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RHS publications include the RHS journals – The Garden, The Plantsman and The Orchid Review – numerous specialist books, booklets and leaflets plus the huge range of RHS books.

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  • Wonderful weeds

    Posted by Phil Clayton, Features Editor, The Garden on 30 Apr 2009 at 11:59 AM

    I admit to having a rather relaxed attitude to weeds in my garden – in fact, some I have actively encouraged, even planted. Winter heliotrope (Petasites) is a real thug in my spring border with running roots spreading everywhere and, if allowed, large rounded leaves shading out all that crosses its path. However, I love its fragranced winter flowers and I find it can be easily extracted to prevent it gaining too strong a hold. 

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  • Overjoyed by Overbeck's

    Posted by Chris Young, Deputy Editor, The Garden on 17 Apr 2009 at 04:13 PM

    I visited Overbeck's garden and museum, in south Devon, last week when I was on holiday. It is lovely garden – completely unassuming, but with interesting nooks and crannies, and some great plant specimens. At this time of the year it is most well known for its range of magnolias. The famous pinky-white Magnolia campbelli – which was planted in 1901 on a sheltered terrace, then tipped over after heavy rain in 1999, but was successfully (and thankfully) saved and continues to grow today – had just finished flowering, but others (see pictures) were in full song. (See also The Garden, March 2007, pp168-169.)


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  • Jumping on the vegetable bandwagon

    Posted by Phil Clayton, Features Editor, The Garden on 31 Mar 2009 at 05:42 PM

    People who know me and my gardening habits seem a bit surprised, but I have finally boarded the grow-your-own bus. Until now I have always resented putting aside any of my limited border space for fruit or veg, in favour of all the perennials, shrubs and bulbs I love, but the remorseless media onslaught pushing this productive side of gardening has ground me down. When you work on a magazine there is simply no escaping it and, anyhow, I decided I needed to learn more. I’m also a born miser so any chance to save money and I’m there.

    The solution for me was to build a raised bed. I have, outside the back of my house, a large expanse of concrete, inherited from the previous owners. It’s not pretty, but would require a huge effort to remove – far better to cover it up somehow. Gales last year blew down some substantial wooden gates that have now been replaced, but the old timber from them – perfectly serviceable – has been put to good use to make the bed. It is not huge, just large enough for some tomatoes, a wigwam of runner beans, a few herbs, some cut-and-come-again salad leaves, and perhaps an aubergine and a few strawberries.

    The fact that it is not especially deep (about 70cm) and on solid concrete worries me a little – I have added plenty of hardcore at the base for drainage and the locally-sourced topsoil I have filled it with seems pretty well drained. I will I think just avoid root crops and hope for the best. I have to admit I’m really excited!

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  • The trials and tribulations of the repro-man

    Posted by Jason Gearing, Digital Image Manager, The Garden on 27 Mar 2009 at 06:19 PM

    I’m not a horticulturist, although this is beginning to change since I started my job with The Garden. I’m a Photoshopper – and I don’t mean that I scour the High Street for photos. I’m the guy that makes the magazine fit for print, using Adobe Photoshop software as my magical box of tricks that enables me to do pretty much anything.

    I actually got into image manipulation as a hobby. I’ve never been very good at drawing or painting and when one wintry afternoon a friend showed me the ‘miracle’ of Photoshop I was thrown screaming with joy into the artistic world. Suddenly I was able to make logos, take elements of different photographs to make an entirely new image and make my friends look really ugly with a few virtual nips and tucks. I’ve had the bug ever since. I think that makes me an official geek.

    Quite a few years have passed since then and now I do what I loved doing as a hobby as a job, which is fantastic. Also, since then, digital photography has taken over in a big way, and that, unfortunately, has given me the ‘grand’ title of Digital Image Manger – yes, that’s DIM for short. You can’t win them all.

    An incredible amount of effort is put into making The Garden look as good as it does by the time it reaches your doormat. Colours are triple checked at various stages to make sure (as best we can) that the pictures are true representations of the actual plant (or garden or person) and that everything is sharp, highlights aren’t blown and shadows aren’t too dark.

    It helps, however, that many of the photographs we select are supplied by great photographers: the very deserving winner of last year’s Garden Media Guild’s Photographer of the Year award Andrea Jones, our very own Tim Sandall and Clive Nichols, to mention just a few. It was a surprise to me just how many specific garden photographers and picture libraries are out there – hundreds it seems – and their variety of work is quite astounding.

    Next time you look at your copy of The Garden, particularly a pretty picture, have a think about the story of that one image, the photographer who got up at the crack of dawn to catch the perfect light for the image, the developing of the image, the reproduction of the image into printable colours and the eventual sets of colour proofs that are pored over with gradual changes of improvement, and finally to the printers where again it is checked on press. It is a pretty incredible thing, if you think about it, when humans work together for a common goal.
     

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  • Picking veg grown under

    Posted by Sian Thomas, Assistant Events Editor on 23 Mar 2009 at 09:46 AM

    Despite my Welsh-sounding name, I am in fact Australian. Like Britons, Australians are enthusiastic garden-makers – although the climate can often present serious challenges. While visiting Melbourne in January, I stayed with a friend who was fretfully trying to keep her small courtyard garden alive despite water restrictions which mean she can only water twice a week, between 6 and 8am. The searing temperatures – reaching a record 47°C (117°F) – had scorched even the hardiest plants, and evergreen trees were so stressed that they were shedding their leaves. The beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens were also showing the strain, with the large ornamental lakes sadly depleted – though the Perennial Border, one of my favourite areas, was its usual arc of eye-popping colour.

    Faring better was my parents’ garden of mostly native species. Their idea was to use local indigenous plants that will grow with rainfall only. One of the plants they have used is pretty yellow-flowered Goodenia ovata (hop goodenia), which grows easily from cuttings and provides a dense ground cover. Traditionally, local Aboriginal women used the juice of this plant as a sedative for their babies, who sucked it from their mother’s fingers.



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  • Couch potatoes

    Posted by Amanda Rigby, Senior Designer, The Garden on 16 Mar 2009 at 11:10 AM

    As novice gardeners, my partner and I have recently made up our minds to follow The Good Life dream and become as self-sufficient as possible. A tall order, you might think, but fortunately I have the support and encouragement of my fellow RHS-ees, who provide answers to my most demanding gardening queries.

    When we bought our house, two years ago, the garden consisted of an overgrown lawn, a patch of concrete and a tonne of gravel. Having recycled the gravel as a winding path, the race is now on to dig over our couch-infested lawn before spring fully explodes. We plan to grow everything from potatoes and asparagus to woad for dying and herbs for tea. We have built raised beds on the concrete and these will house salads and tomatoes.

    On Sunday we began the big dig. We awoke to fresh coffee and a huge fry-up then got straight into our gardening clobber and set to work with our rather sorry two-tined garden fork. One of us did the forking and the other followed, hand-picking out the cursed twitch roots lest they spear our precious potatoes.

    ‘What fools!’ I hear you cry, ‘Why not glyphosate the lot?’

    It is a very small plot and the digging only took a day. Who needs herbicides when you’ve got good old-fashioned elbow grease? No need to wait for chemicals to break down – we can plant our organic tatties without delay. When we dig them up later in the year we will check for stray couch roots and then we will switch to no-dig and try to leave the worms in peace.

    At the end of the day’s digging we rewarded ourselves with a roast dinner and a glass of wine, and at bedtime it was noted that a hint of spaghetti-like twitch roots was still imprinted on the inside of our eyelids. A hard day’s work followed by good food and a free optical illusion. Who could ask for more?
     

