• Smother a rockery with thrift
  • Delve into the world of Aquilegia
  • Prepare for bees with Pulmonaria
  • Create a carpet with Ajuga reptans
  • Go Mad with Gorgeous Geums
  • Plant Pick – Japanese Spiraea
  • Plant Pick – Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve
  • Plant Pick – Callicarpa
  • Plant Pick – Stachys byzantina (Lambs Ears)
  • Plant Pick – Foxgloves (Digitalis)

A Summer Nuisance – Dealing with Mosquitoes

It’s a little bit baking, isn’t it? After that winter of constant rain and not a frost in sight (certainly for us Londoners, anyway), we’ve finally got a decent summer. However, that’s not without its own complications, and I’m currently watering like crazy – particularly the pots, which are very prone to drying out. I’m lucky to have a south-facing garden but boy, does the soil really dry out on these hot, muggy days.

One thing you’ve probably noticed this year is the gargantuan amount of critters about. You might’ve been thankful for the lack of snow during the winter, but we really could have done with some…even if just for a week. Those frosts, cold tendrils and blankets of snow creep into the ground and kill off pests. Without them, the bugs can survive and start breeding earlier. The result? An even tougher war between pests and gardeners.

Froggie

My pond has a tiny frog population.

A particular problem area for me this year has been the pond. As readers of the blog will know, my pond is a simple affair; a large black plastic tub that’s more often used for planting young trees in, that’s sunk into the earth, filled with water and a few plants thrown in. It keeps a tiny frog population happy enough, acts as a mini-oasis for passing mammals and birds and, on the whole, adds the ambiance of the garden. Unfortunately, this year, that ambiance is the buzzing of mosquitoes as they hatch and exit the water. I’ve had various ways of dealing with this over the years, including changing out the water and getting a few fish to reduce the larvae numbers. Unfortunately, a noxious bonfire from my neighbour two doors up spouted vile black fumes across my garden which got into the water and killed the three fish. Yes – I called environmental health on their arse!

This year, as I’m soon moving, I don’t really want to start buying new fish, so I’ve decided to go for a pond pump. On the allotment I use a thin layer of vegetable oil on top of the water barrels to stop the females being able to lay their eggs into the water. In a pond setting, that’s not possible. Mosquitoes don’t like moving water; the stiller and more stagnant the better. Luckily, Swell UK have got some great pond pumps for sale (there’s also a free delivery offer on at the moment). I’ve used the company before when I was setting up my vivarium and I can attest to the good quality of the products. I’m hoping that by using a pump, the mozzies will stop laying and, as a result, I won’t look like a pin-cushion. Though, every time I walk the dog in the forest I’m attacked too so I doubt I’ll evade getting bitten entirely. Pond pumps are ideal for larger bodies of water too and in addition to providing filtration, can create a great water feature that not only looks good, but sounds great too.

So, if you’re having trouble with these blood-sucking bugs, there are various options. Get a few fish, start agitating the water, and keep a fly-swatter close by!

The Importance of Garden Rooms

How is it mid-June already? This year seemed to take an age getting started, but now it’s rushing away, we’re already in summer and crops are ready to picking (yep, those main crop potatoes can start coming up soon). 2014 is a strange year for me as it’s probably the last year I’ll have in my current garden. I’ve had to roll back my plant spending, not only because there’s nowhere to put anything, but because it won’t have a chance to settle in before it’s lifted and moved on next year. I’ve already got an immense number of plants I’ll be taking with me, so I really don’t need to add more!

A sweeping path draws you round.

All the talk of new gardens, and the fact my sister’s just moved and got herself a new oasis, has once again started me on the track of garden design. I don’t think my sister will mind if I say that when it comes to gardening, she knows about as much as I do about knitting; and that’s nothing. So, faced with a longish garden with mature, wide borders on both sides and a trellised archway dissecting the lawn, she was about ready to rip it all out and roll out the grass. “NO“, I cried. “What about the gorgeous plants? What about the story this garden’s leading you on? You’ll end up with a barren brown tundra.” She didn’t really understand what I was talking about regarding the garden’s story, until I explained that with the dissecting trellis, there was a path, a journey, somewhere to explore because it was slightly hidden. Take that away and you’re just left with a green field that, knowing my sister, won’t get mowed properly and will end up becoming a wasteland.

