#2

The second year of Eleanor Owens Gardening is complete. It’s been fantastic working with clients in their gardens (especially when it’s sunny)! It’s exciting helping each garden evolve year by year as all are vastly different. I am enjoying taking on bigger tasks and learning more difficult techniques.

  • Smashed college. Gained a Distinction* diploma in Horticulture.
  • Designed my new logo and bought new uniform.
  • Plan to purchase a van imminently.
  • Continuing studies on garden design, permaculture and edible gardens/self-sustainability.
  • Redesigned my blog. It became more accessible and looks fantastic.

Targets for the third year of EOG:

  • Taking on an employee/sub-contracting.
  • Diversifying my blog.
  • Expanding my Etsy shop.

     

     

 

 

GROW: Bare Root Fruit Trees

“Bare root” is a term used for tree stock that will arrive without soil covering its roots. You can purchase these from November-February (late autumn-early spring) whilst the tree is dormant.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 16.38.12.png

It’s important to plant it whilst it’s dormant as this will cause least disturbance to the tree and won’t impact its growth/flowering/fruiting.

Once the bare root tree arrives you should plant it as soon as possible! Soak the roots in water for 1-2 hours; they might have dried out slightly during transport.

Dig a square hole that is two times the width of the rootball; scrape the sides of the hole using a fork. This will accommodate fresh compost and allow the roots to spread easily. The hole should be deep enough for the roots to sit on the earth and for the graft union to remain above ground.

Hammer a stake into the hole toward the prevailing wind (just off centre) at a 45 degree angle. Tie the tree to the stake using a rubber tree tie; this will support the tree during strong winds/weather.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 16.39.54.png

Mound up some earth in the middle of the hole and place the roots over it. This provides extra surface area for the roots to have contact with.

FullSizeRender-26.jpg

Ensure the graft union sits above ground level. If it doesn’t then backfill the hole slightly to raise the floor level.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 16.42.23.png

Backfill the hole with a mixture of compost and existing earth (50:50).

Gently heel/firm down the soil to remove air pockets.

Mulch around the tree (not touching the stem) to prevent it from competing with weeds.

Water the tree if dry. Water again if it’s a dry spring. Water throughout summer. Be careful not to overwater.

Remove the stake after a year. Enjoy the fruit!!

Spring clean

Before the garden starts to grow again, I use this dormant period to tidy the garden. The jobs listed can be done over a weekend. They aren’t time consuming and will improve the look of your garden straight away!

  • Dead leaves that fell over christmas should be swept up off the patio. This will prevent areas from looking messy and will help counteract the war against slugs! Shred the leaves and add them to the compost heap.
  • Leaves should also be raked off the lawn to allow sunlight to keep the lawn looking healthy and green!
  • Remove weeds, dead foliage and leaves from containers. Mulch the pots with compost or manure. Plants grown in containers may need their soil replaced entirely as nutrients can be washed out/used quicker than if planted in the ground.
  • Any herbaceous plants that died off last year should be cut down to the ground now to allow the new growth to appear without constraint in spring. This will make it easier to see the fresh green shoots when they appear and prevent slugs/snails from hiding beneath the old foliage. It will also make borders look smarter and neater.
  • Remove any old fruit from borders/lawn e.g. figs, apples or pears. Most should have rotted down. These can be added to the compost heap.
  • Prune out dead/diseased/damaged branches from certain trees and shrubs. Winter can be harsh and many could have snapped due to adverse weather. It is important to keep plants healthy and happy!
  • When the lawn has dried out, edge around borders using a half-moon spade. This will make the beds look neat. I like this look because it makes the beds easier to weed and manage.
  • Once the earth has warmed up (march/april) you can mulch the garden using manure, compost or rotted bark chippings. This will make the garden look fantastic. The new fresh greenery from the herbaceous plants will shine against the black soil. It will also replenish any nutrients that were washed away throughout winter.

 

Sowing seeds

Everyone should start sowing seeds.

It’s relaxing, encouraging and is accessible for anyone to do.

Begin with seed sowing compost. This is a special mixture containing the correct level of nutrients for the seed to grow well. It is available at any garden centre, the internet and sometimes supermarkets.

