Gardenwise | Spread a Little Sunshine

Tue, Jun 23, 2020

This week Gardenwise brings you lots of glorious yellow, in the form of the statuesque sunflower. A hardy annual that grows and lives for just one season, the sunflower is also the international emblem for hospice care – and I’m hoping that you can help to bring a little of its sunshine to our local hospice, to help continue the vital work of caring for patients and their loved ones.

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Gardenwise | How to be Water Wise

Wed, Jun 17, 2020

I always dread hearing a hosepipe ban announced, for legal reasons. And why is that, you might ask? Well, it’s on account of Murphy’s Law, which states that “although several weeks of sunny weather may create the expectation of a good summer, a declaration of drought will immediately be followed by dark clouds, heavy rain and a chance of localised flooding”. So the hosepipe ban came into effect earlier this week and we haven’t had a dry, sunny day since. I rest my case.

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Gardenwise | Saving Summer – how to gather in the garden

Wed, Jun 10, 2020

I’ve always been a firm believer that gardens are to be enjoyed, not just worked in – and the last few months have brought home just how valuable they can be. With restrictions easing and indoor visits allowed from this week, lots of us still won’t be comfortable with visitors indoors, especially if someone in the house is vulnerable from a health point of view. So this summer more than ever, we need to get good at gathering in the garden. Here are a few hints to help you make it happen.

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Gardenwise | Hooked on Herbs – the Garden Gateway

Wed, Jun 03, 2020

Whoever would have thought a couple of months ago that a visit to the garden centre would become such an eagerly awaited event? Suddenly somewhere you popped into to pick up a few bits without thinking – a bag of compost, a bird feeder and a six pack of lettuce plants – became a Destination. Outfits were chosen and displayed on social media. Lists were made and a flask and sandwiches packed in the car just in case the queues were so long you couldn’t get home in time for lunch.

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Gardenwise | Paving the Way to a Great Garden

Wed, May 20, 2020

At this most enchanting time of year – ‘Sweet the evening air of May’, and all that – what better subject to focus on than paving? Sand and cement, jointing, hardcore and quarry screenings? Unromantic it may be, but good paving is far more important to your garden than pretty flowers.

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Gardenwise | Clothe your Walls with Clematis

Wed, May 13, 2020

I’ve always loved clematis ever since I started gardening – a wall or fence completely smothered in its blooms is a lovely sight to behold. As a garden designer, I include them in planting plans for clients quite a lot – depending on the individual garden (and the garden owner ) - because, if chosen carefully, clematis can make a glorious addition to any garden.

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Gardenwise | Spotlight on Spring Stars

Wed, May 06, 2020

What a mixed bag gardeners have had this spring! Some of the best spring weather for years, extra time for many of us to tackle garden jobs – and the closure of our garden centres, nurseries and hardware stores, just as the growing season gets underway. A time of changes, confusion and contradictions in all aspects of our lives – when we’ve turned to our gardens for distraction and comfort, and counted ourselves lucky to have them.

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Gardenwise | Keep Calm and Keep Still

Wed, Apr 29, 2020

If last week’s Gardenwise was about keeping calm and carrying on with gardening, this one is about keeping calm and actually doing very little at all. To absorb maximum benefits from the garden, you need to cultivate the art of doing absolutely nothing at all. Let me explain.

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Gardenwise | Keep Calm and Carry On Gardening

Thu, Apr 23, 2020

If my inbox is anything to go by, a lot of people are doing a lot of thinking about their gardens just now. No surprises there, as the not – exactly – a - lockdown got underway just as spring was entering its most energetic phase. With at least another week or two of staying home ahead of us, formerly neglected gardens are being lavished with more TLC in a fortnight than they would normally get in a whole year. A wander round the garden centre, checking out the new spring arrivals, followed by a coffee stop, is a real treat at this time of year under normal circumstances. But with ‘normal’ fast receding to the realm of ‘once upon a time’, the shape of shopping has ‘changed, changed utterly’- and a new kind of resourcefulness is born.

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To Weed or Not to Weed?

