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Six on Saturday 21st of April 2018

img 2637 Six on Saturday 21st of April 2018

Ahh at last a little bit of sun and as we expected it went from being cold, damp and wet to being subtropical in a few days, temperatures hitting a high of 29c. This warm weather is certainly making the plants and the grass grow like anything. Indeed one lawn, well the only lawn I now mow, has gone straight from not needing to be cut, to a weekly cut now. At least in this sun and heat, the hoe can come out and any small weeds coming up can be easily removed. Anyway on to the six on Saturday, which once more come from the delights of my own garden

img 2636 Six on Saturday 21st of April 2018

The new fronds of the ferns are now slowly emerging and there can be none more attractive than the Japanese painted fern, Athyrium niponicum ‘Red Beauty’ who said foliage is dull and boring, certainly no one who has seen this plant!

img 2633 Six on Saturday 21st of April 2018

Yes you have been warned, there’s a few tulips in my six this week, this is another beauty called Infinity, I love the combination of ivory white and pink, funny enough it becomes more pink as the flower ages.

img 2635 Six on Saturday 21st of April 2018

Had to add the dark new foliage of Geranium espresso as it appears from the ground, just how dark and beautiful is this colour! You can see where the name came from can’t you.

img 2634 Six on Saturday 21st of April 2018

Another cracker that has only been around for 10yrs or so, a tulip called Green Star and what a cracker! I love the way the green shoots up in lines into the whiteness. Another form I shall be getting again next year!

img 2622 Six on Saturday 21st of April 2018

This specie tulip has to be one of the most slender and pointed out of all the tulips, this form is called clusiana ‘Shelia’ hoping this will come again regularly for me in the pots.

img 2638 Six on Saturday 21st of April 2018

Lastly we have the most cute little primula you will ever see, again a new addition to the garden from my order from Barnhaven primroses, primula farinosa or the birds eye primula. it is an Alpine and will be going into a new alpine tub I am hoping to be building soon!

Well that’s my six done from my garden this week, so many plants now are starting to wake up and start delighting us with their beauty. I hope you have a great weekend and check out the other six on Saturday over at the hosts site

Until next week, have fun in the garden or indeed just admiring plants

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Finding a gardener! Part 1- the first steps

img 0951 Finding a gardener! Part 1  the first steps

img 0951 Finding a gardener! Part 1  the first steps

We all get to the point of needing a little help in the garden, whether it’s a total redesign, rebuild or maintenance. All these tasks can be just a one off or a regular just just getting someone in to do the boring bits we don’t enjoy or even the bits we can’t do, either from not having the skill sets or equipment to things in the garden.

During this little series, I am looking at this from not only the customers view but also as mine, working as a professional gardener covering practical gardening as well as planting plans and consultancy. Hopefully this will give you a little more information about the right questions to ask, what to look for and how to make a good choice for your garden and you.

For me the first thing would be to sit down with some paper and spend a bit of time working out what work you would like done in a little bit more detail. What may seem common sense to you, may not to someone else, coming into the garden for the first time. If it’s a new garden you would like done, double check boundary lines, who owns which fence/wall, think about how much you have to spend and plants or ideas you like. If it’s landscaping, again think about the size of area you would liked done, materials you like, money you have to spend and with maintenance, there is a little more to think about, work out what jobs you would like done, with grass, how often you want it mowed, the height, feeding, scarification etc and even with hedges, what height to trim at etc. You aren’t looking to produce a timetable for works just a list of the tasks you would like to have carried out, all this saves so much confusion when walking around the garden and saves the opps nearly forgot that bit there, that happens regularly.

img 5130 Finding a gardener! Part 1  the first steps

This list can also help you decide what type of gardening service you need. There are so many types of services, it can be confusing what service that may best suit your needs. So here’s a rough rundown about what they are and what they do.

