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Edible Hedges You Can Grow & Pick

Edible Hedges You Can Grow & Pick

Sloes and damsons are in good supply this September in your local hedgerows. I have relied on my own blackberries this year but from the train window yesterday there were masses of plump black fruit for picking.

Forage amongst the book shelves to get a cornucopia of edible wild plant ideas.

Book Cover
You can plant your own edible hedge now until late March which will give you a supply of edible fruit and berries for years to come. Bare rooted plants are very reasonably priced.

Easy Step by Step Hedge

Clear the ground to remove weeds and old roots by digging or using Glyphosphate based weedkiller. Leave for a few weeks.
Pick a frost free day and when ready to plant put bundles of bare rooted plants into a bucket of water to give them a drink.
Mark out the line of the hedgerow bearing in mind you will want two staggered rows of plants. You can put down mulch matting and plant through it if you wish.
You will need 4-5 plants per square yard.

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Basic Gardening Tips

Basic Gardening Tips

Three Helpful Gardeners

Plants want to survive, they do not set out to annoy gardeners !  All a gardener needs to do is to help plants to fulfill their ambitions of life and procreation.

As with humans and animals Mazlow’s hierarchic of basic needs applies in the garden. Physiologically water, warmth, food and rest are crucial. Safety needs such as security and a place to live, reproduce and grow plus a bit of esteem or love will help.

Water Tips

  • Soil needs to be able to retain moisture. Extremely sandy or gravelly soil  needs to have lots of humus added perhaps in the form of compost. Tip. Improve the planting hole, make it twice as big and deep as you think you need.
  • Water needs to get down to the ‘drinking roots’ which are often deeper than the feeding surface roots. Water well to get deeper in the ground rather than little and often.
  • Fleshy leafy plants like salad and veg need more water than woody shrubs with fewer leaves to transpire.
  • A small plant pot holds a lot less water than a big pot. It dries quicker, gets hot faster and runs out of food sooner.
  • More houseplants drown than die of thirst. Roots can’t breath under waterlogged conditions.

Warmth Tips

  • Plants tend to be seasonal so consider what you grow and where.
  • Young leafy growth is more likely to be damaged by frost or strong winds.
  • Some roots will die if the ground freezes. A mulch may help.
  • Strong sun can burn shoots and leaves.
  • Hot, dry conditions will desiccate many plants and they can die. Shade a greenhouse in summer.
  • Many plants thrive on good light and dark can be very bad.

Food Tips

  • We all need food and plants are no different.
  • Photosynthesis converts sunlight into sugars for plant food.
  • Water draws food into chlorophylled  leaves for photosynthesis to start.
  • Soil in ‘good heart’ will contain food to be dissolved and feed the plants.
  • Extra food can be provided by granular or liquid fertilisers.
  • Excess fertiliser may encourage weak growth.

Rest and Safety

  • Locate your plants in appropriate surroundings.
  • If the location turns out to be wrong change it or get another plant.
  • Rest easy by sorting disease and pest with controls as soon as possible.
  • Remove competition by weeding.
  • Support plants that grow tall like sweet peas or are prone to wind damage like some perennials.
  • Beware of wind that can damage growth and rock plants to their roots


Windy Ridge

50 Best Seed Merchants and Catalogues

50 Best Seed Merchants and Catalogues

Since I put this list together 7 years ago but I have now started to favour Kings Seeds (Suffolk Herbs) for my vegetables. I also get many more seeds from clubs and organisations rather than merchants.

Seed catalogues


My Regular Suppliers

Thompson-Morgan have 2206 different packets of seeds. Their catalogue is one of the most colourful and once on their list you get regular offers. They are a good partner to Gardeners Tips and if you buy via our link we get a small commission that helps with our costs – Searchable T&M site.

Wallis Seeds have a new web site and are based in   Chelmsford Essex . I like buying by weight for some varieties that I can scatter willy-nilly so 15 gms of Calendula ‘Pacific Beauty’ and ‘Art Shades’ are on the way .

Chiltern Seeds of Ulverston Cumbria have  a 220 page densely packed catalogue.  They are good for providing Latin names and  flowery comments on each variety.

Vegetables Seed Suppliers

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Thrifty Gardening

Thrifty Gardening

Gardening is an area where there are many ways of saving money or reducing costs. A thrifty approach to gardening is not only possible it is highly desirable particularly in the early stages of gardening. It would be easy to buy the most expensive and decorative plants in the garden centre only to find that you didn’t know what you were letting yourself in for. The plant may die or fail in some other way because you didn’t understand its needs and the care required to look after it. So ask for advice.

