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 currently fully booked for 2017.


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Auricula Theatre


Behold!
I am now the proud owner of an Auricula Theatre, handmade by my genius son.
I came home from work the other day to find son 'n heir had decided to fulfil my dream of a theatre to display my 'special' Auriculas. Armed with pieces of decking, hanging basket brackets, an assortment of screws and Mr TG's drill, he set about making my dream a reality .


It took him hours to make and he even made a felt-lined sloping roof for extra protection from the rain. Bearing in mind he's training to be a plumber and he's never sawn a piece of wood in his life, this is the work of a genius. I was quite overwelmed.


Now I can display my really special Auriculas in the pots that Mr TG had made for my birthday last year.
I'm one lucky gal for sure.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Salad Garden - Book Review



I have another book to share with you today.
The Salad Garden, by Joy Larkcom, is actually a fully revised and updated version of the book that was originally published in 1984 (blimey...over 30yrs ago....where have the years gawn??!!)
Back then it was 'heralded as a game changer by gardeners, chefs and professional growers who supplied restaurants and supermarkets'


This revised version recognises more of us 'average' mere mortals, those with small gardens or just room for a window box, a handful of pots or a raised bed. I'm all for encouraging people to just try growing your own, even if it's one tomato plant in a pot outside the back door. Home grown is definitely best.


The Salad Garden is a thorough look at kitchen gardening, from crop varieties to consider, cultivation, soil and watering through to pests and diseases (which hopefully won't happen!)


If you are just starting out on your 'grow-your-own' journey then this book will be an invaluable resourse, whether you are an allotment holder or like me, pushed for space, there is inspiration and ideas aplenty.


Whether you're an experienced gardener or a beginner, The Salad Garden will have something for everyone and it's the type of book you will dip into time and time again.


It's not all about salad crops as we normally think of them, lettuce, cucumbers, toms, etc... there's a section on Brassicas (cabbages, kale) but no mention on Cauliflower, Broccoli or Brussels Sprouts as far I could see. The Salad Garden also looks at wild flowers and weeds, herbs and edible garden flowers.


I'm not sure that this book lacks anything (except the odd brassica).


It discusses your growing site, soil, bed size shape and height, composting, sowing methods and protecting your crops.


There's also a section on greenhouses, walk-in polytunnels (we can all dream...sigh...), cloches and cold frames. 
Honestly....The Salad Garden has it all, including basic recipes for things like mayonnaise, vinaigrette and other delicious salad dressings. 


Regular followers will know I have a thing about paper and image quality in books (bit weird, I know). This is one hell of a chunky book, about an inch thick, but it is crammed full. The paper quality is excellent in a slight off white. It needs to be a good quality as this book will see you forward for many, many years to come and you'll come back to it time and time again. The plant images appear to be unfiltered, giving a real representation of crops. 
It is a VERY thorough book and one that you will grow into if your self-sufficient journey is just beginning. If you're an old-hand at this crop growing lark then this book will only add to your breadth of knowledge and interest.


The Salad Garden is written by Joy Larkcom and published by Frances Lincoln. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Urban Flowers - Book Review


Trust me...you're gonna Love! Love! Love this book.
'Urban Flowers: Creating abundance in a small city garden' by Carolyn Dunster.
I've reviewed a few books this year but this one is my favourite so far. It's perfect for novices, with advice on creating your garden, choosing the plants through to maintenance and care. It's also a great book for the more experienced gardener who maybe needs some fresh inspiration. And talking of inspiration, this book is jammed packed with it.


Following Carolyn's introduction, Urban Flowers is divided into 6 sections, the first looking at The City Garden. Now don't panic if you don't live in a city. The point of this book is to show that you can create a garden and have beautiful blooms 'in the heart of an urban area and in the tiniest and most unlikely of spaces'. It's all about the positive impact of plants on garden critters and us mere mortals and how we can do our bit to bring nature back into our concrete environments.


