Archives for October 2011

Tulips

Post categories:

Sarah Raven Sarah Raven | 07:00 UK time, Saturday, 29 October 2011

Tulipa 'Ballerina'

Tulipa 'Ballerina'

Tulips make the best spring-flowering cut flowers. There's nothing that comes near their incredible range of colours and their variation of flower shapes from the tall, and elegant Lily-flowered, to the frilly-edged and crimped Parrot brigade. In the vase of 'Crème Upstar', 'Ballerina' and 'Orange Favourite' they're scented too, with a sweet fragrance reminiscent of freesias.

They last brilliantly in water, particularly if you pick them and then strip most of the leaves, before plonking them into a bucket of cold water, with a sheet of chicken wire attached over the top. Leave them like this for 4 to 6 hours. This allows the stems to set rigid, with every flower completely straight on its stem, and puts right that classic tulip problem where the flowers hang forlornly over the edge of a vase.

Read the rest of this entry

Designing a Berry Patch

Post categories:

Sally Nex Sally Nex | 07:00 UK time, Thursday, 27 October 2011

Most gardens have a veg patch tucked away somewhere, a strip of land set aside for spuds and beans and cabbages. It's all rather homely-sounding, with echoes of Beatrix Potter and flat caps and hoeing.

Raspberry

Raspberry

But I've had it with homely. I want a berry patch.

Berry patches are altogether more luscious and indulgent. They're places of pleasure, sweetness, seduction: where every branch drips translucent red and purple jewels swollen with sugar. They're American inventions: the equivalent of our prosaic and functional fruit cage, though that doesn't come close to capturing the spirit of Huckleberry Finn adventure, of childhoods spent getting lost among the blueberry bushes with faces smeared in purple and stomachs aching with strawberries.

Read the rest of this entry

Choosing and Planting Trees

Post categories:

Tony Russell Tony Russell | 07:00 UK time, Saturday, 22 October 2011

'The right tree for the right spot' may sound simplistic, but time spent finding out your soil type (acid or alkaline?) and assessing the site for sun or shade and shelter will pay dividends.

Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree)

Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree)

The golden rule is to identify the conditions of your location first and then find a tree to suit. Cherries thrive in alkaline soils, most willows (Salix spp) prefer it damp, Japanese maples (Acer spp) like dappled shade but the Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum) wants full sun.

Read the rest of this entry

Hyacinths

Post categories:

Mike Ward Mike Ward | 12:15 UK time, Monday, 17 October 2011

Say what you like, the gods of Ancient Greece were out for a good time and weren’t afraid of the consequences. Take Zephyr, god of the west wind, and his pal Apollo. One day Apollo was teaching a handsome young man named Hyakinthos how to throw the discus. Everything was going well until Zephyr flew into a jealous rage and blew the discus back, dashing out the brains of the handsome young man and killing him. On the plus side, however, a beautiful flower immediately grew from his blood, and Apollo named it Hyacinth in his memory.

Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Blue Magic’

Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Blue Magic’, this deep purple variety allows a border shading from white to almost black to be developed

Reality, however, is less Eastenders and more Gardeners Question Time.

Read the rest of this entry

Wicked Bugs

Post categories:

Amy Stewart Amy Stewart | 10:00 UK time, Thursday, 13 October 2011

I generally don't consider a bug that eats a plant to be wicked. Plants are, after all, the food supply for many insects; I'm hardly going to blame them for eating their dinner. No, a wicked bug is one that has caused catastrophic, widespread suffering, or inflicted pain and disease and misery on us. Mowing down the lettuce or boring into the melon vines is nothing in comparison to the assassin bug that bit Charles Darwin, the giant centipede that terrorized a Londoner , or the Brazilian wandering spider that bit a pub chef.

Cabbage root fly

Cabbage root fly

And yes, I'm using the term "bug" loosely to refer not just to insects, but to a variety of creepy, crawling, and slithering creatures that infest not just our gardens, but our nightmares as well.

Read the rest of this entry

Maman Blanc's Apple Tart

Post categories:

Raymond Blanc Raymond Blanc | 07:00 UK time, Sunday, 9 October 2011

From the moment I came to Britain the small number of fruit and vegetables available puzzled me. Why had the country lost its own fruit and vegetable heritage? Retailers stocked a few English varieties, but most were foreign.

Vegetable Garden at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Vegetable Garden at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

So drawing on my own French heritage I began to try to rediscover our lost heritage, taste and flavours. It has been an extraordinary undertaking, culminating in an orchard being born at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.

Our orchard project allows me to put into practice my passion for excellence; exceptional and outstanding taste, locally sourced produced and respect for the heritage of food, with sustainable and environmentally sensitive production. It aims to include some 400 heritage varieties when it is fully complete. The first planting took place in April 2011 when some 800 trees of apple and pear.

Read the rest of this entry

Leaf Mould

Post categories:

Emma Cooper Emma Cooper | 11:30 UK time, Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Darwin may have been fascinated by the way that earthworms manage to pull leaves down into the soil, but sadly they don't manage to work on a fast enough timescale to prevent falling leaves from causing problems in autumn.

Not only will a carpet of leaves bleach patches of the lawn and clog up the pond, but once leaves start to disintegrate on the hard landscaping we have to worry about Aunty Mabel slipping over when she pops out to refill the bird feeder.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Fallen leaves aren't all bad, though - with the help of those earthworms and other soil organisms they break down and feed the soil, and while they're doing so they form a protective layer that prevents winter weather from ruining the soil structure and leaching away all the nutrients. They also provide a top-notch wildlife habitat when they pile up in drifts and under hedges.

Read the rest of this entry

It's Nut Season Again

Post categories:

Martin Crawford Martin Crawford | 07:00 UK time, Saturday, 1 October 2011

Come September and October my thoughts inevitably turn to nuts, not just the well known hazels, sweet chestnuts and walnuts, but some of the less common nuts that grow well here – bladdernuts, heartnuts, hickories and acorns from oaks to name a few.

Most start to drop from the trees from early October and throughout the month I’ll try and harvest nuts daily from the ground before too many are made off with by other critters – mice and squirrels being the worst culprits.

Hazel Butler nuts

Hazel Butler nuts

Many nut trees make large specimens – sweet chestnuts and walnuts for example – and only those with a larger garden are likely to have room for them. Heartnuts and hickories (apart from pecan) also make large trees in time. But there are a number of nuts that can be grown in smaller spaces too.

Read the rest of this entry

More from this blog...

Categories

These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.