Tidying gardens in Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, Knebworth & surrounding villages.
If you would like help in the garden, whether it's for a few hours a week, a month or more, please give me a call.
Tel: 07963 291504
Email: jane@tidygardensbyjane.co.uk


Saturday, 22 October 2016

Something a little different....

Something a bit different today... groovy shopping bags.
Not just ordinary shopping bags...oh no...these bags are made from recycled plastic bottles and I got them from dotcomgiftshop.com.

There are several styles of bag to choose from in a fabulous range of colours and patterns. The bags I bought, in the designs above, are about 34cm wide, 15cm deep and 40cm high and were £2.95 or less (some were in a sale). 
If I can bear to part with any, I'm going to give some away as Christmas stocking fillers as we all need reusable bags these days and they are pretty darned stylish.

Some of the designs are also available on other products, so for example I've bought my geography-mad daughter (for Christmas...Shh...don't tell) a shopping bag, ring binder and a phone case to match in the World Map design. 

This is my favourite... the Flamingo and if you click here you will see all of the other products with this brilliant Flamingo pattern.
I just LOVE it!!

I really encourage you to check out dotcomgiftshop, they have some unique gift ideas from dog collars, tableware and bags to wrapping paper, garden accessories and toys. 

This watering-can is on my wishlist!!!!
I keep dropping subtle hints like 'oh.... (insert heavy sigh).... if only I had a flamingo watering can, my life would be sooooooo much easier' (subtle huh!?). Plus I think it'd look pretty cool on my kitchen windowsill.

If you sign up for their newsletter you can get FREE DELIVERY on UK orders over £20.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Hanging Baskets Review

I've been sent a couple of hanging baskets to try out and review.
Both baskets are made of a rigid, black plastic; the one on the right is called an 'Easyfill Original' hanging basket, the other, on the left, an 'Easyfill Pro'.
Both baskets allow you to pot up plants around the side as well as on the top giving you that 'flower ball' look.

*** I'd like to add that if I'd received these baskets earlier in the year I would have had a selection of traditional summer basket plants to demonstrate with and the 'flowy' effect of the layers of plants would have been more evident. As it's now late summer I'm going to do an experiment to see how Auriculas & strawberries will look ***

This is the 'Easyfill Pro'
It's about 8" deep & 15" wide. It doesn't require moss or lining and has a series of drainage holes at different levels, plus a a small well at the bottom.

On this model (the 'Pro'), there are 'clips' that you simply push back in order to make the sides of the basket bend back. 

Add a layer of compost up to the side holes, simply lay your plants on their sides around the basket (stems dangling out of the holes) and push the panels back together again. Add another layer of soil and pop in your plants on the top as per.

This is my traditional top filling hanging basket from earlier in the year, planted up with Auriculas. In my 'experiment', it'll be fun to see if these gorgeous plants create that flowerball effect next spring in the 'Easyfill Pro'. (stay tuned for that).

Next up...the 'Easyfill Original'.

I found it easier to remove the chains on both baskets before filling. Just feed the little metal rods through the holes, fill the basket, then feed the rods back through again...saves having to detangle any plants that get caught in the chain as you go to hang it up.

The dimensions are the same as the 'Pro' version but this time there are 'gated' pop-out sides. Just push the little gates from the outside inwards and they easily pop out. Position your plants, on their sides as before and then click the gates back into position. 

For this basket I have used some of my strawberries and their runners from the strawberry bed. Hopefully next year I will have a cascading supply of sweet, juicy fruits.

So despite not having a traditional supply of summer hanging basket plants I hope this post might inspire you to try something a bit different.