Select a large module tray or 9cm pots to plant into. Remember that this has to sit on a windowsill or bench in a greenhouse so choose an appropriate size. Purchase a tray without drainage holes to sit underneath the pots to prevent water from staining the windowsill. These are also available at garden centres and on the internet.

Choose your seeds!

Tomatoes are a great seed to begin with. The plant itself provides a long bountiful crop, that’s great if you are restricted by space. There are so many varieties that produce a range of different shaped, sized, coloured tomatoes! Experiment and find your favourites.

Cosmos are bright flowers, they grow vertically and look fantastic all summer. They can be cut and placed in a vase.

Sweet peas are a classic but you do need more space as they like to grow up a trellis. They also need to be harvested as they flower perpetually, needing a lot of attention. However, they smell fantastic and look lovely in a vase.

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-14-44-29

Runner beans also need a lot of space, they grow up a trellis too. They produce a large crop for the duration of summer and are great value for space!

Varieties I like:

Tomato ‘Red Grape Sugar Plum’

Tomato ‘Super Marmande’

Cosmos ‘Sensation Mixed’

Cosmos ‘Cupcakes White’

Sweet pea ‘Sweet Dreams’

Sweet pea ‘Harlequin’

Runner bean ‘Firestorm’

Runner bean ‘Polestar’

There is a large selection available to buy at garden centres and online. The best deals can be found in late autumn. This is when seeds will be cheaper but you may be left with less desired varieties.

Follow the instructions on the individual seed packets to plant them correctly. Each is different.

Pot the seedlings on to bigger pots and then plant them outside in the garden in April. Tomatoes/sweet peas can be planted into pots and grown against a sunny wall, they will need support as they grow. Cosmos can also be planted into pots.

 

 

 

Sow seeds in January

I am so excited to get back into the garden with my new tools I got for christmas and the big ideas I’ve been mulling over since last spring!

Every day I tweet a job to do in preparation for spring; it’s important to not get overwhelmed by the incredible growth that seems to happen all at once. Follow me @eogardening.

An easy job to start the year off well is sowing seeds. There are a few seeds that will need a longer growing period that you should sow now in propagating trays in the greenhouse or on the windowsill indoors.

My top 5 flowers to begin with are:

  1. The classic sweet pea. I like varieties such as ‘Anniversary’ or ‘Hi-scent’ but as ever, it’s your choice!
  2. Cleome ‘Colour Mix’
  3. Antirrhinum ‘Royal Bride’
  4. Lobelia erinus ‘Cascade Mixed’
  5. Laurentia ‘Avant-Garde Blue’

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-15-48-11screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-15-52-18screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-15-52-50screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-15-53-43screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-15-54-21

Don’t forget the vegetable plot starts now too! Tomatoes e.g. Gardener’s Delight, Costoluto Fiorentino and Red Grape Sugar Plum can be sown now. Along with broad beans such as Masterpiece or Stereo.

[not own images].

GROW: Alliums

The spring queens of the garden. Unquestionably majestic.

Alliums bring height that bulbs don’t usually provide. They pop out of borders and look incredible against dark evergreen backgrounds.

It’s really important to grow your own flowers, especially if you love cut flowers in the home. 95% of flowers sold in Britain are imported; this is absurd. We should support locally grown flowers such as Crosslands Nursery who grow alstroemerias in Sussex or we should grow our own.

What I’ve planted this year:

  1. Allium Caeruleum
  2. Allium Purple Sensation
  3. Allium Aflatunense
  4. Allium Sphaerocephalon

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-15-39-58screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-15-40-27screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-15-41-02screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-15-41-24

I decided upon these four varieties as they vary in colour and size; they will look great in a vase or covered in bees! I have chosen to plant these bulbs in a cutting flower patch this year. The soil quality is so much better in there compared to the flower borders as there is a copious amount of clay in the garden.

The improved quality of soil will allow better drainage. Along with horticultural grit, that I have placed underneath each bulb, this will hopefully prevent the bulbs from rotting so that they will reappear again next year!

 

[not own images].

GROW: Tulipa

Tulips make perfect cutting flowers; filling vases in spring with your favourite blooms. More people will appreciate them as they will be on show in your home; leaving some in the garden will draw people’s attention. They are fresher and last longer than supermarket flowers; growing your own or buying local flowers is very important, 95% of flowers sold in Britain are imported. This should be discouraged.

