Making Meadows

Meadows present a natural, seemingly effortless beauty, with an undeniable allure.  For the most part, meadow guardians save much of the energy that gardeners spend repeatedly mowing and maintaining traditional lawns.  Nevertheless, meadows are not an easy option; creating a meadow requires endeavour, careful planning, and time, to ensure success.

Perennial meadow plants

Our native British, perennial meadow plants flourish in poor soils, where they grow contentedly alongside sedately-growing, fine-leaved grasses. 

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. 

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.

Autumn leaves

Autumn is such a beautiful season.  I love to watch the leaves on trees and shrubs, as they turn from green to gold, burnished amber, and an array of fiery autumnal hues.  Autumn leaves twirl and dance, as they make their descent, gliding and tumbling through the air onto the floor below.  It’s quite simply magical; autumn leaves are a blessing!

Growing Garlic, Wild Garlic, and Elephant Garlic

Home grown garlic is one of life’s joys.  The best garlic is planted in autumn.  So, if you’re thinking of growing your own garlic, don’t delay, this is the time to plant it!

Garlic Growing Conditions

Over the years I’ve grown a lot of garlic.  The best garlic I’ve grown was planted in a free draining, sandy soil, in early autumn. 

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. 

Controlling sciarid flies around houseplants and inside terrariums, on plants grown inside our homes, conservatories, and glasshouses What are sciarid flies?

Sciarid flies are teeny, tiny flies, from the family Sciaridae, they’re also known as fungus gnats, or by their genera’s scientific names of Bradysia or Lycoriella.  Although sciarid flies live outdoors, as the flies are so minute in size, you’re unlikely to notice these insignificant little flies outside. 

I always look forward to seeing Jonathan Hogarth and his beautiful displays of miniature Hostas at the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows, so it was especially nice to have a chance to have a proper catch up with Jonathan this week; Jonathan has given me special permission to share his very best, tried and tested, Hosta growing tips with you!

I love terrariums and bottle gardens!  I so enjoy designing tiny plant worlds and creating miniature gardens.  This is the ideal time to build a terrarium or bottle garden, these Lilliputian microcosms are fun to make!  Terrariums will enhance your home and provide the perfect gardening therapy through the autumn and winter months.

The photograph above shows some of the ingredients that I use to formulate my own compost mixes for terrariums and bottle gardens. 

Fragrant Daffodils

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.

Wildlife friendly ways to kill slugs and snails

I don’t like slug pellets.  Slug pellets have had a disastrous effect on the wild food chain – as well as killing slugs and snails, slug pellets harm hedgehogs, song thrushes, and other creatures.  Slug pellets kill these dear animals in the most cruel, drawn out, and painful manner.  Nothing could induce me to use slug pellets in my garden, allotment, or anywhere for that matter – however large the slug or snail population had become, and however many of my precious plants had been eaten. 

Now that the Christmas decorations have been taken down, if you find yourself wondering how to add a renewed freshness to your home, if you dream of an energising, yet relaxing sanctuary, then you might wish to consider growing some new houseplants and bringing some living greenery to your home.

It’s best to work with the conditions that your home can provide. 

As autumn turns to winter, days shorten and the prospect of warming ourselves by the fire may be more enticing than being outdoors, take time to warm your heart with thoughts of elegantly perfumed roses.  This is the perfect opportunity to order roses as bare root plants to plant during the winter time, while the plants are dormant, to deliver charming, beautiful rose blooms and delectable fragrance to your garden or allotment next summer.

I am particularly fond of scented daffodils; last year I conducted a Scented Daffodil Trial, to showcase beautiful and enchanting daffodil cultivars, which produce exquisitely fragrant, long lasting flowers.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing the finest performing daffodil cultivars from my 2017 Scented Daffodil Trial with you, and as September is a great month to plant daffodil bulbs, this column offered me the perfect opportunity.

Protecting your plants from Slugs and Snails

For many gardeners, the slug and snail population seemed to explode last year, 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.

Each season is so distinct, yet so very special, offering us various gifts and opportunities until the moment has passed and the next season arrives with its offerings.  November might seem like a quiet period in the garden, but this month offers us the valuable chance to move any plants that aren’t growing well, or indeed any that have grown rather too well and have now outgrown their current situation.

I love hedgehogs!  Hedgehogs are so endearing and entertaining, every time I have seen or encountered a hedgehog has been such a special and uplifting moment.  Each hedgehog I have seen shuffling along or snuffling about has touched my heart, lifted my spirits and brightened my day.

Sadly nowadays there are many threats to hedgehogs – they’re in danger as they try to cross our busy roads, but even away from the roads, hedgehogs face many dangers in our own gardens, because of these dangers, hedgehogs are becoming more scarce, and these delightful, charming, and loveable creatures are now endangered.  

Growing in the Fast Lane Fungi

Fungi are part of almost all of our terrestrial ecosystems, for much of the year we aren’t aware of their presence, they exist as mycelium, a mass of tiny, thread like filaments, hyphae, that live entwined in the soil and undergrowth, we see their fruiting bodies – mushrooms or toadstools – for a short time when they are in season each year.

Now is the time to move tender plants under cover.  Make sure that you’ve thoroughly checked your plants and their pots, for pests, before you re-position them in their new home.  Protect your plants from slugs and snails by smearing a ring of petroleum jelly around your pots to act as a barrier.  Make sure it’s wide enough – a couple of inches should do the trick.  

This is such an exciting time of year, with so many beautiful colours in the garden to enjoy, and hopefully a bounteous harvest to look forward to!  There are lots of lovely things that you can do now to make the most of your garden this month, and to ensure that your garden will look better than ever next year!

It’s time to move tender plants under cover.