Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west


How to grow your own loofah sponge

Mon, 14/05/2018 - 12:57 Post author: Aidan Gill

If you are looking for something really different and fun to grow try loofahs, sometimes known as sponge gourds, best known for the bath sponges made from its mature fruit yet in some parts of the world prized as a vegetable.

Did you know that loofah sponges are made from a vegetable? Even better, you can grow them for cleaning and eating!

You’ve probably had or used a loofah sponge in your life, whether in the bath or for cleaning around the house. But did you know it was made from a vegetable?

Gardening with mindlessness

Mon, 14/05/2018 - 12:45 Post author: Aidan Gill

Grenville Sheringham believes there are many garden tasks which lend themselves to a spot of daydreaming …

There seems to be a fashion these days for doing everything with mindfulness, gardening included.

This is a cause of some concern for me because I have always thought of my gardening as a mindless activity.

Let me explain what I mean.

In my younger days I worked in various large public and private gardens as part of a team, and a lot of the work was, frankly, boring.

Jobs in the May garden

Mon, 14/05/2018 - 12:38 Post author: Aidan Gill

May is always looked forward to as the first month of summer but it also marks the end of spring. It is a month when gardeners can get caught out by mini droughts and heat waves and even the last, late frosts.

The biggest threat is young plants that have that have recently been transplanted into the open ground and any freshly emerging seedlings. So be sure to keep all of them well watered and if the young transplants look as if they are flagging give them some shade protection from the heat of the sun or drying winds.

Lavenders all summer long

Mon, 14/05/2018 - 12:15 Post author: Aidan Gill

Probably the easiest grown plants for sunny, well drained sites, lavenders are loved by gardeners and now with the right selection it is possible to enjoy them all summer long.

Lavender is evocative of warm summer days filled with heady scents.

Lavender (Lavandula) is, of course, an easy to grow, evergreen shrub that produces masses of beautifully scented flowers above green or silvery-grey foliage. This drought-tolerant plant thrives in a sunny border, container, herb or gravel gardens.

It’s still snowdrop heaven!

Wed, 07/02/2018 - 12:11 Post author: Aidan Gill

A slightly later season for snowdrops means there’s still time to get out and see wonder displays of Galanthus elwesii in a number of settings.

Snowdrops seem to signal the slow passage of early spring. They appear in January and should reach their full glory in February.

So there’s still time to get out and see these wonderful displays. Some gardens have been reporting their snowdrops will be a week or more behind this year – even more reason to plan a visit.

Beavers bite back

Wed, 07/02/2018 - 11:55 Post author: Aidan Gill

With beavers released in Cornwall and a breeding family on the River Otter in Devon, it’s easy to believe that the species is back in Britain for good, but a lot needs to be done to secure its future.

They are an unusual, characterful species, and far from liked by all.

Could burning bracken answer the wood burning problem

Wed, 07/02/2018 - 11:51 Post author: Aidan Gill

Creating a biomass fuel from a nuisance shrub provides a better environment and is great for gardeners.

When it’s cold and the days are still short, there’s nothing like an evening by the fire to lift your mood.

But as the debate continues as to whether burning wood is bad for the environment, is it possible to stay cosy with a clean conscience? 

Part of the problem arises out of burning wood that’s wet.  Wet wood makes your fire work at a lower temperature, meaning less fuel is fully burnt and more escapes as soot – a common cause of air pollution.

Early spring jobs in the garden

Wed, 07/02/2018 - 11:42 Post author: Aidan Gill

The next few weeks will see the beginning of the busy season, the job list lengthening with the daylight. It can be a month of contrasts, too, with wind and frost set to challenge the first of spring growth. So it may still be a time for planning, but there’s winter work to do to make way for the tasks that are targeted at the growing season.

Golden oldies

Wed, 07/02/2018 - 10:53 Post author: Aidan Gill

The delicate beauty of older variants of narcissus, long overlooked, is back in fashion as more gardeners celebrate spring with heritage daffodils.

They are a symbol of spring and perhaps the best flower to sum up our love of gardening. For some, daffodils are all about big and bold strong varieties but increasingly we have developed a love affair with the more beguiling and delicate heritage varieties where no two flowers are the same, with a looser form as their slightly twisted petals sway in the breeze.

Winter wildlife watch

Wed, 03/01/2018 - 13:41 Post author: gemmastringer

by Elizabeth McCorquodale

Winter is a tough time for wildlife in the garden, both for species that we gardeners rely on to tackle pests and pollinate our crops, and for those garden inhabitants who simply give us pleasure


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