Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west


Spring flowering bulbs – it’s time for action

Tue, 17/09/2013 - 09:39 Post author: Aidan Gill

If you want lots of colour in your garden next spring you need to start planning and planting now

Get your timing right and prepare well

Garden Centres often sell bulbs for autumn planting from the end of July and want them out of the way by September to make room for Christmas-tree decorations. The message is: don’t be rushed. October is the best time for daffodils; November for tulips.
Prepare the soil properly. Remove weeds and incorporate lots of compost or other organic matter when planting bulbs. On heavy soils, dig in horticultural grit. Bulbs grown in pots need good drainage so put plenty of crocks in the bottom and use a well-drained compost. For pots use two parts John Innes No 2 with one part horticultural grit. Specialised bulb composts are expensive and only necessary in pots with poor drainage.

Sweet potatoes – fun alternatives to the humble spud

Fri, 06/09/2013 - 12:04 Post author: gemmastringer

Sweet potatoes may not be related to the humble potato but they are a perfect replant perennial vegetable with varieties which can thrive in UK gardens and offer a colourful and vitamin rich alternative

Sweet potatoes are traditionally grown in warmer climates but don’t be put off.

New, hardier cultivars mean that now you can grow sweet potatoes in the UK. So what was once grown just in tropical and sub tropical regions of the world has now a place in sheltered gardens in the UK.

Roasted, mashed, baked or fried, they make a delicious alternative to the humble spud and their popularity has soared to the point they are easily found in supermarkets.

Go carefully with cauliflower growing

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 13:25 Post author: gemmastringer

For full, crunchy, creamy curds, you're going to have to give this pampered brassica your undivided attention but growing cauliflowers can still be enormously satisfying - and financially rewarding

Mark Twain is said to have warned that ‘cauliflowers are cabbages with a college education’.

It is true they are more ‘demanding’ than the lowly cabbage and are probably the most difficult of the brassica family to grow successfully.

The first tentative steps in designing a garden

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 13:19 Post author: gemmastringer

Garden designer Alan Dodge’s experience tells him the ideal solution for a new garden doesn’t always leap off the page and “pictures speak a thousand words”

As a designer you tread a very fine line creating someone else’s garden, at the end of the day you are a facilitator, getting your client from A to B using your experience, knowledge and judgement to crystalize their ideas into an attractive garden.

As I drive to a new project I am taking in the geography of the surrounding area, the property’s setting and noting the type of planting that is used and thriving locally. It is important, but not essential, that a new garden fits in.

Green manure – time to get planting

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 13:16 Post author: gemmastringer

After harvesting summer vegetables there are bound to be some empty spaces in vegetable plots. So now is the perfect time to sow green manure to boost the soil for next spring

Green manures can be any plant grown as ground cover to improve fertility and soil structure or to compost elsewhere. Crops such as mustard are sown across a bed, allowed to grow for a few months then dug into the soil before flowering. The ground will have been fed and be much more workable, so that new crops can be sown easily after a short break to make sure there is no residue of the manure crop.

Allotments are open for business

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 13:06 Post author: gemmastringer

Things are looking up locally when it comes to getting your hands on an allotment. Waiting lists are falling and there’s a promise of more plots to be available.

If you are on the lookout for a local allotment all is not gloomy.

Those seeking to work on their first allotment in the next twelve months are being given fresh hope. Waiting lists are falling and in the last month a survey of local authorities showed a significant increase in the provision of plots available for first time use.

Dahlias - seeing summer through to its close

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 12:57 Post author: gemmastringer

Sun loving and vibrant, dahlias are back in fashion in a big way and they are at their best in late summer right through to until late autumn when frosts arrives.

Dahlias are back!

One of the great plant revivals of recent years has been the comeback of these wonderful garden plants which have been getting better and better for some time now.

With their dazzling colours, dahlias are vibrant in the border and dramatic in the vase.

Plants which will survive holidays - and being without water

Thu, 18/07/2013 - 12:11 Post author: gemmastringer

It’s during high summer that gardeners can get stressful about having to leave house plants while they are on holiday. One solution is to opt for a variety of plants which store liquid and can be left untended for weeks

Houseplants brighten up almost any home. But there’s a time of year when those that need a lot of care and attention can cause some problems. It’s at holiday times when house plant lovers long to have plants which are drought resistant, hardy and almost look after themselves.


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