Archive for April, 2012

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Clematis – By Judy Fenyvesi

April 27, 2012

clematis2.jpgIf there’s one plant that I wouldn’t be without in my garden, then that has got to be the Clematis. This is such a useful and versatile climber and it can give an abundance of colour and vertical interest to any garden.

It is said that you can have clematis flowering for each month of the year. You can have winter flowering clematis, evergreen or deciduous clematis. There are Clematis for both sun and shade and you can choose whatever colour to suit your garden.

Clematis, I think are so pretty and look stunning growing over arches, up obelisks, trellises, walls and trees. Vigorous growing clematis such as the Montana are useful for growing over areas that you would like to hide, such as the garden shed, brick wall or a garage. The evergreen Clematis almandii is also useful for this purpose.gardenblog21.jpg

Clematis are little trouble to grow and give you good value for your money. You can even grow two clematis side by side, one to give you early seasonal colour and the other to give you mid to late summer colour.

The thing that clematis do like is to have their roots in the cool shade so at the base of the plant cover the soil either with a few cobbles, gravel, stone tiles or bits of paving slabs.

There are three pruning groups for clematis, and once you know which group your clematis is in, its simple.

Group one,are the early flowering varieties. These need less pruning that the next two groups. Prune after they have finished flowering around April- May time. Just prune out the dead and weak branches to maintain the vigour and good shape and framework of the plant.

Group two, are the bold large flowering varieties, which include the double, and semi-double petal flowers, and these mainly flower during the summer months. Thisgardenblog15.jpg group will need just partial pruning, so lightly prune back to a healthy pair of buds around February or early March.

Group three, are the late flowering Clematis that bloom from mid-summer until the autumn or even early winter if the weather is mild. This group you prune back hard in late winter to a strong pair of buds about 12-18” (30-45cm) above the ground.

For just a bit of annual pruning, Clematis will reward you with a spectacular abundance of fabulous coloured blooms that will give cheery joy to any gardener.

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Inspired…

April 24, 2012

One of my regular New Year resolutions is to make time during the year to get out and about as much as I can to visit some of the lovely public gardens and wonderful gardening shows.

The Royal Horticultural Society is Britain’s gardening charity organisation and has many wonderful gardens that you too can take time out to visit. The aim of the Royal Horticultural Society is to inspire, inform and to educate those who are interested in horticulture and gardening. Even if you haven’t got green fingers, a day out in the fresh air, taking in the atmosphere surrounded by plants can be very therapeutic and a great stress buster.

Many of the RHS gardens have their plants labelled, so if you see something that you find really attractive then you can simply make a note of the name and the have a go at growing it for yourself. By visiting these gardens you can also get ideas for planting schemes and exciting planting combinations. It’s also worth taking a camera so you can take photos to use for reference.

As well as gardens to visit, the RHS also arranges superb seasonal gardening shows, with the highlight of the gardening year being the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show.

If you can’t wait for Chelsea then here are some additional dates for forthcoming gardening events where you’re sure to find inspiration like I always do 🙂

Hampton Court Flower Show
Click here for more info at the RHS website

Tatton Park Flower Show
Click here for more info at the RHS website

Even if you’re not a gardener, visiting these shows is great fun for all the family and who knows… you might even get green fingers!

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Passionate About Passion Flowers…

April 21, 2012

Have you ever taken a close-up look of a passion flower? I’m always amazed at how nature can create something so extraordinarily beautiful.

The Passiflora caerulea is the blue passion flower and has a real exotic appearance. Even though it originates from a tropical climate, the blue passion flower grows quite happily in our British climate. This lovely vigorous climber likes to be grown against a nice sunny warm spot against a wall or a sheltered fence in moderately fertile, moist but well drained soil. In return, it will bloom all summer long and look stunning and in milder areas this passion flower will keep its five lobed foliage throughout the winter.

This climber is also useful for autumn interest as it produces soft apricot coloured passion fruits, but as the fruits don’t ripen fully in this country and in theory could be edible, I really wouldn’t advise eating them. Another decorative feature of this plant is its winding tendrils, which will cling on to and help support this plant in its climb.

The flowers of the Passiflora caerulea are wonderfully intricate and are zoned in blue, white and purple and have an interesting historical tale. The structure of the flower was said by Spanish Catholic missionaries in South America to represent certain features of Christ’s Passion and this flower was used during religious lessons to teach children about Christ’s passion.

