Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category
Posted by editor on Thursday, 10 March 2011
You know how it is – you buy a Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ only to discover it’s a common-or-garden pink variety, or you plant a bed with Tulipa “Spring Green’ aiming for a delicate look, only to discover the labels must have got mixed, and it’s stunning, but totally inappropriate, Queen of the Night that are popping up everywhere!
Although The Garden House garden is large, it is nonetheless in central Brighton surrounded by neighbours and friends who understandably need their beauty sleep and like to enjoy peaceful afternoons in their gardens. So he had to go!
Here he is saying goodbye to Bridgette’s dad. We think they look fine together. You’ll be happy to know our fine cockerel is now happily ensconced in more rural surroundings joining the hens owned by local hen keeper Kerry Chilcot.
On Saturday 12 March at The Garden House we’ll be exploring the possibility of hen keeping in smaller urban gardens. Kerry will be leading our one-day theory and hands-on workshop – and discussing suitable breeds, housing and how to keep foxes and other pests at bay. There are so many benefits to be had – hen keeping can reduce your waste, provide rich manure for the garden, give great pleasure and a huge amount of fun – and of course, provide eggs for friends and family!
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 1 March 2011
According to global news agency Reuters you can “Forget potted plants and privet hedges; a group of Buenos Aires artists want to make the Argentine capital a free-for-all kitchen garden, turning neglected parks and verges into verdant vegetable patches. Following in the footsteps of “guerrilla gardeners” who have been scattering flower seeds in vacant lots and roadsides in cities such as London and New York since the 1970s, the Articultores group is taking the concept a step further. Armed with vegetable seedlings and seed bombs — seeds packed with mud for throwing into neglected urban spaces, their goal is to provide organic food for city residents.”
Well if Brazil can do it, so can Brighton (and Hove, or wherever)! Join our Seed Bomb Workshop – on Saturday 26 March – and make seed bombs and seed smudges with Josie Jeffery, followed by a local mapped distribution walk.
Josie runs ‘seed freedom’ – www.seedfreedom.net - she recently published a book Seedbombs: Going Wild with Flowers (recently recommended by Alys Fowler in Gardens Illustrated magazine!) – and we love her enthusiasm for spreading the ecological word!
Take a wildflower seed mixture, glued together with a special mud mix, pressed and made into a ball ready to throw into a neglected area of your garden, allotment or urban corner. There’s no need to even dig a hole – with very little effort you can beautify almost any abandoned or seemingly inhospitable site.
Flowers grown from germinated seed bombs also encourage bees into these areas, and by encouraging more bees to our urban streets and gardens they will also be available to pollinate our food crops.
Join us, it’ll be a lot of fun – and you’ll be enhancing your environment at the same time! Check DIARY on this website for more info.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 30 January 2011
Seedy Sunday celebrates its 10-year anniversary – 10 years of swopping seeds, hunting down disappearing or heritage varieties of flowering plants and vegetables. It is the UK’s biggest community seed swap.
Seeds are provided by the people who have grown them – volunteers and other gardeners donate saved seeds which are bagged up before the event – the seeds come in all shapes and sizes, often with stories attached!
Open-pollinated, ‘heritage’ varieties are often no longer commercially available, but are naturally well adapted to local growing conditions – as well as being tasty and colourful. At the seed swap, experienced local growers are on hand to advise on the practicalities of seed saving and growing from seed, and there are films, displays and talks to inspire you to go home and get growing.
Also on offer – seed potatoes to info on recycling and wildlife, plants and bulbs – make this an ideal kick-start to spring!
And The Garden House will be there too, with seeds, bulbs and some wonderful dahlia varieties!
For more information on the Seedy Sunday campaign, go to www.seedysunday.org
Venue: Hove Centre, Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Hove, E. Sussex / 10am-4.30pm / £2 entrance
Posted by editor on Monday, 22 November 2010
In natural ecosystems, autumn leaves are a crucial part of the natural cycle, returning complex chemical compounds to the ground where they are broken down.
The first phase in this breakdown is often carried out by worms, slugs, woodlice and other small animals on the woodland floor. So just piling leaves in out-of-the -way places, or spreading them under shrubs, will see many of them disappear by spring.
Good things about leaf mould:
- It’s easy to make
- It cuts out bonfires
- It saves using peat
- It’s free
Good things about using leaf mould:
- It’s clean and easy to handle
- It’s good for the soil
- It cuts down on watering
- It can be used on any soil
- It can be used at any time of year
The second phase is helped by invertebrates which are aided by fungi. These work slowly on tough and nutrient -sparse old leaves, which the bacteria that fire up our summer compost heaps find hard to deal with. For this reason large quantities of leaves slow down the composting process and are best dealt with separately.
