Saturday February 24 , 2018

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

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Great British Garden Revival - Episode 3

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Carole Klein - Cottage Gardens

cottagegarden2Most people associate cottage gardens as being filled with plants brimming with flowers, dripping in colour and attracting pollinators. We are in danger of losing some of these plants and the pure ethos of what a cottage garden is because they are seen by many as being out dated and old fashioned, but they are firmly fixed as part of our horticultural heritage.
 
Margery Fish who with her husband, created the lovely gardens at East Lambook Manor also managed to influence people to create cottage gardens all over the globe.  She created these beautiful, informal and relaxed schemes combining both modern and old fashioned plants that today are the epitome of what a cottage garden is.  Carole admits that she has been heavily influenced by Margery and her style of the informal and mingled planting defining how she has gardened and continues to garden today.  East Lambrook Hall is open to the public and has been lovingly restored in Margery’s style - reflecting her principles and ideas.  We are told that these gardens will inspire the more experienced and the novice gardener alike, everyone can take something away to use back in their own gardens.
 
Another famous traditional cottage garden is situated in the Lake District. Hill Top Garden, formerly the home of Beatrix Potter; is open to the public through the National Trust.  The garden itself provided Beatrix with inspiration for her writing and was featured in the children’s books she wrote.  She created informal borders with flowers and vegetables complementing each other, paths navigate you around the garden so you can see the mingled planting at its quintessentially English cottage garden best. 
 
Carole believes that the cottage gardens are quite easy to maintain if you get the planting and structure right because it’s about pottering and tweaking rather than taking great pains to get the lawn edges perfectly straight and all plants standing to attention.  A traditional cottage garden evolves over time with plants being swapped with friends, family and neighbours, plants being mixed with productive crops, informal planting, using companion planting and attracting those pollinators we are so desperately in need of.  Typical traditional cottage garden plants are Phlox, Alchemilla, Aster, Rudbekia, Cosmos all intermingled with tender perennials like Dahlias. 
 
There are also some cutting edge modern cottage gardens that are very popular such as Dove Cottage which uses plants like Sanguisorba, Achillea and ornamental grasses to create movement and energy.  The owners believe that a true cottage garden creates its own identity by self seeding and creating new areas and as such the garden feels more natural rather than contrived and controlled.
 
You can create your own cottage garden by swapping plants, taking cuttings, collecting seeds and growing your own. Carole believes it’s not just about a style it’s about friendship and sharing plants, seeds and experiences together.
 

Tom Hart-Dyke - House Plants 

houseplantsTom is a modern day Plant Hunter who is passionate about reviving house plants because they have fallen out of fashion with some having even had bad press such as the Cheese Plant and Rubber Plant!  The UK buys less house plants than any other European country but there are so many species that will thrive in our homes. Modern families don’t believe that indoor plants are important but here in the UK they were once very fashionable and back in the Victorian era it was essential to have a sense of the garden inside the house.  Charles Darwin was also a plant hunter for a few years, he brought back plants to our country and he saw them as a fundamental part of the home. Back then their plants were needy, they required tending and nurturing to ensure they flourished and this is possibly one of the reasons why people now don’t want house plants because they believe they will take too much time to care for.  
 
RHS Wisley has a very large glass house, it is the equivalent of 10 tennis courts and is said to be one of the most extensive collections of house plants in the world.  Tom says there is a houseplant to suit any situation, a cold and drafty spot, a sunny windowsill, rooms with low light levels, needing no or little care or for someone who wants to tend or water it every day!  Three of the most popular houseplants today are the Tillandsias better known as the Air Plant which is very low maintenance, Streptocarpus in particular ‘Crystal Ice’ which flowers continually for 12 months and Begonias which are used to low light levels, are easy to grow and propagate. 
 
In previous episodes we saw that plants help to reduce pollution and this principle can be applied to our homes too, there are so many toxins in the air especially in the winter when we don’t open the windows.  NASA trialled some plants and it is thought that the Peace Lily is the best for removing toxins out of the air.  Studies have also been carried out using plants in the work place and it has been proved that having a few plants on or around your desk helps to improve wellbeing and it can increase productivity by up to 15%.  So if you aren’t convinced to try some in your home, get some for work – they are good for you.  If you want some help deciding what plant to have where get in contact with us we can help guide you and supply you with the right plants.
 
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