English Country Gardener

Author - Trisha - English Country Gardener

Growing My Dream English Garden One Petal at a Time

Growing My Dream English Garden One Petal at a Time

My potting shed at the cottage

My potting shed at the cottage

Picture of one of our alpines

Picture of one of our alpines

We have been in our little cottage and garden now for just over two months and already we have made such a different inside and out. I was shocked how many choice plants we have, some beautiful specimens. It is all very exiting. I can’t wait for the spring and summer to see what else pops up. I am going to start a list of plants I want in the garden then slowly as I learn about our soil type and sun aspect ill decide what I want where. I’ve already started to move some plants and chop out the ones I don’t like. There is a patch of Euphorbia which i’m not looking forward to removing. Don’t get me wrong some species are very pretty however I don’t like the fact that if you break even just a leaf the plant will secrete a milky acid poison that will burn and leave you scared. Not a nice plant.

Picture of me Replanting Scabiosa into the wildlife patch

Picture of me Replanting Scabiosa into the wildlife patch

Checkout my page Growing My Dream English Garden One Petal at a Time to see all the updates on things that are happening in my garden. Its mainly for images so please click on the title to see these.

Jobs to Do in November

Garden Jobs for November

I honestly can not believe it is November already. November is the start of cold days, frost, and the winter tidying up in the garden. There is still so much to be getting on with, tidying from this years growth to preparing for next years flourish of flowers. A muddy but necessary time.

Garden Jobs

Picture of Tulip bulbs getting ready for spring

Picture of Tulip bulbs getting ready for spring

  • Finish planting your spring flowering bulbs such as Tulips and Daffodils. I have a bucket load of Crocus left which i’m going to plant into the grass and see what happens. Watch this space.
  • Now is the time to wrap up delicate plants in either horticultural fleece or bubble wrap unless they can come inside or in your green house or potting shed. I’ve brought all my plants in now as I know what will happen it will be a frosty night and ill forget to bring them in or close my greenhouse door.
  • If you want to give root cuttings ago its still time to try some perennials. Check first that the plant you want to take cuttings off that it’s ok to do at this time of year and many can not be done.
  • There is still a little bit of time to sow your green manures, I haven’t sewn mine yet as we’ve been too busy taking out the Leylandii and erecting a fence. Plus making a new veggie plot ready for next year.
  • If you are wanting to purchase bare root perennials or shrubs or trees now is a good time. Some perennials will need to be kept inside over winter as they will not be able to withstand frosts. This is a cheaper way of purchasing your plants. If you get really good stock you can even take root cuttings from them and or split them.
  • Its that time of the year when you go around the garden collecting your plant supports so you can store them over winter ready for next years use.
  • Replenish your bird feeders and clean out bird houses ready for winter.
  • If you have lots of leaves (that are not diseased) then you can gather them up to make excellent leaf mould. Just collect your leaves and put them into a chicken wire bucket. You can easily make one.
  • Leave your ornamental grasses and some perennials for their architectural structure and seeds for birds in winter.
  • Protect your outside pots from frost by covering them in bubble wrap. I try to only buy frost hardy pots, which do still crack but only after many years of frost. If you keep them on feet so they don’t sit in water that also helps. Any pots I have empty over the winter I move into the potting shed, after washing and drying.
  • Stop feeding your house plants and only water lightly when needed. Most plants will now lay dormant as the light drops.
  • Providing the ground isn’t frozen you can still lay turf on to prepared ground. This is a job we will probably have to do early spring as I doubt we will get a chance to do it before the big frosts.
  • Take hardwood cuttings of roses and other deciduous shrubs.

Veggie Plot Jobs

  • Clear all plant debris from your veggie plots, keep them tidy if your not growing winter veg or green manures.
  • Are you growing winter brassicas if so don’t let the pigeons get them so cover with a net.
  • Lift clumps of chives so you can have some growing inside for the winter. Established plants will be fine outside.
  • Finish harvesting late maturing apples and pears. Store them in a well ventilated, frost free, dark place, some people wrap the apples individually in paper but you can just place them on an apple tray as long as they don’t touch. Any apples or pears with blemishes should be used straight away. You can cook them and pop in the freezer ready for your apple pie later on in the week.
  • If you’ve always wanted to grow a grape vine then now is a good time to plant them however if you have an established plant wait until later when we’re in mid winter to prune.
  • Start winter pruning of apple and pear trees after their leaves have fallen.
  • Finish planting your garlic and shallots.

