The Sunday Gardener's Blog

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  1. close up of wreath 500 Christmas Wreath on door 500


    It's definitely not perfect, homemade rarely is. But on the plus side, this wreath is free and compostable. When the festive season is over, it can go on the compost heap or in the green bin. 
    The framework is made from Cornus stems, but any shrub stems which are flexible will do fine. Start by weaving or winding bout 6/7 stems to make a round framework and then bind it at the top with raffia. This secures the wreath and binding the top helps to make it more circular and hold its shape.
    The 6/7 stems also make a base to weave in, tie in and add in other matter. This wreath has bits of a fir tree, green Portuguese Laurel, bright variegated Euonymus and some Ivy.

    There is also (very prickly) green and variegated Holly, Orange Berberis and some dark purple Hypericum berries with some added dried seed heads and old Astilbe flower heads. You can use whatever you have in your garden and make a Christmas Wreath unique to you.

    Merry Christmas everyone.



  2. What is mulching a border ?


    mulching the borders

    This time of year  is a good time to clear up in the borders. Most of my borders are  planted with herbaceous perennials and so look a complete mess by now. Various plants collapsed and frosted.

    On milder days at this time of year I am working to clear the weeds and mulch.

    Once the finished plants are cut back, the weeds are there to be seen in all their resplendent glory as a result there is more weeding to be done now than in the spring.

    Late Autumn and early Winter is a good time to mulch the borders. The helps to improve the soil structure, protects any slightly tender plants and makes the borders look much tidier.

    In the image above all the weeds have been removed and then a mulch applied. I like to use Strulch, it is light and so easy to handle, supresses the weeds and keeps in the moisture and will rot down to improve the soil structure. Apply a mulch layer around 3-4 cms and do not over cover the center crown of plants, especially roses. The image left may not look up to RHS standard but before the weeding and mulching it really was a mess. The mulch makes the border look neater.

    You can also use compost, or make a leaf mulch, which is free to anyone who has too many leaves in the garden. Although leaf mulch is not a nutritional mulch, it is good for the soil structure and the borders will benefit. 

     It is hard to keep a garden tidy and surprising how much neater it looks when covered in a tidy layer of mulch, and it will keep the weeds at bay.

    Leaf mould is easy to make; tips on making leaf mould and a bin.

  3. indoor herb garden

    Around this time of year I bring indoors tender herbs and also some culinary herbs for autumn and winter.

    Tender herbs, such as Basil will not survive the cold and even some of the so called hardy herbs, such as Tarragon (both in the image left) will look very sorry for itself after a few weeks of chilly wet weather.

    Having herbs indoors also avoids a cold/wet/snowy dash outside to pick herbs when you are cooking. With this in mind I have also have Thyme in the container, which is hardy. In my view this is the very best Thyme for cooking with, its plain Thymus Vulgaris, and has a lovely sweet flavour. 

    I will pot up another container with a few more herbs in so there is a ready supply all winter. The containers are happy on a window sill, conservatory or porch even if unheated. 


  4. The weather forecast is offering a reprieve  from the rainy conditions with some warm sunny days, ideal for relaxing in the garden. Heavy rain takes its toll on a garden, battering the flowers and flattening everything. Here are some ideas for the bank holiday weekend and gardening tips for August.

    A clear up will help the garden pick up and encourage perennials to keep blooming. Dead head everything which has spent or weather damages flowers especially Roses, Geraniums, Sweet Peas and other annuals, trimming back Nepeta, Achillea Mollis and other tired looking perennials. Whilst many perennials will not flower again, they will grow new foliage which will be bright and cheerful.

    This would be a good time to feed the garden to keep the flowers going into autumn.

    This weekend I will be pruning the Wisteria, its a bit later than is ideal, but still in time. As a guide below are before and after images and there is additional information about  How to Summer Prune Wisteria and video.


    wisteria before summer pruning


    wisteria after summer prune


    Another result of all the wet and windy weather is that some plants have been flattered and suffered damage.

    Don't compost prunings they make great free natural looking plant stakes and are often the perfect shape for propping up plants. 

    Re stake plants using this years prunings. Although many of the perennials look a bit battered, we have still some summer to go and September is often mild and warm, so plenty of flowering still to come.


    Plant-stakes-for-free 310


    tired bedding plants


    A lot of rain and windy weather batters hanging baskets and annuals. The basket on the left was looking lovely last week!

    It maybe possible to salvage the basket by deadheading extensively, removing everything which has flowered or been damaged by the rain and then feeding. However, because bedding plants tend to be less robust and are getting towards the end of their flowering season, some bbaskets will be too far gone and will only limp along. In which case consider replacing them.



    Great Autumn offers from Crocus with a selection of winter Viola and Pansey for delivery w/c 2nd Sept 

    Illustrated below left is Pansy Coastal sunrise mix and right is Viola Sorbet Yellow which are just some of the Panseys on offer and at a great price of £19.99 for 40+ 20 free for a stunning autumn and winter display.

    Click here for more information.



    Pansy Coastal Sunrise Mixed


    Viola Sorbet yellow Blue Jump up




    Dry weather also gives an oppotunity to lift up Onions and Garlic to dry ready for storage.

    To be on the safe side after a couple of days on the ground drying out I usually bring into the greenhouse to rest on the slats for a few days. If you have no greenhouse you can store in a string net in a dry place such as a warm garden shed or conservatory. 

     Info growing and storing onions and garlic





    Finally, this is a good time to take stock of the garden, what worked and what didn't look as good as you hoped. Some perennials are short lived and may need replacing. Most of my garden is herbaceous and so if I leave it to the spring to consider what changes to make there will be little or nothing to see . Photos now of the garden are really useful to mull over in the winter and work out changes for next year.