Evaluating Your Space starts at the beginning, looking at what you've got, be it a balcony, roof terrace or just steps up to your front door, to a small or large garden area. There is advice on soil types, growing in shady areas, nooks and crannies as well as using pots and containers, making the most of walls and creating a peaceful haven.


Choosing a Style is about creating YOUR garden, the way you want it. It's a bit like decorating a living-room or a playroom, but outside...in your style, to fit your way of life and reflecting your personality. There are tips on creating mood boards while you figure out what it is you like and want from your patch of planet earth, through to sources of inspiration like Instagram, Pinterest, magazines, etc... There are some great inexpensive ideas for plant containers and recycling plus a more in depth look at cottage gardening, classic and contemporary styles.


Selecting Your Plants has got to be the most exciting part of your creation. This section looks at ideas for trees in small spaces, shrubs, climbers, perennials, etc...through to growing your own plants from seed, buying bedding plants and getting scent into the garden. Again, as with all sections of this book, there are loads of examples on plants to consider.


Experimenting With Colour is the section you will drool over. Honestly...the photography in this book (by Jason Ingram) is breathtakingly beautiful. If his photos don't get you dashing off to the nearest garden centre then I don't know what will. 


This section oozes inspiration, with plant ideas for every colour of the rainbow. What I love about this book is everything is easily achievable, the plants are readily found in our garden centres and there are lots of inexpensive re-cycling or up-cycling ideas.


Reaping Your Rewards is about extending the enjoyment of the garden by bringing the flowers, berries and leaves indoors, whether it's in floral arrangements, gift ideas for others or creating simple plant and flower recipes.


This is an area I personally have been working on, simple vases of anything and everything from the garden.


I love this book.
If I was talented enough to write a book about how I feel and what I love about gardening, this would be it. This is a truly beautiful book, simply written by someone who understands the benefits to us all of having a garden or even just a few pots of colour around us.
It's a hardback book and for anyone like me who is a bit anal about book paper quality, the pages are top notch, thick and slightly glossy.
As I said before, the photography is breathtaking with exquisite garden and plant pictures on every page. If you only buy one gardening book, buy this one.

Urban Flowers: Creating abundance in a small city garden.
Written by Carolyn Dunster
Photography by Jason Ingram
Published by Frances Lincoln

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Auricula-fest

Auricula-phobes, look away now!


It's the most...wonderful time...of the year.
SPRING!!!!
And spring brings Auriculas...in a-bun-dance (which is a bit like Soft Shoe Shuffle, but with hotcross bun-style slippers)
I digress....


Regular stalkers followers of my wee bloglet may recall my review of 2 hanging baskets last year, the Easyfill Original and the Easyfill Pro...see review post here.
I filled the Easyfill Pro with Auriculas and the result has been far better than I expected with the sides oooozing with little plantlets (see above). I have been far more impressed with the Easyfill Pro compared to the Original. The water tends to flow out of the side holes far too quickly from the Original and I have also found out that it dries out more often, possibly due to the more exposed soil through the holes.


That aside, Auriculas make fantastic hanging basket plants and I have a few (Cough!). They stay in the baskets throughout the year, I never feed them and they often flower again late summer too.


So brace yourselves..... here are a selection of my collection. (Names given where know). If you spot a variety that I haven't named then please let me know, I am slowly trying to identify them all.






 Bottom Right.... Pinkie Dawn


Top Left.... White Pyne
Top Right... Sophie
Bottom Left... Dilly Dilly


Top Left... Old Fashioned
Top Right.. Our Sophie
Bottom Right...Slim Whitman buds


There's a whole heap more still in leaf, so I'll share those another time.


Meanwhile, the rest of the garden is doing its best to get my attention off of the Auriculas. Last autumn I planted lots of Tulips that I'd bought from The Range. They were so riduiculously cheap but they have out-performed my expectations. I planted about 200 and I will definately buy more later this year. 


An old, faithful Iberis...


