Archive | Gardeners

People who garden for a living or for pleasure including designers, writers, presenters, plant hunters and historic figures.

Grandchildren and Gardening

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Gardeners are keen on offspring in the garden when they come from their own propagation. That may not always be the case with grandchildren except in controlled circumstance.
Grandma saw a youngster eating a slug and rather than be critical asked ‘what does that taste like?’ After a pause the kid replied ‘worms’.

Safety of Children in the Garden

  • You can be too prescriptive about musts and don’ts. Commonsense is crucial and grandparents can help teach that to the kids.
  • Garden tools can be very sharp and need to be used correctly, carefully and kept under your supervision.
  • I am prone to leaving items in the garden to trip over and rakes can jump up and hit the unsuspecting. Now grandkids are visiting I am tidying up before after and during the visits.
  • Learning by experience will cover stinging nettles, irritating sap, prickly roses and some other plants to avoid. A warning or two (hundred that is) will still fall on deaf ears – I still get stung and pricked!
  • Not everything belongs in a child’s mouth but  most plant matter will not cause too much harm. However look out for poisonous seeds, Laburnum, Monkshood and anything you grow that you know to avoid eating.
  • Water is seductive and ponds dangerous. I know you will put up protection near open water and remember water and electric tools don’t mix

Keeping Grandchildren Amused

  • If you get rostered into child minding on a regular basis it is worth setting up regular garden related tasks the kids can get involved with.
  • Get them kitted out with waterproof clothes.
  • Don’t push too hard it may put off the next generation of Throwers and Titchmarshes. We may find routine gardening fun but kids may need a bit extra and activity changes every 20 minutes or so.
  • Gardening has lessons for all of us and the kids have a lot to learn from you and your garden or open air classroom.
  • There are lots of lists of easy to grow plants from large easy to handle seeds like sunflowers, Peas and beans but they take ages (eons in kid time) to show life much less crop. The old standby mustard and cress are more reliable.
  • Plant pots, containers, baskets and boxes are all small areas where kids can have there own ‘patch’ so to speak.



Perennial Begging

The Gardeners’ Charity is registered with the charity commission as no.1155156 – GARDENERS’ ROYAL BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. Most gardeners know it as ‘Perennial’. As befits a charity that has been helping horticultural workers for over 175 years it has built up some sizable reserves £43m plus 19 premises and two gardens at the last count. Rather a lot of investments to fund annual payments of only £3.6m or circa 80% of annual income from donations, trading and legacies. (Figures for 2016 are awaited.)

Flush with cash reserves and a conservative spending policy, poor gardeners and horticultural workers should be able to feel some comfort. In a recent mailing I was solicited to donate £25, £50 or £100 in addition to supporting the (expensive) product catalogue. This request wont germinate and bear fruit with me until they are more down to earth and do more for the horticultural workers and families.

The objects of the charity are
1.1.1 the relief and assistance by such means as the trustees shall determine to be appropriate in each case of gardeners or persons who are or who have been in like employment or occupation of those closely involved in gardening or related activities or those training to be gardeners or persons of like occupation and their spouses or widows/widowers or unmarried partners and/or immediate dependants in necessitous circumstances or in circumstances of poverty, illness, disability (whether mental or physical) or old age; and /or
1.1.2 the advancement for the public benefit of education and training in or relating to horticulture or gardening; and/or
1.1.3 the provision, maintenance or assistance in the provision and maintenance of gardens and open space for training, rehabilitation and other charitable purposes for public benefit and in particular the preservation and maintenance of gardens of historic and/or aesthetic importance to be enjoyed by and made available to the public at large;This can include debt advice and financial support to people employed in or retired from the horticultural industry who find themselves in difficulties arising from financial difficulties, ill health, disability, or old age.

The charity employed 38 staff and over 200 volunteers at December 2015.


Gardeners Quotes

I may be a bore at parties and barbeques  but I do know how to get rid of slugs. ed.

public flower bed

Gardeners can appear to be a taciturn bunch but they have a dry sense of humus.
‘A tough looking man came and took our garden gate when he thought nobody was looking. Well I thought it best not to say anything as he might take a fence.’

Gardeners Quotes

‘It should be the gardeners aim to provide ideal conditions for his plants so that they can flourish to the limit of their capacity.’

‘A gardener needs to be an intelligent being rather than just a robot.’ Derek Clifford

‘It is important that the grower acquaints them-self with each species’ natural habitat to enable a good pot grown specimen to be produced.’ Jan Taylor Geraniums and Pelargoniums.

‘Years ago, nearly every garden had a patch of Lily of the Valley that flowered year after year.’ Adam the Gardener

‘Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.’ Lou Erickson

‘In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death.’ Sam Llewelyn

‘What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.’ Charles Dudley Warner

‘A garden is a thing of beauty and a job for ever.’

‘There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.’ Mirabel Osler

‘Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get’ – Mark Twain

‘Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.’

