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Archive for the ‘Annuals’ Category

I love an edible window box. Gorgeous to look at, with tasty bites.

These delicate violas are from viola specialist Wildegoose Nursery  (Viola cornuta ‘Winona Cawthorne’ I think) and as well as being edible, they have a delicious honey scent. And planted alongside are some wonderfully textured mustard leaves. Red Frills, Golden Streaks, Green in Snow and Giant Red are all in the mix. Dead-heading keeps the violas constantly flowering, although I might have to replace some of the mustard leaves soonish, which are just about going to seed.

And talking about edibles,  I went to see the new Tord Boontje’s ‘Dawn to Dusk’ swivelling chairs on the Thames at the weekend as part of the Chelsea Fringe. They’re right next to Vauxhall Bridge, so easy to get to (Vauxhall tube is the nearest).

They’re handsome benches (modelled here by the gorgeous Gianna),

beautifully planted up with drought tolerant plants which look great against the rusted steel.

I particularly liked the Tulbaghia violcea (aka Society Garlic), a stunner of a plant of which both stems and flowers are edible, with quite a garlicy kick. Which almost makes this an edible chair?

Now here’s the turning bit. Below, there’s me giving you a twirl with the London Eye behind.

And here’s the very accommodating Andrew and his parents who let me film them while they were out Chelsea Fringing too. All great fun!

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AquelegiasThese gorgeous Aquilegias (aka columbines, Granny’s bonnets) seemed to have exuberantly increased since last year (all on their own), and post spring bulbs, have joyfully created the next wave of interest in my back garden. These are the common Aquilegia vulgaris, readily morphing into all shades of pink, purples and whites, and although you can find many fancy and rather tempting hybrids to buy, these cottage garden favourites retain their appeal partly due to their simplicity and also to the fact that they can pop up in cracks in paving and in spots all over the garden. Mustard leaf +self seedersGiant red Mustard leaf is another welcome self-seeder and its deep purple leaf and bright yellow flowers have added a zing to an otherwise tasteful but rather pastel colour palette right now in this border. The groovy  Caper Spurge (Euphorbia lathyris) just to the right of the mustard leaf has also plonked itself right at the front of the bed, but it’s an airy plant with a wonderful texture and a wild upside down alien-like tripod structure which always adds a richness to the planting. I think I dug one up from my parents garden over 15 years ago and it appears all over the garden in different positions every year. In summer I can actually hear the seed casings popping as another seed is ejected and flung into the garden. I love it! Seet cicely and aquelegiasUmbel-like Sweet Cicely flowers have joined the throng of pinks and purples, alongside globes of Allium ‘Purple Sensation’, Geranium psilostemon sport and I’m pleased to see Phloxes, Roses, Geranium psilostemon (above) and Sisyrinchium coming along too so that they’ll be continued colour in the border once the Aquilegias have gone over. Astrantia and Arum italicumIn a shadier spot, Astrantia (‘Shaggy’ I think) looks great with the self-seeded (and a tad thuggish if you let it) Arum italicum as a backdrop, and I can see a couple of teasels (Dipsacus fullonum) popping up too to give height and drama to these areas for summer. Notable hole Just one noticeable gap in the bed where I divided a Verbena ‘Bampton’ , left it kicking around in an old compost bag for weeks before replanting a bit later in the year and not surprisingly, (but disappointingly) it’s not returned this spring. Bit of a shame as it was a lovely mid-height variety with pink flowers, but it looks like the raspberries will colonise this spot as the season moves on, again, without much interference on my behalf. Not quite what I’d planned, but great when nature will fill in the gaps for you.

P.s. If you’re having problems with your Aquilegias this year, you’re not alone. Read this Telegraph article from earlier in the year about a killer Aquilegia mildew and how best to deal with it.

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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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