Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west


Asters - stars by name and by nature

Wed, 17/09/2014 - 12:10 Post author: Aidan Gill

There’s something old fashioned, unpretentious and unflashy about asters but Gill Heavens remains a fan of these flowers which bring a new lease of life to summer borders.

The splendid aster is the namesake of the Asteraceae, better known as the daisy family. 

Until very recently this family contained around 600 species but the botanists decided to have a bit of shake-up and have reduced the number to approximately 180. 

Autumn gardening mistakes to avoid

Wed, 17/09/2014 - 12:04 Post author: Aidan Gill

Forgetting to cut the lawn, letting leaves build up and not protecting pots are amongst the most common autumnal gardening mistakes.

As the nights draw in and the days get colder, researchers found that many simply forgot the basic chores to prepare the garden for winter.

The top mistakes also included: 

Forgetting to net the pond

If you are fortunate enough to have a pond, one of the first things you should start doing in September is cover it with a net.

Not doing a big clear and clean out

Autumn - and the best colours of the year

Wed, 17/09/2014 - 11:50 Post author: Aidan Gill

This month the summer school holidays are drawing to a close and a semblance of normality returns to previously busy – and often noisy - attractions and gardens.

As the leaves turn and begin to fall the vibrancy of the changing season takes over. It’s that time of the year to visit some of the best displays in gardens,nurseries and arboretums and this year the choice is even greater.

There aren’t many people who don’t like autumn and let’s be honest – what’s not to like? 

Saving real apples!

Wed, 17/09/2014 - 11:41 Post author: Aidan Gill

Old and traditional varieties of apples have never been more popular as gardeners now seek out something different to grow which have both an affinity to where they live and which help to rediscover England’s apple heritage.

If you are growing apples it looks set to be another bumper year- the second in a row- producing a wonderful harvest of hundreds of varieties of eating, dessert and even cider apples.

How to plant perfectly

Wed, 17/09/2014 - 11:24 Post author: Aidan Gill

When you plant something it will hopefully be in the ground for a long time so this autumn its worth taking a bit more effort with planting techniques to make sure everything gets a good start.

There’s an old saying when it comes to autumn planting.

It has been borrowed from W. J. Bean who in 1914 in the first edition of his book Trees and Shrubs Hardy In The British Isles wrote:

“As far as possible, all deciduous plants should be planted after the leaves have changed colour, but just before they fall”.

Finding a future for the greater horseshoe bat

Thu, 21/08/2014 - 10:10 Post author: gemmastringer

You might think they’re ugly and scary, but Greater horseshoe bats are a rare and important part of the ecosystem and need our help to survive - and their best chance is in the West Country

If bats give you a fright, and the larger any wild creature is the more you are scared, then even reading this may give you goose bumps. The Greater horseshoe bat is one of the largest British bat species and more of them are found in the West Country and Wales than anywhere else in the British Isles.

Late summer showstoppers

Thu, 21/08/2014 - 09:32 Post author: gemmastringer

Gill Heavens looks at one of her garden favourites, salvias, which offer lots of fragrant and colourful choices which will flower right through to the first frosts

Salvias, or the sages, are members of the Lamiaceae family whose members include many familiar herbs such as rosemary, mint and thyme, but also monsters as the tropical Tectona grandis, the hard wood producing teak tree.  

How to collect and sow your own seeds

Thu, 21/08/2014 - 09:15 Post author: gemmastringer

The benefits and pleasure you can get from gathering and growing seeds from your own garden are huge and very rewarding. You can save seeds from all kinds of plants. Annuals are the easiest and if you are a beginner in all this it’s the ideal place to start

Collecting seeds is one of those activities that will make you feel a wealthy gardener.

Why collect seeds? Nature will ensure that plants self-sow in order to perpetuate the species, but much more reliable results can be gained by collecting and sowing them yourself.

You have control over where plants grow and, above all, it’s free.

Green squares and secret gardens

Tue, 15/07/2014 - 12:10 Post author: Aidan Gill

The ever-popular Open Squares event in London has spread out across the country – now Bristol will stage its own. Liz Ware met the organisers to find out more.

There’s something enticing about an enclosed garden.

Often an oasis of calm in the midst of urban chaos, few of us can resist the temptation to explore. This year, Clifton, in Bristol, will be giving us the opportunity to do just that.

Delphinium Delights

Tue, 15/07/2014 - 11:56 Post author: Aidan Gill

Gill Heavens continues her series on favourites of the summer garden, looking at the heavenly blue delphinium.

There can be little more impressive in the garden than a stand of sky blue delphinium. This genus however is not confined to the dreamy spires of the classic cottage garden but is made up of approximately 300 species of diverse members. They are found mostly in the northern hemisphere but also in the mountainous regions of tropical Africa. In size they can range from alpine varieties at 10cm tall to 2m meadow inhabitants and their habitats span swamp and desert.


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