Archives for June 2011

Pineapples at Tatton Park Pinery

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Sam Youd Sam Youd | 07:00 UK time, Sunday, 26 June 2011

Pineapples at Tatton Park Pinery

Pineapples at Tatton Park Pinery

Pineapples were grown in England from 1750 until the turn of the 20th century. They were particularly fashionable in country houses across Britain.

Tatton's Pinery was famous for producing prize pineapples for the London pineapple shows, with each fruit being worth about £5,000 in modern day terms!

Pineapples were always seen as 'welcome' symbols and so it's not unusual to see stone pineapple finials on gate posts at entrances to country estates.

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Garden news

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 07:00 UK time, Saturday, 25 June 2011

International Space Station

International Space Station

In the news...

Fans of Silent Running (probably the best - and only - gardening-in-space movie ever), pay attention: this week it's been space and aliens all the way.

The week's award for most unusual gardening job goes to Paolo Nespoli, horticulturist for the International Space Station, who's been taking the grow-your-own movement to new heights. Admittedly, his 'greenhouses' are shoebox-sized, and only two out of his fourteen seeds germinated, but give the man a break - conditions are tough up there.

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Everything Beechgrove

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Jim McColl Jim McColl | 09:00 UK time, Thursday, 23 June 2011

"What is the subject going to be this week?" enquires a friend. The fact is, there always seems to be a bewildering range of options. There are the seasonal, topical tips which come round every year, the media reports on this and that relating to gardening and the environment AND then there are the never-ending queries generated by our weekly BBC Scotland television programme The Beechgrove Garden and the BBC Radio Scotland weekly phone-in, on a Sunday lunchtime - The Beechgrove Potting Shed with Theresa Talbot.

The Beechgrove Garden

The Beechgrove Garden

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An island flora

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Alys Fowler Alys Fowler | 07:00 UK time, Sunday, 19 June 2011

After four days of seawater I finally have rid myself of the permadirt that clings to my weeding fingers. I am almost beginning to miss weeding, but not the tyranny of watering.

Malta is not perhaps the best destination for a gardener. There are a few gardens, some jolly, if thirsty municipal plantings - a lot of palms and Lantana camara - but not in much that is actively gardened so to speak. It's too dry for that.

A fig neolithic ruin

A fig at a Neolithic ruin

The market gardening seems largely confined to the northern part of the island. Here terraces of red earth with low walls house bush tomatoes, melons, globe artichokes, aubergines, a surprising amount of cabbages, lots of small peach trees and errant figs sprouting here, there and everywhere.

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Garden news

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 07:00 UK time, Saturday, 18 June 2011

In the news...
Magnifying glasses at the ready: it's time to get down on your knees for a squint at all things small.

Two major surveys are calling on your help: first is the Bugs Count from OPAL (that's Open Air Laboratories, brainchild of the Natural History Museum, among others).

They want you to count the minibeasts you see in various habitats, watching out for six key species. It's worth doing just to learn to identify a leopard slug – the only one you shouldn't squash (it eats other slugs).

A leopard slug

A leopard slug

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Adding a little spice to life

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 07:00 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011

I was at a perfectly ordinary plant fair a couple of years ago, mooching around the stalls and idly wondering whether a Clematis 'Niobe' in full flower and trained onto a 6ft high wigwam would fit into the back of a Renault Clio, when I walked into what I can only describe as a wall of scent.

This wasn't your run-of-the-mill lily-of-the-valley and lavender so beloved of soap-makers and grandmas everywhere, either. This had hints of citrus, and curious earthy woody overtones. There was something with a minty tang, and something else, spicy and rich, with a flavour of nutmeg.

Pelargonium 'Lady Mary'

Pelargonium 'Lady Mary'

It was all coming from a stall I would normally have walked straight past: a nursery specialising in geraniums, more properly known as Pelargoniums. I have far too many blowsy fat red geraniums filling tubs all over my patio already, and I don't even like them that much: they just arrive and I haven't the heart to get rid of them.

But the plants filling the air with their spicy perfumes weren't just any pelargonium: these were scented-leaf pelargoniums. And I was hooked.

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Let's hear it for the posy-pickers

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Helen Yemm Helen Yemm | 10:00 UK time, Tuesday, 14 June 2011

cut dahlias in a wheelbarrow

 

I ask scores of other very ordinary gardeners about it, and we all seem to agree:  we simply can’t bring ourselves to ‘spoil’ our gardens by picking flowers from them for the house. 

