Archive for the ‘Garden Designing Ideas’ Category

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Making “Sense” Of Your Garden

May 22, 2012

gardenblog77.jpg I thought this week we’d take a look at a Sensory Garden – a garden which can literally delight the 5 senses… a garden which is just a joy to be in…

So. let’s first take a look at some things to delight the visual senses…

I’d opt for plants that have bold bright coloured flowers or plants with bold architectural foliage such as Fatsia japonica, Yucca or Verbascum olympicum with its large woolly leaves and candelabra of yellow flowers.

The heavenly scent of the lovely perfumes of flowers and the delicious aromatic smells of herbs will elevate the emotions and certainly stimulate the olfactory senses. For scent in the garden, Lavender and Rosemary are a must. I also love the fruity aromatic smell of the Phlomis fruticosa when you rub its foliage.

For strong winter scent go for the Winter Box, Sarcococca confusa and Wintersweet, Chimonanthus praecox.

The relaxing sounds in a garden, like the gentle rustling of leaves, water flowing in a pond, the sweet song of birds and the soft hum of a bee can be really soothing.

Natural sounds in a garden are a good way of being distracted from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. Plants that can provide the gentle rustle of foliage are large ornamental grasses such as the Pampas grass or Zebra grass. Bamboos too are also very good for providing natural sound in the garden.

Different textures of leaves or the interesting surfaces of tree trunks can be used for the sense of touch. Number one on the list for foliage texture has to be the Stachys byzantina otherwise known as Lamb’s Tongue or Bunnies’ Ears with its wonderful woolly foliage.

There’s nothing better to stimulate the sense of taste than wonderful fresh fruit from a garden, or the full flavour of home-grown vegetables. Don’t forget herbs, such as traditional Mint or Rosemary and Sage to flavour home cooking.

So, the next time you’re planning your garden, see what plants and features you can add to awaken your five senses with such safe and interesting plants.

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May… Busy May…

May 17, 2012

gardenblog81.jpgMay is usually the busiest month in the gardening calendar. With the weather warming up and the days getting noticeably longer it’s a pleasure to be outdoors in the fresh air.

By the end of the May, when hopefully the threat of any frost has past, bedding plants can be planted out and hanging baskets can be prepared to give fabulous splashes of colour to the garden.

Hardy annuals flowers from seeds can be sown into prepared soil around this time and is a good way of getting a mass of colour in the garden for just the cost of a packet of seeds.

A useful tip is to sow the seeds in rows about 4″ apart so that when they start to germinate, you can easily tell which are your germinating flowers and which are the weeds.

Also by sowing this way, you’ll have enough room to hoe the weeds away between your rows of plants. Another good way of getting plants cheaper is to buy plug plants.

These are small plants that can be potted up, grown on and then planted out when they are bigger and stronger.

To help make plants go further; you can divide existing overcrowded perennials clumps and replant them elsewhere in the garden.

If you fancy growing your own tasty organic vegetables, then now is the time to sow crops such as beans, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, peas and radish.

Some crops may need to be started off under a cloche in order to give them some more warmth. You can easily make your own cloche tunnel with strong wire or metal coat hangers bent into arches and covered with strong plastic sheeting. On warmer days remove the plastic sheeting, but cover the young plants at night.

Around this time of the year lawns need a bit of looking after if you want to keep it looking good. So treat your lawn with moss killer and then rake out the dead moss to help keep the lawn healthy.

If your lawn is small enough, then you may be able to weed by hand, but if it’s larger then you may need to use a lawn weed-killer. To encourage the grass to grow stronger you can also apply a high nitrogen fertiliser to feed it.

With the weather warming up, remember to water pots and start watering the garden, especially fruit and vegetables if the weather is going through a dry spell.

Around this time of year we are often too busy outdoors and easily forget about our indoor plants, so remember to check if any indoor plants have outgrown their existing pots and check to see if any need to be re-potted into bigger pots.

Make the most of the better weather around this time of the year and enjoy the onset of summer in your outdoor room.

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Hunting Out Those Pests!

May 17, 2012

It’s so satisfying seeing one’s hard work paying off in the garden with healthy plants blooming making a garden look great… however lurking in the undergrowth are some unwelcome garden visitors that are just waiting to munch away and destroy your hard labour.

Number one on the garden pest hit list are slugs and snails. These invaders will quite happily eat through soft young growth on herbaceous plants and vegetables. Nature’s way of controlling these pests is to encourage birds, hedgehogs, frogs and toads into the garden to help eat them up.

Another way is to collect slugs and snails after dark by torchlight on mild evenings, as this is when you’ll more likely to find them feeding. What you then do with the slugs and snails is up to you, but I always prefer a biological approach to eradicating these pests from my garden.

