All posts filed under: Home and Garden

The green gym

Here is how to look after your body while you garden Now that the weather’s warming up, it’s tempting to get outside and throw yourself into some serious pruning and clearing. But after a day’s hard gardening, you can end up with backache and other pains. In fact spring is when physiotherapist Jacqueline Knox sees most gardening-related injuries. But this can be avoided, as she explains. Step one is to build up slowly: ‘If you’ve done no gardening all winter, increase your capacity gradually,’ says Jacqueline co-author of ‘Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness’, published by Timber Press. Gardening is wonderful exercise, building strength and flexibilty, but approach it as you would other exercise, explains Jacqueline. ‘Warm up by doing some squats or walking briskly round the garden in order to prepare your muscles for exercise.’ And vary your activities. ‘One of the most common faults of gardeners is not alternating activities,’ she says. ‘If you’re on your knees planting, get up after 20 minutes and do some pruning or leave the lawn half …

Eco gardening – how to make compost

Eco gardening – how to make compost If you’re looking for a green way of recycling your garden waste, composting could be for you. It’s also hugely satisfying knowing your veg peelings and egg boxes are going to good use. It can take six months or more, but you’ll eventually be rewarded with crumbly brown compost to feed your garden with nutrients. Here’s what you need to know: What to compost: You need to be selective about what you put in in compost. Meat, fish, dairy products or cooked food can’t go in. Horse manure is fine but not dog or cat faeces. Avoid weeds with tap roots that regrow such as dandelions, seeding weeds, diseased plants and anything treated with pesticide. There are two types of organic material that can be used: green (wet, nitrogen-rich) and brown (dry, carbon-rich). You need about 2:1 brown to green. Examples include: Brown, carbon-rich ingredients Straw and hay. Woodchips, sawdust, wood ash – in moderation (untreated wood). Dried grass clippings and dry leaves Hair and animal fur 100% …

The Hardy Cyclamen – Little Winter Wonders

For winter colour and interest, you can’t beat the hardy cyclamen. These little gems will brighten up the darker months with a sprinkling of pink and white. They die back and lie dormant in warm weather, popping up again when temperatures drop. Despite their dainty appearance, they flower away through frost and snow and when happy will eventually self-seed and spread around, carpeting shady spots. Flowering from late December, Cyclamen coum flowers are a sign that a fresh New Year is on its way. The rounded, dark green leaves with white or silver markings appear first, so they’ll already have been growing from October. These tiny cyclamen look wonderful en mass, and are perfect for naturalising around the base of deciduous trees and are gorgeous with snowdrops, crocuses and other shade lovers such as ferns. The flowers of Cyclamen coum tend to be magenta pink, but come in a range of pinks to pure white. For something more unusual try varieties such as C. coum ‘The ‘Pewter Group’ which have a silvery coating on the …

Garden Talk: Get into dahlias

Dahlias are back in fashion in a big way, sales are up and there are thousands of posts of these dramatic beauties on Instagram. Once only grown on the allotments or in a dahlia bed for flower shows and flower arranging, they’re now being used mingled amongst perennials, ornamental grasses and shrubs in borders. The darker, richer colours look great in tropical schemes, working well with lush large-leaved plants. Dahlias come in an enormous array of colours from deep velvety purples to pale peach and corals, as well as hot and pastel pinks, whites, creams, yellows and reds (just no blue). There is also a huge range of forms from spiky cactus and anemones, simple single-flowers and stars, pom poms and massive dinner plate varieties. They can be very tall or for smaller gardens, dwarf varieties are ideal. In terms of care, tubers are traditionally dug up in autumn, dried off and stored over winter to be planted out in spring. But you can leave them in the ground, mulched thickly, especially in London if …

How to create a wildflower meadow

Wildflower meadows may be decreasing in the countryside, but they’re on the rise in urban gardens, giving a fashionably relaxed, naturalistic feel. They also attract a host of wildlife and increase biodiversity. If you’d like one, now is a good time to start the process. The great thing is you don’t need a huge garden to enjoy the pleasure of a mini meadow – just a strip across your lawn with an inviting path meandering through it, or an area of any shape, oval, triangular, will create an attractive contrast to a neat lawn. A friend of mine has given over the end of her lawn to meadow with wildflowers such as ox-eye daisies, white and red campion, field scabious, yarrow and meadow buttercups popping up amongst swaying grasses. She loves the birds, butterflies and bees it attracts and the fact that, as opposed to traditional borders, it’s an ever-changing tapestry of colour from spring to autumn. It even changes from year to year so you never quite know what to expect. For annual meadows, …