The gates, even they lead nowhere, create a sense of adventure.

The whole topic got me thinking about how important garden spaces and rooms are. Of course, you can just plonk a lawn down, cut a border either side and be done with it. But where’s the fun, where’s the adventure in that? By creating a space that’s just out of view, that’s not clearly seen, there’s a natural need to explore. The trellising in my sister’s garden isn’t even swathed in plants and you can see beyond, but there’s still the lure to wander and discover what lays beyond the arch. If you’re not very good at creating natural garden spaces, then you can opt for a garden room such as those offered by Frog Garden Rooms. Even if you don’t disguise the room in any way, it’s still a destination, it still provides somewhere to go to when you step outside. Alternately, using curved borders, arches, and meandering paths to offer a few surprises when people explore.

Luckily, I have managed to get my sister to realise the importance of leaving the trellising and archway up, even if she simply lawns the entire other side. The sense of adventure is so important in any outside space, helping to create that charming, interesting and sometimes surprising environment that we all love. Rip down all the structures and lay out a bowling green and I expect you’ll rarely venture out. But, create a series of rooms, of hideaways and little nooks with glorious flowers to discover, and I’m sure you’ll be drawn back to nature each and every day.

Allotmenteering – It’s Weed Season

Every year I start off with the same gusto and determination to clear my alloment plot and have swathes of food growing in every nook and crevice. With food prices going up and my family also trying to eat a little healthier, I’m even keener this year; with a real priority placed upon growing things I actually use a lot off – potatoes and onions for starters. The problem is, as May arrives and warmer weather really gets the growing season going, social events also begin to clutter the calender, resulting in my dreams of a pristine allotment having never been realised.

Mary and I (that’s my allotment co-owner) have taken a few steps to help ourselves this year. Firstly, gone are the grass walkways. They look nice, but why on earth I thought they would be a good idea, I don’t know. Trying to remove couch grass is made practically impossible when grassy paths intersect every bed. Now, the paths are covered in plastic and mulch. The bottom 10% is also covered underneath a thick and heavy tarpaulin until the autumn, when we intend to plant a large black current ‘orchard’. And, as you’ll see from the pictures below, the Farmer 3500 has been brought into action to rotivate. Many of the beds have been covered for the winter, so I stripped off the plastic and left it for a week to allow the multitudes of amphibians to find a new home. Then, on went the motor and away went the blades…cutting through the soil. We’ve put a hell of a lot of conditioning into the soil over the years, but even I was surprised to see such good quality!

ScreenShot124 ScreenShot125

To make life a little easier, the bed in the first image is one long strip along almost the entirety of the plot. ALL of the potatoes have gone here this year, so now it’s a mountain range of little soil pyramids awaiting the first green shoots to pop through. You may note there are still some odd clumps of grass; that WILL come out…..when I have a moment. The main thing to concentrate on this year is upkeep. Leave the allotment or veg patch along for a week or two and you’ll be dismayed to see just how much WEEDS have grown. In the worst scenario, it’s worth hopping online to find some local gardeners who might be able to help out….either with your allotment or your veg patch at home. Here’s a few things I do on my patch – they might be helpful!

1. Get at least an hour or two of allomenteering in each week. It only takes one weekend off and you’ve effectively left weeds to go mad for two weeks.

2. Cover under utilised spaces. Don’t rip all the plastic off at once, just uncover as and when  you need. Otherwise, you’ll beautifully weed-free spaces will become colonised within the blink of an eye.

3. Concentrate on remove couch grass roots and bindweed. My yearly battle is against these two extremely intrusive plants. If you manage to remove a bit each week, and stop resurgences in places you’ve cleared, one day you MIGHT (pleaaaaaase) get a couch grass and bindweed-free patch!

4. Mound up your spuds. You know, mounding up the earth on potatoes has many benefits. The main reason for doing so is to optimise the harvest, but simply moving the soil around helps to stop weeds getting a foothold too.