Green Manure

Crop

Green Manure

The concept of green manure has been around for century’s however it has only been in the past decade that its become fashionable. Green manure is a great way to keep and add nutrients into the soil during winter as it stops rain from leaching them out, it also helps to reduce compaction in the soil. If you have heavy soil this also helps to break it up and add nutrients. Autumn is the most popular time to grow green manure as this is usually when you have a bare vegetable patch. Some people also plant summer manures which help to suppress weeds and add nutrients into the soil.

How to Plant

  1. Its as easy as either sowing in lines or broadcast (scatter them) and rake into the soil.
  2. Before they flower in spring (depends on when you planted, but assuming autumn) then chop the foliage down and leave the rest of the foliage to wilt,
  3. Then dig the plants into the top soil you don’t need to double dig.
  4. Leave the area for at least a week before you start planting your veggies.
  5. Its as easy as that.

If your interested below is a list from the RHS on the best cultivars to use.

Cultivar selection

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa): This perennial legume can be dug in after two or three months or left for one to two years; sow in April to July; good for alkaline soils. Nitrogen fixing may only occur if the seed is inoculated with nitrogen fixing bacteria prior to sowing.

Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum): This perennial legume can either be dug in after two or three months or left in for one or two years; good for wet, acid soils; sow in April to August.

Bitter blue lupin (Lupinus angustifolius): This perennial flowering legume suits light, sandy, acid soils; sow in March to June and leave for two or three months before digging in.

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum): This half hardy annual will only grow in spring and summer best sown in April to August, it can be left for two or three months after sowing; grows well on nutrient-poor soils.

Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum): This perennial legume is good for light soils; sow in March to August and leave in for two or three months up to flowering.

Essex red clover (Trifolium pratense): This hardy perennial legume overwinters well and can be left in for two or three months or for one or two years after sowing; good for loamy soils; sow March to August.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): This annual legume will only grow in the spring and summer; it is unlikely to fix nitrogen in the UK.

Grazing rye (Secale cereale): This annual crop is good for soil structure and overwinters well; sow in August to November and dig in the following spring.

Mustard (Sinapis alba): This annual crop from the brassica family should not be followed by other brassicas, as it could encourage build up of the disease clubroot; sow in March to September and leave for two or three months before digging in.

Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia): Later sowings of this annual crop may overwinter in mild areas, but it is generally best sown in April to August and dug in after two or three months; its flowers are very pretty.

Trefoil (Medicago lupulina): This legume can be annual or biennial and overwinters well but needs light, dry alkaline soil; it can be dug in after two or three months or left for one or two years after sowing; sow in March to August.

Winter field bean (Vicia faba): This annual legume can be left for two or three months after sowing (up to flowering) and is good for heavy soils; sow in September to November.

Winter tares (Vicia sativa): This annual legume is hardy and overwinters well, even in heavy soils; sow either in March to August and leave for two or three months before digging in, or sow in July to September for overwintering.

 

Have a go at Green Manure and let me know what you think to it. I’m going to have a try too this year. Watch out for my new blog on things that are happening in my garden.

Cottage Gardening

Cottage Gardening

Its finally happened we have moved into our little cottage with its gorgeous mature garden. Its filled with all sorts of interesting plants. The garden is set into three sections, the first is the patio area and bird feeding with a beautiful crab apple tree, this is where the log store is and the out house, at the end of this section is the potting shed through which you walk under a pergola with Wisteria. The next half has an apple and pear tree with plenty of different Hydrangeas enough to make your grandma weep, and a patch with Gunnera? Why plant in a garden i don’t know but it seems to really like it there. Going through to the third section you pass the veggie plot which I have spent hours weeding and getting ready for next years veggies, there is already raspberry canes, strawberry plants, gooseberry bush (my favorite for prickles) and rhubarb. In the third section there is another pear and apple tree with a sickly plum tree. There is also a green house which will need cleaning before winter ready for my overwintering pots. Then the garden ends at a garden gate leading to the drive and onto open fields. A far cry from the city views.

