• Sunday, June 28th, 2009
If you have been watching the Gardener’s World BBC TV programme for a few years like myself then you cannot fail to have noticed that it has changed greatly this year. Not only did a new presenter come on board along with a few other familiar gardening presenters but also the content and therefore the audience being targeted seems to be different.
As with all changes it was bound to displease some and delight others. In line with the Dig-In campaign supported by the BBC I feel that the programme tried to address the needs of gardening beginners to make it more accessible to everybody.
Work In Progress
A worthy endeavour indeed but it probably means that some long-time viewers started to feel a bit alienated by the new stances and style of the programme.
In particular I noticed a lot of anger voiced not only in forums such as the BBC gardening forum but also reported in articles such as on the Times Online, in gardening magazines, or popular blogs
Having never seen such anger in the peaceful world of gardening I did wonder if the economic doom & gloom combined with the recent MPs’ scandal story had exacerbated gardeners’ recent outbursts of anger.
Personally I have always felt that I needed to see more episodes of the programme to make up my mind, just like a new garden needs time to mature and reveal its full potential.
• Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
I am currently growing garlic in my garden and since I found out last year that it was not so easy to grow in my heavy clay soil I decided to do a garlic trial.
English Garden Garlic
Following from my last post on my garlic trial I am having mixed results at present. I guess the weather and the type of soil have had a lot to do with the results.
So far I can report that the garlic in my English garden is struggling as you can see in the picture on the right hand side with the tiny cloves and some onions in the background; in fact some of them seem to have died out.
I am not sure if the cause of this failure was the wet winter followed by a really dry spring.
French Garden Garlic
It also looks like the dreaded rust affected some of the garlic bulbs.
Even the cloves which I planted in modules a while ago and were given a head start in spring suffered badly. And it looks like the garlic variety Thermidrome was mostly affected.
In the meantime the garlic in my French garden was doing fine last month but I have now left it to its own devices and I know that it is getting really hot down there. The harvest time shouldn’t be too far away now and only time will tell.
• Saturday, June 20th, 2009
June is one of my favourite gardening months, not just for the organic vegetables which I have grown and started to harvest, but also for sheer burst of colours in the flower borders, and the wildlife activity going on right here.
Greenhouse in June
I particularly enjoy the evenings when I come back from work and go straight out to check if there are any strawberries ready for harvest.
We’ve had our first pea harvest which was so tasty that you can actually eat peas uncooked, but the quantity was rather disappointing – a big shelling job for a couple of handfuls of peas. I am considering sowing some snap peas next time.
We are finishing up the last of the green cabbage this week (much to everybody’s delight!). The rest of it has been ravaged by the white butterfly caterpillars and will probably end up in the compost bin too.
One of my favourite vegetables which I can hardly find in supermarkets: the artichokes have done really well this year. I have started to harvest a few heads and had to scrub off the black flies from a few heads but otherwise they are very tasty.
The early variety of potatoes are growing well but not ready yet for harvest. I have noticed that my second crop of lettuce has emerged so I have had to protect it from pigeons and rabbits.
The roses are looking great at this time of year and my flower borders are filling up nicely. My favourite rose this year is called Jude the Obscure, for its delicate scent and lovely shaped flowers.
My red oriental poppies all came up and now have gone very quickly so I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture. But I did finish planting all the flowers which I had sown indoors back in spring including the asters and more recently some zinnias which I have simply placed along the garden path.
The coming week is forecast to be a hot one, so I shall give the diary a rest to go and water my vegetables.
• Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Following my article on what to do now in the garden you may feel that you need a break from all this hard work clearing out the garden, or it could be that you need a bit of encouragement and inspiration to get started with gardening.
Why not visit a garden as part of the National Garden Scheme?
Summer days are here and you can visit some of the most beautiful gardens in Britain in the most informal way. You will get the opportunity to have a friendly chat with the home owners and get their personal advice and input on their successes and potential failure in their garden activity. The personal advice that you can get from amateur gardeners can be most valuable if are looking to achieve results with home-tried gardening practices.
I also enjoy the opportunity to relax and treat myself to the great British tradition which is afternoon tea, preferably with a big slab of Victoria sponge cake – after all I deserve it!
But all this is also for a better cause. The funds raised will benefit a number of charities including Marie Curie Cancer Care, Help the Hospices Movement, and the Royal fund for Gardeners’ children, to name but a few.
You can find more information about the gardens which are open this summer on the National Garden Scheme website.
If you’d like to share your experience on the best British gardens, please leave a comment.
• Sunday, June 14th, 2009
There are a number of flowers which I grow in my garden and which I particularly like for their fragrance. A typical cottage garden is likely to include many of these plants and although it is difficult to express in writing the quality of their perfume, I have included below some pictures in order to illustrate the quality of the blossoms.