5. Leave those ladybirds alone. I KNOW there’s a problem with invasive Harlequin ladybirds, but to be honest, if they’re eating aphids, I’m happy. If you’re lucky enough to have no pests on your plot, then feel free to squish Harlequins and let our native species thrive. Otherwise, I just stay well clear and let them all eat cake…and more.

I’m married!

I can’t believe it’s over a month since I posted – though, it has to be said, I’ve had other things on my mind. On Friday May 2nd, I got hitched! As a gardener (and also a complete control freak) I had to do the flowers and plants (and pretty much everything else) myself, so I thought I’d share a few pictures.

Firstly, Colombia Road WAS my saviour. We got married on the Friday, so I headed up to Colombia Road the Sunday before and managed to bag 160 roses for ONLY £40! That, in my mind, is an incredible price. Of course, then there was the situation of trying to keep them fresh for the wedding day.

As soon as I got home it was time to snip, cutting off the bottom of the stems at an angle, UNDER the water and placing them into two containers with warm water that had previously been scrubbed and bleached to get rid of germs. The warm water did mean the roses opened up quickly, but it also encourages the stems to suck up more moisture; vital if you want to prolong the flowers. The lower leaves were removed, and I used a solution of 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar and three drops of bleach added to every 1 litre of water for nourishment. The bleach kills the germs, the sugar feeds the roses. The flowers were then stored in my garage; a place which has artificial light and is cool. After two days, I recut all the roses, removed any discoloured outer petals and leaves, and plunged back into fresh water with the doses of vinegar, bleach and sugar. AMAZINGLY, they last until the day when they were simply used in clear vases.

Meanwhile, all the succulents were stripped into singles, pairs or trios and placed into clear tumblers (£1 for 4 from Wilkinsons). They were then topped up with pea shingle to complete the look!

So, without further ado, here’s a few pics from the day:

Guest Post – 5 Ways to Make Your Garden More Beautiful

I love quick tips and easy ways of creating a beautiful space. Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Ricky Peterson….I’ll let him take over;

Hi there, my name is Ricky. I love writing about gardening and I love being outdoors. I work at Swallow Aquatics, who sell various garden supplies and when I am not working you will probably find me in the garden (weather permitting!) Thanks for reading, and enjoy your garden this summer!

*****

No matter how big or small your garden may be, there is plenty you can do to make it look more beautiful and a nicer place to be – and if you can you should! Having a nice home is one thing, but having a nice garden will allow you to enjoy the summer months more fully and spending time outside is good for you.

So whether you want to add value to your home, or you want to live the outdoor lifestyle more often, we have some tips to help you make the most of your space:

Looking After Your Plants

The first step to a beautiful garden is of course getting the right plants and looking after them correctly. The best plants for you will depend on your tastes and how much time you want to spend tending to them.

1A rose in a garden, looking pretty

If you like a low hassle garden then go for a range of different coloured (flowers) shrubs and maybe some dwarf conifers to as to add interest but without blocking your natural light. If in doubt, here is a good guide to choosing the right plants.

Alternatively, if you don’t mind the maintenance, then you can pick based on what colours you like and which plants you like the most. Ideally you should try to add some plants which flower at different times of year. Be aware of maintenance needs though:

  • Roses will need pruning every year and feeding often
  • Bedding plants will need to be watered regularly in summer
  • Some perennials need cutting at the end of each season

The Right Garden Furniture

Although this might feel like more of an afterthought, your furniture is what will allow you to sit and enjoy your garden, so think carefully. Light weight furniture may not look great by the end of winter, so unless you have somewhere to store it safely, it may be worth investing in some hard wooden or even stone furniture.

Wooden furniture will need treating each year and probably need a good clean each spring if you want it to look its best, whereas stone furniture will be the lowest maintenance, but is not to everyone’s tastes.

Additionally, if you are leaving wooden furniture on grass over the winter the legs will start to rot sooner than if you place your furniture on stone or some other hard patio surface.

