Miss Landscape

Miss Landscape Blog

An ongoing wealth of garden knowledge

The lawn in winter

17 January 2019

The severity of our winters here in the UK can vary from mild and dry, bogged down with constant mud or 'Beast of the East'! 

As a general rule, the less you do to your lawn in winter, the better. Treat it as though you are giving your lawn a well earned rest for the year. 

This said, there are still a few jobs you can do on the elusive dry, mild day:

  • Regularly clear leaves and debris from the lawn to let as much light in there as possible. 
  • Try not to walk on the grass when it is frosty or waterlogged as this can damage the sword and cause compaction. 
  • Only mow the lawn if you need to, set the blades high enough just to neaten it up and not if it is wet or frozen.
  • Keep an eye out for damaged areas caused either by pests, disease, drainage etc and make note of them to be repaired in the spring. 
  • Draw up a calendar for your lawn. OK, some people may think this is a bit over kill... but if you are wanting a flawless lawn - it makes sense to have a plan, and winter is a good time to do this.

Allotmenteers!

20th January 2019

Like myself, you will probably only feel like visiting your Lottie on the driest and warmest days in January, but I wouldn't recommend doing any digging if your soil is too wet - if it sticks to everything - then its too wet! 

Here are a few things I have been doing this month (and some things I still need to do)

  • Harvesting the hardy winter veg such as: brassicas, leeks, celariac and roots such at turnips, parsnips and winter radishes. 
  • Mulch empty plots with well rotted manure.
  • Lay down sheets of polythene, carpet or cardboard to warm up areas of seed beds ready for your early sowings. 
  • Buy and start to chit seed potatoes
  • Winter prune established apple and pear trees.
  • Check fruit cages, netting, poly, cloches and other protection and supports for damage after heavy winds and snowfall. 
  • Create a planting and sowing plan for the year ahead. 
  • Clean and organise pots and seed trays.
  • Clear out the shed!
  • Check for pests and diseases and clear debris that can make for good hiding places for pesky slugs and snails. 


The perks of mulching leaves

27 January 2019

So like most of my fellow gardeners, I spent the majority of my Autumn months removing leaves from lawns. This is a thankless task that is only rewarding for around 30 minutes, or until the next gust of wind comes along. 

Then I am asking myself, is this really necessary?

The answer is no.

Mulching leaves with the mower basically shreds the leaves into tiny bits that eventually filter down through the grass to rot down and feed the soil. Most mowers have a mulching action. This usually involves removing the collection box to allow the leaves to be discharged out the back (just dont wear your best trousers!). Acting as fertilizer and a natural weed deterrent, this would save us the headache in the spring of having to throw chemicals all over the lawn to make it green again!

Some cardens where there are lots of trees in a small area, you may find the quantity of leaves a little overwhelming and a bit much to mulch. In this case I would recommend scooping some of them up, or use the collection box on the mower, then dump them on your beds, but there would be no harm in going over with the mulcher to get the ones that are more scattered. 

For those who insist on having a spotless lawn year-round and are worried what the neighbours will think of all the brown confetti, dont worry. As soon as the worms smell the delicious juicy goodness on those leaves, they will drag all those bits down into the soil. 

Remember that leaves that are not removed from your lawn block the sunlight and air from reaching the grass, resulting in the grass being smothered and even the spread of fungus and some diseases affecting the quality of your lawn in the following years. 

Whatever you do, don't waste the leaves!! they can always be used somewhere in the garden!

Happy mulching!!


My Monthly Favorite

30 January 2019

January: Winter Flowering Honeysuckle Lonicera fragrantissima

The winter honeysuckle produces wonderfully scented, creamy white flowers during the winter months upon semi-bare branches, sometimes also followed by red berries. Come spring the leaves of  L. fragrantissima will appear a deep, rich green, with a purple/bronze flush to them. 

This plant is a shrub but it can also be trained to grow against a wall with careful annual pruning. It is best positioned where the flowers can be seen up close and where the scent can be truly appreciated.

winter flowering honeysuckle is a specimen plant ideal for cottage, scented and wildlife gardens. It is relatively low maintenance growing up to 3m with a 2.5m spread in sun or part shade and is fully hardy. 

