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  • Coreopsis ‘Solanna Golden Sphere’: New from Mr Fothergill’s

    Posted by Graham Rice on 22 Apr 2014 at 02:05 PM
    Coreopsis 'Solanna Golden Sphere' is a tough and prolific new perennial. Image ©DanzigerI know there are gardeners who see perennial coreopsis more as workhorses of the summer garden than plants with character and style but perhaps ‘Solanna Golden Sphere’ (left, click to enlarge) will spark some affection as well as admiration for being dependable and tough.

    Developed in Israel, and propagated by division rather than seed so plants are always of a reliably high quality, the dark green foliage makes a neat mound. The bright, sunny yellow flowers open from May to October, each is fully double, with a slightly darker centre. Held one per stem, they are good for cutting and last well in water.

    It’s worth noting that this is a plant that rewards gardeners who nip off the fading flowers with secateurs or the kitchen scissors as this encourages more buds to develop. Plants should still flower right through until autumn without dead heading but they will look more attractive and less messy – and there will be more flowers open at any given time – if the dead blooms are snipped of at the base of their stems.

    This is a very hardy perennial which can be planted in a container for its first summer then moved into the border before winter, or can be planted direct into any reasonable soil in a sunny place.

    You can order plants of Coreopsis ‘Solanna Golden Sphere’ from Mr Fothergill’s (last orders for this season 30 April).


  • Worms have been moving stones in the garden

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 22 Apr 2014 at 01:51 PM

    There are a couple of corners of the garden that I seldom dig – if weeds come up there, I’ll pull them out, but I like to leave these patches to see what happens to the soil surface and to gauge earthworm activity. Because we garden on Oxfordshire cornbrash, there are a lot of stones in the soil and a great many of them end up on the surface. Not only do these stones end up on the surface of the soil, they often appear to be gathered into small piles. When you look more closely at these piles, you can see that there are often bits of plant debris sticking out of the top, usually near the centre of the pile.



  • Snail racing

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 17 Apr 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Snail race2
    My eldest son is a real wildlife lover.

    This is mostly a good thing.  It means he's always keen to get outdoors to check on his pond or insect shelter and he can identify far more birds and butterflies than I can manage


  • Veronica 'Blue Bomb': New from Parkers

    Posted by Graham Rice on 13 Apr 2014 at 04:21 PM
    Veronica 'Blue Bomb' is compact and long flowering. Image © Jan VershoorVeronicas, long lost in the second or third division of hardy perennials, have been making a name for themselves as cut flowers in recent years. Their long spikes and their lasting quality have encouraged florists to take them up.

    But while plant breeders have been developing new varieties for cutting, they’ve not forgotten gardeners and the latest addition to the gardener’s range is Veronica ‘Blue Bomb’.

    Developed in Holland by Jan Vershoor, well known for his phlox and other perennials, this is a very distinctive plant with tall straight stems which branch repeatedly at their tips to create a cluster of short blue spikes.

    Plants reach about 45-60cm in height, with fresh green foliage which makes a good background to show off the flower heads, and they have a very long flowering season - May to September - which is exactly what so many gardeners need now that gardens are getting smaller: every plant must give its best for as long as possible. So a long flowering plant like Veronica ‘Blue Bomb’ with an extended season of colour is ideal in a small space. And the clumps fatten up steadily without ever becoming a nuisance.

    You can order Veronica ‘Blue Bomb’ from J. Parkers.



  • A stoat visits the garden

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 11 Apr 2014 at 09:50 AM

    The garden gave us a new surprise the other day when we found a stoat (Mustela erminea) in the courtyard. Great find, except that this one was dying.



  • Are gardens primarily for humans?

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 07 Apr 2014 at 02:36 PM

    In a piece in the April issue of ‘The Garden’, the author says that ‘the garden is a habitat for other creatures, but it is first and foremost a habitat for us’. She worries that gardeners are being bombarded with unwanted advice, not unlike the barrage of advice we get about our diets and exercise, and that gardeners are being made to feel guilty for wanting to garden as they see fit.

     The summer border is filled with lif


  • Blush Garden - RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival

    Posted by Pip Probert on 04 Apr 2014 at 09:41 AM
    I haven’t written anything for a while, as with most people, life takes over and then a month has passed us by! We have had a really busy couple of months with lots of private gardens, planting schemes and also continued work for public areas at one of the local universities. Plus, my students at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh have been keeping me on my toes with their projects and course work. With all that going on it is hard to believe that it is time for us to pack our bags ready for the first show of the year, RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival, at the Three Counties Showground. Everything is booked, order and waiting to be delivered. Various parts of the garden have been built back home ready to make the journey south. Our garden is called ‘Blush’ and is designed as an urban retreat, somewhere to sit and relax to escape the stress of everyday life. The colour scheme of browns, pinks and purples are attractive and soothing. As you enter the plot via stepping-stones over a pond, you are greeted by planting on either side. The path leads you into the centre of the space, which is a seating area enclosed by rendered walls at three different heights. Coloured glass panels are set into the wall adding artistic flare. In the seating area there is a feature wall consisting of living wall planters and also a central water wall. The water runs down the wall and through the centre of a decorative table, it then disappears into the paving to reappear in the shallow pond at the entrance to the garden. A sculptural piece forming a ‘ball’ shape is located at the front of the garden set within the planting. This shape is then echoed throughout the space with box balls. We start building on the 14th April and look forward to spending a month in Malvern creating the Blush garden; hopefully we will see you there 8-11th May 2014. We still have a project to complete before we go to Malvern, for Barnstondale Activity Centre on the Wirral where we are creating a children’s garden and nature trail, which will be constructed in phases and have all manor of exciting features. Best get a move on!!


  • 101 Things For Kids To Do Outside

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 28 Mar 2014 at 08:44 PM

    This has been quite a momentous week.  Not just because we now know who is in the semi final for The Great British Sewing Bee (poor David - so near and yet so far) but also because my new book was officially published.

    It is borne of years of persuading my kids to join me in the garden. And no, it's not just about gardening (although you know me - I've managed to slip in everything from home brewed plant tonics and edible flowers, to mini rockeries and pumpkin autographs).  This is because I think we can't sell pure gardening to kids before we've sold them on something bigger - being outside


  • Plants for Bugs Conference Previews Results

    Posted by Helen Bostock Plantsforbugs on 27 Mar 2014 at 03:24 PM


    Plants for Bugs programme and usb sticks 


  • Why some flowers change colour and a worm question

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 26 Mar 2014 at 04:26 PM

    I learned something new today – why some flowers change colour as they age. The reason may be common knowledge to some people, but to me it wasn’t and I’m still feeling happily surprised and more in awe of nature than ever.

     Pulmonaria officinalis showing different flower colour