Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west


Some day my quince will come!

Fri, 06/12/2013 - 15:48 Post author: Aidan Gill

You won't find them in supermarkets, but edible quinces or Cydonia oblonga are an exotic addition to any garden and deserve to be more widely grown.

These pear- or apple-shaped fruits are greenish-yellow and as hard as nails until they ripen to a golden colour in autumn. The slow-growing trees are as attractive as their fruit. In late May, fragrant, pale-pink, open-faced blossom opens among deep-green, felty leaves. The bark of the gnarled trunks comes in mottled shades of green and brown.

Taming the blackberry beast!

Tue, 03/12/2013 - 11:22 Post author: Aidan Gill

Rubus fruticosus, or the ever popular blackberry, may need a lot of control to stop it being rampant but it is a wonderful and much underrated addition to a fruit garden.

For those who like to venture out picking blackberries just think how much nicer it would be to have them within the confines of your own garden.

Wild hedgerow varieties vary enormously – the result of often decades of hybrids crossing inadvertedly with each other.

Garden varieties provide a more authentic and improved option of this wonderful fruit, which if you get everything right will crop handsomely. Thornless varieties with larger berries will adorn any fruit cage and they have the added benefit of coming earlier in the summer than their wild relatives.

Sea kale - the ‘seaside’ vegetable

Tue, 03/12/2013 - 10:51 Post author: Aidan Gill

Found wild on the shoreline of shingle beaches around the West Country, this perennial vegetable offers heavy crops over many years for the patient gardener.

If you’ve heard of sea kale but never tried growing it then you could be in for a pleasant surprise.

It's part of the brassica family and looks like a large silver grey cabbage. The young leaves are sensational in salads and the blanched shoots ate tender with an asparagus flavour.

Do you need to heat your greenhouse this winter?

Thu, 21/11/2013 - 16:19 Post author: Aidan Gill

It may not be necessary to heat your greenhouse in the coming winter months as there are ways to lift the temperatures just by being more diligent and careful.

A greenhouse is a wonderfully efficient and helpful option for gardeners. Many quite rightly would never be without them and throughout the season you can get plenty out of your greenhouse without heat.

The dilemma comes in December, January and February when you have to think about whether or not you should be heating your greenhouse. One survey recently suggested that only about eight per cent of gardeners heat their greenhouse.

Taking care of plants in your conservatory this winter

Thu, 21/11/2013 - 15:55 Post author: Aidan Gill

With some care, conservatories can become a winter indoor garden.

Conservatories not only add another room to your house, they can become indoor gardens in the winter, when tender outdoor plants are taken into the warmth until the spring, probably adding to the conservatory plants you already have growing there.

In frost-prone areas a conservatory is the ideal place for overwintering tender perennials and marginally hardy plants from the garden. Cold-sensitive plants in need of good light levels and dry, frost-free conditions will also benefit. Tropical plants and exotics can be moved inside during autumn after a spell in the garden through the summer months.

Preparing for winter – some of us like that idea!

Thu, 21/11/2013 - 14:56 Post author: Aidan Gill

It’s not all doom and gloom in the late autumn. Gardeners are a sturdy lot and the belief of being able to do better next year is a strong motivation.

People used to talk about ‘putting the garden to bed'. Some of us still like that idea. Trim and tidy it, put the tools away and retreat indoors. But increasingly we are being urged to do something different – just what, precisely?

Tidying up borders and beds for the onslaught of winter weather is a good thing, but it can be overdone. Too tidy a garden is not good for wildlife, and we gardeners have to think of the creatures who share our garden, as well as ourselves.

Slippery paths become a real autumn threat

Fri, 25/10/2013 - 15:18 Post author: Aidan Gill

The recent torrential rain has encouraged a buildup of algae on the hard surfaces around gardens making many paths slippery and treacherous. They can become dangerous throughout wet and damp weather and need dealing with. 

It is certainly common to find growths such as algae, lichens, liverworts and moss growing on garden surfaces. Contrary to popular belief, they do not damage what they are growing on, but can cause patios, drives, paths and steps to become slippery.

Most gardeners want a quick fix solution.

Ornamental berries for autumn

Fri, 25/10/2013 - 14:55 Post author: Aidan Gill

Ornamental berry plants are beautiful additions to any garden or home. They add colour and ornament to a winter garden and much needed food for birds. 

For some reason berried plants seem to be out of favour among gardeners. They certainly don’t seem to have the popularity enjoyed ten years ago.

It’s a shame for such garden character plants such as cotoneaster, hollies, sorbus and malus add so much to the autumn garden.


Magazine Archive
Childrens Hospice SW