Add Some Aquatics

Building a garden pond isn’t as hard as you might think and it can add a real dash of interest to your garden – especially if you decide to keep fish in it.

2Your pond doesn’t have to be this big of course

Ponds can also be low maintenance and if you add a water feature such as a small fountain they make a great focal point.

Things to consider:

  • For a low maintenance pond, don’t put it directly under trees (leaves = mess)
  • A decent water pump will prevent stagnation and keep the water healthy
  • Add layers of different depths to maximise the bio diversity
  • Include a shallow area to allow animals to drink & in case hedgehogs fall in
  • There is a full guide on planning your pond here

Heating & Lighting

Finally, think of those long summer evenings when you could be enjoying your garden. The two essential ingredients for an extended summer evening are light and warmth. Fortunately neither are difficult to find.

3Outdoor lighting can look pretty amazing

A patio heater is one option, or you could also consider a chimenea in which you can burn garden waste whilst keeping warm.

4And so can patio heaters!

In addition, some strategically placed solar powered lights around the garden can instantly make a dark outdoor space feel magical and modern lighting options are generally very low maintenance. Just try to place your lighting in areas which won’t quickly become overgrown.

Invite In Some Nature

And what’s the finishing touch you ask? Simple, share your garden with the local wildlife. You don’t have to give up your modern comforts, but a few simple touches such as:

  • A bird feeder
  • Some bird seed or fat balls
  • A bird bath
  • Lots of bright flowers

Will all attract lots of nature and will help to make your garden feel alive!

Pond Maintenance; quick tips for a spring spruce-up

© Geoff Wakeling

’tis the spring, and despite an orgy of frogs, you may need to do some pond maintenance.

I’ve always been hugely into nature, from caterpillars in jam jars and escaped stick insects being allowed to eat my mum’s house plants, to digging out my own little pond and watching the waterworld develop. At this time of year, even if you had a good clear of your pond last autumn, it’s a good idea to give it a once over before spring really gets on its way.

Unfortunately, being middle of terrace in the middle of a long street, in the middle of a large suburb, I don’t get a lot of aquatic life. That being said, a solo frog has managed to find its way into my garden and has taken up residence in my pond several years running. So far it hasn’t appeared this year, so I’m waiting with baited breath and hoping it’ll reappear (though, if it’s lucky, it’s moved on and found some other froggy friends). After the last of my fish died in 2013, I gave the entire pond a complete washout (if you read regularly, my ‘pond’ is just a huge plastic container sunk into the ground), cut back the weeds and left well alone since. However, now spring’s here and things are starting to grow, there’s a few important tasks that need doing.

  • Fish out any extra fallen leaves that might have collected over the winter.
  • Cut back dead or dying plant material that could sour the water.
  • Buy new, or cut back, oxygenating weeds, depending on its voraciousness. Particularity in small tubs, it’s a good idea to have oxygenating weed to maintain a healthy eco-system. This might need topping up with fresh plant material, or cutting back depending on last year’s growth.
  • Top up water levels if required. In large ponds its not normally possible to fill with distilled water. However, with smaller tubs, fill a few buckets of water and let them sit outside for 24/36 hours. This will not only allow them to match the ambient temperature, but additions, such as chlorine, can be allowed to escape.
  • Check pond filters and pumping solutions. In my tub I have a little solar-powered fountain, and the filter often needs a quick clear out, whilst the solar panel needs a wipe down. You might think that using pumps for a water feature is a hassle, but there are lots of companies who can install and help maintain equipment, allowing you to get on with the gardening and enjoy the sound of water in your oasis.
  • Ensure steep-sided ponds have escape routes for wildlife. One of my clients has an old bathtub sunk into her garden as a pond. The steep sides make it perilous for nature, and despite my efforts to grow plants around the edges to act as a bridge, there’s been a couple of drowned creatures. To avoid this, provide banks of stones or wood at the edges, and use water planting (both in and out of the pond) to give extra escape routes.

I adore ponds and water features in a garden. They make such a vast difference to the entire ambiance of an outside space. And, whether you’ve got a huge reservoir or a tiny tub pond, a quick spruce-up this weekend will ensure you have nothing to do later in the year other than enjoy the buzz of dragonflies and the babble of water.

