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NB. I wrote this article about space2grow in Farnham, before the COVID-19 crisis started and quarantine measures were put in place.  Naturally, all of space2grow’s clubs and activities are closed at the moment, but this fantastic initiative will reopen when it is safe to do so.

Space2grow: community gardening in Farnham, Surrey

For every problem we experience in life, nature provides us with the ingredients we need to heal ourselves. 

The Secret Lives of Garden Bees
Author: Jean Vernon
Publisher: White Owl
ISBN: 978-1526711861

I am fascinated by bees.  I’ve so enjoyed reading Jean Vernon’s book, The Secret Lives of Garden Bees; I love the author’s ethos for spreading bee-love!  I want to help bee-love spread far and wide and so I’m sharing my appreciation for Jean Vernon’s book with you; hoping that through reading this super book, you’ll fall head-over-heels in love with these intriguing insects and share the same desire to help bees, too.

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Brilliant plants for bees and butterflies!

The furry bees, colourful butterflies, mysterious moths, darting hoverflies, and other pollinating insects that visit my garden are just as fascinating as the plants I grow.  The sound of bees buzzing and the sight of butterflies fluttering relaxes and inspires me. I want to help you find the best pollen and nectar-rich plants to attract insects and bring your garden to life!

Rainforest Terrarium Update: Aerangis and Angraecum (part two)

Since I shared my last Rainforest Terrarium update with you, I’ve been busy conducting a huge rearrangement of many of my terrariums and terrarium plants.  Some of the orchids that previously resided inside my Rainforest Terrarium have now been introduced to other enclosures, including my new Tall Orchidarium.

As you’ll see in this update, I’ve changed the appearance of my Rainforest Terrarium, by placing huge slabs of cork around the sides of this enclosure. 

What am I growing inside my Vegepod?

Since I first told you about my Vegepod much has changed.  Back in 2018, my Vegepod was set up in an area of my garden that enjoyed partial shade, but after trialling the Vegepod in this fairly beneficial position (vegetables thrive when they’re grown in sunny and partially shaded sites), I decided to move my Vegepod to a more shaded area of my garden, to see what I could grow successfully inside my Vegepod with more challenging growing conditions.

Acrobat ant update

Last year, I discovered Crematogaster scutellaris ants on the cork I purchased for my new Tall Orchidarium.  Crematogaster scutellaris ants are known as acrobat ants, but these ants are found in many different countries, so they’ve got many other common names, too.  With their distinctive amber coloured heads and pointed abdomens, these ants are easy to identify. 

Peat free Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing peat free composts in all of the Compost Trials that I’ve run over the past seven years.  Rather than just continually highlighting every year that Dalefoot Composts are the best peat free composts to use, I designed this Compost Trial to demonstrate methods you could use to get the best results from one of their products, namely Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost.

Protecting peat bogs

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which now cover just 2-3% of our planet’s surface.  These scarce ecosystems are very fragile; they depend on sufficient moisture being available, together with a slightly cooler temperature range, to enable sphagnum moss (which slowly forms peat) to grow, flourish, and reproduce.  If optimum conditions occur, a new layer of peat, (measuring up to one millimetre thick) can be created over the course of a year; consequently, this is not a resource that can be replaced in a hurry. 

If you’re looking for ways to make a positive difference to the environment, why not build a pond?  Ponds support a vast range of wildlife, from the bottom to the top of the food chain.  Insects, invertebrates, amphibians, and birds, all need ponds.  These ecologically important habitats give us the chance to see dazzling dragonflies and get closer to nature.  Ponds grant us exciting opportunities to grow waterlilies and aquatic plants! 

Things to look our for when you’re setting up a new Terrarium

I’m currently in the process of setting up a new terrarium, which is very exciting!  Don’t worry, I’ll take you on a tour of my new Tall Orchidarium in due course.  However, today I wanted to tell you about something unexpected that happened to me, while I was gathering together the materials for this new enclosure.

Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium

Welcome to the twenty-third update from my BiOrbAir Review – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir!  Since my last instalment, the two plants that were really struggling – Diplocaulobium chrysotropis and Macroclinium chasei have both died.  But it’s not all bad news, I’ve got a few orchid flowers to share with you and I’m also celebrating that for this week at least, the tiny aphid species that has colonised the plants inside this terrarium is temporarily under control.

East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing
Author: Meera Sodha
Publisher: Fig Tree Books
ISBN: 978-0-241-38756-6

I discovered Meera Sodha‘s recipe for Vegan Cauliflower Korma in Meera’s ‘The New Vegan’ column, in The Guardian, back in October 2018.  I’ve been a huge fan of Meera Sodha’s recipes, right from the first moment I tasted this delicious roasted cauliflower curry. 

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners 2019

Christmas time is such a special time of year.  It’s a time for meeting up, celebrating, and showing our thanks and appreciation to those around us.

Make the promise of a day out together, to visit a snowdrop or daffodil garden

Love and friendship are priceless gifts.  Why not gift the promise of a day out together in a magnificent snowdrop garden, in January or February? 

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium

Welcome to the fourteenth and final instalment of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, from Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.

Since my last update, I’ve made the decision to empty my Madagascar BiOrbAir terrarium and re-plant this terrarium.  I found that the Madagascan orchids that I chose to grow together, inside this enclosure, required too strongly opposing growing conditions to make it possible to easily grow these orchids successfully in such close proximity to one another. 

Creating a Wildlife Pond

I’ve always had a great interest in ponds.  To me, the underwater world is fascinating; I’ve been interested in aquatic plants since I was a young child.  I can still remember the feeling, when my heart leapt for joy, as I discovered a clump of Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) for the first time, whilst I was out for a walk with my Grandparents. 

November Gardening Tips & Ideas

November is an exciting month, full of opportunities in the garden.  Take time out to enjoy the fleetingly beautiful glory of the moment, as leaves of burnished gold and crimson light up the landscape.  At this time of year, it’s important to plan ahead and to plant trees and bee friendly flowers, for future generations to enjoy.

Garden Twine Trial

Twine is an essential product for gardeners.  This small, but vital product helps us to support, tie in, and train our plants.  Garden twine assists us as we hang up bunches of herbs, garlic, and onions, for storing and drying.  Twine enables us to mark out rows, and carry out all manner of garden tasks.  Whether you enjoy growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, or cut flowers, if you’re fond of tending herbaceous borders, or you enjoy taking part in any other form of gardening activity; twine is a universally useful product!

Plant Conservation: Why it Matters and How it Works
Author: Timothy Walker
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-260-0

I felt that it would be both very timely and apt to write a review of Timothy Walker’s book, Plant Conservation: Why it Matters and How it Works, as this book presents a range of activities that we as individuals can do, to help to conserve the plants on our beautiful planet. 

Moth Night 2019

Moth Night raises awareness about moths.  This annual event is a rather lovely invitation to everyone across the British Isles to stop for a moment and look out for moths – what moths are there in your neighbourhood, or your area of the country, this week?

The results from participants’ Moth Counts will inform Atropos, Butterfly Conservation, and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, of the numbers of different moth species, in the UK, at this time of year.

Jackie Currie and her National Collection of Allium Species and Cultivars

Garden designer Jackie Currie, runs Euphorbia Design with her business partner, Lorraine Cooke.  Together they design and revitalise gardens in the Surrey area.  Jackie enjoys growing many plants, but her real passion is for Alliums.  She’s utterly devoted to this genus of plants, so much so, that Jackie’s garden and allotments are packed full and beautifully planted with thousands of Alliums.