Tag Archive: bedding


bonfireNovember is upon us, the clocks have ‘gone back’, the days continue to shorten as temperatures fall. What is there to do in the garden this month? Here’s a list of ten top ‘to do’s’ to keep you busy!

1. Clean

  • Rake up fallen leaves – especially from lawns, ponds and beds. Put the leaves in a leaf cage or black bags to create leaf mould to use on your garden over the next few years.

  • Cut down herbaceous stems and clear the remains of annuals, but leave those perennials that fade relatively elegantly (sedum, astilbes and grasses for example).

  • Clear out the greenhouse, wash pots and trays, clean, mend and oil your tools and throw away anything that is beyond hope of reasonable repair!

2. Burn

Keep leaf raking and saving to make leaf mould

Keep leaf raking and saving to make leaf mould

  • If you need to, use a seasonal bonfire (where this is allowed) to dispose of material that can’t be composted. Follow good neighbour and eco friendly practices- avoid smoke nuisance and don’t use petrol/diesel or burn plastics etc.

3. Dig

  • This month is probably your last chance to prepare your soil before winter sets in. If it’s heavy, clear the weeds, dig it over and add organic matter to the soil as you dig or lay a thick mulch on top and let the worms do the work for you!

  • If you produce a fine tilth, protect it from winter rain, which will damage the soil structure – use a good layer of compost and/or leaf mould, sow a green manure or even lay plastic sheeting over it. The soil will be easier to plant or sow into the following spring.

3.Plant

  • Finish planting spring bulbs such as narcissi, crocuses and alliums – even though it’s a little late!

  • Plant tulip bulbs – the cooler soil helps prevent the fungal disease ‘tulip fire’. Plant bulbs in containers or in a sunny spot at 2 – 3 times their own depth and double their width apart. They can also be used to fill gaps in beds and borders, under shrubs and trees or naturalised in grass or woodland. Remember that tulips like good drainage and ideally should lie on a thin layer of grit if your soil is heavy, to prevent rotting.

  • Pot up amaryllis bulbs, water, keep them initially in a dark, warm place, then in daylight as leaves appear – hopefully you’ll have glorious colour for Christmas!.

  • Plant bare-rooted trees, shrubs, hedging and roses as well as fruit trees and bushes. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for an hour before planting.

  • Sow over-wintering onion sets, broad beans and garlic.

    Sow Broad Beans now for a heavier crop next year

    Sow Broad Beans now for a heavier crop next year

4. Divide

  • Perennials such as daylilies, Asters (Michaelmas daisies) and Golden Rod can be divided and replanted. Cut them down to about 8- 10cms, dig them up and divide carefully. If your soil is heavy clay, do this in the spring. All other perennials are also best left until the spring, especially peonies which dislike being split in cold weather and ‘warm season’ grasses like Miscanthus.

5. Prune

  • Roses  and tall shrubs (Lavatera and Buddleja for example) should be pruned lightly to prevent wind-rock (reduce stems by about a half). Pruning can be carried out from now on throughout the dormant season. Once the leaves have fallen it is easier to see the overall shape and prune accordingly.

  • Do not cut back the less hardy perennials such as penstemons and hardy fuchsias more than a third – the dead stems should give some protection for the crowns in the coldest weather. In colder areas, mulch them with composted bark or something similar and avoid cutting them back fully until they begin to shoot from the base in spring.

  • Remove any fig fruits larger than a pea – the really small ones are embryo figs that will be next year’s crop. The larger ones will not survive the winter.

6. Support

Feed the birds- most will help you keep pests under control

Feed the birds- most will help you keep pests under control

  • Remember to feed the birds in your garden and provide fresh water.

  • Create a small pile of logs to provide shelter for insects and amphibians over the winter.

  • Solitary bees make good use of nooks and crannies in gardens over winter, so if you need some build your own by drilling holes in blocks of untreated softwood and then suspend the blocks in a sunny site. (Block dimensions – 5cm x 10cm x 20cm, Drill bit sizes – 4mm, 6mm and 8mm).

7. Protect

  • Stop winter moth damage to fruit trees by using grease bands around the trunk.

  • Drain and lag standpipes, outdoor taps, irrigation lines and water pumps in advance of really cold weather.

  • Cover brassicas with netting if pigeons are a problem

  • Move tender plants inside or keep a supply of fleece, bubble wrap or similar to protect them from freezing conditions – this is especially important for recently planted hardy annuals and outdoor containers which can be insulated with bubblewrap and raised off the ground to prevent waterlogging and freezing.

  • Protect newly planted trees, hedges and shrubs from the elements with a temporary netting windbreak if they’re in an exposed site.

8. Harvest

  • Bring in carrots, parsnips (wait until after a frost), endive, cauliflower and autumn cabbages.

Leave Parsnips in the ground until they've had a good frosting- it improves the flavour

Leave Parsnips in the ground until they’ve had a good frosting- it improves the flavour

9. Store

  • Remove any canes and supports in your garden left from your summer crops or staking– remember to store them safe and dry.

  • Check stored fruit and vegetables and throw out any that show the slightest sign of rotting.

  • Dahlias – wait until a couple of good frosts have blackened them, then cut the stems back to approximately 10cm from the ground and label each plant as you lift it – it’s easy to forget which is which! Lift the tubers carefully as you dig around them, remove all the soil and store for a couple of weeks in a dry, cool place upside down to allow any residual moisture in the stem to drain out. Once they are completely dry, they can be buried in gritty or sandy peat free compost (used stuff will do) so the top of the tuber is above the compost level. Keep them somewhere frost free.

10.Plan

  • Order seed catalogues or invesitgate seed availability online so that you can get hold of the seeds that you want in good time. If you’re a member of the RHS you can get hold of up to 12 packets of seeds (including 9 collections) for only £8.50- find out more here.

