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Wednesday August 22 , 2018

Blue Daisy Blog

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

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Heads up! National Gardening Week is coming!

Posted by on in News & Views

sunflower-1Did you know that it will be National Gardening Week during 14-20 April?  This initiative by the Royal Horticultural Society was launched 3 years ago to celebrate gardening.  Thousands of people across the country come together to help keep Britain beautiful by hosting garden open days, garden parties, quizzes, plant swaps and other activities like sharing advice or lending helping hands to friends, neighbours and the local community. 

You can find out more on the national gardening week website: http://www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk

In addition this year Britain in Bloom will be 50 years old so it is planned to sow half a million sunflower seeds. Gardening groups across Britain will be sowing sunflowers to celebrate in a ‘Growing for Gold’ theme using pollinator-friendly varieties including ‘Giant Single’, ‘Moonwalker’, ‘Taiyo’ and ‘Vanilla Ice’. 

So be on the look-out for lots of bright golden sunflowers this year! And why not consider taking part too by sowing some seeds of your own?  Sunflowers are great additions to the garden or allotment - children love them, they're jolly, joyous and look amazing too!

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Great British Garden Revival - Episode 5

Posted by on in News & Views
Carol Klein - Rock Gardens
 
RockgardenAs we know the British have been great explorers and as such we have visited all corners of the world discovering new plant treasures and bringing them back to our shores.  It was this inquisitiveness and interest in different species that helped to inspire the rock garden which allowed us to grow alpines and mountain plants from around the world in our gardens.  
 
Rock gardens were first built on large estates by wealthy aristocrats back in late the 19th century, it was their success that eventually led to their decline and they gradually fell out of fashion.  Rock gardens were easy to create and anyone could build one - the most successful rock gardens created the illusion of being up a mountain surrounded with flora and as such the British people took rock gardens to their hearts.   Experts believed that the rocks themselves were more important than the plants, it was vital to consider what each rock would look like and what function it would play in its natural habitat.  In other words get the rock positioning correct and then the plants would be happy.  The Japanese have always regarded rock gardens as very important as they create miniature landscapes within their own gardens.
 
Moss Bank Park in Bolton was a very famous rock garden in the UK and was also a huge part of the community but back in the 1990s the funding for its upkeep was lost and sadly it became a target for vandals and began to deteriorate.   In the last few years funding has been secured and together with an army of volunteers there has been an ongoing restoration project to bring it back to its former glory. 
 
A private 3 acre garden at Ashwood Nurseries, which has received over 50 RHS Gold Medals, is owned by John Massey who has created a beautiful plantsman’s garden which incorporates a rock garden and is open to the public on specific days.   His top tips for a successful rock garden are to remember that plant choice is important to lengthen the flowering season; Cyclamen is a must as it has a long flowering period, it is important to keep alpines flowering by constantly deadheading and weeding, the more weeding you do the less you’ll have to do in the longer term
 
In order to create a good rock garden there are some rules to follow, firstly it needs to be sited in the sunniest and most exposed part of the garden.  Sourcing the right rock(s) is essential (preferably from a local supplier) to ensure they don’t jar with their surroundings, consider the shapes of each rock and angle them in the same way to mirror nature, creating the maximum growing space to create your own mountain scene.  Choose your plants carefully, seek advice on which are the best plants for your space and don’t forget to incorporate some specimen trees or shrubs to add height and all year round interest.  Once it is planted up ensure a layer of course grit or fine grit is laid in order to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
 
If you only have a small space a small rock garden can be created in an alpine trough and a few points from Carol to create your own are: it’s essential that drainage holes are covered with crocks and filled with chunky gravel half way up the container to ensure that the roots aren’t sitting in water.  It’s a good idea to then cover the gravel with some mesh so that once the gravel is covered with compost it doesn’t wash through.  Carole recommends that the compost is half loam and half gravel chips then purchase some stone/rocks with angular shapes, tuck plants into the rocks so they look like they are growing through then apply a fine gravel to retain moisture and suppress weed seeds.
 
Today alpines are disappearing fast and Carol urges us to find a space for them in our garden to help keep them and our rock gardens alive.
 
 
 
Toby Buckland - Herb Gardens
 
HerbsHerbs have been used throughout history, they were fundamental to everyone’s lives and today there is a real danger that a lot of this knowledge and our connection to these plants are being lost. 
 
Chelsea Physic Garden, established 1673, and its apprentices studied the medicinal qualities of these plants.  The leaves, seeds, roots and flowers can provide us with a lot of life’s essentials; many years ago if you were ill you would go to your garden and find plants that would cure you instead of visiting the chemist and all this wonderful knowledge used to be second nature. 
 
In Tudor times herbs - including some that we call weeds today - were used for many things by both the wealthy and the poor.  In many homes it was common for herbs to be strewn across the floor to freshen up the rooms, a strewing lady would cut and scatter the herbs and those that were trod on would emit essential oils which would help to fumigate the homes!!  
 
