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


Tuesday, 17 February 2015




This time last year the ol’ jardin was awash with daffs, snowdrops, hyacinths, wind anemones, primulas & emerging tulip buds.

This year we have 2, I repeat 2 (makes it sound like I have more) aconite flowers.
That’s it!!
It’s all a bit weird in the garden, nothing has really died back. I have penstemon in bud, perennials as lush & as green as they were in their prime last year.
But where the bulbs have gone, who knows?


There…. I’ve repeated the same photo to make myself feel happier…sniff!
How are your spring blooms coming along?

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Winter Salad Bar

Flamin’ Heck!
It’s ffffffreeeeeeezing out.
Flurries of snow & icy winds are keeping me firmly attached to a steaming hot radiator….Brrrrr.


Your garden may also still be hibernation mode but here’s something you can do while waiting for the kettle to boil for your next streaming hot cuppa… grow an indoor salad bar.

There are lots of salad leaves that can be grown all-year-round.

You will need:
Any shallow container to grow them in
Seeds (see the ones I used below)

I’m growing mine in the greenhouse (unheated), but you could grow them in a shed by the window, a cold frame, plastic mini-greenhouse, conservatory or indoors on a windowsill.
Trust me, they don’t need heat….our greenhouse is freezing but they’re thriving in there.

PicMonkey Collage

A – Thompson & Morgan (T&M) Salad Leaves ‘Bright & Spicy’
(inc. Pak Choi, Greek Cress, Mizuna)

B – T&M Lettuce ‘Leaves Mixed)
(inc. Lollo Rossa, Crisp Mint, Little Gem)

C – T&M Salad Leaves ‘Nice n’ Spicy Mixed’
(inc. Mibuna, Rocket, Mustard, Mizuna)

D – Suttons Microgreens – Sprouting Broccoli Greens


It really is simple (get the kids involved)…
Add soil to container… honestly any container will do, why not recycle the plastic punnets that supermarket fruit comes in?
Sprinkle the seeds, lightly cover with more soil, gently water & leave them to sprout.
When they’re about 3-4 inches or so they’ll be ready to eat as baby leaves, trust me delicious in a sandwich or as a side-salad.


I use them as “cut n’ come again” crops.
Don’t pull them up, just cut off what you need leaving an inch or 2 & then some will re-sprout. Just repeat sowings as & when your supply runs low. I’ve sown 4 different pots & that 1 sowing has kept us going over winter & remember these salad leaves can be grown all year.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Sassy Streptocarpus



S.’Celebration (left) & S. ‘Kate’ (right)

Last summer I was introduced to the Streptocarpus…actually 4 Streptocarpus. (I also had S. ‘Falling Stars’ & S. ‘Hope’)
They are described as …’popular, relatively inexpensive, moderately easy-to-grow houseplants’… by the RHS, so who was I to doubt them?
A client & I decided to buy different types & have a go at different methods of propagation as well as test how easy they were to keep.
I went for the leaf cuttings method (Method 2 on the link above) & my client (who we will call Elizabeth for the purpose of this exercise…and the fact that that’s her real name, tried the ‘whole leaf’ method, Method 2 on the link).


Here’s how I did it…
Step 1. Get a plant (round my way small plants are about £5 & £9 for a large one)
Step 2. Cut off a decent, healthy looking leaf or 2 (or 3 but don’t get too carried away)
Step 3. Cut leaf in inch long portions
4. Insert leaf, using a spoon to create a leaf-shaped hole, into the soil, I used houseplant soil & Perlite (50/50 mix).

July 1

Step 4 (additional info). For goodness sake, plant the leaf up the right way, the bottom goes in the soil.

July 2

Step 5. Spritz or gently water, cover & leave somewhere bright but not in direct sunlight. (Mine just sat in the greenhouse all summer, but you don’t need a greenhouse…I’m just banned from window sill progation Smile)

Jan (3)


Now…based on the fact that the ‘doom monster’ at my local garden centre said our success rate would be 50 / 50, I took LOTS of cuttings.
Elizabeth took 2 whole leaf cuttings.