This shrub can be enjoyed as part of a container display, as part of a shrubbery or border, or, like me, you could grow it up the wall of your brick outhouse?

Wherever you decide to grow it, the winter flowering honeysuckle will never disappoint you and i hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

My Monthly Favorite

15 February 2019

February: Hellebores and Daphne mezereum

Ok so this month I have cheated a little and chosen two plants as my favorites this month. That's probably because I am so excited for SPRING!!!! 

Firstly there's hellebores aka Christmas roses. These striking perennials are perfect for brightening a shady corner with their elegant flowers and their evergreen, architectural foliage. 

Hellebores prefer to grow in rich, well drained soil in dappled shade. They are essentially a woodland plant, so avoid waterlogged soil.

The subtle flowers of these plants are often hidden by the leaves. By removing the old leaves in late winter, will ensure that the blooms can be seen clearly.

Daphne mezereum is a deciduous shrub with purplish, fragrant flowers that often appear in early spring in clusters of twos and threes, followed by grey/green foliage and red berries.

This shrub would be perfect underplanted with snowdrops, hellebores and ophiopogon for a great February spectacle!

You're welcome!

My Monthly Favorite

13 March 2019

Pulmonaria 

  Pulmonarias (commonly known as Lungworts) are a great group of plants, they are low growing and provide masses of flowers in Spring, with blue, red, purple, pink and white forms available. They associate well with Hellebores, snowdrops, Cyclamen, Tiarella and Erythronium. Many have fabulous foliage, well marked and even fully silvered leaves, providing a lovely contrast to Summer flowering plants such as hardy Geraniums. They really have two seasons of interest, flowers and foliage over a long period in Spring and then fine clumps of fresh foliage in Autumn which form an attractive ground cover before flowering in the Spring. Tidy up plants in Winter to make room for a flush of new strong growth.

  One of the great things about these plants is that they from large clumps quite quickly so you can divide them up after flowering and spread them around your garden or even as I do, share them with your friends and neighbors. Lungwort is beneficial to early pollinators and has a long flowering season especially when dead-headed.

Moody March

13 March 2019

  I sit writing this as storm 'Gareth' beats relentlessly against the living room window. The garden beyond a brownie-grey blur with the odd glims of violet, indigo and pinks of the prims and pulmonarias, the Anemone blanda haven't bothered to come out today and I really don't blame them! Instead I added a picture of them in the title so I can look at them for inspiration as despite the name, they really are quite charming<<

  We were utterly spoilt in february by the beautiful weather and I was truly lulled into a false sense of security. I set up my little plastic greenhouse and sowed lots of seeds; peas, beans, tomatoes, marigolds, leeks, beets... As my better half predicted through my impatience, I lost the whole lot in the gails. 3 weeks of sowing and germination gone. I'm pretty sure the residents of Castleton Will be benefiting from my widely distributed vegetable buffet this summer. Oh well nevermind, better start again. 


Anyway, my grumble about the weather over with, what else can we be getting on with this month?


Spring means bulbs. It's not the time of year to be planting bulbs and it's still a bit early for lifting them, but now is a good time to have a walk around your garden and enjoy the ones that are blooming. Take a notepad or some plant labels and mark out any gaps or clumps that you will later want to divide. 


Plant for early pollinators

  • Wallflowers
  • Primula vulgaris
  • Bugle
  • Crocus
  • Hellebore
  • Clematis chirosa

Pop down to your local garden centre and bag a few of these. Plant them at home in the borders or create a couple of eye catching containers for the front garden or patio. The bees will thank you for this early supply of nectar and pollen and also you will add some extra charm to your garden especially if planted amongst your already flowering bulbs!


Cut back summer flowering clematis to 3 buds from the ground and make sure that the supports are in good condition for this growing season. if you haven't already, give your summer flowering perennials a tidy up by removing last years growth. whilst your doing this, check through the borders for any perennial weeds and remove them as you go. 


Give the lawn its first topping. If your lawn has begun to grow, there is no harm in giving it its first trim. Remember to raise the mower blades to the top and don't cut if the ground is frozen or waterlogged. 


The good weather may only come in brief spells but when it does remember to take a minute enjoy your garden!

April showers??

20 April 2019

Water Conservation: Garden Techniques

Half the time the UK seems to be drowning yet when we have a good summer it turns into a drought! So it appears we can either utilise the rain we get or learn to garden without it !


There are ways  to make the most of what water or rainfall you have. This is done by finding ways to use your available resources to minimize water loss from your garden or by maximizing the use of the water you have.


Maximizing the use of water:

The first step would be to invest in a good water hose. Regularly check you water hoses and make sure the washers are properly installed to minimize water loss. 

If you don’t have time to water or have a bigger budget, consider installing a soaker hoses irrigation system. This may be a simple weekend project with the right home tools. The irrigation system will save you a lot of time and water. The holes in hoses can be directed to areas where the water is needed at the base of the plant. This will reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation and runoff.


Best Time to Water

Choosing the best time of day to water can also help with your water conservation. Water at night is not the most efficient as this leads to mildews and fungi potentially infecting your plants. The best time to water is during the early morning hours.


Mulching to Reduce Evaporation

Adding a layer of organic mulch to your garden helps retain the moisture content of your soil. The mulch effectively insulates the soil and improves the quality of your soil. The mulch will eventually decompose and add to the organic content of the soil, making it richer and more able to support healthier plants as well as retain more moisture, which in turn requires less watering.


Rainwater Collection Systems

Set up rainwater collection systems in your garden or around your house. Use this water to water your planters and pots. 


Choose Suitable Plants

Another thing to take into consideration is the type of plants in your garden. Choose plants that are suitable to your climate. Take into account our changing climate and how it will affect you depending where you are and the recent years weather patterns. 


By treating water as an important and valuable commodity and using some imagination and the right home tools, you can have beautiful and lush garden in areas that may experience drought. Even in areas that ration water in the summer months.

Monthly favorite

20 April 2019

Forsythia are so widely grown in the UK that they often overlooked nowadays. But they produce spectacular yellow flowers in early spring, are easy to maintain and very healthy shrubs. They also grow quickly so can be used as screening plants which will do their job much faster than most other shrubs.

Forsythia are vigorous shrubs and the only care required, after they are established, is to prune them correctly to encourage flowering in spring time. They are naturally deep rooted and will search out moisture well below the soil surface. On poor soils a couple of handfuls of blood, fish and bone per plant in April and September time will help feed the finer roots near the soil surface.

Although an established forsythia can be safely cut back virtually to the ground, if you want to maximise flowering it's best to prune them annually.

For the first two to three years after planting a new forsythia, let it fill out and don't prune it. This will help it establish a good root system.


In the third or fourth years onward prune forsythia as follows:

  • The best time to prune a forsythia is immediately the flowers begin to fade. If you leave it a month or two later you will be reducing the show of flowers for next year. Forsythia flowers on stems which were grown during the previous two years.
  • Prune to shape by removing about a quarter of the length from all stems.
  • Every other year, prune about a quarter of all stems back to ground level from the centre of the bush.When doing the above keep an eye out for damaged stems and those bending over near to the ground. Choose to prune these first including stems which are crossing each other.
  • If you inherit a very overgrown forsythia bush the best plan is to chop it back completely to a height of 1m / 3ft and let it grow away. It will produce very flowers the next year but will be fine by the year after.

Star performer

01 May 2019

Let us  continue with the circus analogy for a while with those tutued acrobats that stand. perfectly balanced on the backs of cantering horses. Here as gaze upon their delicately ruffled skirts and perfect pins, you would be forgiven for thinking that these slim stems could not support anything, but here is the proof. These are of course Geum 'Mrs J. Bagshaw' that with continued deadheading will flower all summer. 

Best in good fertile soil; if too dry they tend to get mildew. Comes true from seed sown in autumn and overwintered in a cold frame. 

