Posts Tagged ‘ oxfordshire garden designer ’

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.

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..

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.
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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

MyGardenSchool’s Flickr Group. Reaches 300 Members! & Now streaming to website: http://www.my-garden-school.com


We’re delighted that MyGardenSchool’s Flickr group is going from strength to strength – with 300 members and now featuring over 1000 original gardening related photographs.  As a celebration of your garden photographic talent – we are now streaming the MyGardenSchool’s Flickr group flickr page to our holding page at My-Garden-School.com Some beautiful and thoughtful garden photographs are being posted, and new members joining every day thanks to word of mouth from our thriving flickr community.

If you’re interested in joining our group every gardening enthusiast is welcome – we like to award photos that we think are special in some way with the MyGardenSchool photo award. We particularly value originality and humour, as well as classically good looking photos (personality does count!).

Here’s a selection of the latest photos from MyGardenSchool’s members:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “MyGardenSchool group pool“, posted with vodpod

Happy Snapping and Gardening!

If you are interested in what we’re doing with MyGardenSchool – please feel free to register with our holding page to receive updates:

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

What’s happening to our conker trees? The dying out of the horsechestnuts..


Has anyone noticed that all our conker trees are dying?  They are brown and crispy and aren’t producing the fat juicy conkers they used to when we were children.  A blight on the scale of Dutch Elm disease (responsible for annihilating the elm population of the UK in the 70s), has been devastating our horsechestnuts over the last few years.   And no-one seems to have a cure for it.   Will our future generations have to go without conkers and not benefit from the beauty of these majestic trees?

What’s happening is the trees are under threat from a lethal combination of pests, diseases and unfavourable climatic conditions attacking them simultaneously.  The leaf miner moth (Cameraria ohridella) and the fungus (Guignardia aesculi).  Not to mention the effects of drought.  And now there is another, greater threat to these stately trees – namely Bleeding Canker.

The first symptom is often an area of bark where a yellow / brown / red liquid seeps out. In the spring, this coloured fluid is usually transparent but in warmer weather it may become cloudy. When it is dry and hot, the flow may dry up – leaving a dark crust on the bark. However, the bleeding may start up again in the autumn. These observations have lead to the suggestion that the pathogen is most active when conditions are mild and moist (i.e. in spring and autumn).

Where the pathogen has been active, bark, cambial tissue and the phloem (the sugar conducting tissue) are destroyed. If this damage spreads around the trunk then more general effects will be seen, namely yellowing of the leaves, early leaf fall, failure to set fruit (no conkers!) and damage to the crown of the tree; branches may be weakened and fall.

Dr Jean Webber, the Principal Pathologist at Forest Research, the scientific arm of the Forestry Commission, said that bleeding canker has been spreading quickly across Britain since 2001, having been confined to the south of England since the 1960s.

She said Forest Research believes its increased prevalence has been caused by a newly detected Indian-born bacterium, Pseudomonas syringae pv aesculi, replacing Phytophthora, a plant-destroying fungus, as its main cause. This may have been aided by mild winters and wet springs in recent years.

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Dr Webber said: “There’s nothing much you can do about it if your tree displays the symptoms. Our advice is: if you can do, leave the trees well alone, unless they become so damaged that they create a safety hazard.  “Disturbing the trees, by pruning them or making other attempts to clear the infection, may result in the bacteria being spread even further.”

It’s both sad and surprising how little publicity there has been about the plight of the horse chestnuts.  I hope something can be done so future generations get to enjoy these majestic trees and their beautiful conkers.  Once you become aware of it – you’ll be surprised at how many horse chestnuts there are in the UK – most British villages and parks would have a significantly different  look and feel if we imagine a world without them.

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!