One of the many different types of Hydrangeas in the garden, Pailton.

One of the many different types of Hydrangeas in the garden, Pailton.

As i work my way through the garden watch out for new snippits and pictures as we discover whats growing in the large borders. I find something new every day and i’m out there most days, so should be interesting.

Now that we are back to normal ill be posting more articles and pictures. Coming up an article on Green Manure. Have you ever considered growing it? or do you currently?

Apples ready for harvest, Pailton

Apples ready for harvest, Pailton

Jobs to do in September

Garden Jobs for September

Its September and the leaves will be starting to turn into beautiful autumn colours and falling. The nights are creeping in and there is definately a lot of dew on the grass and plants on a morning now. There is something special about this time of year, yes its sad that we don’t get the long days, but its beautiful to wake up to crisp mornings and beautiful autumn colours. There is still much going on in the garden this month so put your jumper on and head outside for some fun in the garden.

Garden Jobs

  • Take cuttings of tender or borderline hardy perennials which you need to over winter under cover.
  • Keep feeding and deadheading your summer bedding.
  • Why not plant your next years end of summer autumn colors such as Heleniums.
  • Finish pruning your hedges
  • If your favorite perennials have finished flowering you can collect the seeds, dry them first before you store them either in a dark cupboard or in the fridge as i believe some people do.
  • Start planting your bulbs ready for spring. Tulips and daffodil make excellent displays in Spring.
  • Now is a good time to plant or move trees and shrubs before the soil becomes too hard and cold.
  • Scarify your lawns.

Veggie Plot Jobs

  • Harvest fruit as it become ripe, store appropriately.
  • Harvest corn on the cob/Maize, check its ready by squeezing the kernels which should be a milky liquid if ready.
  • Harvest your main crop potatoes, store in paper bags in a dark frost free place.
  • Sow your onion and shallot sets which are suitable for overwintering.

Gardening for the under 30s

Ask the Gardener

Gardening for the under 30s

Gardening over the years has developed a persona for being an older persons hobby, to be honest most young people do not have their own garden until they move out of the parents house and into their own, even then a garden is still a luxury in some places. Even when you are living at home gardening is seen as a chore, your parents asking for you to cut the grass, or help prune the tops of the trees which is fun for the most except the massive clean up at the end. The worst jobs were always weeding and if you were really unlucky cleaning out the shed or greenhouse. Again fun to start off with but then filled with boredom and wishing you were doing something far more interesting.

Gardening and garden accessories are slowly becoming trendy again, especially for the very young. You can’t go into a vintage or bric a brack shop for seeing some type of garden accessory wether it be a plant pot, a weathered potting table painted in a trendy Farron and Ball colour or an old victorian park bench.

Gardening is what you make of it. You have to first decide what sort of garden do you want, vegetable garden, ornamental garden, water garden, rock garden, practical garden, natural garden. All these different sorts then depends on the size of your actual garden not the one you have in your head right now. We are all guilty of dreaming of the romanic gardens of the past but are restricted by the busy lives of the present. Unfortunately for us the luxury of being a house wife is becoming far and few between, but doesn’t this make us enjoy our gardens more? Your actual garden can have a little piece of everything you want, except for those who do not have a garden at all and survice with the vast amount of houseplants on offer. I too have survived the no garden to speak of and I have to say yes its hard especially when you’ve been brought up surrounded by a large garden.

If you want a garden thats simple and easy to maintain here are my top tips.

  1. Check where your plant actually wants to be so for example lavender wants full sun but free draining soil, where as  Comfrey will tolorate shade. A brilliant book I call my plant where to bible, (has lots of pictures) “Perfect Plant Perfect Place” by Roy Lancaster. A worthwile book for any gardener, even has houseplants in!
  2. Rather than buying loads of different plants, stick to a few in your boarders such as five or seven plants, always for some reason stick to odd numbers, unless of course you are planning a symetrical garden. But by doing this you get a much prettier boarder for much less effort.
  3. Use large pots and fill with plants, if you have lots of little pots then you’ve got more to water, weed and look after. Besides large pots with grasses and perennials or bulbs look amazing.

