Saturday February 24 , 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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February Garden Jobs

Posted by on in Gardening

secateurs-240

  • Put cloches over the ground that you’ll be using for vegetables so the soil can really warm up and be ready for the seeds/seedlings.  If you don't have cloches use clear polythene and ensure it is weighted down at the edges.
  • Check garden structures e.g. pergolas, arches, fences and trellis and make any repairs as needed
  • Keep ponds free of ice
  • Keep bird feeders and water dispensers topped up
  • Plan a herb garden/area
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Garden Design Quick Tip: Sound

Posted by on in Garden Design
WaterSound can often take a back seat in gardens as most people tend to favour elements for our other senses.  Do you know what sounds are in your garden?  There will no doubt be bird song but can you hear any others?   Sit out one day for 10 or 15 minutes and make a note of all the different sounds you can hear.   Are the sounds in your garden satisfactory?  Are there any you want to disguise like a train or traffic in the distance?  Are there any you want to hear more? Once you have the answers to those questions you can begin to alter the sounds to fit your personal needs.
 
There are four main ways to incorporate sound: surfaces in the garden, wildlife, water and plants.  The use of different surfaces can create sounds that suit a particular area in your garden for example, gravel has a distinctive crunch, bark is soft and quiet and paving will have a low impact thud all of which will let garden creatures know you’re approaching!   Increasing the sound of wildlife in the garden can be achieved by attracting more birds through using specific plants and installing a feeding station.  Choosing plants that attract pollinating insects such as bees will increase the soft hum they create whilst busy at work.  Frogs and toads create sounds by not only their croaking but also by plopping into water!
 
Water is a well known element for creating sounds in a garden but be sure of the kind of effect you would like.  If you want to have a relaxing ambience you’ll be leaning towards a soft trickle or if you would like a refreshing and stimulating atmosphere then perhaps a rhythmic cascade of a series of waterfalls.   Apart from attracting wildlife other plants like ornamental grasses will create rustling sounds when the wind pours through their leaves.  Plants react differently to wind in different seasons; in the autumn for instance seed heads filled with seeds rattle as well as leaves swirling and rustling on a blustery day.
 
Three great plants that can be used to create sound in the garden are: 
 
  1. Bamboo particularly the Phyllostachys varieties e.g. Phyllostachys nigra has foliage that rustles in the wind but on a blustery day the canes knock together producing a hollow sound.
     
  2. Nigella damascena also known as Love-in-a-mist with its blue flowers is quite popular in traditional cottage gardens, likes a well drained and sunny border, on a windy day its seed heads rattle.

  3. Briza maxima known also as greater quaking grass stands around 60cm in height is an annual ornamental grass preferring full sun, will self seed around the garden and has nodding flowers that rustle in the wind.
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Great British Garden Revival - Episode 1

Posted by on in News & Views

Episode 1:  Wildflowers and Front Gardens

Wildflowers - Monty Don

wild-poppiesDuring his childhood Monty grew up with wild flowers in abundance - as did many of us and our parents - but now a staggering  98% of our wildflower meadows have gone which has meant that our landscape has changed drastically.  He gave his tips for creating a wildflower area, including using yellow rattle which is semi-parasitic and will act as a grass suppressant thereby giving other seeds a chance to grow.  He also showed us how to prepare an area that is already laid to lawn by cutting it on it's lowest setting, raking thoroughly and exposing soil in some areas to make it impoverished before sowing seeds.  Monty also looked at the ancient ways of cutting the meadows down at the end of the season by using a scythe which whilst very Eco-friendly looked extremly hard work!

Interestingly we also got to see how wild flower seeds are mixed by specialist growers - super low tech but an incredibly bespoke approach - so anyone can buy seed to match the precise conditions in their garden.  He showed us his passion for wildflowers whether creating large or small patches regardless of the size of our gardens and he urged us to do so for the sheer pleasure of it as well as to help the ecosystms that rely on these types of flowers.

Front Gardens - Joe Swift

concrete-jungleFront gardens used to be places where we showed off our horticultural prowess but now they have become concrete jungles all across the country.  The decline of the front garden has been traced back to the 1960s largely due to the increase of cars and the need to park them. The result of all this paving though means that in heavy rain our sewers can't cope with the amount of water being run off into them and this often leads to flash flooding.  These paved over gardens whilst offering a practical solution, have proved to adversely affect our well-being, contribute to flooding and have reduced the biodiversity in our gardens.  Joe's message came through loud and clear, he wants us to breathe life into our front gardens not only for those reasons but also for social well-being and civic pride!  

It is true that we need hard standing areas for our cars but we can also have areas for our plants too and by directing water to those borders it will help our front gardens cope with run off.  If each householder made a conscious decision to mix both practical and environmental considerations it would have huge and positive repercussions for us as a country.   By placing plants next to the road they soak up a great proportion of pollution and therefore reduce the amount that gets through to our homes - I loved the idea that front garden plants act like filter paper, soaking up the pollutants before the nasty bits get to us. He showed viewers some ideas from grid system hard standing areas to using semicircular trellis that cover drain pipes so plants like clematis, honeysuckle, jasmine and other climbers can all grab on, work their way upwards and hide those ugly pipes.  

If not for the reasons mentioned above, improving your front garden can help you sell your house or rent it out so there really is no reason not to.   Read what we say about creating that kerbside appeal here.

 

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