  • Landscape architects or designers. They design bigger spaces that are mainly almost without boundaries, like large estates, new building estates, ideal to use if you have a very large estate.
  • Garden designers. They design garden and garden spaces, from full gardens to small sections including planting plans
  • Garden consultants. These help you solving problems in the garden, no matter what size you garden is. They advise on problems and give solutions. If you have had substandard work carried out in you garden, they will give a honest neutral report it on as well as advising on a smaller aspects of your garden
  • Landscapers. They are the builders in the garden, anything you would like built from a whole garden to just a small part, these are the ones to go for. They differ from general builders from a much greater understanding of materials and how things work within the garden. Some landscape companies do offer design as well.
  • Lawn maintenance. These companies look after the feeding and health of the lawn, most don’t cut grass
  • Gardeners. Gardeners can look after your garden, all the above indeed can be classed as gardeners as they all work within the garden, but the term gardeners generally means they maintain and develop the garden. All gardeners are different, some are able to carry out all the above while others just prefer to cut grass or indeed work on the more skilled areas of gardening like pruning.

Some of these areas can be mixed up, with gardeners being able to do garden design, landscaping, lawn maintenance and consultancy, landscapers offering design, build and aftercare and designers offering to do planting and aftercare too.

They also have trade bodies that either test them regularly to ensure good compliance or have a strict entry criteria that the company has to pass to be come a member. These are set out below

  • Charted institute of Horticulture. This covers all the above groups. To become a member, you must meet a set amount of points depending of qualifications and experience. Fellows are the highest form of members with a few gaining Charted memberships. Members are allowed to use Chort for chartered members, FCIHort for fellows, MCIHort for members or ACIHort for associate membership.
  • Institute of Landscape Design is the body for Landscape designers. It has a very strict entry requirement and ongoing training for members so they can become chartered landscape designers. Only chartered members can use CMLI, fellows FLI and teachers AMLI.
  • Society of garden designers. Is the main one for garden designers. It has two main categories for qualified designers. Pre-registered members are qualified designers working towards becoming a registered member, registered members have their work assessed and approved by the SGD.
  • Professional Garden Consultants Association is designed for professionals who offer consultancy as part of their service. Members have to be a member of of the Charted Institute of Horticulture and one other like Society of Garden Designers, The professional Gardeners Guild, have at least 10yrs experience in their chosen field and pass a Admittance and Standards Training Workshop.
  • Association of Professional Landscapers is one of two trade associations. The members are mainly focused on the domestic market. The members have to been trading for 2yrs, have at least 6 references from clients, agree to follow a strict code and have paperwork and work inspected once per year, indeed it is the only trade body that checks it’s members so vigorously that they are accepted into the governments Trade Mark scheme.
  • The British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) covers landscapers, designers and maintenance. They cover all types of property from small gardens to big public areas. They have to agree to abide by a strict guidelines, have paperwork and quality of work checked, provide at least 10 customer and 2 trade references.
  • The Gardeners Guild is the only trade body just for those who provide garden maintenance and aftercare mainly focused on the domestic garden side. Most the members are sole traders or small companies. Each member has to prove they have a horticultural qualifications to at least RHS level 2.

These will have you understand the memberships they may have and can be a great place to find a new person that fits the bill perfectly. They are many talented people who aren’t members of any groups, they go by word of mouth many and are great if you here about them. But the above can be a good place to start. They all have member lists and also many of them have arbitration guild lines that will help you if there is a problem.

Next time I shall look into choosing someone or a firm to carry out the works you need, giving you clues on what to look for, what things the firms need to work legally in your garden.

img 1333 Finding a gardener! Part 1  the first steps

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Plant of the week- Drimys winteri

drimys winteri2 1 Plant of the week  Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri is an amazing small tree or large shrub that delights us at this time of the year with its beautiful large fragrant flowers. It is a native of Chile and Argentina, namely the temperate coastal rainforests, Magellanic and Valdivian. In these areas, it’s normally found living just 1200m above sea level and prefers damp spots near streams in rich fertile soil. It grows up to 20m tall in its native areas but manages up to 10m here in the uk. It does survive pretty well here and can be found growing up as far northern Wales.

drimys winteri Plant of the week  Drimys winteri

The evergreen aromatic leathery leaves themselves have a are a mid-dark green colour and oblong to lance like in shape, reaching about 20cm when long. The jasmine scented flowers are borne from late winter to late spring here in the uk and are well worth growing for the scent alone. The bark is also one the highlights of this small tree and is a lovely rich brown colour.

