparations are being made for next year’s displays and plantings. Or if the weather is less than clement, you’ll find a toasty welcome in the excellent second-hand book-store with it’s log-burning stove!
Posted by editor on Thursday, 7 November 2013
Our central focus at The Garden House is the enjoyment and understanding of plants and all things horticultural, and we love nothing more than passing that enthusiasm on to home gardeners or allotment enthusiasts!
Deborah Kalinke is a garden designer and Bridgette Saunders, a horticultural lecturer, have taken great care in developing some really invaluable courses and workshops over the coming months. They are both passionate about plants and hugely knowledgeable about what it takes to build skills, select the right plants, nurture and propagate those plants.
All Garden House workshops involve studio talks, often practical outdoors experience, discussions and Q&A – plus lots of fun, many laughs and inevitably something tasty to eat and drink!
“Just needed to say what a fantastic day we both had at the Saturday workshop. We came home beaming! The day felt like a mini-holiday away from the normal day-to-day stuff – a real treat.” Sue & Karen
As always places are limited so do contact us as soon as possible.
NEXT STEPS IN GARDENING (just a few places left, starts next week!):
Leading on from the Beginners Gardening course this six week Monday evening course (6.30 pm finishes at 9.15pm) is for those of you who have some knowledge but would like to build on your gardening skills.
We will look at seasonal tasks and consider how to create all year round interest and talk about organic gardening; also which trees, shrubs and perennials to choose; planting, propagation and pruning; and growing herbs and vegetables.
Cost: £200 each person (£190 if you have been on the Beginners course, or two booking together), to include supper with a glass of wine each week.
Dates: Mondays 11, 18 and 25 November and 2, 9 and 16 December
THE INTIMATE SECRETS OF PLANTS:
Learn about how plants reproduce and how gardeners can exploit this for their own gardens. This workshop will be taught by expert Irene Fletcher and is suitable for gardeners and anyone studying for the RHS or similar exams. It will include fascinating tales around the mysteries of flowers and a practical botany session.
Cost: £25 – to include cakes and refreshments!
Date: Saturday 16 November (10.30am finishes at 12.30pm)
GARDENING FOR BEGINNERS:
Designed to improve your knowledge and gardening skills, and to tackle and enjoy your own garden with confidence.
Find out about plant life cycles, the naming of plants, the basics of soil management, composting, seed sowing and taking cuttings, plus an introduction to pruning, pest/disease and weed control, plus one session on vegetable growing.
Each week there will be a practical demonstration of a seasonal task, plus a plant identification to build up your plant knowledge. You will also be able to ask advice about your own garden.
Cost: £200, which includes a supper with a glass of wine each week!
Six week Monday evening course (6.30 pm finishes at 9.15pm).
Dates: 27 January, 3, 10, 17, 24 February, 3 March
DESIGN YOUR OWN GARDEN:
The aim of this 6-session course is to give you some basic skills, knowledge and confidence to design or revamp your own garden, to suit your lifestyle and budget. By the end of the course you will have drawn up a scale plan, with at least one planting plan for a bed, have a clear idea of the materials you want to use for the hard landscaping, and an idea of the cost to turn your plan into reality, plus a schedule of work.
Between each session there will be two weeks, and to fully benefit from the course you can prepare some work at home to make a more complete plan.
There will be the chance for the sharing of ideas within a collaborative and supportive environment.
Cost: £200 (or £190 each if two of you book together) – to include a light vegetarian supper with a glass of wine each week!
Wednesday evenings starting at 6.30pm finishes at 9.15pm
Dates: 29 January, 12, 26 February, 12, 26 March and 9 April
Posted by editor on Thursday, 31 October 2013
You may well be surprised at our choice this month as Pampas Grass is a bit of a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ plant, especially when stuck out on its own in the middle of a lawn or front garden!
Yesterday we visited Sheffield Park to see the autumn colour (though due to the lack of cold nights and sunny days the trees have been slow to change) and took these photos – and now, having seen this amazing plant at it’s best, we’ve decide that we definitely love it!
Our favourite cultivar is Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’, a more compact and free-flowering variety of this much-maligned ornamental grass. It is perennial and evergreen and forms a compact clump of narrow rough-edged arching leaves 45cm in length, with erect stems bearing dense silvery or pink-tinged flower plumes that are excellent for drying.
Unlike other cultivars this is considered a dwarf form as it only reaches 1.5m (5ft) high in late summer and therefore is better suited to requirements in smaller gardens.
- Grow in any fertile, well-drained soil in full sun (give it ample space to develop into a specimen)
- Protect crowns of young plants in their first winter
- Cut and comb out the previous year’s stems and dead foliage annually in late winter or early spring
- Always wear stout gardening gloves when working with pampas grass to protect hands from cuts caused by the sharp leaf margins
- Propagate by division February to April
This architectural plant is suitable for several situations including city and courtyard gardens, gravel gardens, coastal or cottage/informal gardens and prairie gardens. Also flower borders and beds, and cut flowers.
So happily it’s not just a plant for 60s swingers – why not learn to love it, grow it in your garden and bring the Pampas Grass back into fashion!
Posted by editor on Thursday, 17 October 2013
Here at the Garden House we have been busy making Piccalilli, a British interpretation of Indian pickles that harks back to the mid 18thcentury. It is essentially a mix of vegetables and spicy seasonings, particularly mustard and turmeric which give its distinct yellow colouring, and is delicious with bread and cheese.
There are many many versions, but we particularly love this recipe from Pam the Jam - Pam Corbin, who with fellow preserver Liz Neville, now runs the Preserves course at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage.
Ideal for using up all our green tomatoes that haven’t ripened – and, having no yellow mustard seeds, we used black ones which added a little visual ‘extra’. Those of you coming on our courses and workshops may have a chance to sample some!
This great illustration shows the Piccalilli label as used by Crosse & Blackwell around 1867.
- 2kg washed, peeled vegetables – select 5 or 6 from the following: cauliflower or romanesco cauliflower, radish, green beans, cucumbers, courgettes, green or yellow tomatoes, tomatilloes, carrots, small silver-skinned onions or shallots, peppers, nasturtium seed pods
- 100g fine sea salt
- 60g cornflour
- 20g ground turmeric
- 20g English mustard powder
- 20g ground ginger
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 2 tsp crushed cumin seeds
- 2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
- 1.2 litres cider vinegar
- 300g granulated sugar
- 100g honey
Cut the veg into small, even, bite-sized pieces. Place in a large colander over a bowl, and sprinkle with the salt. Mix well, cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool place for 24 hours, then rinse the veg with ice-cold water and drain thoroughly.
Blend the cornflour, turmeric, mustard powder, ginger, mustard seeds, cumin and coriander to a smooth paste with a little of the vinegar. Put the rest of the vinegar into a saucepan with the sugar and honey and bring to the boil. Pour a little of the hot vinegar over the blended spice paste, stir well and return to the pan. Bring gently to the boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavours into the thickening sauce.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully fold the well-drained vegetables into the hot, spicy sauce. Pack the pickle into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately with vinegar-proof lids. Leave for about 6 weeks before opening. Use within a year.
Main photo courtesy of Humble Crumble where Gareth has posted another excellent Piccallili recipe.