Wed, Apr 15, 2020

“A flower is a weed with an advertising budget” says Rory Sutherland in his brilliant book ‘Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense’. If you think about it, he’s absolutely right. What we call a weed is a plant just like any other, with a job to do – and the leaves, flowers and seeds to do it – but if it decides to grow where we don’t think it should, we call it a weed, and give it its marching orders. And all because it doesn’t have an advertising budget, basically: Its flowers and foliage are not considered suitable garden material, because the ‘budget’ didn’t run to eye-catching size, shape or colour.

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Winning Windows

Fri, Apr 10, 2020

If there’s one thing guaranteed to lift the spirits, it’s bright seasonal colour in containers at doors and windows. With a little planning, you can have pretty things in pots and windowboxes all year round, and they’re perfect for places where space is tight.

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Smiles needed? Call the Songbirds!

Wed, Apr 01, 2020

I can’t imagine my garden without birds, and I love each and every one of them, from the perky robins who perch a few feet away and eye you up speculatively, to the pair of collared doves that land together every so often, exchange a few mildly puzzled coos and lumber off again, looking confused. By encouraging birds of all kinds into the garden, you’re giving it the best possible chance of being a healthy, balanced ecosystem – they may come for the food you’ve left out, but they’ll stay to hoover up greenfly, slugs and lots of other garden ‘pests’ that have designs on your plants.

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Underwear for the Garden – Stopping the Flop

Wed, Apr 01, 2020

Yes, you read that right – we’re talking about underwear for the garden this week. The importance of good underpinnings can’t be overestimated, and this is the time of year when you need to be getting them in place. The right supports for your plants will not only make them look good, but by keeping each plant upright and in its place, everyone gets their fair share of sunlight, air and water – so each plant can do its job and make your garden sing.

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Minding the Garden – so it can Mind You

Thu, Mar 26, 2020

Welcome back to Gardenwise! As the days get longer and the sun gets stronger, it’s time to look outside and reconnect with the garden. We need it now more than ever – it’s not only a distraction from the news headlines, it grounds, calms and soothes and helps give us hope for the future. As the plants wake up and the birds get busy, a little time spent tending to the garden now will pay huge dividends – in lots of ways.

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SOS – Save Our Songbirds!

Tue, Nov 12, 2019

Regular readers will know how much I love my feathered garden visitors – and I know from chatting to many of you that you do too – so you can imagine how horrified I was to learn recently that we could be helping to cause the deaths of millions of these tiny creatures every time we do a grocery shop.

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Therefore all Seasons……

Tue, Nov 05, 2019

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee’ wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘Whether the summer clothe the general earth with greeness’……’or whether the eave drops fall, heard only in the trances of the blast’…..Fair play to him, I say, for being so open – minded. I’m afraid the colder, darker seasons are not very sweet to me, and when the poet wrote those lines he didn’t have central heating, Netflix and other small comforts that make the winter bearable. What he did have though, was an appreciation of the natural world and a sense of the beauty to be found in it at all times.

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A Tree for Every Season

Thu, Oct 17, 2019

This is a great time to plant a tree – the earth is still relatively warm and you can probably count on plenty of rainfall to keep the soil moist. But which one to choose? Well how about settling on a tree to suit your favourite season?

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Clearly Contemporary

Tue, Oct 15, 2019

It can be tempting when building your dream home to focus only on the house itself and not on its surroundings. It’s very understandable too - things you didn’t even know existed need to be budgeted for, and always turn out to be more expensive than you’d thought.

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Scents of an Ending

Tue, Oct 08, 2019

If asked to name some autumn scented plants could you do it? It might be trickier than you think, as the scents we associate with autumn usually tend towards the woodsmoke / damp leaves / spiced pumpkin variety, no? Actually I suspect spiced pumpkin has more to do with Starbucks than with autumn, in this part of the world anyway, thanks to the cult status of the PSL in recent times. (For those aged 21 and over that’s the Pumpkin Spiced Latte, obviously).

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Going Native - Part Two

Thu, Sep 26, 2019

last week’s Gardenwise has inspired you to consider a native hedge, you might find yourself paying more attention to what’s growing at the side of the road near you as you pass – but please take care if you’re driving! If you’re walking, running or just out for a stroll though, it’s amazing how rewarding a study of the simple plants growing wild at the roadside can be – and this is the season when they really come into their own.

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