Archive | Environment & Green Gardening

Tips for ecologically friendly gardeners and gardens that green and protect the environment.

Is Green a Colour?

The answer to the question is ‘of course green is a colour.’ Green is a mixture, a hybrid in gardening terms, as it is made from yellow and blue combined in varying quantities. But the emphasis is on the ‘made from’ of this answer.  The leaves above contain a higher proportion of blue whilst those below are more yellow in content.

Green is fixed in our minds when we are taught the colours of the rainbow. Mnemonics and acronyms includeed Richard Of York Gained Battle In Vain, ROYGBIV,   Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo and Violet, Roy G. Biv,  and the song ‘Red and orange and yellow and green, blue and indigo violet too………….I can sing a rainbow’

Red is the complementary colour to green. They are opposite each other on the colour wheel.   A splash of red brings out the many contrasting green shades in this photograph.



There are many shades of green counted in the Irish  song ‘The 40 Shades of Green’. It is surprising how many of these shades use plants as a reference to the type of green colour such as; lime, pea, sage, olive, fern, juniper, shamrock, mint, moss, pine, seaweed and forest green (below with Lime) which all spring to mind.

Forgive this word play as here we have ‘Bowling Green’.

Frosted green has a blue hue as would most gardeners working in the cold.

The last Green picture is one of my favourite Hart’s Tongue Fern.

This post has been an excuse to use some of the many pictures of plant life that all rely on photosynthesis and chlorophyll to produce the greens we see.



No Chemical Pest Control

No Chemical Pest Control

The world is made up of chemicals and they are not all bad. Where would we be without oxygen for example. However chemical control to kill ‘pests’ is often harmful to the environment and other wildlife. Many persecuted pests are not actually harmful to gardens or can be effectively controlled using other measures:-

  • Encourage natural predators of  specific pests.  Ladybirds and lacewings love to eat aphids. Frogs and hedgehogs go for slugs and if you want birds they have to eat something.
  • Biological controls introduce one killer insect to predate another; Whitefly can be targeted by a parasitic wasps.
  • Hand picking problems like the red lily beetle may be time consuming and intensive but is therapeutic for the Lily and the gardener. Removing and squashing caterpillars from brassicas is an old remedy .
  • Water spraying with  a light soap solution has been used for some time to remove aphids. Add plant oils and other organic based substances like garlic to the water for an environment friendly solution solution!
  • For my Tomatoes I companion plan French marigolds to distract predatory insects from the tomatoes.
  • Barriers from rabbit & deer fences to slug traps are chemical free. Slugs do not like copper  or the sharp edges of eggshells.
  • Think on about appropriate garden practice and methods like raised beds, crop rotation and good soil conditioning.

Leave Well Alone

  • You do not need to remove the pest completely but are aiming to protect your plants and crops from serious damage. Many creatures we think of as pests are seen by some desirable creatures as food.
  • Encouraging more diversity within the garden will prove beneficial.
  • Ants are unsettling but benign and do not do much damage to flowers and crops.If possible leave the ants to carry on.
  • Consider the whole food chain and be cautious before using any chemical. Remember the song Ilkley Moor Baht’at, after we’ve buried thee, worms will eat thee up, then ducks will eat up worms, we will eat up ducks and then we shall all have etten thee!
  • Piles of rotting wood, nettle beds and nature zones are better than obsessive cleaning up.

Garden Sky and Colour Effects

What colour is the sky? A strange question too a gardener perhaps but there are good gardening reasons for asking.

  • The standard answer from a young child would probably blue and that is what we want in summer as a sign of good weather. In winter it may indicate a spell of sharp frosty days. The sky takes on a deeper blue hue that saturates colours from mid morning to late afternoon.
  • Harsh mid day light produces high contrast between light and shadow. This depend on weather condition, because on a cloudy day the light is diffused.
  • An overcast sky is a result of no direct sunlight moisture in the atmosphere or air pollution that causes haze and the sky to appears to be pale blue or even milky white.
  • In the early morning or at sunset your sky can be red, orange, purple and/or yellow  but where I live, too often it seems  to be grey. These colour  arise from the absorption or not of various parts of the  spectrum. This also has a profound effect on how you see the colour of flowers.
  • Blue and white colours are called cool temperatures that tend to recede in a picture. The warm colours of yellow through to red come forward to the viewer.
  • Clouds are seldom if ever white, have a very close look and you will see lots of shades. Grey may predominate but the variety of shades will be multitudinous.
  • Colour temperature is measured in Kelvins

Other Sky and Plant Pictures Continue Reading →


Pollination of Crocus by Insects

Pollination crocus
Insects play a key role in pollination and plants reward them with pollen and nectar in a symbiotic process.

