The Sunday Gardener's Blog

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  1. denuded-toms-310

    As the season draws on, it can become harder to get tomatoes to ripen. The light levels are lower and the air tends to become moist, which can introduce more pests and diseases. I have always taken the secateurs to the leaves to keep thinning them out. I have always thought it a good policy to remove any crossing or compromised leaves to prevent diseases and to remove some leaves to raise light levels.

    Ken Thompson, who is a plant biologist with a keen interest in the science of gardening, (and writes some really interesting stuff around gardening)  has an article on the Telegraph about removing tomatoes leaves. Received wisdom has generally been to the effect that removing the lower, older leaves is good but research is now showing that when leaves were removed up to two trusses above the ripening truss, this meant the fruits were warmer and ripened earlier than those on plants where only lower leaves were removed,  none of which had any effect on yield. The full article is very interesting and well worth a read.

    Since I have always been quick to get out the secateurs around the tomato leaves, this gave me  a good reason to go out into the greenhouse and chop away. I have denuded the tomato plants of all leaves up to the second truss, and left the young growth in tact. It will be interesting to see what happens, frankly this year, with the poor summer the tomato plants need all the help they can get. The image left shows how the plants now look.

    If all else fails there is the sunday gardener fool proof way of ripening tomatoes at the end of the season.


  2. Tough Hosta Shredded Hosta Two-snails-too-many-310


    Hosta are a lovely garden plant with lush green foliage in many shades of green from lime to blue. They are ideal for growing in shady areas, look very attractive set around a pond, and with ferns but they are slug and snail magnets.

    Some gardens suffer more from slugs and snails than others, in which case pick the varieties of Hosta which is most resistant and not the centre one. The best resistant Hosta are those with tough ribbed leaves, as in image left or blue leaves in the image below and these types stand up best. The Hosta which seem to suffer the most have the thinner leaves, often green and cream variations.

    To try and keep Hostas looking good you do need to keep an eye on them as not much can be done for the one in the centre image, well past redemption.  But if it is just a case of a few chewed up leaves, cut them off. The image bottom left shows that in the centre of the plant there are young leaves forming and if you cut off a few of the larger, damaged leaves, the new growth will come through. Later in the growing season, and these images are taken in August, you can see in the next image bottom centre that the plant still looks good even though about a dozen leaves have been cut off and the new ones will come through. Hosta do form a lot of leaves so by August it is safe to remove a few if they are badly chewed. The further image below shows two types of Hosta side by side and some real difference in how they look by later in the growing season.  The blue one is in much better shape.

    By later in the season the flowers on most Hostas look tatty and it is very tempting to cut them off, but inexplicably,  the bees continue to like them and as I walk past the plants several bees are landing on the sad looking flowers so best to leave them there.

    Finally the further bottom images are a counter balance to the shredded Hosta leaves and a reminder of how lovely Hostas can look if the snails and slugs can be kept at bay.  More about growing Hostas


    The new growth in centre of Hosta Hosta after cutting off damaged  leaves Snail damage comparison on Hosta


    perfect lush Hosta Perfect blue hosta Rain on beautiful Hosta leaf



  3. I have always wanted to visit Bodnant Gardens in Wales and now I have, I just want to go back there and visit all over again. It is without doubt one of the most stunning, varied and simply beautiful gardens I have visited.

    There are so many different areas and it is huge, 80 acres with lots of walks. There are formal areas with immaculate planting, Italian style, with a white garden and rose garden after rose garden in full bloom. A whole border of Dierama with various planting and grasses which is so unusual.

    The whole garden has many of the streams fringed with lush planting of Hosta (noticeably in tact with very little slug snail damage, I know not how given the wet conditions) Astilbe, huge Royal Ferns, and lovely blue Hydrangea. There are extensive woodland areas including an Acer glade and huge Redwoods opening up into meadow and grassy areas so relaxing to walk through. 

    The garden is so big just I could not see it all; but a stunning very impressive garden which clearly would look equally fabulous in the Spring and Autumn.

    The garden is situated in Conway, North Wales, just on the edge of  the Snowdonia National park in beautiful countryside.  The garden is featured on the National Trust web site and there are more images on Pinterest Bodnant Garden 

    Woodland pond green and lush
    formal planting with lovely views


    natural planting purple loosestrife and meadow sweet Lovely planting Stipa and Crocosmia Dierama and Stipa tenuissima




    RHS lakeside garden

    RHS Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire is one of the prestigious RHS gardens and makes for a great day out. Set in the craggy Yorkshire countryside, there is great diversity including an alpine house, scented gardens, steams, woods, foliage garden, Queen Mother's lake, and for children, craggle top tree house, a play area and BFG.  Central to the garden is the stream which runs East/ West across the garden with lovely streamside planting. In the image below, Aruncus has been planted to great effect around part of the stream. Aruncus is a shade tolerant plant, very similar to Astilbe, but taller and only found in white.

    The image above is part of the collection of Lakeside gardens, a beautifully balanced planting scheme surrounded by wild areas, which contrive to look natural thought good managment, I wish they would manage my wild area which just looks very wild at present. The are several areas of wild flower and grasses which a feature at RHS Harlow Carr and add to its natural beauty. The main borders, which are very deep and run parallel, are expertly planted with many varieties of herbaceous plants forming a colourful palette.

    On the south side of the garden there is extensive woodland and an arboretum which is a lovely area for a walk. The space and wooded areas allow the visitor to stroll around in relative peace and to relax. I love the herbaceous borders and the planting is so clever; but I always find woods and trees have a restorative quality. 

    Visiting this garden inspires me to be a tidy gardener when I see the immaculate kitchen gardens which are so carefully laid out. Everything is neat and weed free and, even more envious, disease free, a real testament to good gardening.

    And after all that walking tea and cake at Bettys.


    Aruncus streamside
    Woodland walk  
    tidy kitchen garden tidy greenhouse