A few of my favourite plants (im under 30), that I call trendy. Sorry I don’t have images for all the plants.

Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ – This is my all time favourite plant! I love the white petals with their yellow stamens high up on a long stalk. They flower around August time. These anemone’s love partial sun/shade, don’t put in direct sunlight as they tend to thrive if in a bit of shade. They will spread which is fantastic, and they are a perennial so they do come back every year.

Astrantia major – You can get these in lots of colours, very beautiful and again a perennial. Same again full sun or partial shade same soil moist and fertile, flowers early to mid summer.

Picture of Ceropegia linearis subsp ’Woodii’

Picture of Ceropegia linearis subsp ’Woodii’

Ceropegia linearis subsp. woodii – Hearts on a String, a beautiful delicate house plant ideal for hanging down from a shelf or wall. It needs free draining soil in full sun or partial shade.

Crambe cordifolia – You must have a large space for this beasty as it will mature to a large plant. I love the delicate white flowers it produces, especially ironic in comparison to the size of its leaves. The flowers are used alot for flower arranging. Loves deep fertile well draining soil. We had one that grew in and amongst a rockery, the roots though were very much in the crapy soil underneath.

Echinacea – Again they come in a variety of colours, although I prefer the original pinkish red one Echinacea purpurea. Beautiful big flower head makes you smile at the end of the season as its at its best in late summer. Don’t get them mixed up with the Heleniums. Oh and Echinacea’s are great when they die, leave the stalks until the next year to give some architecture to your garden in winter. They look stunning with a light covering of snow or frost. They like deep well drained soil in full sun partial shade.

Picture of Eschscholzia californica

Picture of Eschscholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica – Otherwise known as Calafornian poppy. I love the brightness of this plant, brilliant. Its an annual but does self seed so good news for those of us who don’t want to collect seeds. They prefer poor well drained soil, although ours do well in just well drained soil. I don’t bother watering them just leave them do their stuff.

Picture of Galanthus my local park, Birmingham

Picture of Galanthus my local park, Birmingham

Galanthus– The common snowdrop, there are so many varieties to choose from, I love them all. After the long winter these delicate little things are one of the first to make me smile. They like moist well drained soil. You can plant the bulbs straight into the ground, in grass or in pots. They do prefer partial shade.

Picture of Gloriosa growing in my conservatory

Picture of Gloriosa growing in my conservatory

Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’ – Glory lily a beautiful plant that I grow with a passion flower in my conservatory. Definately one for those who love tropical unusual looking plants, and so easy to look after. A perennial climber, you can have them outside in a sheltered sunny spot, they need fertile well drained soil. Mine flowers from early summer right into autumn.

Helenium – Again lots of lovely varieties and colours. Very simular conditions to the Echinacea but smaller. Again flowers in summer right into the autumn. Not so great dead though.

Hosta – The first plant I truly marvelled at, their leaves repel water its fantastic to watch. Hostas are great in pots or in borders, just remember the slugs love them! A brilliant plant if you have a shady spot, their leaves start appearing in spring then the flowers in summer.

Picture of Sweet Peas

Picture of Sweet Peas

Lathyrus odoratus – Sweet peas are so easy to grow and they smell divine. You can easily make a small bouquet for your table. They grow well in either pots or in your borders, all they need is sunshine and to have something to climb up such as a wigwam.

Paeonia – I love any peony. I love their beautiful oversized flowers that look like flower pompoms. Peony’s need fertile moist but well draining soil in full sun or partical shade. They are generally a later spring flower perennial but you do get ones that flower into June and July.

Sarcococca confusa – Christmas box, this evergreen shrub smell so sweet and lovely in winter when everything else smells damp and decaying. It thrives in fertile soil in partial or full shade. Its ideal for gloomy patches in winter or for creating an interesting hedge.

Picture of stipa tenuissima

Picture of stipa tenuissima

Stipa tenussima – Feather Grass is beautiful on summer days in the wind. A short grass that does self seed, and is relatively easy to look after. Prune in spring for a lush display in summer. It needs free draining soil as it will rot if it gets too wet, also prefers full sun but can have partial shade. It goes really well with lavender.

