Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Moving story...

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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.