Archive | Books on Gardening & Gardens

Recommended specialist books, monographs, historic gardens and data sources.

Growing all Sorts of Stuff

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Why You Might want to Grow Edible Stuff

  • Food stuff is top of the list in Mazlow’s hierarchy of need.
  • ‘Growing your own’ to feed the family has been a priority for centuries.
  • Farmers, market gardeners and smallholders all contribute edible stuff as do allotment holders and the majority of gardeners.
  • Windowsills, greenhouses, conservatories and sunny sheltered spots can be used to grow tomatoes and salad crops for example.
  • Herbs add taste to many dishes  and  basil, mint, parsley, rosemary and chillies,  are all stuff you can grow quite easily.
  • Stuff called Curcurbits such as courgettes, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers are comparatively easy to grow with a bit of shelter and warmth.
  • Tasty specialties are now more commonplace but Pineapples were grown in special stove houses in the 17th and 18th centuries.

What Other Stuff You Might want to Grow

  • Man can’t live by bread alone so aesthetic stuff needs to be grown to feed the inner man.
  •  Flowers and decorative plants come in all shapes and sizes. Cacti, Holly, Ivy and poinsettia are seasonal stuff you can try.
  • Stuff for indoors includes a range of bulbs and windowsill plants. Old Aspidistra and other evergreen leaved plants have a reputation of cleaning the air. A reputation probably earned when we all had coal fires.
  • Growing stuff in a formal manner from a large landscape to a small Knot garden can be time consuming but rewarding.
  • Organic and environmentally friendly grown stuff has its own reward.
  • Forestry, heath and heather, parks and pleasure grounds all serve a visual or emotional purpose.

How to Grow Stuff

You will have guessed it – read the book!

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Botanical Gardens and Botanics

Definitions and Scope

Botany is the science of plant life. In other descriptions it is the study of plant science or plant biology. A botanist is one who studies botany.

A botanic is a drug or medicinal preparation obtained from a plant or plants. 

Botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education.”

Oxford Botanic Gardens and Magdalen College Tower.

This garden, the oldest in the UK was founded in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research

The original Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) was founded in 1762  with the larger site opening in 1846. It provides inspiration for botanists, gardeners and the public with an array of 8000 plant species. As a university garden it has a resources for research and teaching based on a collection of living plants labelled with their botanical names. CUBG is one of 1600 heritage-listed gardens  which are based on ‘designed’ landscapes, rather than on planting or botanical importance.

Chelsea Physic Garden was established as the Apothecaries’ Garden  in 1673

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Durham University Botanic Garden plus other University led botanic gardens at Leicester and Bristol

Ness Botanic Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Sheffield Botanic Garden has been restored  with  different garden areas with plants from all over the world, this 19-acre Gardenesque-style botanical garden is a diverse one to visit. As with other good botanic gardens it holds National Plant Collections in Sheffields case Weigela, Diervilla and Sarcococca.

National Botanic Garden of Wales

Belfast College Park, Botanic Avenue

Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contains exotic plants in a massive 137-hectare garden’

Singapore Botanic Gardens founded  in 1859 has Singapore’s  National Orchid Garden holding a collection of more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids

Other large cities have notable botanic gardens including Sidney, New York, Kirstenbosch, Padova, Munchen and Montreal.

Botanic Labeling

cyclamen cilicium

Botanic label and specimen containing the  family name Myrsinaceae, or the myrsine family and origin S W Turkey. The species name Cyclamen Cilcium, the forma as two cultivars have been named but there are many similar wild forms. The number is the accession number 4 digits show the year the plant was first acquired  then last four numbers are sequential numbers.

Myrsinaceae is a rather large family from the order Ericales, that includes Cyclamen among 30+ genera.

RHS Plant label information downloadable

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Hibiscus senensis

The flamboyant Hibiscus senensis is now readily available as a housplant from garden centres. This yellow flower was growing on an Italian road side.

In a conservatory this evergreen is a neat rounded shrub. Good drainage and light are required for good flowering but plants can have a very long life.

If you want to know more about the species of Hibiscus you could do worse than read a book ‘Hibiscus Hardy and Tropical Plants for the Garden’ by Barbara Taylor Lawton extracts of which can be found here.

