Caught up in Container Gardening

I say it to my wife every year.

“We are cutting down on the number of pots and containers in our garden.   They are just too much work.”

Now the sun is out and we still have an accumulated total of more than 50 it means getting up an hour earlier to water and then immediately back out into the garden after work to repeat the exercise.  Saturday mornings are even worse.  Its feeding time which means mixing up the feed in a fine-rosed watering can and then tromping round the patch to deliver the vital nourishment.

All this is on top of the regular gardening tasks: lawns; the veg cage; the crops growing in the greenhouse; an herbaceous garden that can turn into a weed frenzy at the drop of a hat and other borders.   So what did I find myself doing recently – buying yet another load of plants for a hanging basket I found in one of the sheds!  Sheer madness.

That said we do enjoy our containerised plants and hanging baskets.  It’s a reasonably large garden and they somehow just break up the area into different, colourful units.  But they are very demanding requiring constant weeding, pest control and, when that wretched West wind blows, moving them into more protected areas.

I did pick up a useful tip from a friend a couple of years ago.  Our main hanging baskets are on a sort of wooden gallows.  To stop them blowing around my friend secured them to the upright with a piece of bent wire nailed into position.  It works really well.  I use a piece of bent wire coat-hanger which is galvanised so does not rust.

Another tip to keep hanging baskets and containers watered is to make a reasonably deep hole in the middle and fit this with broken pieces of old terracotta pots.  Fill this with water and it moistens the whole of the basket or container.  The plants grow over so it isn’t unsightly.

Anyway, its 6.00pm so I’d better leave the office and get back to my thirsty containers and baskets.

Happy gardening and if you have any useful tips, do let us know.

– Graham

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Keep Creepy Crawlies Out!

We all look forward to summer, the height of the gardening season.  But with warm temperatures also comes insect activity… I’m talking about spiders!

I spend a lot of time during the hot summer period keeping them out of my house with various sprays but they always seem to find a way in.

So I’ve looked in to other ways to keep my house spider free this summer which you may find useful.

Apparently if you place chestnuts around the house it deters spiders.  Some claim they hate the smell, others claim they keel over in the presence of a walnut.

It can be tempting to leave outside lights on in the evening, but this serves as a beacon to insects in the area.  The spiders are not attracted to the light, but will follow the other insects – so remember to turn OFF the lights.

I’ve read that eucalyptus, tea-tree or even peppermint oils might keep the spiders out.  While some might enjoy the smell, the spiders do not, simply spray around windows and doors.  A similar option is vinegar but that may deter your friends and family also!

Apparently lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit smell terrible to the average spider.  The peels are said to work perfectly, so just save them whenever enjoying a piece of fruit.

And one of the simplest ways to deter spiders is by regular vacuuming or dusting away of cobwebs and egg sacs from around your house, especially in corners/hidden areas.

Don’t leave any leftover food out as this will attract insects that will in turn attract more spiders.

Well I’ll be putting the above methods to the test this year, wish me luck…

– Aroonaa

Getting fit without going to the gym?! Is it too good to be true?

We do a lot of work for our clients to promote the health benefits of gardening. Gardening, and getting out in the great outdoors, isn’t just great for your mental wellbeing but it also has many physical benefits. Pushing a lawnmower around is a great way to stay fit (and reportedly burns 400 calories per hour – that’s the equivalent of jogging 4 miles); wedding burns 200 calories per hour (that’s the same as a Kit Kat Chunky!) and then there’s also the weight lifting side of things as you move heavy pots and plants around.

Coventry University has created a “green gym” that encourages gardeners to stay healthy. The “green gym” is a lycra suit fitted with 17 sensors that monitors muscle activity. It shows which muscles are being used well, as well as highlighting areas which are under too much pressure!

The new project was launched at the Chelsea Flower Show in the Discovery Zone area of the Great Pavilion in a series of exhibits that focussed on nutrition, cultivation and locality, among other things. The green gym was part of Coventry University’s “Healthy Gardens, Healthy Gardeners” exhibit. When at the Chelsea Flower Show I stopped by the exhibit and it was a great looking, informative stand.

 

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The University are developing the idea and working with gardeners to put it into practice so I’m sure they’ll be a lot more to come on this in the future. I think it sounds a great idea, particularly for older gardeners who don’t fancy stepping foot in a gym – I’m not sure the lycra suits will catch on though!

 

A Weekend at Kew Gardens

This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of attending a beautiful wedding being held in the magnificent Kew Gardens.
I have very fond memories of Kew, having visited many years ago with my grandfather, but for one reason or another I hadn’t been since. For this reason I was particularly excited about this wedding, and this is coming from a committed wedding fan!

I was not disappointed. We were picked up from our hotels at three, and driven to the grounds, where we were afforded the luxury of walking around the garden (very slowly in my 6 inch heels) for an hour or so before the service began.

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And what a service it was! The chosen venue, the Nash Conservatory, was bedecked in an array of fragrant white blooms, from (my personal favourite) freesias to roses to peonies, which the bride also carried in an elegant bouquet.

When the ceremony was over, we walked over to the breath-taking Princess of Wales Conservatory, through paths of irises, alliums, lavender and a thousand other types of flower! Once in the conservatory, we were greeted by a vision of green, as we were in the rainforest zone. We sipped Champagne (it was a French wedding after all!), listened to the jazz band who were nestled in the canopy, and admired the marvel of nature, and how it was being so well recreated in a country totally alien to it.

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After the (3hour!) champagne reception it was finally time to eat. Our final destination for the evening was the Orangery.

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Moving away from the previous pure white and green colour scheme, the couple had here opted to place three large vases of flowers on each table, each one a different bright colour – our table had cornflowers, fantastically yellow and red roses, and delphiniums, whilst the children’s table had sunflowers, gerberas and hyacinths.

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Having revisited Kew this weekend, I know that I will not leave it so long until the next time, and cannot think of a more beautiful setting for a wedding, no matter what the season!

Fay