Archive for the ‘ horticulture ’ Category

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Top Ten Garden Tasks for Autumn


The Abbey Gardens, Dorchester

1. Tidy up!

Autumn is a great time for those who love wielding the clippers – all that summer growth will need a trim back now to keep the garden tidy. But many off-cuts will strike well in the humidity right now so think about planting some of your cuttings out into pots.

2. Dig out the debris

Remove plant debris and diseased leaves from flowers and vegetable patches. Dig up the annuals – plants that last only a season – and put them on the compost heap. Flowering perennials – plants that spring up year after year from their roots – should be cut back. Remove yellowing or dead leaves or flowers before rot develops and remove any weeds hidden under the plant foliage.

3. Start composting

Winter gives cuttings and leaves a chance to break down and produce nutrient-rich compost, which will be ready for boosting the garden in the new year. Now is also a really good time to turn your compost heap. It will heat up nicely and then gently rot over winter.

4. Embrace autumn colour

Deciduous trees, such as acers, will provide lovely autumn colours from foliage, bark and berries. Autumn flowers such as crocus and amaryllis add colour, too. Cyclamens come in white and a range of pink shades with glossy green leaves, and add a welcome dash of vibrancy.

5. Plant for the future

This is a good time of year to plant spring bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, and new perennials – the soil is still warm but moisture levels are increasing. There is still time for plants to establish themselves before the real cold sets in. This is also a good time of year to plant or move shrubs and trees to allow them to anchor down before the growing season. Reflect on what was and was not successful in this year’s planting scheme so that you can adapt your plans for next year.

6. Venture into the interior

Ventilate conservatories during the remaining warmer days to prevent soaring temperatures, but reduce ventilation once the cooler, windy autumn weather sets in. Use shading paint or blinds to help to keep them cool. However, as light levels fall, reduce the shading as well as the watering of any houseplants.

7. Love your lawn

For a lovely lawn next spring, start to mow less frequently and raise the height of the grass as the growth rate slows down. Scarify your lawn by raking out dead grass and moss that has built up over the summer. Follow this with applying an high-potassium autumn lawn feed, which will release the correct balance of nutrients throughout the winter.

8. Cover up the furniture

When there is no more need for garden furniture, store it in the shed or garage to protect it from the winter weather and allow it to dry out. If you can’t do this, cover it with a tough waterproof sheet securely fixed down, taking care to allow plenty of air to circulate so that the furniture is not damp all winter. Wooden items, such as benches or pergolas, may benefit from a treatment of chemical preservative.

9. Give wildlife a hand

Encourage birds into the garden by providing extra food. Place the feeder near a tall shrub, fence or mature tree to provide protection from predators. Plant berry-bearing plants for an extra source of food for birds and other wildlife. Firethorn, rowan and holly plants are recommended.

10. Protect your pond

Cover your pond with a net to stop falling leaves polluting the water, but make sure you clean it regularly to prevent the net from sinking into the pond. If it contains fish ensure that they can continue to breathe by preventing the water from freezing. Make sure the pond is at least 8ft deep because fish live in the deepest levels during the winter months.

THE SECRET ART OF SACRIFICIAL PLANTING


By Simon Eade – our exciting new guest blogger from ‘The Garden of Eaden’!

THE SECRET ART OF SACRIFICIAL PLANTING

Although the terminology sounds a little blood thirsty, it is in reality a practiced organic method of protecting your garden plants from the pests that feed from them. This is achieved by the deliberate act of supplying plants that will either attract harmful pests away from, or attract natural predators to, the plants you’re trying to protect.
For example, plant a row of lettuce that you are happy to have destroyed at the back of your herbaceous boarders and this will entices slugs away from your ornamental plants, attracted to the tastier salad leaves. Don’t panic though as the damaged lettuce leaves will soon be out of sight, becoming lost behind the taller ornamental plants as they grow through.

