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


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. 

Friday, 18 December 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Is it me or has this year flown by?
As always I have a lot of people to thank, from my clients who have fed my gardening addiction, to my family who put up with my addiction.... Thank You!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Monday, 16 November 2015

It Must Be Love...

Residents of Blighty may recall a recent episode of Countryfile where Matt Baker ooohed n' arrrrrred over a delicious, sweet tasting Redlove apple.

Well... I decided that 2 rather ugly conifers could be scarificed for something a tad tastier (alas I'm not talking about Mr Baker) and my apple tree order was placed.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce the Redlove 'Odysso' from Lubera UK, as swooned over by the equally swoon-overable Matt Baker.
Regular Tidy Garden stalkers may recall my introduction to Lubera UK earlier this year (see link here).

(Images courtesy of Lubera)

Markus Kobelt, founder of Lubera in Switzerland, bred the Redlove 'Odysso' and if you get the chance to watch any of his videos, you will see he simply ooooozes passion for his work. I love the way he promotes his plants, all footage is in a 'home-video' style, sometimes windswept, which although I'm not sure is deliberate, I find honest, refreshing with no 'faff' nonsense.  Take a look here ... you'll see what I mean. 

Markus has one simple top tip with his apple tree...DO NOTHING!
If you prune them they will just grow more and more growth means less energy into producing apples. Horizontal growth is slower than upright so if you want to grow them in an espalier fashion, then go for it.
I plan to just let it grow and do the 'do nothing' option.

The Redlove 'Odysso' is perfect for the smaller garden & can also be grown in a pot.
It has the deepest pink blossom in April / May and the fruits ripen in late September & October. You can see the apples are red inside too. I have the tree labelled as '2yr old bush in a 10L pot'. It arrived perfectly packaged and is about 4.5ft tall.
I really encourage you to watch the video links to the Redlove 'Odysso' and you'll see why I love the Lubera range. 
Honest, simple gardening passion.

I'm delighted to say that Lubera have a special offer for Tidy Gardens by Jane readers.
Get 20% off your order by entering the code tgbj-X-15-11 at the checkout.
Offer ends on the 30th November 2015 and applies to all plants at Lubera.
Happy shopping!!

Friday, 13 November 2015

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