Posts Tagged ‘Early Spring’
Posted by editor on Monday, 1 April 2013
This cold spell has thrown us a bit – spring has been delayed, and it’s really been too cold to venture out and do much in the garden. But it’s all going to catch up with us as soon as the weather warms up, so be prepared and aim to do one small task each day.
If you’ve been checking our Today I Must…posts, you’ll have noted to watch for late frosts, and picked up on the following:
- Sow basil under the protection of glass at a minimum temperature of 13 degrees C (55 degrees F). Prick out into a tray and slowly harden off. Plant out when all risk of frost has passed.
- Early potatoes can be risked outside now. Plant them about six inches deep but be prepared to cover the area with fleece or other suitable material if there is danger of frost.
- If you grow dogwood (Cornus) and willow (Salix) for the colour of their stems, cut them back hard now. This will promote strong new growth and coloured stems that will be attractive next winter.
- Sow alpine strawberries under glass, to be planted out in the garden in May where the plant makes an attractive border plant as well as producing fruit. Runners of ordinary strawberry plants can be planted out.
- Once they have finished flowering, prune shrubs such as forsythia, kerria, Chimonanthus praecox (main photo) and broom to give them maximum time to grow before next spring. These shrubs flower on the previous year’s growth.
- Hardy herbs such as parsley, fennel, chives and coriander can be sown outside. Sow them in drills, as for vegetables, and place in their final destination once large enough to handle.
- Half-hardy annual seedlings that were pricked out last month should now be strong enough to move to a cold frame. Cover the frame with sacking or other material if frost is forecast.
- Deadhead spent daffodil flowers to prevent the plant’s energy going into making seed rather than building up the bulb. Don’t remove the leaves as these help them store energy.
- Take any remaining hyacinth bulbs from inside the house and plant them outside, giving them a good feed to help them develop for next year.
And don’t forget that wildlife needs our help too – keep checking your birdbath is not frozen over and has fresh water, and keep putting out suitable food. Check on RHS website for more advice.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 21 February 2013
Early spring is a wonderful time to visit the RHS London Shows held in the RHS Horticultural Halls at Greycoat Street and Vincent Square. They are always a real treat, with beautifully considered displays, books, garden paraphernalia, plus of course specialist nurseries often selling rare, unusual or hard to get hold of plants and bulbs.
Several stands were bulging with spring bulbs – all looked stunning with many new cultivars on display. We also loved the hellebore displays.
Pennard Plants were selling heritage and heirloom seeds – some with fantastical names, such as a lettuce named Fringe-Headed Drunken Woman – it will be interesting to see how that turns out! A sweet pea name Mumsie also took our fancy.
Being plantaholics we enjoyed a great day out and reminded ourselves not to leave it too long before another visit. The next spring show will be the RHS London Orchid & Botanical Art Show, 12-13 April 2013. To buy tickets in advance, CLICK HERE
Posted by editor on Sunday, 10 February 2013
A visit to Marchants Hardy Plants nursery for their ‘snowdrops weekend’ was a wonderful way to kick-start our spring garden visits (though relentless rain on Sunday proved a bit of a dampener to our enthusiasm for the new season!).
The Marchants garden itself was awash with delicate swathes of snowdrops peeking up over the mulch and lighting up the beds and bare hedgerows; and in the ‘potting palace’, an exquisite display of special varieties set in moss, with nearly 40 varieties available for sale.
Galanthus are more commonly known as snowdrops. They are perennial, herbaceous plants which grow from bulbs and are found growing wild from Italy to Turkey, mostly flowering in the depths of winter. They are very hardy. The common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, is in fact not native to UK. It arrived during the 17thC and has made itself at home here, often spreading to form huge colonies.
True collectors, Galanthophiles, relish the subtle and not-so-subtle differences of the many single and double forms – the plant and leaf form, the central green markings, the way in which the bloom hangs from the thread-like pedicel, the shape of the six tepals (three outer, three inner tepals – it has no petals).
If you would like to receive the Marchants snowdrop list by email, please CLICK HERE for their contact & catalogue request page making sure you tick the ‘Snowdrop availability’ box. For more information on this wonderful nursery visit www.marchantshardyplants.co.uk
Here at the Garden House we’re also enjoying the quietly emerging early spring buds and flowers. At this time of year, it’s like a game of hide-and-seek as you have to move leaves and trim away spent grasses to reveal, not just snowdrops, but early crocus, anemone, narcissi – and just starting to push up are the leaves of miniature Iris reticulata and of Iris “Katharine Hodgkin’ (one of our favourites). Our many varieties of beautifully subtle hellebores are in flower now too.
Planting & growing snowdrops:
- Snowdrops are best bought and planted while actively growing – growers call this planting ‘in the green’ – ensure they are planted at the same depth as they were growing before they were lifted from the ground – the point where the green leaves start to turn yellow should be level with the soil surface
- With pot-grown plants, the surface of the compost should be level with the soil
- They do not like hot, dry positions preferring part shade
- Snowdrops can be naturalised in grass under trees where they look spectacular alone, or mixed with crocus. They will make handsome clumps in a shady border or under a hedge or among shrubs
- Plant in well-drained, moisture-retentive soil with plenty of humus
- Where bulbs are planted in grass do not cut the grass until after the leaves have died back. Divide large colonies immediately after flowering while the leaves are still green
- Flowering period: January and February
- Hardiness: fully hardy
Join The Garden House special visit to the Winter Garden at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden: Friday 22 February. This is a daytime coach trip, for more info CLICK HERE
Snowdrop Days at Pembury House: NGS Open Garden – Pembury House, Ditchling Road (New Road), Clayton, nr Hassocks, Sussex, BN6 9PH: See the snowdrop displays on 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21 February. Special Hellebore Day, Friday 8 March (all dates 11am-4pm). CLICK HERE for more info on Pembury House
Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages Mill Ln, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ Tel: 01323 811737 / web: www.marchantshardyplants.co.uk
Posted by editor on Sunday, 27 January 2013
Val Bourne is an award-winning garden writer, photographer and lecturer. She gardens on the wind-swept Cotswolds at Spring Cottage – high above Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, her third of an acre garden is managed without using chemicals – something Val has always believed in. She is a hands-on gardener and a committed plantaholic.
Meet Val at The Garden House on Saturday 2 March and learn how to succeed at vegetable growing, including what varieties to sow and when. Her Ten-Minute Garden Diaries (published September 2011) distill thirty years experience of gardening and they explain to gardeners when to tackle important jobs.
