Archive for January, 2014


aristonorganic

osteospernum_by_selinarainbowmoon-d5enkmc

“The Kingdom of Flowering Plants holds a special compassion for human travail. Because of this, the essences of flowers support us with a special compassion through our earthbound transformation. Flower essences contain the vibratory qualities of the flowers, and are made by infusing the flower into spring water under sun or moon light.”
– Flowers of the Soul.

http://selinarainbowmoon.deviantart.com/art/Osteospernum-326945316

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Using focal points- including the more unusual- is an effective way of drawing the eye away from the edges of a space
Using focal points- including the more unusual- is an effective way of drawing the eye away from the edges of a space

Sometimes, especially with awkwardly shaped or smaller gardens, it makes sense to try and draw the eye from the outer boundaries and create a more pleasing and, apparently larger space. Here are seven ‘top tips’ for achieving this:

1. Put square and rectangular patios and lawns at 45/30/60 degrees to the side boundaries or use shapes for these and other flat areas which contrast with the outer shape of the garden.

2. Set paths to run at an angle to the garden boundaries in zig zags or dog leg style.

3. Make paths curved, meandering from side to side.

Paths- including grass- and the border edges they create can be meandering to take the eye on a journey..
Paths- including grass- and the border edges they create can be meandering to take the eye on a journey..

4. Fix structures such as trellis, pergolas and arches or plant hedges across the garden to interrupt the view and to create separate compartments.

5. Place groups of tall shrubs or trees at intervals in the line of sight to block views across or down the garden.

6. Use climbers and large shrubs, especially evergreens, to disguise solid formal boundary fences and to break up the straight lines, particularly the horizontal ones of fence/ wall tops.

7. Carefully place focal points to draw the eye in various chosen directions, positioning them so that they can be seen from different places in the garden.

Use climbing plants to cover up and soften hard boundaries

Use climbing plants to cover up and soften hard boundaries

Related article: Arbours and Pergolas in the Garden- 7 Top Tips

Old School Gardener

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

Although the practice of coppicing has been around for thousands of years, it’s likely that you may not have even heard about coppicing until recently. Coppicing is a way of managing a woodland that benefits wildlife whilst creating a sustainable source of timber with numerous applications.

When a broadleaved tree has its stem and crown removed certain hormone levels within the stump of the tree (the stool) undergo a rapid change. This causes new shoots to sprout from the side of the stool; which is known as the re-growth. Re-growth can be rapid, often as much as 2 meters a year, this is because the tree has a fully developed root system. The practice of coppicing can be carried out on the same tree for at least several hundred years and has been shown to actually prolong the life of a tree. In fact, often the oldest trees in our…

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gooseberry

‘Now I am in the garden at the back…- a very preserve of butterflies, as I remember it, with a high fence and a gate and padlock; where the fruit clusters on the trees, riper and richer than fruit has ever been since, in any other garden, and where my mother gathers some in a basket, while I stand by, bolting furtive gooseberries, and trying to look unmoved.’

Charles Dickens – David Copperfield 1850

Old School Gardener

My Botanical Garden

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There were many beautiful illustrations in the old zoological textbook I wrote about in my last post. Today I’ve picked some illustrious examples of what is known as masquerade or mimesis. Basically, prey animals during evolution developed mechanisms, to camouflage and have higher surveillance rates. Mimetic animals look like something else, not interesting to the predator, like bark, twig, leaf or even lichen. You have the examples on the pictures above, they are actuary  full of  mother nature’s wit. But could it be presumed, that mimesis is a form of  aggressive influential behaviour? Meaning ,that flora in general, is in a way pushing other species to try to survive by being more flora like. Which in turn ends in better surveillance rates of real flora, as the, so to say, fake mimetic subjects de facto are ”incompetent plants”? Would like to hear your opinion about this science-fiction idea!

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PlayGroundology

In play, ‘loose parts’ are skirting the edges of nirvana. Ask any kid. Now they probably won’t call them ‘loose parts’. They’re more likely to use the generic and all encompassing ‘stuff’ prefaced by cool, awesome, or great. It might even go the way of ‘this stuff is epic’.

