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, 20 September 2014

Farewell Summer of 2014

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Buddleia ‘Buzz’

2014 has officially been the fastest year ever!
Night thieves are stealing time, somewhere between my head hitting the pillow at the end of another busy day and Mr TG’s damned alarm going off.

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This buddleia ‘buzz’ is actually the pinkish version but the camera & all photo editing suites seem incapable of correcting the colour, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

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A year in the Tidy garden wouldn’t be complete without a revamp of one of the beds.
This year it was the turn of the
Dry Bed (not so dry now). The magnolia was dramatically reduced in all directions & already, since the photo above was taken, has sprouted fresh foliage in all the right places & produced a few new flowers. The bulk of this bed was taken up by a choisia that had reached the pathway, a vicious conifer & several ropey perennials.

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A bit of soil TLC, a trip to my favourite plant supplier plus a few home-grown beauties et voila…the beginning of our latest ‘Critter Bed’.

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Although in its infancy, I’m so pleased with this bed….

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…. and I can’t wait until next year.

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This is the Sunny Bed which, after its re-vamp last year into a critter haven, has been spectacular. The greenhouse has provided much needed protection from the sun on the hottest of days, without creating shade. This is the look I’m hoping to enjoy in the Dry Bed next year.

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Despite the huge array of plants, this is such an easy bed to care for, as is all of the Tidy Garden. Just about everything involves either a spot of dead-heading or an annual cut down. It really isn’t hard work at all.

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Zinnias

The hardest part is getting some seeds to germinate. The quality of some of the seed compost I’ve been using is quite frankly rubbish & most of it has been big brand varieties.
I gave Zinnias a go this year, Zinnia ‘Envy’ (middle) & ‘Early Wonder Mixed’ from Sarah Raven.

Zinnia ‘Envy’ was advertised as green flowers, almost lime-like on the packaging…..hmmmmm…..more a dirty cream, colour. The ‘Early Wonder Mixed’ however were the zanniest of bright colours that I’ve ever seen in a flower. Although germination was poor, about a quarter, I shall definitely sow these again next spring, not in specialised seed compost but in Durstons multi-purpose compost. The success rate in this compost, be it seeds, cuttings or pot plants has been excellent.

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Here’s a feast of late summer / autumn loveliness that are still going strong, including the sunflower bird food that Mr TG bought in error for sunflower hearts. A beautiful mistake!

And finally, a couple of weird-angled panoramic views….

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…and a backward glance.

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Till next time.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

JML Mega Hose – Product Review

 

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The good people at JML recently asked me to trial, test & review their newly released ‘Mega Hose’.
Having already bought a similar product by a different brand earlier this year, that exploded on its second outing, I admit I was a tad sceptical.

The JML Mega hose comes in 4 lengths, 7.5m, 15m, 22.5m & 30m.
I tested the 22.5m length hose which is about 74ft for you ol’ school types.

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 As you can see above, it fits neatly into a washing-up bowl when ‘limp’. Of course, if you have a dishwasher or ‘staff’, then you’ll have absolutely no idea what a washing-up bowl looks like.
The box contains 2 tap adapters (3/4 inch & a 1/2 inch) & 2 spare washers…and the hose!

 

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What it doesn’t contain is a Hose Nozzle.
The instructions inside ‘highly recommend’ that you use attachments specifically designed for the Mega Hose, so I don’t know why their Nozzle doesn’t come as standard in the box. I have 3 nozzles from other hoses I possess (am I a hose-a-holic?) and the only nozzle that fits perfectly came from my deceased exploding hose. The other 2 (from a well-known hose retailer) didn’t not fit securely & leaked dreadfully.

Here’s me (I wish!) watering the garden.
Using an innovative expanding inner core and a super-durable outer flexible skin, the Mega Hose will start small but apparently grow to over 3x its length when you turn on the water and when you turn the water off & it should shrink back to its original size.
Now I measured mine in it’s shrunken state & it was 13m long. With the water on full blast it reached 22.5m (an extra 9.5m) but definitely not 3x it’s original length as claimed on the box. Maybe just sticking to detailing the length it reaches would have been a better claim on the packaging? At 13m long in its shrivelled state, one still has to retrieve it from around the garden as one doesn’t have a butler.
I also collect it up in a way that the water drains from both ends & then if it’s got a bit wet or grubby, I hang it on the end of the washing-line for a while to dry before stashing it away in its washing-up bowl.

The Mega Hose isn’t heavy, doesn’t get tangled or kink.
It claims to slide around trees and other obstacles but I still find myself occasionally having to give it a tug around some pots & benches and did manage to knock a pot over as the hose went under rather than around the pot as I pulled. Maybe it’s because our garden is part slate & grassed areas instead of shiny tiles or smooth decking sections (hmmmm….I don’t know).

So in summary what do I think?

Well it’s been used lots and it hasn't burst!

I like that despite it’s vast length, it does move around the garden fairly smoothly (needing only the occasional tug), there’s no ‘whipping’ at the hose to follow you, it does go where I go. Rigid hosepipes on reels sometimes want to loop or curl upwards (you know what I mean). The Mega Hose remains on the ground.