Drimys winteri or winters bark was discovered between 1577-80 by possibly John Wynter. John Wynter was the captain of the Elizabeth, the only other ship that made it around Cape Horn with Sir Francis Drake sailing the famous Golden Hind. After a bad storm, the two vessels were separated and it is thought Elizabeth had illness aboard. John set a boat a shore to look for medical herbs and they brought back the bark of Drimys winteri. They discovered it contained vitamin C and it made a excellent remedy for the dreaded illness aboard ships at the time, scurvy. For many centuries it was used to fight scurvy, indeed Captain James Cook drank an infusion of it. The bark of Drimys winteri is also thought to aid indigestion, colic and dandruff. It is also ground up and used just like pepper in its native countries.

drimys winteri1 Plant of the week  Drimys winteri

The wood itself has a lovely reddish colour and is sort after in making furniture and making musical instruments. It is sadly no good for fires. It was also used by the tribes in South America as a symbol of peace, the same way olive branches were used in Greece

Drimys winteri prefers a well drained moist soil, ideally one that’s neutral to acidic, that said it will tolerate some chalk and grow ok in deeper alkaline soils. Surprisingly it will tolerate strong winds but it doesn’t like to be exposed to coastal winds containing salt. It is hardy down to -10c. Pruning wise it doesn’t need any pruning other than to shape it and removal any crossing branches. It is thought to be pretty resistant to honey fungus, so may be a good option if it is problematic in your garden.

drimys winteri2 Plant of the week  Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri is pretty easy to propagate, seed being the easiest way, sown fresh in the autumn in a greenhouse and once potted on, give some protection in something like a cold frame for the first year or so. Semi ripe cuttings with a heal work well and are best taken in July or August.

It can be found in many gardens like RHS Wisley, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and many gardens in Cornwall. Indeed it is quite widely grown. It is also sold in many good nurseries like Burncoose of Southdown.

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Drimys winteri
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Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018

img 2564 1 Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018

Well well well it’s ended up a dryish week, a few days rain at the start but nice and dry from then onwards. This dry spell will certainly make the Plants and weeds grow a bit more. It’s been a mixed week for me here in Hampshire, my middle girl managed to break her leg badly on Tuesday, so a few extra days off than planned happened. During the quiet times, it was good to get into the garden potting stuff up, expanding beds and generally planing a few things out. The garage is slowly beginning its 3 yearly tidy up. It’s only a tiny garden here in chandlers ford but it is one I love a lot.

So anyway on to the six this week and yes they all do come from my little patch, so I hope you enjoy them!

img 2564 Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018

These have to be on the most stunning tulips I have ever grown, they look so beautiful as they start forming their buds and when they open just wow! Tulip ‘Exotic Emperor’ is their name

img 2574 Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018

A few of you may remember from a few weeks ago, this spotted laurel was on my list for removal and it’s now gone! Got some more roses and hardy geraniums to replace in its spot.

img 2581 Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018img 2582 Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018

Potted up a small fruit tree I am going to train into a odd shape, idea what yet but that comes in time. The dwarf Buddleja is another that’s on my list to repot and is now done!

img 2576 Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018

Sometimes a fellow blogger posts some beautiful plants on their six and it reminds you how much you love those plants and how much you miss having them in the garden, that happened a few weeks ago with Jim Stephens and the primulas he ordered from Barnhaven primroses and I started having a look! Always wanted a hose in hose primula, that’s when there’s a flower inside a flower like above, I have also got a soft spot for gold laced forms so couldn’t resist this one

img 2578 Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018

Another primula from my little order, this one is called Camaieu and was introduced by Barnhaven back in 2003. I just loved the double forms as well and I think pink is a very easy colour to add to the garden. I can’t wait to see these grow and flower so much more over the next few years

img 2579 Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018

I have a soft spot for bulbs, I find their use in borders and containers can increase interest and add something different for the short term into those areas. This fritillary called fox grape fritillary or its botanical name Fritillaria uva vulpis, is one of my favourites from this genus, although I have a feeling a few more maybe heading my way this autumn

Well that’s my six done from my garden this week, so many plants now are starting to wake up and start delighting us with their beauty. I hope you have a great weekend and check out the other six on Saturday over at the hosts site

Until next week, have fun in the garden or indeed just admiring plants

global blogging Six on Saturday 14th of April 2018
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Plant of the week- Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin

magnolia x soulangeana6 Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange Bodin

magnolia x soulangeana2 Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange BodinSome plants just walk into Plant of the week without any need of explaining why! With Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin it is certainly indeed one of those plants. Where ever you drive at the moment, town, city or countryside, you will see one of these stunning magnolias, flowering away to the hearts content. If there is a tree in the uk that shouts here’s spring more than Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin I would love to know it