Dry leaves won’t decompose so water them if they are dry to help them rot. All you need is a secluded corner of the garden or a simple container, to stop the leaves blowing away. Black bin bags can be used, when full of leaves make a few holes in the bag and tie the top loosely.
Leafmould makes a good winter cover for bare soil; mulch around shrubs, herbaceous, trees, vegetables or dig in as a soil improver for sowing and planting. Use as an autumn top dressing for lawns. It also makes a good seed sowing mix – mix with equal parts well rotted leafmould, sharp sand, loam and garden compost.
Leaves on the lawn are easily dealt with. Run the mower over leaves on the lawn with the grass box off, the shredded leaves will soon disappear into the lawn – OR run the mower over leaves on the lawn with the grass box on, then add the chopped up mown leaves and grass to a leafmould heap. They will be quicker to rot than whole leaves.
So turn the autumn leaf fall to your garden’s advantage! But remember, don’t disturb drifts of autumn leaves under hedges and other out of the way areas – they may be used for hibernating sites by hedgehogs and other creatures.
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Our garden here at The Garden House is run on organic and recycling principles. So we love and admire gardens created to promote similar ideals.
At the Chelsea Flower Show last week one of our favourite gardens was Places of Change, brought together by the Eden Project in partnership with the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Homeless Link.
Up to 50 homelessness charities took part, contributing to Eden’s second year at Chelsea, with more than 75 people working on the site at a time. All received vocational training in woodwork, planting and other horticultural skills that they can use to get employment in the future.
It featured five designated zones: crops and food; floristry and leisure; medicine and health; industry and manufacture – a metaphor for the hidden treasures that lie within communities and the most unexpected places.
The eclectic design included a greenhouse made using recycled bottles, plants grown in hostels around the country, trees donated from cemeteries in East London and sculptures made from old washing machines.
Another favourite garden run on recycling principles is a “pop up” community garden in Lewes (run by a group of local artists and gardeners – one of whom is our Garden House friend, Ella!). Here abandoned packing cases are reused as raised vegetable beds, and living willow woven into hideaways, thick fencing – and even a sofa!
Find this exciting and creative “guerilla” garden at the Old Fire Station, North Street, Lewes BN7 2PL. It will be open the weekend of 3rd/4th July as part of the Garden Gadabout - the open garden scheme that’s been running for over fifteen years in support of Sussex-based charity The Sussex Beacon (it started with a few supporters opening their gardens in Brighton to last year an event where over 70 gardens threw open their garden gates).
Garden Gadabout open gardens are spread far and wide from Shoreham to Lewes and everywhere in between. Do make time to visit this and other gardens. Small or large – all are inspirational, creative - and real!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 25 April 2010
To introduce the annual Garden Gadabout, the organisers have put together a real treat – Question Time for Gardeners…
If you are wondering what to plant, considering growing your own vegetables or need to identify a pest or disease, then come along and join what promises to be a fun and enlightening evening. Thursday 13 May 7.30pm – 9.30pm.
The panel of horticultural experts is second to none:
- Graham Gough – who, supported by his partner Lucy Goffin, created the magical garden and nursery at Marchants Hardy Plants in Laughton, Sussex.
- Ed Ikin – head gardener at Nymans Garden and a strong advocate of biodynamics, planting according to the lunar calendar.
- Liz Dobbs – London-based gardening writer and editor of Gardens Monthly, whose books include Garden Makeovers and The Essential Garden.
- Julie Hollobone – is assistant editor of Gardens Monthly, a horticultural lecturer and author of an excellent book on propagation, Propagation Techniques.
- Robert Hill-Snook – head gardener at the Brighton Pavilion, and responsible for the restoration of the Regency gardens following organic and nature-assisted principles.
- Jim Miller – horticulturalist and lecturer at Brighton’s City College.
This event promises to be a great introduction to the Garden Gadabout – when, over two weekends in June/July, over 70 private gardens from Shoreham to Lewes and everywhere in between throw open their garden gates in aid of the Sussex Beacon charity. www.sussexbeacon.org.uk/gadabout
Box Office: 01273 736222 / Box Office Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm www.theoldmarket.co.uk
13 May 7.30pm – 9.30pm / £6.00 (£4.50 Concessions)
Location: The Old Market, Upper Market Street, Hove BN3 1AS
Posted by editor on Saturday, 20 March 2010
We’re delighted to welcome Alys Fowler to The Garden House on Saturday 10 July. Alys, the well-known writer and horticulturalist, and Gardener’s World presenter, will lead a workshop on the ‘edible garden’.
“I want a beautifully productive garden that weaves together flowers, fruit and vegetables in a way that mimics natural systems, – so that nature and I can get along peacefully together”
Alys’ philosophy chimes perfectly with ours at The Garden House – it will be great to hear her ideas on how to grow flowers and vegetables together – ideas and practical demonstrations on how to achieve success in our own back garden or allotment.
