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.


Friday, 27 June 2014

Something a Little Less Grisly

 

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After yesterday’s grisly tale I thought I’d end the week on a cheerier note….

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…a posy of gorgeousness from the Tidy Garden.

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Includes….Knautia, Alchemilla (Lady’s Mantle), Antirrhinum (Snapdragon), Verbena Bonariensis, Dianthus (Gran’s Fav’), Marigolds, Red Valerian & Fern leaves.

Have a groovy weekend!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Grisly Endings

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Earlier in the year Mr Don, on Gardener’s World, visited the Malvern spring show & highlighted a couple of carnivorous plants – the Cape Sundew & Pitcher plant.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Mr TG looking at me…I knew what he was thinking ‘She’ll like them, they’re hideous'.’
Well that was me instantly hooked.

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This is the Cape Sundew (or Drosera Capensis, if you wanna get all technical) with its sticky tentacles.

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Land on it at your peril…

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…each leaf is covered in a clear glue-like substance, once insects land it’s almost impossible to escape its sticky clutch. Quite quickly the leaf will start to curl trapping the poor critter for ever, allowing more of the plants digestive glands to start feeding on its juicy innards.

**Apologies if you’ve just eaten your dinner!**

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Here’s a fabulous speeded-up video from You Tube

Just to cheer you up, you’ll be glad to know that it produces a sweet little flower….so not all bad.

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The other plant that I was ‘forced’ to buy was the equally outlandish Sarracenia or Trumpet Pitcher plant.

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Insects are lured to their death by the colours & sweet nectar that is secreted around the lip & lid of the plant. It is of course an evil trap as the nectar contains a toxic potion which renders the insect into an drunken stupor, they fall down to the bottom of the pitcher tube and are dissolved by enzymes and the grisly insect’s nutrients are absorbed by the plant.

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**I should have advised reading after the watershed**

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Unfortunately on this occasion the poor victim was a bee…sorry!

Both plants are living on a shelf in the greenhouse where they are bathed in natural light but not in a position where they can be scorched.
They like a ‘boggy life-style’ so sit in a tray of rainwater, which is topped up daily, and I give them the occasional misting. Clearly they don’t need feeding, in fact I’m beginning to wonder if I could have the first obese carnivorous plants as the amount of flies stuck to the Sundew in particular is quite alarming.

**Sweet Dreams**

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ignore The Rules

 

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These are…snuffle, snuffle…. some of the fruits…nom…nom   from the bare root strawberries…snort… that I planted up earlier….nom…nom…..in the year.

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Some say that you shouldn’t let them fruit in the first year…. slurp…dribble.
I say ‘let’s break the rules & enjoy!’ ….. nom…nom.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Bloomin’ Lovely in the Tidy Garden

There’s so much going on in the garden at the moment.

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The raised veg’ beds were pretty bare back in March…

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…but now they’re alive.
This year, in just the raised beds, we’re growing corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, chard, lettuce, onions, broad beans & leeks. In pots behind, garlic, runner beans, more broad beans & strawberries.
For new visitors, our 2 wooden beds are 1.5m x 1m each and we use the Square Foot Gardening idea…here’s how they were made.

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‘Purple Heart’                     ‘Black Sprite’                 ‘Amethyst Dream’

The Centaurea ‘Purple Heart’ & ‘Black Sprite’ that I bought last year, have a new addition to the family, the sweet sounding ‘Amethyst Dream’.

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Last year’s Calendula made it through this year’s mild winter….

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…and the Californian Poppy seeds, ‘Eschscholzia californica 'Orange King', sown in the spring, have unravelled their silky smooth petals to reveal a blaze of colour.
Going to sow LOTS more of these next year!!

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Continuing the orange theme, a gift from moi to Mr TG, Geum ‘Fire Storm’…

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…looking good alongside Heuchera ‘Licorice’ and Dianthus ‘Memories’ in a dark wooden trough with a gravel topping.

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I’ve made up a hanging basket for the pink, flowering strawberry plants.

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The pond iris gets bigger & more striking each year.

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‘Delphinium Magic Fountain’     ‘Tradescantia’           ‘Love-In-A-Mist’

Not had Delphiniums in the garden for years, but these are from the batch of pluglets that I bought almost a year ago from Thompson & Morgan that have finally, after mahoosive amounts of stern looks & finger wagging, come to fruition.
The Tradescantia is planted with a fern outside the back door in an old metal trough
quietly doing its ‘thing’ and the Love-In-A-Mist is our faithful ol’ self seeds that come up through the purple slate pathways each year.

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Mr TG insists that there is now officially ‘no more room in the garden for any more plants!!!’
So, desperate measures have been called for and now I’m putting plants in pots which can be dotted around pathways and moved under ones nose when in bloom. Ok…so the pathways are now an obstacle course, but like I said…desperate measures.
So new plants in pots include 2 of these Pyrethrum ‘Robinson's red’…

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…and Trollius Chinensis 'Golden Queen’ with it’s huge buttercup-like flowers.

