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Archive for January, 2013

Camelia sasanqua

I’m not a great Camellia fan. I find their dark evergreen foliage can be relentlessly gloomy, especially in our winter months. But when you’re greeted in a garden by these playful blooms, you can’t help but feel uplifted. I’m strangely enchanted by their offbeat flappy petals and their in-your-face winter colour. And when the sun does shine, they have a gentle, slightly cloying (heading towards mothballs) scent, which is no doubt great for early pollinators.

Camellia sasanqua flower after the snow in January

A week later, and these brilliant blooms haven’t survived the snow,

Camellia sasanqua flower opening in January

but new buds have toughed it out, and are ready to put on a show once more. And despite myself, I’m finding it difficult not to love ‘em.

Here’s a great article by Noel Kingsbury on how and where to grow Camellia sasanqua, with a helpful list of Camellia nurseries too.

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The Curious Gardener by Anna Pavord-2

It’s started to snow again and I’m delighted. I’ve just spent the last day or so snuggled up with Anna Pavord -guilt free! And she’s such a hoot!

The Curious Gardener is packed full of really useful horticultural information, but effortlessly interwoven with asides that have had me laughing out loud when least expected. Who’d have thought that this doyenne of the plant world had Mystic Meg tendencies. I love it!

So thanks to Lizzie for the most excellent of Christmas gifts and as Dean Martin says, ‘Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’.

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Tree pit planted with wildflowers

About 5 years ago, our community veg growing project was launched when Islington Council gave away free wildflower seeds for tree pits (the base around trees). Since then, pimping our pavements has become a regular part of our horticultural activities, and an edged tree pit has become the holy grail of our street planting.

Planting up tree pits

When the council included our community project as part of their entry into London and Britain in Bloom, they kindly helped us along with edging fifteen of our pits.

Just those few extra inches make all the difference,

Eugenie Biddle-tree pit winner

allowing residents to plant perennials alongside wildflowers and other annuals.

Nikki with Everedge edging

Sadly, these resources are no longer available from the council, but we do have enough funding to have a go at DIY tree pit edging. And here’s Nikki, our first DIY tree pit candidate. The metal EverEdge edging comes in packs of five 1 metre lengths, that easily interlock to create a continuous border. We were slightly alarmed at how rigid it sseemed at first, but bending was more do-able than we at first thought, simply wrapping the metal around a piece of wood (instructions are enclosed!) and using a bit of elbow grease.

Before pic of tree pit

Since it was our first attempt, we did learn a few lessons along the way.

  • Ask your neighbours to move their cars the day before, for easier access to the tree pit!
  • Don’t permanently join your lengths of EverEdge together until you have created all the bends on all of the pieces
  • You’ll need more soil to fill the tree pit (once it’s been created) than you think
  • You’ll need a large mallet for hammering in the edging, plus some wood for shaping the corners and to use with the mallet (see pic below) (more…)

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