Well - that’s not strictly true: most of us habitually trawl through our borders to tweak out a little sprig of this, a stem or two of that, a pretty seed head from here, a cluster of bright berries from there, all garnished perhaps with a snippet or two of evergreen foliage. 

In twenty minutes flat we can pick ourselves a perfect posy, a little floral record of that particular day in the garden. Stuffed into a jar teetering amongst the disorder on my desk or, somewhat more aesthetically resplendent on the kitchen table, these little concentrated bits of gardener’s delight can be particularly appreciated on rainy days when closer inspection of the real thing is tricky.

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Garden news

In the news...
Millions of gardeners woke up this morning to another beautiful day of clear, cloudless skies and brilliant sunshine.... and groaned.

watering hose

The agonies of our record-breaking dry spring – rainfall in the south has been just 30% of what it should be – conditions have been officially labelled as 'drought' in East Anglia. And we all know where the word 'drought' appears, 'hosepipe ban' isn't far behind.

Water companies are adamant restrictions aren't needed: but even Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman admits blanket hosepipe bans aren't the answer. Wise gardening helps save what little we've got, and common-sense proposals to phase in restrictions instead, from organisations like the National Farmers' Union, are at last getting a proper hearing.

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Reversion

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Jim McColl Jim McColl | 07:00 UK time, Thursday, 9 June 2011

‘Big buds’ on blackcurrant shoots caused by the Blackcurrant Gall Mite

‘Big buds’ on blackcurrant shoots caused by the Blackcurrant Gall Mite

We gardeners are the worlds worst for using the same name for different things. The classic, which I come back to again, is compost. I would love to find a handier name for the compost that is growing medium and leave the word compost solely for the heap of decaying, re-cycling organic matter that we use to re-vitalise our soils.

'Reversion' is another one. We have the Reversion that can affect blackcurrant bushes - a virus transmitted by Big Bud Mite otherwise known as Blackcurrant Gall Mite. Like many plant viruses, Reversion will slowly debilitate the blackcurrant bush .You may notice that the leaves are getting smaller and some are turning yellowish making the bush less fruitful over time. You may indeed conclude that the plant is in need of a nitrogenous pick-me-up. The clincher and the symptom, which gives it its name is a regression of the leaf structure, as it reverts to a simpler form (fewer major lobes to each leaf).

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Get Up and Grow

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Chris Beardshaw Chris Beardshaw | 13:59 UK time, Monday, 6 June 2011

Left to right: Colin Donaldson and Chris Beardshaw

Left to right: Colin Donaldson and Chris Beardshaw

Transforming a back yard into a garden of beauty is high on many peoples list of desirables but as we found in this series turning up on site armed with a chain saw, skip, mini digger and a plethora of power tools seemed to be received with worried looks from our families of potential gardeners.

Bill and Anna from Port Muck featured in episode three of Get Up and Grow are perfect examples of a couple who were overwhelmed by the plot outside their new conversion. A combination of rising land, rampant hedgerows, badly pruned trees and builder’s rubble left the site looking more like a compound than paradise garden.

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A decade in paradise

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Tim Smit Tim Smit | 07:00 UK time, Sunday, 5 June 2011

It is a year of grand anniversaries. 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of The Eden Project, since St Patrick’s Day 2001, and the 21st year since the rediscovery of The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Bulb mania at the Eden Project (Photo: Ben Foster)

Bulb mania at the Eden Project (Photo: Ben Foster)

There's been an awful lot of dirt under the fingernails in that time - and across Britain, a renaissance in interest in horticulture in general and growing your own in particular.

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A Chelsea Show Garden - medals

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Tom Hoblyn Tom Hoblyn | 07:00 UK time, Thursday, 2 June 2011

Last Tuesday, the day I have been waiting for, for the last six months finally came around - Chelsea Medal Day. Just after dawn, the RHS run around the show ground dispensing medals to the sea of anxious designers and exhibitors; not a shiny-Olympic-pendant-variety I might add, but a printed card in varying shades from Gold to Bronze, that is displayed at the side of your garden.

Joe Swift presents from Tom Hoblyn's garden

Joe Swift presents a piece from the show garden

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