I have chosen four different types:

  1. Finola
  2. Pink Impression
  3. Calgary
  4. Menton Exotic

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-13-29-53screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-13-30-56screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-13-31-47screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-13-32-16

A cutting flower patch is invaluable in a garden. The bright flowers attract wildlife and bring interest to flower borders. The vivid colours will pop against the greens that appear in spring.

Purchase your bulbs in late autumn; tulips should be planted after bonfire night (first frosts) to prevent tulip fire.

When planting, place horticultural grit in the bottom of the trench/container, surrounding the bulb itself; this will help prevent the bulbs from rotting and give the blooms a chance at reappearing next year.

 

[not own pictures].

GROW: Daffodils

Don’t be afraid of growing different varieties of daffodils. There are so many to choose from and it’s always lovely to see variation grown alongside the classic British native.

I have planted mine into a plot of land, I want to encourage them to spread and fill the area. If you are worried about them spreading, or would like a burst of colour by the front door.. plant them into containers. Use compost and some grit to assist with drainage.

I have planted:

  1. Narcissus pseudonarcissus (British native daffodil)
  2. Golden ducat
  3. Pheasant’s eye

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-16-39-01screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-16-38-10screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-16-38-21

I will be using these daffodils as cutting flowers. The daffodil is the iconic image of spring and I can’t wait to see it growing in my own garden! It’s important to grow your own cutting flowers, it supports native wildlife and makes an area look fantastic.

 

[not own images].

Diversity in horticulture: TV

“51% of 14-24 year olds watch a range of gardening programmes”

“40% of 14-24 year olds watch Gardener’s World”

Gardening is portrayed in the media as white, middle class, male dominated and ageist.

If this form of media is critical for growth in horticulture then why are they enforcing the dull, traditional gardening stereotypes? Television has a huge impact on younger peoples lives and sometimes affects their future career choices.

Gardener’s World is obviously a popular show. It revolves around Monty Don (white, male, middle class, middle-aged) and he is assisted by other white, middle class, middle-aged gardeners (some female!). It’s a hobbyists show and doesn’t inspire people to take up careers in horticulture; it’s just a “job for the weekend”.

Gardening on television encourages younger people to view gardening as a hobby; most believe that gardening is ‘unskilled work’ and not a long term career option. There is an ever increasing demand for gardeners that cannot be fulfilled if stereotypes and ideologies don’t change. I am desperate to see younger people in horticulture on TV, as presenters or speakers, showing off their passion; then becoming heroes to the aspiring horticulturists in their generation or the generation below them.

We are slowly seeing an increase in the media of young horticulturists however they are also white, male and middle class. Why can’t they show the wildly diverse range of unique gardeners that I see on Twitter or Instagram; the hardworking people that have incredible horticulture careers who live in the shadow of overused stereotypes.

Encouraging a change in the media will allow a diverse range of ‘regular’ horticulturists to appear on TV; careers in gardening will become more accessible and obtainable. Younger people will want to be just like their gardening heroes!

Statistics referenced: (Jack Wallington – “Big up Monty D” theguardian.com – 2016 – data collected from 514, 14-24 year olds)

5 favourite plants for winter colour

Winter makes me think of the ‘takedown’; chopping back perennials, pruning large shrubs (that may be affected by strong winds) and hedge trimming.

I forget that there are actually plants still growing and visible; I should look up from what I am doing more often and appreciate them.

Here are 5 plants that I enjoyed last winter for their bright colour and enthusiasm!

  1. Clematis cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’
  2. Edgeworthia chrysantha
  3. Cornus alba (such a classic, had to be listed)
  4. Arbutus unedo
  5. Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ (not a favourite for pruning, bit spiky!)

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-19-32-51edge2cornus-alba-sibirica-jpg-2arbutus_unedo_-_vilmorin_-_strawberry_treemahonia-media-charity-flower

These plants are moderately easy to maintain and need to be pruned once a year. They can be planted in most soil types however Edgeworthia prefers fertile, well drained soil so may be harder to grow in clay soils without thourough preparation.