As for the baskets... maybe not as pretty looking as traditional, weaved wooden versions when first planted up, but hopefully once the plants start to fluff up, that plastic will be covered by lush foliage and floral delights. 
Being plastic the moisture should be retained in the soil a lot longer and not dry out as quickly.
I'm sure that at some stage the plastic clips and pop-out sections will become brittle and deteriorate and the colour may fade to grey but that also happens with wooden versions. I replace mine quite often as the wood starts to break and look tatty and sometimes they develop an ugly green hue. That said, those moveable plastic parts are really only going to be used once, maybe twice a year, as we pot up our plants and then remove at the end of the year, so they should be quite durable.

Which do I prefer, the 'Easyfill Original' or the 'Pro' version?
Well I thought the soil and water was going to fall out of the gated 'Easyfill Original' version (top right) when it was watered but it didn't. Both were easy to use, there was no fiddling or faffing so when it come to ease of use I give them both 10/10. 
Asthetically I prefer the gated 'Easyfill Original'. It looks a little less 'heavy' when it's just been potted up but don't forget that plastic will all be covered up eventually.

You can get the baskets at the following locations... (Prices do vary so I encourage you to have a good look through the options available)



For further information go to...
01204 361547

Saturday, 13 August 2016

August in the Tidy Garden

Welcome back to TG HQ.
As always, lots going on so here's an update.

But first, relax.....inhale and let the lavender do its 'thang'.

Ok...time to move on. Now I know that at the end of last year I vowed never to let another tomato seed pass by grubby mitts...but I couldn't resist just one more go. For years we'd had tom plants scattered all over the garden and each summer we'd skip gaily among the fruiting vines picking those plump, red beauties and singing the virtues of the great British summer.
However, summer here for the last 3 or 4 years has been a 'disaster darling', with every crop succumbing to the dreaded blight just as the picking season approached.
I hope I'm not tempting fate but....(said in a whisper)....this year has been A-mazing. Once more I can frolic among the fruit. (Not a pretty sight)

Meanwhile, dans le vertmaison, things are partying along.
The ol' Trumpet Pitchers are clearly happy in their fly-munching position. I originally had just the 1 plant but divided it last year into 3.

This year I divided them again and now have an additional 4 plants. Honestly, I'm surprised there are any flies left on the planet. Alas (sniff), I did lose my sticky Sundew plants but on a happier note, despite the gloom monster's warnings that allowing a Venus Fly Trap would spell death to the plant, mine survived and is in fact flowering its little head off again, so a rather immature 'ner ner nerner ner' to you.

Really enjoying my display of Ivy Leaf Geraniums.

The 'Hole Digger' and 'Destroyer of Manicured Lawns' is having a day off today.

And finally, my favourite bed at the mo'.... ooooozing dazzlingly, bright colours.
Til' next time.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Snakes Alive!!!

This slithering critter scared the b'jeepers outta me at work today...slinking around my client's greenhouse. It was grass snake and about 2 foot long but despite being totally harmless, I quickly took this photo and RAN FOR THE HILLS!!!!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Propagating Succulents

Last year I thought I'd have a go at propagating this Echeveria succulent. 
Next month sees the first birthday of my little 'propagatees'.

Gently wriggle a few of the juicy leaves away from the bottom of the mother plant. Don't yank or tear the leaves, GENTLY wiggle, they will come away in one piece quite easily.
Set aside for a few days while the end drys up. I think I waited 3-4 days.

3 Weeks Old

Get yourself a small tray of multi-purpose compost and lay the leaves on top of the soil. Some folk buy specialist cactus or succulent soil but I simply used regular multi-purpose compost. Spray the leaves with a mist of water and leave on a window sill in a bright spot but not direct sunlight. We want these babies to grow, not grill!!
I misted the leaves once a week or whenever the soil looked really dry. 
As you can see above, it doesn't take long before spidery roots appear.

5 Weeks Old

After 5 weeks, tiny rosettes of new leaves started to form just above the roots...(insert excited squeal!!)

7 Weeks Old

By the 7th week the excitement was all too much and I had to lie down in a darkened room.
Keep up the regular spraying and marvel as the roots start to find their way down into the soil.