Vine weevil is another pest you need to look out for. The adult vine weevil beetle emerges at night and damages plants by eating around the edges of leaves leaving tell-tale irregular notches. It then lays its eggs mainly in flowerpots and the larvae (which look like maggots) will feed on the roots of the plant and will cause the plant to wilt and quite possibly die. To try and get rid of them you could search for them by torchlight and remove the feeding beetle from the plant.

You can also use a biological control method whereby you water the soil with nematodes, which then in turn will eat into the vine weevil grubs. Remember to use this watering method by watering your flowerpots in late summer while the soil is warm and moist.

You may recall that last year we have a mini-invasion of ants. Although ants cause little direct damage to plants they’re more of a nuisance than a pest. They make nests by heaping small mounds of fine soil on lawns, flowerbeds and pathways. Ants also collect the sugary honeydew that is excreted by sap-feeding aphids and in the process the ants drive off the useful aphid predators. Although we can’t totally eliminate ants from our gardens, we can reduce their numbers by hunting out their nest site and then dealing with the source of the ants.

One rather troublesome sap-feeding aphid is the Woolly aphid, so called because of the fluffy white waxy substance it develops on the bark of trunks and branches of trees and shrubs during the middle to late spring. There are various sprays that can be used but a heavy infestation is difficult to control. If you have the patience, then you can use a soft bush with which you could brush away the fluffy white substance.

Another method I have heard of, but not tried myself, is to paint menthylated spirit onto the affected area. You could also try some companion planting of Nasturtiums around under the infected tree or shrub.

So, if you think that your garden looks nice and that all is well… beware… as there may be hidden dangers lurking… just waiting to eat away at your favourite plants and shrubs.

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Furzey Gardens

May 7, 2012

Last weekend hubby and I visited 2 gardens that I’ve wanted to see for a very long time; Furzey Gardens and Spinners Garden.

I’ll post about our trip to Spinners Garden in my next post and tell you about a little treat I picked up there, however, for this posting I’ll write about Furzey Gardens.

Furzey Gardens is situated in Minstead, a short picturesque drive from Lyndhurst along the A337 and a perfect prelude for what awaits visitors at Furzey Gardens.

We arrived nice and early on Saturday. Luckily the weather was sunny and just the right temperature for a good walk around gardens.

The first thing you notice when arriving at Furzey Gardens is the peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. It’s the perfect setting for the Christian Retreat House which is situated in the beautiful grounds where individuals or small groups may visit and enjoy quiet and tranquility.

As well as the retreat, Furzey gardens also works together with the Minstead Training Project to provide horticultural training and care for young people with learning difficulties and when you see the setting you’ll understand how Furzey Gardens can provide such a worthwhile service.

When you get your entrance ticket to Furzey Gardens in the shop, do remember to pick up a leaflet with a map of all the things to look out for during your walk around the gardens, because if you don’t, you’re bound to be so spellbound by the banks and banks Azaleas and Rhododendrons that you’ll easily miss out on some of the “hidden gems” around the grounds.

I won’t spoil the surprises that await you, but needless to say, Furzey Gardens has a whole host of “hidden gems” for you to hunt ensuring that you’re bound to take in the whole grounds and not miss anything if you follow the trail on the map.

In Furzey Gardens you’ll eventually get to the tree houses and play area, a perfect spot for children of all ages where you’ll find African style round houses, the tree house, swings, a boat and a lovely picnic area.

With a play area, the picnic area, the abundance of plants, the lake, the gift shop and the gallery, Furzey Gardens provides the perfect day out for all the family whether you’re into gardening or not.

To find out more about Furzey Gardens, do visit their website at
www.furzey-gardens.org

Furzey Gardens
School Lane
Minstead
Lyndhurst
Hampshire
SO43 7GL
Tel: 02380 812464

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Glass… Designed By Kate Hume… Inspired By Nature…

April 8, 2012

I just can’t help it, but I love homestyle accents designed with nature being the inspiration and you can’t ignore the fact that these wonderful glass accents by Kate Hume are certainly inspired by nature.

I love these, I really do and with names like Rose, Gem, Cactus and so on, I would, wouldn’t I?

Kate’s glasswork plays with and teases light in such a magical way and I’m more than happy to feature her work here.

More Info About Kate Hume

Kate Hume has been designing and styling in various mediums for twenty years – from fashion to film sets and interiors in Europe and the USA.

An enduring interest in glass as a medium led to the design and production of a small collection of unique pieces in 1999.

Working alongside renowned glass craftsmen in the Netherlands, the group Rock/Pebble was created.
Comprising organic free-flowing shapes in jewel bright colours, the collection was launched successfully at 100% Design in London in 1999 – and instigated a huge trend for organic forms in glass.

