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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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Once your summer fruiting raspberry canes have finished fruiting this year, cut back only the old canes that the fruit was on to ground level, leaving the newer canes (maximum 6-8 new stems per plant) to grow for next year’s fruit. The fruited canes and new canes will look quite different: the old stems will be more brittle at the bottom and brown and woody, whereas the new canes will be more supple and a fresher green colour. Cut the old stems from the supports as you cut them away at the base and tie in the new stems in their place. If you have new canes that are growing further away from the supports, dig these out and plant elsewhere or give to friends!

If your raspberry canes haven’t fruited this year, pruning all of the summer fruiting canes either in summer after fruiting or in spring, is probably where your problem lies. You mustn’t prune the newer green canes that grew this year, as these will be the one year old stems that your raspberries will fruit on next year. Hope that makes sense. Don’t prune any canes that grew during this year (and this might be all of your canes if you cut back all of the stems in spring) and you’ll have fruit next year!

Autumn raspberries should be happily supplying fruit right now and up until October or November. These canes can be pruned in February.

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It’s such a treat to have the opportunity to buy from specialist nurseries, all under one roof at the Garden Museum in the centre of London. As the heavens opened, even traders outside in the gardens still seemed to be doing a brisk trade.

Seen on Friday night on Gardeners World, this Euphorbia amygdaloides Purpurea, on the Swallowfields Nursery stand, just stopped me in my tracks. Gorgeous large airy lime green bracts atop delicious dark foliage was more than I could resist. A bit taller than its close cousin Euphorbia robbiae, and without its creeping habit, this plant will perfectly replace a larger Euphorbia wulfenii, which has outgrown its space and is crowding other plants in a client’s garden. Plus it can take some shade too. Perfect! Swallowfields nursery had bought plenty of choice perennials up from Ashford in Kent to tempt and I while I mulled over where I could squeeze in a couple of Euphorbia polychroma, they were quickly snapped up by another plant hungry gardener!

On the hunt for a purple Heuchera for another client, Rotherview Nursery from Hastings had plenty of choice specimens to choose from, plus some gorgeous looking Tiarellas and much more.

‘Rustic Garden Things’ from Rye in Sussex offered many enticing vintage tools. By chance I’d already bought a border fork when on my travels out of London in Rye, which I love and use every day. Couldn’t stop myself buying another of these perfectly formed objects as I find their size and weight (and good looks) ideal for everyday use.

Resisting the cosy cafe, with piles of pastries for a Sunday morning, I ventured back out into the rain to stock up on herbs. ‘Herbal Haven’ from Saffron Walden in Essex had a wonderful selection to choose from and as well as stocking up on regulars such as Parsley and Basil, I also bought an African Blue Basil and a Black Peppermint.

The African Blue Basil, aka Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum ‘Dark Opal‘, is a perennial Basil and although not hardy, I shall endeavour to nurture through the winter so I can savour its gorgeous purple leaves, year after year. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed buying plants at this wonderfully eclectic plant fair. Hats off to the Garden Museum and all the exhibitors who braved the downfalls. Much appreciated by this London gardener. 

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