Posts Tagged ‘ gardening ’

It’s Bedtime!

The trouble with bedding plants is they can look a bit municipal.  Like a 1970s roundabout.  Even the term conjures up visions of scary rows of marigolds or petunias.  But if you pick carefully and consider your colour scheme – bedding can be as beautiful as you want it to be.

Bedding plants are really all plants that, irrespective of their growing habits, are used to make a temporary show. For example: hardy bulbs (hyacinths and tulips), hardy and half-hardy perennials (chrysanthemums), and even tender shrubs (castor oil plant).

But ‘bedding’ is usually taken to mean those half-hardy annuals or half-hardy perennials planted out to make a splash of colour in the summer. For example; petunias, begonias, pelargoniums and calceolarias

In fact it’s not the plants themselves that are necessarily garish looking or uncomfortable.  But it’s their context and usage.  All too often they remind us of roundabouts or suburbia but they don’t have to.  The planting combination is key to making bedding beautiful.  And also consider some of the more interesting varieties.

Below:  Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’ with Dahlias, Helichrysum petiolare and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ in August

Grow Your Own Drugs

Despite the rather dodgy sounding title – we love James Wong. He’s that cool guy who tells you which plants to grow for medicinal purposes. He is an ‘Ethnobotanist’. Good word! James Wong grew up in Malaysia and Singapore. He trained at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and gained an MSc in Ethnobotany from the University of Kent, graduating with distinction. His research has taken him to highland Ecuador, as well as to China and Java. He now lectures at the University of Kent and has also co-designed and built two RHS medal-winning gardens (in 2004 and 2008), which were designed to show that there is more to plants than ‘looking pretty’

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The MyGardenSchool Flickr Group Scores a Century!

We’re celebrating that the MyGardenSchool Flickr Group has now hit over 100 members! And 100s of unique gardening photographs – each telling their own gardening story. Have a browse below and take time out to meander through our members’ gardens..Happy Snapping and Gardening!

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The Ace of Spades..

Those of you who follow this blog regularly – may remember that I recently blogged about buying a trusty new spade.  I’ve always really been a fan of vintage garden tools as I’m terribly fond of many old tools I’ve acquired from my grandparents (aka the Gods of gardening).  So I have been quite fixed on sticking to my friendly old comfortable vintage spades and forks.  Practical, comfy, and trusted; my vintage spades were the Clarks shoes of the spade world.  But through a stealth move of posting on this blog and sending me a spade to trial – Bulldog persuaded me I should at least give a couple of their spanking new spades a go.

Well (and it’s terribly rare that this happens!) – I have to admit that I may have been wrong all these years in sticking to my sensible old spades..!  I’ve been trialling two Bulldog spades (more the Christian Louboutins of the spade world).  I’m now in the process of digging a vegetable bed and a large herbaceous border, on tough going ground that has previously been lawn.   Crikey what a difference!   What I’ve discovered is that until using the Bulldog spades, I’d never really experienced a good one.  I thought I had.   But in fact as it turns out, with my comfy Clarks, I just didn’t know what I was missing.  I’ve been putting in far more blood, sweat and tears than is required, by working with quaint old tools that don’t really cut it.  These new spades are pretty damn good I have to say.  They slice right through the soil, have great tread, and they’re not bad looking either.  I’ve probably dug my beds in half the time I would have done.  Upgrading from Clarks to Louboutins has also freed me up to take gratuitous garden pictures and paint my toenails red..Nice



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


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 or blog at

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.

Featured Photograph – Electric Cabbages!

One of our favourite MyGardenSchool Flickr Group Members, fhfgreenmedia, has posted this cool picture of electric cabbages in our Group pool