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

Saturday, 12 April 2014

OhhhhhhhhRiculas….How I Lurv Thee



Some episodes of Gardener’s World leave me drooling more than others…


and yesterday’s left my bib simply dripping.


Twas a feature on Auriculas …. sigh.


Some of these Auriculas are flowering in the Tidy Garden as I scribe, others are archive images from previous years ‘flowerings’. I shall look out for these over the coming weeks.


I have no idea what varieties I have as they came in a magazine offer many years ago, but I LOVE them.

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Along with Heucheras and Calendulas, these are my fav’ plants EVER (said in a trendy teenage tone).


I don’t have a theatre in which to display them (on Mr TG’s to-do list), mine are either in the flower beds, in pots with other plants or in hanging baskets…..yes…I know….random.


They’ve been in these baskets for years, I’ve changed the soil a few times just to re-bury the stems & they’ve been fabulously happy & content.


They’ve taken a battering over the years too, plenty of wind, more than their fair share of rain & heaps of snow but they’ve always bounced back.


That said, I think I’ll split them again & pot some up in posh terracotta pots & shimmy Mr TG along with that theatre.


I’m trying to grow some from seed at the mo’ (from T&M)….progress is slow (yawn) but we gardeners are a patient lot.


If anyone is able to shed some light on the names of any of these varieties I’d be humongously grateful…..Thank you!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Black Tomato–Indigo Rose


I’m trialling this Black tomato ‘Indigo Rose’ from Suttons.
I confess that I’m struggling to get my head around a black tomato.
I don’t know why, I guess our brains are programmed to recognise & accept images & anything other than the norm’ throws up doubt, concerns, worries. It looks like the plum that I have each morning for breakfast.

Grafted Tomato Plants - The Black Tomato Indigo Rose

That said, the more I look at the image above, the more excited I am at tasting the fruits.

‘Plants are naturally cross-bred from native tomatoes found in the Galapagos & Peru & come grafted onto vigorous rootstock to give strong plants & high yield.
They’re naturally resistant to early blight and have high levels of lycopene and anthocyanins found in so-called ‘super foods’.’


Apparently it’s remarkably easy to grow in a greenhouse or in a sunny spot outside and where leaves shade the fruit, the skin will ripen to a deep rose, where the fruits are in full sun, the skin will turn its unique indigo black colour. 

Grafted Tomato Plants - The Black Tomato Indigo Rose

I shall eventually grow mine outside, rather than in the greenhouse.
I shall keep you posted on my 3 plantlets as they develop.

You can get Indigo Rose tomatoes here at Suttons.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bizarre Cowslips


Last night whilst luxuriating in my muddy / gravelly bath, perusing the April edition of Gardener’s World, I came upon a letter from a reader asking for a plant to be identified as possibly Red Cowslips.
Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather, wrapped me up in a fish paste sandwich & called me Norman!
The Tidy Garden ‘Apple tree bed’ this year is riddled with the same plants. Only the other day Mr TG & I were scratching our heads (Mr TG scratched his more gently than mine for fear of rubbing away the few remaining hairs he owns) wondering where on earth they had come from. Each spring this bed is carpeted in traditional yellow cowslips & gold-laced primulas, last year I did split the cowslips up & replanted the babies and this is the result.


They’re everywhere I tells yer!
Ignore the Poly’ in the bottom left corner, that’s only just gone in…but you can see the reddy / orange glow top left & right.

Whatever they are, they’re gorgeous.


If all that wasn’t bizarre enough, then here are the results of some cowslip seeds that I sowed 2 years ago (ignore that 2007 label, that’s the year the horse chestnut tree in this pot was planted by my son). Yes, there’s 2 teeny cowslips but also these not so ‘cowslip-looking’ …. er…cowslips.

I collected the seeds from the plants in the shady side of the garden, sprinkled them in a trough & just left them to see what would happen. Earlier this year I potted up the tiny plantlets & this was the result.

On the assumption that these are also new plants, I shall name these ‘Not-So-Cowslipicus-Looking Janeicus Whocaresicus’ and would ask you politely to form an orderly queue whilst placing your orders. Thank you.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

End of Month Review

Well March has been n’ gawn and here we are ploughing into April.
So much has been going on, several ‘essential’ purchases made (ahem!), loads of seedlings potted up, plants for sale prepared, spring lawn maintenance, pruning here n’ there … oh and several hours per day looking after the gorgeous gardens of my fabulous clie
I’m snowed under (metaphorically speaking) at the mo’ so I’m just going to quickly post a few images from last weekend, as March faded away2014-03-30 17 23 18
Mr TG is a stickler for cleanliness, mopping Saharan sand off the greenhouse roof with my not-so-bestest-anymore kitchen floor mop.
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Random purchase of Trifolium ‘Purpurascens’ (Purple Four-Leaved Clover to you n’ me)…
2 Clematis’ ‘Star of India’ & ‘Royal Velours’ bought for the front garden, which I will post about soon.
Stunning selection of Violas purchased for a client.
The Tidy Garden…
…and greenhouse, bursting at the seams.
Short n’ sweet this time.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Chelsea Green