Guest Post – The Problems You May Have With Japanese Knotweed

JapaneseKnotweed

Japanese Knotweed quickly becomes a problem. © Dankogreen – Flickr

If you are a keen gardener in the UK, you will likely be familiar with some of the invasive species that are damaging the habitats of our native ones. This is something that receives a fair bit of attention in the press, as well as on programmes such as Countryfile. One such rogue plant is the Japanese Knotweed, which is now said to occupy a site in every 10km of England and Wales, and is also present in Scotland [1].

This invasive species is causing problems to homeowners and businesses throughout the United Kingdom, especially in regards to structures such as concrete, tarmac, brick walls and foundations. The issue with Japanese Knotweed is the rate that it has spread, and the destruction to well cultivated gardens and even buildings.

Here are some of the specific problems caused by Japanese Knotweed [1]:

  • Damage to paving and tarmac areas

  • Damage to retaining wall structures

  • Damage to building foundations

  • Damage to flood defence structures

  • Damage to archaeological sites

  • Reduction in land values

  • Aesthetic issues

  • Reduction in biodiversity through out-shading native vegetation

  • Many insects / wildlife that are dependent on our native plants are lost or in danger

Some of these will be more relevant to you as a gardener, such as damage to paving, aesthetic issues and reduction in biodiversity. In rare cases, some would-be homebuyers have been refused a mortgage for properties when this plant is present, so it is something to watch out for in the future too.

It can be highly irritating to have a mature garden with native species affected by this invader, so you will want to find a solution of how to eradicate Japanese Knotweed effectively.

What to do if you suspect you have a problem with Japanese Knotweed

Due to the spread of Japanese Knotweed, it is now classed as “controlled waste” under the Environment Protection Act 1990. This means that it requires disposal at licensed landfill sites. In short, it should never be included in normal household waste as you could be committing an offence by causing or allowing the plant to spread in the wild (listed under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).

If you want to verify that you have a problem, you can use online resources to compare the stems and leaves of your plant with a photo of the real thing. Of course, you may want to hire a team of experts to do this for you, as it is probably better to be safe than sorry.

When it comes to actually getting rid of the plant, there are a number of ways it can be tackled. Experts may use chemicals, excavation, biological, composting or incineration tactics depending on the scale of the problem and the location. Professionals will be able to get get of the Japanese Knotweed in a safe and effective manner, and should offer you an insurance backed guarantee as well.

Sources: [1] http://www.jksl.com/why-is-japanese-knotweek-a-problem.htm

Easyart; Botanical Illustrations Review

As much as I like gardening outdoors, I have to be rather realistic; I live in Britain and there are going to many days when it’s pouring. It’s on days like those that it’s rather nice to have something a little horticultural inside. However, I’m not very good with house-plants. I’m terrible at remembering to water them, and anything more than the odd succulents or drought tolerant butterfly palm, tends to die. Luckily, even just a few garden-inspired prints and photos help lift a room, especially when you’re unable to get outside. And EasyArt have a beautiful range of Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Art Prints.

When I was first alerted to these prints, I was pretty impressed. There’s an immense range, so whether you like details flower illustrations, botanical prints or exquisitely drawn canvasses of fruit and vegetables, you’re in for a treat. I, myself, am rather partial to trees…particularly leaf shape, branches, catkins, that sort of thing. So, it was natural that my eye gravitated towards a couple of pieces that leapt of the page.

A pair of beautiful RHS Art Prints; Alnus Cordata and Pinus strobus

If you’re looking for some new horticultural-inspired artwork, then I’d highly recommend these. The prints themselves are extremely well crafted, and it’s well worth getting them correctly framed so that the pictures really pop. They’re expertly packaged too; it’s often these little things that make a difference. And, I have to say, despite the sun having finally come out in England, I’d quite happily stare at my new prints for more than a mere, passing moment.

