Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

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Choosing which cucumbers to grow

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 11:08 Post author: Aidan Gill

Growing cucumber plants is really quite easy once you understand that there are two main types available, and these need different treatment to produce a good crop.

Greenhouse cucumbers

If you’re lucky enough to own a greenhouse then it’s worth growing cucumbers indoors. Greenhouse cucumber plants produce long, smooth fruits and don’t need pollinating - in fact, you should remove any male flowers to prevent pollination happening as this produces fruits with a bitter flavour. 

To bee or not to bee

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 10:57 Post author: Aidan Gill

Julie Elkin is a member of Devon Beekeepers and a course tutor for the North Devon training courses. Too many people think keeping bees is the only way to help honeybees. ‘Taster days’ gives people the opportunity to handle bees and decide if keeping them is really for them but the emphasis is on how we can do much more in our gardens’ own plots to help all pollinators.

Spring at last, the garden a joy to behold filled with colour and fragrance, the hum of the bumblebee queens preparing to start their nests and my honeybees foraging on hellebores and crocuses as I write this. 

Gardening jobs in May

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 10:38 Post author: Aidan Gill

May sees the seasons changing again, with spring rolling into early summer. It is a glorious month, greener than any other, with potential still in the air with a danger of being overwhelmed with all the growth in the garden.

A weed-free strategy?

Wed, 17/05/2017 - 13:55 Post author: Aidan Gill

It may not be possible to entirely keep your garden free from weeds but if you need to keep winning the weed battle you need a strategy.

If you were to track every hour spent in your garden, you would probably find that you do an inordinate amount of weeding. And while the first few weeks of tearing up these intruders can prove mildly satisfying, the chore soon wears thin. Even more maddening—you are a few simple strategies away from your garden not needing weeds anymore.

Get your pond fit for spring!

Wed, 19/04/2017 - 11:20 Post author: Aidan Gill

Now is the ideal time to deal with how your garden pond has over wintered.  Here are three simple jobs Devon experts Bow Garden & Aquatic Centre recommend that will help your pond come out of winter mode.

Firstly, change your UV Bulb.  These important bulbs help keep your pond free of algae but they only have a life span of one year.  If you change your bulb now you will ensure that it will be operating at 100 per cent during spring when you are most likely to suffer from an algae bloom.

Indoor glory!

Wed, 19/04/2017 - 10:04 Post author: Aidan Gill

Many gardeners decline the joys of indoor flowering plants which almost seem a pleasure of a bygone era.

There was a time when houses large and small sported a succession of home-grown indoor plants all year round. From the smallest succulent to the mightiest tree fern, gardeners always made time and space for plants that did well in the house.

This is much less likely to be the case nowadays. Many of us appear to have dismissed the idea that it is possible to grow plants for the house easily and well.

All for a ‘bleeding heart’! by Gill Heavens

Wed, 19/04/2017 - 09:50 Post author: Aidan Gill

Most gardeners know them as ‘Bleeding Hearts’ but dicentra are wonderful oddly shaped, locket style flowers with finely divided leaves which are just spectacular.

We have a problem.  I am supposed to be writing about dicentra, the Bleeding Hearts, but the botanists have had another shuffle and a couple have been renamed.  In fact this genus now only contains eight species.  

Has this put me off?  

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...

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