‘Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.’

‘Canny guerrilla gardeners help their plants along and sell their crop giving them the opportunity to invest in new plants and material’. Richard Reynolds On Guerrilla Gardening

‘Keep Calm and Carry on Gardening’

Gardeners Tips Links


Capability Brown Landscape Gardener

Lancelot Brown 1716 – 1783

Lancelot Brown is the most famous gardener who popularised English landscape design. Lancelot Brown’s nickname ‘Capability’ came from his saying about an estate he was commissioned to work on ‘It has great capabilities’ .

During his life he was Sheriff of Huntingdon, gardener to King George III, architect and innovator of ‘Landskip’ gardening. At the age of 24 he went to Lord Cobhams garden at Stowe where he learnt from William Kent who had studies Italian and Grecian gardens and John Vanbrugh. In 1764 Lancelot Brown was appointed Master Gardener at Hampton Court.

Lancelot Brown described himself as a ‘place-maker’ not a ‘landscape gardener’. He didn’t want a series of tableaux within a garden, he wanted a piece of countryside. Formality and straight lines had to go and to avoid fences he created the Ha-ha a sunken version. Flowers were cosigned to walled gardens and trees imported to suit his design.

Some of his designs were elaborate and involved changing hills and lakes and some thought them lavish. After his death the strong vision he had carried through in his work fell out of favour and only in the last century was he fully rehabilitated.

Capability Brown is believed to be responsible for over 170 gardens surrounding the finest country houses and estates in Britain. He never worked in Ireland saying ‘he hadn’t finished England yet. His work still endures at Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle, Harewood House, Milton Abbey and below is a further edited list of his work. Get out and visit some of these 18th century landscapes:-

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Russell Lupin and Lupin Origins

Rustle up some space for Lupins a grand perennial favourite.

Photo cc by Magnio

Originally Lupins (Lupinus polyphyllus) were introduced into Britain from North America in 1826. They had the blue flowered spikes we occasionally saw on railway embankments with some whiter flowers. Fast forward to 1937 and the RHS awarded its highest honour to a ‘ jobbing gardener’ George Russell for developing a strain of Lupins that caused a sensation.

Photo CC  by Thor Thorson 1

Russell developed his Lupins by rigorous selection of seedlings, aiming and achieving a central stalk or spike totally obscured by colourful flowers. Many of us would cut back Lupins after flowering to prevent the setting of seed and weakening the plant, but to George Russell that was the opposite of his intent.

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Top Ten Plant Hunters

Another top ten list this time of top ten plant hunters.
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Carl Linnaeus is known as the father of taxonomy

Sir Joseph Banks possibly the father of Kew accompanied Captain Cook on HMS Endeavour’s voyage to the South Pacific (1768-1771), was involved with the HMS Bounty and breadfruit and many early plant hunts. He was appointed as a of Kew Gardens by George III in 1773. A Joseph Banks Tribute Garden has been established in Lincolnshire which is now part of the National Gardens scheme. Many plants are now named Banksii as a tribute to his collecting, introducing and organising the Plant Hunting of the 18th century.

William Lobb and his brother Thomas Lobb were prolific plant hunters in the Georgian and Victorian era when new plant introductions were in great demand. South America was the terratory where they collected many trees and species for Veitch the nursery.

George Forrest, 1873 – 1932 was a Scot who collected Rhododendron forrestii, R. sinogrande, R. repens, R. griersonianum, R. intricatum and R. giganteum, as well as more than 50 species of primula. Also introduced were numerous buddleias, anemones, asters, deutzias, conifers, berberis, alliums and cotoneasters and plants that now bear his name including Pleione forrestii, Pieris forrestii, Iris forrestii, Acer forrestii.
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Who is Growing in Your Garden?

Flower varieties are often named after famous personages – Queen Elisabeth is probably one of the best known. Her is just a selection of others.

Terry Wogan,  King Edward VII, Charlies Angels, Alan Titchmarsh and Charles Unwin all have had Sweet Peas named after them and that is a lot easier to say than Lathyrus Odoratus. So surprise your neighbours with a patch of Terry Wogans or 3 Charlies Angels.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Esther Read’  now referred to like many Shasta Daisies just as Esther Read was first grown from a stolen railway embankment as a single daisy crossed with the bigger Chrysanthemum maximum by Horace Read. The Read family were plantsmen for over 200 years but it was in 1931 that this plant of it’s time was exhibited. Now the name is eponymous although the original cultivar is seldom available you may have an Esther Read derivative in your garden.

John Baggensen was brought up in his family nurseries in Cardiff and Pembury Kent before introducing a widely used honeysuckle Lonicera nitada ‘Baggensen’s Gold’. Continue Reading →


Slower Gardening 2013

Old Cottonwood Tree

Five years ago I recommended taking gardening at a steady pace, I could have called it slower gardening. Shortly I will give some tips on slower gardening but as a reminder some oak, conifers and other trees come into their own when they are 1000 years old.
how old are yew?