Val has been gardening naturally for thirty years or more and wrote about her previous Oxfordshire garden in her award-winning book The Natural Gardener published by Frances Lincoln in 2004. It explains how a plant-packed garden functions successfully without chemical intervention and the purpose behind the book was to encourage others to become green gardeners too. Her latest book The Winter Garden was published in October 2006 by Cassell Illustrated and it describes how to make your garden shine in winter. Colour in The Garden, published in September 2011 by Merrell, is a practical guide to blending plants.
Val writes for The Daily Telegraph, Saga Magazine, The Oxford Times, the Hardy Plant Society Journal and many other magazines. www.valbourne.co.uk
Posted by editor on Saturday, 19 January 2013
Cyclamen are looking wonderful at this time of year. They have been flowering their hearts out for several weeks now at The Garden House, their brilliant pink (though some are white) flowers highlighting the more monotone shades of the winter garden. In terms of flowering time, they are simply brilliant value for money at this time of year and are incredibly easy to grow!
Despite the weather we’re working in the garden and there are signs of growth everywhere. We have Cyclamen for sale as well many other typically winter shrubs and perennials, including Sarcococca, Skimmia, Cornus mas, Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, Helleborus niger (our January plant of the month) and evergreen Euonymus. The plants are priced at between £4.50 and £6.00. If you are interested in buying then please email us to arrange a time to visit the garden and make your purchase. We are also selling some very striking ironwork plant supports made by Lorraine Philpot at the Firle Forge.
Even our Garden House cat Aniseed can be seen admiring them!
Facts about Cyclamen:
- in the Primulaceae family, and therefore are surprisingly related to primulas and cowslips
- they are tuberous perennials with rounded, sometimes angular, leaves which are often attractively mottled
- the nodding, characteristically shaped flowers have 5 reflexed and twisted petals, often with dark markings at the base
- most species need shelter from the wind and driving rain, also shade in varying degrees – all need well-drained soil
- they are normally seen under trees, in lightly wooded areas, in rockeries, or against hedges
- they self propagate fairly quickly eventually creating beautiful drifts
- most common is Cyclamen hederifolium, but we particularly love Cyclamen coum
- C. coum is a perennial to 10cm, with rounded leaves sometimes marbled with silver on the upper surface, it’s flowers are 2cm in width, deep pink, with a purple blotch at the base of each lobe, open from late winter
Join us on our outing to Cambridge University Botanic Garden on Friday 22 February to see early snowdrops and narcissi and so much more. This tranquil and inspirational garden has over 8,000 plant species and nine national collections and is particularly worth visiting in the winter as it is designed to showcase a remarkable array of plants with interesting bark foliage, stem colour, flowers and fragrance. CLICK HERE for more INFO.
We visited Pelion in Greece in late October and were delighted to find cyclamen growing in the wild.
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 1 January 2013
We hope you’ve all had a lovely relaxing stress-free holiday, catching up with friends and family.
And hopefully you have had time to reflect on what’s happened in the past year and to plan exciting things for the one ahead. We really had a great time in 2012 at the Garden House and hope you have enjoyed our courses, workshops and events.
We begin 2013 with a really exciting course – our 8-week Intermediate Gardener Course. It starts on Wednesday 9 January and is for all of you out there who know a bit about gardening but would love to improve your knowledge in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.
- 9 Jan – principles of organic gardening
- 16 Jan – use of materials, structures and artifacts in the garden
- 23 Jan – trees
- 30 Jan – propagation
- 6 Feb – use of shape, texture and colour
- 13/20 Feb – no classes
- 27 Feb – how to establish and maintain your garden
- 6 March – principles of pruning
- 13 March – plant families, genera and species
Spend a few hours each Wednesday evening for eight weeks studying plants, planting and seasonal tasks in greater depth. By building on the basics, we can guarantee you’ll cherish and enjoy your garden or allotment even more!
Cost: £250 (£225 each for two friends booking together) – to include delicious light suppers with a glass of wine! Places are limited so do contact us as soon as possible.
Why not consider buying as a gift for a friend with one of our Garden House vouchers? Check DIARY for booking details…
Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT.
Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2013!
Bridgette and Deborah x
Posted by editor on Sunday, 22 April 2012
April is magical time as plants emerge from their winter dormancy, some producing a beautiful show of flowers.
One such, and a favourite of ours, is Epimedium x perralchicum ‘Fröhnleiten’ - with its thin, wiry flowering stems that uncurl from the base of the dormant plant and produce small, deep yellow flowers. As the flowers begin to fade the emerging foliage has bright, coppery red shading between conspicuous green veins, creating an impressive effect. This Epimedium grows in a wide range of conditions and will tolerate shade beneath trees making it an effective groundcover plant. It is evergreen, but in late winter the previous season’s foliage should be cut back so the emerging flowers can be seen to their full glory.
Common name: Barrenwort, bishop’s mitre – you will soon see why – the emerging leaves look just like a bishops hat!
Family: Berberidaceae – this is the same family as Berberis and Mahonia, and one way of recognising plants in this family is the yellow pith in the centre of their stems.
Epimediums are clump-forming rhizomatous perennial that like moist, fertile soil and thrive in partial shade. They are fully hardy.
They are found in two main areas of the northern hemisphere – the Mediterranean, where four species grow in light woodland and shady, rocky places, and temperate eastern Asia, where they grow in similar situations to the western group but require more shade and moisture (33 species come from China, four from Japan and one from Kashmir).
In spring the fresh green foliage is often tinged with pink, bronze or red. In summer the leaves are deep green, turning to rich tints of yellow, red and bronze in autumn. Small saucer- to cup-shaped flowers are borne from spring to early summer in various colours including yellow, white, pink, red and purple.
The name Epimedium, first used by the Greek herbalist Dioscorides in the first century AD, derives from epi, upon, and Media, the country of Medes, south west of the Caspian Sea.
Even though it was named by a herbalist and appears in several herbals, Epimedium was not widely used in the west. The Oriental species have been used medicinally for centuries – even in modern Chinese herbalism several species are still used to treat ailments including paralysis of the legs and high blood pressure, while in Japan they are used to treat hypertension.
E. x perralchicum is a robust, evergreen hybrid with glossy, deep green leaves which are an attractive bronze when young. Bright yellow flowers up to 2cm (3/4in) across are produced in spring, showing above the foliage for some time before leaf growth tends to cover them up. It tolerates dry soils in sun or semi-shade (producing fewer flowers under these conditions). On moister soil it will tolerate more sun.
