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, 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.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Introducing Apple Paradis 'Elegance' from Lubera (Guest Post)

Apple 'Elegance

'A new autumn apple has become the belle of the debutante apple ball. Elegance is wowing her public with her excellent texture and good storability.  

Beautifully formed and scab-resistant, this variety is part of the Paradis Apple  range. This new addition to the school of apple heaven is simply a model pupil because she is disease resistant and beautifully coloured with a tall habit.  The flavour is tangy and juicy when picked off the tree, and yet very durable. An autumn apple, which is simultaneously also a winter apple!

Form /Appearance: Medium to large, tall built, streaky coloured; extensively blurred red colour when harvested late; very beautiful apple, just like a two-coloured apple should be!
Texture / Firmness: Very firm, a modern texture that macerates immediately and must not be chewed laboriously.
Flavour: Sweet refreshing, fully aromatic, with a hint of cinnamon; reliable and very good every year, even when the yields are very high
Harvest /Maturity / Storage: The harvest takes place in one or two passages in mid to late September; the apple can be enjoyed directly off the tree in its full quality – like an autumn variety but it can still be stored easily, very long, until spring.  In addition to the sour 'Paradis 'New Year', this is the best apple in our range for storing.'

For more details click here.

Guest Post written by Francijn Suermondt for Lubera

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Cabbages n' Kale Update

Back in early October last year I wrote about growing cabbages, to be eaten as spring greens, in the greenhouse....click here.
They were a 'Spring Duchy' variety that could be eaten early as a spring greens or left to develop into hearty cabbages. I put 3 pluglets into each of these planters and popped them in the greenhouse once the colder weather arrived. I have a client who is doing the same experiment with me and while her cabbages romped away in her greenhouse, mine didn't really do much so I decided to pop them into one of the raised veg beds (as it was such a mild winter) to see if they'd perform better, which they have...phew! 

Darned pigeons have spotted them so I have installed fencing, a moat, armed guards and a rottweiler to keep 'em off!

As well as cabbages, I've also been having a go with Kale. The image above was also taken back in October of last year when I planted up a starter pack consisting of Curly Kale 'Midnight Sun', Black Kale, Curly Kale 'Emerald Ice' & Curly Kale 'Redbor'.

Here they are now...they're not huge but boy do they taste good!!!

Nothing beats growing it yourself!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Heavenly Hellebores

Finally, after 2 years of nurturing, my wee collection (Ahem!) of hellebore babies are all grow'd up and ready for their new homes.
They're  mainly Double  Ellen's....enjoy!

Definitely worth the wait.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Gardening Availability Update 2016

Just a quick update on my gardening availability in 2016.
I am desperately trying to find a way to 'squeeeeeeeze' in some new clients for the coming year and will post above if a slot becomes free. 

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