Wisteria – I’ve seen pictures of archways covered in wisteria in Japan and it is truly breathtaking. They are slow to grow to begin their first flurry of flowers, but after they reach maturity they are truly spectacular and a must in any garden with an arch or for climbing up walls. They require fertile moist soil that’s well drained in full sun or partial shade. They flower from spring to summer (depends on variety as to when and how long).

I have missed off lots of other amazing plants, this is just a taste of some of my favourite ones. So no matter what your age its time to start gardening!

Summer Gardens

Roses

Summer Gardens

 

Picture of Gloriosa growing in my conservatory

Picture of Gloriosa growing in my conservatory

I love summer, its this time of year you get to reap the joys of all your hard work, your veggies are edible, your summer bulbs are out, perennials are excelling themselves and of course those annual seeds you decided last minute to sow are showing themselves now. There is something magical with summer gardens, its this time of year when it is warm that the fair weather gardener loves to get out into the garden to potter about. It makes us all feel so much more alive and healthier. I say this but I am writing this outside in the garden in the sun with a large chocolate bar that I seem to have munched, I’ve been busy working in the garden all morning plus taking the doggies for a long walk so I felt I had earn’t it, although now I feel a little sick.

 

Gardening to me is about the beauty, the smell and the way it makes you feel. Many people see gardening as a chore, but with the right sort of garden it really doesn’t have to be like that. I’m not talking here about the no dig theory or simply just having grass or heaven forbid just gravel. I’m taking about having a beautiful garden that mostly looks after itself, so you can wait until its warm to potter about. Many plants are generally classed as low maintenance, most ornamental grasses, some self seeding annuals, shrubs and trees, but also your climbers and some perennials. You can make your garden as complicated or as high maintenance as you like. The best thing to do is buy the right plants for you, not because you like the look of a plant and get it home to realise its going to grow too big, or it needs acidic soil and you have alkaline. If you do your research first it will pay off in the long term. Rather than me going on the RHS have written an article on how to achieve a low maintenance garden, so check it out if this is something of interest to you. Low maintenance gardens by the RHS.

But for those keen gardeners who like me will spend hours happily in the garden, I still like to have some element of low maintenance or as i call it naturalism. Let nature take its course.

Picture of Helianthus annuus

Picture of Helianthus annuus

A great way to get interested in gardening is gardening with kids. Kids love to grow sunflowers, pumpkins, sweet pea and beans. I wrote an article on gardening with children earlier in the year, check it out Children Gardening. Gardening in the summer with kids is great, they love to pick the vegs and fruit that they sowed earlier on in the year and eat it straight off the plant, (I hope you cook some of them first). Its so important that children learn more about growing their own food, and enjoying it. There are so many fun things you can do in the garden, one of my lectures told me she told her kids to always pick the yellow flowers growing in the grass, a way to reduce the dandelion population, but fun. I’ve listed just a few things you can do with your kids in the garden.

  • Sow fruit and vegetables
  • Sow annuals eg sunflowers
  • Make bug hotels
  • Make garden dens (we had a Cotoneaster tree we called the helicopter)
  • Painting flower pots
  • growing cress in egg shells
  • Making bird scarers
  • Learning photography

Gardening in the summer is so therapeutic, if you work in an office there is nothing better than to come home and potter about in your garden, not doing anything strenuous, just dead heading and pulling a few weeds that you missed at the weekend. Its a natural way to unwind and relax. Even just sitting in your garden with a glass of wine or lemonade and looking at the summer flowers showing off.  Right that said i’m going to pick some sweet peas to put on the dinning table.

 

Picture of Sweet Peas

Picture of Sweet Peas

Garden Jobs to do in July

Garden Jobs for July

Picture of Crocosmia lucifer

Picture of Crocosmia lucifer

Where is this year going? Its July already, I’ve only just managed to start reading this months The Garden because I’ve been so busy. So this month as usual there is plenty for you to be doing in your lovely gardens.