Children can learn from watching bees buzz around the open flowers on a warm spring day.
The sun encourages the crocus flowers to open. This releases a scent that attracts the bees. The bees drink the nectar and get pollen on their legs and backs. When they fly off to the next flower they transfer some pollen from the first flower to the second flower and this causes pollination.

Pollen on Bee

Some flowers are pollinated by beetles rather than bees and flies.

Book Cover
How Pollination Works and Why Insects are So Important The First Flowers A book explaining how pollination works as a light and funny children’s story available from Amazon at £9.99

At the other end of the educational spectrum is Pollination and Floral Ecology by Pat Willmer costing around £61.75

Book Cover

Read Pollinators for Green Gardening


10 Green Gardening Habits


Green Green it\'s Green they Say

Get into Green Habits

  1. Work with nature. Grow native plants which will thrive in your local conditions. If you live in an arid area choose plants which are tolerant of draught. Labouring in a garden is healthy, satisfying, cheap and can be fine tuned to your own vision of your environment.
  2. Grow a good variety of plants including, shrubs and hedges for nesting, nectar plants and caterpillar food such as nettles.
  3. Do not be too tidy under hedges, keep a rough area to encourage wild life, keep a pile of logs or branches to rot down and an uncut grass area with a few weeds.
  4. Put up home made birds nesting boxes, bee nests with hollow tubes, and make areas safe from predators.
  5. Provide appropriate food and water for birds and hedgehogs. Birds and hedgehogs can be great eaters of slugs!
  6. Reuse, recycle, repurpose and retry if you fail, because that is what gardeners do. Don’t worry if your garden is not perfection – it is not a finished painting, but, an evolving organism.
  7. Have a fast compost bin for soft waste and a slow one for twigs and harder matter plus a wire frame for leaf mould. Compost provides one of the best organic soil improvers.
  8. Try growing your own herbs and vegetables without chemicals but using complementary planting.e.g. Tomatoes and French marigolds, Brassicas with Onions and Leeks
  9. Keep your greenhouse unheated but insulate tender plants with straw. You will be less encouraged to buy imported plants from exotic regions and will save fuel.
  10. Maintain your green sense of humour and green fingers but don’t become green with envy when your neighbours buy the latest Chinese electronic gardening gizmo.

Hedgerows Worth Watching

Hedgerow flowers

January started the year quite well with a few early snowdrops and the remnants of primulas. February will be even better snow permitting. Leap forward to June which is a spectacular month for flowering hedgerows and particularly in the under-storey.

Identifying plants whilst out walking as a child, was my first introduction to the environment and natural gardening. There is still a buzz seeing a plant growing in the wild that some careful gardeners has subsequently developed for the garden or nursery trade.

Why not under-plant your garden hedges with native species of hedgerow flowers. The trick is to leave them undisturbed, unfed and untreated with chemicals. I would bank up the soil to start your hedge’s lower storey.

Hedgerows by County

  • I nominate Somerset as my favourite hedgerow county but I would like to know what other UK counties can lay claim to be hedgerow county 2010.
  • Cornish hedgerows have a soil banking (so that helps the smaller plants) with a rocky top and shrubs.
  • Devon hedges are similar to Cornwall but with turf on and at the top of the banking.
  • The Yorkshire Dales tends to have dry stone walls rather than hedges but the understorey plants can still be attractive.
  • In Perth, near Blairgowrie, is the tallest and longest hedge on earth. Meikleour Beech Hedge, planted in 1745, is 98 ft in height and nearly half a mile long. (I wouldn’t want to trim it).

Book Cover

‘Hedgerows, moors, meadows and woods – these hold a veritable feast for the forager.’ and all is laid bear in the River Cottage Handbook. Book link

The English Hedgerow Trust provided this apposite quote from Shakespeare.