Magnolias as a whole, belong to an ancient group of plants, dating back to the times of the dinosaur, well before bees, when beetles where the main pollinators. This form of magnolia doesn’t date back that far, just to the 1820’s. It was an cavalry officer from Napoleons arm, who after seeing the botanical gardens at places like Vienna, Moscow and Stuttgart during the war, the war indeed left him rather unimpressed to the point of him saying ‘ it would of been better if both parties stayed at home and planted cabbages’! Thankfully for us, he didn’t and after the war, he founded the royal institute of Horticulture near Paris ad it was in this garden in 1820, he crossed magnolia denudata with magnolia liliiflora. The resulting seedling, produced one of the finest magnolias and the one we see everywhere today Magnolia x soulangeana or to give it its correct botanical name Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin. It is possible that natural crosses of these to did happen in Japanese temples, where both are grown for religious reasons but this was the first hybrid between the two plants that happened in Europe.

magnolia x soulangeana6 Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange BodinOne of the things that makes Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin such a good tree for peoples gardens is the fact it is slow growing, height after 20 years can be up to 3-4m high and wide and its takes up to 50yrs to reach its full 6m height and width. The leaves open just after the plant has finished flowering and are a oval shaped, mid green in colour around 20cm long, they do go a yellow colour in the autumn but it isn’t one of the best for autumn colour. It is the big open white flowers, flushed with purple at the base, this plant is mainly grown for. These flowers can be tolerant of a certain amount of frost.

c94bdeb1 e564 46f3 91f0 3a3097525d50 686 0000003ce598e954 file Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange Bodin

It is also very good at growing in a wide range of soils, indeed it will happy grow in all, from clay to sand, from acidic to alkaline and tolerates thin soils over chalk, unlike most magnolias. Ideally, it should be mulched with some great compost and fed with a good fertiliser like vitax Q4 after flowering, covering the plant to just outside the drip zone but it’s not over important. As a plant, it required very little pruning, thining of crossing branches, removal of deadwood is all that is required, although it can be more heavierly pruned back if required, with no adverse effects. When the wood is cut though, you will get a stunning ginger scent coming from the wood. Pest and disease wise, it’s pretty trouble free, scale insects take a like to it, so it’s worth watching out for them, honey fungus will also attack it. Other than that it’s pretty easy.

It can be seen in most streets around the uk and brought from most good Nurseries

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange Bodin
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Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus for stem colour

The dogwoods or the various forms of Cornus make a massive impact in the garden for the winter months. Their highly coloured stems really shine out in the winter light. The best colour comes from the youngest of growth and if you are growing them for just the winter colours, now is the time to prune them.

It is an easy job and to carry it it you may need a pruning saw, a pair of secateurs, a pair of loppers, gloves and eye protection. It may also be worth catching up with my blogs on pruning cuts to help you during the task. Part 1 is here, part 2 here and part 3 here.

They are 3 ways to prune these dogwoods, first way is to do nothing and let them grow to their big size, second way is to coppice them to the ground and allow all new grow for next winter, main drawback is that you don’t get any flowers on them, the last way is to every 2 years thin out half the plant and leave the one year old stems in to flower, the stem colour isn’t as rich in theses 2yr old stems but it’s ok

This is the step by step part of pruning the dogwoods down as per coppicing them.

img 2357 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

img 2358 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

1) the main plant, this ones not been touched for a few years and you can see the bottom is full of old stems and dead wood, also notice how green and brown these older stems look, no where near the bright red of the younger Cornus stems

img 2359 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colourimg 2361 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

2) I try to get these old stems down to about 150-200mm if I can but finding the buds can be a slight problem. They are opposite meaning you they are normally in a straight line I have tried to mark some of the buds off in the above pictures to give you a rough idea of what they look like

img 2362 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colourimg 2363 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

3) now as they are opposite buds they need a straight cut just above the buds and on Plants this size I just use the saw and then the secateurs for the smaller stems. There are too many stems of this plant, so have removed some down to the base of the plant and cut the dead wood out as well.

img 2364 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

4) The finished coppiced dogwood.