Pelargonium grandiflorum

Extra Plants for Free

  1. Increase your own stock by collecting seeds from annuals and plants you like. Leave a few vegetables to ‘run to seed’ e.g. peas and beans are good examples – at the end of the season let them grow until the seed pod is mature then collect and separate to dry the beans or peas and sow them again in spring.
  2. Increase your own stock by taking cuttings. Don’t worry about the occasional failure but take enough cuttings to cover losses.
  3. Increase stock by dividing up large clumps of plants. Many plants like Iris need this division treatment to remain healthy.
  4. Local horticultural and gardening clubs, neighbours, church fairs, friends, and family are good sources of cuttings, seeds and cheap but healthy plants.
  5. Look in your own garden for self sown plants I had some great cowslips in the garden when I arrived probably from seeds dropped by birds.
  6. Seeds or cuttings collected from positions where they are not needed to maintain the environment. (That is not to encourage theft from gardens or damage to the environment but there are many occasions when an opportunity won’t cause any problem)

Save on Consumables and Equipment

  1. Water is costly when metered so mulch rather than water. Water key plants individually and deeply. Collect rainwater in a barrel.
  2. Make your own seed pots from old packaging, margarine tubs, yoghurt pots or paper towel roll ends.
  3. If you have several old marked labels clean then in a jar of bleach to be able to reuse.
  4. Use organic slug control methods which tend to be free or cheap.

Top Gardeners Tip
Grow what gives you pleasure but if you can eat it or use it instead of buying something, like a bunch of flowers or present then you will get double value & pleasure.

Materials for a Compost Heap

Materials for a Compost Heap

Lots of materials are suitable for a compost heap. Pile in a mix of green and brown organic materials to help them heat up, when biological activity will then be at the highest.
Organic material includes plants and most items that have been growing. Avoid droppings from carnivores such as dogs but other manures are fine.
Type of Material

Ashes from untreated wood potash – use small amounts, it can make the pile too alkaline
Bird & Chicken droppings are high in nitrogen, beware seeds.
Cardboard and manila envelopes tear or shred and dampen
Bio-activator applied as a liquid or activator like Garrotta
Coffee grounds tea bags and filters

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Beginners Beginning the New Year

Beginners Beginning the New Year

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Spring will be sprung on you as soon as the snow and frost disappears. But first we need less rain. There isn’t much you can do at the moment but hope that any bulbs and hardy plants like these primroses are quietly getting ready to burst forth. If you are keen to begin then your first job should be planning and organising.

Begining to be Getting On

  1. Order and plant any bare rooted shrubs and trees. Thet can be planted as soon as the soil is workable ie can be dug and is not water logged. If it is too wet when plants arrive they can be heeled in (placed in a temporary hole and covered with soil or peat).
  2. Scan the seed catalogues and decide what to order and grow from those on offer. If you are a beginner then choose familiar plants and names as they will have stood the test of time with other gardeners and you are more likely to succeed. Avoid exotics and those that say ‘some experience needed’.
  3. Plan to cheat by buying pot grown plants like primulas and pansies to brighten up spring spots and pots. The best ones will have been grown hard in a nursery (not forced in a hot house like a supermarket).
  4. Spread last years now rotted compost where you are going to plant vegetables. What the worms don’t drag down into the soil can be dug in before planting out after March.
  5. Prune trees and grape vines (if you are lucky enough to have any) before the sap starts to rise. For spring flowering shrubs wait until they have flowered then prune back.
  6. Check over any plants or tubers in store from last year. Destroy any rotted items and tend to dry soil with a very light watering.
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Gardener’s Mildew Cures

Gardener’s Mildew Cures

If gardeners have left wet leather gloves or shoes in a mild garage since summer they may now be covered in a white dusty substance that is powdery mildew. Powdery Mildew can affect many garden plants and it is especially vexatious on Gooseberries, Roses and Peas. The greying of leaves leads to yellowing, distortion and falling, it is unsightly and damages crops.
For help understanding mildew read these tips.

Mildew Causes and Cures

Stress through dryness at the roots can make plants vulnerable. Water well in dry spells. Do not plant too close to dry walls or in a rain shadow. Add a water retaining mulch.
General maintenance issues bin any fallen or damaged leaves. Well fed plants will have more resistance to disease, apply Growmore or Blood, Fish and Bone at the start of the growing season. Select varieties that are less prone to mildew like Klevedon Wonder Peas or Cascade Brussels. Do not encourage sappy growth with too much nitrogen based fertilizer.
Good air circulation will restrict mildew so prune or thin out branches to create an open framework. Damp humid conditions also favour mildew so water the roots not the leaves. Mildew is spread by spores so do not shake infected material.

If all else fails there are proprietary fungicides and sprays including organic Fish oil blend or Sulphur powder which can help particularly on roses. Powdery mildews spend the winter as dormant infections resting structures or leaves which then release spores the following spring.

Oh and if your boots have mildew you are not doing enough gardening.


Avoidance is better than cure read tips to avoid mildew.