If you have a traditional hose, where you wind it back in on a wheel afterwards, that’s been dragged around the garden whilst watering & gotten a bit grubby, then it’s fairly easy to wind it in without touching it. The Mega Hose still needs collecting up by hand & can get quite grubby.

However, if you don’t have the winding mechanism for reeling in your traditional hose and have to collect it up, then the Mega Hose is far easier to gather, it’s incredibly lightweight, easier to store & takes up much less space.

The only real disappointment was the lack of nozzle. On the JML website, prices for the Mega Hose range from £19.99 for the 7.5m to £64.99 for the 30m length.
Whatever price you pay I think that the recommended hose nozzle should come included as standard. I’d have been pretty miffed if I’d returned home and none of my 3 nozzles had fitted & I’d had to go back out & pay an additional £9.99 for a separate nozzle.

Available from JML Direct, Asda, Homebase and Dunelm Mill.

I hope you found my review helpful.

PS. Mr TG said that he’s more than willing to test, review (and keep) any new cars about to hit the high street, preferably a Lexus or a posh Volvo Laughing out loud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Quick Posy

 

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‘Ere’s a quick posy.

Ingredients

Several Rudbeckia stems
A stem (or two) of Eryngium
Water
Vase

Put water & flowers in vase…job done!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Duped

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I fear I may have been duped by Mr TG.
Following the renovation of the front garden & construction of a new driveway earlier in the year, the wheelbarrow that had been used to shift soil, rubble & gravel, had stood smack bang in the middle of the back garden waiting to be lifted over the obstacle course that is the side alley, back to its place of rest.

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‘I know…..’ said Mr TG, during what I thought was a moment of madness…’Let’s turn the wheelbarrow into an alpine bed’.
Thinking the sun had gone to his head & realising that this would mean visits to a variety of gardening establishments to acquire plant gorgeousness, I questioned his sanity (briefly, less than a nano-second) and agreed that this was the best idea EVER!!

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Aethionema ‘Warley Rose’

So out came the boys toys, holes were drilled in the base of said barrow and a 50/50 mixture of compost & left-over gravel added.

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Rhodohypoxis Milloides Claret

It was down to me to ‘traipse labouriously’ (Not!) from garden centre to garden centre seeking the ultimate in floral fantabulousness.

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Sisyrinchium ‘Rocky Point’

It’s not easy being me you know.
Vacuuming, dusting & ironing all had to go on hold whilst I endured my painstaking search.
(Are you feeling my pain?)

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Phlox Subulata Fort Hill

This is unbelievably dainty and screamed (in a lady-like-manner of course) ‘BUY ME!!!!!!!!!’

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Anthemis White Carpet

Lots of plants scream at me when I go shopping.
Does this happen to you?

 

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Sedum ‘Rubens Lizard’

Thankfully for Mr TG’s gas-guzzling car, I already had some home-grown beauties to add to the display.

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Poached Egg Plant

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Sedum ‘Reflexum’ of some kind.

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Bought this Trifolium ‘Purpurascens’ earlier in the year and it looks much better here in the wheelbarrow.

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So…there’s me….marvelling at the genius that is Mr TG.
Bowing before him, fuelling his ego with praise at such a wonderful idea.
His head so large, he can barely get through the back door.

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Then it hit me, like a wheelbarrow across the back of the head!
No wheelbarrow….no more major changes of the Tidy Garden, no more make overs.

So if you’re a wheelbarrow manufacturer who desperately needs a product reviewed then I’m your man woman.
Preferably a pink or purple one….revenge is sweet…..Mwhahaha…..

Friday, 15 August 2014

Just a Quickie…

 

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A quickie from me today.

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A recent posy of cut flowers from the Tidy Garden that included Hydrangea…

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Antirrhinum…

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…Cosmos and…

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a splash of orange from Calendula & Geums.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Jeyes – Job Done!

 

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Warning!
This post aint pretty.

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Oh the shame!
The humiliation!
The so called ‘Tidy Garden’ path has algae.


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How did this happen?
I’ve let things slip.

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Fear not my pretties.
Help was at hand.

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I used Jeyes Patio Power (a 2ltr container covers 99 m2 ). This one needs diluting and is safe to use in a pressure washer if you wish. Great to use on all your outdoor hard surfaces like patios, decking, paths & driveways.

 

But you can get ready mixed versions (a trial version of 500ml covers 3.8m2)

Anyway, I diluted 10 parts water to 1 part Jeyes in an old watering can, doused the pathways & left them to dry.

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Before                                         After

Et Voila!
Oh the effort….Not!
Zilch scrubbing or brushing required.
Simply pour, sit back with a tequila sunrise in one hand & a Nobbly Bobbly (other ice lollies are available) in the other and relax (wash your hands first!)

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                  Before                                          After

Jeyes Fluid Outdoor Cleaner 300ml

Of course there’s the ol’ faithful, Jeyes Fluid in a tin version too.

Great for a multitude of outdoor cleaning & disinfecting tasks, from cleaning floors, to kennels, bins, and greenhouses to refreshing waterbutts.

Did someone mention ‘greenhouses’?
Gotta dash…….

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