This is the other way by leaving some of the 1 year old stems in and removing the older 2yr old stems, this leaves the plant to flower later on in the year

img 2388 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

This is the plant before I started pruning

img 2390 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

You can see I am thinning down the older stems leaving the young stems

img 2391 Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

And once I have finished you can see all young 1year old stems left, these will flower and be removed this time next year and the new shoots made in the summer

There we go, I hope that helps you to get the best from your dogwoods.

There is also a very good use for some of the spent prunings but we will look at that next week!

cornus alba sibrica ruby Pruning back dogwoods/Cornus  for stem colour

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Dalefoot composts- The ericaceous trial!

img 2535 1 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!

img 2534 6 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!Finding a good peat free seed compost is hard enough but to find one for growing acid loving plants is even harder! I was lucky enough to be given a bag of this to try and it has been waiting until the spring for me to start my little trial. Like the seed compost, this will be tried over the next year or so, not just in one plant but over a range of different plants and growing habits.

img 2538 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!So what is Dalefoot compost and what makes it so special? Well it’s a compost based on an old Victorian recipe that incorporates well rotten bracken and sheeps wool from Herdwick sheep. This produces a compost that holds water well but is also free draining. The compost is also contains potash and slow release nitrogen, as well as trace levels of iron and magnesium. The bracken is harvested in rotation from the Lake District while the wool is from the sheep that live on the hillside. The bracken used for the Ericaceous is taken from the acidic areas in the fells.

img 2537 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!

This compost is supposed to be ideal for blueberries, so as my children love blueberries, I decided to buy a couple in a large fruit order I put in too R V Rogers, so on Saturday afternoon with my little hampers helpers, I potted them on into the compost.

img 2540 1 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!img 2543 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!img 2541 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!Like the seed compost, it was soft to the feel and nice and springy. I tried squeezing it and it formed a nice sausage that broke down finely once touched.

img 2544 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!

So they are now potted up and let’s see what happens,

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Water logged soils- what to do?

img 0733 1 1 Water logged soils  what to do?

img 0733 1 Water logged soils  what to do?

We have had so much rain recently and I am always being asked what to do in the garden. Well there are so many things you can do and not do in the first place to ensure you don’t damage your garden.

First of all what is water logged soil? Well it’s soil that’s had so much water it can’t take any more, most of the spaces in the soil normally filled with air, have been filled with water and the water is more than likely to be sat on the surface.

Why does it matter? Well all plants need oxygen at their roots, the micro organisms that live in the soil need oxygen within the soil. So basically life within the soil needs oxygen. Without it in the soil, plants and life within the soil dies. The longer the garden is under water, the more chance the roots and life within the soil has of drowning. A few days might be manageable, weeks and weeks will cause problems unless the plant is one that’s adapted to that environment like say Salix, otherwise damage will occur. It is never a case of the plant just dying in a few days, sometimes it can take months for the effects of prolonged water logging to kill a plant, it normally happens when the tree has got all the leaves open in full summer, when the most pressure is being applied to the damaged root system. You can normally tell by the leaves going yellow, growth is stunted or looks like it suffering from lack of water. If you lift it up, you will find the roots have some black and generally speaking it stinks of a sour rotting stagnate smell.

And of course, it effects some soils more than others, sandy soils and thin soils over chalk, tend to dry out quicker, it’s the heavier soils like clay, that are more problematic with heavy spells of rain.

There are somethings you can do to help the garden and Plants recover from a very wet spell

