Tag Archives: garden

All the gardening things…

Despite being buried under a foot of snow again earlier this week, things are definitely looking up on the gardening front, not least because I’ve been doing lots of garden planning and subsequently lots of garden purchasing.

The post has been full of wonderful arrivals over the past couple of weeks including books on companion planting, biodynamic gardening and a couple of Beth Chatto’s after seeing her on Gardener’s World – Monty rated them very highly.

Live Plants, including horseradish (let’s hope it does better than last time, it was all spindly little roots that would’ve been a nightmare to peel – are we the only people that can’t grow it?!), strawberries and blueberries (ours weren’t great last year but planning to do something to make the soil more acidic this year and hopefully some cross-pollination will help). I also got garlic, a variety especially meant to be planted in UK soil, rather than just planting cloves from supermarket garlics which is what I’ve always done before, I’m hoping that my soil maintenance over the Winter will mean it’s less clay-ey and we’ll get much bigger bulbs this time around.

Seeds, all the seeds have been arriving! This year I’m hoping to save some money by bringing things on from seed instead of from plants but being so high up we have a very short season. The heated propagator is working well and the tomatoes and companions seem to be thriving. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to sow more in normal seed trays without them getting too cold in the conservatory at night.

and stuff! Cane holders for the climbers, plant clips and a hanging basket chain – all to be revealed with that one in due course.

The potatoes have been chitting – we have Pink Fir Apples, Salad Blue, Mayan Gold and Epicure. And, I finally braved pruning, I’ve been too feardy the past couple of years but I went on to youtube and learned how to prune all sorts of things – nothing was safe once I got started – roses, blueberries, apples, buddleias, blackcurrants, jasmine, fig, ivy and lilac – not sure if I haven’t gone a little too far with some of them, guess time will tell.

Next job is to write a new to-do list, plan my seed sowing and raised beds and get back to the chicken run that was interrupted by the Avian flu restrictions, fingers crossed for some nicer weather soon. I’m also deliberating on whether to buy live worms or to invest in a wormery so if anyone has some thoughts, I’d love to hear from you (definitely not sure about the dog poo wormeries I found on amazon – who knew there was such a thing?! the thought of worms who’ve digested that around the veggies isn’t filling me with great joy despite it sounding like a clever bit of kit).

Garden Planning for Biodiversity

A relatively clear weekend meant that I finally got the chance to settle down with a gardening magazine (I was given a subscription to Grow Your Own for Christmas. an excellent present), my notebook and some seed catalogues.

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This year we’re planning on being a bit more structured as last year was poor in terms of harvest – the weather didn’t help but we also sowed seeds way too late for them to come to anything and were just generally a bit disorganised.

This time round we’ll be growing things we actually like to eat and in the quest for beauty and biodiversity we’ll be companion planting too. Starting to get impatient now, however, the garden needs a really good Spring clean so there’s plenty to be done.

My latest succulent and cacti pots
My latest succulent and cacti pots

Am considering getting a heated propagator to get things started – saw an amazing looking one in a magazine but it was over £100. Think I may try a smaller one first to see how it works. I met someone a couple of weeks ago who uses one when making bread so at least it’ll have another use if it doesn’t work out.

In other news our new bulb planter arrived – it was one of those deals you get when ordering plants that seem like a really good deal – £5 instead of £15 – thank goodness it was only £5 as I can’t for the life of me see how it’s going to add much value, guess I’ll find out when our Summer bulbs arrive and I can put it into practice.

Bulb Planter - any good? or waste of time.....
Bulb Planter – any good? or waste of time…..

Getting Experimental On The Allotment

A large focus of our Gastronomy MSc just now is soil science – with horrifying losses on a global scale (75 billion tonnes of soil are being lost each year due to erosion and poor land management and it takes nature 50-100 years to make 2.5cm of soil) and with a growing population this is a very real concern with regards to the future of our food supply.

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We’ve been studying the history of agriculture and different methods being used and have decided to get experimental on our own campus allotment and see how it goes. It’s fair to say that it’s very exposed and was certainly very windy out there for yesterday morning’s session. Note to self to take warmer clothing next time!

