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, 15 November 2014

Still Bloomin’….

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Christmas is coming. Woop! Woop!
Less than 40 days to go….repeat Woops!
Indoors, Christmas prezzies are wrapped, cards made, written & enveloped (I know…organised sad!)

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Outdoors, the Tidy Garden is still squeezing out a few final blooms.

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Some plants, like this penstemon, have decided to save their best until last.

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The garden is ready for winter…

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… & so am I.

 

Friday, 31 October 2014

End-of-Season Temptresses


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Helenium Mardi Gras

Whilst hunting for grass seed for a client, these 2 beauties ‘fell’ into my shopping basket.
The fact that they were an end-of-season BOGOF offer is irrelevant and quite how, at 3ft tall’, I didn’t notice their presence in my basket until I was through the checkout is still a mystery.

 
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Thankfully they sit nicely in a gap that had ‘appeared’ in the Tidy Garden…Phew!
What a stroke of luck!

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The other is Helenium Moerheim Beauty with its rich, rusty tones.
Thank goodness these 2 look great together.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Greenhouse Update

 

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The ol’ greenhouse is almost a year old.
It’s the best thing I’ve ever bought & I still get an enormous buzz every time I slide its squeaky door open & enter the warm micro-climate.
If I’ve tweaked its layout once, then I’ve tweaked it a thousand times and each time I wonder why I didn’t think of that layout before.
I won’t say I’ve got it 100% right now, as that would be dull…change is good.

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Lessons are being learnt all the time.
Firstly I grew too much, not just in volume but in variety.
The garden became a nursery of pots EVERYWHERE!!
Seeds here, seedlings there, cuttings over yonder (you get the idea)
I overdid it, got myself in a bit of a tizz & for a nano-second wondered what the heck I was doing & trying to achieve.

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But you live n’ learn, pour a few glasses of the ol’ vino, get someone to give you a slap with a damp kipper (in this case Mr TG) and then take stock…. or in this case sell it off / give it away.
So here we are today, final revamp for this year completed.
The staging to the left now has a raised shelf (bricks & spare planks of wood) to hold my display of pelargoniums. Bowls lie in wait for sowing winter salad leaves.
Shelving to the right currently holds my streptocarpus cuttings (that’s another story) & a selection of experimental seeds from around the world (again, another story).
The end of the greenhouse holds my expanding display of carnivorous plants (yet another story to follow).

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‘She’ is a thing of beauty…sigh….

Monday, 20 October 2014

Mega-Gorgeousness Alert

 

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

This is the flower of the tigridia pavonia (Tiger flower).
Available in an array of lush, bright colours, the tiger flower (a member of the iris family)starts its life off as a small spring-planted bulb that bursts into life late summer. The flower heads are huge, this one was about 4-5” across. The flowers only last a day but, just like a daylily, you get several buds at the end of each stem so a succession of uber-fabness.

These have been grown in a clients garden in pots, they’re quite tender so the bulbs will be lifted once the leaves have yellowed & stored somewhere snug during the coldwinter months.

I personally will be buying lorry-loads of these for the Tidy Garden next year as they’re stunning.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Special Offers

 

It would be wrong of me not to share these offers that I’ve found with you. They’re via Gardener’s World mag’, so you may have already seen them…but…just in case…

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50 Mixed Wallflowers, just pay the postage of £5.95. Enter the code GX14OCT at the checkout.
Here’s the link….

http://www.woolmans.com/Home_3/GX14OCT/Wallflower_Mixed_50.html?whence=

 

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200 bulbs (50 of each), again just pay the postage of £5.65.
Mine have arrived already…. Eeek!
Here’s the link…

http://www.simplyseedsandplants.co.uk/ssgww2?ClearPv=1&utm_source=BulbsOctober&utm_medium=online&utm_campaign=Bulbs_October_SimplySeeds_200bulbs_October_2014

Enjoy & Happy Planting!!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Harvest Time

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Harvest time in the Tidy Garden.
This is our second year using the Square Foot Gardening method & a selection of pots to grow our veg but I confess that I haven’t tended the patch as diligently as I would have liked….something that I will correct next year.

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Let’s quickly skip by the sweetcorn… the heat, humidity & stillness of summer went to my head & I forgot to give Mother Nature a hand by tapping the tassels. Result was poor quality, 2 inch long short cobs.

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Regular stalkers may recall the black tomato ‘Indigo Rose’ that the good folk at Suttons asked me to trial back in April.
They 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’.

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According to Suttons they ’should take about 93 days from planting for the fruit to be fully ripe. They start out green before sunlight turns them black. At this stage they will be as hard as bullets. As they ripen the fruits will soften and start turning red, from the bottom up. At this stage they are ready for picking however the longer you leave them then the sweeter they will taste. When they are fully ripe the skin beneath the calyx will be red but they can certainly be eaten before this final stage’.

black tom

Well here we are 6 months on. Yes…there’s an amazingly high yield but I almost lost the will to live waiting for them to ripen.
These were all picked today, most still have green bottoms so will have to be ripened indoors.
As for the taste, sorry Suttons, they were quite bland.
So disappointing after all this time.

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Meanwhile, carrots, cucumbers , broad beans & strawberries have been a huge success…Yay!

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Happy Harvesting! 

 

 

 

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.

PicMonkey Collage

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…..

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