Archives for September 2011

Fascinating Fungi

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Faith Roskrow Faith Roskrow | 15:30 UK time, Monday, 26 September 2011

I love Autumn in the Arboretum, not just the crisp sunny days, the foggy early starts or the colour of the leaves - the mix of reds, oranges and golds - the berries and fruits all around - it's fungi that get me really excited!

There is something magical about fungi; mushrooms and toadstools featured heavily in my childhood. I spent hours reading Enid Blyton's tales "Pip the Pixie" and "The Magic Faraway Tree".

Dryad's saddle

Dryad's saddle

For me it really is fairies at the bottom of the garden - or in some cases is it fairies up in the trees? We see them growing around the base of trees, but how often do we look up into the trees?

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Knowing Your Apples

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 15:00 UK time, Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Cox

Cox

Can you put a name to every apple growing in your garden?

How about every apple in your neighbour's garden? Or the community orchard down the road?

Chances are it's one of the more commonly-grown ones: most of us know a Cox's Orange Pippin when we see one. But just sometimes, you find you've got something unusual on your hands.

Last year, for example, I inherited a lovely low-growing apple tree with my new garden. It was laden with fruit, most of it ready to eat. But the more I looked at the apples, the more puzzled I became.

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Seeds

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Bob Sherman Bob Sherman | 10:00 UK time, Friday, 16 September 2011

Seeds need to be admired. Why should evolution have sculpted such exquisite, complex forms just for the purpose of creating a new plant? Surely a simple blob would have done? I am forever in admiration of these tiny creations, and at Garden Organic we've an entire Heritage Seed Library dedicated to the rarest of them.

seed in hand

As the season would have it, now is the time to save your own complex 'blobs' as the seed harvest is in full crop. Seed saving is a lot easier than you might think, although a note of caution: avoid saving seed from F1 hybrids as their parentage is complex and what you get next year won't be what you had this year!

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Biodynamic Gardening

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Alys Fowler Alys Fowler | 07:00 UK time, Sunday, 11 September 2011

Looking into summer meadow

Looking into the summer meadow

Over the last couple of years I have thought a lot about gardening and rules. And specifically how much I hate the prescriptive nature in which a lot of gardening is taught. For as I travel down this dirt road, the more I realize that there are no such things as absolutes only loose boundaries where you can start to suggest how to go about growing.

Five years ago I would have been very skeptical about biodynamics and its place in horticulture. But yesterday I found myself nodding with agreement with Claire Hattersley, the garden team leader of the Weleda farm garden as she took us through the principles behind biodynamic gardening.

Biodynamic gardening is rooted in organic principles but seeks to enliven plants by drawing on the cosmos (planting by the moon is one part of it, but then there are other planets and their influences). So yes, let’s just get it over with, there’s some funny business that's not easily explained by traditional science.

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Garden news

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 07:00 UK time, Saturday, 10 September 2011

In the news...

If you're one of the tens of thousands of would-be veg gardeners waiting for the keys to an allotment, take heart: the National Trust handed over its 1000th plot this week.

The Brown family at Hatchlands (Photo: Professional Images)

The Brown family at Hatchlands (Photo: Professional Images)

The beautifully prepared patch, by a mellow old wall at the Grace and Flavour community garden on the Hatchlands Park estate in Surrey, went to garden blogger Claire Brown, assisted by husband and enthusiastic small boy. Blackcurrants, leeks and spring cabbages are already in place.

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Green Roofs

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Dusty Gedge Dusty Gedge | 07:00 UK time, Thursday, 8 September 2011

Green roof

My shed this year

Green roofs have slowly entered the mainstream. Many new developments are having green roofs installed as part of their designs. There is a growing industry catering for the large-scale construction industry, however, for me, it is the small scale green roofs that offer a chance to really do interesting things.

Green roofs are now being accepted as an important part of sustainable construction and climate change adaptation, which is very important. However in the garden or around the house a green roof offers an opportunity to liven up an otherwise barren asphalt surface.

Although the initial investment in terms of cost and labour may be relatively expensive, the pleasure gained in my opinion, far outweighs and cannot be given a value.

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The Home Grown Sweet Shop

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James Wong James Wong | 07:00 UK time, Sunday, 4 September 2011

James Wong

As every glossy magazine & middle class dinner party conversation will tell you, the newly-cool ‘grow your own’ movement is going from strength to strength.Yet as an allotmenteer with an unplacatable sweet tooth, I have always thought the WI-style jams & pre-war pie recipes a slightly predictable, even mundane, fate for the crops I spend all year lavishing attention on.

Surely there is something a little quirkier or unexpected to really celebrate the excitement of that first harvest?

Well to me there is. It comes in the form of fulfilling a geeky childhood fantasy and playing a horticultural Willy Wonka, concocting up all manner of sticky, sweet shop favourites from the contents of your bedsand borders.

You don’t need fancy sugar thermometers, a bank of E-numbers or a team of Umpa Lumpas either, as there are a few cheat sheet ways you get great results with minimal effort.

Making your own sweets from the stuff you grow is also a brilliant way to store your crops (sugar is a remarkable natural preservative) and for the horticultural newbies, make a modest harvest go an awful long way. In fact many of those Victorian sweet shop favourites were ordinarily designed as a way to preserve the flavours (& medicinal benefits) of summer right up into the depths of winter.

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Garden news

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 07:00 UK time, Saturday, 3 September 2011

apples

 

In the news...

The search is on for some of the most northerly apples in Britain, at the start of a new project tracing the apple heritage of the Scottish Highlands.

Local biodiversity officer Jonathan Willet has put 15 orchards on the map so far, including the rather wonderful Old Manse walled garden in Cromarty, where 31 Scots apple varieties grow. He’s also hunting for missing varieties like the Coul Blush, bred in Ross-shire in 1827 and described as a ‘sweet dessert apple with a yellow skin’.

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Bulbs

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Jim McColl Jim McColl | 12:30 UK time, Thursday, 1 September 2011

Bulb collection at the Beechgrove garden

An example of how bulb flowering time can be manipulated. We featured this collection, courtesy of our Dutch friends - in a late August programme.

It's all about flower BULBS this week. In the Beechgrove Garden, I hear the lassies planning a Big Bulb Bash - yes, they started planning this a few weeks ago to time our item with the arrival of new bulb stocks in the shops and garden centres. Buy early when you will be offered the widest choice and you need to buy early if you are intending to have bulbs in flower for Christmas.

'Les girls' want to follow up the work they did with bulbs last year, I take a step back to look at something else - biennials or over-wintering veg, perhaps.

With bulbs big is definitely best! With my original partner in Beechgrove, the late George Barron, whilst visiting Keukenhof, that dazzlingly colourful bulb industry shop window in Holland we were almost ejected by the roving 'parkie' or warden. Why?

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