 Garden Jobs
  1. Clean with disinfectant and keep filling up your bird baths to stop them from growing algae and spreading diseases such as bird pox.
  2. Remove any Lily Beetle poo that’s on your plants as this can cause damage to the foliage of your lily plants.
  3. Divide your bearded Irises.
  4. Deadhead your summer bedding plants and roses to encourage more flowers.
  5. If you grow Geraniums and they have already flowered, cut them back to ground level, the famous Chelsea chop to encourage a new flourish of flowers.
  6. Keep watering your pots and everywhere else when we have very dry spells.
  7. Keep tying in new stems of your climbers.
  8. Now’s a good time to plant autumn flowering bulbs such as Colchicum.
  9. If we have any droughts then cut your grass higher than normal to water retention, also avoid feeding with a high nitrogen mix.
  10. Water your newly planted trees, don’t let them dry out too much, but again don’t over water them.
  11. Feed your container plants with a liquid feed.
  12. If you want to try propagating your Camellias, Rhododendrons, Lavender, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme now is a great time to do summer cuttings.
  13. Now is also a good time to prune your Wisteria to within five or six buds off the main stem from this summers growth.
Veggie Plot to do List
  1. Finish transplanting your leeks.
  2. Water your tomatoes evenly so you don’t get blossom end rot or splitting, I nearly called it bottom end rot.
  3. Tie in your stems of blackberries, raspberries and other cane fruit ready for next year.
  4. Keep regularly harvesting your courgettes and beans to help encourage more.
  5. Harvest your onions, garlic and shallots as they become ready.
  6. If you have planted early potatoes now’s a good time to see if they are ready for harvesting, lift one of your plants first and check to see if the tubers are around egg size.
  7. If you can thin out top fruit e.g. plums and apples so that the trees can produce better bigger fruit. Unfortunately I never had time too and I still get beautiful fruit, nature in my garden seems to get rid of the excessive fruit for me.
  8. Water your soft fruit to encourage good fruit production.
  9. Protect your ripening soft fruit from birds with a net. Remember though that birds will defy you and they will find any small holes you can’t see.
  10. Start thinking about spring and sow your spring cabbage, turnips, oriental vegetables, chicory and fennel now.

Allergy Friendly Plants

Airborne Pollen! Image from http://mrjacobsonmacks.weebly.com/

Airborne Pollen! Image from http://mrjacobsonmacks.weebly.com/

Allergy Friendly Plants

For some people spring and summer are the best months, heat, beautiful flowers, picnics, but for others its two seasons of sneezing, wheezing, eyes streaming and rashes amongst many other symptoms.  The biggest cause of this is in fact pollen, mainly wind borne pollen, but it can also come from spores and mould.

The most common plants for causing so much annoyance is trees and shrubs as they are designed to produce wind borne pollen. There sadly isn’t an awful lot of information out there for people to read so they can understand why hayfever and its symptoms are caused. I found two brilliant articles from Allergy UK regarding firstly Tree and Shrub Pollen and the second one on how to avoid pollen. Instead of me writing my own version and maybe missing a few bits and obviously potentially breaching copyright i thought i would copy it in here for you to read. They are both very interesting and worth a read even if you don’t suffer with hayfever.

Tree and Shrub Pollen Written by Allergy UK

“Allergy to pollen is extremely common. All plants produce pollen, which is in effect male sperm, very high in protein and hence allergenic. Female flowers of plants are fertilised either by wind borne or insect borne pollen. It is windborne pollen that is the major problem, as the air is filled with minute particles when the male flowers are open.

Hence all trees and shrubs which have catkins are hazardous. Virtually all our native trees have wind spread pollen. After the last Ice Age, there were no insects, so many varieties, such as Alder, Ash, Beech, Hazel, Juniper, Oak, Pine, Poplar, Sweet Chestnut, Walnut, and Yew cause allergy symptoms. Similarly grasses, including a lawn, no matter how closely mown, will still have flowers low down, and are wind pollinated. An exception might be bamboo which, depending upon the species, flowers as rarely as once every thirty years.

