Great British Garden Revival

I am not sure if it is a common perception but due to working within the horticultural industry, it is clear that here in Britain we are a nation of gardeners. With the development of the industrial sector and the new homes within our largest towns and city centres; space is now at a premium. However, new and innovative concepts such as an urban gardening, balcony growing, growing plants on your windowsill, and products such as our Tower Pot™, mean that space is no longer a required component to gardening.

Episode 1 of the Great British Garden Revival discussed the nation’s favourite flower, the rose. We live in a world that seeks new innovations, whether it is having the latest smart phone or fashion trend and I think this the same for our choice of flowers. We don’t like to feel that we are missing out on something and with our focus on new varieties, traditional varieties are taking a back-seat and we are at risk of losing them from our gardens forever.

Rose the one and onlySo, roses. I have to admit I fall in love with roses every time I see them. There are over 1,000 cultivars of rose, from trailing to shrubs there is a variety to suit most requirements. The first episode featured traditional climbing rose varieties such as Crimson Glory. With deep crimson blooms, this older variety is beautiful and the fragrance is simply divine! However, even though older roses tend to have amazing fragrance, they can lack in vigour and good disease resistance. This is when we see the newer varieties take centre stage with the best of best of both worlds. Hardy rose variety Rose ‘The One and Only’ has flowers rich with crimson-red petals that give the appearance of an old-fashioned English rose. They are renowned for their scent, as this hybrid tea rose is like no other – fruity and indulgent. That being said, every rose has something to offer to the garden and we all have our own favourites. Have you got a favourite rose?

narcissue tete-a-teteEpisode 2 of the Great British Garden Revival focused on daffodils, blossom trees and shrubs. The history of daffodils dates back before the First World War, where fields were coated in a blaze of yellow. They were then cut and packed for the consumer market. The big affect on daffodil growing came after the Second World War when fields were taken over for the production of food. However, now we often see daffodils in front gardens and scattered along countryside lanes where they bring a smile to our faces as they are seen to resemble one of the first signs of Spring and the growing season ahead. I love the all time favourite Narcissus ‘Tete-a-tete’. This delightfully small variety is the perfect variety for cutting. Undemanding an easy to grow, they will make a beautiful addition to cottage gardens. What is your favourite daffodil?

 

On tonight’s episode James Wong attempts to revive a plant that has disappeared from our gardens, the rhododendron. Christine Walkden puts the case forward for the carnation, as she heads to a specialist nursery to recover some important facts.

Have you been watching? We would love to get your thoughts. Tell us if you prefer traditional or modern varieties and why.

Photo competition winners 2014

This is our favourite time of year, when we get to judge all the stunning entries to our competitions. However, this year we decided to do things a little differently and we asked you to help us pick the winning photos.

Michael Perry short listed each category down to his six favourites of which we then posted onto facebook. You then chose your favourite photo by hitting the like button, the one with most likes won. Simples!

Thank you to everyone who entered and big congratulations to all of our winners.

So here are you winning entries for our 2014 categories;

Indredibloom® competition  (selected by Thompson & Morgan)

Lindsey Cooper – Harrogate

Lindsey used basil seeds from the same pack, same bag of compost, same size pots. However, used the Incredibloom® fertiliser in one pot. This is a wonderful reflection of our ground breaking plant feed.

Incredibloom

Plant a portrait

Barbara Thomas – Blackpool

competition

 

Wildlife competition

Kate Duckmanton – Buckingham

photo competition

 

Begonia competition

Robert Leeke  – Crewe

photo competition

Basket Challenge

John Alan Sinclair – Alnwick

photo competition

 

Beds and borders competition

John Alan Sinclair – Alnwick

photo competition

Unusual fruit and veg competition

Jenny Clancy – Chelmsford

photo competition

Fruit and Veg competition

Helen Crewdson – Surbiton

photo competition

Patio Garden competition

Kathleen Bethell – Nottingham

photo competition

Thank you to everyone who voted for their favourite photo. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for next years photo competition for a chance to win great prizes. You dont always have to wait for our competitions, we love to see your photos everyday so please feel free to post them on our facebook and twitter pages. :)

How to plant an easy fill hanging basket for winter

Sometimes our gardens can be slightly depressing and dull in winter, but why should our gardens suffer? You can create beautiful hanging basket displays for your garden this winter in 10 easy steps. Let our expert, Michael Perry (our Product Development Manager) guide you with his helpful video and top tips in creating your best winter hanging displays.

 

winter hanging basketMichael’s Top Tips for Basket Success

1. Don’t cut corners with compost; always buy the best quality that you can afford.

2. Mix in Incredibloom® when planting, so your plants have all the ‘vitamins’ they need from the
word go.

3. You can put your basket straight outside too; no need to give your plants any under glass
protection.

4. Use our Easy Fill hanging basket to get a head start on your trailing growth; this amazing basket
even allows you to plant around the sides.

winter hanging basket5. Don’t add water retaining gel to winter baskets – they could make things too soggy during winter rain and snow thaw.

6. Have some horticultural fleece to hand, ready to drape around your basket displays if we do get a
prolonged cold snap.

7. Check for watering needs regularly – cold winter winds can be as drying as hot summer sun!

8. Offer a top up feed as growth takes off in spring to ensure the longest life from your seasonal
basket plants.

9. Add one or two, evergreen winter-flowering/fruiting shrubs to your baskets for extra interest and
height.

10. Check for watering needs regularly – cold winter winds can be as drying as hot summer sun!

 

Quick master class  with Michael Perry

Edible Flowers – useful in any garden

Edible flowers can make a useful and delightful addition to any garden – whether big, small and practical or pretty – they can help boost any garden in question. Edible flowers can be used in a variety of ways and grow easily and quickly for a fast harvest.

edible flowers

I decided to use an old tin bath to create my edible flower garden as part of my smallholding in Suffolk. I enjoyed growing mine, as whilst they were growing and before they were picked ready for eating, they add colour and fragrance to my vegetable garden! I believe they make a welcomed addition to any allotment or garden – they attract the helpful bees too.