Hanging on the wall. Yes…that is a dead bat…my partner likes taxidermy! :|

 

Five Fantastic Evergreen Border Plants

I’m dreaming of a…..no, not a white Christmas, but a brand, spanking new home. Of a garden that’s a complete blank canvas. Actually, no….more like a wreck of garden that I can go mad pruning, cutting back and shaping back into a gorgeous oasis. Of French Doors or a large sliding glass wall that I can throw open in warm weather and let the outside in. Of shutters in all shapes and sizes, so that I can get rid of the curtains and have a blissful, clean and crisp look. Of course, all of this is, as I’ve already suggested, a dream. I’m not moving, at the earliest, until this winter, so there’s a whole gardening season ahead of me. However, with family members moving and friends taking the last few days of warmer weather to spruce up their gardens, it has got me thinking about plants.

For many of us, a trip down to the local nursery is a delight. All too often, we fill our trolleys with bright flowers and beautiful blooms with the excitement of getting home and planting. However, after a few months, those petals have withered and disappeared, there hasn’t been the time to deadhead properly, and the garden looks a mess – all over again. And it’s in shopping for plants that the mistake has been made….I’ve learned this the hard way. Instead of being attracted by the glitter and dazzle of flowers, if you want a relatively stress-free and easily maintained patch, it’s evergreens that you need.

I’m going to do a couple of posts about good evergreen plants, and in this first one, I’m concentrating on low growing border and pot plants that’ll look great all year around.

Creme Brule HeucheraHeucheras (right) – Oh, be still my beating heart. I love these plants. What you see as a pile of leaves, I see as a beautifully patterned specime that will survive around the year, creating great mounds of lush vegetation. Heucheras come in many shapes and sizes, and various varieties thrive in sun or shade. That, in my opinion, makes them a perfect garden plant. They flower in early summer, so there’s a little maintenance chopping off the stalks after they’ve finished blooming. They’re slug and snail resistant too!

Phormiums – Some people love them, others hate them, but I generally regard phormiums as an ideal plant if you want an easy maintenance border or pot. Often called New Zealand flax, phormiums comes in a variety of colours, from pale and striped green leaves, to bright, pinkish red. The arrow-shaped foliage is the perfect contrast to other rounder-leaved garden evergreens, so you can clash both colour and shape. They’re miraculously easy to grow too. One downside is that slugs and snails like to hide away in the core – a place that’s pretty hard to get to. But if you’re ‘evergreening‘ your garden up, you probably won’t note a lot of mollusc damage anyway.

Grasses – Grasses have come in and out of fashion, but I love the fact that they’re available in such a vast array of varieties. Tiny dwarf and slow growing varieties are ideal for pots and the fronts of borders, whilst larger, shrub-sized plants can be used around the year as structural garden plants. To get the best from many varieties, you DO need to chop them right down in winter. However, that’s just once a year compared to lots of deadheading throughout the seasons – I see the benefits!

Ophiopogon contrasts against BergeniaOphiopogon (right) – Commonly called ‘Lily Turf’ or ‘Lily Grass’, this plant looks like a grass but, as its name suggests, is actually a lily. It has jet black leaves that last around the year. Grown against green or silver foliage it’s simply stunning. It also works well in pots where you can use pale gravel to really set it off. It’s very slow growing, so don’t expect it to cover a vast area very quickly, but it is a great talking point.

Hebes – If you’ve had to dig out your buddleia because it’s got monstrously leggy (I had to), then hebes are an ideal alternative. You’ll still get the benefit of nectar rich flowers for butterflies, but these treasures are more compact, often slow growing and make ideal evergreen specimens. Like many evergreen plants, they don’t always look their best in winter, but they WILL give a backdrop that’s better than bare and brown stems.

Whilst flowers look nice in the short term, there’s generally far more maintenance involved than if you’re growing shrubs and greenery. And, if you want a garden to look lush and vibrant around the year with very little effort, I’d definitely consider using evergreen plants that provide a constant backdrop of foliage.

Four Gardening Jobs for A Rainy Day

Eh? MORE rain? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but what with the past three days in London being dry and relatively sunny, I think I was lured into a false sense of security. Those three days were probably our summer. But, anyway, to business.