‘Fröhnleiten’ is a German cultivar selected by Heinz Klose and has bigger flowers.
- For the best display of foliage and flowers clip back the old leaves in late winter or early spring before the flower spikes have formed. Where frosts are prolonged or severe provide a deep winter mulch to protect the rhizomes close to the surface.
- Mulch and feed regularly.
- Divide and replant tight clumps every three to five years to ensure good foliage and flower displays.
- Vine weevils are the worst pest, attacking the roots in particular. Slugs, snails and rabbits will also feed on the young growth.
- Propagate by division in autumn when roots can establish quickly and the foliage is tougher and less prone to damage. Young leaves are brittle and easily snap off.
Marchants Hardy Plants in Laughton has a great selection of Epimedium varieties – it is also an exceptional nursery and garden, do visit…
Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages, Mill Lane, Laughton, E. Sussex BN8 6AJ
Below are nursery-owner and plantsman Graham Gough’s personal descriptions – take your pick, they’re all great!
- E. ‘Amber Queen’ – a cracking E. flavum hybrid, the main body of the large flower being amber coloured with hints of pink, pale yellow and white. 40cm.
- E. grandiflorum ‘La Rocaille’ – ivory white suffused with palest celadon green, long spurred flowers. 35cm.
- E. g. ‘Lilac-Pink Form’ – a form with small leaves and pert, spidery lilac-pink flowers.
- E. g. ‘Lilafee’ – dark tinted new leaves act as a harmonious foil to the dainty violet-purple flowers. 25cm.
- E. g. ‘Rose Queen’ – inappropriately named, the large spurred flowers of this strong growing form are actually a fine crimson-purple. 25cm.
- E. g. ‘White Queen’ – a large flowered pure white form, yet to bettered. This, the true plant, is said to becoming rare. 30cm.
- E. membranaceum – a beautiful Chinese species with burnished spiny margined foliage and insect like, long spurred pale yellow flowers for months. Evergreen. 30cm.
- E. x oemeiense ‘Myriad Years’ – a naturally occurring hybrid in the wild (E. acuminatum x E.fangii) with handsome foliage and extraordinary, huge pale grey-pink and purple-spurred flowers. Requires a sheltered spot. 45cm.
- E. ogisui – introduced in the 1990’s from the flora rich province of Sichuan, China, this beautiful large white flowered species remains uncommon and is further enhanced by the bronze tinted new foliage. 25cm.
- E. x perralchicum ‘Frohnleiten’ – airy racemes of unspurred lemon yellow flowers in spring. The handsome evergreen leaves remain unblemished throughout winter, making it an altogether classy garden plant. 35cm.
- E. sp. Yunnan – a refined and incredibly free flowering soft yellow, long spurred species from China with noticeably pale foliage. Patiently awaits a name.
- E. versicolor sulphureum – evergreen foliage, copper and crimson tinted in winter, which should be removed in February to enjoy the clean yellow flowers in spring. 40cms.
- E. versicolor x versicolor – subtly contrasted flesh pink and amber-yellow flowers, a perfect match for the young copper coloured foliage. 30cm.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 4 March 2012
Hardy Annuals – are plants with a life cycle of one year that will tolerate the frost and can be sown without heat and will be fine to leave outside, though preferably with some shelter. Examples of these would be Nigella and Cornflowers. You can sow them in September/October or from now until end March. Some, such as sweet peas, are best grown in modules to avoid root disturbance. Most make great cut flowers.
Some vegetables have hardy varieties that are fine to leave outside in the cold weather – I have just picked some salad leaves, mizuna, mibuna, giant red mustard and pak choi that have been growing in the veg plot quite happily, unprotected, during all this cold weather. You can also get hardy broad beans, such as Aqua Dulce Claudia, and onion sets that will be fine outside during the winter.
There are also some lettuce varieties that do well outside. The following all survive in Brighton (if you live somewhere cooler and wetter, try these in pots or window boxes sheltered against your shed or grown in a greenhouse if you have one). Try ‘Green Oak Leaf’ – if you pick it carefully, just harvesting a few outside leaves at a time, you should be able to pick from six to eight weeks from sowing, right through the winter. Then, as spring begins, it really pushes out a ton of leaves from early March until at least the end of April. The same applies to the red-coloured ‘Cocarde’ which being red also keeps off the slugs and snails – for some reason they don’t seem to be attracted to red veg! The American variety, ‘Black Seeded Simpson’, is a surprisingly hardy variety with a lovely texture and taste, and the famously winter-hardy lettuce ‘Valdor’ is soft, rounded, and delicious.
These should keep you in salads through the winter.
Half-hardy Annuals – are plants that will not tolerate the frost and need heat to germinate (around 20ºc). Their life cycle, at least in our climate and like the hardy annuals, is one year from germination to dying. These include veg plants such as tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, peppers, runner beans, courgettes, sweet corn, and many of the brassicas – cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. There are also many half-hardy flowers, often used in containers or bedding such as Petunias, Impatiens, Lobelia.
With half-hardy annuals the important thing is timing – some plants, for example chillies and Petunias, need a really long growing season and so, if you have a propagator, it is a good idea to sow them now. This will allow plenty of time for them to mature and you will be more likely to get good fruiting and flowering in the summer as they will have had maximum time to receive as much light and heat as possible.
Other plants, such as Cosmos, nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet corn and courgettes, germinate and grow quickly, as do runner beans so leave these and sow them later on in March or April. They won’t be safe to plant outside until danger of frost has passed, around mid May in this part of the country, and so if you sow them too soon you will have a kitchen full of sprouting runner beans with nowhere to put them! The chillies and aubergines and other slow growing things, that you are sowing now will need to be kept somewhere frost free until mid May to – so bear that in mind and don’t sow too many seeds!
As with so much in the garden, planning is vitally important – be realistic about what you can manage – allowing for a few failures and some to give away.
At the Garden House we have seeds of many of the above for sale, so do contact us if you would like to purchase some.
We also have a workshop on Growing Your Own Cut Flowers on Saturday 21 April so do come along and learn how to make your own cutting garden.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 26 February 2012
Hellebores (sometimes known as the Christmas or Lenten rose) are perennial garden plants with beautiful, elegant flowers. At the Garden House we have some wonderful varieties and we increase our stock by buying a couple of new ones every year. We also collect the seeds and hope that one day we will have a cultivar that is worth naming!
