Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west


Himalayan delights by Andrew Midgley

Wed, 19/04/2017 - 09:43 Post author: Aidan Gill

The unsung Minterne Gardens is tucked away in stunning Dorset countryside at Minterne Magna , where magnolias and rhododendrons tower over small streams in spring making it the best time for a visit.

The Himalayan woodland garden at Minterne House in the village of Minterne Magna is saddled between Dorchester and Sherborne on the A352 in Dorset. The gardens surrounding the Edwardian Arts and Crafts house built in the local Ham Stone designed by Leonard Stokes in 1905,  were landscaped in the style of Capability Brown who was involved in the landscaping at Sherborne Castle. 

Jobs in the April garden

Tue, 18/04/2017 - 15:51 Post author: Aidan Gill

Perhaps more than any other month it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the weather during April.

Frosts are still common, and many plants and flowers may need protection in the form of fleece or cloches.  Hopefully, the ground will not be too wet and so now is a good time to finish off digging over your plot in preparation for all the vegetables you are going to grow.  

As the weather gets warmer, the weeds will grow in earnest.  

So a mantra for the month is regular weeding, before they take over...

More than just hanging around!

Tue, 18/04/2017 - 15:37 Post author: Aidan Gill

They are not every gardener’s favourite, but the rich choice of plants when planting can make hanging baskets look spectacularly colourful and stylish rather than just ordinary.

It sounds obvious but when it comes to making a spectacular hanging basket first choose your plants…

It could well be that one of the reasons hanging baskets divide opinion amongst gardeners is that so many of the finished versions are just not very good on the eye.

It’s time to make a start...

Fri, 10/03/2017 - 19:14 Post author: Aidan Gill

The bulbs are already up among the wreckage of the winter, spearing the ground with signs of the next season. This is the clue that the beds need clearing. The remains of last summer's perennials and the leaves that fell among them were left deliberately, and the recycled foliage and stems have mostly should have been pulled into the soil by the earthworms, and will now be improving the humus content. 
Where new life is coming up, it is time to make a start.

Christmas gardening books to enjoy - Compiled by Vivienne Lewis

Wed, 14/12/2016 - 11:27 Post author: Aidan Gill

There have been some lovely books published this year to mark the tercentenary of ‘Capability’ Brown’s birth and Shakespeare’s death 400 years ago, delightful books in a wide selection we’ve chosen to put on a Christmas list or to just treat yourself to a good winter’s read.

Boxed in with problems

Wed, 14/12/2016 - 11:10 Post author: Aidan Gill

A recent survey showed that of all the enquiries the RHS Gardening Advice receives every year, box is always in the top few – evidence of how popular a plant it is – and the worry it causes.

Are gardeners starting to admit they’ve had enough of box?

Box (Buxus) is still commonly planted in gardens as a clipped, formal plant or hedge, but it is now proving more difficult to grow well due to disease and pests. 

There is a real trend now to find alternatives as a variety of problems affect what had become a traditional part of many formal and informal gardens.

The secret life of a wall

Wed, 14/12/2016 - 11:04 Post author: Aidan Gill

Elizabeth McCorquodale delves into the ecosystems contained in the living, breathing and feeding wonders of dry stone walls.

Dry stone walls are a conservationist's dream. They are wildlife apartment blocks, larders and hideaways and they are packed full of a myriad of interesting and beneficial creatures tucked just out of sight but right under our noses.

‘Who said there is nothing to do in winter!’

Wed, 30/11/2016 - 16:00 Post author: gemmastringer

Gill Heavens rejects the idea that winter is the time when gardening jobs stop and urges us all to enjoy the invigorating air with some important tasks

If I had a pound for every time someone asked “What do you all winter?” I would be a very rich gardener.  However, I can understand that to the uninitiated this might appear the case.  If you are one of these misguided folk, allow me to enlighten you.

Atmospheric winter walks on Cornwall’s coastline

Wed, 30/11/2016 - 15:57 Post author: gemmastringer

We may want to look at Cornwall through the TV drama 'Poldark' on a winter’s evening, but if you get out there and discover the coastal paths it’s much more fun

Many of us have to be coaxed out of our semi-hibernation through the winter months. But getting out for a brisk walk, especially around our coastline, will really blow the cobwebs away and make you feel so much better.

TV audiences have been glued to the drama of Poldark – and not only the characters’ stories. The main star is Cornwall and its coastline.

Big trees – friends or threat?

Fri, 15/07/2016 - 15:08 Post author: Aidan Gill

Mark Hinsley defends the importance of trees not only to our landscape but critically  providing shelter for homes, crops and prevention from flood damage.

When you were young did you have a big older friend or sibling? You were a little in awe of him/her, even a bit afraid, but this person meant that the bullies would leave you alone.  

Consequently, you readily accepted the slightly risky element of the friendship in return for the much wider protection from harm from which you benefited. 

Big trees in towns are a similar proposition. 


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