It promises to be a very special day here at the Garden House! Do book early as places will be limited. Go to Diary on this website for full details and booking form.
Alys started gardening in her early teens and after leaving school trained at the Royal Horticultural Society, the New York Botanical Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. She started working at BBC Gardeners’ World as a horticultural researcher, appeared at the Gardeners’ World Live show last summer and is currently filming the new series of Gardeners’ World.
She writes for all those who are interested in transforming unexpected spaces, like urban locations, into thriving gardens.
In her new book, The Edible Garden (BBC Books, £18.99), which coincides with a six-part BBC television series starting early April, Alys shows how to grow flowers and vegetables in any back garden, without worrying too much about the rights and wrongs of what you may be doing.
“I would argue that what I’m doing is really, really old school. Veg and flowers growing together is the ancient way of doing agriculture, it’s the traditional cottage garden.” (quote: 13 March www.telegraph.co.uk )
Go to Diary on this website for full details and booking form.
Posted by editor on Monday, 8 February 2010
On the last Saturday in January The Garden House hosted a talk by bee keeping expert Pam Hunter, a committee member of the BBKA (British Bee Keeping Assoc.) www.britishbee.org.uk. It was certainly fascinating stuff, but be under no illusion – amateur beware!
Many of us have been seduced by the idea of bee keeping – we’re keen to aid sustainability and pollination, and we love the idea of collecting and bottling our own honey. Also magazines are talking about bee keeping as a way of countering the decimating losses in honey bee populations caused by the Varroa mite and changes in weather patterns.
However those of us amateurs with romantic illusions of bringing rural bee keeping into the suburbs or inner city, were quite rightly challenged by Pam. Her view is that bee keeping has in some ways become a ‘fashion’ (a little like hen keeping), a hobby that gardeners are embarking on without realizing the commitment, experience and support needed, and in many cases without first thinking about the issues around safety (for your family, pets and neighbours).
If you are seriously interested in keeping bees Pam recommends joining your local BBKA group, taking one of their in-depth courses, and using their knowledge and support before deciding.
For most of us, the pleasure of encouraging bees into our gardens is enough. Bees depend entirely on plants, using scent and sight to identify pollen-rich flowers (they tend to prefer yellows and blue flowers). So fill your garden with bee-friendly plants and you’ll be doing your bit to sustain bee populations and encourage local honey production (honey bees fly up to 5 miles radius in search of food).
Bees prefer single flowers – double flowers are of little use, because they’re too elaborate. The single-flowered rose family, which includes crab apple, hawthorn and potentilla, seem to be irresistible to our buzzing friends, as are the flowers of fennel, angelica and cow parsley, and sedums. Tubular-shaped flowers, such as foxgloves, snapdragons, penstemons and heathers, are also favourite feeding places for bees.
Early flowering plants for bees: Winter aconite, snowdrops, crocus, Daphne bholua, Hellebores, Clematis cirrhosa, Chimonanthus praecox, Sarcococca confusa, Mahonia, Hamamelis.
Spring flowering: Bluebell, bugle, crab apple, daffodil, flowering cherry and currant, forget-me-not (Myosotis), hawthorn, hellebore (Helleborus corsicus, H. foetidus), pulmonaria, pussy willow, rhododendron, rosemary, viburnum, thrift (Armeria maritima).
Early summer flowering: Aquilegia, astilbe, campanula, comfrey, everlasting sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius), fennel, foxglove, geranium, potentilla, snapdragon, stachys, teasel, thyme, verbascum.
Late summer flowering: Angelica, aster, buddleia, cardoon, cornflower (Centaurea), dahlia (single-flowered), delphinium, eryngium, fuchsia, globe thistle (Echinops), heather, ivy, lavender, penstemon, scabious, sedum, Verbena bonariensis.
One last comment from Pam – buy local honey whenever you get the chance – not only does it support local bee keepers, but it is hugely beneficial to our health!
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Allotments are not only functional places to grow vegetables, they are also peaceful havens in which you can relax, meet friends and exchange produce and tips.
Bridgette Saunders is an experienced horticulturalist, planstwoman and lecturer. She runs courses on allotment gardening from her home in Brighton and teaches at City College, Brighton and Hove, where she enjoys inspiring her students to grow a variety of plants, both edible and ornamental.
Bridgette’s book Allotment Gardening, published this month, deals with all aspects of the allotment ‘experience’. How to plan and design your allotment, whatever its size and aspect; considering the soil quality; what fruit, vegetables and flowers to plant; how to tackle pests, diseases and predators; and most importantly, what to do when – the seasonal calendar.
The history of allotments is also covered: the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign during the war years, the subsequent decline of allotment-keeping in the 1960s and 70s, and the extraordinary rise in popularity in recent years.
Allotment Gardening is beautifully illustrated with photographs taken by Rhoda Nottridge.
Published: 22 October 2009
Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd