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Monday April 19 , 2021

Blue Daisy Blog

Blue Daisy blog written by Nicki Jackson & Jules Clark - for news, views, garden design, gardening and plant observations and thoughts.

Recent blog posts

Hampton Court Palace RHS Show 2013

Posted by on in Garden Visits

hamptoncourt2013-1What a day this turned out to be, I’d been looking forward to going since booking the tickets back in February, it was the hottest day of the year so far!  People who weren’t able to cope with the searing temperatures were being carried out on stretchers!  We had gone prepared...shorts, hats, sun tan lotion and plenty of water – but it just wasn’t enough.  I did, as expected, thoroughly enjoy myself but the heat did zap energy and it took away some of the sparkle, the specialness and sheer indulgence of the day.

The show gardens were amazing and never fail to impress, as a designer though I do always look at them with a critical eye and however much I like them I always feel that they are a snapshot in time which of course is the point.  It is the ‘snapshot’ that concerns me though - the planting whilst so beautiful, for the most part, can often be unrealistic or not transferable back in to the average garden.  One reason is the plant spacings so many plants so closely planted that would in a real garden be a haven for mildews, moulds and no doubt a few pests too.  Also some flowering plants will have been forced or delayed so they flower at show time when, in reality they might flower a few months apart, which in itself is an art I agree but perhaps not realistic for the average gardener.  I also question some of the hard landscaping materials used - while beautiful in a show garden - I often wonder how practical they would be and whether they would have lasted a year after the garden was built in a normal home environment.  I could probably write a whole article on this point but I would like to see show gardens that are as inspirational but completely practical too so that the average person can replicate some of those ideas in their own space more successfully.

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Heatwave Proof Your Garden

Posted by on in Gardening

droughtresistentplantsThe heatwave really is upon us and if the forecast is anything to go by it could last for a few more weeks yet.  If we're struggling and flagging in the heat just think about how our gardens are coping!  I'm not complaining because before we know it the summer will be over and we'll be into autumn, but it's important to plan for a heatwave next year as our climate is changing whether we like it or not.  

Here's a few ideas on how to heatwave proof your garden:

  • Apply a mulch to your borders and containers in the spring, this will block out light and slow down how quickly the sun evaporates any moisture.
  • Consider the use of water retaining chrystals and add them to your containers
  • Begin buying drought tolerant plants so each year the reliance upon you to save and collect water is reduced
  • Think about harvesting as much rainwater as you can whether that is from a water butt through to the big storage tanks that are buried under the garden or even under a raised decking area. 

That's what we can do for the future but what can we do right now:

  • Move some of your containers into a shady spot especially those that are more needy like annuals, fruit or vegetables; the more sun they have the quicker any moisture in the soil will evaporate
  • Whatever you water do it in the evening, if you water during the day the sun's heat will evaporate any moisture in the area and any wet leaves will scorch when the sun hits them
  • Water slowly but thoroughly, think about watering to the depth of the plant's width and aim your watering can at the base of the plant not the foliage
  • Water containers daily
  • Water established borders every 4-5 days or a bit more often if you see them wilting
  • Water newly planted trees, shrubs and/or perennials every 3-4 days and at least half a watering can per plant
  • Established lawns can be left, even if they change colour as they are really tough and as soon as water is applied they will soon green up and will bounce back.
  • Newly laid turf will need regular watering, slowly but thoroughly.
  • Try to use greywater as much as possible - this is water that has already been used for example bath or shower water.  You can also use water saved from dish washing as long as the water isn't greasy or has lots of detergent in, this grey water can be used on established plants and lawns. 

So now that you have watered, pour yourself a glass or mug of something lovely and sit and enjoy the garden you have created so far!

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Garden Design Quick Tip: Texture

Posted by on in Garden Design

echinopsTexture in garden design often refers to the surface quality of the plant and can range from classes known as delicate to coarse.  It is a character element that can be used by itself or with other elements to create a feeling of unity.

Textures appeal to multiple sensory experiences at once. You can often tell what something is going to feel like just by looking at it, but there may be more surprises in store as you explore. Certain forms and surfaces invite touch and the visual and physical effect of a border is heightened when there is great textural contrast because of this ‘invitation’ to interact with the textural plants.

A plant’s texture can also set the mood of a garden; many bold and coarse plants can create a tropical feel, picture ornamental banana plants or Cannas.  If your garden is lacking in texture remember that too many plants with fine textures can create a fuzzy blur, too many bold or rough plants can make it feel claustrophobic.  Think of the ratio 1/3 fine and 2/3 course texture and you usually can’t go too far wrong.  

Remember it’s not just leaves that add texture; a few well placed trees in a garden such as the River Birch (Betula nigra) and the Tibetan Cherry (Prunus serrula ‘Tibetica’) will encourage you and visitors to interact with the garden and touch the tree bark.   

Three plants that are often used to add textural elements to the garden:

  • Hosta - their broad leaves adds weight and drama to any border and is classed as bold.  Being perennials they come back every year so are a good investment, they prefer to grow in part shade to full shade and benefit from dividing every few years.  They do flower in the summer but they are used specifically as a foliage plant, use them to brighten up a shady corner.   Slugs love them so be prepared to either pick off or kill the slugs.  One way to deal with them is to use nematodes a biological control that are safe for animals and children.
  • Cosmos – with its thread-like leaves their texture is classed as fine.   It can be a perennial but the annual variety is a cottage garden favourite; they can grow up to a metre tall and are good as cut flowers too.  They look great planted in drifts and thrive in well drained soil and a sunny aspect.
  • Echinops (main picture) - have a spiny texture.   A thistle like plant that can add a touch of drama and an almost tropical feel.  They are known for their blue or white spherical flower heads that attract lots of different insects.  Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’  will get to around 1m in height and 45cm in width and are happy in full to part sun.
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Climate Change - what's happening in your garden?

Posted by on in News & Views

drygardenI was talking to a new client the other week and I just wanted to share with you this little anecdote about why he's convinced climate change is a reality: he told me.

"When I was learning horticulture at secondary school in 1962 we had a 'passion fruit' (Star of Bethlehem) which in the dutch greenhouse, excited us with 2 flowers (no fruit). This was in West Yorkshire. 

In my back garden in 2007 (in Coventry) I had a rotting timber garden archway with Passion Fruit growing vigorously with around 200 flowers, and fruit growing on it just as though it was native to the UK."

We're going to keep coming back to this topic but I just wanted to introduce it with someone's perception based on their experience.  There is plenty of scientific debate and big business talk about whether or not it's really happening but I think that climate change is already changing gardening practices here in the UK.  The bottom line is if you're working in gardens regularly the reality is hard to ignore. 

Thanks for sharing David - so how about you? What's happening in your garden that convinces you that climate change is a reality and how are you adapting your gardening to cope?

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Friends of the Earth are calling all bee savers

Posted by on in News & Views

bee1You know how we feel about our gorgeous and endangered pollinators so you’ll understand how delighted we were to see Friends of the Earth support the plight of our bees with their latest campaign.  

Sign up to The Bee Cause and get involved.  For a donation of £15.00 you’ll be sent a bee saver kit that includes wildflower seeds, a garden planner, a step by step guide, a plant list, some postcards, a discount voucher for bee-friendly gifts and, our personal favourite, a bee spotter guide.  

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