The weeds – they are a changing

I don’t know what the reason for this change is but so far in 2017 the crop of weeds in my garden has undergone a subtle but fairly dramatic change. It could have been the virtually frost free winter, or some other meteorological pattern shift, but changes are most certainly afoot.

The mainstay of my usual weed crop is dandelion, closely followed by groundsel. But this year their presence has been eclipsed by shepherd’s purse and the dreaded rosebay willowherb. The latter is everywhere from cracks in paths to infestation in the vegetable case and even under the benches in my greenhouse. The miserable shepherd’s purse really is a nuisance as it sheds its little white seeds at the slightest touch.

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We have always had both around the garden but nothing like the quantities of this season.

Has anyone else witnessed a change in weeds this season? Any thoughts on what the cause might be will be welcome.

Another strange phenomenon is the sudden appearance of an almost blue coloured, low growing and very tough grass in the vegetable cage. Even if the soil is damp, I need a trowel to get the roots out. It is all very strange.

The vegetables too seem to be changing. Last year we had so many broad beans that my wife was giving carrier bags full of them to neighbours and friends. I have grown the same quantity this year but fear we will be lucky to get half a dozen pickings from them. 2016 was the most brilliant year for apples, eaters and cookers. We had the most lovely blossom this year and, with little or no frost, will it be an even heavier crop? Time will tell.

Happy gardening.

Graham

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Some of the best #LifeHacks you should be trying in your home & garden this summer

Whether you’re looking to save time, money, or impress your guests when they come round for a barbecue this summer, we’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite, nifty ideas to help you get creative around your home and garden…

 

Herb and fruit ice cubes are… cool

Freezing fresh fruit and herbs in ice trays is great for so many reasons, not least because they look so colourful.

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It’s a good time-saver; freezing fresh fruit means you can store it in your freezer for a couple of months, taking ice cubes out as and when you need them – add them to water for a chilled, refreshing burst of flavour, use them in smoothies for an icy blast and, of course, add them to cocktails for a classy decoration.

You can also freeze fresh herbs in the same way. Simply put a small amount of fresh herbs into an ice tray and pour water over them, making sure that as much of the herbs are covered as possible and not sticking out. Then store in the freezer until you need them –  and drop the ice cubes in as you’re cooking!

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Ice Lollies with a twist

Gin & Tonic ice lollies… one of the ultimate summer treats, and perfect for a garden party.

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You will need:

  • 100ml gin
  • 100ml lime juice
  • 600ml tonic water
  • 50ml water
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Cucumber slices

Mix all the ingredients together, pour the liquid into your ice lolly moulds and freeze. The amount of gin used may not sound like much but remember that alcohol does not freeze at the same temperature as water, so adding more than 100ml will mean your ice lollies never freeze completely.

Once the liquid has turned slushy in the moulds, add cucumber slices to each one to prevent them from sinking to the bottom (or you can add slices of lime, a bit more of a faff to eat but they look good!).

Likewise, if you’re using wooden sticks, don’t stick them in until the lollies have solidified a little first.

 

The sweet smell of Lavender

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Lavender is an evergreen shrub that can tolerate drought, and thrives in sunny areas of the garden. It will establish itself and spread slowly, producing hundreds of beautifully-scented flowers every year.

It also has many uses thanks to its aromatic properties. You can cut lavender around late May or early June, or just as the buds are beginning to flower. Make sure you keep the stems long as you cut, and cut off enough to fit a bunch in your hand.

Tie the bunch together with a rubber band (don’t use string because the plant shrinks slightly as it dries) and hang in a cool, draughty place in your home. After a few days, it should be dry and you can place it around your home in vases or use it to make potpourri.

To do this, remove all stems and dead leaves, leaving only the flower buds behind. Then using a pestle and mortar, a rolling pin, or your hands – crush the buds so that they crumble into little pieces. Then, place in a decorative container, add a few drops of essential lavender oil and mix together well. That’s it!