Growing Top Ten Patio Roses

Growing Top Ten Patio Roses


What is a Patio Rose if it isn’t a rose grown on a patio?
Patio roses grow bigger and bushier than miniatures and are about 14 -24 inch high, yet they are perfectly formed. H.T. Bush and Floribunda roses grow bigger but Patio roses are easy and decorative.

Patio Roses are easy for growing in small spaces and can be useful in many other garden locations. They can be grown in containers and pots or just planted near your front door.

Easy Places to Grow Patio Roses

Edging plants in front of other plants or in a narrow border on their own.
Some varieties make an attractive small hedge.
They all look well planted in groups 3-5-7 of each variety.
They are not house plants and are as hardy as larger roses.
Patio Roses are great for tubs and containers but remember to feed, water and mulch them.
Combined with summer bedding plants they will flower all summer long.

Patio Rose - Birthday Wishes

Growing Tips For Patio Roses

Minimum pruning in late February or March will help keep them tidy.
Plant in full sun for the best show.
They are of course totally hardy and being perennials will appear year after year.
Roses are outdoor plants and do not survive in the house.

More information from Amazon in ‘Growing Miniature and Patio Roses’ by Dawn and Barry Eagle £6.99

Rose in our patio in Berwick upon Tweed

Top Ten Repeat flowering Patio Roses

Some special varieties providing a great display of colour and scent include:

  1. Loving Wishes A free flowering rose with good disease resistance and scented, scarlet-red blooms
  2. Golden Wishes The flowers are golden yellow with a slight fragrance and 14″ tall
  3. Flower Power produces peach-salmon blooms with a spicy scent
  4. Golden Anniversary Large fragrant golden rounded flowers with yellow centres from summer to autumn. Upright bush habit.
  5. Red or Yellow Sunblaze,
  6. Sweet Dreams, or  Sweet Magic,
  7. Charmant,
  8. Flirt,
  9. Diamond Wishes
  10. One of the smaller varieties is not surprisingly called Peter Pan.

There seems to be a named patio rose for most birthday and anniversary event if you shop around – that is modern marketing for you.

More information from Amazon in ‘Growing Miniature and Patio Roses’ by Dawn and Barry Eagle £6.99

See also Top Ten Old Roses

Patio rose by Charles D P Miller CC BY 2.0
Patio Rose – Birthday Wishes by jovike CC BY-NC 2.0
Rose in our patio in Berwick upon Tweed by Karen V Bryan CC BY-ND 2.0

Trees Exposed to Wind

Trees Exposed to Wind

Trees exposed to gales quickly become logs or kindling.

Snow Business

Gardeners have a lot to consider when confronted with the elements and vagaries of various plants. This picture encouraged me to consider trees exposed to wind in the form of a light breeze (a good thing), a strong blow and devastating hurricane force (a bad thing for English Trees in 1987).

Tips for Exposed Trees

Trees can act as a wind break but if too  exposed they may suffer. Think about the trade off and why you are planting a particular tree in a particular spot. (Trees are for life not just for decoration unless it is a Christmas tree).
Wind can make trees lean and so young saplings may need staking until they are well established. However the ability to sway in the breeze builds up the strength of a tree. Tie the tree low down otherwise the head can snap off in a gale.
If a tree is exposed then the growth will not be uniform and the side facing the prevailing wind will show less or shorter growth. Site your trees especially specimen trees in a wind shadow but not a rain shadow.
Too much wind damage will cause delamination of the roots & bark, cracking, rupture and buckling.
Strong winds cause trees to sway, pulling and stretching their roots and creating gaps in the soil that can stop water getting to roots.
Species vary in their response to wind. Most rhododendrons are sensitive to moderate wind and react by closing their stomates, reducing loss of water by transpiration. In contrast, trees such as larch and alder under the same wind conditions maintain open stomates and continue to photosynthesize and transpire.
Fruit tree growth increases as wind exposure decreases.
Trees can be partially supported with strong forked props.

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November’s Backend Bonanza

November’s Backend Bonanza

Americans call it ‘Fall’ and the Brits call it ‘Autumn’ but November’s ‘Backend’ can produce a garden Bonanza.
These flowers are still showing their true colours despite all that our English weather has been able to throw at them.

November Cyclamen

You can tell the leaves know it is fall and the Cyclamen hederifolium know it is autumn and time to flower.

November Fucshia

Dollar Princess was a group of Fucshias I received as cuttings. It took awhile for the flowers to arrive but the late profusion is very welcome.

November Hydrangea

A bit over blown and beginning to loose their colour the Hydrangeas have enjoyed our wet season this year. The reward is going to be a winter windfall of flower.

November Dahlia

The Dahlias have also been a stroke of luck, lasting very well without as much deadheading as they should have received.

November Lobelia

The annual Lobelia has surprised my with its deep blue colouring that has lasted all through summer. It may be the autumn light but the intensified colouring seems to have strengthened as the seasons moved on.

For next year I will try some more Lobelia seeds from Thompson & Morgan