Garden Maintenance

  1. Assessing Your Garden Post Summer

    Assessing Your Garden Post Summer

    Take Stock of Your Garden Successes and Failures

    I know that New Year is the traditional time to stop and re-evaluate everything in your life but I reckon now, as summer ends, is also an ideal time to stop all that weeding, watering and worrying so you can look at your garden and decide what to do better next year. After all, you don’t need to rely on your memory if all your faults and successes are there, straight in front of your eyes.

    Here are my own garden assessments for this summer:

    Parsnip leavesNo more parsnips

    Keen followers of these blogs know the injuries that I’ve sustained in growing some pre

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  2. Weeds - Nature's Opportunists

    Weeds - Nature's Opportunists

    Weeds – Nature’s Opportunists

    Nature is a wonderful thing. Here we are, at the time of writing, and it’s baking hot, sunny every day and we are all flagging. Plants are getting droopy, hosepipe bans loom large and after-sun sales are out of this world. But some plants are loving it. Weeds.

    white clover lawn weedLawn weeds still seem to growing when all around them turn beige. But how come? All of the lawn, lovely grass or foe, receives the same pitiful amount of dew and zero rainfall. Yet weeds are green and the grass looks dead. It’s a case of survival vs opportunity. Dandelions have deep roots that go down a

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  3. Watering in a Heatwave

    Watering in a Heatwave

    Watering Your Garden in a Heatwave

    It’s hot and getting hotter.

    Most people love this hot weather and revel at the thought of at least another fortnight of the stuff as ice cream sales, BBQ charcoal and Prosecco sales go through the roof. But, for me, the decline in slug activity is the main positive from this heatwave. Yep, always the gardener.

    Slugs and Watering:

    slug on lawnSlugs prefer a slightly cooler and damper environment. They quickly d

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  4. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 - A Proper Chelsea Belter

    The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 - A Proper Chelsea Belter

    A Proper Chelsea Belter

    It was an honour and privilege to visit the RHS Chelsea Flower show on press day. It gave me a fantastic chance to get up close to the gardens and plants (and some celebs as well) and appreciate the excellence in horticulture everyone produced. And truly, it was excellent.

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    RHS Chelsea Flower Show wildflowers

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  5. Caring for Plants in the Cold - Seedlings, Shrubs and More

    The recent cold weather has taken its toll on some plants.

    I was worried for my own fresh young shoots on lupins but they seemed to have come through unscathed. I have however spotted some phormiums and yuccas that have been knocked about a bit. Time for action.

    A yucca in the snow

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  6. Skip A Dee Doo Dah

    Skip A Dee Doo Dah

    I'm out of them. The doldrums. They are a thing of the past. A recent memory but one consigned to yet another autumn start up. My bulbs are in. The leaves are a-fluttering, a-dancing and annoyingly settling on the lawn. But, most importantly, my skip is in place.

    skip-puppy-portWho doesn't like a skip and all it brings? Oh, the pleasure of anticipation. Having a garage that you can walk into, and maybe, just maybe, park a car. I am a dreamer. The delight of accessing bikes without the need for an hour’s warning of use; the climb and orienteering over defunct mower; seventeen old paint cans and a small stuffed dog on wheels.

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  7. Nightmare Weeds

    Nightmare Weeds

    If a plant can colonise the flanks of a volcano it sure is going to love growing in an average back garden or near a gentle stream. For a plant to shove its root into just-cooled magma then, let's face it, a clay soil or tarmac drive is going to be a cinch. A plant that creates such havoc and terror surely deserves its own tracking-app. Japanese knotweed is that plant.

    Now I’m lucky in that the worse weed I have to endure is bindweed. Or maybe the ground elder that pops up in a border and one corner of the lawn. Or actually it could be the ever-present bittercress - but that’s my fault because it flowers and sets seeds before I get to it, reinforcing the ‘one year seed = seven years weed’ gardening saying. Japanese knotweed is at the moment miles away. Actually, five miles away. But how do I know? Do I scour the

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  8. Mistakes...I've Made a Few

    Mistakes...I've Made a Few

    This is the best time of year to analyse your garden and see where things can be improved. It’s when gaps appear in beds and borders, crops tussle with each other for space and the panes in the greenhouse crack under the ever-burgeoning force of foliage, flowers and fruit.

    Of course, I would like to say that my own plot is perfect. I’d like to say that but I would be lying. This is, after all, gardening and we all must realise that nothing is ever perfect nor is it complete. We are only curators easing and coaxing our plots towards an untouchable end game. So, in the interests of progress, here are my own improvement notes on my own plot, as it stands in midsummer:


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  9. TOTAF is the new BOGOF

    TOTAF is the new BOGOF

    Gardening is great – obviously, or you and I wouldn't be here now - but sometimes a day away is also nice. However, the garden is never far away even when trundling down the M1 towards the home of cricket (for what would eventually result in a rather historic game).  A rather urgent comfort break included a much-needed coffee.

    And that’s where I realised that I will never get away from the garden, even early on a Saturday morning on the motorway.

    One of the big coffee shop chains situated at the service station was giving away their old coffee grounds for use in the garden. That’s giving away; free; 100% discount; gratis; on the house; take one take another free (TOTAF).  So, I did. After all it was free and worth a second whirl.

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  10. You are Not Alone

    You are Not Alone

    You are Not Alone

    Just when you think it is safe to walk around the garden, brew in hand to inspect and admire your efforts, you notice a gnarled shoot on your lupins. Suddenly your roses look sticky, holes are noticed in potato leaves and your lily buds are nibbled.

    Nature at its nastiest. Your garden may need a helping hand.

    pests on plants

    I fully understand the do nothing approach to pest and disease control. Leave well alone and eventually things will even out, a balance will occur and everything will live in peace and harmony. You’ll have to learn to put up with a bit of background damage but that’s OK. Your freshly dug and filled pond will attract in frogs that in turn will eat the slugs. Your compani

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