Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west


Climbers for conservatories

Wed, 18/09/2013 - 15:02 Post author: Aidan Gill

You can have walls with splashes of colour in your conservatory with these vibrant exotic climbers.

Don’t waste the back wall of your conservatory – it could be a good place for stunning, exotic climbing plants that you can’t grow outdoors, if you add enough support for them. Jasmines, passionflowers, gardenias, even the papery bracts of bougainvillea can be grown, making the conservatory lush, colourful and perhaps a reminder of Mediterranean holidays abroad. 

Many of these climbers will like a conservatory that is hot in summer and heated in winter. The Mexican blue palm (Brahea amata) has foliage of an attractive steely blue, and there are several bouganvilleas you can try that would provide a dramatic contrast, including Bouganvillea x buttiana ‘Raspberry Ice’ with variegated leaves and cerise bracts or ‘Poulton’s Special’, with magenta-rose bracts, and has an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. Another variety, ‘African Sunset’ has orange bracts.

My three rules when it comes to garden layouts

Wed, 18/09/2013 - 14:51 Post author: Aidan Gill

In his exclusive Country Gardener series, Dorset garden design expert Alan Dodge discusses how a garden layout starts to set the real feel for a new garden.

I have three general rules when it comes to garden layouts.

Rule One

A house would be a pretty uninteresting place if there were no internal walls dividing the various living spaces and likewise a garden can be considered similarly. 

Aiming high for the perfect apple tree

Wed, 18/09/2013 - 12:19 Post author: gemmastringer

Everyone should have apple trees - even if you don’t have a large garden. You need to choose carefully and know how to look after them

If you are planning to buy an apple tree or a number of trees there is a secret you must know.

Apples are always grafted onto rootstocks. These rootstocks control the vigour of the plant, allowing the cultivation of trees and bushes in a smaller space than if they were grown on their own roots.

Rootstocks are used to restrict the vigour of fruit trees and allow a range to grow in a small space. They can also contribute to the disease resisting abilities of the plant.

A dozen dazzling autumn colour gardens to visit

Wed, 18/09/2013 - 11:29 Post author: gemmastringer

The chance to see the sensational colours of autumn is running a bit late this year.

Many of the top gardens for autumn colour, normally a blaze of colour by this time each year are about two weeks behind - in line with many other parts of the country.

This October has been an amazing year for fruit, haws and hips which continue to provide a blaze of reds, pinks and oranges, but leaf colour is proving very late to arrive.

The ancient history of West Country apple names

Tue, 17/09/2013 - 10:08 Post author: Aidan Gill

In the latest of her series on plants with West Country associations, Ro FitzGerald focuses on the great tradition of apple growing in the region, and has been overwhelmed by the sheer number of old apple varieties still available.

‘Apples with West Country names’ seemed a natural choice of subject for this series. I knew interesting local names existed, and there is growing interest in heritage fruit, so I expected that a happy trawl through some books and lists and some chats with nursery colleagues who stock regional varieties would provide sufficient material for a seasonal article. In fact I have been overwhelmed, and found my head spinning and my steps unsteady without even seeing a glass of cider!

Spring flowering bulbs – it’s time for action

Tue, 17/09/2013 - 09:39 Post author: Aidan Gill

If you want lots of colour in your garden next spring you need to start planning and planting now

Get your timing right and prepare well

Garden Centres often sell bulbs for autumn planting from the end of July and want them out of the way by September to make room for Christmas-tree decorations. The message is: don’t be rushed. October is the best time for daffodils; November for tulips.
Prepare the soil properly. Remove weeds and incorporate lots of compost or other organic matter when planting bulbs. On heavy soils, dig in horticultural grit. Bulbs grown in pots need good drainage so put plenty of crocks in the bottom and use a well-drained compost. For pots use two parts John Innes No 2 with one part horticultural grit. Specialised bulb composts are expensive and only necessary in pots with poor drainage.

Sweet potatoes – fun alternatives to the humble spud

Fri, 06/09/2013 - 12:04 Post author: gemmastringer

Sweet potatoes may not be related to the humble potato but they are a perfect replant perennial vegetable with varieties which can thrive in UK gardens and offer a colourful and vitamin rich alternative

Sweet potatoes are traditionally grown in warmer climates but don’t be put off.

New, hardier cultivars mean that now you can grow sweet potatoes in the UK. So what was once grown just in tropical and sub tropical regions of the world has now a place in sheltered gardens in the UK.

Roasted, mashed, baked or fried, they make a delicious alternative to the humble spud and their popularity has soared to the point they are easily found in supermarkets.

Go carefully with cauliflower growing

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 13:25 Post author: gemmastringer

For full, crunchy, creamy curds, you're going to have to give this pampered brassica your undivided attention but growing cauliflowers can still be enormously satisfying - and financially rewarding

Mark Twain is said to have warned that ‘cauliflowers are cabbages with a college education’.

It is true they are more ‘demanding’ than the lowly cabbage and are probably the most difficult of the brassica family to grow successfully.

The first tentative steps in designing a garden

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 13:19 Post author: gemmastringer

Garden designer Alan Dodge’s experience tells him the ideal solution for a new garden doesn’t always leap off the page and “pictures speak a thousand words”

As a designer you tread a very fine line creating someone else’s garden, at the end of the day you are a facilitator, getting your client from A to B using your experience, knowledge and judgement to crystalize their ideas into an attractive garden.

As I drive to a new project I am taking in the geography of the surrounding area, the property’s setting and noting the type of planting that is used and thriving locally. It is important, but not essential, that a new garden fits in.


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