The luscious lime green of Darts Gold...


Phlox....


More Tulips...


Oh...and even more Tulips...


... Tulip-Phobes, I apologise.....


Nearly done...


That's it...


The tiny wildlife pond is filling out again...


...and in the greenhouse, the first of my Wisteria seeds have sprouted....Squeeeeeeeal!!!


Ok...that's it for today.
Happy Sunday!!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Such a Perfect Day....

Wow!
Today has been the most fabulous of spring days.
Clear blue skies, a gentle breeze, laughter and all round happiness.
Perfect.




Enjoy a stroll around the Tidy Garden.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Good Soil, Manure, Compost & Nourishment For Your Garden - Book Review


Ah...the sweet smell of cut grass... the waft of recently scattered manure...these are my kinda perfumes... you can keep your Chanel No5 and J'Adore by Dior, it's the natural scents from the garden that float my boat.
So let me introduce you to a brilliant book - 'Good Soil, Manure, Compost and Nourishment For Your Garden' by Tina RĂ¥man, who is described as a 'passionate amateur gardener with both feet on the ground; one foot in the flowerbed and the other in the dung heap'.
 It's all about nourishing your garden, helping your plants to reach their full potential and, most importantly, simplifying the process of getting the right fertiliser for your garden.
The book is divided into 7, easy-to-read, manageable sections...


Section 1, Biology, is about the natural processes that affect the health and life of our plants and covers the basics on plant survival, water, oxygen, nutrients, sunlight.


Section 2, Soil, talks about soil types, how to improve what you have, beneficial garden critters and composting.


 Section 3 is about the Chemistry. Now don't panic...it's not all nerdy and deep. It's fascinating stuff... straight forward explanations of what you need to get healthy roots, leaves, beautiful flowers and a bounty of tasty fruit n' veg. What to do, when to do it and why. It's all about understanding those ingredients on your plant food packages. Think of it as healthy food shopping for your garden.


Section 4, Philosophy, looks at the history of fertilising the land, natural and synthetic fertilisers, processed and organic and the impact on us and our planet. 


Section 5, Nourishment, gets down to the nitty gritty of food. From the poo n' pee from our furry n' feathered friends, nutrients from the ocean like seaweed and algae, green energy from grass cuttings and weeds through to using our own 'liquid gold'  in the plant feeding process.


Section 6, Methods, looks at the 'whens' & 'hows'. When and how to fertilise your plants, the art of watering and, dear to my ol' heart, growing in a greenhouse. 


The final section is all about the plants and what they need. It's broken down into lawns, trees & shrubs, bulbs, annuals, perennials, vegetable etc, etc .... this is an invaluable resource section and puts into practise everything that the author has taught us.


I'll be honest, when I first picked up this book and flicked through, I thought it was going to be heavy reading...it's a big, thick, heavy ol' hardback book and 255 pages long. But its' not heavy reading at all. It's a 'dip in and out' kinda book, light-heartedly and simply written. It's not at all geeky & 'scientificiky'. It says it how it is, but it's also an eye-opener into what we eat, what goes on what we eat, how animals are fed and the impact we make by our choices.

'Good Soil' has been a gardening best seller in Sweden, Norway and Germany and some of the 'guest contributions' within the book talk about areas and gardens in Sweden that you may not be familiar with but it's how they work with nature and the land that will be something we can all relate to.


It is beautifully illustrated with both colour and black & white images, paper quality (I'm a bit geeky about paper quality) is good... it has a thick yet smooth, earthy feel to it, almost as if it's been left in the greenhouse or potting shed for a while...(told yer, I was a bit weird when it comes to paper...lol).

If you're interested in nature, giving your lawn, plants, fruits and veg the best possible environment in which to grow and thrive then this book is an excellent read.
  
'Manure might be dirty, disgusting and smelly,  but it's the topic of the most exciting gardening book of the year'. 
Highly recommended.

Published by Frances Lincoln



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