Posts Tagged ‘ garden design ’

Planting Broad Beans Now


As broad beans are frost hardy, it’s easy to grow them through the winter, either outside or under the cover of a garden frame. So I’m giving it a go planting them now. I don’t have an enormous amount of space for them in the rather crowded vegetable bed – so I’m growing a dwarf variety.

MyGardenSchool's Broad Beans

My Broad Beans - Ready to Plant

Broad beans are actually one of the oldest vegetables grown by humans dating back to 6,500 BC, however up until recently broad beans were not grown as a vegetable but as a cattle food. Luckily that is no more, broad beans are such a fantastic tasting vegetable yet they are so incredibly easy to grow.

The seeds are large, they germinate fast, no special care or attention is required, they’re quickly ready for harvesting and a very easy vegetable to grow. You should dig the spot where you plan to grow broad beans incorporating well rotted manure or compost while digging. The spot should be in a sunny location in soil that is free draining. They will grow well in most soil types but for a larger crop better conditions are required.

Sow seeds 8 inches apart in rows that are twelve inches apart. You may wish to sow some extra seeds in a seedbed or containers indoors to fill the gaps where the seeds do not germinate successfully.

I’ll report back on how we get on with ours – maybe with a timelapse video so you can see how they’re fairing.

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MyGardenSchool Loves This Thinking on Education


At MyGardenSchool we pride ourselves on pioneering and being ahead of the game on the latest educational thinking and techniques. We’re designing our courses to help people enjoy as well as absorb fascinating information about horticulture and gardening. See (
MyGardenSchool Courses
). Learning should be fun. We like this vid..

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.

It’s bulb planting time! What bulbs should I plant for Spring..?


Strictly speaking it’s bulb ordering time – don’t plant them just yet as it may be a little too mild. But you definitely should be making your selections and buying your bulbs now when there is still a good selection available. Aim to plant in October – or when there’s been a couple of frosts. This stops blight. But on with the fun bit – choosing what to plant for Spring!

My opinion on bulbs to plant for Spring has changed over the last few years. Partly following a visit to the tulip gardens at KeukenHof. But also because I think bulbs in particular are affected by fashions. We’ve seen the Alium rise to fame in the last decade, and also some of the lillies and more ebullient types of tulip.
CRW_1207

Being a simple kind of creature, I always thought I tended to prefer very clean, non-showy classics – like Narcisuss Thalia for example. However, I have to say, I’ve become fan of some of the more unusual tulips in recent years. This is because they look fantastic in pots. The best displays of tulips in pots I’ve seen are at Rousham – a fabulous garden in Oxfordshire. And last year I took the opportunity have a quick chat with the head gardener. He reckons the secret is that more is more with bulbs. Get a massive terracotta pot, and plant twenty five vibrant tulips in there. Do them in layers at different heights. And if you’re planting in pots – you can absolutely get away with vibrancy, and some of the more frilly parrot varieties without them looking vulgar. One tip I’m trying this year is to pick many different varieties – all within the same colour palette range – instead I’m varying the textures.

Get your dibbers out – now’s a good time to order and get your bulbs in. Ooh how exciting.

Narcissus Thalia bulb

John Brookes and Duncan Heather; working on MyGardenSchool


John Brookes & Duncan Heather; working on MyGardenSchool

A Deeply Impressive Book Collection. John Brookes, one of the most famous garden writers in the world, keeps one of each of his books published.

These photos were taken at John Brookes’  house in West Sussex during a working session on MyGardenSchool.  John’s bookshelf in particular caught my eye.  Interesting seeing the sheer volume of material on gardens written by the man himself.  To register your interest in MyGardenSchool please feel free to register with our holding page at www.my-garden-school.com

Natural Pest Control – LadyBird Love!


Did you know the collective noun for a group of ladybirds is a ‘Loveliness’!?   Quite appropriate I think.    Though we just tend to think of our little friendly orange ones with black spots in the UK – the ‘7 spots’, there are others too joining us, which aren’t so friendly.  So you need to be sure to get the right chaps if you’re using them as natural pest control.

Ladybirds belong to the scientific family Coccinellidae. In Britain, some 46 species belong to this family, although only 26 of these are recognisably ladybirds.The invasion of the harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) threatens our native populations. (If you want to know more about this species in particular, or want to record sightings, take a look at the Harlequin Ladybird Survey website.)

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Leaving aside whether or not ladybirds are good or bad, there is no arguing that they are pretty little insects, and bring a sense of magic and fun when you come across them.   There is quite a variance in colour amongst the small beasties, ranging from an ‘orange’ ladybird, Halyzia sedecimguttata, and several other pale pinky ones.

Also worth noting is that  the common 7-spot and 2-spot ladybirds are pale straw yellow or orange when they emerge from the pupa and change as they grow. It takes hours for the deep red colour to appear and they get darker for several days.  The seven-spot ladybird is the most common in Britain. This bright red ladybird has seven spots and is thought to have inspired the name ladybird: “Lady” referring to the Virgin Mary (Our lady) who in early paintings is seen wearing a red cloak; the seven spots are symbolic of the seven joys and seven sorrows of Mary.

How do I use ladybirds as pest control?

Control Aphids outdoors by releasing Ladybirds and / orLacewing Larvae. Aphids (both greenfly and blackfly) are a big problem in gardens. Ladybirds and lacewings love to eat aphids, but they can be scarce. Help nature by introducing extra ladybirds (available as adults and larvae) and / or lacewing larvae into your garden from May onwards but which should I use?

  • For light infestations on a spread of garden plants simply place adult ladybirds around the garden to search out the pests.
  • For moderate infestations concentrated on a few plants use ladybird larvae placed directly onto the infected plants.
  • For a bit of both use the ladybird family
  • For heavier infestations use lacewing larvae or a gardeners friends pack (a pack of both lacewing larvae and adult ladybirds) placed directly onto the infected plants.

If you would like to buy some ladybirds as a natural pest control – check out www.greengardener.co.uk where you can buy a ladybird breeding kit!

A Magic Moss Garden


A beautiful bowl of moss.  But how is it surviving in this hot weather?

Well it’s surviving because it’s Scleranthus not moss!  A beautiful green substitute that looks great spilling over in tubs or bowls.

Scleranthus is a small genus in the Caryophyllaceae family, a family that includes the exotic Carnations. Of the ten known species of Scleranthus, four are endemic to eastern Australia, the remainder native to Europe, Africa and Asia.


Scleranthus biflorus
is widely distributed in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and New Zealand, from the coast to alpine areas.

distribution map


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