Your Cottage Garden questions answered
Thank you all for responding to the programme. It means a huge amount to all the team involved with making the series to know that you care enough to tell us what you think. Knowing how much you all care about the content of your gardening programmes, we wanted to create something really special for you and to make the programme as real as possible.
Everyone involved has done their very best to make it as good as it could be. It's easy for me, it's a real treat because I'm in my own garden doing what I do - it's all the people who have painstakingly crafted the programme who are the stars of the show (plus the plants of course and not forgetting the dogs and cats).
In common with all your gardens, the plot at Glebe Cottage is recovering from the snow and the extreme cold that went before it. Now we have torrential rain, inches in just a few days and water is gushing through the soil in places it's never done it before. This hillside is full of springs and such events make you realise what a powerful force nature is.
Clearing up is the order of the day and planning for the year ahead goes on apace. How exciting.
Thankyou for all your questions and for your comments. We're glad that most of you are enjoying the programmes and hope you find the rest of the series equally exhilarating. We hope it makes you smile and encourages you to get out into your own gardens - as if you needed any encouragement. Please continue to let us know what you think. Happy gardening!
Our gorgeous Lakeland Terriers, Fleur, the mother and Fifi her puppy
Mappers, joy55, Debbie and many others wanted to know about our dogs...
We have two dogs, Fleur, the mother who's black and tan and Fifi her pup. Fleur had been abandoned so we can never be sure of her history but we're fairly confident she's a Lakeland Terrier. We realised she had lots of problems including a dodgy heart. The vet said she'd probably live a decent life but was unlikely to make it into old age. On the same day we went to consult him about the wisdom of her having a litter she made her own mind up and we found her with a neighbour's Lakeland Terrier at the end of the field. He's called Ted and is now known as Father Ted! Sadly only one of her 4 pups survived - Fifi. She is a joy but as mad as a hatter!
Do you open your garden under the yellow book National Gardens Scheme?
Yes, we will be opening the garden as part of the National Gardens Scheme for one day in 2011. You can find the details on the NGS website.
The garden and nursery are also open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays after Easter until October. Opening times are 10:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 17:00
Do you have any help in the garden?
As well as the garden, we run a nursery so a few people help part-time mainly with the nursery. Barbara, Sheila (who's been helping for more than 20 years!) and Helen, come for a day or two most weeks. Graham does occasional days and a lovely girl called Naomi has just started giving me a hand in the garden. I do as much as I can myself because I just love it!
I have been clearing up my veg patch recently and when digging come across clusters of what look a bit like blow fly maggots? I have been feeding them to my chickens! but occurred to me they could be good for the garden? Can you tell me what they might be?
Without seeing them I have no idea what they might be. Keep on feeding them to the chickens. The micro-organisms that help the soil are invisible without the help of a powerful microscope - it's usually only the worms that are big enough to see so alternatively don't feed them to the chickens - your soil needs them!
What's your favourite garden to visit?
I absolutely love The Garden House at Buckland Monachorum. It stands on the edge of Dartmoor and has a wealth of exciting plants in addition to glorious views. It was Lionel Fortescue's garden. Later, for many years it was in Keith Wiley's capable hands. (He now runs a very exciting garden and nursery Wildside just down the road which he and his wife Ros built from scratch.) Matt Bishop, another brilliant plantperson is now in charge at The Garden House.
I also love my friend Veronica Cross's garden in Herefordshire! It's full of excitements and rarities as is our friend John Massey's garden at Ashwood Nurseries. John opens the garden for charity several times a year. It is superb. Toby filmed a feature there with him on hardy cyclamen back in the autumn.
There's also a host of gardens up and down the country that I discovered when making the Open Gardens series. One I especially love is just outside Kendal, Meadow House, Burneside and though Anne-Marie Burrill with whom we filmed, passed away, her husband Paul continues the good work. They garden organically and his veg and fruit are beyond compare including the most delicious peaches and grapes you ever tasted. No mean feat in Kendal even though he grows them in a tunnel.
What gardening challenge are you still looking to conquer?
I'm not much of a conqueror, more of a participant, but one plant I'd love to grow well but have never yet succeeded with is Primula petiolaris. It needs damp conditions but perfect drainage - how do you do that???.
Generally I'm just looking forward to learning more about growing plants and being introduced to new ones.
A number of you asked whether I rely entirely on dividing and taking cuttings or whether I buy plants too?
I think it would be quite a dull garden if I relied only on propagating the same things! In the early days when we first came to the garden I grew masses from seed as we couldn't afford to do anything else. And I still get the same thrill growing both plants I know and new and unfamiliar species from seed.
Propagating your own plants means you get to know your plants intimately. I always encourage people to keep an eye out for new plants, particularly from nurseries in their local area. If the plants have been nurtured just down the road, you can be fairly sure they'll be happy in your patch as the conditions will probably be similar and you'll almost certainly get good advice - ay Trillium? By the way I brought your grass to Tatton two years running but didn't see you. Hope all is well.
As part of your new series Life in a Cottage Garden will you be giving some time to the important part of vegetable growing to a traditional cottage garden?
Veg does come up now and again (including onions and garlic and some harvesting in later episodes) but since we covered veg in so much detail in the Grown Your Own Veg series, it was decided to give as much time as possible to other aspects of our garden.
Here's a clip from the second episode, all about veg!
Have you given your daughters a chance to give their input to the re-design of "their" plots?
Alice and Annie are very interested in the garden and they are consulted but they're not hands on these days! Most of the time they trust me! Glad you are enjoying the show welshcol!
David K asked:
Do you consider a well manicured lawn an asset or unnecessary hindrance in the garden?
I know of lots of beautiful lawns but I have never had a lawn. They support little wildlife which is something that's very important to me. By the way thank you David for all your encouraging comments over the last few years.
If you were to have a garden in another part of the world, where would you like that to be and why?
I would hate to leave my garden but if I really had to I would choose another temperate region such as New Zealand or Japan. I just love the change of seasons too much to garden in a tropical climate.
The Cycling Gardener asked:
If you could invite 3 people, alive or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
I have two separate lists! A list of gardeners:
and a list of non-gardeners:
Caravaggio (with whom I'd drink lots of red wine!)
What's the most important gardening advice, now having years of experience, that you would give yourself when you started gardening?
What a great question! If it's a brand new plot, create a nursery bed where you can plant out anything new and plant out cuttings and seedlings which can grow on until you're ready to use them. Meanwhile you can concentrate on learning about your garden and ameliorating the soil. Whether it's dry and poor or cleggy and heavy, compost is the answer.
If it's a well established plot, I would advise spending a whole year watching it and getting to know it, including taking notes and photographs.
In either case finding out about your garden enables you to choose plants that will enjoy the conditions there.
Life in a Cottage Garden continues on BBC Two on Friday 14th January at 20:00