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Botanical Illustration and Gardener’s Art Books

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For something a bit different this book on botanic art covers some of the unusual colours from black flowers, plants and seaweed like strange green, blue and puce pink.

Contemporary Botanical Illustration with the Eden Project: Challenging Colour and Texture by Rosie Martin and Meriel Thurstan

For more see below

Alternatively look at the illustrations in Mr Marshall’s Flower Book

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Books from the art world

The quality that you might expect from Kew

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For a how too guide I am currently using this library book as my step to step guide.

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Quick Guide to Chelsea Designers & Gardens

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‘Take Chelsea Home’ by Chris Young shows the “Best Garden Design from the Chelsea Flower Show”. Below is a brief preview of the 2010 gardens and designers.

  1. Tom Stuart-Smith; The Laurent-Perrier a champagne of gardens featuring a woodland of birches.
  2. Roger Platts; The M&G garden roses for the main sponsor.
  3. Sue Hayward; The Stephen Hawkins MND garden with unusual plants.
  4. Pual Stone; Place of Change a large community design.
  5. Leeds City Council; Hesco garden trying to pretend Leeds is  a tourist destination.
  6. James Wong;  Malaysia tourism garden, now here is a tourist destination.
  7. Robert Myers; Cancer Research garden, charities normally perform well at Chelsea.
  8. James Towillis; The L’Occitane garden a landscape of Provence.
  9. Andy Sturgeon; Daily Telegraph garden with international plants
  10. Thomas Hoblyn; F&C Investments garden that should grow better than the investments.
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Bonanza of Nasturtium Flowers

When it gets backendish as October begins to give way to colder nights, have a look around your garden.
The Nasturtiums are still flowering strongly as they clamber up this wall but one good frost will see them turn soggy and die. As Nasturtiums are good at self-seeding I will doubtless get many new plants next year without any effort.

Nasturtium
Tips Growing Nasturtiums

  • Nasturtiums do well in poor soil. If the soil is too rich then you will get more leaf than flower.

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Gardening Magazines Top 10

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Top Ten Gardening Magazines

Gardens Illustrated a respected glossy that aims to be a ‘style bible’ for serious gardeners.
Gardeners’ World, the UK’s biggest selling monthly gardening magazine provides you with key practical advice and tips, just when you need it! You can get a subscription by clicking the link on the right.
Grow Your Own delivers clear practical advice every month. Especially good for vegetable growers.
Garden News a weekly newspaper format with offers and articles. 50 years old this year so they get some things spot on.
The English Garden seeks out gardens from ‘the length and breadth of the country’
Amateur Gardening weekly features some of the most trusted names in gardening, including Anne Swithinbank, Peter Seabrook and Bob Flowerdew.
Garden Answers provides 50 answers to you questions per issue
Kitchen Garden for gardeners who love to grow their own fruit and vegetables whether this is on the allotment or vegetable patch.
Homes and Gardens and House and Gardens joint 10th are glossys with an inspiring mix of stunning houses, glorious gardens, gorgeous decorating and contemporary products for your home.
Organic Gardening have gathered the basics of organic gardening for you here. You’ll be able to find where to get your soil tested, learn how to manage pests without using chemicals, and read growing guides for vegetables and flowers.

Special Mentions

The Garden the RHS monthly magazine (free with a subscription) full of handy gardening tips, ideas and superb photography so you’ll have the latest gardening issues to hand.
The Plantsman (shown above) is an excellent quarterly from the RHS with negligible advertising, through research and detailed articles.
Garden Design Journal quarterly is the only gardening magazine in the UK dedicated solely to garden design.
Which Gardening is an excellent way of being kept informed on the best way to spend or save money in your garden.

Do not forget the link on the right for a couple of the above subscriptions.

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Rudbeckia Choosing and Growing Tips

York

Over 1500 posts are available on Gardeners tips and Rudbeckia has been covered several time before. I make no apology for this as they are a handsome plant worth considering for their long flowering season that lasts well into autumn.

Rudbeckia are perennial plants that form rounded clumps. They are easily raised from seed available from Thompson Morgan and other merchants.  Plants will grow in semi-shade or full sun without much help.

