How to Attract Butterflies into your Garden

Butterfly GardenCreate a paradise for butterfly and you will benefit from colour twice over. A garden full of eye and butterfly catching, fragrant flowers from spring to autumn can be achieved by selecting some of the following plants.

Butterfly feed on nectar and need this energy giving resource. They also need water from moist soil to which you could add a sprinkling of salt or grow a plant that catches water between its leave like Teasel. Their eggs need food so plant some Cow Parsley, Nettles and Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).

Butterfly Attracting Flowers

  • Lily of the valley – convallaria
  • Rock Cress – Arabis
  • Sweet Violets – viola odorata
  • Shasta daisy and Coreopsis in summer
  • Buddleia the butterfly bush in white pink or lilac or even Lilac it’s self
  • Dahlia, Cosmos and marigold for their long flowering season
  • Petunia, Verbena and fibrous Begonia
  • Delphinium, Aster and Day Lily

Feeding Time
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Rhubarb Growing Tips

Water Rhubarb even when it is raining!

Rhubarb Summary Top Tips
Encourage strong leaf growth to encourage heavy crops with nitrogen compost and manure. Lime in winter.
Stop picking stems by the end of July to allow roots to boost strength for next season.
Plant 3 feet apart in friable but well trodden soil.

Rhubarb Calender
Plant out new roots with good eyes/buds in November or December.
Divide roots in October-December a large 3 year old root may produce 6 plants/offsets.
Allow all leaves to die down in autumn before clearing away.
Grow from fresh seed sown under cover in September or direct in March
Pick early, second early or Late maturing varieties from March to August.

Grow your own Rhubarb as it is easy to cultivate and gives a large crop of tender pink stalks.

Varieties to choose

  • Victoria, with thin stalks of rosy red that turn pink and green towards the tip. It is a late season cropper.
  • Timperley Early AGM is the earliest to be harvested with long stems and a good flavour.
  • Raspberry Red is a mid-late season variety of deep red stalks.
  • Stocksbridge Arrow, is an old favourite in the West Riding of Yorkshire the home of there rhubarb triangle.
  • Champagne is also one of the best varieties but there are lots to choose from at your garden centre or cadge a crown from neighbours.

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Dangerous and Harmful Garden Plants

This is not an exclusive list so always take care.
Castor oil plant in August

Hazardous and Dangerous Plants

Not everything in the garden is lovely when it can poison or injure the unsuspecting. The extremely hazardous Poison Ivy and Poison oak related to the Rhus family (Diversiloba, radicans, vernix, succedanea, toxicarium and veniciflua) should be avoided at all cost. Other highly harmful plants are listed below and the effects of eating roots berries or leaves can be serious. Many cause allergies and irritations that also need avoiding.

Tips on Dangerous Plants

  • Don’t let children eat seeds and plants from the garden unless supervised.
  • If you wish to see these types of plant take a trip to the Poison Garden at Alnwick which also includes strychnine opium and cocaine plants under a special Home Office license.

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Muscari A Blue Bulb for Spring


Muscari Species AKA Grape Hyacinth

Look out in other gardens for great bulbs to grow for next spring. This Grape Hyacinth called Muscari Azureum is a clear soft blue that is recommended for naturalising.
Muscari Valerie Finnis is also blue whilst most of the  other species and varieties flower in shades of purple.
Muscari grow well in pots where the foliage can look interesting.

Muscari alba
I have not tried Album or Botryoides Album both white Grape or Feather Hyacinths, nor the new scented yellow Golden Fragrance.


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Remarkable Gooseberry Crops

Sweet or sharp and sour the gooseberry is a remarkable soft fruit. Summer 2014 has been a remarkable year for the size of my crop and the freezer is bulging (like my waste from numerous crumbles).

Gooseberry Summary Top Tips
Plants prefer a cool climate and will withstand a windy position with light well drained soil.
Do not feed excessive nitrogen which encourages mildew.
Water with a liquid feed as the fruit start to set – this increases berry size and limits splitting.
Fruit appear on new and old wood so aim for a balance between the two.
Varieties are classified by the colour of the fruit as Red, Green, White and Yellow. At home you may want a mix of kinds.

