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


Friday, 22 May 2015

Auricula Frenzy

This is an Auricula loaded post.
If you’re not an Auricula-a-holic, you may wish to step outside.

I have no idea of the names of any of these are as they were all grown from a variety pack of plugs & seeds. Feel free to let me know if you recognise any of them.



Almost all of the Auriculas are grown in hanging baskets & remain in-situ all year round hanging in the apple tree and from brackets outside our back door.
Sometimes we get 2 or 3 flushes of flowers throughout the year.


PicMonkey Collage

This one is a bit special.
This year, one particular plant has been struck by the fascinating condition called ‘Fasciation’


’Flattened, elongated shoots and flower heads that look like many stems compressed together are called fasciation. This strange-looking problem may be ugly or attractive, but is always interesting’ (Source RHS)

The stem may have a flattened, runner-bean appearance but just LOOK at the amount of flowers on that one stem….INCREDIBLE!!

I’ve seen this before on a Delphinium & Cowslips but the following year the plants have returned in their normal state.


Right…you can come back indoors now.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Solar Lights – Product Review


Last week I received a set of Blossom solar-powered lights from Philips to trial & review. The timing couldn’t have been better as we’ve just started to sit in the conservatory in the evenings, now that it’s warmer, and the opportunity to see the garden in a different light (no pun intended) was an exciting prospect.


I’ll admit that when I was told a set of 2 lights were en-route, I thought this was going to be a hopeless trial. I wanted to see the garden in another light, how on earth were just 2 lights going to do that? When I saw that they retail at £109.99, I almost fainted!


The lights were easy to assemble. I didn’t really need the instructions to put the different parts together, it was all pretty self-explanatory. Most parts simply twisted together & I only needed a screwdriver to add the stakes. There is the option to screw the bases direct into hard surfaces (decking, patios, etc) or you can screw the bases onto the stakes to use in soil or the lawn.


The solar panel is quite large, (about 24cm x 24cm) and can be screwed to a wall or set at 3 different heights. You just choose how many rods to screw together to get the height to suit your requirements. I have used all 3 lengths as I’ve positioned it in a flower bed with tall perennials. There is an On/Off switch underneath the panel, so if you don’t want the lights coming on just press the switch to turn off.


Each light is joined to the solar panel with a wire 2.5m long, which means they can be positioned up to 5m apart. The LED lights are a flat-sphere-like shape, in a soft milky white colour on dark grey, strong metal posts. The stakes are strong & sturdy & long enough to securely sink them into the soil. The lights are about 87cm tall.


It’s mid-May & the lights are automatically turning on just after 9pm at the moment (with the light-level that it is here in Hertfordshire at this time of year). According to the box, with minimal light level charging I should get about 2hrs worth of light. With maximum sunny, solar charging, I should get a maximum or 6hrs of light.


Alas my photo above does absolutely no justice to these lights. There’s a street light on the other side of our fence that goes off just after midnight, so I had to stay awake to get this photo of the lights in action (I do these experiments so you don’t have to). Of course, taking night time photos is hopeless. In fact these lights are SO BRIGHT that the camera was struggling with the light they were emitting so ignore the photo above completely!!
I then got up at 3am (Yes! 3am!!! The lengths I go to in order to trial products!!) to see if they were still on and within 15mins they went off (6hrs of FULL light)


Trust me.
These lights far, far, far exceeded my expectations.
They are worth EVERY penny of that £109.99.
I can easily move these around the garden, they’re FREE to run & mains supply lights would have meant getting an electrician round (an additional cost) and to get the amount of light that these 2 give out, I think you’d need LOTS of regular solar lights.

100% recommendation.

Follow this link ‘Blossom Solar Lights’ for more details on this particular set of lights and for other available lights, both mains & solar from Philips, follow this link ‘Philips MyGarden Lighting

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Bits n’ Pieces


Apple Tree Bed

Nothing beats spring.

Apple Tree Bed

Not too hot….

Patio Bed

…not too cold.