May the show begin!

May 2019

This is the month where we see our gardens as a circus. we have had those moments of anticipation where you arrive and shake off your umbrella (January) and shuffle in semi-darkness to your seat (February). Then your eyes slowly get used to the gloom (March) and start picking out little glossy details rising from the background - the glint of light upon the trumpet or the warm smell of an impatient horse backstage (April). Now we are here in glorious May as the curtain goes up, the music begins and the ringmaster arrives full of bounce and swagger. Finally the show begins!


June!

June 2019

Summer arrives! as the longest day approaches, growth in the garden is in full swing, the risk of frost is over and so all vulnerable plants can be moved from the safety of the greenhouse out into the garden. Keep an eye on those weeds though as they will be keen do take over. You might feel as though you spend all your time mowing and weeding, but that is not the be all and end all of gardening. Don't make gardening a chore, if you find it getting too much, there is no harm in leaving a troublesome corner of the garden over to nature, removing the grass box on the mower and spreading the clippings or mulching the beds with compost as opposed to weeding. whatever is causing you a headache in the garden, send me a message or a comment on the website and I will help you and your fellow readers come up with some effective time saving ways to a splendid garden and still have the time to enjoy it!


Monthly favorite

June 2019

Viburnum opulus 'Roseum' or the snowball tree. 

I have on of these in my garden at home. It's not a tree at all but a large deciduous shrub, with huge globs of creamy white flowers and medium lobed leaves that turn red in autumn. As well as helping to fill the June gap, the striking blooms of this shrub last a good couple of weeks in dry conditions. The snowball tree is happy in full or part sun in fertile, well drained soil and as it is vigorous, it can fend for itself in the back with the ther big kids and may just require a haircut after flowering and a mulch in early spring . 


Monthly favorite

July 2019

Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'

is a compact form of english lavender with long lasting spikes of deep violet flowers. This form of lavender is possibly the best for edging paths and borders, as the aromatic perfume is released into the air as you brush past.With the added bonus of being attractive to bees and pollinators, it is also easy to keep well clipped into shape once the flower stalks have dried off.   


July from the shade

July 2019

Well if your July is anything like mine, it will mostly be spent getting out and about enjoying the sunshine, maybe lounging in the shade while the kids play in the paddling pool. It hasn't been the warmest or the driest July, but it has definitely been a perfect start for growing produce. Apart from a bit of weeding at home, my attentions have been drawn to the veg patch where i have been taking notes of what has been doing well and what has literally been a flop. Every garden has its ups and downs and learning curve. what will work for one person may not do so for another. What are you going to scrap off this year and what are you going to grow more of?

Me? Broad beans grow well but  have found that i don't like them, However we can't get enough onions!


August

August 2019

Happy summer everyone!!! I've been busy lifting and dividing perennials this month. This is by far the cheapest and most effective way i find to propagate/multiply perennials at home in the garden. I at home, and try and get my clients to do the same, try to fill my borders so there is little or no bare soil visible. The simple reason for this is simply to keep down the weeding. This is very effective but you may have to lift and divide some of the more thuggish plants to prevent them from out competing their neighbours.

Simply dig with a spade wide around the plant the plant preventing as little disturbance to the existing root system as possible, once the pant is lifted, shake off any loose soil and pull or cut the plant into 1 or more pieces, as long as each bit has a crown and roots it will be likely to establish. replace a pary of the plant in the existing hole and re plant the other Parts in ge garden or pot them up and give them to a friend. Don't forget that in the height of summer, anything that has been newly planted will need regular watering. 


Monthly favourite

August 2019

Good old Buddleja. This is one of those iconic shrubs that you will see everywhere at this time of year and not everyone is thrilled to see this brute self seeding at liberty all over the place, and yes it is true that Buddleja 'Davidii' is very vigorous but there are lots of other varieties out there and one for every garden, they come if different colours and growth habits , some are even suitable to be grown in containers! As well as being attractive and easy to grow, these shrubs are extremely beneficial to bees and butterflies.