Hellebores are brilliant for brightening up shady areas during late winter and early spring. Some species are grown for their striking evergreen architectural foliage such as H.foetidus and H.argutifolius. They also have a long flowering period so, although often expensive, they certainly earn their keep!
Hellebores prefer to grow in rich, well-drained soil in dappled shade. Avoid planting in very dry or waterlogged soil. Provide shelter from strong, cold winds. Try to plant them on high ground so that you can appreciate their flowers, which are often hanging down – the story being that when Christ passed the hellebores on his way to the cross they hung their heads in shame. Much breeding work is being done to try to raise their heads so that we can enjoy their subtle and very elegant flowers!
These flowers are often hidden by the large leaves, so ensure they can be seen clearly by removing a few older leaves from the centre of the clump (traditionally this is a job that is supposed to be done on Boxing Day!). At the same time remove any dead, diseased or damaged foliage that can harbour hellebore leaf spot, an unsightly fungal disease. The other reason for exposing the flowers by removing the leaves is that this will also help insects to pollinate the flowers and ensure good seed set for new plants that can be propagated from the resulting seed.
Keep them well watered during dry spells and mulch them every year with leaf mould, chipped bark or other organic matter in autumn. This is really important, as with many plants that flower in the winter they can be neglected. If they don’t produce many flowers apply pelleted chicken manure or fish blood and bone in the spring. They make great container plants, but again don’t forget to feed them with a high potassium fertiliser such as Maxicrop to encourage flowering.
The best way to look after Hellebores is to cut the flowered stems to ground level for H.foetidua and H. argutifolius and with oriental hybrids deadhead them as with other perennials.
Buy Hellebores from Ashwood Nurseries www.ashwoodnurseries.com – they specialize in raising many beautiful cultivars. Our favourite way to display them is by cutting a few flowers and floating them facing upwards in water – a real February treat!
Posted by editor on Saturday, 18 February 2012
Horticulture-speak can be a bit mystifying if you’re new to gardening and vegetable growing, so we thought we’d explain a few of the terms you’re most likely to come across:
Intercropping - This growing method is where quick maturing plants are grown in between long-term crops – for example sow a row of radishes next to your parsnips, lettuces or spring onions in between rows of brassicas.
Catch cropping - This is when a quickly maturing crop is grown in the interval between harvesting one main crop and sowing or planting another. Suitable plants for this would be spring onions, radishes and lettuces.
Cut and come again - A range of leafy vegetables can be grown as ‘cut and come again’. This term describes a method of harvesting the young leaves as-and-when when you need them. Harvesting little and often prevents plants from maturing and ensures several harvests of small, tender, mild-flavoured leaves over a long period of time. You can grow many of these all year round, although you may require a heated propagator, windowsill, greenhouse or polytunnel. I like to grow ‘cut and come again’ leaves in the greenhouse in the winter so that they are available if you want a quick bowl of salad.
Amaranth, basil, beetroot, chicory, coriander, chard, corn salad, dandelion, endive, komatsuma, land cress, leaf celery, lettuce, mizuna, mustard, pak choi, parsley, purslane, radicchio, red kale, rocket, sorrel and spinach are all suitable and you can mix these together and grow them in polystyrene boxes if you have seed left over from the summer.
Vegetables usually grown for their roots such as beetroot, radish and turnip also have leaves that are tasty when harvested young.
Cropping squares - This is a method used to grow sweet corn. As the plants are wind pollinated they should be grown in blocks rather than rows, 45cm (18in) apart each way.
Successional sowing - This is a way of avoiding gluts and shortages of produce. By planning and sowing seed little and often in batches, it is possible to ensure plants are ready to harvest in succession throughout the growing period. Quick-maturing vegetables, including carrots, French beans, peas, salads and spinach, are best sown regularly in small batches. This will produce a continuous, fresh supply of these crops. For plants that are prone to bolting, such as coriander, rocket and spinach, successional sowing is especially crucial.
You may choose to grow some longer-fruiting crops such as courgettes, cucumbers, runner beans and sweetcorn in two batches to ensure you have plants well into autumn. Choose a assortment of cultivars for nonstop cropping. Quick-maturing ones such as lettuce ‘Little Gem’ and carrot ‘Adelaide’ are ideal for successional sowings, but later-maturing, main-crop cultivars are also useful and, once mature, often remain in good condition for longer. Successional sowings are usually made at fortnightly intervals, but this may vary depending on environmental conditions. In practice, this means that lettuce may only need to be sown every three weeks in early spring, increasing to once a week in warm, and moist summer weather.
Plants that do not need to be successionally sown include those which produce fruits over a long period such as aubergines, peppers and tomatoes; those which store well, such as onions and pumpkins; and winter vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and leeks that need a long season to mature and can then be left in the ground to be picked in stages.
Earthing-up - The drawing up of soil around plants, usually with a draw hoe or drag fork. It is carried out on potato crops to prevent greening of tubers and blight infection; also used on brassicas to prevent wind-rock, on leeks and celery to blanch the stems, and in layering and stooling of fruit-tree rootstocks, to encourage the formation of roots on the earthed-up shoots.
Cloche - A low portable unit constructed of glass or rigid-plastic panes on a wire frame; used for the protection of plants and to advance growth. The term is also applied to plastic film stretched over wire hoops, a construction alternative known as a low continuous polythene tunnel.
Forcing - Forcing is a method by which a plant’s leafy growth, flowering or fruiting is speeded up using a change of temperature and exclusion of light to encourage or ‘force’ the plant into growth. In the case of rhubarb or chicory this entails covering the bulbs or crowns with a large pot, dustbin or decorative rhubarb forcer. Plug any holes to exclude light.
Commercial forcing is carried out in specially designed greenhouses or sheds, often with additional bottom heat. In the domestic garden forcing is usually improvised in greenhouses and frames, or achieved with the use of forcing pots to cover individual plants.
Specially prepared bulbs, such as hyacinths, can be forced to provide a steady supply of bulb flowers from late December through April. The bulbs must be planted and kept in a cold dark place until the first signs of growth.
Heeling in - If you don’t have time to plant your bare-rooted shrubs or trees immediately it is perfectly safe to ‘heel them in’ until you have time to deal with them. Remove any packaging and soak the roots of the plant in water for several hours, dig a trench that is deep and wide enough to accommodate the roots of the plant. After you dig the trench, lay the plant in the trench with the plant at an angle so that the canopy is just above the trench and the roots are in the trench. Fill in the trench and if necessary apply a mulch.