While it’s true that slugs love lettuce, they love marigolds more, so if its salad crops that you are trying to protect, creating a thick border of marigolds will act as a self healing edible barrier. Try using the larger American or African marigold hybrids as this will create a far bulkier defence compared to our smaller English or French varieties

Nasturtiums are great for attracting aphids therefore making an ideal trap for protecting precious roses. Again, plant them as a sacrificial border, remembering to pinch off and destroy the leaves and stems as they become overrun. Aphids will also infest sunflowers, and unlike nasturtiums whose swarming leaves have to be removed, sunflowers can be left alone to grow. Because they are so tough, the aphids cause very little damage and will still produce nice seed heads for native birds to enjoy. Like lettuce, nasturtiums also work well as a trap crop for slugs and snails.

This principle can work just as well for pest animals as well as for insects. For those suffering the constant damage caused by that naturalised foreign alien ‘the rabbit’, plant dill in your borders. This will protect the vulnerable young shoots of many of your perennials as rabbits will ignore the less tasty offerings preferring to go straight for the dill. This way the rabbit will remain unharmed particularly when compared to other commonly used control methods i.e. the shotgun or myxomatosis, and hopefully your borders should remain uneaten. Even without a rabbit problem, planting dill in the garden is also a good idea as it attracts hoverflies and predatory wasps, both of which will feed off aphids.

Fed up with your plants suffering the ragged bite marks of the dreaded Vine weevil? Although named for destroying the roots of grape vines it now seems to prefer a wide range of host plants, in particular Laurels and Viburnums. Try planting polyanthus and cyclamen for control of this destructive garden pest. Vine weevils love to lay their eggs beside these two species, not only making them great for attracting them away from the plants you love, but also for giving you a great starting place to look should you these destructive pests enter the garden.

Aphids on Roses

Vine Weevil

lacewing larvae

A word of warning though if you are intent on spraying for vine weevil, the only product currently on the market that is suitable for their control is Provado, and this contains the active ingredient Imidacloprid. This lethal chemical is believed to be one of the factors in Colony Collapse Disorder, a serious disorder that affects our native bees. It’s absorbed into both nectar and pollen contaminating it with a deadly toxin that affects the bee’s nervous system. Once the nectar and pollen has been taken back to the hives it’s passed on through the food chain continuing to kill yet more bees. As far as shop bought insecticides go, this by far the most dangerous to the environment

So next time you find yourself reaching for a bottle bug killer, consider sacrificial planting and reach out for a packet of seeds instead.

About Simon Eade

Simon trained in Horticulture at Haldow College and Greenwich University. During his gardening career he has gained experience in many ‘fields’ including Site Manager for the prestigious Alexandra Palace Garden Centre. As well as being featured on Ground Force, Sky News, BBC radio and independent TV for his horticultural expertice, he is also an internationally published gardening writer and photographer.

For more information and related articles click onto the ‘Garden of Eaden’ website at www.gardenofeaden.com or blog at www.gardenofeaden.blogspot.com

Random Acts of Gardening – Guerilla Gardening


On 1 May guerrilla gardeners around the world sow sunflowers all over the place. It’s a way to bring beauty, bumble bees and bundles of fun to your neighborhood.
2010 is the fourth “International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day” and this time it’s on a Saturday! So hopefully it’ll be bigger and more colourful than ever before.

Daily Telegraph Top 10 Hellebore Days Out


Top 10 hellebore days out

These subtle but stunning plants will be flowering soon.

Helleborus

Was Helleborus – as some historians believe – the plant on which the 33 year old Alexander the Great fatally overdosed in Babylon in 323 BCE?  We’ll probably never know!  But we love these understated beauties.  Check out this great list of Hellebore Days Out courtesy of The Daily Telegraph

Weather alert: Check all info before leaving home as some events may have been affected by weather conditions.

The Hardy Plant Society, Kent Hellebore extravaganza, Feb 15, 11am to 4pm, Goodnestone Park Gardens, Wingham. Talk on hellebores at 12.30pm by Tim Ingram (ticket only). Specialist nursery displays and sales of winter-flowering plants. Adults £5, seniors £4.50, under-16s £1 www.hpskent.co.uk).

Bosvigo, Cornwall Special hellebore day, Feb 14, 10am-4pm, Bosvigo House, Truro, in aid of Shelterbox. Newly created woodland walk through drifts of snowdrops, hellebores, wood anemones, epimediums, erythroniums and scented narcissus. Refreshments available (01872 275774; www.bosvigo.com).

