Weeping Willow in Trim


There are 400+ species of Willow tree from creeping alpines to the large Weeping Willows of river bank fame.The Weeping Willow has a short life span relative to most other species of less than 50 years and a rapid growth rate. After 20 years the typical Weeping Willow will reach up to 50 feet high depending on variety. For larger garden use ask your nursery man to help you select a restrained variety.

History -In 1908 a German nursery produced a cross between Salix alba the White Willow (a native of water meadows) and Salix babylonica grown in the UK since 1740’s.
Cuttings of single stems up to 6 feet long will root easily and most Willows cross pollinate.
Don’t plant Weeping Willows too near drains or buildings the roots are large and strong. Three times the eventual height or 30 Yards is a safe distance but if you want to avoid subsidence that is the only safe place to plant it.
Don’t prune, the shape is never quite the same afterwards but as you can see the trailing branches on this mature specimen have been trimmed neatly to the same length.
Uses for Willows include the manufacture of cricket bat blades, extraction of chemicals to make asprin and woven willow hedges and wind breaks.

Catkins are produced in spring by male and female trees with the male generally more showy.



Growing Blue Ceanothus or Californian Lilac


This Sea of Ceanothus blooms is typical of this densely flowering shrub. Most Ceanothus are blue flowering, evergreen shrubs from low growing prostrate forms to good sized bushes (this one is 5 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide).
The blooms are very attractive to bees and hover flies and during flowering it is covered from dawn till dusk with pollinating insects. They grow from cuttings so I have take to dotting them around the garden in case I loose one or two but they seem quite hardy.

Varieties of Ceanothus

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Gardening Quotes

Alys Fowler ‘Gardening is something you do not some thing you buy.’

Vita Sackville West ‘ Successful gardening is not necessarily a question of wealth but of love, taste and knowledge.’

Alan Coren ..’You and I be a-diggin’ and a-stretchin’ and a-sweatin’ as we work away with that most indispensable of gardening tools, the wallet.’

Chris Bayles of Rosemoor   ‘ A horticultural sweetshop.’

RHS on AGM  ‘ Some people in the trade are muddying the waters, because it is cheaper for them…’

Monty Don ‘It is the space between plants and objects that make a garden interesting’

Alan Titchmarsh ‘ In gardening circles Beth (Chatto) has become something of a legend in her own lifetime. It was she who turned peoples eye’s towards out-of-the-ordinary plants back in the 1960’s when she opened her Unusual Plant Nursery at Elmstead Market.’

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Container Ship

Any port in a storm or any container in a garden!
If you have shipped a load of plants into your garden recently you may want a new vessel to hold them in. It can be a Titanic struggle to make your car-go to the local nursery but if you let a Fittonia Pink Star board your car until you get back to the car port you will stop me dredging up any more terrible puns.

Maritime Plants

  • A Hosta named Titanic – goes well with Iceberg roses or Lettuce – just a tip.
  • Sea Holly useful for Christmas at sea and Docks useful all the time if the Captain is nettled
  • A Rose named Seagull a white rambler seems appropriate, whilst others are called Sea Foam, Sea Pearl, Seashell and Seaspray even sea-ling Wax.
  • Dragon boat flower ‘Ixora’
  • The earliest boat plant hybrid I could find was the ‘Pink’  or Dianthus ‘Joan of Arc’.

Simple Garden Design Ideas


Two Colour Contast

This planting creates a great impression; it gives the old fashioned cottage garden look. It is lovely combination of white and red (with just a hint of blue in the background). Two colours that contrast very well. Note a third colour would be unlikely to improve this picture. Sometimes two colours can be very effective

White Garden

If it’s good enough for Vita Sackville-West, it’s good enough for us – White Garden’s

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Make it a Good Year


Some years are better than others for certain plants and crops. This year seems to be an excellent year for Honeysuckle and wherever I go I see and smell the wonderful blossom. Do not assume the same plants will perform the same next year. Apple trees some times crop every other year as though they have expended more energy than they intended (see below).