See More Of Kate’s Work At
www.katehume.com

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April… Sweet April!

April 4, 2012

Gardening certainly gets into full swing during this month of April!

Although we’d like more sunshine and less showers during the month of April, the plants in our gardens do thrive on rain to help them look their best. So with the better weather on the way, what could be nice than pottering around in the garden on a nice warm spring day?

Around this time of the year, many gardens, including mine, will benefit with some spring-cleaning to get things into some order ready for the summer.

One job that can be done around this time is to clear off the moss on many of our patios and pathways. It’s surprising how the whole garden can suddenly look a lot better just by doing this simple job. Just a pressure washer or a hose is all you need with a hard bristle broom to eliminate any unsightly moss.

Another way to get to your garden looking a lot better quickly, is to tidy up any woodwork, such as fencing, decking, sheds and trellis as these willdscf0143.jpg probably need a lick of wood preserve to smarten it them up and prolong the life span.

Also during April, if you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, then it’s a good time to give it a good wash down. Clean the glass well to allow maximum light in and a good clean on the inside will promote good hygiene and help keep away pests and diseases.

This month you’ll notice that the lawn will need some attention after the wet months of winter and many of our lawns will now have moss growing among the grass. This moss needs to be removed as it will smother out the grass and prevent surface drainage for the lawn. I prefer the organic approach to eradicating the moss is to simply rake it out with a lawn rake.

As well as getting rid of the moss on your lawn, it’s also a good idea to improve your lawn’s drainage to allow water to get down to the roots were it’s most needed. To do this push a gardening fork in about four to six inches randomly around the lawn giving it a jiggle, this will also help with aeration, also don’t forget to hand dig out any weeds that could spoil the lawn too.

Later in April or even early in May it might also be a good idea to use a spring fertiliser which you can apply to your lawn, once again to promote good healthy growth.

If you find all this isn’t giving you the result you want and your lawn is still beyond salvation then use the time this month to sow a new lawn or lay some new turf as the April showers will water in the new grass.

The month of April is a great time to generally tidy up flower borders and once you’ve weeded, then put down a nice thick layer of mulch on the soil as this’ll save you back-breaking weeding work later on in the season.

With the bank holidays approaching many of us will be taking trips to garden centres. So if you have spring-cleaned your garden then you’ll find it easier to see where the gaps are in garden and exactly where it could do with some more interest.

Just one bit of advice for shopping at garden centres; don’t be tempted to just buy plants that are all flowering now, try also to plan ahead and think about having flowering colour interest for the other months to come in the year.

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Let’s Shake Off The Past Winter

March 7, 2012

Spring for me begins in earnest when all the cheerful bright yellow daffodils and early tulips come out in flower and have a stretch and a yawn from their winter slumber. This is such a welcome sight and one that I’ve waited so long for.

Spring is my favourite season as the days get longer and the weather very slowly starts to warm up; definitely a time for shaking off those winter blues.

Regular readers of this column will know that in my own garden I have a Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ and now it’s blooming with masses of scented pale pink saucer shaped flowers… truly a welcome sight of spring as it looks super festooned over my garage.

feb2.jpgThis is lovely early flowering evergreen Clematis with spear shaped dark glossy leaves and if you want to have some colour later in the season then you can grow a late flowering Clematis through it.

A beautiful specimen tree for great spring interest is the Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’. This is a Willow that has a lovely weeping habit and grows to a full height of only six feet, so it’s a good tree for a small garden. This Willow produces pretty grey catkins that are studded with yellow anthers on bare shoots and I think it looks absolutely stunning.

For bold foliage and showy flowers from mid-winter to mid-spring you could go for the elegant Camellia. Camellias come wide chose of colours from white, yellows and in a vast variety of shade of pink through to reds.

This evergreen shrub grows naturally in acid soil but will tolerate neutral soil as long as it’s rich with organic matter. The Camellia can be grown in sun or dappled shade, but plant it somewhere that it is shielded from the early morning sun, as the sun may damage flowers in frosty weather.

One of the early flowering perennials is the Pulmonaria or known as the Lungwort. This flowering plant makes good ground cover. Most varieties prefer a moist shady border but the Pulmonaria officinalis will tolerate full sun.

Many Lungworts are often semi-evergreen and some varieties have decorative leaves with silver or white spots on. The flower is small and dainty and comes in a choice of colours from white, pink, violet, purple, blue and red.

If you are tempted by a visit to the garden centre to buy a beautiful bright early flowering Rhododendron, then it’s best to keep it in a container with ericaceous acid soil and in the growing season give it some nutrients with an ericaceous feed.

For the garden it is the start of the new season and a profusion of spring flowers will soon be brightening up our gardens. Like I say, it’s time to shake off those winter blues and to get outside into the garden for some welcome spring gardening.

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