Oct 3

When I said LOTS, I mean about 8 of each variety, this was in July / Aug of last year. Since then, despite my attention to feeding / watering / light conditions & bedtime story telling, 1 of my original parent plants died…sniff!

Jan (2)

Cease your sobbing….


… fast forward to October et voila!
Baby Streptos everywhere.
Step 6. Pot up your babies in to individual small pots, I used a spoon to carefully remove each original leaflet with its baby attachments.

Jan (1)

Here we are today, they are now sitting in the cold conservatory so I can keep my eye on them.
EVERY leaf, not 50% as the Garden Centre Gloom Ogre predicted, rooted.
Alas Elizabeth’s whole leaves just wilted & died and so did the parent plant. Although this method was supposed to be quicker, it would have only produced 1 plant per leaf, whereas the slicing method produced 3-4 plants per leaf.

Dec 1

So the challenge ahead is to keep my offspring alive & to get them to flower. The challenge after that will be finding homes for them.
Not sure where we went wrong with the parent plants that we lost. All symptoms point to over watering, so we’ll keep an eye on that going forward.
I’d definitely recommend giving this a go, propagating is HUGELY rewarding & dead easy & the flowers are quite beautiful.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Friday, 19 December 2014

Merry Christmas & Thank You!


A (169)

Another gardening year has drawn to a close, time to put the wellies, fork & trowel away & time to dust off the baubles & festive wreath.

Time also to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has been involved with Tidy Gardens this year, clients (old & new), my wonderful husband & fabulous offspring.

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year

See you next year.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

More Carnivorous Beauties

PicMonkey Collage


Let me introduce you to the latest additions to our greenhouse carnivorous collection.
Regular stalkers may recall my
earlier post when ol’ Monty featured some on GW and got me hooked!
This is a Nepenthes, just a baby at the moment, but already it’s developing some handsome critter-luring pitchers at the end of each leaf


It entices its prey in with its nectar odour and, unable to hold onto the interior walls of the pitcher, the bug falls into the pool of water at the bottom, its wriggling sets off the plants digestive acid release and…well…that’s it…..


Trumpet Pitcher

This is my original that I’ve now split it in 2.

PicMonkey Collage

Same grisly ending as before, farewell evil bluebottle fly…..

PicMonkey Collage

Venus Fly Trap

I’ve always wanted one of these but the poor things are normally on their last legs in the garden centres where they’ve been poked & prodded day in & day out with no sign of a real meal.


There was a fresh batch in the day I finally bought one.
No artificial poking from me…just a regular supply of unwanted greenhouse visitors to stop its plant-like tummy from rumbling.


A fresh lot of plantlets from my original sticky Sundew and they’re so quick to flower.


Such a dainty flower for such a murderous plant.

PicMonkey Collage

Parrot Pitcher

Now this one’s rather bizarre.


It’s like a mass of laid-back snakes heads.


You might just be able to see the small hole where the leaf furls upwards. Apparently it’s normally found in flood prone areas in the hope of a passing fish or tadpole deciding to investigate the hole a tad closer.


Fascinating aren’t they?

Monday, 24 November 2014


Baby, It’s cold outside.

PicMonkey Collage

As if there was any doubt…


…. the greenhouse IS a thing of beauty.


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Still Bloomin’….

PicMonkey Collage

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!)


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


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


The garden is ready for winter…


… & so am I.


Friday, 31 October 2014

End-of-Season Temptresses

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.


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


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

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Greenhouse Update



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.


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.


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).


‘She’ is a thing of beauty…sigh….

Monday, 20 October 2014

Mega-Gorgeousness Alert



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…


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




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


Enjoy & Happy Planting!!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Harvest Time


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.


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.


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’.


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.


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


Happy Harvesting! 




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