Soil improver - Any substance dug in to improve soil structure. This is generally organic matter, such as farmyard manure, garden compost, mushroom compost or leaf mould, but could be an inert substance such as lime or gypsum.
Posted by editor on Saturday, 11 February 2012
Here at The Garden House we have many lovely roses – climbers, shrubs, ramblers, miniatures – we’re passionate about them! But we also know that roses carry a certain mystique with regard to care – when to prune, how to prune, when to feed, with what etc…
If you know someone who would love to know more about roses and their care, why not buy them a Garden House Voucher (£10 upwards)? The Voucher can be put towards any workshop, course or garden visit – but would be especially appropriate right now put towards our “All You Need to Know About Roses” workshop, taking place Saturday 2 June. The workshop will be led by rose expert Simon White of Peter Beales nursery in Norfolk. www.classicroses.co.uk
Contact us now and we can email a voucher to you before the 14th…!
If you’re thinking of planting some new roses this spring, remember that, as with all plants, it is so important to consider ‘right plant, right place’ – below is a list of some of our favourites:
Climbers for north-facing walls:
R. ‘Alberic Barbier’ AGM (Climber/Rambler). Flowers rich cream, apple fragrance, some repeat flowering, some winter leaf persistence. Ht 6m (20ft).
R. ‘Dortmund’ AGM (Climber). Single, blood-red flowers; repeat-flowering. Ht 2m (6½ft).
R. ‘Félicité Perpétue’ AGM (Climber/Rambler). White flowers, buds tinged red, some winter leaf persistence. Ht 5m (17ft).
Very vigorous roses for climbing into trees:
R. filipes ‘Kiftsgate’ AGM (Rambler). Slightly fragrant; one flowering period; creamy white flowers. Ht10m (30ft).
R. longicuspis (Climber). Slightly fragrant; one flowering period; white flowers; semi-evergreen, tender. Ht 6m (20ft).
R. ‘Seagull’ AGM (Climber/rambler). Slightly fragrant; one flowering period; white flowers with golden stamens. Ht 4.5m (15ft).
Roses for training up pillars: (Need to be flexible-stemmed, produce flowers at the ends of all current seasons growth, and preferably be of moderate vigour.)
R. ‘Compassion’ AGM (Climber/Rambler). Double, fragrant, repeat flowering; pink, shaded apricot blooms. Ht 2.4m (8ft)
R. ‘Danse de Feu’ (Climber) Double; repeat flowering; orange to scarlet flowers. Ht 2.4m (8ft)
R. ‘Golden Showers’ AGM (Climber/Rambler). Double; fragrant; repeat flowering; golden yellow blooms. Ht 2.1m (7ft).
Patio climbers are useful for smaller structures up to 3m (10ft) or so high: In a sunny spot, try pale cream, pink-tinged ‘Penny Lane’ (‘Hardwell’), or mauve-pink, heavily-scented ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ (‘Ausbord’).
Roses with ornamental foliage:
R. ‘Highdownensis’. Large, single crimson flowers, ferny leaves. Ht 3m (10ft).
R. multibracteata. Pink, single flowers; neat rounded leaflets. Ht 3m (10ft).
R. primula AGM. Pale, small, yellow flowers; shiny aromatic leaves; one flowering period. Ht 1.8m (6ft).
R. sericea var. pteracantha. Red thorns; creamy-white flowers; small ferny leaves. Ht 2.4m (6ft).
Some roses suitable for hedges:
R. ‘Cornelia’ AGM. Double, fragrant apricot pink blooms. Repeat flowering. Ht 1.5m (5ft)
R. ‘Roseraie de l’ Hay’ AGM. Double, fragrant wine red blooms. Repeat flowering. Ht 2.1m (7ft).
R. ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’. Semi-double, fragrant carmine pink flowers. Thornless and repeat flowering. Ht 3m (10ft).
Roses with very decorative autumn hips:
R. ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ AGM. Silvery pink single flowers; large red fruit. Ht 90cm (3ft).
R. rubrifolia. Pink flowers once a year; scarlet globular hips. Ht 2.1m (7ft).
R. rugosa. Cerise or white flowers once a year; scarlet globular hips. Ht 1.8m (6ft).
Roses for ground cover:
R. ‘Nozomi’ AGM. Single pink flowers; one flowering period. Ht 30cm (1ft) and spread 1.5m (5ft).
R. Snow Carpet ‘Maccarpe’ Single, double white flowers throughout summer. Ht 15cm (6in) and spread 90cm (3ft).
R. Surrey = ’Korlanum’AGM. Double pink blooms from early summer until late autumn. Ht 60–90cm (2-3ft) and spread 90cm-1.2m (3-4ft).
Posted by editor on Thursday, 2 February 2012
Seedy Sundays now include Seedy Saturdays too and are attracting more and more people. Primarily the event is about swapping seeds but they have grown and now make for a great family day out with workshops for adults and children and the opportunity to meet people interested in gardening, local food production, climate change and sustainability.
Lewes: Saturday 4 February 10am-3pm at Lewes Town Hall. Free for children, 50p for adults. All day workshops include: making paper plant pots, willow weaving, bug trays, children’s craft and art workshop – and lots more. www.lewes.gov.uk/business/9729.asp
Lewes talks include:
- 10.30 – Brighton Permaculture Trust
- 11am – James Greyson, making a Biochar cooker for soil improver while brewing a cup of tea
- 11.45 – Millennium Seed Bank, Kew at Wakehurst Place – practical talk about seeds
- 12.30 – Peter May, Sussex Apples and Good Fruit Tree Health – bring photos of diseased branches to get accurate advice
Hove: Sunday 5 February 10am – 4.30pm at Hove Town Hall, Norton Road BN3 4AH. Free for children, £2 for adults. Come and enjoy more than 50 stalls, lots of talks, demonstrations and children’s activities as well as the community seed-swap. Bring seeds to swap (in labelled envelopes, please) or make a 50p donation per packet. www.seedysunday.org
Hove talks include:
- 11am – Crop varieties – why do gardens matter? Bob Sherman, Chief Horticultural Officer, Garden Organic
- 11.40 – Seeds of Activism – campaigning for the seeds, agricultural biodiversity and food sovereignty of the world’s majority food providers. Patrick Mulvany, Chair, UK Food Group
- 12.15 – How to dry seeds from your garden and keep them alive. Vanessa Sutcliffe, Training Specialist, Millennium Seed Bank
Posted by editor on Thursday, 19 January 2012
Plan out your vegetable plot on paper before working out what seed you want to order from the catalogues, so you don’t over order or end up with two much of the same things.