  1. Try to keep off the soil when it is waterlogged, walking, driving over it pushes more air spaces out of the soil, when this happens, it takes longer for the soil to drain but also it also compacts it, causing a hard layer to form within the soil. This may hinder plant growth by limiting the areas the roots can get to, reducing the amount of food and nutrients they can reach in the soil and also stops from water to get down deeper into the ground and not getting to the roots below
  2. Try not working on the soil when it’s wet. Again this can cause the problems as per above. When planting out in very wet weather, you can smear the sides of the hole and this can also slow down the plant from growing out of the hole and into the surrounding site again causing problems to the plant
  3. It also breaks up the natural structure in the soil, effecting the soils natural drainage.
  4. Don’t remove all the stones in the beds, yes they may look messy but they are natural drainage for the soil and are best suited left in the soil, try mulching to cover than remove
  5. It’s worth remembering that the heavy rain washes the nutrients out of the soil, nitrates, potassium and sulphur are particularly effected. So it is well worth giving the beds a good feed of a balanced fertiliser like Vitax Q4 in the spring. It can also be worth testing the soil first, to see if and what it requires.
  6. Organic matter helps to increase the air gaps within the soil so adding well rotted compost to the soil surface will help to add the nutrients that the plants require but also help to increase the air gaps in the soil. It also feeds worms and the movement of worms though the soil adds air to the soil as well, some worm species like lob worms, help to breakdown compacted areas. The organic matter also provides a cushion between the soil and feet, reducing compaction.
  7. Biochar has also been found useful aid to the soil. It helps to reduce leaching of nutrients, increase air spaces and aids colonisation of mycorrhizal in the soil. That is very useful after longer term water logging.
  8. Use boards or add hard surfaces to main walking areas once the ground has become waterlogged to avoid compaction
  9. If it does or is a problem in certain parts of the garden, consider planting plants that are more suited for those conditions like different forms of Salix
  10. img 2471 Water logged soils  what to do?If you have drainage ditches or pipes, check them to make sure they are running effectively. Best weather ironically to check it when it’s pouring down with rain!
  11. Be wary with plants like conifers or indeed other plants from bulbs to trees The damp conditions are suitable for root fungal attacks from one call Phytophthora. It’s hard to tell apart from normal root decay death apart from on some woody plants there maybe a brown/black up side down V shaped at the base of the stem.
  12. If it is a wet area, try an old Victorian trick of planting a tree on a mound

Well I hope that helps a bit to understand what happens in the garden when it’s waterlogged and what to do with it to help Plants recover

design3 Water logged soils  what to do?
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Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

img 0735 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Well well well it had to happen, yes we had not one but two and I repeat it two, dry days oh my word!so nice not to get into the house each night as a sodden mess, wet clothes in the armfuls, filling up the house with um a pleasant soily damp smell that’s further enhanced by the following evening when the next load comes in, well I think it is pleasant, my partner will no doubt disagree!

In all seriousness, it has been wonderful to see the sun and the sun has brought out the flowers around the garden. It’s starting to have that spring feeling at last. Last year one of my roses was half open, this year, it’s only just broken into leaf this year and that says a lot doesn’t. But never mind, Mother Nature has a way of catching up with things and I dare say we will be getting a warm dry spell at sometime in the near future.

This weeks six on Saturday comes from my clients gardens. My garden is being rather stubborn and isn’t producing me with any plants of interest and I haven’t had time to do anything in there yet and that’s the keyword yet!

img 2485 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

I couldn’t resist this photo of Aesculus hippocastrum or horse chestnut of its leaves slowly unfurling, looks to me like it’s shading its eyes from the incoming big yellow ball that it’s not seen for a while or it’s waving to the sun saying hello. Ok ok bear with bear with its been a long cold winter…..

img 2481 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Ahh another Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ now I do love ribes and the white form of the red flowering currant is another I look forward to in the spring months and here it is in the sun looking beautiful

img 2482 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Euphorbia myrsinites was the first of this huge family I learnt as a young boy and still is a favourite of mine, I love the foliage effect as well as the acidic yellow flowers

img 2475 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Ahh magnolias, once someone told me it was better to be late than to never arrive! Magnolias are living up to this saying this year. The cold spring has certainly put them back and it’s wonderful to see them flowering around the gardens once more, really makes me think spring is here! Oh before I forget it’s a magnolia stellata not sure on form, it’s under investigation, now where’s my magnolia book!

img 2483 2 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

The stinking hellebores look so majestic at this time of the year, helleborus foetidus is it’s botanical name, loves a bit of shade but again I love the green flowers, dipped in a little bit of purple around the edges

img 2490 Six on Saturday, 7th of April, 2018

Full apologies for the crap photo, the little bugger wouldn’t say still! I have a feeling this comma didn’t want to appear on six on Saturday, bad form I say, bad form. Seriously it was wonderful to see the sun brining out the butterflies. I saw so many brimstones (they didn’t want to be photographed either!) fluttering around the gardens and also one peacock and this one battered comma!

