All posts filed under: Home and Garden

Eight ways to go organic in the garden

It’s easy to panic and reach for a chemical spray at the first sight of greenfly or diseased plants. But there’s a more natural way. Here’s how: Encourage wildlife. Instead of using pesticides that will harm all insects good and bad – lure in the beneficial ones. Ladybirds and hoverfly larvae will eat aphids – they like chives, fennel and cosmos, or invest in a bug hotel. Ground beetles eat slugs. Birds will help keep down snails as will frogs. Try a birdbath, feeder or berries for birds and a little pond for frogs. Keep weeds down naturally. Weeds carry disease, and steal light, water and nutrients from your plants. A thick mulch of bark or well rotten manure will keep them at bay, as will pulling them out as young seedlings. Patrol to keep control. Aphids like the new tender growth of plants like clematis and rose buds, so keep an eye out for them – they can make leaves curl up. Squish them off by hand, or use a strong spritz of water. …

Garden Talk: Clematis crazy

Clematis will cloak your fences in rich colour – and there’s one for every season. Here’s my pick of the best: Spring: Spring flowering clematis tend to have smallish flowers. First up in March are the evergreen C. armandii variety with long dark green leaves and a mass of small, scented flowers. ‘Snowdrift’ is pure white and ‘Apple Blossom’ pink-tinged. From April to May come the delicate bell-shaped flowers of the alpina clematis such as the gorgeous deep blue ‘Frances Rivis’ and pink ‘Constance.’ The multi-petalled C. macropetala varieties are very pretty – exquisite grey-blue ‘Lagoon‘ is a must. Finally, for May there are the vigorous montanas. C. ‘Elizabeth’ has a mass of pale pink flowers while ‘Willsonii’ is a lovely scented white variety. Cultivation: Armandii and alpina are happy in dappled shade –montanas need more warmth. These Group 1 clematis need a tidy up after flowering to remove dead shoots and keep to their allotted space. Armandii can be cut right back after flowering to avoid the leathery leaves taking over. Early summer: If …

Garden Talk: Grow your own herbs

There’s nothing nicer – or healthier – than cooking with fresh herbs picked from your own garden. Most are easy to grow and look fab, whether in borders or containers and raised beds. Mediterranean varieties prefer sun and free-draining soil – add coarse grit and organic matter to clay soil. Others, such as coriander, mint and parsley prefer some shade and plenty of moisture. Here’s my pick of the best: Mint Mint can be invasive in a border, so it’s best grown in a pot. It Iikes rich moist soil and can tolerate shade. Keep picking it to encourage growth and divide it when it’s outgrown the container. Varieties include Lemon Mint, Apple Mint and Chocolate Mint – nice in puddings! Uses: Great in teas and summer drinks, with roast lamb or in Middle Eastern dishes such as couscous – I love mint sprinkled over feta and salmon before roasting. Sage Sage has lovely silvery leaves, but needs a good prune in early spring to stop it getting leggy. There are varieties with different leaf …

Step Inside Dulwich: Splash the Colour this Spring

At long last the first signs of spring have arrived, the dormant flora and fauna is bursting into new life bringing a splash of colour back into our lives. The Dulwich area has suddenly transformed itself into a vibrant, idyllic residential Arcadia. One can almost feel the anticipation in the air, creating the opportunity to cast off the heavy claddings of winter for the lighter more radiant colour’s of spring and summer. Springtime signals the chance for new beginnings: for cleaning, refreshing and rejuvenating home and garden; to cast-off the drab, dull and boring replacing it with the new and exciting. Where better to start than redecorating a favourite room, entrance hall or stairway? The latest colour trend predictions released from the world’s leading authority, Pantone® suggest that a colour palette of muted, earthy tones will be finding their way into our homes and will include these top ten colour hues for the Spring and Summer of 2017. Just imagine the refreshing effect of transforming your room from the ubiquitous Magnolia – covered walls with a splash of colour on a feature wall …

Forest Hill Garden Group

The Forest Hill Garden Group will be opening six gardens on Sunday 21 May (1-6pm) as part of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) with a share to St Christopher’s. They are all within walking distance of each other – or a yellow ballooned taxi is available for a donation! Hilltop 28 Horniman Drive 27 Horniman Drive 53 Ringmore Rise 7 Canonbie Road, The Coach House 3 The Hermitage 25 Westwood Park. These six gardens in Forest Hill are all very different and make for a wonderful afternoon out. Situated on one of the highest points in south east London these gardens afford breathtaking views across London and the Downs, offering a real treat to the senses – art, sculpture, delicious homemade cakes and refreshment, music from a talented duo, and many plants for sale. There are too many hidden gems to list but delights include a walled courtyard garden, a city sanctuary garden built on three levels with rose and jasmine draped arches, a jewel garden and topiary; a sculptor’s garden packed with plants, sculptures and ceramics …