This year we had a new unexpected blossom from a Cordyline plant which as you can see below attracts all the bees and looks like a spray of small flowers. Cordylines give an exotic look to the border since they look similar to palm trees with the advantage of being relatively hardy in the UK.
The fragrance of the Cordyline blossom reminds me of a really gooey sweet nectar similar to Honeysuckle in my opinion.
My white Lilac
is starting to fade but this is another shrub which I enjoy for its delicate early summer perfume. I also recommend the Mock orange
bush which is currently in full bloom. Not only does it produce a delicate scent through its small white flowers but it’s also very easy to grow.
I have also recently enjoyed the late blossom of sweet peas which did not do so well for me this year probably because May was a really dry month. I shall remember to take more care of my sweet peas next year.
Blair No 2 Rose
are currently in full bloom and release a peculiar scent which is not as strong as the Carnation’s fragrance but they make a nice addition to a summer bouquet.
Finally, if you are looking for a fragrant climbing rose I recommend the following: climbing rose Blair no. 2, as seen on this picture taken this morning , with its delightful dual shade of pink blossoms and exceptionally strong English rose fragrance.
On this sunny day and with so many fragrances drifting in the garden all I want to do is go back for a little wander which is what I will do now.
• Wednesday, June 10th, 2009
Just like a busy bee I have enjoyed the good weather in May and now with the return of the rain I am able to get on with more planting and outdoor sowing.
So, what have I been up to in my garden ?
With so many sowings carried out over the last few months, there are a lot of plants that needed transplanting in the garden. Most of them were hardened off and queuing ready to go out.
So yesterday I planted out my Cleomes which were starting to look a bit sad in the greenhouse as it was getting too hot for them. I have planted them at the back of my main flower border since they grow into tall flowers with their stem developing little nasty thorns over time. Similarly my red Amaranthus also grown from seeds back in March were planted towards the rear of my flower border.
Over the weekend I also planted some French green beans outdoors, a dwarf variety called Nomad, from the RHS Award of Merit seed collection and gave them a good soaking because it’s been so dry in May that my soil is still hard to dig into.
In fact it was so hot that my early spuds required a good soaking from the water butt, although I shan’t complain about the weather!
• Sunday, June 07th, 2009
Following a comment on this website regarding removing side shoots from tomatoes plants, here is an update post on how I look after my tomato plants in order to get a good crop.
My Greenhouse Tomatoes
By now your tomato plants are likely to be of an average height of 9 inches (depending on when you sowed or planted them and where they are growing and care for). The tomatoes grown in my greenhouse are actually taller than the other outdoor specimen which I planted not that long ago and both are bearing flowers. The size of the plant is not a concern since it will all come in good time with the warm summer which we shall hopefully continue to enjoy (although it is cold and raining heavily today!).
So what do I need to do now to make sure that I get a delicious crop of tomatoes? For me just a bit of maintenance is enough as follows :
1. Removing side shoots:
Early on I try to make sure that I remember to remove the side shoots as they appear on cordon tomatoes only. I tend to focus on the shoots that start from the bottom part of the tomato plant stem. I often forget some side shoots but in my personal experience it doesn’t do any harm and I still get a good crop.
• Friday, June 05th, 2009
I just came across a nice chilli growing kit on the web and thought that it would be a great gift idea for Father’s day.
Home Grown Chilli
Many gardeners will be delighted with a practical gift whatever the occasion. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either: plants, accessories or seeds can make great gift ideas
Father’s Day is only 2 weeks away on 21st June in the UK so it’s worth a look.
This chilli growing kit in a gift box contains everything that is needed to grow chillies including pots and a selection of chilli seeds. And one advantage of this kit is that it is presented in a box, making it handy to give as a present.
Sometimes dads don’t need anything in particular, just a little love and attention.
• Tuesday, June 02nd, 2009
It seems that the UK is not the only country to be experiencing an increased interest in Grow-your-own and gardening as a whole. While in the UK many initiatives are currently taking place to encourage people to get involved in gardening (BBC Dig in campaign for example), in other European countries such as France there seems to be a similar revived interest in gardening this year.
An example of this is the Rendezvousauxjardins initiative which is the French equivalent of the British National Open Gardens Scheme and is organized by the French Ministry of Culture.
The aim is to encourage people to make their garden open to the public and it also gives the opportunity to combine the visit with a musical, theatrical or cultural experience.
And this year the theme for the garden scheme is related to land, soil and territory. The purpose of the theme is to highlight the importance of the Land in all its characteristics.
This Open gardens event will take place this week on 5, 6 and 7th June. So if you are planning a trip to France and enjoy discovering new garden ideas do look out for the gardens taking part in this scheme: Rendezvousauxjardins.
So we are not alone doing our bit in our garden and contributing to a better, greener environment, our neighbours are doing their bit too!