The five sepals and petals are said to represent the ten of the twelve apostles, less Peter and Judas. The three stigmas represent the three nails of the crucifixion, the five stamens are the five wounds of Christ, the corona filaments represent the crown of thorns and the fine tendrils are the scourges.

While some of us will be familiar with the common blue passion flower, there are even more colourful exotic varieties of passion flowers, but unfortunately they are tender and not hardy enough to be grown outside and will need a nice warm conservatory or heated greenhouse to keep them happy.

There are some gorgeous purple ones like Passiflora ‘Amethyst’ or Passiflora x caeruleoracemosa. There are some hot red coloured ones like Passiflora racemosa or Passiflora coccinea. One amazing passion flower is the Passiflora quadrangularis, Giant granadilla, which looks so exotic and unusual. It has deep red petals with long striped wavy filaments of purple and white fragrant flowers.

I’m truly passionate about passion flowers, and I hope you will be too.

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Organic Pest Control

April 20, 2012

ladybird2.jpgWhenever I see a ladybird in the garden I pick it up carefully and place it on a plant that is being attacked by aphids. The ladybird can then feast happily and save my plant from being vandalised.

I, like many gardeners, don’t like using toxic chemical pesticides, as some pesticides not only kill off the harmful pests but also the useful garden visitors too.

So what’s a better solution to save pest damage in our gardens?

Well, why not let nature help out instead? Pests themselves have enemies and understanding who the good and bad guys are in the insect world can help maintain and balance nature in the garden.

Creating a garden that is attractive to natural good predators will provide a base for organic pest control.

Many of the pest-consuming insects also need to eat pollen and nectar, and single open flowers are the best for attracting them as many of these small insects cannot reach into deep multi-petal flowers. Also try to have plants that flower early spring and autumn as well as the summer flowering plants to provide a constant supply of pollen and nectar food source.

Trees and shrubs are useful to provide homes for the garden’s allies. Remember that some of these allies are ground dwelling and like to live in dark, moist condition below ground cover or under mulch.

We all know and love the little dainty ladybird but not all the good guys of the insect world are as attractive. Centipedes and the shiny black ground beetle, although not as pretty as the ladybird, also get my support as they go around eating the slugs and snails.

The garden spider will make a meal of aphids, files, thrips and caterpillars. If you laygardenblog79.jpg a two inch deep mulch of dried grass clippings around your vegetables the garden spider will quite happily move in and reduce pest damage to your veg.

Hover-files have similar markings to that of the wasp. One way you can tell the difference is that hover-files have only one pair of wings and so they can remain static in flight. Hover-files have a healthy appetite and can eat up to fifty aphids a day; they also eat spider mites and caterpillars.

Lacewings are green coloured insects with delicate transparent wings with a lace pattern hence their name and their diet includes aphids, mites, beetles, leafhoppers, scale insects and caterpillars.

The parasitic wasp does not look like a normal wasp; it is smaller, mostly black and with long antennae. They give their prey an unpleasant ending by laying their eggs in the body of the pest, which then acts as food for the developing larvae.

So next time you need to consider pest control in your garden, enlist the help of the ‘good guys’ of the insect world use mother nature to help cut down pest damage in your garden.

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“Hidden Perils…”

April 13, 2012

dscf0070.jpgMost of the plants in our gardens can be considered our ‘friends’, however there are a few plants that are our foes.

Here in Britain there are few deadly poisonous plants, but there are some plants that could be harmful if ingested and some plants can cause skin irritations.

The first main precaution to take is to never allow any child to pick and eat any berries of plants, as it is always best to err on the side of caution.

The brightly coloured berries can be tempting to a child so either deadhead the plant before it produces the berries, remove the berries from the plant, or simply don’t have berry-producing plants in the garden.

A lot of retailers and plant suppliers are now providing more information on the labels as to whether the plant can be potentially hazardous in any way.

So always read the labels when purchasing your plants at a garden centre, or if you’re not sure then ask an assistant as they’ll be more than willing to help and give advice.

Various parts of plants can cause diarrhoea or vomiting if eaten.

Here named are a few of these harmful common garden plants.

All parts of the Aconitum, monkshood, for instance is poisonous and prolonged handling of this plant can enable the toxins to be absorbed into the skin. Other plants too have to be handled with care as they could irritate the skin or cause a skin allergy, so wear protective gardening gloves.