Types of Rudbeckia to Grow

  • Rudbeckia hirta is probably worth growing as a half-hardy annual.  Named varieties include Goldilocks, Irish Eyes, Toto, Autumn Forest and Prairie Sun.
  • Rudbeckia missouriensis is a rockery sized plant growing 12-16″ and flowering profusely
  • Rudbeckia laciniata will grow up to 10 feet tall in moist soil and flowers with a lemon petal and green centre.
  • Rudbeckia maxima is even taller than laciniata with blue green leaves and large ray flowers.
  • Rudbeckia speciosa is a traditional hardy plant like the one shown above.
  • Rudbeckia occidentalis Green Wizard has a brown centre with green petals on the flowers.

Read Other Rudbeckia Posts

Or buy the definative book ‘Rudbeckia: Rudbeckia Hirta, Rudbeckia Fulgida, Rudbeckia Laciniata, Rudbeckia Triloba, Rudbeckia Pinnata, Rudbeckia Maxima, Rudbeckia Alpicola’ from amazon for under a tenner.

Gardeners tips on Easy Autumn Rudbeckia

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Gardening as a Business

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How to Start Your Own Gardening Business
An Insider Guide to Setting Yourself Up as a Professional Gardener is a useful tutorial if you want to set up a gardening business. I recommend you consider your aspirations and limitations carefully and either set up a ‘Life Style business’ or consider becoming a qualified, professional career gardener.

Life Style Gardener

  • There are many jobs from spring onward for jobbing gardeners. Lawyers hang out a shingle but for gardeners a post card in the post office usually suffices.
  • Labouring on hedges and lawns for the infirm or doing small construction and garden maintenance projects are within the grasp of most hobby gardeners.
  • If your work is good then word of mouth should get you lots of referals.
  • Hourly rates in the North of England vary from £6- £20 per hour depending on the level of horticultural skill, experience and quality of garden. Ask around amongst those already in business.

Career Gardener

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Crocus Buying & Cultivation Tips

Croci?

Crocus Cultivation Tips

 

  • Allow foliage to die back. Do not tie foliage because it weakens the bulb and flowers for next year.
  • A little bonemeal in spring will help build up corms and bulbs for next year.
  • Crocus often like a rather heavy but well drained soil. Enrich sandy soil with leafmould.
  • If troubled with mice or squirrels eating corms, place wire netting just below the soil surface.
  • Bring a pot of Crocus into the house when the first buds show and keep in a light cool spot.
  • Allow species crocus to self seed to increase your display in years to come.
  • Suspend black cotton over the buds to stop them being attacked by birds.
  • After the foliage fades Crocus can be lifted and split every 4-5 years to avoid over crowding. Leave them be if they are naturalised under grass.
  • Mulch with garden compost only sparingly 5cm deep.

Types of Crocus

Colchium Autumnale Album

  • Autumn Crocus  flower before the leaves and are also sold as Colchium. If autumn is dry water the corms.
  • Crocus vernalis tend to have larger bulbs and spring blooms.
  • Crocus chrysanthus like sun or light dappled shade and a lighter soil.
  • Species Crocus Tommasinianus, C.sativus, C. angustifolius C. biflorus, C. korolkowii and C. olivieri will grow well under a late leafing shrub.

ledsham crocus

Buying Hints and Advice

  • Buy firm plump bulbs.
  • Avoid bulbs that are in the least bit soft.
  • Avoid bulbs which are already sprouted and showing green.
  • Avoid any bulbs that show signs of fungus, spots, rot or mould.
  • Buy as soon as Crocus become available and plant September-November

crocus

I have just planted 100+ crocus around a new Paperbark Acer and a similar number in a variety of pots and containers. When the containers have flowered the crocus will be fertilised and planted out.

See our other photos
Bulb: A Hand-Picked Selection of the World’s Most Beautiful Bulbs by Anna Pavord is a personal selection and authoritative guide to the most gorgeous bulbs on the earth.
Anna Pavord, world-famous author of “The Tulip”, writes charmingly about her favourite subject from Acis to Zigadenus via Tulip and Crocus.

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