We use cookies on this website. To use the website as intended please accept cookies.

Wednesday July 17 , 2019

Blue Daisy Blog

Blue Daisy blog written by Nicki Jackson & Jules Clark - for news, views, garden design, gardening and plant observations and thoughts.

Great British Garden Revival - Episode 4

Posted by on in News & Views
Rachel de Thame - Decline of British Cut Flowers
 
SweetPeasIt’s true that freshly cut flowers bring our homes alive and Rachel explained that we used to take pride in growing and buying our own flowers. The British cut flower industry has declined so much that today we import almost 90% and her aim is that together we can change this.
 
Rachel visited Kelmarsh Hall in Lincolnshire, a Grade 2 listed garden that is of national significance.  Amongst their extensive gardens is a cut flower garden and they believe that freshly cut flowers last longer, and are strong, the stem lengths are all different which makes for a more interesting display rather than being specifically grown all equal lengths for the commercial market. 
 
The New Covent Garden market opened in the 1800s when the British cut flower industry took off and familiar sights around London were the barrow boys carting cut flowers all around the city.  In the 1970s the market grew so big and was so successful it was moved down the road to Vauxhall.   Today the cut flower industry is worth £2bn and sellers admit to stocking only about 10% of British flowers with the other 90% coming from Ecuador, Holland and other countries.  Meanwhile most of our British growers have stopped growing because there is no demand for their products.  In addition to this there are diminishing numbers of younger people going in to the cut flower growing industry; a far cry from the days of their parents and grandparents who were able to create good careers in cut flower jobs in their day.  To compound this problem there is also a loss of knowledge and skill which is a national problem for all of the horticultural industries today.  However, it was back in the 1960s when the government offered subsidies for growers in Holland to import flowers to the UK that contributed to the bottom falling out of the UK market, compounded in the 1990s when the supermarkets joined the fray.  They dominated the market, also sourced from abroad and started selling the same flowers all year round rather than concentrating on seasonal varieties.
 
Wedding flowers are a £120m industry and the majority of them are imported however Doddington Hall have found that there is the rumbling of a new trend afoot - customers are beginning to ask for British grown flowers for their wedding straight from their cutting garden.  Also included in the bouquets are herbs which not only look good but smell good too!
 
Rachel encourages us all to grow cut flowers from seed with the easiest to grow being hardy annuals such as sunflowers, poppies, cornflowers and coreopsis. After a few weeks they are ready to plant out – it is cost effective and addictive. Sweet peas are a favourite for cut flowers because of their scent which has the ability to fill a room, a few plants will be enough to ensure you have flowers all summer long but you must keep picking them, if you don’t they turn to seed pods.  You can buy cut sweet peas but most are also imported to us and by the time they hit the shelves the scent has usually gone so why not grow your own and benefit from the heavier scent of freshly cut sweet peas?
 
There is a skill to cutting and arranging flowers to get the maximum benefit, if you are doing it yourself you should cut them first thing in the morning when they have had all evening to rehydrate themselves.  Once cut ensure you put them straight into a bucket of water (which you should carry with you!) and this will help force water back up to the flower to keep it fresher for longer.  Rachel also gave us ingredients for making our own cut flower food which was basically: in 2L of water add 2tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of weak bleach and 4tsp of lemon juice – probably best to do some research before you make any first though as there are many recipes out there! 
 
Rachel urges us to celebrate our amazing cultural heritage and buy British next time you want to colour your home or “better still - grow your own"!  
 
Here at Blue Daisy we have been growing our own for the last few years and will continue to do so – there’s nothing lovelier than cutting your own flowers for the house and letting the scent fill the rooms!
 
Joe Swift - Trees
 
Sorbus berriesTrees have so many amazing features and it is astounding that today only 2% of Britain is covered in ancient woodland. We have simply fallen out of love with trees, we think they will get too big, the neighbours won't like them or wonder why bother because we won't live long enough to see it mature!  But ensuring you choose the right tree for the right place will help to reduce these problems!
 
Joe visited the Cambridge Botanical Garden as it has an amazing selection of trees of varying sizes, different forms; some have berries or flowers and the deciduous autumnal leaves can be amazing.  A tree is an essential element to any good garden design, it helps set the scene and form the framework for the rest of the planting.  It is probably one of the most important plants you will ever buy as they will be with you for many years to come.  
 
In the Victorian era they planted parks and streets with trees that are resistant to pollution to help green up the streets.   It is true that trees have had their fair share of problems - in the 70s the Elm was threatened as Dutch Elm Disease wiped out 25m trees, Ash and Horse Chestnut have their own diseases too that we need to try to eliminate.  Brighton has the largest and oldest collection of Elm trees in the country; some are over 200 years old, they were planted there originally as they are able to withstand salt laden air.  Some of their Elms have been destroyed but they have been luckier than other parts of the country where our landscape was simply changing over night.  
 