Unfortunately every year seems to be a good year for weeds and Dandilion Bitter Cress and Water Avens seems to love my garden. That could be down to my husbandry so I have looked at some tips that might help for next year.

A Good Year 2010

  • Work done this year will help create a great year in 2010.
  • Buds and framework stems on fruit trees and shrubs are growing and developing ‘as we speak’ . Treated well most plants will contribute to making next year a success. Continue Reading →

Tips for Annuals


Whatever annuals you choose to grow there are several ways to get the best from them in your garden.

Control Annual Seeding

  • Annual plants raison d’êtra (reason for being) is to procreate and help the species survive. Use this to your advantage by stopping your annuals setting seed. If annuals set seed it is a sign the job is done and flowering will stop.
  • Pick flowers for indoors, Sweet Peas can be picked every day to encourage new flowers and prevent early demise of the plant. Alternatively trim, deadhead or shear off old flowers as they go over but prior to setting seed to get a new flush of flowers.
  • If you wish to collect seed for next year wait until late August when plants will begin to stop producing new flowers anyway as the days get shorter.
  • Water and space are probably more important than feed. Some plants like poor soil to encourage flowering, Nasturtiums for example will produce a lot of leaf if the soil is too rich and fewer flowers.
  • Cut off flower heads of annuals you do not want to crop up everywhere. Teasels, Honesty, Welsh Poppies and  Bellis Daisies seem to get everywhere in my garden.
  • Pull out old plants and compost them when you have finished with them. Replace with some biennials for a quick show next spring or plant up some late flowering Asters or Chrysanthemums.

Remember some plants may be half-hardy perennials, like the Antirrhinum  but are best treated as Annuals and should be grown for one flowering year only. Annuals make good cut flowers and have a fast range of colours from which to choose.

Other Resources

Royal Horticultural Society RHS ‘Gardening for All’
National Council for Conservation of Plants and Gardens ‘Conservation through Cultivation.’
Garden Organic National Charity for Organic Gardening.
BBC Gardening
Buy Daisies and other annuals as seeds and plants at Thompson & Morgan


Companion Planting


‘Good Companions’ by J B Priestley is not a gardening book but it might well have been as it is a tightly observed text on relationships and how one supports the other. Three main reasons for companion planting are mutual feeding, aesthetic considerations and technical or horticultural reasons. Many people will grow Marigolds or Tagetes in close proximity to Tomato plants to distract white fly.

Good Companions

  • Good companions also act as living mulches suppressing weeds and  keeping the roots nice and cool.
  • Form and texture combinations can work well such as spiky Phormiums with the glaucus leaves of Sedum.
  • I like to vary the height with companion planting using annuals like Alyssum or ground cover under taller shrubs and trees.
  • Colour combinations are a whole subject too themselves. Complementary colours or contrasting colours it is your choice but a bit of thought and some serendipity will help.

Companions for Roses.

  • Garlic bulbs are said to ward off aphids and other members of the onion family such as chives, ornamental alliums are rumored to increase the perfume of roses and prevent black spot.
  • The purple and blue-gray  Nepeta Catmint or the lime green Alchemilla works well with any pale pink roses and the wispy spires gracefully camouflage any blemishes that may occur on the rose’s foliage.
  • Herbs and other aromatic plants make wonderful rose companions.  Lavender, scented Geraniums, Feverfew, Parsley and Thyme may suit.
  • Tomatoes allegedly prevent black spot but not many people will be inclined to combine roses and tomatoes.

Bad Companions

  • Not all combinations work;  Beans and Onions do not coexist very well.
  • Strawberries and Tomato will not do as well with brassicassuch as  Cabbage.
  • Cucumbers are tempremental when planted near Potatoes or strong herbs.
  • Watch out in your garden and see what ornamental plants make Bad Companions and let us know what you discover.

Other Resources

Royal Horticultural Society RHS ‘Gardening for All’
National Council for Conservation of Plants and Gardens ‘Conservation through Cultivation.’
Garden Organic National Charity for Organic Gardening.
BBC Gardening


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