Shady Bed

Everything is just right.

Old Wheelbarrow

Mr TG’s wheelbarrow bed is positively oooooozing with spring fabulousness.
This was such a great idea.

Front Garden

This sedum has been in our front garden for years. It’s always had green foliage & yellow flowers.


This year it’s changed colour, its fleshy leaves tinged with reds, pinks & greens.

End Bed (Formerly Dry Bed)

Remember this?
This was the bed at the end of the garden that last year I stripped to start again.

End Bed (Former Dry Bed)

Here it is today, in all its spring glory.

I wish it could be spring everyday.

Friday, 1 May 2015



With the imminent arrival of Royalty one would normally lay out the red carpet, don one’s twin-set n’ pearls and spend hours practising one’s curtsey.


On this occasion one was caught lacking said coloured carpet & such fancy clothing and greeted these royal guests in one’s slightly grubby work attire.
Allow me to introduce the ‘Little Black Prince’ blackberry and the ‘Little Red Princess’ raspberry both from Lubera.
Regular stalkers followers will recall my introduction to Lubera in a recent blog post here.


The Little Black Prince & Little Red Princess are the first 2 Lowberries® in Lubera’s Lowfruit® range.

PicMonkey Collage
(Image from Lubera)

They are thornless, autumn fruiting plants, bearing fruit on 1 year old stems and are perfect for small spaces, like balconies, patios or growing in pots as they only grow to about 1m tall.


The Tidy Garden flower beds are full to bursting (don’t tell Mr TG!!) so the fact that I could pop these in pots was perfect.  They arrived beautifully packaged, clearly labelled and in great condition. In fact I was so ashamed of the state of the pots that I put them in, that I spent a good half hour or so after this shot washing them down with an old back-scrubbing brush.
I even added a layer of pea shingle to add to the ‘poshness’.


Dead posh ay?
They’re now lined up along the back of one of the Square Foot Veg beds where more exciting stuff is going on, but you’ll have to wait for that post.

You can find out more about Lubera here and if you sign up to their newsletter you’ll get to hear about their amazing, weekly deals.

 Tiz a Bank Holiday weekend AND don’t forget it’s World Naked Gardening Day tomorrow…have a fab’n!!



Saturday, 25 April 2015

Year of the Sunflower 2015

Twas good to see Monty Don sowing sunflower seeds on Gardener’s World last night.
Fleuroselect (The International Organisation for the Ornamental Plants Industry) has declared 2015 ‘The Year of the Sunflower’ and I for one am joining in.

All of the seeds I’ve sown are from Suttons Seeds.


Ms Mars boasts dark pink / purple flowers & is a dwarf variety growing to about 2 foot.


This is the uber-tall Giraffe sunflower with a height of around 15 foot, yes you read that right…15 foot tall!!!!


A bit different from your usual colour for a sunflower, this is Moonlight with creamy white flowers growing to just over 4 foot high.


Summer Long is a mixed bag of different coloured sunflowers reaching a height of 4 foot, both single-stemmed & branching.


Another different colour for a sunflower, Jade Green which gets to a height of around 3 foot.


And finally Tasty Treat. According to Suttons ‘Nearly all this sunflower is edible - leaves, seeds, flower buds and petals! Soak the large seeds in salt water then roast.’ Height 4 foot.

PicMonkey Collage

Here are mine, sown at the end of March, but there’s still plenty of time to get yours going.

Suttons is running a competition with the Giraffe Sunflower this year where you can win the height of your sunflower in £ coins if yours is the tallest. Full details here….
Grow the Tallest Sunflower and Win the height in £

Off to give my ‘little Giraffes’ a ‘big’ talking to.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Romance is in the air…



Greetings fellow Gardener-holics.
It’s been a busy, busy, thoroughly fabulous week gardening.
The weather has been glorious, almost perfect….except Wednesday when the temperature hit 25C. Not only was it too hot for this shade-lovin’-lass but it also meant the embarrassingly, silly hat made an appearance.