Aesculus horse chestnut is also poisonous and be aware that children may be tempted to eat the conkers thinking that they are edible chestnuts. Others plants include Aquilegia, Colchicum, Convallaria Majalis, which is the lily of the valley.

Also in this category are the Cherry Laurel, Daffofils, Euonymus, Euphorbia, Hedera, ivy, Iris, Laburnum, Ligustrum the common privet, Lobelia, Lupins, Taxus, yew, the conifer Thuja and the Wisteria. Serious poisoning can be caused by all parts of the Digitalis, foxglove.

Euphorbia also know as Spurges, have a white milky sap which could cause a burning sensation and a skin rash. Fremontodendron ‘California Glory’ is a wall shrub that has minute hair-like growths that can cause extreme irritation in contact with the skin, eyes nose or mouth. The handling of hyacinth bulbs or tulip bulbs too could cause a skin reaction.

Other plants that can cause skin irritation are the Ivy, Lobelia, Primula, and Ruta just to name but a few.

Gardening is probably one of the most popular hobbies and it’s worth taking extra care now that summer is just around the corner and more of us will be outside in our gardens.

If you keep a planting plan of your garden, it might be worth making a note on your plan of what, if any, dangers your plants could pose.

Remember, gardening should be safe as well as fun…

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A Sense Of Gardening…

April 11, 2012

dscf0015.jpgYou might remember my post entitled  “The Sensory Garden” and it’s one of my most popular posts. So I thought I’d write another posting about how our gardens can help soothe, stimulate and perhaps even help heal our senses.

When I am designing gardens, I’m constantly thinking of the fact of making and creating the garden as an area to be a ‘stress free zone’; a place where a person can chill out and enjoy nature.

In this fast moving stressful life of today the garden can be a real sanctuary, and your own little bit of oasis to escape to.

Believe it or not the garden can actually promote healing, it is a proven fact that hospital patients recover more quickly when they have a view of a garden.

Plants can give us so much pleasure and can bring enjoyment and delight to our five senses. Fresh herbs from the garden add wonderful natural flavours to our taste buds together with the delight of enjoying fresh home-grown fruit and vegetables. The joy of colour in the garden can be uplifting and therapeutically.

Soothing sounds can be added to the garden like the refreshing sounds of running water or the gentle tinkling sound of a small wind chime. Nature’s sound of the wind blowing through the leaves of trees and shrubs can be claiming together with the gentle rustling sound of Bamboos and grasses. Creating sound within the garden can be really soothing and play a very useful part in distracting us from the outside noises of city life.

There are plants which are a joy to touch, various textures can surprise and delight us, like woolly soft leaves of the Stachys byzantina also known as Bunnies’ Ears or Lamb’s Tongue never fails to stop me to touch it. Also joy of rubbing the foliage of certain plants so as they release their aromatic scent and my favourite is the Phlomis fruticosa that has soft downy fruity scented leaves.

Scent plays important part in a garden as it can stimulate memory and enhance our moods. There are so many wonderfully perfumed flowers like the richly fragrant Jasminum officinale or the Lonicera japonica, Honeysuckle, plant these next to a patio or seating area so you can enjoy the wafts of scents.

So chill out and enjoy awakening your five senses to the garden.

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Brewmatic Coffee Makers Saving Space In Your Kitchen

April 10, 2012

Anything that saves me time, money and space gets my vote and this great space-saver by Brewmatic certainly gets my seal of approval.

These coffee makers from Brewmatic can be installed on the underside of your kitchen cabinets allowing your coffee pot to take up a lot less space without the machine having to take up space on your work surface too.

Not only practical, but stylish too. Don’t you agree?


Specifications Include:
* Programmable digital clock/timer with auto on function – set at night and wake up to the invigorating smell of fresh brewed coffee.
* Three adjustable brew volume options including Full Brew, Half Brew and Quarter Brew.
* Ideal for commuters and single cup drinkers, brew directly into a travel mug for on-the-go convenience.
* Unique brewing systems assures coffee is brewed at optimum temperatures to release the coffee’s full flavor, delivering the perfect cup.
* An instant source of hot water for teas, hot chocolate, cereals and soups
* Innovative under the cabinet installation saves counter space
* Commercial grade internal components deliver years of trouble free service
* B.I.C.A.’s sleek stainless steel finish accents any décor
* Designed for use in home, office, boat or RV
* No warmer needed when brewing into one of the optional insulated servers (also available from
Brewmatic)

For More Information Visit www.brewmatic.com

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