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Archive for the ‘Tulips’ Category

origibal raised bed

Back in 2010, I espied a couple of old palettes in a neighbour’s front garden and thought these might make wonderful raised beds for my own front garden. I spent an afternoon deconstructing the palettes and building the beds (here’s a ‘How to’), and then filled them with a mixture of topsoil and lovely rich compost as the soil below is rather heavy clay.

original raised bedsA year later and the beds were flourishing. In fact, they’ve been wonderful spots for experimentation ever since, and I’ve loved growing heaps of salad leaves, herbs, tomatoes

Tulips in front garden

and my annual tulip display (grown in the front garden as squirrels decimate these bulbs in the back garden).

Old wooden raised bedHowever, this wood doesn’t last forever, and despite a bit of mending here and there, these beds are now well past their best and in need of replacement. The question is, what with?

Deborah Nagan I visited Deb Nagan’s very inspiring garden in Brixton in 2013 as Part of the Chelsea Fringe,
Deborah Naga's metal raised bedsand her lovely metal raised beds have always stuck in my memory. Such gorgeousness combined with such great practicality.

So where to get some metal raised beds?

Tree pit edging

In the past we’ve used Everedge to supply us with metal edging for our street tree pits,

Rsuted steel raised bedand they also have a large range of other products for raised beds and planters. Following some very helpful discussions, I plumped for two (very reasonably priced) custom-made raised beds, 20cm high in Cor-Ten Steel. This naturally rusts over time, but they also supply galvanised steel which won’t rust, and powder coated steel which can give you different colours.

Rusted steel raised bed 2I love the deliciously warm colour of the rusted steel and its rather industrial look sits well in our urban setting. Peter from Everedge has added, in the comments below, that you can also have rolled edges if you’re worried about safety, but I can’t say that this crossed my mind when I was planning the bed.

It took a little while to construct as you have to bolt various lengths and corners together, but these raised beds should last for many years to come and I’m eager to see how my red and white Arsenal tulip display will look in this rusted bed come April.

P.s. I’ve also noticed that Harrod Horticultural sell a cream 30cm high snazzy ‘Retro’ raised bed. Not rusted steel, but groovy nonetheless.

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Tuliopa Rai with Red Giant mustard leaf, orange Ballerina and red and Yellow Helmar Tulips

This year I planned to have a lovely contrast of pink and purple tulips in my front garden. Blousey pink Tulipa Rai proved to be a big success with clients, so it’s back again as the star of the show. I love it here alongside my Red Giant Mustard leaf. The purple tulips which I hoped would work well with the T.Rai look to be a week or so behind, but orange Ballerina is now returning for its third year since planting, and yellow and red Helmar has also popped up again in quite a number from last year’s planting.

Tuliopa Rai with Red Giant mustard leaf

I’ve always assumed that in my heavy clay soil that tulips will struggle to return, but these are raised beds that I’ve added plenty of compost to over the last few years, and some varieties are definitely more adept than others on making a comeback. As ever, my chosen combinations are not quite as planned (yet!), but looking forward to seeing how the bed progresses over the next week or so…

P.S.

Here’s a Tulip update one week later

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Great Dixter long border in October

As well as starting to peruse catalogues and websites for next year’s seed order, I’m also starting to think about gardening courses that I’d like to attend. My choice of course is normally prompted by my lack of knowledge in a certain area or a horticultural idea/obsession that I want to explore further, and I always come away with gaps of ignorance filled and new ideas aplenty to put into practice.

Kemal Mehdi at Great Dixter

I’ve heard that Great Dixter (top pic) have a series of new monthly talks given by Kemal Mehdi (above), who has taught at Hadlow College for over 20 years. I’m thinking of the May course (at the end of April) as I’ve never seen Great Dixter during Tulip season and I’d love to see more plant combinations involving one of my favourite bulbs.

Head Gardener Fergus Garrett will also be leading study days throughout the year and there are propagation day courses and week-long practical symposium courses dotted throughout 2013. I’ve hugely enjoyed courses at Great Dixter before, always leaving with my head buzzing, full of wonderful new planting ideas, and am really looking forward to my next visit in April.

Chili pepper seedlings. Seeds bought from Sea Spring Seeds

Years ago, to increase my somewhat basic horticultural understanding, I signed up for the RHS level 1 at Regents Park and haven’t looked back since. It was an evening course, held over 18 months and I loved every minute. I see that Capel Manor have a one day a week (Tuesday) level 1 one course starting in January in Regents Park and finishing in July which includes some practical  hands-on learning. They also have Level 2 courses –starting in 2013 for both daytime and evening study and more courses in horticulture and garden design at all levels in other corners of London, including Enfield (their headquarters), Crystal Palace and Gunnersbury Park.

For those not in London, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) offers level 1-3 courses throughout England and one-off shorter courses on specific horticultural areas such as pruning, planting for wildlife or propagation at Harlow Carr in Yorkshire,  Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in N. Devon and Wisely in Surrey. Spoilt for choice!

A Verrier fruit tree at West Dean, Feb 2012

Earlier this year, I enjoyed an amazing day out in West Dean College in Chichester, learning about training fruit trees, and their list of courses this year looks very tempting indeed. Many areas are covered, including ‘Planting in the shade garden’, a one day course for creating your own blog and ‘Successional planting in the vegetable garden’ with Charles Dowding. I’m looking at courses during summer, so that I also get to visit their much heralded walled kitchen garden at the same time.

Charles Dowding in Polytunnel

And Charles Dowding is offering ‘no dig’ courses from January at his new farm in Somerset. Really worth the trip as I discovered earlier this year.

Judith Hann amongst the Lovage 3

On a herby theme, Judith Hann is offering courses in May and June in Oxfordshire and Jekka’s Herb Farm will soon be posting dates for next year’s workshops in Alveston, near Bristol.

Dahlia Summer Night in the Exotic Garden at Great Dixter, August 2011

And Sarah Raven is offering both flower and veg growing courses in both her Perch Hill gardens in East Sussex and further afield.

Aya volunteering at 'Food from the sky'

Back in (North) London, and the wonderful ‘Food from the Sky’ (above Budgens supermarket in Crouch End) is starting its ‘seed2seed’ foundation in urban food growing in March and positively encourages volunteering on their roof top on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Miles Irving giving foraging talk

And over the last couple of years, I’ve enjoyed some great urban foraging talks at the fantastic community garden in King Henry’s Walk and look forward to more in 2013.

As ever, I’m slightly ovderwhelmed by the amount of goodies on offer, but I know whatever course I attend, I’ll end up the richer for it. And if you know of other courses for 2013 in your area, do share a link in the comments below, wherever you are!

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