Giving Something Back
Horatio’s Garden and Planet Vegan
The weather was stunning and I saw two speakers- James Alexander Sinclair and Cleve West. Both speakers mentioned the work they have done for Horatio’s Garden– a charity in the name of Horatio Chapple who was tragically killed by a polar bear at the age of 17.
I wanted to write this blog about just some of the ways Garden Designers give back to society ‘giving something back’.
James Alexander Sinclair (left) with Cleve West
Believe it or not I was just to the left of the picture of James and Cleve when it was taken- I was slightly starstruck at the time! I was purchasing one of the milk bottle vases by way of a small contribution to the charity (and a lovely addition to my kitchen windowsill- hoping for success with the allotment cut flowers).
I don’t feel qualified to write about the charity specifically but would urge you to have a look at the website. Cleve’s talk was about healing gardens and I think his multi award winning design for the charity is the ultimate testament to that.
(I chose this image from the many tweets Cleve is posting on the subject because I am a massive Smiths fan) @clevewest
Cleve West ended his talk rather bashfully. He wanted to talk to us about the damage being done to our planet by both the meat and dairy industries. He has been vegetarian for many years and has more recently become vegan. He did this after watching the following film documentaries:
And looking at the following websites:
Cleve cares for all living creatures to the point where he doesn’t even kill slugs on his allotment (I hope he never reads my slug blog!) and he would like us all to be vegan.
My personal contribution to this would be to encourage everybody to get the River Cottage Veg Everyday. This book is truly the best cookbook I have ever owned and while I do still eat some meat it is rare (no pun intended!). I would also tell people not to be frightened of the many new milk alternatives on the market. I like coconut in tea and almond in coffee.
And last but not least- a mention for a local lady in Marsden propagating and selling plants for charity. FLOWERED UP is on Facebook and well worth a look if you are from this area.
I really hope my little blog goes some way to helping some of these worthy causes.
So February is the month when I look out onto my own garden and allotment and try not to feel sad. Everything seems bleak and soggy and dark and then I notice spring bulbs starting to peep through and I think to myself ‘snap out of it Lindsay- you need to start planning girl! sow the right seeds now and summer will be amazing!’.
There is an overlap between garden and allotment when it comes to sowing seeds. I am a Yorkshire girl and love to save money so growing my own flowers from seed is good for my purse and also my soul- I find a great thrill in nurturing my own plants from seed and would encourage anybody who hasn’t tried already to give it a go. And when somebody admires your window boxes and you are able to say with pride that you grew them from seed I don’t reckon it can get much better!
My favourite seed source is Sarah Raven click the link for some serious inspiration! And, of course collecting my own seed from the previous year. I look back on some of my successful cut flower arrangements and always start with the favourites:
So my favourites are: Nicotiana lime green, antirrhinum, miniature sunflowers, cosmos and nigella. I also like ornamental grasses, particularly squirrel tail grass. And of course I would never deny myself the pleasure of sweetpeas!
Then think of colour- this year I am looking at deeper reds and burgundys and purples.I am also hoping to create more height and drama in my arrangements! There has been a problem in Spain that has caused courgette prices to soar- and they are so easy to grow it would be rude not to allow some space.
The key then is to plan quite brutally. Measure your space and work out how many plants you can fit, make a list of what you want to grow and divide it out and then sow accordingly.
Here’s to reaping what we sow this summer!!
Please leave comments- what are your favourites?
So I have lived in Marsden now for 12 years and I am just moving allotments for the fifth time! I have to admit that it is not ideal but I have learned a few things over the years. The design challenge of an allotment is to make the most attractive and use-able space possible on the tightest of budgets.
My latest plot is, I am sure you will agree, in a beautiful spot overlooking the River Colne that runs through Marsden and the Colne Valley.
However, all is not well on the soil front! There is literally a 10cm depth of soil and underneath is basically ash and rubble! (I am looking into the history of the site and will share my findings in further installments of ‘The Ginkgo Garden Design Allotment’). Still undeterred I happened upon some free pallet collars that a friend no longer wanted. I also bought some on ebay for very little money and hey presto- I have 10 raised beds to play with!