Trees and shrubs which have open flowers, particularly those which are scented, are designed to be attractive to bees and insects so are relatively safe for allergic individuals. Obviously, if a sufferer puts their nose into a rose they might knock off some pollen and could inhale it.  This is unlikely as insect borne pollen is very heavy so stays on the fur.

Below is a list of trees and shrubs which are insect pollinated and hence safe to grow. To save confusion most of the names are in Latin: Azalea, Berberis, Buddleya, Ceanothus, Cistus, Cornus, Cotoneaster, Cytisus, Escallonia, Fushia, Hebe, Holly, Lavateria, Lavender, Lime, Mahonia, Potentilla, Privit, Prunus, Pyracantha, Quince, Ribes, Rhododendron, Rubus, Rose, Skimmia, Spirea, Syringa, Ulex,Viburnum, Weigelia, and Wisteria.

As well as producing hay fever symptoms, a number of plants can cause skin reactions. These are not usually true allergies but a real problem in sensitive people. There are too many to list, but as a guide anything with hairy stems or leaves could be a hazard. Insect pollinated plants include: Geranium, Iris, Clematis.

Try replacing lawns with gravel or paving, ornaments and water features!”

Pollen Avoidance Written by Allergy UK

“Allergen avoidance is difficult for people with allergy to substances in the air, such as pollen. For example, tiny pollen spores are windborne and travel for miles on air currents.

However, the following measures can be helpful:

  • Monitor pollen forecasts daily and stay indoors wherever possible when the count is high (generally on warmer, dry days). Rain washes pollen from the air so counts should be lower on cooler, wet days
  • Limit outdoor trips to rural areas. Sea breezes blow pollen inland, so escape to the sea instead
  • Apply an effective pollen barrier around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollens and help prevent a reaction. Pollen Barriers are available as balms or gel nasal sprays and some people have found petroleum jelly can help
  • If you go out, shower and wash your hair on return, and change your clothing before coming back into the living room or bedroom
  • Keep windows closed when indoors. This is most important in the early mornings, when pollen is being released, and in the evening when the air cools and pollens that have been carried up into the air begin to fall to ground level again
  • If you suffer symptoms indoors, a good air filter should help. Choose one that is proven to trap even small particles (see the Allergy UK website for lists of approved air filters)
  • Avoid mowing lawns or raking leaves. If you must perform these tasks, use a filtration face mask (see Allergy UK website)
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen allergens out of your eyes
  • Avoid drying washing on a clothes-line outside when pollen counts are high
  • Pollen counts tend to be high along roads with grass verges (dual-carriageways, motorways). Keep car windows closed and the air intake on ‘re-circulate’ when driving. Choose a car that is fitted with an effective pollen filter, or get an in-car air filter)
  • Choose hypo-allergenic eye make-up, especially mascara
  • Don’t let pets get close to your face as they can carry pollen in their fur. Wipe pets’ coats with a damp microfibre cloth to remove pollens when they have been out for a walk
  • Use goggles when swimming, whether in the sea or in a pool.”

I’ve put together two lists of plants I’ve found from various websites the first is good plants for allergies and the second is bad plants for allergies. These are not tried and tested plants and everyone’s reaction to each plant pollen is different. Go with what plants work for you.

Good Plants

  • Rose
  • Lavateria
  • Mahonia (I am sceptical of this one)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Rhododendron
  • Skimmia
  • Spirea
  • Syringa (I love Lilac trees again a little bit sceptic though)
  • Ribes
  • Lavender
  • Iris
  • Rose
  • Peony
  • Azalea, Berberis, Buddleya, Ceanothus, Cistus, Cornus, Cotoneaster, Cytisus, Escallonia, Fushia, Hebe, Holly, Lavateria, Lavender, Lime,Mahonia, Potentilla, Privit, Prunus, Pyracantha, Quince, Ribes, Rhododendron, Rubus, Rose, Skimmia, Spirea, Syringa (it’s in here too, must be ok then), Ulex,Viburnum,Weigelia, and Wisteria. From the Allergy UK article.

Bad Plants

Avoid plants with hairy stems or leaves

  • Geranium
  • Iris
  • Clematis
  • Privit hedging
  • Ferns
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Leyland cypress
  • Peruvian lily
  • Birch
  • Oak
  • Plane
  • Lime
  • Horse chestnut
  • Sweet chestnut

I hope this helps you if you do suffer from hayfever. Let me know what plants you find good for you or that you find particularly bad, you might just help someone.