The pharmacy became popular during Victorian times and it stocked both herbal and non herbal based medicines.  They eventually monopolised the market and herb growing in back gardens diminished; and as a result skill and knowledge wasn't being passed down through the generations. It is true in today’s world that medical progress has been excellent but the core use of herbs has been lost.
 
If you’re growing herbs in containers make sure they get lots of sun and they’ll need plenty of drainage so mix in some horticultural grit.  It’s a good idea to plant perennial herbs first such as sage and rosemary then combine with some of the shorter lived varieties such as basil and parsley.  Excess herbs can be kept for use in the winter by snipping some into ice cube trays, filling with water and freezing – fresh herbs in the thick of winter! 
 
Toby visited Jekka McVicar’s Herb Farm in Gloucester which has the largest collection of culinary herbs in the UK and is open to the public. Jekka says that herbs are fairly easy to grow, they can be drunk as tea, can turn a good meal in to a special one, fresh herbs are easier to digest than dried and they are really great for pollinating insects too!
 
 

 

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Welcome to 2014

Posted by on in News & Views

2014Happy New Year!  It has been a strange old start to the year already with storms raging across the country doing untold damage to our gardens (never mind people's homes too!).  The majority of our gardens in this area are heavy clay, so they will be extremely waterlogged with all of the heavy rain falling on already saturated gardens and there is little that can be done right now apart from letting nature take its course.   Going forward though if you do have a problem with water logging you could get in contact with us for some ideas to help you either with your existing garden or to help combat future problems when creating a new garden.

2014 sees the start of the year with a new series Great British Garden Revival, whilst it might not be everyone’s cup of tea we should raise our glass that gardening is getting some more air time – after all 30 minutes a week for Gardener’s World could be considered pretty poor compared to the amount of cookery and reality programmes there are out there!

This is also the year for Perennial (the Gardener’s Royal Benevolent Society) as it celebrates its 175th anniversary of helping horticulturalists in need since 1839.  It is also the 50th anniversary of RHS Britain in Bloom and the RHS is encouraging community groups across the UK to plant golden pollinator-friendly flowers to mark their golden anniversary across public spaces this year.  To add to that it is the 100th anniversary of World War 1 famously dubbed ‘The Great War’ and there will be masses of red poppies planted across the country to commemorate those who lost their lives.  I expect there will be masses of poppies being included in many show gardens this year too.

Blue Daisy is celebrating its fourth full year of trading, we have had our bumpy times but as the economy is slowing picking up so is business and we have plans for the coming year which I’ll share with you as they are finalised.

All in all I think it will be a colourful year – here’s looking forward to it!

Tagged in: Perennial RHS
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BBC, Chelsea and Alan Titchmarsh

Posted by on in News & Views

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012

We have heard over the last few weeks that Alan Titchmarsh will no longer be presenting the BBC RHS Chelsea programme next year and instead Monty Don and Sophie Raworth will be taking the reigns.  Some reports are suggesting that Alan has been squeezed out by being offered a lesser role so he felt there was no alternative to him other than stepping down completely.  If that's true it is a shame that after 30 years of being the face of the RHS Chelsea on the BBC that was the only option he saw open to him.

Regardless how you feel about Alan or Monty I think you do have to question the BBC's decision somewhat even though Monty is undoubtedly a well known gardener, the anchor of Gardener's World and has TV programmes, books and columns under his belt.  Monty freely admits that he is not a trained gardener but a hobbyist that has become very successful and has in turn brought his passion to gardening.  Alan on the other hand is a time served gardener, he has experience and knowledge in bucket loads, he has also designed and built a show garden so he has some understanding of what goes in to creating one, and the pressures people are under to deliver the very best they can in the time and budget allotted.  Alan is also a huge advocate of horticulture and is involved in working with the RHS to improve the modern day perception of horticultre as a career.   I do admire both of these TV horticultural personalities in different ways, I have no doubt that Monty will ooze passion but I wonder how he will fare with presenting such a flag ship programme not only for the BBC but also the RHS, they are some large shoes he must fill.

Sophie Raworth, a BBC journalist is no doubt very adept at interviewing and getting the best from people and she will be the support that Monty may need but she has admitted herself she is not a gardener or a designer.  I'm not sure that the BBC has made the best move here, there are so many other designers and horticulturalists out there that have more experience and lots of passion but I will not join the masses that are refusing to watch it; instead I will watch with bated breath and I sincerely hope they succeed and do our amazing industry proud.

 

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RHS Tatton Park 2013

Posted by on in Garden Visits
RHS Tatton 2013
 
It has to be said that the RHS Tatton show is one of my favourites, perhaps it is linked with the fact that I’m originally from Cheshire or that I perceive people being friendlier or is it because the show feels more laid back and relaxed?  I don’t doubt for one minute that the lead up to the show is as frantic as any other of the RHS shows but for me, it I just love it.
 
I saw so many inspirational gardens here as well as elements within gardens or in the flower marquee, there really are some talented people out there that we really must take our hats off too.
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