So a purchase of top soil will be required in Spring, there is plenty bark for the paths and I am married to a baker so flour sacks aplenty for a weed suppressing base layer.
All that remains at the moment is to read my latest book ‘Our Plot’ by my Garden Design hero Cleve West who could easily be a contender for comic hero based purely on his introductory chapter about a hibernating tortoise which literally made me laugh out loud.
I have been very lucky to borrow plots from friends- for Huddersfield Allotments look at Kirklees.
Embracing Seedheads In The Winter Garden
Don’t prune it- embrace it!
What is the difference between a garden that has ‘gone over’ and a glorious winter garden full of interesting, sculptural seed heads and muted autumnal shades? The answer is nothing- just our own personal perception.
This question arose when Ginkgo Garden Design visited Scampston Hall Walled Gardens at the end of August this year. My parents had visited the previous week and, being rather ‘old school’ (I am sure they wouldn’t mind me saying that!) their opinion was that it looked a bit tired and I am sure if my Dad had had his shears with him he would have loved to have got stuck in and have a good ‘tidy up’. I, however, was bowled over by the fabulous Piet Oudolf design and planting. There was still bags of colour and it was only just starting to nod towards Autumn but why should we be fighting that when we can embrace it?
The architect Sir Frederick Gibberd was of the view that the real test of a garden was whether it was worth visiting in February. I look to my own garden and think I need to make some changes!
I returned to Scampston in October for two days of lectures by Noel Kingsbury who just happens to be a leading authority on Piet Oudolf and intimidatingly knowledgeable on planting and planting design. The gardens are closed to the public now but still had incredible beauty:
As a garden designer looking at planting design the concept of planning a scheme not just around flowering periods, structure, shape etc but looking at it much deeper (below ground level in fact) is something of a revelation. In this Telegraph article Noel discusses combining a light grass with dark perennial seed heads- it is contemporary, beautiful, wildlife friendly and very low maintenance gardening (would you believe there are just two full time professional gardeners at Scampston?).
I am aware it goes against everything we were brought up to think about domestic gardening but embracing seed heads and natural planting is most definitely the way forward!
For some useful hints on avoiding pitfalls check out this Crocus article. Also Noel Kingsburys latest book New Small Garden brings all the theory down to a more realistic scale.
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Gardening in Marsden and the Colne Valley is hard enough with our unique microclimate- but the slugs here are really something else!! I would go as far to call them super-slugs and last year’s mild winter has made the problem particularly bad this year! At Ginkgo Garden Design we don’t want to stop including hostas in our planting plans- we would much rather beat the slugs.
So you will be pleased to know that I have a solution that really works- it is not, however for the faint-hearted so if it is not in your nature to treat slugs badly then please stop reading now.
The book 50 Ways to Kill a Slug offers some amusing ideas such as ‘spinning a slug smoothie’ and catapulting them off a cliff. It mentions shop bought nematodes which do work but are expensive and I would venture to add not as satisfying as making your own for free.
In order to make our own nematodes- which is basically a slug disease that we can water liberally throughout our garden, we need as many living slugs as possible. All slugs contain a small number of nematodes and by putting a lot of them in a humid, confined space, the nematodes will flourish and multiply.
So if you would like your hostas to look like this:
…and not this….
Here is what to do:
Gather your equipment: you will need a bucket sized container with a lid and possibly a brick or stone to put on top for good measure (don’t want any slug escapees!).
A sieve or colander exclusively for this purpose.
Gloves with which to gather slugs.
Optional nose clip for pong protection.
Put a well of water in the container and a few leaves for your slugs last meal. The leaves also serve as an island to keep the slugs alive. Cunningly collect as many slugs as possible and place them in the container. You can keep adding slugs whenever you find them.
After 2 or 3 weeks the nematodes will have killed the slugs so simply sieve the liquid into your watering can, put the gunk back into to container with some more fresh leaves to start again, fill up the watering can with water and spread slug disease throughout your garden.