Gooseberry Calendar
Bushes fruit in June and/or July
Take cuttings in September,
Prune cordon shoots in March but reshape and reinvigorate by pruning in winter.
Plant new bushes in November or March if the soil is very heavy.
Varieties come in early, mid season and late (examples Early Sulphur, Gunner, Lancer)


What a grand way to grow Gooseberries ‘up a stick’ (or Cordon).   Trained like ballerina apples this  Gooseberry variety London was grown as one vertical trunk. Gooseberry London has very large oval fruit with a smooth skin. The flavour is good and is normally a spreading bush but it makes few branches. It is renown as heavy yielding as can be seen below from a 1st June photo below.

Planting Layout for Legs or Cordons
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Get Cracking Indoor Bulbs for Christmas

Bright colour and attractive scent are special features you can add to Christmas from indoor bulbs.
If you get cracking and plant your bulbs in Autumn you will have gifts to give away or an indoor show to be proud of.


Indoor Hyacinth Bulbs for Christmas

  • Hyacinths are fragrant and colourful.
  • Buy new bulbs each year and select those that have been treated to flower early.
  • Pot up in early autumn and keep in cool dark conditions.
  • Bring into the light a few weeks before Christmas, then into the warmth. Flowers will last longer if not too warm.
  • Do not let your pots dry out.

Smaller Bulbs for Christmas

  • Crocus can be encouraged to flower for Christmas. Try a special pot with holes in the side where bulbs can peak out. Crocus chrysanthus are the small species best suited for Christmas.
  • Iris danfordiae are likely to give a good show if kept cool until ready to flower.
  • Tulips may be forced into Christmas flower.

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Hyacinth Growing Tips

hyacinth & primrose

Growing Hyacinths

  • Hyacinths like brilliant drainage
  • Hyacinth need full sun and a good baking during summer
  • Feed with a potash fertilizer in early spring to help roots and bulbs.
  • Plant between September and December. Christmas indoor bulbs need to be ‘prepared’ and planted as soon as available.
  • Put an inch of grit in the bottom of a pot to help drainage and cover the top of the bulb with 3″ of soil.
  • Deadhead and allow leaves to die down naturally.
  • Propagate by dividing clumps in early autumn.

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Top Ten Flowers – Two Different Lists

Gardeners World ran a series looking for Britains favourite top ten flowers. The BBC didn’t name specific varieties or offer much insight so I have added some Gardeners Tips

  1. Lilies -  Soak in water water for an hour lay sideways on a bed of grit and shade the root run.
  2. Roses – Encourage growth from the ground by planting deeper than they originally grew. Scented varieties Margaret Merrill and Rosa Westerland are worth looking out for
  3. Daffodils – Feed with tomato fertilizer as they finish flowering and leave leaves for 6 weeks. Miniature DAffs are now very trendy but if you have the space go for King Alfred.
  4. Fucshias - Pinch out the tip when they have 4-6 pairs of leaves. I grow Lady and Tom Thumb as well as Winston Churchill
  5. Delphiniums – Treat for slugs in Autumn so they don’t feed on the roots all winter. The white varieties are not as strong as the trditional
  6. Clematis – Plant 6 inches deeper tha the top of the rootball and keep roots cool.
  7. Sweet Peas – Train the strongest side shoot not the main stem for show blooms.
  8. Primulas – Mark plants in flower if you want to split them in June.
  9. Poppies – Cut oriental poppy foliage right back after flowering and stake early.
  10. Irises – Plant in groups of 3-5 to make quicker clumps.

Bulb historian Anna Pavord has also chosen her favourite top ten flowers and surprise, surprise they are all bulbs or corm based flowers. I have put them into alphabetical order

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Specimen Eucryphia in Yorkshire Dales

Eucryphia can be amongst the highlights of  summer flowering trees and shrubs. Performing in late summer the profusion of scented white flowers on a conical tree can be exceptional. The flowers also have a further profusion of interesting stamens, distinctly coloured pink or yellow.