Old School Gardener

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So here we go…a first, experimental post to share some of my experiences of gardens, parks and other open spaces on our recent trip to Australia. Please let me know what you think!

Our trip was primarily about visiting our eldest daughter and her partner as they were expecting our first grand child. They live in the south west suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, so much of the six weeks we were there were spent in Victoria, though we also managed tow short breaks to Sydney and Canberra.

The first trip out was to a histroic house and park/gardens called Werribee Park, a short drive away. We didn’t look round the house- a Victorian pile (in both senses) put up by a family that had ‘made it good’ in the newly prosperous Victoria of gold rush fame.

The Park is laid out in classic English landscape style with beautifully grouped trees and lawns, with more formal beds and borders of carpet bedding and other flowering plants. there is a large lake with an accompanying grotto and an old glasshouse with rather different planting than you’d see back in England!

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There is also the Victorian State Rose Garden a more recent addition to the park and which is cleverly laid out in the shape of a Tudor Rose and with accompanying areas shaped as a bud (carrying a large collection of David Austin roses) and the ‘Australian Federation Leaf’. Though it was winter time when we visited, there was still a good display of flowers, and the whole area must be really grand in mid summer.

The concept of the State Rose Garden goes back to 1976, when the National Rose Society developed the idea…it was another 20 years before the Tudor rose area was planted up and since then grants and donations have enabled the newer areas to be planted out. In 2003 the garden won the ‘Garden of Excellence’ award from the World Federation of Rose Societies. Managed by Parks Victoria, the site relies on a large group of volunteers for its care and maintenance. I look forward to visiting both areas again in the summer months!

Oh, and if you didn’t know, our grand daughter Freya Grace was born on 28th June and is doing well, along with mum and dad!

Old School Gardener

 

PicPost: Artwork

Montreal, Canada

Montreal, Canada

yin yang

Old friends Jen and Dave are currently visiting Cambodia and Vietnam. Yesterday I had an email from them with some interesting pictures of public gardens in ‘the  French equivalent of Simla’ as Jen describes the mountain retreat of Da Lat. After the heat of Ho Chi Minh City they are enjoying the ability to walk around in only 24 degrees (it’s been hovering around freezing here in Norfolk)! Jen describes the nearby Flower Gardens as a ‘complete revelation’ and says:

‘Everything was sternly ordered with avenues of bonsai. Cosmos was planted in strict rows, Gertrude Jekyll eat your heart out!’

Here are her pictures, her favourite being the Vietnamese flag flanked by a topiary teapot (I must admit at first glance I thought the teapot was some sort of squirrel)!

gf

Old School Gardener

We started our recent trip to the Hebrides and Northumberland in the port of Oban. We arrived in time to have a lovely lunch and a mooch around the town before boarding the ferry to the Isle of Mull. I was struck by this rather fine traffic island/roundabout with its formal bedding displays.

And there were other delightful floral displays to be seen around the harbour and on a bar front…more on our trip in due course!

Old School Gardener

Planting Patterns #14

Amish Quilt gardens

Old School Gardener

PicPost: Memories of Christmas

IMG_7367

Whilst visiting our son (who’s studying at Loughborough University) we took advantage of the ‘Heritage Open Days’ event at nearby Calke Abbey, Derbyshire. Billed by owners, the National Trust as ‘The un-stately home and country estate’ because of its peeling paintwork and overgrown courtyards, Calke Abbey is witness to the wider decline of country house estates all over Britain, especially after the First World War (avid viewers of the latest TV series of ‘Downton Abbey’ can get a taste of some of the issues – death duties, lack of staff, economic downturn).

Whilst some of the House and stables have been restored, there are still many other areas where old furniture, toys and a myriad other ‘heirlooms’ have been left to speak volumes of how the British landed gentry went through a major ‘downsizing’. Admittedly the family who owned Calke did amass a vast collection of curiosities and ‘hidden treasures’- there are fascinating collections of sea shells, rocks and pebbles for example.

The house was delightful and had some very friendly ‘in character’ guides to help tell the story. But the garden was the gem in my eyes. Extensive parkland with a number of beautiful mature trees, deer roaming and typical Victorian curiosities like the fernery give way to a massive walled garden, much of which is now just turned over to grass, but a significant portion of which houses a wonderful kitchen garden (with an access tunnel to ensure the gardeners weren’t seen from the house!). There is also an impressive array of original glasshouses and an orangery in which peaches and other tender fruit and veg are still grown. I particularly liked the Squash Tunnel made of rustic poles and featuring a range of different squashes. Approached by a colourful Dahlia border, there’s also a fascinating ‘Gardeners’ Bothy’, complete with old tools and equipment, seed trays and prize certificates from yesteryear! I was puzzled by one seed drawer, labelled ‘Borecole’. I hadn’t come across this name before and guessed it migth be some local corruption of ‘broccoli’. I now know it’s another term for Kale or a particular variety of Kale!

Walking through the pretty featureless,  grassed over walled garden you suddenly turn a corner and enter a more intimate, warm, walled garden with blocks of bright colours and interesting foliage. An amazing contrast, this formally laid out garden with a range of exotic plants as well as classic bedding, made me draw breath and smile like a Cheshire Cat!

This area has been superbly laid out and the colour, foliage and flower combinations are very impressive. There’s an ‘Auricula Theatre’ currently housing Pelargoniums (see the picture I posted of this earlier in the year) and a pool, all contributing to a peaceful spot where you can (and we did) sit and gaze at the wonder of nature – as coaxed and displayed by man of course! This was a truly inspiring afternoon, so if you get the chance, get along to Calke Abbey (by the way there was never an abbey here).

Further information:

National Trust Website

History- Wikipedia

Old School Gardener

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