Get Garden Updates by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The Gardening Coach

Catharine Howard is the Gardening Coach. Contact her for gardening advice and visit www.thegardeningcoach.co.uk for more information.

September 29, 2014 | Problem planting areas - slopes round ponds

or should I say moats?   In Suffolk, east of England,  moats are ubiquitous .   I have lost count of how many customers I have with the address “Moat House Farm”.

The problem is that the banks down to the water are steep.  So what are the options for maintenance and aesthetics?  Lush growth of weeds?  Regular strimming?  This gives a denuded look and chucks nutrients back into the water which is not good – bald looks apart.  So how best to plant the banks?  The soil is clay which cracks and dries out in the summer.  That rules out the list of marginals such as Lythrum virgatum that need to keep their roots wet.

Continue reading Problem planting areas – slopes round ponds

Share

Read more...

September 28, 2014 | This is my mistreated carrot

An extreme example of very poor soil preparation.  The wretched thing is coiled into a scream that stops it taking flight for a Tony Cragg Road Show.

We ate it and it was quite tasty.

Share

Read more...

September 27, 2014 | Dahli AMAZIA: Why and how to grow dahlias

Dahlias yo-yo in and out of fashion.  Right now the spool is taut and this genus of perennials are spinning high.  Funny to reflect then that the first plants arriving from Mexico 200 years were introduced  as  food  – an alternative to the potato.  James Wong, ethno-botanist and TV presenter,  praises them for a flavour reminiscent of the jerusalem artichoke and recommends grating them into that delicious Swiss dish, rosti.  A word of caution, choose the dahlia that you will nibble with care.  The breeding for ornamental looks has been at the expense of flavour.  And BTW the bit you eat are the fat salami like roots.  Deer and rabbits love them too.

Continue reading Dahlia amazia: why and how to grow dahlias

Share

Read more...

September 23, 2014 | Radicchio rage

I am having problems with my radicchio – or are they radicchi when they grow in a small flock like this?  Some monster has blasted through the garden shed and stolen all my seed packets and labels so I am relying on my memory.  Pretty sure that I

Continue reading Radicchio rage

Share

Read more...

September 22, 2014 | In the glistering light of September

Plants that would appear flat and bleached out in bright sun come forward and shine or have a luminous quality in soft autumn light.  First Sporobolus heterolepsis  - this grass turns up  over and over again in planting plans by Oudolf in Noel Kingsbury’s book  ”Planting – a New Perspective”  At last I had it pointed out to me this week in a friend’s garden.  It is

Continue reading In the glistering light of September

Share

Read more...

September 15, 2014 | Plants by Post - do I rate them?

When I asked  Tim Milward of Plant Me Now how many lines of seeds they had in their catalogue he looked at me politely and I realised I was a bit of an idiot.  Plant me now, geddit?  Plants arrive as plugs or in 7cm pots and the punter plants them and tends them.

It’s neat for those who do not care for the worry, flutter and bother of germinating and nurturing diddly-squat young plants.

Continue reading Plants by Post – do I rate them?

Share

Read more...

September 13, 2014 | Aspirational corner: mainly things I want but have no room for Mark 4

Perhaps I am getting steadily more greedy.  Time, on the other hand, could be galloping faster and faster like a runaway bull.  The long and short of it is that this time I am posting four things I want in my virtual and infinite Aspirational Corner.    First, tunnels of evergreen oak, Quercus ilex as pictured left at Villa Cetinale, near Siena.  The spangle-dangle disco look comes from the sharp sunlight piercing through.  I suspect this plant material needs the Tuscan sun.

Then just this past week, I and a friend have been visiting a garden or two of high calibre in Suffolk, with a view to pick up planting inspiration.  Well, I saw a garden of many

Continue reading Aspirational corner: mainly things I want but have no room for Mark 4

Share

Read more...

September 9, 2014 | Garden workshops in Suffolk to get your garden looking gorgeous

I am running two workshops soon for any keen gardeners who live in Suffolk:

HARMONIOUS PLANTING – on  Monday 6th October 9.30 – 11.30 at Lilac Thyme, The Station, Woodbridge, IP12 4AU

This is a two hour workshop to get you enthused about where to begin with replanting, or simply dividing up and moving plants around.

Continue reading Garden workshops in Suffolk to get your garden looking gorgeous

Share

Read more...

September 8, 2014 | The RHS Dahlia Show - what did we think?

My friend Frenchie of Moat Farm Flowers is big into cut flowers.  She lives up here in Suffolk and is growing and selling beautiful blooms for weddings and the like.  A Dahlia Show at Wisley? We gasped with excitement and made the date to go together. She for the learning and I for the gawping.

Here is a brief resumee  of our day out.  The car-park was a-flurry on arrival at my usual breakfast time – probably because Mary Berry was celebrising the day.  Made mental note not to get distracted by her.  But round the corner, there she was with an

Continue reading The RHS Dahlia Show – what did we think?

Share

Read more...

September 5, 2014 | Close up and personal at Castello di Celsa

Here is a a quick photo-study of Celsa – a castle and grounds near Siena, Italy.  I visited earlier this year.  If you want to do the same,   check their website www.castellodicelsa.com to make an appointment.  Should  anyone get to the 5th image, I would love to know what that flashy butterfly is called.   Continue reading Close up and personal at Castello di Celsa

Share

Read more...