Ashwood Nurseries, West Midlands Hellebore weekends, Jan 31 & Feb 1, Feb 14 & 15, 10.15am to 3.30pm, Ashwood nursery, Kingswinford. Guided tours (1h 30m), no need to book, go ”behind the scenes” and learn about the hellebore breeding programme. Entry £2, proceeds to charity (01384 401996; www.ashwood-nurseries.co.uk).

Harveys Garden Plants, Suffolk Hellebore open days, Feb 20 & 21, 9.30am to 4.30pm, Harveys Garden Plants, Bury St Edmunds. More than 1,000 hellebores for sale each day, advice and practical demonstrations, guided tours at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Free. (01359 233363; www.harveysgardenplants.co.uk).

Coton Manor Garden, Northamptonshire Open for snowdrops and hellebores, Feb 14 to March 1, 11am to 4pm, Coton Manor Gardens, Coton. Entry £3 (01604 740219; www.cotonmanor.co.uk).

RHS Wisley Plant, Surrey Hellebore heaven, Feb 14 & 15, 10.30am to 4.30pm, Wisley Plant Centre. Demonstrations at 11am, 1.30pm and 3pm by expert grower Hugh Nunn and Chelsea gold medal winner Richard Bramley. Hellebores on sale. No booking required, free entry (01483 211113; www.rhs.org.uk ).

Broadview Gardens, Kent National collection of hellebores, Feb 15, 21, 22, 28, March 1, Broadview Gardens and Hadlow College, tours at 11am and 2pm, flowers on sale at Broadview Garden Centre. Entry £3 (0500 551434; www.hadlow.ac.uk).

Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire Fanfare for spring, Feb 22, 11am to 3pm, Renishaw Hall, near Sheffield. Gardens and woodlands full of hellebores, snowdrops, bulbs and more. Specialist nurseries, refreshments. Entry £3 (01246 432310; www.renishaw-hall.co.uk).

Coolings, Kent Hellebore weekend, today, 9am-5pm, tomorrow 10am-4.30pm, Coolings Garden Centre, Rushmore Hill. Hellebore display and sale. Free (01959 532269;www.coolings.co.uk).

National Collection, Staffordshire National collection of species hellebores, open Saturdays in Feb/March, 10am-2pm, Hazles Cross Farm, Kingsley. Entry £2, plants for sale (01538 752669;www.nccpg.com).

webcuts This website with links to specialist nurseries and growers will keep you up to date on the latest star plants: www.hellebores.org

Call a spade a spade? How to choose a decent spade..


If you’re passionate about gardening  – the chances are you probably take pride in your shed and your beloved garden tools.

I still have my grandfather’s spade which is a beautiful sturdy beast that’s been going for decades.  But recently it was time for Grandpa’s spade to retire due to overwork.  This meant is was time for me to make friends with a replacement spade.  I wasn’t really sure where to start.  A spade’s a spade innit?  Well not really.  They’re kind of like a well rounded pair of shoes – they need to fit you, look good, and be comfortable and durable.  A good spade is definitely one that is comfortable to use and effective. This means that it needs to be the right length, a comfortable tread, not too heavy and the blade must not be blunt.  Although there are many spanking new spades that fulfil this criteria, there’s also something very beautiful about antique and second hand garden tools I think.  Like they could tell a story.  Why not be green and give a good home to a vintage spade off eBay like I did?  If you are determined to buy new – I was pleasantly surprised to find that Amazon do a good range in garden tools too.  Happy digging!

What to do in the Garden in March – Start Composting


Why Compost?

Compost is the perfect free organic food for your garden. It’s the ultimate in recycling that you can do in your own home & garden. It also links your own food chain from your home to your land – putting back nutrients directly to the soil.  Compost is packed with nutrients any garden will love, and it helps improve soil condition, maintain moisture levels, and keep your soil’s PH balance in check while helping to suppress plant disease.

It will have everything your plants need including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and it will help buffer soils that are very acidic or alkaline. Did you know around 40% of the average household’s bin contents are suitable for composting at home? So it helps cut down on landfill, which is major source of pollution, too.

We like this National Trust video on how to compost

Vodpod videos no longer available.