Luckily for you, I will not be sharing images of said hat, but I will, for your delight n’ delectation, share the latest addition to the Tidy Garden.
This is Primrose ‘Romance’ with her ruffled, marbled, pinky / orange petals.

I think that’s enough excitement for one day.
Until next time Winking smile

Monday, 13 April 2015

Fruit Trees for Container Growing



Lubera's Fruttoni Range

Introducing Lubera’s Fruttoni range of fruit trees bred specifically for container growing.
Not everyone has the idyllic English garden in which to grow fruit trees and this is why Lubera specialise in producing fruit trees that everybody can grow.

The majority of the fruit trees in this range grow no taller than 160cm and have even been Tweeted about by Rob Smith, the winner of the BBC Big Allotment Challenge 2015, who says "Lubera's Diamond peach is a great mini peach tree, mine is covered in beautiful pink blossom in the late spring, followed by up to 20 small, juicy, 'diamond white' fleshed fruit. Perfect on a patio in a big pot. Diamond is a real eye catcher, and a real talking point of the garden"
Varieties in the range include:

Fruttoni Cherry 'Cinderella'

  • A self fertile mini cherry
  • Pretty white blossom in April
  • Harvest delicious cherries in July
  • Final height 140cm to 160cm
  • Final width 140cm to 160cm
  • These hardy plants are ideal for containers or in the ground

Fruttoni Peach 'Diamond'

  • A white fleshed mini peach
  • Stunning deep pink blossom in April
  • Harvest juicy fruits in July to August
  • Final height 140cm to 160cm
  • Final width 140cm to 160cm
  • These hardy plants are ideal for containers or in the ground

Fruttoni Pear 'Mibi'

  • A mini pear for the smallest garden
  • Beautiful pale blossom in April
  • Harvest sweet fruits in September to October
  • Final height 140cm to 160cm
  • Final width 140cm to 160cm
  • These hardy plants are ideal for containers or in the ground

Fruttoni Apricot 'Apricompakt'

  • A mini self fertile apricot
  • White gentle blossom in March to April
  • Harvest tasty apricots in July to August
  • Final height 180cm to 2metres
  • Final height 180cm to 2metres
  • These hardy plants are ideal for containers or in the ground

Don’t forget, Tidy Gardens by Jane readers can get 20% off their order at Lubera by using the code TGBJUK-1504-01 (Offer ends 20th April 2015)

Saturday, 11 April 2015




A couple of gardens that I’ve worked in recently have been awash with Pulmonarias (Lungworts).
On my hands n’ knees, up close, weeding around them, I realised just how beautiful they are & each clump buzzing with bees.
Well that was me sold (again)…anything that lures bees to the Tidy Garden in the spring.
Last year I bought Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’ & ‘Lewis Palmer’.


So, welcome Pulmonaria ‘Majeste’, with long silvery, green foliage & a mixture of pinky / blue flowers. Will grow in sun or shade, in well drained soil that doesn’t completely dry out & reaches about 12” high x 24” spread.


This is the delicate, pale blue Pulmonaria ‘Opal’ with speckled, green foliage.
This one prefers a semi-shaded or shady spot in the garden in moist, well drained soil and will grow to about 10” high by 18” spread.


All of these Pulmonarias have a special charm.
The white flowers of this one, Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’ are so bright. like fresh snow. It also prefers a shady spot, with moist, well drained soil and has white-spotted leaves.

PicMonkey Collage

Pulmonaria’ Raspberry Splash’….isn’t that a fabulous name?
Raspberry-pink flowers above silver-spotted foliage…who can resist?
This one, like the others, prefers a shady spot.

I’ve also bought Pulmonaria ‘Victorian Brooch’ which is in the first photo, but not in flower.
According to the label, it will have magenta coral flowers above silver spotted leaves & prefers full sun or partial shade.
I’ve planted them all now down the dappled / shady side of the garden. That way I can keep my eye on them and watch out for any future plantlets.

Happy Gardener! Happy Bees!



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