Archive for the ‘Plants for tree pits’ Category

Plant belles rusty wire cloch supports with bamboo

I love this show. I always seem to find what I’m look for, and then some more. I’ve been debating whether I should use a cloche for my winter leaves or not and then I came across this nifty and stylish solution for those with petite growing (and storage) spaces. Some bamboo canes and a bit of fleece (or plastic) added to these rusty wire hoops will do the trick perfectly.

Plant Belles rusty cloche supports in different sizes

Plant Belles supply hoops in different finishes and sizes to suit all needs and have other gorgeous plant supports online too. I plumped for a set of 5 smaller hoops for £15.00 and I know I’m going to use these time and time again.

Pachysandra axillaris 'Crug Cover'

I’m always irresistibly drawn, as if by a magnetic force, to the Crug Farm Plants stand, and this year I was delighted by this deliciously scented Pachysandra axillaris ‘Crug Cover’. So similar are its flowers to that of a Sarcococca, that I thought it must be related, but the Pachysandra genus is part of the box family. The ‘axillaris’ leaves are sizeably larger than the more common Pachysandra (terminalis) ground cover that you see in many gardens, and growing in light to dark shade, to about a foot high (and of creeping habit),  this new plant discovery is definitely on my ‘shady bits of the garden’ must-have list.

Chilli Peppr seeds

After a bit of plant gazing and shopping, I was onto the serious business of seed buying. I do want to start some mustard leaves off soon in my mini greenhouse (and new cloche) and called by to the very friendly Sea Spring Seeds stand. They always have  a really good selection of leaves and I plumped for some ‘Broadleaf’ and ‘Red Knight’ Mizuna (fast becoming one of my favourites) and Flaming Thrills and Golden Streaks Mustards-always very decorative. But Sea Spring Seeds are also a Chilli specialist and I’ve ordered some Super Chile plug plants to be delivered later in the year for our community veg growing project. I think they’re going to look fantastic in sunny window boxes and pots along our street come summer.

Pennard plants stall

I also dropped by Pennard Plants to discuss seeds potatoes. These will be for growing in growbags at the end of March and I’ve plumped for Salad Blue Early (a handsome dark purple tuber for some great lilac-coloured mash), which I can collect at the Potato Day at the Garden Museum in Lambeth on Sunday March 10th.

Rainbow mix carrots

And I picked up plenty of packets of seeds so neighbours can grow these gorgeous rainbow coloured carrots this year too.

Lathyrus vernus at the RHS Feb show

As ever, there was a glorious array of spring-flowering bulbs and perennials on offer, and I snapped up a few Lathyrus vernus for another shady spot from the Hardy’s stand. And a few of the darkest of Hellebores and some Hollyhocks for tree pits from The Botanic Nursery. This is my favourite sort of shopping!

Woodland planting in nearby street in Victoria

As you leave Vincent square, there’s a garden nearby (attached to some grand old purpose-built flats in Ashley Gardens-thanks for local knowledge Nicolette) that always looks as good as the show stands. This year was no exception and the cyclamen, primroses and hellebores made the route home a perfect ending to a very enjoyable day.


Irises at the RHS Feb show 2

Following Claire’s comment below, here’s a pic of Jacques Armand’s lush Iris display. Have a look at her fab blog for her review of the show.

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Hampton Court is huge and ever-changing and one new innovation that I really enjoyed was the creation of the ‘Low cost, high impact’ gardens. Just four of them this year, but definitely some of the best in show for me. And while I’m counting, it’s always good to get your bearings at the beginning of the show. Small gardens proliferated this year and I think I’ve calculated approximately 36 small plots to see  (as well as the 12 large show gardens) if you include the Edible Bust Stop (seemingly floating around on its own in the yellow ‘Park Area’), Chris Beardshaw’s ‘Urban Oasis’, divided up into 8 distinct areas, 15 ‘Summer’ gardens and 8 conceptual spaces too.

‘Our first home, our first garden’ (above), designed by Nilufer Danis and recipient of a Gold Medal, had the lowest fixed budget of the ‘Low cost’ gardens, set at £7,000, but the simplicity of using reclaimed scaffolding boards as the only material for hard landscaping was a real winner.

Treated tree posts were used to space the boards which gave them an airy feel (and also supplied ventilation to stop them rotting),

and the mini matching garden chair was a lovely perpendicular touch too.

And talking if chairs, this witty and practical design by Will Sandy on the Edible Bus Stop area was another highlight of the show.

Sandy is a landscape architect and through rejuvenating forgotten corners along the no. 322 bus route in South London, aims to create thriving gardens which will both bring the local communities together and green up the urban landscape. Successful meetings with Transport for London have resulted in their own liveried bus stops and livery on buses along their edible route too!