13 Weeks Old

At 13 weeks I had been hospitalised, dressed in an ill-fitting 'white jacket' & embalmed in 'anti-excitable fluid'. My propagatees were flourishing, I'd taken to talking to them & willing them on their way.
A few weeks later I potted up my new plants into individual pots. The original 'motherleaf' was still attached and I let nature take its course, allowing it to wither & fall off naturally.

So here we are today, almost 1 year on. Party hats & streamers are poised for a first birthday celebration. Six of my leaflets made it, I have been released from my secure unit just in time to make cake and spam sandwiches.

Of course the icing on the Echeveria cake would be the arrival of dainty pink / yellow flowers, but I'm a patient soul...all in good time.

Why not give propagating succulents a go?

Propagation Scale
Nightmare.................................Dead Easy (Tick)

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Growing The Dream

Auricula-phobes, look away now!

These are my favouritist plants ever...Auriculas.
I could just sit here all day looking at them.

Some dream of far-flung, exotic destinations, winning the lottery, a fast car or living in a large mansion. Some dream of owning a unicorn, becoming famous or travelling the world.

I dream of one day having my own tiny nursery.
A girl's gotta have a dream right?

When I was a kid I dreamt of working in a shop selling pretty notecards and fancy, coloured papers. My first job, however, was at the Unemployment Benefit Office. Twas a job, but the paperwork wasn't quite as pretty as I'd hoped.

As a grow'd up, my new dream of becoming a gardener took hold and I made sure that one came true. Now I'm working on the ultimate dream...my own nursery. Nothing big, nothing fancy, just a wee scrap of land with a greenhouse or polytunnel.
I shall dream on for now.

Meanwhile in the Tidy Garden, happiness fills the air. About 15 years ago I bought a selection box of Auricula plug plants from Thompson & Morgan. I had no idea at the time just how much I would fall in love with these amazing flowers. Since then I've propagated their offsets a million times over (give or take), grown my own plants from the 'Viennese Waltz' seed collection (again from T&M) and now I'm trying out a variety of plugs from Van Meuwen (see 40 newbies below)

This week I've bought my first ever 'named Auriculas'. I am beyond excited!!!
I've got Starling, Royal Mail, Joel, Lord Saye En Sele, Sunflower & Bluechip. One day I hope to find out the names of all the other flowers I have and who knows, maybe have my own named variety (an add-on to my ultimate dream?)

Auriculas are tough ol' birds. I grow all of mine in plastic pots so that I can move them around and enjoy them as they flower. I have a dead-posh Auricula Theatre (NOT!!!) on either side of the greenhouse doors. Actually they are just a couple of black, plastic shelving units but they serve a purpose, the colourful flowers, in their black pots, stand out against the black background and the shelves provide the plants with some protection from the rain.

Auriculas look amazing in hanging baskets. They like cool, shaded spots with good ventilation. I grow mine in bog-standard multi-purpose compost, nothing fancy, no added feed, etc, just simple compost mixed with some grit with a layer on the top too. Mine stay in their baskets, in the same place all year round, sometimes giving a second flush of flowers. For goodness sake, don't throw them away after flowering, just put up another basket of different plants and tuck this one somewhere cool until they flower again in the spring.

Once my potted plants have finished flowering I move them to the back of the greenhouse onto more shelves, to rest, produce offsets and to protect from hot, summer sun.
Vine Weevil in my garden are a nightmare so I treat the pots twice a year and also repot in the spring a) to refresh the compost & b) to remove any of the Vine Weevil buggers that escape my killing potions.

So if / when my ultimate dream comes to fruition, I shall have Auriculas to the fore ...that's if I can bear to part with them.
I wonder what the dog's dreaming about...probably a juicy bone.

(All photos from the Tidy Garden)

Monday, 2 May 2016

Oh, Such A Perfect Day....

...I'm glad I spent it with you.

Bank Holiday Monday, spent digging out Vine Weevil grubs for a Robin.
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