Lavender for the Under 30s

Lavender for the Under 30s

Picture of Lavender Display at Yorkshire Lavender

Picture of Lavender Display at Yorkshire Lavender

This title was used by Laetitia Maklouf in her book The Virgin Gardener, and I love it. I have to say that yes lavender does have that old people stereotype with it but it really shouldn’t if you could smell and see this wonderful plant in full bloom in rows and rows with bees and butterfly’s happily buzzing around you too would fall in love with this truly amazing plant. Not only is it good for you but it is a haven for wildlife. I would love to get lost in the Lavender fields in Provence, to see the rows and rows of purple, running your hands through the rows obviously watching out for the bees.

Picture of the fields of Lavender at Yorkshire lavender

Picture of the Fields of Lavender at Yorkshire lavender

The big debate which lavender smells the best, well it really is down to personal taste they all smell slightly different. My favourite for smell is Lavandula “Imperial Gem” its a small lavender only about 45cm high ideal for your kitchen garden as the seeds can be used in cooking. If you want to go for small compact traditional lavender then Lavandula angustifolia “Hidcot” is the one for you. I have two favourites, one is an odd one, ironically it was the one I hated the most that is Lavandula “Sawyers” its got beautiful silver leaves but with the contrast of deep purple flowers, I hated that silver leaf I used to think it looked dead, but when you see it in full swing you too will love it. My ultimate favourite is of course the Lavendula x intermedia “Grosso” this is by far the best for growing in fields and walking through the rows with your arms out. Its grows tall at roughly 90cm but the smell is just lovely. Its best used for drying and for fresh cut lavender due to its long stalks, L. “Hidcot” is also good for this too as they both keep their scent once dried for the longest.

You can get lavenders in so many colours, dark and light purple, lilac,  blue, pink, white. but also a mixture of these colours like Lavandula “Melissa Lilac” a lilac petal with dark purple buds, just remember she doesn’t like to be in a pot. They also come in a range of heights from short like the Lavandula “hidcote” to over a metre like the Lavandula “old English” although of the older varieties I personally prefer the smell and flowers of the Lavandula “Vera” not that there is much in it.

Picture of Lavender at Yorkshire Lavender

Picture of Lavender at Yorkshire Lavender

Lavender is so easy to grow if you abide by the following very simple rules:

  1. Lavender will only grow in Sunlight so do not plant it any where near shade it will die!
  2. Lavender hates to have its bottom in water, so don’t plant it where you know it gets boggy for any of the seasons! Only water baby plants and only occasionally if needed!
  3. Lavender loves rubbish soil! Don’t put it in fancy compost.
  4. Do prune your lavender at the correct time! Do this before October! If you have left it too late then do it in the spring, what ever you do do not prune in WINTER!!! Your lavender will not thank you for it, it will get in a hissy fit and will probably die! The cut stems need to repair themselves before the winter.
  5. To prune (english and Intermedia varieties only Stochas (French is different)) once flowering has finished but before October, some varieties finish earlier than others and it depends on the type of summer we have had. Cut off the stalks down to only an inch of new live wood do not cut into old wood, some English varieties will come from the old wood, but not always. If you prune your lavender right every year it will help to prevent brittle stems and a weird looking lavender.
  6. The most important thing is once its planted in the right place and you have pruned it correctly at the right time then leave it alone and enjoy the smell! It will prefer that you left it! You can get up to 20 plus years from the old lavenders if you look after it and we don’t get really wet winters and summers. Remember its the wet that kills them!
  7. Enjoy your lavender.

I have to mention Lavandula  “Little Lady” she is a beautiful little lavender that will grow in a pot, its great for patios, she has a beautiful light lilac purple/ pink flower. Very beautiful if kept in a ball shape.

So no more excuses for not growing lavender unless you have a boggy shady garden. Which variety will you choose.

Picture of the diagonal at Yorkshire Lavender

Picture of the diagonal at Yorkshire Lavender