Vegepod Raised Garden Beds

I love growing vegetables, it’s a truly wonderful, soul enriching experience to grow your own food!  Sadly an increasing number of us are without the luxury of a garden or allotment and have nowhere to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit, or flowers; while a great many others struggle to garden in small, often paved spaces, without any access to the soil.

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. 

One of the gardens that I was most excited to visit at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017, was the RHS Kitchen Garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society commissioned Garden Designer Juliet Sargeant to design this special Feature Garden, to demonstrate the many interesting methods that gardeners can use to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers.  The RHS Kitchen Garden has been designed to showcase the extensive variety of beautiful, edible plants that are available for us to grow and eat.  

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.

The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey of butterflies that we can all take part in.  This year Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count starts on the 15th July 2016, and runs until the 7th August 2016.  During this time, if you want to take part, you simply spend 15 minutes, on a sunny day, counting butterflies and day-flying moths.  You can choose to take your Big Butterfly Count in your garden, or in the gardens of your school, college or university, in a forest, at a park, or nature reserve, or whilst you’re taking a walk.  

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.

Whether you’ve got a garden, patio, balcony, or a windowsill, remembering to choose flowering plants that produce pollen and nectar that bees and other pollinating insects can access when you’re selecting new plants is a wonderful and worthwhile thing to do.

It’s an exciting and romantic time in the garden, with lots to do this month, and so much to look forward to in the garden!  Take time out to relax and enjoy the wonderfully scented flowers of Daphne, Sarcococca, and Hamamelis.

Prune Buddleja davidii now.  If you’ve got an old, and maybe rather neglected, specimen then start to rejuvenate your plant now, by removing any old dead wood and cutting it back hard.  

Earlier this year I tried out the Espresso Mushroom Company’s Kitchen Garden Mushroom Growing kits, I was so impressed with both of the mushroom kits I tried.  The more I have found out about the Espresso Mushroom Company, the more I have liked them, I am always delighted to see companies using recycled materials and thinking ethically, principles I fully support.

This has been a fantastic year for fruit growers, every apple or pear tree I have seen, has been heavily laden with fruit.  If you’re looking for a new method to store your fruit, herbs, mushrooms or vegetables, or if you’re interested in creating a different taste sensation, or to want to make your own healthy snacks, you might be interested to try a specially designed food dehydrator.  

In the garden I am always thinking ahead, whether I’m ordering seed for future sowings, designing a new feature, planning a long-term trial or just thinking about which new plants to grow next year; it’s always wise to plan for the future so that you can fulfil all your gardening dreams.  At this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the Just Retirement Garden: A garden for every retiree, designed by Tracy Foster, demonstrated how planning ahead for your retirement and encompassing accessible, interesting, creative and useful features within your garden design can bring enjoyment, as well as creating the space to enjoy hobbies, entertain friends and make the most of the joy of gardening in retirement.

The Just Retirement: A Garden For Every Retiree was created for the 2015 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, where the Royal Horticultural Society awarded the garden a Silver-Gilt medal.

Just Retirement: A Garden For Every Retiree was designed by Tracy Foster 

The Garden was built by Conway Landscapes

It was sponsored by Just Retirement Ltd

If you admired the vibrant and colourful plants featured in the Just Retirement Garden, A Garden For Every Retiree, here’s the planting list for your perusal…..

I met up with James Basson, to find out more about the Gold Medal winning garden, A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse by L’Occitane, that James designed for the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Pumpkin Beth: What’s your favourite thing about your garden A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse?  What’s your favourite plant?

James Basson: The dead bits!  I am very happy with the dead bits, that’s what made the garden feel authentic and without that it would have just been another pretty garden, and I didn’t want that.  

Today I took part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count!  I spent a very happy and relaxing 15 minutes counting different butterflies and day flying moths and recording them on the specially designed app, which is available without charge for Android and iOS.  Here are just a few of the butterflies I spotted.  If you’d like to take part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, you have plenty of time, it runs from 17th July 2015 through until 9th August 2015.  

Gardening can be as expensive an activity as you’d like.  Whatever your budget it’s important to spend your money wisely on items you’ll find useful, indispensable or wonderful!

Village fetes, open garden days and gardening society plant sales are all great places to buy plants at fantastic prices.  At the Compton fete I have sold everything from full size flowering cherry trees, fruit trees and rhododendrons, to vegetable plants, bedding, herbaceous perennials, seeds, tools, and preserves. 

Gardens to visit in Surrey, Hampshire, and West Sussex

We’re fortunate to benefit from so many beautiful, important, and historic gardens being open for us to enjoy in Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex.  We can be inspired by spectacular plant collections, see rare and exotic plants, enjoy beautiful landscapes and learn more about how amazing plants are, without travelling very far at all!

Tulips

I love flowers.  I cut flowers, stems and leaves to bring indoors all year round.  It’s lovely to enjoy seasonal flowers, which often flower for just a short while every year, somehow this makes the flowers even more precious.  I appreciate and value what’s in season now, in the UK we have beautiful, British grown cut flowers and plants that we all can enjoy if we know where to find them. 

I love this time of year!  I look forward to seeing the beautiful, diamond like sparkle of the first frosts glistening in the morning sunlight.  There are lots of lovely things you can do now, both indoors and out, to ensure that your garden is in tip-top condition, with lots of wonderful new plants that you can look forward to growing next year!  

The garden is fascinating at this time of year.  I love the wonderful sound of the birds singing, and I just relish the scents of honeysuckle, roses and other flowers; even the scent of the grass is so relaxing.

If you get time to put your feet up it’s the ideal time to pre-order bulbs, corms, and tubers from specialist nurseries to plant this autumn.