Wednesday, 18 June 2014

How To Keep The Perfect Summer Garden

With what promises to be a ‘flaming June’ upon us, we can finally enjoy our gardens. With the evenings getting longer, not to mention warmer, we can turn towards colour and variety in our gardens - providing we know how to look after them!

Good vibes

A survey reported in The Telegraph has found gardening can help us feel renewed. Recent research carried out by the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) showed that more than just shy of two-fifths (39%) of those questioned said that being in a garden make them feel healthier, while 79% think having access to a garden is needed to ensure good quality of life.

This can become increasingly helpful as we become older. The ritual of planting out and caring for our gardens, window boxes or allotments can aid these good feelings.

Summer gardens are usually at their best when flowers are in full bloom – offering colourful and inspiring displays for all to see. This is why property developers such as McCarthy & Stone pay close attention to their landscaped gardens and ensure there is always a pleasant outdoors atmosphere for their homeowners to enjoy - McCarthy & Stone properties are listed on Zoopla if you’re interested in seeing what they have to offer.

What to grow?

This Royal Horticultural Society article gives excellent tips on June chores to make the best of our gardens throughout the summer. Different plants can thrive in shade or sunshine so it’s important you understand the type of garden you have before following these tips to keep the perfect summer garden:

Sunny or south facing  
Consider planting roses, honeysuckle, lavender and bedding plants like marigolds and sunflowers. Hanging baskets brimming with lobelia or trailing fuchsias are a summer must-have.

Shady nooks or north facing
This presents more of a challenge so opt for hostas, evergreens and plants which offer interesting foliage as these thrive well in shady places. You could also consider ferns, foxgloves, hedera, impatiens, begonias and the beloved arum lily.

Taking care of your plants and flowers
Deciding what to grow in your summer garden is only half the battle – you must also make every effort to care for your plants and flowers so that they stay looking fresh and beautiful.

Our top tips for summer garden tending are: 
  • Water at cooler times – to avoid water being evaporated by the sun before it has time to do its job, water your plants in the evening when the sun’s glare is reduce 
  • Control pests – check for signs of pests such as slugs, snails and greenfly and use necessary repellents to protect your plants from harm
  • Secure your plants – climbers such as sweet peas and trailing roses can benefit from being securely fixed to canes to keep them secure when there are strong winds

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Hozelock Reviews: Pico Reel and Wonderweeder

Be it balcony, patio, or small garden, the gardener who operates within compact spaces is constantly looking for ways to use space efficiently.  For me, space has always been a premium, and while my beautiful Peak District garden is a world away from the limited confines of my Hackney balcony, I remain a gardener held accountable by space.

The transition from balcony to allotment to garden has allowed me to expand the plants, flowers and vegetables I can experiment with growing, but this journey has also eaten up more space as I amass more and more garden tools, equipment and machinery!  That’s why I love solutions that are as compact as my garden, and Hozelock has come up trumps.

When I moved in, I inherited a cracked old watering can that does ‘a’ job.  I’d often considered a hoze for the hot summer months, but found them to be too large to warrant a place in the garden.  However, the Hozelock Pico Reel is the answer to my prayers.

A finalist in the RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year 2014 (high acclaim indeed), the Hozelock Pico Reel strikes the perfect balance between form and function.  Its compact size and reel allows you to leave it by the tap, or roll it up and store it in your shed – perfect for gardeners with small plots, like myself.
Lightweight, non-drip and compact, the hose still packs 10m of length, allowing me to water my garden thoroughly, without compromising on space.

In addition to the Pico Reel, I’ve also been experimenting with the Hozelock Wonderweeder.  Every gardener knows that gardening is backbreaking work, especially when it comes to weeding patios, driveways and paths!  However, help is at hand with the Wonderweeder.

Its unique design allows you to weed standing up (wonderful!), whilst the tool is refillable and also protects your plants thanks to the protective cone that sits around the nozzle.  Again, its compact size means you can store it easily inside or out when you are done with it.

So there we have it: two great space-saving pieces of kit from Hozelock that are helping me to keep the garden going without compromising on space.  Visit for more details!

Nutscene Twine

One of the many things I love about gardening is its timeless appeal.  While the years pass and trends change, gardening remains a simple, age-old pastime that connects us with the past and the very nature we live in.

One of the timeless tools I use is my grandfather’s old pocketknife.  A constant companion, I enjoy the feeling of family history in my hand, the smooth shape and workmanship reassuring in my hand as I open bags of compost, dig weeds out of tight cracks in paths and cut all manner of strings, twine and ties.

And it’s twine, too, that is an oft-used companion in the garden.  From lashing together my annual runner bean cane network to holding up fragile plant stems, there seems to be a hundred and one different ways that twine comes in handy in the garden.

I was thrilled to receive a selection of Nutscene twines in the post the other day.  This great British brand heralds from Dundee, in Scotland, the birthplace of the jute industry.  The brand dates back to 1922 and is derived from the company’s renowned Greentwist™ twine, which when tied around a plant cannot be seen, thus ‘not seen’!

I’ve long been a fan of Nutscene twine, not only because of the quality of the product and its many uses in the garden, but also because again, it holds an inherent link to the past: the twines are still produced on the original machinery that they were 92 years ago, operating out of a small mill yard in the heart of Angus, Scotland.

Whether you’re one of nature’s old romantics, like me, or simply appreciate high-quality and useful British garden tools, Nutscene Twine is a firm favourite of the London Vegetable Garden blog.  Check out the website to discover a wide range of twines and garden tools:


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