Archive | Gardening

General gardening tips and hints

Marianne North Botanical Traveller

Book Cover

Botanical Traveller

‘Marianne North, an unmarried middle-aged Victorian lady of comfortable means, set off in 1871 on her first expedition to make a pictorial record of the tropical and exotic plants of the world. Marianne produced more than 860 paintings which are housed in a special gallery at Kew.

Biographical Notes

  • Marianne North was born in 1830 in Hastings where her father was a well to do member of Parliament.
  • She traveled  with her father until his death in 1871 after which, at the age of 41, she visited North America, Jamaica and Brazil.
  • In 1875 she visited the Americas, Japan, India, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Later visiting Java, Seychelles and Chile. All the while she was painting the species and specimen plants she discovered.
  • A variety of plants were painted in situe and five were named after her.
  • The majority of her paintings were given to Kew Gardens and she funded and organised  a gallery in which to display them.
  • The gallery is unusual because it contains 832 paintings almost her entire work.
  • The Marianne North Gallery is one of the most popular attractions of Kew Garden and the paintings still remain in their original Victorian arrangement.
  • Whilst in USA she became friendly with Edward Lear, U.S. President Grant, and Charles Darwin. Julia Margaret Cameron photographed her in Ceylon.

Mangrove swamp Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; (c) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (book); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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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New for Ponds or Renovated Ponds

I may be behind the times but here are some new, or new to me, ideas to enhance your garden pond this summer.

New Pond Design

‘Islandscapes’ and Floating Planters

‘The Next Big Wave In Ponds’ (Oh please) ‘enhance the beauty and biological health of ponds, providing innovative filtration and a lush growing environment for terrestrial plants. lslandscapes offer food and fun for fish, frogs and other wildlife’ according to the blurb on Freedomponds.com
Velda do several floating planters made in covered styrofoam.


Ecopond Tadpole Food

I have to admit to never thinking of feeding tadpoles but if I did here is the answer. Ecopond Tadpole Food provides the nutrition that tadpoles need up to the point where they develop back legs (4-6 weeks after free swimming begins). See also frogspawn tips on Gardeners Tips

Preformed Ponds

Pond

Rubberised or rigid plastic ponds are one of the easiest methods of creating a new pond. I bought one in a kidney shape with 3 different depths created by shelves. It saved a lot of hard work once I had dug an appropriate hole!
In one garden I saw such a preformed pond raised up rather than buried and think that is a creative idea if you can support the weight of water.

Pond Liners

Now you can cover black PVC liners with a stone coating. This makes the black edge of a pond look natural with a pebble or stone finish. Sold in various widths it could be used to finish off a butyl lined pond or as a run off into your garden proper. The brand I have seen is Oase Stone Liner.

All these products are available from the links above or a specialist like Bradshaws of York. Amazon supply the preformed ponds.

Pond Renovation

  1. As winter approaches all ponds need a bit of tlc to see them through the winter.
  2. If removing dead leaves and waste from the bottom of the pond leave the sludge on the edge so any small creatures can crawl back into the water.
  3. Repair leaks to prevent having to regularly top up the water. Evaporation is unavoidable so you may want to think of easy top-up methods.
  4. Create ways of stopping leaves dropping into the pond. Nets are unsightly unless semi submerged. Barrier hedges of box to stop prevailing winds may help.
  5. Make edges safe and secure. Reinforce and renew if necessary any childproof measures.

Read more on Preformed Pond Shapes including installation tips.

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The Perfect Rose

Rose

When Roses are in full bloom I can’t resist taking photos of them. With this rose I tried putting white paper behind the rose to highlight its colour. The rose below is taken with a dark background but is still satisfactory.

Rose

Rose

It is far from perfect, but, still very nice.
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Swiss Chard a Vegetable Show Stopper

Swiss Chard Traffic Lights

Autumn sunshine sets off the traffic lights in the vegetable plot. A low angle for the rays of sunshine creates an extra opportunity to appreciate this vegetable. I like the leaf texture and think Chard can look so colourful that I will grow some amongst the flowers for next year.

Swiss Chard Varieties

  • Ruby Red has stunning deep veins and can be picked young.
  • Bright Lights is a seed mixture ready within a month.
  • Lucullus with a clean white stem.
  • Bright Yellow as it says on the label
  • Leaf Beet Rhubarb Chard is deep red burgundy coloured.
  • Leaf Beet Bulls Blood is used as a salad leaf.

available from Thompson & Morgan

Eating Swiss Chard

  • Also called Leaf Beet, Swiss Chard is similar to spinach with a slightly bitter flavour.
  • Swiss Chard is pungent and tastes slightly salty.
  • It contains an exceptionally impressive list of health promoting nutrients and is definately one of your five a day.
  • Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible, although the stems vary in texture with the white ones being the most tender.

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Shrubs to Screen Walls

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You can just make out the wall behind this flowering Kerria Japonica. There are other plants to screen walls but the soil is likely to be dry and impoverished so chose with care.

Kerria Japonica
Planted towards the back of the border this shrubs habit can be scruffy looking and the serrated foliage is rather un-interesting. Kerria loves sun but is drought, heavy clay soil and exposed location tolerant.
Kerria is a tough plant suitable for problem areas that makes it ideal for fast growing screening.

Arbutus unedo
Wonderful all-rounder with reddish stems and good bark, glossy leaves, Lily-of-the-Valley flowers and unusual strawberry-like fruits.

Hippophae rhamnoides, Sea Buckthorn
Lovely silvery leaves and bright orange berries.

Mahonia leaves
Mahonia x media Charity
Vigorous architectural shrub with glossy pinnate leaves and scented yellow flowers in winter.

Daphniphyllum macropodum
Seldom grown evergreen, best grown in shade. Large, handsome leaves and scented greenish flowers.

Fatsia japonica
Often sold as a houseplant but perfectly hardy. Huge palmate leaves give a jungly effect. Does well in shade.

Buddleja davidii ‘Dartmoor’
Fast growing shrub with gorgeous magenta-pink flowers in branching panicles. Great for butterflies and sometimes retains its leaves through winter.

Clematis montana Tetrarosa.
Useful for larger areas that need covering. This Clematis montana provides a spectacular burst of colour in late spring with large flowers an a delicate scent.

Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’ or golden privet
Common, but very undervalued — the ‘sunshine’ shrub.

Aucuba japonica ‘Crotonifolia’ or spotted laurel
Tough but handsome with gold splashed leaves and large red berries.

Spotted Laurel

Tomorrows post will discuss Pyracantha

 

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Blue Leaved Plants and Shrubs

Prostrate Juniper

Blue is not the colour you associate with foliage but if you can bend your eyes just a little around the silver – grey through to green spectrum there may be some surprises.

In Praise of Blue Foliage

  • A very distinctive colour attracts the eye in a uniformly green garden
  • Blue works very well with dark coloured leaves such as purples
  • Blue tends to increase the perceived depth of view making blue recede.
  • A fine blue line separates glaucous leaves and silver foliage.
  • Perception of colour is best left to the beholder

Blue Leaved Primulas

  • The bloom or farina on may primulas can look blue. See the Primula kewensis at the foot of the page.
  • Auriculas often display the blue dust.
  • Primrose ‘Arctic Blue’ has deep green leaves but on a frosty morning their foliage turns to shades of icy blue

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Perennial Plant selection from The Oregon

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