Joe says now more than ever it is so important to plant trees but consider ornamental versions rather than native.  His top three favourite trees for autumnal colour, berries and bark interest are:
 
Acer davidii which has a wide canopy and is perfect for a medium size garden, with attractive leaves and decorative bark – it does like to be sheltered from strong winds though. 
 
The many Sorbus varieties are ideal for medium to larger gardens with their autumn leaf colour and various coloured berries this species on their own attract lots of wildlife.  
 
Euonymus sachalinensis can reach up to 3m tall and is perfect for a small garden; it has amazing shaped fruit with vivid colour and also attracts lots of wildlife.
 
It is essential that we provide habitats for our wildlife and a Birch family tree attracts the widest variety of wildlife having a staggering 334 species feed and live on them.  There is a national collection of Birch at Stone Lane Gardens which is set in a 5 acres garden, began in 1971.  Birch trees can grow on poor soils and they don’t create deep shade with their canopy so many people find them quite attractive for that reason.  They have their own architectural quality in a garden and can look great when planted individually or in groups for a bold statement, they also have a wide range of amazing bark and leaf colours too. 
 
Not only can trees increase wildlife in your garden, provide a focal point, add structural interest they can also help offset your carbon foot print and improve air quality – what are you waiting for?  Plant a tree in your garden today!  If you want some advice get in touch with us.
Hits: 13367 0 Comments
0

Welcome to 2014

Posted by on in News & Views

2014Happy New Year!  It has been a strange old start to the year already with storms raging across the country doing untold damage to our gardens (never mind people's homes too!).  The majority of our gardens in this area are heavy clay, so they will be extremely waterlogged with all of the heavy rain falling on already saturated gardens and there is little that can be done right now apart from letting nature take its course.   Going forward though if you do have a problem with water logging you could get in contact with us for some ideas to help you either with your existing garden or to help combat future problems when creating a new garden.

2014 sees the start of the year with a new series Great British Garden Revival, whilst it might not be everyone’s cup of tea we should raise our glass that gardening is getting some more air time – after all 30 minutes a week for Gardener’s World could be considered pretty poor compared to the amount of cookery and reality programmes there are out there!

This is also the year for Perennial (the Gardener’s Royal Benevolent Society) as it celebrates its 175th anniversary of helping horticulturalists in need since 1839.  It is also the 50th anniversary of RHS Britain in Bloom and the RHS is encouraging community groups across the UK to plant golden pollinator-friendly flowers to mark their golden anniversary across public spaces this year.  To add to that it is the 100th anniversary of World War 1 famously dubbed ‘The Great War’ and there will be masses of red poppies planted across the country to commemorate those who lost their lives.  I expect there will be masses of poppies being included in many show gardens this year too.

Blue Daisy is celebrating its fourth full year of trading, we have had our bumpy times but as the economy is slowing picking up so is business and we have plans for the coming year which I’ll share with you as they are finalised.

All in all I think it will be a colourful year – here’s looking forward to it!

Tagged in: Perennial RHS
Hits: 3326 0 Comments
0

Great British Garden Revival - Episode 3

Posted by on in News & Views

Carole Klein - Cottage Gardens

cottagegarden2Most people associate cottage gardens as being filled with plants brimming with flowers, dripping in colour and attracting pollinators. We are in danger of losing some of these plants and the pure ethos of what a cottage garden is because they are seen by many as being out dated and old fashioned, but they are firmly fixed as part of our horticultural heritage.
 
Margery Fish who with her husband, created the lovely gardens at East Lambook Manor also managed to influence people to create cottage gardens all over the globe.  She created these beautiful, informal and relaxed schemes combining both modern and old fashioned plants that today are the epitome of what a cottage garden is.  Carole admits that she has been heavily influenced by Margery and her style of the informal and mingled planting defining how she has gardened and continues to garden today.  East Lambrook Hall is open to the public and has been lovingly restored in Margery’s style - reflecting her principles and ideas.  We are told that these gardens will inspire the more experienced and the novice gardener alike, everyone can take something away to use back in their own gardens.
 
Another famous traditional cottage garden is situated in the Lake District. Hill Top Garden, formerly the home of Beatrix Potter; is open to the public through the National Trust.  The garden itself provided Beatrix with inspiration for her writing and was featured in the children’s books she wrote.  She created informal borders with flowers and vegetables complementing each other, paths navigate you around the garden so you can see the mingled planting at its quintessentially English cottage garden best. 
 
