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Christmas Gifts for Gardeners

In this column I share my favourite gift ideas with you, these are the best products that I have personally tried and tested this year, as part of my quest to help you find quality presents for your loved ones this Christmas!

Vegepod

Vegepod is an award-winning container gardening system that is really quite marvellous!  This raised bed system has universal appeal, you don’t need access to the soil, so if you’re gardening on concrete but ache to grow vegetables, this is for you. 

Teaming with Fungi: The organic grower’s guide to mycorrhizae
Author: Jeff Lowenfels
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-729-2

Through his book Teaming with Fungi, author Jeff Lowenfels, aims to dispel the myths associated with fungi; this book informs and educates readers about fungi and their fascinating relationship with plants.  80-95% of all plants form symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi.  These relationships are incredibly beneficial to plants, so it makes sense for gardeners, horticulturists, and those working in forestry, agriculture, plant propagation, or indeed any career or hobby based around plants, to learn and understand more about mycorrhizal fungi species and the true nature of their relationship with plants. 

Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition
Author: Jeff Lowenfels
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-314-0

Teaming with Nutrients is the second book in a series of three books written by Jeff Lowenfels, for the publisher Timber Press.  Each book is focused on a different area of plant science; the other books being, Teaming with Microbes (written by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis) and Teaming with Fungi

The Victoria Garden, Farnham

There’s something quite magical about a secret garden!  Did you know that Farnham has its own secret garden hidden away in the town centre?  If you venture towards the back of Sainsbury’s car park in South Street, you’ll have the chance to discover the Victoria Garden for yourself.  A beautifully serene, sheltered and enclosed garden awaits you, a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Dear Readers, I caught up with Pippa Greenwood recently, Pippa has a website where you can purchase vegetable plants, seeds, and other gifts for gardeners.  Pippa offers a service where her customers can order the vegetables they want to grow, the vegetable plants are then grown in Lincolnshire, in the UK, and posted out as garden ready plants in early to mid May, when the vegetable plants can be planted out in your garden, or at your allotment. 

Endangered orchids

If we hear that an item is rare – be it a jewel, or an item of clothing, or a plant – the very idea that there is limited stock of whatever it is available can send our minds into overdrive, just knowing that there is a restricted quantity of the product in question in existence, can fervently increase our desire to own the item – we don’t want to miss out after all! 

I so enjoy creating terrariums, vivariums, and bottle gardens, I’d love to share my love of indoor gardening with you!  If you’re looking for some fabulous plants for a bottle garden, terrarium, or vivarium that you’re creating, I hope that this list, which is filled with super plants that are perfectly suited to the growing conditions found inside these enclosed gardens, will help you to enjoy a spot of successful and fun indoor gardening.

More ideas to use less plastic

In March 2018, I shared some of my ideas of how to reduce plastic use and try live more sustainably.  I love our planet, I want to do all I can to protect our world, this is an important issue for me.  I’d love to help you to find new ways to live sustainably and happily, saving money and having fun along the way!

For me, deliciously scented flowers are a delightfully uplifting feature of the garden.  A beautiful moment spent enjoying garden flowers and their fragrances is utter bliss!  Time spent with delectably fragrant flowers eases life’s worries and stresses, brings joy to our day and makes everything feel better.  I have a particular fondness for scented daffodils or Narcissus.  Narcissus is the botanical name for this genus, while daffodil is the common name we use, but both names refer to the same group of plants.

Heritage Open Days 2018

I have some wonderful news to share with you, the Heritage Open Days have been extended for 2018!  This event will now create eight, very special days during September 2018, where you can experience local history, culture, and architecture.  The Heritage Open Days provide a rather wonderful opportunity to both open, and visit interesting, historic, beautiful and important places, which are normally closed to the public; as well as giving you an opportunity to enjoy free entry to some lovely places that usually charge an admission fee.

I am sorry to say that 2018 was a terrible year for many of the daffodils grown in the UK.  The daffodils that were grown for my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial experienced snow at the end of March, at a time when many of my trialled daffodil cultivars were grown, some of my daffodils stood poised and ready, just thinking about blossoming and coming into flower. 

A great many daffodil cultivars are listed as being scented, but daffodil flowers’ fragrances vary greatly, with some daffodil fragrances being more powerful than others, and some scents being more desirable and more pleasing.

Through my Daffodil Trials I have encountered a number of daffodils, which were listed as being fragrant, but when I grew the bulbs myself, I was disappointed to find that I was unable to detect any scent from their flowers however close I got to their blooms, and however many times I examined them. 

The Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count runs from the 20th July 2018, until the 12th August 2018.  During this time, Butterfly Conservation – a registered charity who work to protect British butterflies and moths, are asking members of the public to take 15 minutes out of their day, to take note of the butterfly and moth species they see around them.

What a joyful month June is!  June’s warm sunshine seems to infuse every fibre of our beings, imbuing our souls with a feeling of uplifting bliss that can only be found outdoors.  June also brings us the gift of sweet summer rain to refresh our plants, and the excitement of a great many wonderful growing opportunities in the garden; it’s hard to beat this time of year!

This year, Father’s Day will be held on Sunday 17th June 2018.  I hope that this list of special garden events and activities held over the Father’s Day 2018 weekend will help you to enjoy a memorable, happy, and very special weekend with your family and friends.  Here are the gardens and venues that are celebrating Father’s Day 2018 by offering discounts or free entry to fathers. 

Remembering loved ones

When you’ve lost someone you love, it’s natural to want to arrange a fitting memorial and to plan a meaningful tribute in their memory.  Memorials of any kind are such a personal choice, but I want to help you by sharing some information and ideas of ways that you could leave a lasting legacy, one that will beautifully celebrate the life of someone close to your heart, whilst being kind to the environment. 

I love our planet, I love plants and nature.  I want to protect our environment.  I want to live more sustainably.  Sustainability is not a new desire for me, it is something that I have always aspired to.  Firstly though I must tell you that I am far from perfect, I make mistakes and I am always learning.  I want to improve, I want to make changes to live more sustainably and to live ethically. 

I am a sentimental old soul, I treasure so many things that most folk would not think twice of throwing away.  I also keep things, just in case they become useful one day.  Yes, you could describe me as a hoarder!

I love our planet.  I love fields, meadows, glades, forests, hills, marshlands, bogs, mountains, streams, rivers, and oceans.  I love to see wildflowers growing in the wild. 

Why Use Peat Free Compost?

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which cover just 2-3% of the planet’s surface.  These scarce ecosystems are also very fragile, they are dependent on sufficient moisture levels being available, and they require a slightly cooler temperature range to allow the necessary sphagnum moss, which slowly forms peat, to grow, flourish, and reproduce.  Peat bogs can increase at a rate of one millimetre per year if the desired conditions are present. 

I just love growing sweet peas!   I love to be enveloped by the sweet pea flower’s powerful and sensuous scent, while I’m encompassed by the flower’s beauty and charm.  Eternal bliss!  Everyone should have at least a few moments of pause and reflection, to recharge with their favourite sweet pea blooms each and every summer.