I hope you enjoyed my 6 on Saturday from my clients garden, If you did please checkout other people’s 6 on the memes founder website I love seeing other people’s plants and what’s happening in their gardens. Why not give it ago yourself next week and give me a shout so I can take a look

Until next week, have fun in the garden

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Plant of the week- Stachyurus praecox

stachyurus praecox 4 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecox

stachyurus praecox 3 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxAt this time of year, there’s lots happening in the plant world and it’s so difficult to choose one plant of the week, then one plant just jumps out at you and screams add me add me so you do! Stachyurus praecox is indeed one of those plants. The shear beauty of the flowers will take your breathe away and rightly so!

stachyurus praecox Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxStachyurus praecox is indeed a native of Japan and into the Himalayas and was discovered in Japan by the great German explorer and physician Philippine Von Siebold. He discovered and introduced many of our Japanese plants that we grow in our gardens. Stachyurus praecox in its native Japan, can be found growing around the forest edges in the warmer temperate areas of Japan and is indeed know as a pioneer shrub, meaning it is one of the first plants to grow in a newly cleared areas.

stachyurus praecox 6 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxThe name comes from Greek words Stachys meaning an ear of corn and oura meaning a tail, praecox means early for the early flowering. And it does flower early, in a normal year, it flowers from February to April, but this year it has only just started flowering in the past few weeks. The tiny flowers are borne on large racemes measuring up to 5″ long on some plants and in Japan, they are pollinated by bees. The shrub itself can grow up to 3m in height over 5 years or so. The mid green coloured leaves, turn in the autumn to a blaze of oranges and yellows and it is well worth growing for the autumn colour as well.

stachyurus praecox 4 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxStachyurus praecox makes a great garden plant. It prefers a semi shaded or sunny spot in the garden with the soil being on the neutral to acidic side. Stachyurus praecox prefers a well drained soil but will be happy in a sandy loam and again despite what the books and internet says, it will grow away quite happy in a clay soil. As it comes from the warmer areas of Japan, it will tolerate temperatures as low as -15c but ideally to do its best for you, it does need a sheltered spot in the garden or indeed makes an unusual wall shrub.

Stachyurus praecox is also generally pest and disease free and requires a little pruning. To get the best flowers from the shrub, some feel it’s best to remove the older wood, say anything over 4yrs old. This keeps the Plants young and healthy and the flowering wood at its best. Of course you can also leave it alone, just removing the crossing stems and dead wood. It’s also pretty easy to propagate. Stachyurus praecox comes easily from seed, laying the plant and also by semi-ripe cuttings taken in late summer

Stachyurus praecox can be found in most of the bigger botanical gardens like Kew, Wisley and Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and can be brought from good Nurseries like Burncoose of Southdown and the welsh plant chocolate shop Crûg Farm

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecox
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Six on Saturday, 31st of March 2018

img 2427 Six on Saturday, 31st of March 2018

Well I haven’t featured any water plants yet and I think if this rain carries on much longer, I shall be ripping up all my plants and replacing them with Canadian pond weed and water lilies. It’s just be a horrendous week hasn’t, been rained off twice and still not got my paper work done, keep getting distracted trying to stop the kids kill each other and waiting on them. But that’s life in the fast lane or what couples as the fast lane at my time in life.

This weather has really effected the garden, the soil hasn’t really warmed up yet and nothing is growing as mad as it was last year. I was reading though my old blogs from a year ago, finding ones like rose watch, with rose buds a good size all ready, this year they haven’t even got any new leaves on yet this year! But that’s the fun thing about gardening isn’t, every day, week, month and year is different and so unpredictable.

Talking about unpredictability here’s my six on Saturday all from my own garden!

img 2443 Six on Saturday, 31st of March 2018

A lovely Hyacinth, can’t remember the name and I know it’s in a box in the garage but it’s raining and that would mean going outside and getting wet, still is a great colour and looks great in my containers in my front garden

img 2420 Six on Saturday, 31st of March 2018

A slight negative now, I was so looking forward to seeing my tulip polychroma in full flower, looking stunning in the sun, it’s one of my favourite specie tulip, um then we had the snow and it well killed off the flowers and they have failed to open, gutted but there’s always next year!