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  • Winter survivors and a new discovery

    Posted by Phil Clayton, Features Editor, The Garden on 12 Mar 2009 at 04:37 PM

    It was tough – with the ground frozen solid, and then under 8 inches of snow – to find anything much to do in the garden during the last couple of months, but as the snow receded my snowdrops emerged in full bloom, quite unblemished. It is the same story with Helleborus x hybridus – for such delicate-looking flowers they have remarkable powers of recovery. It was a relief to see them, and to look forward to everything that is just around the corner, but it has been interesting to see which other plants have stood up well to this cold winter. I am lucky that I have a walled garden close to the centre of a city, so I escape the lowest temperatures (a minimum of -6°c), but those weeks just after Christmas (but before the snow) were the most prolonged cold spell I can remember in ages.

    No surprise good old Iris foetidissima is near the top of my list. I split my old plants three years ago, and they sulked for a bit, but now they are terrific – just the right size (before too long they get a bit tatty) – and with several split pods showing plump orange seeds. They grow in some rotten dry shady spots, too: one of my best is by the base of an old Viburnum. I do have the rarer yellow-fruited form but its seeds are never as impressive.

    I am impressed also with a similar-looking but more exotic (and tender) plant: Dianella tasmanica ‘Emerald Arch’.

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  • What month am I in?

    Posted by Anisa Gress, News Editor, The Garden on 09 Mar 2009 at 11:15 AM

    This week I started to compile a list of news items for the May issue of The Garden. It seems odd working so far ahead and having to focus my mind on a different season. At home we are with waterlogged and in some places frozen ground, the hellebores in my garden are looking great and the snowdrops are just finishing… and I’m writing about things befitting of summer.

    For the team on The Garden, the dominating event during May is the RHS Chelsea Flower Show but by the time we are actually at the show I’m on the hunt for news items for the August issue. No wonder I get confused. Several times I’ve thought I’ve missed a dentist or some other appointment only to be tugged back to the present to find that the date has yet to arrive.

    Making news items timely in a monthly magazine presents its own set of challenges. Writing about something in March and making it relevant for May is not always easy. I used to work on a weekly magazine and, although there was less time to actually get stories written, it was easier in a way because the news items were always current. I am, however, fortunate to be able to publish stories online so if I’ve missed the boat for getting something into the magazine I can always try and get it online where the time delay is minimal.

    Working into the future does have its benefits though. It’s cold outside and the clocks have yet to change, but we have our minds on sunshine, borders in bloom and, to quote from a rather fine Joni Mitchell track, ‘the hissing of summer lawns’. I like that!
     

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  • Making do - and loving it

    Posted by Chris Young, Deputy Editor, The Garden on 17 Feb 2009 at 04:49 AM

    Surely one of the most common traits between gardeners is making do with the materials around you. This is exactly what I have been doing since December, whenever I have had a few hours spare – and I’m loving every minute of it.

    I am lucky enough to live in Rutland, on the Northamptonshire / Lincolnshire / Cambridge border – it really is the mid-lands. As a result, we are blessed with an endless amount of local stone, some of which is just a couple of centimetres from the top of the turf. Raised beds and lots of soil preparation are essential for planting, but when it comes to dry-stone walling we are really fortunate.

    In my back garden, I am digging out a small area (2 x 3m) which eventually – wife / children / family permitting – will become a seating area to catch the evening sun. All the spoil is being used to form a low mound, hiding the kids’ sandpit and other children-paraphernalia. At the front of the mound comes the dry-stone wall (or technically, I guess, dry-stone retaining wall): slowly growing to about 70cm in height, it is my pride and joy. Getting the lines right, balancing the stone depths and making sure that the ‘cock-and-hen’ coping runs smoothly are self-imposed but achievable demands.

    Uncovering some of the stones dug up from the patio area, combined with other stones lying all over the garden, makes for a satisfying feeling of using local materials for a simple but effective garden feature. I have already planted it 20 different times in my head, but two plants I bought almost this time last year (Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ and Pittosporum tobira) will help with screening.

    When all else seems to be getting a little gloomy in the world, time digging and making my wall is all the tonic I need. Next time I blog, I hope I will have got it planted!

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