Specimen Varieties

  • Eucryphia Nymansay has cup-shaped, fragrant white flowers 3inches across, with very prominent bosses of yellow stamens, and elliptic leaves that are strongly toothed
  • Eucryphia glutinosa, is particularly recommended as it makes a fine 25 foot tree with lots of handsome flowers and leaves that colour up in the autumn.
  • Eucryphia milliganii is a smaller evergreen tree with a narrow growing habit. Even young specimens have freely produced flowers.
  • Eucryphia intermedia is frost hardy and extremely free flowering.

Growing a Specimen Eucryphia.

  • Eucryphias are upright and columnar in shape and make natural specimen plants if given the right conditions.
  • Plant it in early spring in moist acidic soil in a sheltered position where the roots are shaded from the sun yet the branches are in good light.
  • Underplant to cover the roots if necessary to avoid warming sun.
  • A good parent should produce good offspring so select from the species above. There are some Eucrphia that can grow to 120 feet tall in there natural habitat.

Eucryphia growing above a hedge at Parcivall Hall North Yorkshire. The grounds contain several acid loving plants and the under planting included several Hydrangeas. Whislt the gardens are nearly 1000 feet above sea level the shelter of the dales hills and damp conditions suit the Eucryphia down to the ground (Oops)

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Tips on Making A Compost Heap.

Compost heap

A compost heap is an excellent way of recycling dead plant material and generating the best possible soil fertiliser. A good compost heap also gives a feeling of satisfaction because it helps the gardener to become part of the natural cycle of growth, decay and regeneration. Using a compost heap will also save many unnecessary trips to the local tip. See also: Benefits of Composting

How To Make a Good Compost Heap

The Compost Bin A compost bin should be about 1 square metre. It is important to have a good size, but, it should also be compact because otherwise the generated heat will be dissipated. It is also best to have at least two bins. This enables one heap to rot down, whilst the other is added to. A compost heap should also be aerated and enable water to enter. If you have an enclosed plastic bin, make sure you water where necessary.

Positioning. A compost heap can be really be put anywhere; most people want to choose a spot that is not too prominent. However, if it receives direct sunlight the process of decomposition will be faster.

Base Layer.
At the bottom of a compost heap it is good to use some twiggy material to make sure there is good drainage; if you have a heavy clay soil, you might want to add some grit to provide good drainage. If a compost heap becomes waterlogged, the process of decomposition will slow down and it will become slimy.

Mixing Layers. The next important strategy is to provide a good mix of material when building up a compost heap. For example, grass is a high source of nitrogen and can break down quickly to generate heat. However, grass needs to be mixed with other more woody material, otherwise it will not rot down properly. Similarly on their own stems and twigs will take a long time to rot down unless they have an activator like grass or over very green material. When adding grass clippings spread them out to form a thin, equal layer; then add a layer of more twiggy material. If necessary store a potential layer for adding at the right time.

Breaking Up Twiggy Material. Thick stems will take a long time to break down. If you have a shredder, it will make the job of composting a lot more successful. It will break down the material and enable much faster composting. If you don’t have a shredder, you can just squash the stems or break them in a few places. A rather crude, but effective, tip is to get a spade and hit down on the top of the heap to break a few stems. Even this small step will help quite a lot; what you are doing is to increase the surface area, enabling faster decomposition.

Water. As mentioned before, water is important. It is important to water a compost heap a bit like watering a plant. If there is no water, the compost heap will dry out and will not decompose. If it is waterlogged it will stagnate. Most compost heaps suffer from being dry, so every now and then throw on some water to speed up the process of decomposition.

Cover. When the compost heap is finished with adequate amounts of water, it is good to cover with a plastic coating. This enable the heap to generate more heat, speeding up the process of decomposition; it also prevents excess water.

Aerate. In hot weather when a compost heap is generating a lot of heat it is a good idea to get a garden cane and poke the heap, every now and then. This allows air to enter and expedites the process of aerobic decomposition. A good heap will have steam coming from it when you aerate it.
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