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, then please get in touch.
Tel: 07963 291504


I am now fully booked for 2017.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Good Soil, Manure, Compost & Nourishment For Your Garden - Book Review


Ah...the sweet smell of cut grass... the waft of recently scattered manure...these are my kinda perfumes... you can keep your Chanel No5 and J'Adore by Dior, it's the natural scents from the garden that float my boat.
So let me introduce you to a brilliant book - 'Good Soil, Manure, Compost and Nourishment For Your Garden' by Tina RĂ¥man, who is described as a 'passionate amateur gardener with both feet on the ground; one foot in the flowerbed and the other in the dung heap'.
 It's all about nourishing your garden, helping your plants to reach their full potential and, most importantly, simplifying the process of getting the right fertiliser for your garden.
The book is divided into 7, easy-to-read, manageable sections...


Section 1, Biology, is about the natural processes that affect the health and life of our plants and covers the basics on plant survival, water, oxygen, nutrients, sunlight.


Section 2, Soil, talks about soil types, how to improve what you have, beneficial garden critters and composting.


 Section 3 is about the Chemistry. Now don't panic...it's not all nerdy and deep. It's fascinating stuff... straight forward explanations of what you need to get healthy roots, leaves, beautiful flowers and a bounty of tasty fruit n' veg. What to do, when to do it and why. It's all about understanding those ingredients on your plant food packages. Think of it as healthy food shopping for your garden.


Section 4, Philosophy, looks at the history of fertilising the land, natural and synthetic fertilisers, processed and organic and the impact on us and our planet. 


Section 5, Nourishment, gets down to the nitty gritty of food. From the poo n' pee from our furry n' feathered friends, nutrients from the ocean like seaweed and algae, green energy from grass cuttings and weeds through to using our own 'liquid gold'  in the plant feeding process.


Section 6, Methods, looks at the 'whens' & 'hows'. When and how to fertilise your plants, the art of watering and, dear to my ol' heart, growing in a greenhouse. 


The final section is all about the plants and what they need. It's broken down into lawns, trees & shrubs, bulbs, annuals, perennials, vegetable etc, etc .... this is an invaluable resource section and puts into practise everything that the author has taught us.


I'll be honest, when I first picked up this book and flicked through, I thought it was going to be heavy reading...it's a big, thick, heavy ol' hardback book and 255 pages long. But its' not heavy reading at all. It's a 'dip in and out' kinda book, light-heartedly and simply written. It's not at all geeky & 'scientificiky'. It says it how it is, but it's also an eye-opener into what we eat, what goes on what we eat, how animals are fed and the impact we make by our choices.

'Good Soil' has been a gardening best seller in Sweden, Norway and Germany and some of the 'guest contributions' within the book talk about areas and gardens in Sweden that you may not be familiar with but it's how they work with nature and the land that will be something we can all relate to.


It is beautifully illustrated with both colour and black & white images, paper quality (I'm a bit geeky about paper quality) is good... it has a thick yet smooth, earthy feel to it, almost as if it's been left in the greenhouse or potting shed for a while...(told yer, I was a bit weird when it comes to paper...lol).

If you're interested in nature, giving your lawn, plants, fruits and veg the best possible environment in which to grow and thrive then this book is an excellent read.
  
'Manure might be dirty, disgusting and smelly,  but it's the topic of the most exciting gardening book of the year'. 
Highly recommended.

Published by Frances Lincoln



Monday, 20 March 2017

International Day of Happiness



It may be a cold, wet n' windy Monday, but it's also International Day of Happiness... so this is for you.
Enjoy!!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Wisteria Seed Pods


Just a quickie today.
Found these fuzzy Wisteria seed pods... begging to be propagated.
Who was I to refuse?


A bit of 'Googling' and the recommendation was to soak first in water before popping them in pots of compost....tick✔
Now we wait and watch ☺
#sooooooexciting

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Plant Action in the Tidy Garden

 Hellebore - Double Ellen Purple

Pleased to say that we finally have some floral action in the Tidy Garden.
It's been a very slow start compared to previous years but it's all going on now.

Hellebore - Double Ellen Pink


Hellebore - Double Ellen White





The potted, single Auriculas (all 160 of them) have lost their ugly duckling autumn / winter shabbyness. The leaves are plumping & greening up just nicely and we have....


....our first beautiful swan. 
I'm hoping that everyone of these will flower this year. I'm also hoping that my hanging basket trial (see post here) will work. I have 2 regular hanging baskets that bloom their heads off each year ... (photo from last year) ...


...but these other baskets feature plants hanging out of the sides (hope that makes sense).... anyway...watch this space.

Drumstick Primula

I started off a batch of these from teeny, tiny seeds a few years back. They were supposed to be mixed colours, pinks, mauves, white ... hmm ..... clearly a duff batch as ALL of mine were mauve and a few were cowslips!!
Oh well.....still lovely.


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Review - The Gardener's Companion to Medicinal Plants


Subjects like this fascinate me...working with nature to find cures and remedies.
The Gardener's Companion to Medicinal Plants - An A - Z of Healing Plants and Home Remedies, is a beautifully illustrated book giving an overview of plants used in traditional medicine.


The book has been written by Jason Irving, who is a writer, forager and qualified herbalist, Dr Melanie-Jayne Howes, a registered pharmacist and Chartered Chemist and Professor Monique S.J.Simmonds who is the Deputy Director of Science at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
Apparently of the 300,000 to 400,000 species of plants worldwide, 35,500 have a medicinal use. Cramming that many in such a book would be impossible (I'm not sure my bookshelf would be strong enough to hold what would need to be an enormous volume) so this book concentrates on 277 plants that have a history of medicinal uses in a wide range of medical conditions.


For each plant there is the Latin and more common name, an illustration and a short description. There's also information on which parts of the plant are used for medicinal purposes and new research that is being looked in to.
Like I said...fascinating stuff.


What I love about this book are the recipes, 24 in all, that need basic cooking skills to make teas, tinctures, oils and creams. Yes I know you need the plants too but I'm sure you'll soon realise you have 1, if not more of these plants in your garden, for example there is a recipe to make a Lavender Eye Pillow....who doesn't have a lavender in their garden or know someone else who does?
The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow in words and picture form.
The image above shows how to make Chickweed Cream, used to soothe inflamed, itchy skin.


Now call me weird...but in order for me to buy a book I have to like the feel of it first, quality of the paper...stroke-a-bility if you will. The subject matter, content, layout and style follow...illustrations are an added bonus.
This book has all of those in abundance.
It's a beautifully textured hardback, that has an 'oldness' about it, like it belonged to a elderly, wise and much loved gardener.
The illustrations are lifelike & detailed and the writing clear, engaging and enlightening.


As an alternative gift idea for a plant enthusiast, this would make a great present. It's one of those 'dip into' books, that you'll go back to, time and time again. 
What will be even more interesting is seeing the potential in some, if not all of these plants, coming to fruition.

The Gardener's Companion to Medicinal Plants is published by Frances Lincoln and is priced at £14.99.

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