I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite canopied over with luscious woodbine
With sweet muskroses and with eglantine.

For a bit of fun read Copper Beech Hedges
Green Garden Habitats


Gardeners Year for Organic Fruit and Veg

Book Cover

‘Organic Fruit and Vegetable Gardeners Year, The A Seasonal Guide to Growing What You Eat’ by Graham Clarke

Yesterdays Gardeners Question Time on radio 4 featured many questions on this subject. The main advice that appealed to me was to concentrate on growing more fruit. (We all more likely to take the advice we want to hear.)

Gardeners Tips on Organic Fruit Growing

Organic Principles
Organics should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animals and humans as one.
Organic growing is based on ecological systems and cycles that are worked with and sustained.
Organic gardening should be done in a precautionary manner to protect the health and well being of current and future generations.
Organics promotes the concept of fairness with regard to common environment and life opportunities.

Soil Fertility

Chemical fertility is the availability in the soil of all the elements, nutrients, ions,   traces and inorganic chemicals that plants need to grow.
Biological fertility includes micro organisms that help nutrient recycling’ including fungi, bacteria and protozoa that clean up bacteria. It also covers macro organisms such as arthropods that break down organic matter in the early stages of decomposition, worms that help drainage and aeration and nematodes that help in various ways but   occasionally act as pests.
Physical fertility is the mix of sand, silt and clay that makes up the soil and determines texture, ability to hold water and sustain life.

Weed Management Continue Reading →


Conservation Mixes of Seeds

If you want a new idea in seeds that will help create an eco-friendly garden try these mixed from Wallis seeds or our seed suppliers.

Beetle and Insect Bank a mixture of grasses to encourage beetles and insects to feed and breed. Can be planted in a small area in the garden

Pollen and Nectar Mix. A good mixture of flowers and grasses for butterflies, insects and birds to feed. A sunny area may be best but a small space will suit.

Wild Bird Mixture of plants producing seed or providing cover for birds. Ideal for small birds like finches, buntings and sparrows.

Clover Mix – red and white clover ideal for butterflies and helpful for bees

Bumble Bee & Butterfly mix to attract what it the name implies plus other insects
Continue Reading →


Winged Insects in your Garden

This summer has been damp and the plants have grown lush. In some way this has contributed to a dramatic cut in the number of greenfly on my roses and other plants (perhaps they found other feeding grounds or did not mate as prolifically).

By contrast there have been lots of Bees and Flies and last week the Wasps came for my plums and apples. On the bright side it has been easier to get some photographs that would other wise not been practical. The fly wings show up well against the Cystus that if flowering for the second time this year.

Like many gardeners I regard Ladybirds as posative helpers in the garden. It is therefore a concern to be confronted with the aggressive Harlequin Ladybird that is invading  and threatening our 45 native species. Originally from Japan it was introduced to North America 20 years ago as an aphid control and it now out numbers all American species. Log any UK sightings here.


Uses for Crab Apples

Crab apples can be used as food, for ornamental effect, to help pollination, or for the wood. The wild crab apple found individually in woods has green fruit turning golden in Autumn. Cultivated crab apples vary in habit and grow upto 10 feet. Fruiting this year looks like a bumper harvest after the wet weather earlier in the year.

Crab Apples make attractive ornamental trees with their pink or white blossom, followed by colourful autumn fruits that make delicious preserves. Varieties John Downie, Golden Hornet, Laura and Red Sentinel are all self fertile. Crab apples planted near fruiting apple trees make excellent pollinators and will help pollinating bees to increase your crops.

Crab apples are used to make jelly, pickles or can be roasted and served with meat or added to winter ale or cider. Any unpicked fruits will soften after a few frosts and will create a sumptuous food source for wild birds from late January until March. For a jelly recipe with a chillie kick try Cottage Smallholder

The timber of the crab apple is uniform in texture and if dried slowly, is excellent for woodworking. At one time it was used for making set-squares and other drawing instruments. Failing that apple wood burns in your chimenea of fire grate with a nice aroma.

Order now for winter delivery Crab Apples at Thompson & Morgan


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