Edible landscapes were also very much part of Chris Beardshaw’s ‘Urban Oasis’ project, where 8 designed areas showcased again how ornamentals and edibles (often mixing the two together), could transform unpromising or abandoned urban areas to improve local communities.

They even had a derelict space to illustrate the point,

which reminded me that despite our best efforts to green up our own urban space in Finsbury park (through neighbours planting up tree pits and growing veg in front gardens), we also still have developers in our community who are happy to leave their projects in a half-finished state from one year to the next. (Note to self to contact local council and rally neighbours to take more action regarding this semi abandoned eyesore).

Back to flowers and loveliness, but also staying on the edible theme, I loved some of the Violas displayed by Victorian Violas of Lincoln in the floral marquee. And such a sweet delicate scent too. These unassuming flowers are fast becoming some of my favourite blooms in the garden, they’re a very decorative addition to a salad , and they grow well in pots too alongside lettuces and mustard leaves.

Slightly more attention grabbing were these stunning day lilies on the Brookfield Plants stand. Hemerocalis Ruby Spider could grace any garden or salad bowl,

and H. Red Twister looked rather delicious too. Mark Diacono in his ‘a taste of the unexpected’ book has intriguing recipes for both day lily fritters and hot and sour day lily soup. Just the time of year to experiment as mine are just about to come into flower. Paul Harris from Brookfield plants explained that day lilies probably grow best in the soil, forming large clumps, but will also do well in pots if fed in spring and kept well watered throughout the growing season.

And for the first time, Mark Diacono had his own stand at Hampton Court, displaying a tempting array of edible perennials, shrubs and trees from Otter Farm in the ‘Growing for Taste’ marquee.

I was rather taken by this Szechuan pepper tree with its light, open, spiky habit and edible fruit of course.  Although it can eventually grow up to 7m high (but will respond well to heavy pruning), Mark Diacono had a 5-year-old plant that was about 10 feet tall on his stand. A great size and habit for smaller gardens and it will grow happily in pots too. Definitely a purchase for the future.

In the same marquee, Blackmoor Nurseries had some great ideas for front garden fruit growing with step over apples and pears replacing fencing,


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As rain and cooler weather are predicted for the coming Jubilee weekend, I was reflecting on how lucky we were with exceptional weather for our Chelsea Fringe event last Sunday. Neighbours in our community veg growing scheme have been getting together at ‘Cake Sundays’ a couple of times a year since 2009, for a seed give-away and to catch up with each other over tea and home-made cakes. This May, as part of the Chelsea Fringe, we invited others to join us and put on a bumper spread with oodles cakes and bunting. It was a really enjoyable afternoon.

Annie (top pic) was on hand to advise on veg growing and gave away over 200 packs of seeds (and many borage and nasturtium plants too), and I was happy to talk to anyone about the delights of edible window boxes. (Giant red mustard leaf and violas above).

Nicolette had loads of visitors wanting to know more about how we started up our veg growing scheme, travelling from South London and as far as Colchester and Manchester to hear our story!

Neighbours and friends baked up the most gorgeous cakes I’ve ever seen (and tasted!),

and we also encouraged entries for the best planting around the base of our street trees, which were judged on the day by Veronica Peerless, deputy editor of Which? Gardening magazine.

Small events punctuated the afternoon and Tim Bushe was a real crowd pleaser with his virtuoso topiary demonstration.

Nicola Baird ably helped others to make over 100 wildflower seeds bombs that can be lobbed into inaccessible forgotten corners, creating  floriferous joy wherever thrown,

and the afternoon continued with very entertaining veg races involving various transportation methods of cucumbers (hands), cabbages (knees) and potatoes (spoons).

Tim Richardson, creator and director of the Chelsea Fringe, joined us for tea and cake and happily agreed to present Best Tree Pit trophies. Runner up, Nicola, was delighted to recieve her award for a fantastic sculptural framework for sweet peas in her tree pit,

and Eugenie’s winning tree pit was deservedly recognised for providing gorgeous colour and interest in the form of snapdragons, verbascum, cabbages and wildflowers. Always a pleasure to walk by on the way to the shops!

And finally, the warm sunny afternoon was perfectly rounded off by a 10 minute play called ‘Pumpkin Patch’ about stealing veg in a community garden. Heaven forbid!

The Chelsea Fringe continues over the next 2 weekends, up until June 10th with tons of interesting horticultural happenings all over London. I rather fancy the Living medicine cookery workshop in Ladbroke Grove tomorrow afternoon (booking essential) and popping by for more tea and cake at a cheeky land grab in Greenwich on June 10th. Tim Richardson highly recommends, amongst others,  the minty Garden of Disorientation in Smithfields, open daily until June 9th (but closed 3rd and 4th June) and the Floating Forest installation, again in Ladbroke Grove. There are up to 90 events listed, so take your pic to get your horticultural fix over the next 10 days. You won’t be disappointed!

p.s. We also had a mention in the Guardian gardening section too!

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