I received a bunch of edible flower seeds from Thompson and Morgan. The seeds were:
Chives
Viola tricolor – Wild Pansy
Calendula ‘Sherbet Fizz’
Cornflower ‘Blue Diadem’
Oenothera – ‘Lemon Sunset’

The chives have been so useful. I have been using them to add to salads, soups and to replace onion in other recipes – adding to home produced free range scrambled eggs is a favourite in our house!

My pansies were a beautiful purple and yellow colouring and were very delicate.  Pansies have a lettuce and salad like flavour so are perfect to add in small quantities to home-made salads. Additionally, they can be sugared or crystallised to add to a number of sweet dishes such as cakes, desserts or even confectionery.

edible flowers

Calendula ‘Sherbet Fizz’ (Marigold) are the yellow and orange flowers and have a slightly peppery taste to them. I like using them in soups and salads. Additionally, baking with this edible flower can produce tasty breads and biscuits. Note – use in small quantities as can be a diuretic.

edible flowers
Cornflowers have a lovely striking deep blue colour to them and make a delightful addition to an edible flowerbed. They have a clove-like flavour and thus can be used to decorate salads, pasta dishes and eaten with other edible flowers.

Oenothera ‘Lemon Sunset’. Otherwise known as evening primrose; this edible flower has a lettuce; salad flavour to it so is obviously great to add to salads.

When adding to any cooking ensure to wash and rinse them properly, check which parts are okay to eat (i.e. stem, leaves, and petals) and also use in small quantities the first few times you cook with it. I really enjoyed this project making a mini edible garden plot in my smallholding and hope this post has been useful to future edible flower growers!

Katy, The Good Life In Practice

What to do in the garden in August

There are always things to do in the garden whether it is planting, pruning or watering. So we have highlighted some what to do in the garden in august guidance to help you.

what to do in the garden in august

In the flower garden

  • Dead-head lilies for a better flower display next year.
  • Mow meadows now to help scatter wild flower seeds.
  • Stake tall or top heavy dahlias and lilies to prevent wind and rain damage.
  • Trim your lavender plants after they’ve finished flowering to keep them compact.
  • Prune summer flowering shrubs once they have finished blooming.
  • Collect ripened seed and store for next year. Leaving some seed heads in place can be attractive and allows the plant to self-seed in the surrounding soil.
  • Prune climbing plants such as roses and rambling roses once they’ve finished flowering (unless they are repeat-flowerers in which case leave them).
  • Take cuttings of your favourite tender perennials such as pelargoniums and fuchsias to propagate them for next year.
  • Look out for symptoms of Clematis Wilt such as wilting leaves and black discolouration on the leaves and stems of your Clematis. Cut out any infected plant material and dispose of it in your household waste.

what to do in the garden in august

In the vegetable garden

  • Pinch out the top of tomato plants to concentrate the growth into the fruit that has already formed. Aim to leave 5 or 6 trusses of fruit per plant.
  • Water your vegetable plants and fruit plants daily in warm weather.
  • Continue to harvest second early potatoes now – perfect for salads!
  • Start harvesting your maincrop potatoes as the leaves yellow and die back. Try storing your potatoes in hessian sacks which exclude light but allow adequate ventilation.
  • Harvest French and runner beans little and often to prevent them from setting seed.
  • On a dry sunny day, collect seeds of herbs such as dill, fennel, caraway and chervil and dry in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Chervil must be sown immediately.
  • Keep on top of weeds as they compete with your crops for nutrients and water.

what to do in the garden in august

In the fruit garden

  • If you have plants fruiting in containers, make sure you give them a high potash liquid feed to keep plants healthy and productive.
  • Remember to feed your lemon tree (and other citrus fruit trees) throughout summer with a special citrus fertiliser.
  • Plant out any rooted runners of strawberries for a good crop next year.
  • Keep birds and squirrels off your berries with netting or old net curtains.
  • Protect your crops with a bird scarer made from CDs tied to strings.
  • Harvest your fruit trees – cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots should all be ripe now! Early varieties of apple trees will be ready towards the end of the month.
  • If you have a glut of autumn raspberries, blackberries or loganberries, freeze them on trays for a couple of hours and then bag them up to use over winter.

what to do in the garden in august

Other jobs in the garden

  • Hedges can be given a final trim now before they stop growing.
  • Water plants thoroughly when needed instead of every day. Thorough watering supports plants for up 14 days, while merely wetting the surface wastes water, encourages weeds and can lead to surface rooting making the plants more vulnerable.
  • Use water butts as much as you can to water your plants.
  • Recycle your water – collect washing up water in a bucket outside for watering beds and lawns
  • Turn the compost in your compost bins every month to keep it well aerated and to speed up decomposition.
  • Keep bird baths topped up in hot weather.
  • If your plants are wilting check for vine weevils by tipping your plants out of their pots and looking for ‘C’ shaped creamy maggots amongst the roots. Treat with nematodes if vine weevils are spotted.
  • Prevent slugs attacking your young plants by using nemaslug.
  • Use boiling water as a weed killer on your paved areas. Weeds wilt and die within a few days.

For our full what to plant in august guide click here.

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