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We decided to try a no-till approach to two beds by cutting down the existing weeds, laying them down back down on the beds, covering them with cardboard and then heaping compost over the top and then covering them with burlap sacking. The aim of this is that the existing organic matter and microbes will continue to do their thing in the soil and we’ll keep the weeds out until we’re ready to plant in our lovely healthy soil in the Spring.

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In our existing perennial bed, which has a bio-diverse approach we decided to try out some green manure seeds in some barren areas to help regenerate the soil. We removed the burlap sacking in a few areas and lightly tilled the area and sowed a mixture of Phacelia, Clover, Italian Ryegrass and Winter Tares. The aim of this is to fix Nitrogen back into the soil and to help prevent erosion from the winds through the Winter. We’ll then cut them back in the Spring when we’re ready to plant other things.

I’ll also be trying out both of these methods in my own garden with a view to starting a brand new bio-diverse garden next Spring – very excited about that!

Wherefore art thou Summer

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In need of a haircut!

What a miserable few weeks of rain we’ve had – the grass is going wild and I still haven’t had chance to try out the cordless strimmer that the lovely folks at GTech sent me a couple of weeks ago to review.

 

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Blackcurrants ripening up nicely

 

My soggy garden inspections are showing that it’s going to be a bad year for crops this year – we haven’t seen so much as a blossom on any of our apple trees, we have 2 gooseberries between our two bushes and no blueberries at all.

 

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Better late than never

 

On the plus side, our blackcurrants and rhubarb are both doing very well and it looks like we’ll be able to start harvesting some of early variety potatoes soon. The newly planted herb garden is doing well and we also have tomatoes growing nicely in the conservatory, despite everything being a lot later this year after the extended Winter.

 

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Beautiful Petunia Night Sky just started blooming

 

The chickens have managed to dig up most of the plants in our recently planted bed – periwinkles, tiarella, heucheras and helibores have all been tossed asunder by the naughty little beasts. We’re going to have to replant what we can salvage and then cane-off the bed until they’ve established themselves.

 

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The honeysuckle is looking great

 

Praying for some nicer weather this week as the to-do list is growing longer daily. I’ve been sent a self-watering hanging basket by Stewarts so I’m keen to see how that works and finally get to test the strimmer.

 

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Our other ‘surprise’ Rhododendron is out

 

I’m also quite excited to have been invited to RHS Tatton Park by Stiehl on the 16th and it looks like we’ll be in for a treat. Can’t wait to see the show gardens there.

 

 

 

 

Newhall Estate – Garden Open Days

The walled garden at Newhall is just lovely – I had serious veggie plot envy last time I was there, so I’m excited to see that it’s open every Wednesday between 2pm and 4.30pm until 27th July as part of Scotland’s Garden Scheme.

Entry £4 (goes to charity). Tea and coffee will be on offer.

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The History of The Garden

The Walled Garden was built about 1792 by Robert Brown. Originally such gardens were merely enclosed places in which to grow produce for the kitchen and flowers for the house, but they quickly evolved as places also for quiet perambulation in summer, and in winter to view the exotic fruit growing in the heat of the Glasshouses. The Walled Garden at Newhall has some remarkable features surviving from its earliest years, a heated Melon Pit, a beautifully built tunnel was discovered recently linking the nearby burn to the greenhouse for water supply.

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In the centre of the Garden is a statue of Adam, the first gardener, (made of Coadestone) ready to ‘delve’. You may also find – at the top of the Garden – the composite sundial, a round early 18th century table dial with a scrolled stone gnomon (or pointer) on what is probably a late 17th century pedestal of four figures of the seasons. The pedestal has been attributed to James Gifford of West Linton, a local sculptor and pre-dates the garden as it is thought to be from 1708.

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The cloverleafed pierced stones and another dated 1796 that you might find near the statue of Adam were brought here from one of Robert Brown’s outlying properties.

The twin busts of Pan and his mother on the South Gatepiers are probably early 18th century.They used to adorn the old entrance to Newhall House.

