Make yours a wildlife friendly garden

Gardens are vital in providing habitats & corridors for wildlife to live and travel esp in urban areas.  Here are some simple tips on how to make your garden more friendly to wildlife without  sacrificing the atractive, family garden that you really do deserve. Wildlife needs what gardeners like too: long season of flowers, plenty autumn berries & some evergreen in...

Lawns – the good, the bad & the easy

A  few tips on lawns as the summer progresses from my WoolliesAskAlison twitter tweetorial: Established, healthy lawn withstands dry summer without watering. Top may go brown but will recover when it rains. Spring & summer lawn feeds high Nitrogen for lush green growth, autumn higher potassium for tougher leaves pre winter. Newly turfed or sown lawns need to be watered in dry periods...

The tropic of West Kent

If you don't get a free copy of the Town Crier magazine - here is my June article It is easier to create a tropical-looking garden in our temperate climate than you might think and does not require without a greenhouse to protect all the plants in winter.  Choose plants with a strong architectural shape or big leaves but survive...

Germination & growing runner beans

Germination: Runner beans need water to germinate but do not need any other special conditions or treatment; they will germinate in the dark (underground) or in the light. The root always starts to grow first and it always grows downwards.  The plant is sensitive to gravity and the root grows towards gravity.  This is called Geotropism.  The shoot always grows away from...

Why has my Camellia gone yellow?

Plants such as Rhododendron, Azalea, Camellia and Acers are often described as ‘ericaceous’, indicating that they thrive in an acid soil.  In fact, it is more accurate to say that these plants do not thrive in an alkaline soil, they are perfectly happy in a neutral soil especially if iron is added.  Here is the explanation: ericaceous plants cannot tolerate...

Botanical Names – friend or foe?

Latin (more properly called botanical) names can seem like a nightmare invented to put off the new gardener but I encourage you to reconsider and develop a little knowledge about how plants are named.   The practical use is that botanical names identify an individual variety of any given plant uniquely across the world, no matter what language the gardener is...

Exactly what do plant roots do?

Plants need roots and although some plants absorb water and nutrients from the air or host plants, most have their roots firmly embedded in the soil and here we look at what their functions.  Firstly roots (hopefully) anchor the plant securely in the soil against buffeting by winds and passing animals.  Secondly, plants take in nutrients from the soil, compost...

Leaf mould & the self destructing sack

We are now well and truly in the leaf gathering season so ensure that you make the most of nature’s bounty by rotting deciduous leaves into leaf mould for use as a fantastic soil conditioner.  Leaves need plenty of air circulation to decompose and must be fairly wet when stacked to kick off the process.  I have never found...

Mycorrhizal fungi – what are they & do I want them?

Autumn and winter are the key tree and shrub planting seasons in the South East of England and gardeners are hearing a lot of references to ‘Mycorrhiza’ so this seems a good time to explore what it/they do.  Mycorrhizal fungi are present naturally in the soil but can be depleted in soil or growing compost that has been deeply...

Bulbs, corms & tubers – the same but different

October sees the start of the main bulb planting season with daffodils, crocus, tulips and many more appearing in garden centres and nurseries.   But there is more to bulbs than the common spring flowering selections and understanding a bit about their lifecycle can help you to be more confident and more adventurous in your choices. In fact bulbs, corms and...