With rain having returned, it got me to thinking about what garden jobs I need to do in the off-chance that the sun comes out and gardening can recommence. I’m a bit of a multi-tasker and I hate down time, so when it’s pouring outside, it’s the perfect time to focus on other things (though, with the amount of rain we’ve done, you may have already completed most of these tasks).

Pot Washing

I know, it’s not exactly glamorous. However, washing out your pots is an extremely good idea if you want to promote seed germination and reduce the risks of bacterial and viral diseases. For the worst, scrape off dirt with a stiff brush before leaving to soak in a bucket of nine parts hot water and one part bleach. Rinse off well when you’re done.

 

It's the ideal time to clear algae from paving. © macoto - Flickr

It’s the ideal time to clear algae from paving. © macoto – Flickr

Hard-Landscaping Repairs

So, you can’t really do this whilst there’s a downpour, but it’s the ideal time to make a few landscaping repairs before things really get growing. Of course, you won’t get cement to set in this weather, but loose brick walls can be cobbled back together easily. With the soil soft, it’s an easy case of replacing fallen masonry and stones. The continuous rain also helps to settle soil again once you’re done.

Meanwhile, moss and algae that’s begun to grow on fencing, paving and ornaments can also be scrubbed off using a jet washer (or hose with a strong jet fixture) and a stiff broom, whilst it’s also the perfect time to replace fencing which isn’t readily accessible later in the year when climbers are in full growth.

 

Equipment Maintenance

I have a confession – I’m not terribly good at maintaining my garden gadgets. Okay, so I knock off excess soil on spades and forks, and I keep my glovers washed and clean (mostly). However, when it comes to the lawnmower, the blades need sharpening. The strimmer needs some new twine and a damn good wipe-down, and I really look carefully pick through the teeth of the electric saw to remove old bits of twig. If something’s old and a little worn out, it’s also a good idea to replace a few parts. In this consumer-crazy era, it’s easy just to go and buy something new. But places like Pat’s Small Engine Plus offer replacement parts for many major brands, so you can save yourself a few quid whilst also getting a better working tool.

 

Get some early seeds on the go.

Get some early seeds on the go.

Seed Germination

You didn’t think you could get away without any growing, did you? It is warm enough to get a few plants going, especially if you have a heated propagator or a sunny, indoor windowsill. Spring onion sets and broad beans can be planted at this time of year, and I’d be tempted to start them off in pots as the soil’s a little warmer and you’ll get a decent headstart with germination. If you’re growing annuals and want some early seasonal flowers, get a few pots on the go now. This ensure that long before the rest of your plants are blooming, you have mature little plants to pop into borders nice and early.

I’ve already got some seeds on the go, and have my pot washing on the go, but there’s definitely some paving that needs a damn good scrub.

Welcome to The Guide to Gay Gardening's new look!


Living in the grey smog of London utopia, I forge my little existence in a slightly loopy, hermity, hippy manner, sharing my life with the hens, cats and other menagerie that have somehow taken over my life.

If I'm not enjoying the great outdoors with my netbook in hand, I'll be snipping, pruning, planting, cutting, propagating, shovelling, or just plain admiring. You can even catch the occasional glimpse of me on the TV now and then!

Take the weight off for a while. Sit back, relax, read, send me feedback, but mostly just take a moment and look around you.....mother nature is beautiful.


Geoff Wakeling

Mail Me: geoffwakeling(at) theguidetogaygardening.com


















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  • Creme Brule Heuchera

  • Ophiopogon contrasts against Bergenia

  • Garden rooms don't have to be shed-like.

  • Heucheras are a great option for foliage if you're trying to avoid higher maintenance plants.

  • Succulents are ideal for low maintenance pots.

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"I've been listening to the Battlestar soundtracks for about a month now. I'm starting to forget what normal life sounds like."
"Holy crapballs! I went to dinner & there were 55 downloads. Came back - 308 on .com and 123 on .co.uk!"
"Couple of hours tennis played...I'm getting better!! It was still 6-1, 6-0, 6-1, but I AM playing someone who's got a decade of experience!"