img 2428 Six on Saturday, 31st of March 2018

One of the few plants I have left from when we moved in, actually it was one of the few plants in the garden at the time, looks great this time of year, but is under a window and it covers the window in a few weeks during the summer. I want to take it out but the sparrows love it for some reason and I cant bring myself to remove it

img 2425 Six on Saturday, 31st of March 2018

My tulips are appearing! Just love the buds full stop, so full of promise and a hint of the pleasure they will bring. Have planted a few forms in the garden this year, can’t wait to see them appearing this year

img 2427 Six on Saturday, 31st of March 2018

Geranium wlassovianum ‘Lakwijk Star’ just love the new leaves on this plant! The shades of red on the leaf is amazing and the usefulness of the plant is again brilliant, it has something going for it all summer.

img 2426 Six on Saturday, 31st of March 2018

Wel I think she has nearly made it, my Geranium traversii elgans, looking a little more battle scared after the last cold spell, but never less still looks alive. Phew! Can’t wait for it to get flowering again!

I hope you enjoyed my 6 on Saturday from my garden, If you did please checkout other people’s 6 on the memes founder website I love seeing other people’s plants and what’s happening in their gardens. Why not give it ago yourself next week and give me a shout so I can take a look

Until next week, have fun in the garden

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Watching Nature

img 3672 Watching Nature

img 3672 Watching Nature

I think being a gardener makes you more in tune with nature and let’s be honest we are! We spend time nurturing plants and soils in our own little Eden, whether it’s paid for a client or for our own pleasure. It’s not just for us or the bank manager we do this work for but also the wildlife that supports and uses this area for food, not always to our pleasure, I may add.

I suppose I did start gardening before getting very interested in wildlife, I say suppose, as I was only 4 before started gardening and not long after getting into wildlife and loved to spending time wandering around the countryside seeing what birds were flying around, the butterflies dancing in the bushes and the mammals trying to avoid our eye contact as they dart around.

brimstone Watching Nature

Over the past few years I have started getting back into my wildlife, spending time watching them during my working day and when driving around and this has led me to start listing them, and this year I thought I would share what I see with you all. I am very lucky that I work in a very varied areas from the South Downs to the new forest and a few trips towards the sea and I cover quite a lot in a working week and I hope this will bring me a wide diversity of wildlife.

img 5168 Watching Nature

I have got little spreadsheets made up to record what I see during the year and I am going to take part in the #My200Birdyear challenge started and hosted by Bird watching magazine and it’s basically trying to see 200 different birds in a year. I am going to run my list from January as I had already written down what I have seen already. I also take part in the great bee and butterfly count and love seeing them. Adding in dragonflies and damsels for this time as its a group of insects I would love to learn more about and this would be a great chance

So anywhere here’s where I am at in the 4 areas at the moment.

My bird list

  1. Redwing
  2. Pheasant
  3. Jackdaw
  4. Wigeon
  5. Mistle thrush
  6. French partridge
  7. Raven
  8. Common teal
  9. Song thrush
  10. English partridge
  11. Heron
  12. Shoveler
  13. Field fare
  14. Wood pigeon
  15. Little egret
  16. Gadwell
  17. Blackbird
  18. Collard dove
  19. Large egret
  20. Robin
  21. Wren
  22. Kingfisher
  23. Blue tit
  24. Mallard duck
  25. Moorhen
  26. Great tit
  27. Lapwings
  28. Coot
  29. Long tailed tit
  30. Grey wagtail
  31. Canada goose
  32. Coal tit
  33. Pied wagtail
  34. Kesteral
  35. Gold crest
  36. Mute swan
  37. Red kite
  38. Chaffinch
  39. Cormorant
  40. Buzzard
  41. Bull finch
  42. Green parakeets
  43. Sparrowhawk
  44. Green finch
  45. Skylark
  46. Peregrine falcon
  47. Gold finch
  48. Great backed gull
  49. House sparrow
  50. Starling
  51. Jay
  52. Dunnock
  53. Black headed gull
  54. Tufted duck
  55. Tree creeper
  56. Herring gull
  57. Great crested grebe
  58. Nuthatch
  59. Magpie
  60. Ostercatcher
  61. Green woodpecker
  62. Rook
  63. Common poachard
  64. Great spotted woodpecker


  1. Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum)
  2. Red tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidaries)


  1. Red Admiral
  2. Brimstone

So if you feel inspired, I would love you to join in and see what you can see as well