Simple play is best for kidsStudents at Emmaus Primary Catholic School – Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Jay Town. Source: HeraldSun

Wood, rope, tarps, tires, milk crates, cardboard boxes, fabrics and apparently hay bales too can make up a loose parts inventory. It’s what the kids do with it that’s a real blast. They create, they build up and pull down, they improvise, they move, groove and PLAY!

Now, thanks to Australian researcher Brendon P. Hyndman we have empirical evidence that loose parts in primary schools go way beyond a good thing. From the perspective of increasing physical activity, engaging a broad cross-section of kids and being light…

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Eremurus 'Shelford Hybrids'
Eremurus ‘Shelford Hybrids’

With Spring round the corner and thoughts of summer-flowering bulbs, this week’s timely question comes from George White of Walthamstow, London:

‘A friend has some magnificent border plants which he knows only by the name Foxtail Lilies. What are they, and are they easy to grow?’

George, these plants are a glorious addition to summer borders and belong to the genus Eremurus. They are also known as ‘Desert Candles’ and are hardy herbaceous perennials in which tall spikes of star-shaped flowers arise from a ring of narrow, pointed foliage. The best and tallest are the series known as  ‘Shelford Hybrids’, whose flowers vary in colour but are often a pleasing soft, pinky beige. They can reach 2.75 metres tall and bear hundreds of primrose-sized flowers.

Eremurus stenophyllus bungei  is the yellow-flowered parent of these hybrids and reaches 1 metre in height. The other parent E. olgae, is late flowering, bears pink blooms, and reaches a height of 1.5 metres.

Other fine examples are the very tall E. elwesii with soft pink flowers (and it’s white-flowered variety ‘Albus’), and the even taller (up to 3 metres) E. robustus with pinky yellow flowers on spikes up to 1.2 metres long. Eremurus are quite easy to grow as long as they have a free draining soil around their roots and have lots of warm sunshine. Here’s a video on how to plant Eremurus bulbs. It will probably be at least one season before you see any flowers.

If you can’t wait until next year then now’s the time to  think about some other unusual summer flowering bulbs for your borders.

Camassia (Quamash) are easy to grow and are attractive late spring performers that look good with late tulips (I have some whose lavender-purple flower spikes contrast well with the orange tulip ‘Ballerina’). C. cusickii is 200mm tall with lots of pale blue flowers, while C. quamash (syn. esculenta) has spikes of white to deep-blue flowers and grows to 250mm tall. C. leichtlinii, 900mm tall, has white or blue star-like flowers and C. semiplena has semi double creamy flowers on sturdy stems.

Other summer bulbs of interest are Fritillaria persica ‘Adiyaman’ which stands between 800mm – 1.2 metres tall and in May produces unusual, deep -hanging bells of rich plum-purple. Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ is probably the best of the summer flowering ‘snowflakes’ standing 300-500mm tall and has wide- hanging white bells in April and May.

If you are in a frost free area or able to lift your bulbs to protect them from winter frost, then Watsonia is a colourful spike- flowered border plant. And why not go for a touch of the exotic with a Canna or two? (better make that 3 at least). Summer flowering bulbs are already available to buy online through various well-known nursery companies and should soon start appearing in your local Garden Centre or nursery. Plant them in the spring as the soil begins to warm up.

Further information:

BBC gardening guide – summer flowering bulbs

Foxtail Lilies

How to grow Eremurus robustus

How to grow Eremurus stenophyllus AGM

Old School Gardener

Municipal Dreams

There’s something counter-intuitive about exposing ‘delicate’ children to the elements, come rain, come shine: (1)

Sometimes, when we got there in the morning the snow would have blown in on to the tables and chairs and we would have to clear it off before we could start.

But by all accounts, it did Norman Collier, a pupil at the Aspen House Open Air School in Streatham in the 1930s, ‘the world of good’.

The school was opened by the London County Council in 1925 for pupils described at the time as ‘pre-tuberculous’ – children who were anaemic, asthmatic or malnourished.   It was the fifth of the LCC’s open-air schools.  The first had been opened in Bostall Wood in Woolwich on land donated by the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society in 1907.  But it was the first built to the council’s ‘improved design’ which would go on to be used in fourteen…

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