Carole believes that the cottage gardens are quite easy to maintain if you get the planting and structure right because it’s about pottering and tweaking rather than taking great pains to get the lawn edges perfectly straight and all plants standing to attention.  A traditional cottage garden evolves over time with plants being swapped with friends, family and neighbours, plants being mixed with productive crops, informal planting, using companion planting and attracting those pollinators we are so desperately in need of.  Typical traditional cottage garden plants are Phlox, Alchemilla, Aster, Rudbekia, Cosmos all intermingled with tender perennials like Dahlias. 
 
There are also some cutting edge modern cottage gardens that are very popular such as Dove Cottage which uses plants like Sanguisorba, Achillea and ornamental grasses to create movement and energy.  The owners believe that a true cottage garden creates its own identity by self seeding and creating new areas and as such the garden feels more natural rather than contrived and controlled.
 
You can create your own cottage garden by swapping plants, taking cuttings, collecting seeds and growing your own. Carole believes it’s not just about a style it’s about friendship and sharing plants, seeds and experiences together.
 

Tom Hart-Dyke - House Plants 

houseplantsTom is a modern day Plant Hunter who is passionate about reviving house plants because they have fallen out of fashion with some having even had bad press such as the Cheese Plant and Rubber Plant!  The UK buys less house plants than any other European country but there are so many species that will thrive in our homes. Modern families don’t believe that indoor plants are important but here in the UK they were once very fashionable and back in the Victorian era it was essential to have a sense of the garden inside the house.  Charles Darwin was also a plant hunter for a few years, he brought back plants to our country and he saw them as a fundamental part of the home. Back then their plants were needy, they required tending and nurturing to ensure they flourished and this is possibly one of the reasons why people now don’t want house plants because they believe they will take too much time to care for.  
 
RHS Wisley has a very large glass house, it is the equivalent of 10 tennis courts and is said to be one of the most extensive collections of house plants in the world.  Tom says there is a houseplant to suit any situation, a cold and drafty spot, a sunny windowsill, rooms with low light levels, needing no or little care or for someone who wants to tend or water it every day!  Three of the most popular houseplants today are the Tillandsias better known as the Air Plant which is very low maintenance, Streptocarpus in particular ‘Crystal Ice’ which flowers continually for 12 months and Begonias which are used to low light levels, are easy to grow and propagate. 
 
In previous episodes we saw that plants help to reduce pollution and this principle can be applied to our homes too, there are so many toxins in the air especially in the winter when we don’t open the windows.  NASA trialled some plants and it is thought that the Peace Lily is the best for removing toxins out of the air.  Studies have also been carried out using plants in the work place and it has been proved that having a few plants on or around your desk helps to improve wellbeing and it can increase productivity by up to 15%.  So if you aren’t convinced to try some in your home, get some for work – they are good for you.  If you want some help deciding what plant to have where get in contact with us we can help guide you and supply you with the right plants.
 
Hits: 6725 0 Comments
0

Great British Garden Revival - Episode 2

Posted by on in News & Views

Rachel de Thame - Topiary

topiaryRachel began by explaining that the topiary art form is an important part of our heritage, it was extremely fashionable in the Tudor and Elizabethan era.  In its heyday all sorts of shapes were created not only because it was the height of fashion but also because many of the plants we have in our gardens today hadn't been discovered and brought into the UK. This meant that even in the depths of winter the gardens still offered colour, interest and excitement in bucket loads!  Topiary went as far as the creative mind and individual's skill allowed from huge domes of Box, imposing archways of Yew through to rabbits, birds, chess pieces and even a teapot on the top of hedges!

In the 1800s a lot of our topiary gardens were removed to make way for the new naturalist garden movement that was sweeping the country.  Levens Hall in the Lake District is said to be one of the most extensive topiary gardens in the world, is one of the few places in the UK where the owners through the years steadfastly maintained their love of topiary.  Today it still attracts many visitors to marvel at the existing and unique living structures and forms.

Sadly topiary, having played such an important role in our histrory, is an art form that is being lost.  Purist topiarians (I believe this could well be my own word - I'm not sure whether people who do topiary are called topiarists, topiarisers or topiarians!) use hand tools and say they can become completely absorbed in creating new structures. It's a time comsuming skill and by all accounts can be completely addictive!! However, for unskilled and less confident topiary fanciers there are companies that construct welded metal wire frames which can be purchased in a particular shape. These frames can be placed over Yew or Box plants and then snipped and pruned to that shape and after a few years the wire frame will be hidden.

