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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Who needs pots to grow plants?

There was some inspirational planting by Dave Saunders (left) and other gardening enthusiasts from the Eden Project in Cornwall at the recent Guardian newspaper Open Day at Kings Cross in London.

Old handbags, teapots, cups, egg cartons and even shoes had gained a new lease of life with a handful of compost and a few seeds.

Visitors to their stand on the canal towpath were fascinated by the many ideas, and hopefully some will have gone away to plant something edible for the Big Jubilee Lunch on Sunday, June 3, a one-day get-together for neighbours across the country.

For quick results Dave recommends cress and sprouting seeds (ready in about 1 week), leaf salad (3 weeks) and pea shoots (3 weeks). If you're not in a huge hurry, there are many more ideas on the Big Lunch website.

Back in Cornwall, Dave is an Eden Project pollinator, using his skills as a storyteller and puppeteer to fire up youngsters’ enthusiasm for growing things. See more about him (and a video) at

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Front garden workshop

Gardeners are a generous lot, always happy to share and help.

Every second year, our local Mapesbury gardening group in NW London gives awards for the best local front gardens, and last weekend, members got together to kick-start the event with a free front garden workshop.

Over the past few weeks they'd carefully nurtured dozens of seedlings and plants and these were displayed in one member’s driveway (above). Seeds, pots, advice and even compost were also on offer, and the steady stream of visitors went away with armfuls of free goodies. Some were already keen gardeners, but others were novices, pleased to get help in beautifying what might previously have been a bare patch of concrete. A lot of hard work, but great for fostering a community spirit and hopefully helping the neighbourhood bloom this summer.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

£500 Reward for Gardeners

Have you spotted something unusual amongst the plants in your garden? Has something come up in a different shade or with different blooms or fragrance to what was expected? If so, you could be in for a windfall from Thompson and Morgan.
A few seasons back, a gardener in Suffolk noticed an unusually short and compact foxglove, with blooms appearing in whorls all around the stem. The seeds were sent to T and M, and now 'Primrose Carousel' (left) is available for everyone to enjoy.. 

The company says it will pay £500 or more for each new plant that makes it into their range. Among the successful plants which have emerged in this way are Marigold ‘Mr Majestic’ (above) and Nasturtium ‘Flame Thrower’ (below).

The company is also looking for new vegetables. One tomato now on sale, Sungella, emerged when a gardener tried  crossing the small-fruited, extra-sweet tomato Sungold with a larger type.

Details are on the Thompson and Morgan website,
along with instructions on what to look for and how to cross-pollinate.

So keep a close eye on what emerges over the next few months. You could be on to a winner.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Handy covers

I came across these elasticised covers in a NZ supermarket last year, and brought some home. They're brilliant for covering bowls and dishes in the fridge, and can be washed and reused - unlike cling film. I haven't seen them on sale in the UK, but then realised how similar they are to the disposable shower caps you often get in hotels. So next time I'm on holiday......

Horticultural hint: these covers are also great to pop over a pot of seeds that are germinating on a windowsill.