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Gardening Tips

  • Autumn colour: Beautiful bark

     

    As the stormy autumn winds blow it can be a bleak time of year in the garden, with the last of the leaves being stripped from the trees leaving them exposed and bare.

    In fact it is a magical unveiling, as the architectural form of a tree or shrub is revealed, and with a little planning and careful selection this seasonal transformation can be celebrated.

    There are many species with beautifully coloured and characterful bark that will lift the garden in winter and create a stunning seasonal spectacle.

    And with the low winter sunlight the bold structural forms of colourful branches can shine as brightly as any summer flower border.
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  • Honey fungus: The tree killer

     

    Honey fungus

    The honey-coloured fruiting bodies of honey fungus (Armillaria spp) (image: Wikimedia Commons)

    Honey fungus or Armillaria are a group of parasitic fungi. They attack trees, shrubs and woody perennials, and are one of the most destructive fungal diseases in the UK.

    They are also among some of the biggest living organisms in the world, their underground networks often covering many miles and living for up to a thousand years.

    It is so successful because, unlike most parasites that rely on keeping their hosts alive in order to extract nutrients, it can kill its host and continue living on the decaying matter for many years. Watch our video on how to diagnose honey fungus

    The fungi spread by long reddish brown root-like rhizomorphs that live close to the surface of the soil.

    They attach themselves to the root collar of woody plants, killing off the root systems leaving the host unable to absorb nutrients and water. You can watch our video on how to diagnose honey fungus
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  • Trees for a native autumn harvest

     

    Autumn larder

    A native autumn harvest – an extra special
    treat when it's from your own trees

    As the leaves start to colour and fall from the trees and the cooling air is heavy with the smell of wood smoke there is nothing more gratifying than getting wrapped up and going out to gather the season's harvests.

    Autumn is a most plentiful time of year. Along the hedgerows and verges plump ripe fruits hang from wayward trees and nuts crunch underfoot.

    And it's possible to create that natural bounty in your own garden, giving you the benefit of having wonderful ingredients for all manner of culinary delights right on your doorstep – and it's fantastic for wildlife too!

    With a little preparation this stockpile of preserved fruits and nuts will provide throughout the winter when little else is growing in the garden.
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  • Autumn blaze part two: Hedges and berries

    Sorbus cashmiriana

    The cream berries of Sorbus cashmiriana
    as autumn approaches

    It's not just trees that can provide a colourful spectacle through these colder autumn months; there are many shrubs and hedges that create marvel and drama in the autumn garden.

    As the nights draw in it is easy to become downhearted at the thought of the winter to come. But as the weather cools a miraculous transformation is beginning. Hedges and shrubs are slowly making their preparations for dormancy by stopping the flow of fluids in to their leaves.

    This means that the green chlorophyll that usually masks out any other pigments present is diminished. The result is the phenomenon known as autumn colour.
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  • Coming up... roses!

    Twice in a Blue Moon

    The highly scented and delicately coloured
    hybrid tea rose 'Twice in a Blue Moon'

    Roses are by far the favourite among flowering garden plants.

    They have been cultivated for an astonishing 5,000 years, the earliest having been collected for decoration or scent from the wild.

    But by the mid 19th century over a thousand different varieties were available. Today this figure is somewhere around 13,000!

    They are our most adored garden plant and our image of the country garden would not be complete without them.
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  • Autumn: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

     

    Flower displays with autumn cuttings

    You don't need flowers to create lovely displays of autumn cuttings

    A guest blog from our good friend (and florist!) Georgie Newbery.

    My name's Georgie Newbery and I run an artisan floristry and flower farming business near Wincanton in Somerset. And like you I'm looking at my garden now it's late September and mourning the end of the lush flowering in the borders.

    But I'm not wondering what to cut to bring into the house, because at this time of year the hedgerow and the shrubs in all our gardens are beginning to turn the most fantastic colours.
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  • Autumn blaze part one: Trees

     

    Japanese Maple

    Trees like the 'Japanese Maple Acer palmatum'
    bring warmth and colour to autumn

    After a fine summer of hot sunny days and balmy nights, it is that time of year again.

    As the nights draw in it is easy to become downhearted at the thought of the winter to come. But as the weather cools a miraculous transformation is beginning. Deciduous trees and shrubs are slowly making their preparations for dormancy by stopping the flow of fluids into their leaves.

    This means that the green chlorophyll that usually masks out any other pigments present is diminished. The result is the phenomenon known as autumn colour.

    A brisk walk on a chilly sunny day as the sun shines low in the sky while the countryside around you blazes with golds and reds is a breathtaking experience, and completely lifts any gloom at the passing summer.

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  • Choosing and planting potted hedging

     

    Instant hedging with container grown plants

    Container-grown green beech and copper beech
    on our nursery – just perfect for instant hedging!

    Container-grown hedging plants are perfect for planting all year round.

    Generally speaking, hedging is put in the ground over winter, using young bareroot plants when they are dormant.

    However, some circumstances call for a more instant, mature hedge – which is where container-grown (or potted) hedging plants play their part.
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  • For the love of lavender

     

    English lavender - fragrance, colour, wildlife value, and versatility

    English lavender – fragrance, colour,
    wildlife value, and versatility

    There are very few gardeners who fail to fall for the many charms of lavender – what is that you love about this beautiful, heavenly-scented and versatile plant?

    Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has long been recognised for its numerous uses, medicinal ones in particular.

    The Egyptians used it in the embalming process; soaking the shrouds in lavender infusions helped to preserve the mummies. The Ancient Greeks used it as a remedy for a huge number of ailments, and they were the first people to discover its sedative attributes as a cure for insomnia.

    The Romans praised it for its antiseptic qualities, and used it in bathing and washing clothes. And it has been used in battles as a dressing for wounds – in the First World War it was included in soldiers’ first aid kits.
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  • Cider anyone?!

     

    Yarlington cider apple

    Yarlington Mill apples are a popular choice among
    both amateur and professional cider makers

    Cider making is not only an ancient tradition in this country, but it is also an important aspect of British heritage.

    The Celts are known to have held the apple in extremely high regard, and there are numerous references in Celtic mythology praising it as a symbol of fruitfulness and immortality.

    The apple had many uses in Celtic civilization, but perhaps its best-loved application was the production of a cider made from crabapples.

    The art of cider making was improved further by the Romans, who planted well-ordered orchards of and caring for cider apple trees, and developed equipment to press the apples.

    However it was following the Norman Conquest of 1066 that caused the popularity of cider to rise significantly, and cider production spread far and wide.
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