All posts tagged: home

Garden Talk: And so to bed

It’s chilly out there, the lawn’s looking muddy and the borders tatty, but a bit of tidying now will make the garden look neat over the Christmas period and get you one step ahead for spring… Cut back… …but don’t be too tidy. Some perennials such as sedum have attractive seed heads that look great covered in frost or dew. Ornamental grasses also add winter structure as do dried out hydrangea heads – both can be pruned in spring. Cut back perennials that are looking tatty and brown such as peonies and Verbena bonariensis to around to 5cm from ground level. (Leave more tender plants such as penstemon until April or May after the frosts.) Wisteria can be pruned now and give roses a light trim, removing long or damaged shoots. Now they’re dormant, apples, pears, currants and autumn fruiting raspberries can also be pruned from now on. Likewise, trim off any dead, diseased or rubbing branches from shrubs and trees. Acers and birch are particularly suited to pruning now, before the sap starts to flow. …

Five top tips for the perfect fragranced door or table wreath

by Jessica Walker – home-made Before getting started, take a few moments to think about your scheme. Decide on your foliage, decorations and ribbon. I have used scented pinecone to add fragrance. You will need: A wreath base, available from florists and craft shops A spool of wire, and stick wire, as above A pair of secateurs or sharp scissors Moss Evergreen foliage – a selection. Available from florists, but also have a look around your garden. Fir cones – mine have been scented, with cinnamon, orange, cedar and myrrh to add a unique touch. and are available from Two cones, at Scotch Meats West Dulwich. Ribbon – optional Pillar candles – optional Step 1 Your masterpiece, like all formidable constructions will need to be structurally sound. Do not rush this stage. Arrange your moss around your wreath base. Then take the spool of wire and attach the end to the base. Wind the wire around the moss firmly to secure it to the base. Work around for a nice even circle. Step 2 Cut your …

Garden Talk: The Best Evergreen Climbers

Evergreen climbers are one of the most useful plants in city gardens. Covering fences in green foliage, they blur boundaries and create a lush backdrop for planting throughout the year. There are lots to choose from, all offering something different: foliage, flowers, berries, colour and scent. Here are my favourites.  Luscious leaves  Trachelospermum jasminoides With neat glossy foliage and sweet smelling flowers, this tops the list. It copes with shade but in sun will reward you with a mass of tiny white summer flowers that smell of the Mediterranean. I also like the ‘Variegatum’ variety with white splashed leaves, or for something different try the yellow flowered ‘Star of Toscana’. Trachelospermum takes a while to establish but will eventually coat your fence in dense foliage, which just needs a light prune after flowering to keep in check. Pileostegia viburnoides Evergreen, self-clinging and shade tolerant, this is a useful new find of mine. It has long glossy green leaves and sprays of white flowers in late summer, early autumn. It’s slow growing but is a stunning …

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 …