Category: herbs

Our vegetables are fast coming on stream, with more variety than we usually manage

July Gardening Miscellany

Weatherwise, it’s been perfect for gardening; just a little rain, but all my newly acquired plants are now well established, and the ‘hungry’ ones – beans and sweet-peas – are fed weekly with diluted seaweed extract. Even though we made a late start (wet and cold in the high Cotswolds) we still have far more produce than two of us can possible consume. My July Gardening Miscellany will take you from our own plot, through the garden gate for inspiration near and far, and then to hopeful holiday-time activities and relaxation. All with gardening as the catalyst, of course.

The flower patch is already attracting a whole range of insects

The flower patch is already attracting a whole range of insects

Creating a flower patch within the vegetable ‘allotment’ has been perfect for attracting insects – mixing climbing vegetables with the flowers has intensified pollination. Vegetable trials of new varieties are ongoing, some are better than others – at least they are in our soil and conditions. Once established, we never water; it’s a waste of precious resources, and with produce and flowers packed close together, the heavy clay ground does not dry out. Though we do take advantage of ‘grey’ water and water butts.

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potagers combine vegetables and flowers

Flower Garden Vegetables

How many gardeners, I wonder, are adamant that flowers and vegetables should never mix, but be kept apart – one is pure decoration, the other grown for the kitchen. This was certainly so in former times, when the vegetable plot was kept well out of sight of the house. In reality, the nearer it is to the house the easier the harvesting.

I’ve always hankered after thoughts of an established potager where all is a glorious mix, though not all flowers and veg co-habit as happily as one might wish. Sometimes a surprise occurs and the notion of flower garden vegetables is almost forced upon one. A vegetable runs to seed – what a beauty – and hey-presto; a new entrant for the cutting patch. I had forgotten the joyous exuberance of my original potager, back in the late 60s, before digital photography was a possibility – not that that had anything to do with it, only that I wish I had more images of that rather special form of growing so much of what I love in a small space.

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winding paths and secret corners adorn this lovely find in south Shropshire

Small Scale Gardening

I so frequently advocate gaining inspiration for one’s own garden from visits to ‘stately homes’ that it is all too easy to forget what is on one’s own doorstep. Actually, the notion sprang into my head when I was a considerable distance from home. This last weekend, I was participating by invitation in a ‘Garden and Book-Arts Festival’ on the English/Welsh border just outside Knighton, Powys – though on the other side of the River Teme, in Shropshire. My kind hosts took me to a couple of open gardens “in the middle of nowhere”.  I suddenly realised that here were examples of small scale gardening at its very best, and an opportunity to talk to owners about the nature of the soil, difficulties or otherwise of climate or location (steep hillsides for example)  under which they toiled. 

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Flowers to delight - and available for cutting throughout the summer

Flower Patch Kaleidoscope

No matter what one plans to do in the garden, we are continually subjected to the vagaries of the British weather. So although we had planned to create our new flower patch kaleidoscope during this last week, it is still under construction. Part dug over, part still weed-infested (and none of them edible!) Seedlings were potted on; pots were placed in impervious trays to soak up moisture added from the rain-water barrel. Down came the rain (torrential at times) and they nearly drown! As do I as I rescue them into trays with drainage holes. The kaleidoscope will be a long time coming.

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Think outside the box when it comes to creating a decorative and productive garden

Inspired Perennial Patches

Suddenly the weather has turned airless and incredibly warm. It’s almost too hot to work outside, so I am thankful that, here in our north Cotswold acre, I decided this year to create inspired perennial patches wherever there was space to do so. Gardening with perennials – herbs, vegetables and flowers saves time; once established they will ‘do their own thing’. And if plants are packed tightly together, weed growth is discouraged. I can concentrate instead on creating a garden that is beautiful to look at. So it was interesting to see this technique had been adopted by many Show Garden designers at the 2014 RHS Malvern Spring Festival. (Hard to believe that I was there taking photos and talking to plant growers and garden designers only a week ago.)

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