How to prune dwarf box hedging

The neat lines of well trimmed box hedging contribute so much to a garden. By contrast they seem to emphasise the form of adjacent plants whilst providing a direct link to the formal lines of nearby paving and brickwork. The architectural quality of clipped hedging connects the garden to the house geometrically.

Here’s how to get your clipping perfecting… Continue reading

How to create quality wire supports for walls and fences

A traditional starting point for training climbers on walls and fences is a system of tensioned horizontal wires. Ideally these wires should provide a permanent structure that needs little maintenance over the years, whilst creating a firm fixing for tendrils, shoots, branches and canes to be attached to. In this post I am looking at the best solution I have found so far: the Gripple Trellis System. Continue reading

Creating an ornamental lawn

Recently we had some friends over for a lunch party and without prompting, two of the male guests, (why is it a bloke thing? I don’t know why it’s a bloke thing, but it’s a bloke thing) quite independently, gazed at my lawn and said with a hint of envy “Nice lawn. How’d ya manage that?” Being summer, most of the grassy areas that pass for garden lawns have browned unevenly, and can’t decide if they are actually composed of grass or random broad-leaved perennials. Mine, however, was looking good: a deep velvety green, plush and even. Not a weed in sight or blade out of place. It’s a lawn you want to lay down on, a lawn begging for a picnic.

“Oh,” I said nonchalantly, “I vacuumed it this afternoon.” I wasn’t kidding.

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How to grow carrots – for beginners

Carrots_in_close_upCarrots as a main crop are well worth growing. They can be temperamental, but once you get the hang of it you can grow all the family needs for six months of the year. Carrots are not a posh crop like asparagus or melon, but the flavour when they come straight out of the garden and are on the plate within half an hour cannot be beaten by anything in the supermarket.

They can be planted between March and June for harvesting from July to April Overwintering is easy either by lifting and storing, or as I do, leaving them in the ground where they will keep best with little or no protection.

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Fan Trained Pear

Removing_the_frame

If you purchase trained fruit at a garden centre they often come attached to an impressive bamboo frame like the one above. The frame can be a real distraction because what you are actually getting – and what you need to think about before parting with your cash – is the structure of the tree strapped to it. The photo above right shows the same tree in the nude, looking a lot less impressive. The trick when purchasing is to take note of the actual tree form, and see past the fancy-pants frame. In the case of the tree above, the shape was something I could work with, so was ideal. Continue reading

Ten ways to plug the August gap

The result of some late summer TLCBelow I’ll show you ten tricks that refreshed my woodland garden and transformed the drab late-summer muddle of seed heads and dying foliage into a crisp, minimalist space, calm and stylish…

By late August many of the plants that have provided colour throughout the spring and summer have finished, and their seed heads are brown, their leaves tatty: The garden looks tired and uninspiring. It generally stays that way until the autumn tidy-up. This ‘August Gap’ is particularly notable in the shade garden as most woodland plants flower in the spring before the canopy closes and light levels fall. There are very few shade plants that flower in autumn. Continue reading