These are thought to have been cut by an Italian sent for and employed by the Duke of Hamilton and originally to have been on the gateposts between two Pigeon Houses that were once at the front of the house.

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Under the trees to the right of the South Gatepiers can be seen stones that originally formed part of a stone newel or spiral staircase from the old tower-house that still forms the core of Newhall House today. They were removed during the early 19th century extensions and alterations to the house.

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Newhall Estate is just off the A702 between Penicuik and Carlops.

Newhall House, Carlops, Penicuik EH26 9LY

Gardener’s Question Time Summer Party at The Botanics

This is VERY exciting, quick, get the 9th July in your diaries….

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It’s the gardening event of the year – and for the first time it’s coming to Scotland. BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time is celebrating the joys of summer by hosting its annual Summer Garden Party at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

The day-long gardening festival offers visitors the opportunity to meet the GQT team face-to-face, take part in recordings of the programme, enjoy horticultural walks, talks, plant sales and demonstrations happening right across the Garden – ranging from pest and disease clinics to tips on how to maintain a healthy and productive herb garden.

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The garden party will feature the pick of the crop of gardening gurus, including GQT’s Bob Flowerdew, Bunny Guinness, Matthew Wilson, Pippa Greenwood, Anne Swithinbank, Matthew Biggs and Chairmen Eric Robson and Peter Gibbs. They will be joined by Scottish gardening hero, and star of the BBC’s Beechgrove Garden, Jim McColl.

We’ll have live entertainment throughout the day, with hands-on activities, demonstrations, food, drink and fun for all the family.

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There will be two recordings of GQT at the garden party, and BBC Radio 4 listeners will be able to hear all the highlights on Friday 15th July at 3pm (repeated Sunday 17th at 2pm) and Friday 22nd July at 3pm (repeated Sunday 24th at 2pm).

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TICKETS and Times

Saturday 9th July, 10am – 5pm

Tickets (inc. booking fee): Adult £10.50, children (5-16 yrs) £5, under 5’s free. Tickets available to buy online HERE

Please Note: The ticket price gives visitors access to all the events happening at the garden party. However, entry to the main marquee recordings of GQT is limited and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis to ticket holders on the day.

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Spring arrives & it’s all gone bonkers!

In the week that saw us celebrate our 3rd anniversary of moving to our country cottage we saw a lot of changes in the garden.

 

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Our 3rd Anniversary in Nine Mile Burn

 

We have a pair of nesting blue tits in our bird box (yay), the starlings have already fledged and there are now sparrows in their old nest. The swallows are back swooping and darting all around and the geese have returned to the fields roundabout, some with young. After a seemingly never-ending Winter, Spring is most definitely here.

 

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Rhododendron- Golden Witt 

 

The garden has gone bonkers, everything’s growing and blooming and budding and it’s heartwarming to see! The cherry blossom is out and the beech hedge is finally turning, that fresh green really makes a difference in our garden.

 

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Setting up the new Potting Shed

 

The (short) spell of warmer, sunny weather was filled to the brim with ‘getting shit done’ in the garden – everything from getting the potting shed set-up to clearing, weeding and edging, sowing seeds and bulbs (better late than never) and I even made up some hanging baskets inspired by the book Crops in Pots, that I reviewed a while back.

 

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Our latest haul from The Secret Herb Garden

 

We had a lovely trip to The Secret Herb Garden (LOVE this place) to source new herbs as the chickens have self-seasoned and destroyed what we had. We got lemon verbena, lovage and borage (inspired by Petal, Leaf, Seed), several new rosemarys, chamomile, sage, lemon balm, oregano, fennel, jasmine and rhubarb, amongst others.

 

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Re-potting some plants for gifts

 

Our new front lawn is looking great and we’ve just bought a new mower and hedge cutter so we’re getting tooled up to tackle the front garden.

 

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Thank You Miracle-Gro for this amazing surprise box of goodies!

 

 

So much to do now but sadly the torrential rain is back so no idea when we’ll be able to crack on – we live in hope though, always hope!

 

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It’s been well over 20 years since our house was a pub (garden find)

 

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Jasmine potted in a vintage watering can!