You could also add other things to your potpourri such as pine cones, dried orange peel or dried rose petals.

Be creative!

Georgina

Paskett PR Visits RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017

Here at Paskett PR, one of the perks of the job is being able to attend some of the wonderful, annual flower shows that happen up and down the country.

Last week Holly and I took a trip to the inaugural RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, which had the added benefit of being just up the road from us in Derby! Fortunately for us we chose to visit on the Friday, by all accounts the only day to not be blighted by torrential rainstorms. In fact, it was a rather balmy summer’s day as we entered the grounds, and we felt quietly smug that we had missed the previous days’ downpours.

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That said, I am sure that we would have enjoyed the visit just as much had we been rained on – the setting, of course, is breath-taking; anyone who has visited Chatsworth House will know that it is a masterpiece in architecture and landscaping, with the picturesque Derbyshire countryside providing a striking background and the imposing Emperor’s Fountain an ever-present reminder that this was once one of the most important estates in the country. It is, in fact, hard to imagine a more perfect setting for a day out.

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As for the show itself, this was a thoroughly enjoyable, and inspirational event. Not only were there a number of our very own clients, including the Posh Shed Company, Irrigatia, and Forest Garden, to name a few, but there were also a few interesting brands that were new to us, which is always good to find – we were particularly impressed by some beautiful, copper swinging seats – Myburgh Designs, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re in need of some pr!

The show gardens were diverse, with the Best Show Garden award going to the IQ Quarry Garden, by Paul Hervey-Brooks. This was, in my opinion, a worthy winner, with its design feeling both naturalistic and industrial, showing how nature can overcome areas once taken over by man, such as disused quarry sites.

The Great Conservatory was a real show stopper. The inspiration from the original Joseph Paxton build that once stood in the gardens was clearly evident, but the use of modern inflatable technology to create this incantation of it, along with the cutting edge, living art installation (CityScapes) at its centre, made it clear that this is a flower show that is proud of its heritage but not stuck in the past.

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Walking through the floral marquees, it took every shred of self-restraint to keep our purses firmly in our pockets, although I do regret not indulging in a couple of roses – two for £20 should not be sneezed at!

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As we stopped for lunch, during the only real rain of the day, we took advantage of the deck chairs surrounding the bandstand, which was playing host to a three-piece playing modern day songs in the style of a 1940s jazz band, as flower-strewn girls danced on the grass. What more is there to say?!

Well done Chatsworth, we will be back next year!

Fay

A day spent learning gardening tips & tricks from an expert

Last week we all had an exciting trip out of the office up to North Yorkshire to visit Martin Fish’s impressive garden – and what a day it was!

Martin Fish is a Garden writer, BBC Radio gardening expert, garden speaker and RHS judge.

We got our hands on a range of different gardening tools and were lucky enough to get all the tips and tricks that we needed to make – or attempt to make – our garden look as amazing as Martin’s. Any questions that we had were answered straight away, his gardening knowledge is limitless!

I have to admit that I had never used a lawnmower before, and if you were watching us test them out then you would see that we all weren’t quite prepared for the power that came out of it at first, with a sudden jolt we were away. We were even introduced to Monty, a robotic lawnmower which lets itself out to mow the lawn at certain hours of the day and then takes itself back to bed when it needs charging.

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Just to simply look around the garden you could see all the different bursts of colour coming through the greenery, it was truly magical and made even more perfect with the sun beaming down on us.

With a fruit and vegetable plot, green house, polytunnel and orchard on the ¾ acre landscaped gardens, there was definitely plenty to look at.

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After a lovely tapas-style lunch (yum!), we were all sufficiently refuelled ready to plant our own flowers into pots ready to take home with us. We will make sure to keep you updated with the progress of our flowers after using all of Martin’s advice, especially now that I am feeling a lot more inspired to get out into my own garden!

Olivia

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