DIARY NOTE: Seedy Sunday takes place on takes place on Sunday 5th February at Hove Town Hall, Norton Road BN3 4AH, 10am – 4.30pm. Entry is just £2, children free. It’s a great opportunity to buy heritage and other seeds, onion sets, and potatoes for chitting.
This is also a good time to think about crop rotation.
Crop Rotation - The principle of crop rotation is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the allotment each year. This helps to reduce a build-up of pest and disease problems and it organises groups of crops according to their cultivation needs. Pests and diseases tend to be crop specific – for example carrots don’t suffer from potato blight and club root only affects brassicas!
Crop rotation is used in allotment plots and gardens usually for annual vegetable crops. Perennial vegetables, those that come up every year (such as rhubarb, asparagus and artichokes, both globe and Jerusalem) can remain in the same bed.
Some annual crops such as cucurbits (courgettes, pumpkins, squashes, marrows and cucumbers), French and runner beans, salads (endive, lettuce and chicory) and sweetcorn can be grown wherever there is space – this is because they don’t tend to suffer from as many serious pests and diseases as brassicas, roots, legumes and potatoes. Just try to avoid growing them on the same piece of ground year after year.
Different crops have different nutrient requirements - Changing the plot that you grow crops on each year reduces the chance of particular soil deficiencies developing as the balance of nutrients removed from the soil tends to even out over time. For example; legumes have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air into the soil using nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots, brassicas on the other hand need nitrogen to produce green leafy growth, the part we eat – and so it makes sense to grow brassicas on the plot that was used to grow legumes last year.
Weed control - Some crops, like potatoes and squashes, with dense foliage or large leaves, suppress weeds, thereby reducing maintenance and weed problems in following crops. Onions, on the other hand, are not good at suppressing weeds due to their lack of foliage and so it is a good idea to follow onions on from potatoes.
Why not try the ‘three sisters’ system – a North American idea where you grow squashes on the ground to provide shade and suppress weeds, sweetcorn or sunflowers as a support for pole beans to grow up – this enables you to grow three crops on one plot, in a relatively small space.
Pest and disease control - Soil pests and diseases tend to attack specific plant families over and over again. This can be a real problem for the commercial grower, just because some of the serious diseases such as clubroot can remain in the soil for up to thirty years! If you rotate your crops this means that pests tend to become less of a problem as the spores or eggs of the pest won’t be able to build up when in the soil. White onion rot tends to be a real problem on allotments and crop rotation can help to avoid this.
If you are new to your allotment divide it into sections of equal size (depending on how much of each crop you want to grow), plus an extra section for perennial crops, such as rhubarb and asparagus.
The following groups should be used in the rotation scheme:
Brassicas: Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, kale, kohl-rabi, oriental greens, radish – swedes and turnips are brassicas too, just look at the flowers on them and you can see why many people think they are roots.
Legumes: Peas, broad beans (French and runner beans suffer from fewer soil problems and can be grown wherever there is space).
Onions: Onions, garlic, shallots, leeks.
Potato family: Potato, tomato, (pepper and aubergine suffer from fewer problems and can be grown anywhere in the rotation).
Roots: Beetroot, carrot, celeriac, celery, Florence fennel, parsley, parsnip and all other root crops.
Move each section of the plot a step forward every year so that, for example, brassicas follow legumes, onions and roots, legumes, onions and roots follow potatoes and potatoes follow brassicas.
Here is a traditional three-year rotation plan where potatoes and brassicas are important crops:
Plot 1: Potatoes
Plot 2: Legumes, onions and roots
Plot 3: Brassicas
Plot 1: Legumes, onions and roots
Plot 2: Brassicas
Plot 3: Potatoes
Plot 1: Brassicas
Plot 2: Potatoes
Plot 3: Legumes, onions and roots
If you have the space you can practise a four-year rotation, this is when potatoes and brassicas are not as important, but more legumes (which take up a lot of space) and onion-type crops are required:
Plot 1: Legumes
Plot 2: Brassicas
Plot 3: Potatoes
Plot 4: Onions and roots
Plot 1: Brassicas
Plot 2: Potatoes
Plot 3: Onions and roots
Plot 4: Legumes
Plot 1: Potatoes
Plot 2: Onions and roots
Plot 3: Legumes
Plot 4: Brassicas
Plot 1: Onions and roots
Plot 2: Legumes
Plot 3: Brassicas
Plot 4: Potatoes
Posted by editor on Saturday, 15 October 2011
This has been a fantastic year for sweet peas, we’ve been picking them since the end of June and here we are in mid-October and there are still plenty left for a few bunches before we finally pull the plants out of the ground!
Now is also a really good time to start your next year’s sweet peas, so here is our growing guide:
- you could sow your seeds next March, however we prefer to sow anytime from October until Christmas, (growing sweet peas over winter will produce stronger, more robust plants)
- sow two seeds to a pot – we usually use card toilet-roll tubes or long thin pots as sweet-peas really like a long, cool root run (as do all plants in the Leguminaceae family)
- push seeds in to about 1” below the surface of multi-purpose compost and water in well
- you can cover them with newspaper to keep the light out – if you have a heated propagator this can speed up germination but we don’t usually bother – they always germinate really well with a bit of warmth, fingers crossed, from the sun at this time of year!
- mice love the seed and could easily eat your whole crop overnight (!), so if you’re troubled by mice we suggest you soak the seeds in liquid paraffin, or for a more organic solution use seaweed fertilizer or lay holly leaves on top of the pots
- check for germination every day. Once the seedlings appear, keep them cool at about 5 degrees centigrade – this promotes root and not stem growth. A cold greenhouse, or cold frame is ideal, but your plants will be fine in a light potting shed
- when there are three or four pairs of leaves, pinch out the leader (the growing tip) using your finger and thumb. This will reduce the height of the plant and encourage side shoots making the plant bushier.
- try not to molly-coddle your plants too much – growing them on ’hard’ will help them to be much tougher plants and will also be less susceptible to slug damage. Keep them in a cold frame, greenhouse or sheltered spot until next March when they can be planted out
We have some fantastic cultivars of sweet pea available at The Garden House, including L. Mattucana, the original sweet pea and quite special. Come along on Friday between 3pm and 6pm and we can show you how we grow ours.