Who Are Slower Gardeners

A slower gardener has infinite patience and may be of any age and from any sex. Continue Reading →


Sourcing Plants that are ‘Good to Grow’

The horticultural trades association (HTA) has over 2700 member locations, many of which are one site nurseries often specialising in a small quality range of own locally produced plants.
The UK gardening industry has a retail turnover of over £5 billion a year and according to the HTA it is a buoyant and growing market. (well it would be growing!)
Rose garden

Garden Centres

  • Like supermarkets the modern garden centres now sell more than plants and garden accessories, they even provide cafes and coffee shops.
  • Much of the stock has been grow abroad and brought to you at the cost of many ‘garden miles’.
  • Garden centres often have special offers and vouchers often designed to get you to spend in a way that extends their selling season. Not quite BOGOFF’s but 4 for 3 at Hayes or 20% off in November on selected items are examples.
  • Stock that is past the retailers sell by date may be reduced. You need to understand why the reduction is offered – if the stock is weak, damaged or unfit then stay well clear.
  • If Tulips, say are reduced in October to make way for Santa and the Christmas stock (that is so important to us gardeners) then fill your gardening boots because Tulips can be planted in November.
  • Normally look these gift horses in the mouth – a cheap wilted plant may never recover
  • There seem to be as many chains of garden centre as there are plants nowadays. Hayes, Dobbies, Strikes, Wyevale, Nocutts, Webbs, Klondyke and RHS are just some of the 130 members of the Garden Centre Association.
  • You may get a money back guarantee but will you return in 12 months to be told you killed the poor little plant.
  • Many large perennial plants can be split before you plant them to make several smaller plants that rapidly grow on. I have just bought and split a robust aster that I bought pot bound from a nursery and got 3 good and several smaller plants that will grow in the next couple of months.

Mail Order Companies

  • I like Thompson & Morgan for seeds and Jersey Direct often have good offers for annuals that provide bulk colour.
  • Buy-in seedlings and grow on yourself. Kinder pots and seedlings at the cost of a seed packet can be an economic way of getting a lot of stock for your garden.
  • Mini mail order plug plants are the next level of cost up but can be good value particularly for seeds that are difficult to germinate like begonias.
  • I like buying seedlings as a way of getting several vegetable varieties that will crop at different times and provide variety and insure against one crop failure.
  • In Praise of the Nursery

  • Of the retail choices available to gardeners my preference is to buy from Nurseries. The stock is likely to be local, hardy and ‘good to grow’.
  • The choice and selection of many varieties may be better although the overall range will be tighter.
  • The knowledge is often detailed and willingly imparted.
  • Many nurseries specialise and offer something different.
  • Owner managed business units need or help it is unnecessary for big business to cream off the profits made from hard working gardeners.
  • Nurserymen and women are some of the most knowledgeable gardeners I know.

All a Gardener Wants for Christmas

What should you give your gardening relatives for Christmas?
Not an out of season plant that will doubtless die after a short indoor performance.
Nor in my mind a Poinsettia that will shed its leaves no matter how good a gardener they are (because it has already stood in a draught.)


As a keen gardener I would be happy to receive vouchers at anytime and at Christmas it beats a shirt, tie or socks into a cocked hat. No I do not need a cocked hat either unless it keeps the rain off.

Vouchers for Gardeners

Amazon vouchers. The range of garden and outdoor products is now quite large and I love gardening books into the bargain.
National Garden tokens are accepted by lots of garden centers and some nurseries.
Seed and supplies are available on tokens from Thompson & Morgan They also accept Tesco Clubcard voucher, Copella voucher, Woodland Trust voucher or Garden News Society vouchers.That is just as well as their vouchers are hard to order on line!
Local nurseries and garden centers often sell vouchers which are bespoke to one nursery (I can always use them for dry goods if there are no plants I want)
Larger multiples – B&Q Gift Cards can be spent on anything at all UK B&Q stores, including the massive range of gardening goods. From sheds to shears, they make a great garden gift. Argos Gift Cards can be spent on the catalogue store’s complete garden range including barbecues, garden decoration, garden power tools and lawnmowers
RHS gift vouchers make great presents and are accepted in any RHS shop, along with HTA vouchers.

Alternative Garden Gifts

If it is a close family member we often make our own homemade gift vouchers. The gift may be cash, time or a service and is often well received as it is very personal.
You can make your own voucher from garden material or the back of a flower photograph. It is the thought that counts.
If you promise some labour don’t forget to deliver on your promise.
Small gifts can be found in cheap ‘pound’ shops – garden twine always comes in and a favourite Aunt may be amused by a plastic snail or garden ornament.

Book Cover
36 Great Christmas Presents for Green Thumbed Friends and Relatives [Kindle Edition] by R.J. Ruppenthal


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