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And finally, stage 1 of my dream to have my own wee nursery has begun.
Auriculas (top left) may be a while yet. Sheesh these seedlings are sooooo slow….. but hoping they’ll be worth the wait. A variety of red-flowering Heuchera seedlings (top tight) are beefing up nicely and my million or so Dianthus have started to flower.

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Right… off to remind the family what I look like…have a groovy week in your garden!

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Product Review–Hozelock Pico Reel

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This is the new Hozelock Pico Reel, which was recently a finalist in the Chelsea Flower Show 2014 ‘Product of the Year’.

The hosepipe is 10m long, designed specifically for gardeners with patios, balconies, and small garden spaces and is incredibly lightweight.

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The Hozelock Pico Reel is made up of an 8m grey hose that stores within the body of the storage unit using an easy rewind handle and…

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…a shorter 2m yellow hose which wraps neatly around the side.
You can choose whether to connect the shorter or longer length to the tap to suit your needs.
The hose is narrower than the average hosepipe so the water flow isn’t as powerful as you may expect, but remember this is for smaller areas, balconies, patios, pots, etc… you won’t be blasting at great distances.

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There’s handy storage slots to hold the hose end & spray gun neatly when not in use, which also means no dripping.

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The spray gun is comfortable to hold and has 5 functions…

Fan, Shower, Jet, Cone & Fast Spray…

simply twist  the nozzle to to the setting of your choice. The red ‘clip’ can be moved to keep the gun on continuous spray so that you can relax your grip if watering for a while.

 

No more dragging an unnecessarily huge contraption around the garden, the Hozelock Pico Reel has a useful carry handle, is portable, lightweight & perfect for watering smaller garden spaces, pots & patio areas.
It’s so small & neat I keep mine out all the time now beside the tap.

You can watch a video demonstration here.

Designed & Made in Great Britain…Hoorah!

Available from DIY stores, leading garden centres and specialist retailers’

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Product Review – Hozelock Wonderweeder

 

Now this is one of those garden gadgets that’s sold everywhere but like me you’ve probably never seen it before.
If you have seen it then maybe you just instantly dismissed it as just another ‘gadget for gadgets sake’ and walked pass with barely a second glance. Let’s be honest, flowers n’ foliage are FAR MORE EXCITING!!

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This is the Hozelock Wonderweeder.
It’s quite simply a weed killing spray gun but this one eliminates the need to bend down to zap those pesky weeds.
Brilliant for spot weeding & an absolute godsend if you have back, knee or other problems that means bending down is a nightmare!

Simply unscrew the handle end & fill with your favourite weed killing potion.
There is a dosing cap inside the handle if you need to dilute concentrated potions and the clear plastic tube holds 300ml. Being clear also means you can see how much liquid is left as you potter around the garden.
I filled mine with the contents of a regular ready-to-use finger spray gun.

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Once the ergonomic handle is screwed back on it becomes your
pump for dispensing the spray.
Here’s a quick link on how to press.

(Image from Hozelock….sheesh you’re not seeing my knees!)

The Hozelock Wonderweeder is 1m long allowing a long reach and ease of use.

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Simply position the spray nozzle end over your soon-to-be-ex-weed. The nozzle is surrounded by a clear, plastic, protective cone so you can see the weed but more importantly stops spray drifting onto other plants.
Press the handle down with the palm of your hand…et voila!

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Spray dispensed and as you can see above, clean circles of spray, zero drifting and only one pump of the handle was required. None of that finger trigger action of normal spray guns where sometimes a few sprays are needed to get the right dosage.
(No weeds were harmed for the purpose of this demonstration)

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Despite my continuous vigil of the Tidy Garden I am afraid that some weeds do sneak in…I know…Shock! Horror!
You can probably just make out the 2 circles of spray that I used on this weed. No leakage onto the lawn at all and no wastage.

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Simply brilliant.
When you’ve finished using your Wonderweeder there is a an added safety mechanism…

…an easy to twist lock at the spray end, that shuts off the supply of weedkiller should ‘little hands’ get hold of it.
When it’s empty, just refill.


”Simply Fill, Spray…..Kill”

A brilliant gadget, one that definitely deserves a closer look!

You can see a video demonstration here.

Available from DIY stores, leading garden centres and specialist retailers.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Sedum Seed Success

 

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It’s true, that upon arrival of my beloved greenhouse, I went a bit mad.
I decided that I would grow everything I liked…all at once!
Technically I needed a greenhouse the size of Wembley Stadium. I forgot mine was only 6’x10’….but in all the excitement I didn’t care.

One of my many random purchases were ‘mixed’ Stonecrop & ‘Ruben’s Lizard’ Sedum seeds from Seedaholic. (see previous post)

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They are so easy to grow & amazing to follow too.
Seeds were placed on the top of everyday seed compost, VERY lightly covered with vermiculite & watered / misted occasionally.
That’s it….really simple.

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              ‘Mixed’                                                                    ‘Ruben’s Lizard’

EVERY seed germinated but I did wonder how on earth such spindly seedlings could turn into chunky sedums.

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‘Mixed’

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‘Ruben’s Lizard’

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Here they are now…from a speck of dust to fabulously chunky stems & foliage in 5” pots in just 3 months.


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