Our sweet peas are £2.00 for 15 seeds. We also have the following varieties for sale:
Angela Ann – attractive almond pink sweet pea on a white back ground – it won the National Sweet Pea Societies Clay Cup in 1993.
Beaujolais – truly beautiful lightly scented flower with large rich deep burgundy maroon colour
Elizabeth Taylor – large, clear mauve flowers with wavy petals, heavily scented
Charlie’s Angel – outstanding blue overlaid lavender and very good for cutting. Large blooms and classic sweet-pea fragrance
Geranium Pink – slightly scented salmon pink blooms
Claire Elizabeth – relatively large, scented white flowers, slightly ruffed with pink edge picotee. Flowers age to darker shades.
Cupani - sometimes known as the original sweet pea, the oldest known sweet pea and is thought to have been sent to England in 1699 by Sicilian monk Francisco Cupani. Cupani still bears it’s original characteristics of delicate bicolour blooms and intense perfume
Diamond Jubilee –pure white flowers grown in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Come over to The Garden House on Friday, 3-6pm, and find out more!
Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 3 April 2011
In Japan, where the cherry blossom is respected, there is an annual festival in its honour, where everyone goes out into the countryside to sit beneath the blossom and picnic and party with very un-Japanese abandon.
Cherries are one of the most attractive and versatile of garden trees, giving delightful spring colour when they are in full blossom and, in many cases, outstanding autumn colour as well.
At the Garden House we have a stunning Prunus serrulata ‘Tai Haku’. Its spindly branches hanging with extraordinary bundles of huge white blossoms, delicate explosions of petals freeze-framed in mid-air.
‘Tai Haku’ is a cherry with an astonishing story too: a legendary tree in Japan until it disappeared at the end of the 18th century, it was apparently unknown anywhere else in the world. Then, in 1923, the owner of a Sussex garden showed Captain Collingwood Ingram – an expert on Japanese cherries – an unidentified cherry with gorgeous white flowers. He was unable to recognise it but took grafts and passed the resulting saplings around.
The next time he went to Japan he was shown an 18th-century book of flower paintings and recognised the unidentified white cherry from the Sussex garden. As far as the Japanese were concerned, however, ‘Tai Haku’ had disappeared and could not possibly have popped up a hundred years later in England. It really does appear, though, that every ‘Tai Haku’ in cultivation – which vanished from Japan 200 years ago – inexplicably comes from that Sussex tree found 87 years ago.
- Prunus ‘Kursar’ AGM – this stunning small tree was one of the best trees raised by Captain Collingwood Ingram. It has masses of small deep pink flowers and fantastic autumn colour.
- Prunus incisa ‘The Bride’ – in spring this small cherry, which has a dense shrubby growth habit, is smothered with large single white flowers. The anthers of the flower are a very vibrant red colour and this is emphasized against the white petals.
- Prunus ‘Shogetsu’ AGM – this is one of the finest Japanese cherries and has a wide spreading growth habit. It has large double pink flowers which hang from the branches in clusters providing a breathtaking display. The double pink flowers quickly fade to a beautiful pure white.
- Prunus ‘Accolade’ AGM – this cherry has a spreading growth habit. During April the tree is covered in masses of large light pink semi-double flowers. It will also add value to your garden during the autumn when its green leaves turn a vivid rich orange/red colour.
- Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ – this delightful small cherry is very slow growing and compact making it suitable for growing in containers. Its branches have a fascinating zigzag growth habit and these are covered in small blush pink flowers. In the autumn this cherry will reward you with great foliage colour.
- Prunus ‘Pink Perfection’ AGM – this stunning cherry has bright double pink flowers which hang in drooping clusters from the branches. The leaves are a delicate bronze colour when young, before turning green and then a bright fiery red and orange in the autumn.
More cherries for small gardens:
- Prunus x subhirtella ‘Fukubana’ – this is an elegant miniature tree to about 3m that will fit into a small space and give it scale.
- Another good choice is Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ (winter-flowering cherry) – this is a real harbinger of spring that will repeat flower in any mild spell between January and March. It makes an elegant small tree of about 6-7m with an open head casting light shade. The single white flowers have pink centres and the bark is dark brown and shiny.’
- Prunus incisa ‘Fujima’ – this shrubby-crowned small tree is smothered in masses of pink-tinged flower buds, followed by stunning white flowers. It is very free-flowering, quick to establish and adaptable – it grows on heavy clay. The cultivar also offers good autumn colour.
- Prunus ‘Spire’ AGM – a fine choice for a small garden. This cultivar is no more than 2m wide when it is 20 years old. It has an upright crown meaning it will fit into the smallest space and give height or screen a view. The pale pink blossom covers the tree in spring and the autumn leaf colour is orange to yellow.
It is worth noting that ornamental cherries budded on to wild cherry rootstocks have large root systems, whilst trees on their own roots have much smaller root systems and are therefore better for smaller gardens.
Posted by editor on Friday, 18 March 2011
Daphnes are invariably grown for their delightfully fragrant flowers, which most have in abundance, but some are grown for their foliage, fruit, or upright, rounded or prostrate habit.
Daphne as a genus consists of about 50 deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen species, from Europe, North Africa and Asia. Their natural habitats range from lowland woodlands to mountains. There are many species and cultivars in cultivation, and some are at their best in the depths of winter, when there is little else to compete with.
- Family – Thymelaeaceae
- Height & spread – 1.5m (5ft) high and wide
- Soil – Moderately fertile, humus rich, well-drained soil
- Aspect – Full shade to open
- Hardiness – Hardy in some areas, may require protection in winter
Of the deciduous cultivars D. bholua var. glacialis ‘Gurkha’ displays pink-flushed white flowers. Another Daphne that flowers without the obstruction of leaves is D. mezereum, or mezereon as it is sometimes called. A flush of colour appears in late winter through into early spring before the leaves begin to grow. The purplish pink blooms, or white in the case of D. mezereum f. alba, cover the spreading stems that can reach up to 1.2m (4ft).
Daphne odora is a rounded evergreen shrub and another wonderfully scented example that flowers in the winter and early spring. It has clusters of white flowers edged with carmine and darkly glossy evergreen leaves.