Every 100 years of so, we get a new freezer.
Our last one, complete with its own polar ice cap and inability to defrost itself, was positively antique and ready for the white freezer heaven in the sky, or the rag n’ bone man, who ever arrived first.

Among the frozen chops, chips & chuntney (I made that last bit up) was this.

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Yes…it’s grass…but not any ol’ grass I’ll have you know.
This is prize lawn from the hallowed turf of Chelsea Football Club slowly defrosting after 8 1/2 years in my freezer.

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For Mr TG’s 40th birthday I arranged a selection of Chelsea FC-related gifts, that ranged from a personal letter from The Special One, a signed photo, to a tour of the stadium.
While listening to the ramblings of our tour guide, the groundsmen were finishing off their pitch manicure. As one of the groundsmen parked his mower, everyone in our group (not me…I’m a lady) jumped the barriers to grab fistfuls of the freshly cut lawn. I elegantly stayed put, frantically, scrambling through our ‘day out’ rucksack looking for something to carry home Mr TG’s treasure.

This weekend, the fully defrosted Chelsea FC lawn cuttings will be ceremoniously scattered around the Tidy Garden.
Trust me…it absolutely stinks like rotten feet.
It’s NOT going in the new freezer!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Cut Flower Bed


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One of my clients has 2 large, unused, raised beds.
This year I’m going to create one based around the Square Foot (ish) veg patch theme with 2 corner wigwams for runner beans.

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The other, fingers crossed, is going to be a cut flower bed made up of a selection of plants & seeds which will be sown in April. Again there will be 2 wigwams for sweet-pea

I’ve spent hours trawling the internet researching my idea & stumbled upon Higgledy Garden owned by a rather jolly chap, Benjamin Ranyard. This is what he said to lure in in…

“I grow traditional annual flowers in a Cornish paddock. They are grown without the use of any chemicals and are available to buy online and from a select few Cornish shops.
I pride myself in providing the good people of the United Kingdom a quality alternative to the mono culture rubbish flown in from overseas. All of my flowers are grown from the best seed stock available to man and produce outstandingly beautiful plants.”

With all that in mind I purchased his ‘Seeds to sow in Autumn’ collection which can also be sown in the spring.

Ammi Majus

Calendula ‘Indian Prince’

Cornflower ‘Blue Ball’



Gypsophila ‘Covent Garden’

Godetia ‘Crown Mix’

Nigella ‘Persian Jewels’

Larkspur ‘Giant Imperials’

Candytuft ‘Crown’

Eschscholzia. Californian Poppy. ‘Orange King’

Scabiosa ‘Crown’

So, the beds have been prepared, topped up with fresh compost in both & and well rotted manure in the flower bed.

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Do check out Higgledy Gardens and watch this space for updates throughout the year.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Weird But Wonderful

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Last month I wrote about the lilac tree (Madame Lemoine) and the branches that I’d had to cut off in December of last year prior to the arrival of the greenhouse. I’d chucked them on the log pile and thought that was it.
However, in February I noticed green leaf buds forming. The stems weren’t in the soil, they were still on the top of the pile, they’d just been lying there taking everything our weird British winter had thrown at them. So I rescued them, cut the stems into 12” lengths & poked them in 2 pots & put them in the greenhouse.
1 month on and what I thought were leaf buds have now swollen to reveal flower buds. I’ve tipped the plants out to see if there are roots but nothing…nadda…nowt.
I’ve googled to see if anyone else has had similar experiences but I can’t find anything. Somebody mentioned that roots can take a long time to form but I would have expected roots before flower buds.
I’ve been misting them once a day to help with their moisture intake but I wish I knew their fate. Is this all too good to be true?
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Meanwhile my pelargonium cuttings from last year have been blooming away and they’re now providing further cuttings to grow on. I snipped off the flowers & put them in a vase expecting them to wilt within the hour.
This photo was taken last week.
The pelargoniums had already been in the vase a few days before the Rip Van Winkle’s were added.  The daffs’ only lasted about 3 days but the pelargoniums are still going.
Just over a week has passed and the remaining buds have opened.
Pelargoniums as cut flowers?Weird…but yes.
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