Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Moving story...

My blog is moving. Please redirect your browser to: Lush Gardens Blog


Friday, 24 April 2009


... as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. So tonight I was extremely flattered to find another garden designer has taken the text from my homepage, changed our names for their own, and stuck it on their own home page. Nice! I suppose they missed the copyright notice.

Seriously folks, plagiarism and copyright theft is pretty poor. If a garden designer can't be bothered to write a couple of paragraphs for themselves, what else will they pinch and pass off as their own?

Monday, 6 April 2009

Village Life - April

Spring is here! As the poet said: The lark's on the wing; the snail's on the thorn; the garden centre's packed; and all's right with the world!

But enough poetry. It's time to reach for your seed packets. By now your garden soil should be warm enough for you to sow old favourites like sweet peas, lupins, Aquilegia and poppies directly where you want them. Half-hardy bedding plants like Nicotiania and Cleome can be sown in trays and left on the window-sill or an unheated greenhouse. For the kitchen gardener, the time is right for sowing tomatoes, aubergines, celeriac, peppers and celery in pots. Just keep them in a bright, warm place, and they'll be ready to plant out in June.

Spring Hanging Baskets
A few years ago I worked in a garden centre, and one of my jobs was making up the hanging basket orders. After assembling hundreds I regard myself as something of an expert. So here's my guide to making your own Spring Hanging Baskets:

First: which container? Any style will do, but I prefer a cone shaped wicker/rush basket with plastic liner. Poke some drainage holes in the liner and it can be re-used many times. Wicker cones are quite striking, and visually you should aim to balance the shape of the cone with the planting inside it. This means positioning taller plants in the centre and grading the height down towards the edges, with trailing plants tumbling over the sides.

Plant-wise, try to keep to 2 or 3 colours, as well as your background green foliage. Look for Primula, polyanthus and spring bulbs already in flower, such as Narcissus 'Tete-a-Tete' or 'Paper-White'. Evergreens such as Euonymous, Skimmia or small conifers will provide background colour, while small grasses and ferns, and trailing plants like ivy, bugle and Lamium add form and texture.

Planting is simple. First, using a bucket or large plant pot for support, fill the cone with multipurpose compost to about 8cm from the top. Put your tallest plants in the centre and work outwards. Pack the plants in tightly, and water well.

Hang the basket up, and make a mental note of how heavy it is. Once a day you should lift the cone gently from the bottom, and if it feels significantly lighter then water it. As long as you don't let it dry out you'll get 8-10 weeks display, and at the beginning of June you can empty it and refill with summer planting. Either re-pot the spring plants into another container, or set them out in the garden.

Food watch
April is a manic time for garden designers, which is great news for me, but the downside is I don't have much time for my own kitchen garden. We managed to dodge the showers in March to plant carrots, parsnips, cabbage, beetroot, peas, early potatoes and shallots. This month we have peppers, brocolli and salad leaves to sow, and some raspberry canes and blackcurrant plants to bed in.

Comments are always welcome and, if you're down with the kids, you can follow me on Twitter: @lushgardens

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Technical hitch

Guess who spilled tea into their laptop...?

Luckily, No. 1 son is a certified computer service technician-type thingy, so he's sorting it out. Hopefully I'll be up and running soon, if I haven't done some serious damage to it!

Another satisfied customer

Have spent most of this week working on a front garden and driveway project. We finished it off this morning, spreading an extra tonne of slate chips and potting up a couple of standard bay trees. Our client was delighted with the end result, which can be seen here.

We had some fun at the start of the project when we started the driveway. Along the same street a 'driveway specialist' was touting for business, and they had a few takers (it was a long street). Once they'd worked out what we were doing, (our client had turned their quote down), they wouldn't leave us alone – "how much you doing this for?", "where did you get your stone?", how long is it going to take?", "where are you from?" etc.

Eventually, once we'd batted off the Spanish Inquisition, they left us alone to get on with it. 

We had plenty of nice comments from passers-by: "yours is so much nicer than that lot down the road", "they are only taking 2 days to do a whole drive", "they aren't using much sub-base" and, scarily, "some of their drives slope towards the house!"

Don't get me wrong – I'm all for a bit of competition – but if it were me and I wanted my driveway replacing, I wouldn't go with the first bloke who turned up on my doorstep.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

British Summer Time

It's official! The Summer is here. We've celebrated the day by wandering around the house shouting "have you changed this clock yet?", then finding out No. 2 son went and changed them all before we were awake, so we had to change half of them back again.

Anyway, just a brief veggy garden update. So far the only sign of any life in the first vegetable bed is some cabbage seedlings. Beds 2 and 3 will shortly be home to potatoes, onions, blackcurrants, redcurrants and a small peach tree which was given to us by our next door neighbour. If there's any room after that I've got some parsley somewhere, and a potted bay tree I can set out.

For the moment, however, Anna's at a new business meeting so I (Keith) have sneaked inside for a rest... don't tell the boss!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Gardener's Whirl

Here is the first of my articles for Village Life magazine. I'd welcome your comments:

Hi, my name is Anna and I run Lush Landscape and Garden Design – a local garden design business. Over the next few months I will be writing about gardens and gardening and I hope to inspire you to get outside and enjoy a successful and enjoyable gardening year.

In this series of articles I hope to cover all sorts of garden-related topics. But as March is the first “proper” gardening month of the year I will detail some of the pressing tasks needing attention in your own garden.

I’m not one for laying down rules and regulations, but the exception is my Golden Rule of Home Gardening: ‘if the mud sticks to your boots, go inside for a cuppa!’ You can do more damage than good by compacting your soil if it’s waterlogged.  If it is too wet use the time to get a plan together. A little forward planning will save you time, effort and disappointment later on, And once you’ve decided what you need to do, cleaned your tools and boots and checked the weather forecast, you’re officially ready for the 2009 Gardening Season.

There’s certainly lots to do – probably the first job is a good tidy up. Bush and shrub roses need pruning, as well as Cornus and other shrubs grown for their colourful winter stems. Cut back overgrown climbers like honeysuckle and winter jasmine. Remove the dead stems of last year’s flowering perennials and divide any that are starting to take over.  Flower beds need weeding (as ever), and once done you can sow hardy annuals like poppies, Cosmos and Limnanthes – the ‘poached egg’ plant. If your lawn is looking a bit threadbare now is the time to re-seed. And if your herbaceous perennials are growing fast, get some twiggy supports in to protect new growth against the wind.

But what about the kitchen garden?  If you’ve never grown your own, now is the ideal time to give it a try.  To be honest, my experience of growing produce is rather limited. Years ago we had an allotment which was so large and welcoming to local weeds that we gave it up after one season. We did manage to harvest a few potatoes, some rhubarb and a ridiculous quantity of butter-nut squash, but eventually we surrendered in the face of an overwhelming enemy. This year, however, we are prepared to give growing veggies another go.

So, armed with a trusty guidebook, we shall first prepare our seed beds (“ensuring the soil is not too dry nor too wet”), then begin sowing. We’re going to try parsnips (“notoriously erratic at germinating”), early potatoes, onion sets and hardy herbs like chives, coriander and parsley. I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes, and if we get anything resembling food as a result you’ll be the first to know.

If you have a little space for a few pots or a small veggie bed why not join us and share your experiences?