The cultivar ‘Aureomarginata’ AGM has leaves with narrow, irregular yellow margins, it was awarded an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) for its scented flowers and variegated foliage. It bears fragrant, deep purple-pink and white flowers, to 1.5cm (1/2 in) across, in terminal, sometimes axillary clusters of 10-15 or more, from midwinter to early spring. These are followed by fleshy, spherical red fruit.
The hardiness varies as well as the leaf retention, flowering period and shade tolerance.
Daphnes grow well in borders or in woodland settings and once planted do not like to be moved. They will also perform well in containers. To gain the maximum pleasure from growing daphnes, plant them near paths and buildings where both the sight and scent of their flowers can be easily admired and appreciated.
The inner bark of the daphne can be used to make good quality paper, and rope. All parts of the plant are poisonous and skin contact with the sap can cause dermatitis in some people.
Daphne prefers a cool lime-free well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position.
It succeeds in neutral soils and tolerates partial shade. Some species also succeed in quite deep shade. At least some forms, especially the sub-species D. bholua var. glacialis tolerate alkaline soils. It flowers well when grown in dry shade, and likes plenty of moisture in the growing season.
It grows well in urban areas, tolerating the atmospheric pollution. Plants are resentful of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible. Keep pruning to a minimum.
Aphids, leaf spot, grey mould (Botrytis) and viruses may be a problem.
Photo credit: www.rhs.org.uk
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 Monday, 14 February 2011
We enjoyed fine weather and great company on our Garden House visit to Anglesey Abbey last Saturday. “Just to say thank you for a wonderful day out, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your organisation and hospitality is matchless. I am so glad I was able to come along!” Vicky D.
We love Angie B’s sketches of the winter garden, and Mandy D. wrote the following piece:
As winter slowly turns to spring no plant lover should miss the chance to visit the glorious winter display at Anglesey Abbey. Situated not far from Cambridge (not on the Island of Anglesey as most of my friends thought!) this National Trust property and gardens boasts one of the most beautiful and varied winter gardens I have ever seen.
A short walk from the Visitors Centre leads you to the start of the winter garden walk which, even if you did not notice the signs, can be found by following the intoxicating smell of the Sweet Box (Sarcococca), that line the first part of the walkway.
And that’s not all – for those Galanthophiles amongst you (snowdrop lovers to the rest of us!), the Abbey gardens boast over 200 varieties of snowdrop (Galanthus), some labelled and therefore identifiable along the main path and many others in gentle drifts that meander through the woodlands and other areas. My favourite was Galanthus plicatus ‘Hobsons Choice’ (wondered why I picked that one) and another variety named after Anglesey Abbey itself.
And finally, for stunning shrubs and trees, nothing can beat their display of Cornus – reds, greens and yellows – and the glade of Himalayan Birch (Betula utilis ‘jacquemontii’), with its ghostly white bark and statuesque structure, making all who came across them pause, reflect and for some, stay until the sun went down…
If you add to this a lovely sunny day, good company and even a rainbow on our return, it was the perfect day. Thanks weather fairy…
Anglesey Abbey: Quy Road, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9EJ / Tel. 01223 810080
Posted by editor on Thursday, 10 February 2011
One of the great things about gardening is the sense of community it can foster. Whether sharing an allotment, getting the kids to help out on weekends, inviting others to use part of your larger garden that you simply have no time to develop, or simply asking friends to help out in exchange for lunch or a cuppa.
Well at The Garden House we did exactly that last week. Nanette and family moved into their new home and massively overgrown garden about three years ago. However as we all know, a day here and a day there for a busy working mother inevitably means that getting the garden into shape is low on the priority list and such a slow process!
So to accelerate things Nanette gathered a few enthusiastic gardening friends round for the day and we all got stuck in. In a matter of hours the vegetable beds had moved to the sunnier side of the garden (and raised beds built!), one of two small ponds was filled in and made ready for planting, and a couple of old and overgrown shrubs dug out. Leaves and weeds were cleared, last year’s perennials cut down, and manure and compost spread.
At this time of year what can seem like fairly brutal cutting back, clearing and sorting, can leave the garden looking a little bare. The great thing is that everything is just waiting to burst forth – in no time at all it’ll all be green and looking vibrant again.
As you can see from the pictures, it was hard work, but also loads of fun!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 6 February 2011
As I’m sure you’ll have worked out by now, here at The Garden House we’re big Galanthus fans! So we’re delighted to tell you that on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 February, one of our favourite nurseries, Marchants Hardy Plants, is holding a special sale of snowdrops, together with a cut flower display.
Over 35 different varieties of snowdrop will be available – including the beautiful shaped G. allenii; G. ‘Anglesey Abbey’, a poculiform nivalis type but with bright green leaves; G. ‘Bill Bishop’, a very large flowered and handsome snowdrop; G. ‘Jacquenetta’, the greenest of the doubles; and the more rare G. ‘Wrightson’s Double’, a unique, fat elwesii double (quite scarce and very beautiful).
A number of the bulbs on sale are in short supply and will be sold on a first come first served basis. Bulbs offered are best quality, and are believed to be true to name.
Location: Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages, Mill Lane, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ / tel: 01323 811 737
Open: Friday 11 and Saturday 12 February / 10.00am – 4pm
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 Saturday, 22 January 2011
Although the weather is still likely to be at its worst there will be plenty of signs that things are beginning to wake up. Bulbs are breaking through the soil, buds are beginning to swell on trees and shrubs, and inevitably you’re anxious to get working.
This helps prevent pests and disease harbouring in piles of rotting vegetation. Do bear in mind that weeds will still grow this time of year, especially if this month stays frost free and damp. Remove these ensuring deep roots of perennial weeds are dug out completely.
If soil is prepared for planting cover it with polythene sheeting, this will stop it from getting wet and warm the soil so that when you do plant they will get away quicker.
It’s an ideal time to plant any new bare-rooted specimens, such as deciduous trees and shrubs along with roses. These will benefit from the addition of slow-release fertiliser to the surrounding soil, which in turn should be applied to all your beds.
It is also time to prune late-flowering clematis. These flower on the current years growth, so cutting the stems hard now will prevent plants becoming tangled and untidy. Cut back to the hard woody stems, removing any green growth from last year.
The best place to be at this time of year is in the greenhouse, but don’t start your annuals to early, it’s a long time for seedlings to be in trays and they could get drawn.
Since we have many frosty days this month, it’s a great time to find a comfy seat, a steaming cup of coffee and cake – and look through the seed, plant and landscaping catalogues to let you imagination run wild and decide how you can improve your garden this coming year…