Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

Features

Supporting pollinators in your garden

Thu, 06/06/2013 - 12:24 Post author: gemmastringer

Wildlife ‘corridors’, growing native plants, fruit trees and small ponds all create a haven for the bees says Jules Moore, a beekeeper and gardener

As a keen gardener, I love to see bees and other pollinating insects working away in my garden. They do a marvellous job of boosting harvests and I know when the apple tree blossom is at its best, as the trees will hum with honeybees from my hives! Keeping honeybees is great fun and very rewarding, but you can support them and other vital insects in a variety of other ways. Over 90 per cent of bees in the UK are solitary ones, who are docile, non-stinging and live in small nests in the ground, walls or rotting timber. Bumblebees and other solitary bees are not seen in such great numbers as honeybees, but they all need our support, particularly after the awful weather we had last year.

Blanket weed and green water – it’s that time of year!

Thu, 06/06/2013 - 12:21 Post author: gemmastringer

Jimmie Hepburn from Devon-based Aquavision offers much needed help when it comes to dealing with the dreaded and often ever present algae and blanket weed

I am often amazed at the rate at which water plants grow in a pond.  With an adequate supply of nutrients and sunlight along with a guaranteed supply of water, primary production in freshwater can be astounding.  This is fine if this rapid growth is from the plants you want to encourage such as water lilies or irises for example.  However, it is a different matter when green water or vast rafts of blanket weed plague the surface of the pond.  

The truly venerable yew hedge

Thu, 06/06/2013 - 12:17 Post author: gemmastringer

Andrew Midgley argues there’s nothing better than a well maintained, healthy yew hedge in your garden

There is nothing like a well clipped English yew hedge (Taxus baccata) which, to me, is the quintessential statement of the English formal garden and far more appealing than a leylandii hedge, to set off your garden.

When I was the head gardener at Castle Drogo we would traditionally trim the yew hedges from August onwards until mid October, a momentous task that took the garden team away from other gardening tasks.

Country Gardener’s Top Five Gardens to visit in May

Tue, 07/05/2013 - 10:48 Post author: gemmastringer

STone aLLERTON.jpgStone Allerton Gardens, Stone Allerton, Somerset

There are three distinctly different beautiful gardens to visit here, on the edge of the Somerset levels. Badgers Acre is a one-acre garden with colour-themed mixed borders, a secret walk, a pond and a colourful rockery. A semi-circular tulip and allium bed is surrounded by box, and another lovely part of the garden is the vegetable potager with a pergola draped in rambling roses and clematis. Greenfield House has four main gardens: a grass area, shrubs, a colour garden and a cottage garden area, with many unusual plants in a vast range of perennials, shrubs and bulbs. Just showing what can be done, the garden has been created from garden centre bargains. Ponds and chickens add to the variety. Fern Cottage is a charming small cottage garden full of interesting plants and ideas.

The best shrubs for your garden

Tue, 07/05/2013 - 10:39 Post author: gemmastringer

Add beautiful blooms without a lot of maintenance to your garden this summer with easy-growing, colorful shrubs. Here is Country Gardener’s choice of some of the best. We’ve trawled through the market to find our favourites all of which will be available at your local nursery or garden centre.

Calling for an alpine renaissance

Thu, 11/04/2013 - 14:44 Post author: gemmastringer

Ross Barbour, head gardener at Ragley Hall, tells how he created an alpine garden in the grounds – and puts in a plea for a revival of these plants that have dropped out of fashion

For a vast group of plants that has some of the easiest to grow, or if you choose, some of the hardest and everything in-between, I find it incredible that alpines are so underrated and out of fashion.

Essential hardy geraniums

Thu, 11/04/2013 - 14:36 Post author: gemmastringer

Andrew Midgley has some suggestions on what to choose if you want to add some of these reliable and maintenance free plants to your garden

Hardy geraniums, not to be confused with pelargoniums, are, I think, an essential group of plants to have in the garden for a multitude of reasons.

The majority are able to tolerate the cold winters, are easy to grow, are practically disease free and are tolerant of a diverse range of soil conditions and different aspects (sunny/shade). Geraniums are generally very reliable and fairly maintenance free.

In your vegetable garden

Wed, 10/04/2013 - 15:40 Post author: gemmastringer

Growing leeks

Leeks are one of the most worthwhile things you can grow in your vegetable patch. A look at the prices of leeks in supermarkets and greengrocers will prove that point immediately.

There’s two other advantages of growing leeks.

Firstly they will keep the vegetable plot or allotment busy throughout the winter and finally there’s no doubt that home grown leeks taste much better than shop bought varieties.

Country Gardener’s Top Five Gardens to visit in April

Wed, 10/04/2013 - 15:34 Post author: gemmastringer

Upton Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh

This is an ever-developing and changing garden, four miles from Moreton-in-Marsh, and owned by Mr and Mrs I R S Bond, that has been architecturally and imaginatively laid out around the 17th century house (not open). The garden has commanding views, yew hedges, a herbaceous walk, some unusual plants and trees, vegetables, a pond and woodland gardens, and National Collections of Juglans and Pterocarya. Upton Wolds’s garden was started from a bare piece of land in 1973. Created with the help of the landscape architect Hal Moggridge, the garden has matured into one of Gloucestershire’s finest gardens, and has been featured in newspapers and magazines. There is an abundance of interesting plants and shrubs, including cornus, drimys, roses and magnolias.

What to do in the garden now to avoid being caught out by a quick spring

Wed, 10/04/2013 - 14:43 Post author: gemmastringer

• Use windowsills as mini-greenhouses to sow seeds in pots in preparation for spring. With luck by May when the seedlings get too big for the windowsill  they can be found a sheltered spot outdoors to grow until big enough to plant out

• Be prepared for an onslaught of slugs, they will be on the move and ready to munch their way through your plants at the slightest hint of mild weather

• The cold has held back budding roses so there is still time to finish your pruning – invest in a good pair of gardening gloves to keep out the cold and the prickles

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