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. 

Why Peat Free Compost?

There are many wild, beautiful, and fascinating areas of our planet that are diminishing due to human destruction.  These precious natural areas require our protection urgently, before it’s too late and they are destroyed or lost altogether.  There are relatively small areas of rainforests, peat bogs and peatlands remaining on our planet, yet these areas are continuing to be destroyed by humans. 

I have found that peat free composts can vary enormously: from bags of compost filled with bark chips, which could be used as a mulch, but can’t be used as intended – as a compost to grow container plants or seedlings, right through to the other extreme – the finest quality composts, which are capable of producing prize and award winning plants, and of course, every compost in between these two polar opposites! 

No Dig Organic Home & Garden:
Grow, Cook, Use & Store Your Harvest
By Charles Dowding & Stephanie Hafferty
Published by Permanent Publications
ISBN: 978-1-85623-301-9

I have included the No Dig Organic Home & Garden book by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty in my recommended 2017 Gifts for Gardeners article, as this is simply a great gardening book, which clearly explains the principles of the organic ‘no dig’ method of gardening.

Specialist Plant Nurseries

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show features an array of award winning specialist nurseries, this is a fabulous place to buy plants!  Whether you’re looking for South African plants, hardy plants, drought tolerant plants, indoor plants, air plants, orchids, ferns, ivy, clematis, herbaceous perennials,  bulbous plants, or succulents, you’re sure to find your favourite at this special show!

Containers filled with your favourite coloured flowering plants can bring so much joy to you, and to the bees and butterflies in your garden.

Beautifully scented plants are always top of my list.   The dwarf, compact, lavender cultivars, known as Lavandula angustifolia, are such lovely options for containers in a sunny spot, where their calming, soothing fragrance can be welcomed and enjoyed by all.  

City Living was designed by Kate Gould and built by Kate Gould Gardens.  The RHS judges presented this Fresh Garden with a Gold Medal, and the prestigious title of Best Fresh Garden, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017!

Garden designer Kate Gould is passionate about greening up derelict, uncared for and unloved inner city spaces.  Kate is so passionate about Greening Grey Britain, that she has self funded the entire build for this Fresh Garden, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, to inform others as to how they can improve their city living.  

I so enjoy growing miniature, epiphytic orchids.  When I am mounting epiphytic orchids, usually I use cork bark as a mount, although sometimes I will use other woods to mount my orchids, it all depends on which orchid I am growing, and what materials I have.

I hope this information will help you, if you’re mounting epiphytic orchids onto cork bark or other wood, or if you’d just like to learn more about these diverse and interesting plants.

Protecting your plants from Slugs and Snails

For many gardeners, the slug and snail population seemed to explode in 2016, with many fraught and distressed gardeners asking for my advice on the best way to protect their plants from slugs and snails.  I am strongly opposed to slug pellets.  I wouldn’t wish to kill any of the slugs or snails in my garden, as I believe a healthy eco system is important.

Peat Free Compost

Last summer, I ran a Peat Free Compost Trial to compare the different peat free composts available, and find out how well each of the composts performed growing dwarf French beans under the same conditions.  In my trial, Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables and Salads, and Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost were the clear winners producing healthy plants with a great harvest.

Why Peat Free?

I have always loved our natural world.  I have always wished to protect every important habitat for plants, animals, and nature, all over the world.  I am passionate about protecting the rainforests and the many other wonderful, precious environments and habitats that exist on Earth, including peat bogs.  Peat bogs are amazing environments, covering just 2-3% of the planet’s surface.  

The beautiful flowers in this article’s cover photograph are from The Great British Florist, these flowers were photographed on the 19th January 2017.

I love flowers!  I cut flowers, stems, and seed heads, and gather pinecones, leaves, and all manner of natural materials from my garden and allotment, to bring indoors all through the year.  Seasonal flowers brighten my home, and bring cheer to my day. 

I so enjoy using my Felco model No. 12 Compact Deluxe secateurs.  Felco is a premium brand of secateurs, I aspired to own a pair of Felco secateurs, for many, many years before I finally got my own pair of secateurs.

My hands are very small, I require a small size of gloves, and even these small sized gloves can at times be a little too large.  

Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales, Easy Planting, Less Weeding, Early Harvests
By Craig LeHoullier
ISBN: 978-1-61212-614-2
Published by Storey Publishing

Craig LeHoulier outlines many useful considerations for straw bale gardening, in his book Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales.  From tips and advice to consider whilst you’re planning where to site your straw bales, to ideas on staking your plants, and even advice on how to improve the aesthetics of your straw bale garden.  

Teacher Simon Pugh-Jones started the Writhlington Orchid Project over twenty-five years ago.  This amazing project has given students at the Writhlington School the opportunity to learn more about the science of growing orchids, providing the students with hands on experience of maintaining, propagating and extending, the Writhlington Orchid Project’s orchid collection.

The students working on the Writhlington Orchid Project have been given some amazing opportunities, from experiencing the beautiful, natural habitats where the orchids they grow are found naturally in the wild, to setting up orchid labs in Rwanda, Laos, and Sikkim, where the students and staff, share and pass on their orchid expertise with schools in each locality through talks and workshops, to learning about orchid conservation, to creating award-winning exhibits and displays for RHS flower shows.

Greenhouse Effect was designed by Sheena Seeks for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016.  This Conceptual Garden was built by Eden Landscape Projects and sponsored by The Greenhouse People.  The RHS judges awarded the Greenhouse Effect a Silver-Gilt Medal, at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016.

I caught up with designer Sheena Seeks at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016, to find out more about her Conceptual Garden, Greenhouse Effect.

To create a really sumptuous and relaxing outdoor area where you can dine and unwind, as well as sun loungers, garden furniture, fire pits and BBQs, you’ll require the perfect blend of aromatic, delicious and attractive plants to enhance your entertaining area.