Creating low cost topiary plants can be achieved by taking softwood cuttings, planting them straight into a well prepared nursey bed and after a few years these can be the start of a new hobby. Whether you are creating imposing arches or spirals in containers be creative and have fun because topiary can be included in any garden regardless of style or size.

Roof Gardens - James Wong

roofgardenJames looked at roof gardens in London both past and present. Living in cities means that access to green spaces is limited but by using a roof as a garden it allows us to access all these spaces currently not doing anything.

When you talk to people about roof gardens they often think of them as a modern introduction or even a trend but in many other countries around the world - where space is literally unheard of - roof gardens are an absolute must, a way of life and a standard part of urban planning. Inner cities are known for being 6-8 degrees hotter than rural areas because bricks and concrete retain the heat from the sun, this is known as the Urban Heat Island effect. Creating spaces such as roof gardens with plants helps to cool the air, create shade, absorb water, reduce pollution and provide a haven for wildlife.

Roof gardens aren’t new to us here in the UK either, they were a modernist dream over a hundred years ago, being cited as the future model that would become common place. In the 1920s Selfridges in London created their own flamboyant pleasure garden on their rooftop to entice their customers. Soon their competitors, the other department stores, began to create their own with putting greens, ponds, ornamental and productive gardens all being included. The Kensington Roof Garden was created, a 1.5 acre rooftop oasis split in to three main themes, Tudor gardens, a woodland garden (with fully grown Oak and fruit trees in 1.5m soil!) and a Spanish garden all of which bring their own wildlife including flamingos! This garden is still in existence and is open to the public. Sadly many of these floating oases were destroyed during the blitz and were seen as too costly and ostentatious to recreate and repair in post war years.

Today a roof garden is very possible and the logistics of getting materials up there is easier with the use of a crane, for smaller items they can be carried up stairs or in the lift. A lot of thought needs to go into the logistics and planning, including discussing with a structural engineer what weight the roof can take and working with a garden designer to make the dream a reality. Consideration is required for the plants, most new beds or containers will have depth restrictions of around 45cm (18ins) for root space and the sheer creation of a garden in the sky means it is more exposed to winds. Plants that will survive in little soil and being on a manmade cliff are, for example, coastal plants and ornamental grasses. Ensuring you have the right plant in the right place means that most of your work can be done at the outset.

Lightweight containers are much better than heavy terracotta not only for weight but also because terracotta will absorb water and this evaporates quickly meaning there is more work for you to do keeping the plants well watered. Using a product like expanded clay is good too because it retains water and is light to lift, remember to finish off with a mulch like gravel which will help retain moisture and reduce weed growth. Creating a roof garden means you are ultimately responsible for creating the right conditions for plants to grow so you don’t have to work with and keep the heavy clay soil the rest of us have to when we buy a house here in the Midlands!

birminghamlibraryroofgardenIn Birmingham the new library, a very modern building, has received criticism and has been applauded equally for its futuristic architecture also has a roof garden which is open to the public (left). The community can come and simply look out over Birmingham or bring a book up to read and enjoy the green space. Volunteers take turns in caring for the plants and borders; they are growing both ornamental and productive plants some of which are used in the cafe. This whole process also helps with offsetting the building’s carbon emission. I visited in November 2013 and was struck by the vastness of the space we were in, the garden was lovely and you can imagine what it would be like in the height of the season. Looking out over Birmingham left me feeling cold though, there wasn’t one other roof garden it was simply a concrete jungle crying out for greenery.

Even if you only have a few square metres and you create a roof garden, it will change your life. It will help to bust the stresses of modern life, cool the city, absorb pollution and create an environment for wildlife to co-exist. If you want more information on creating roof gardens get in contact with us for an initial chat.

 

Hits: 5486 0 Comments
0

Futurescape 2013

Posted by on in News & Views

I visited a landscaping event in November at Kempton Park Racecourse called Futurescape, it was packed full of suppliers of all manner of products from wildflower seeds, pergolas, paving, lighting, gravel, tools and many more.  I found it very useful in terms of being able to talk to directly to suppliers and ask them questions which helps me to improve my knowledge for when I specify their products in garden designs. A lot of suppliers had products on their stands so we could really look at them properly rather than in a brochure which sometimes can be difficult especially where colours are concerned.

I also attended a few workshops too, one was how to create the perfect wildflower meadow and this was delivered by the person respsonsible for all the wildflower turf that we saw inside the stadium during the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony - a great opportunity to hear how it was all done!  Early afternoon I listened to a lighting specialist who gave a talk on how and when to use lights in the garden, the benefits of the 'less is more' principle.  Late afternoon there was a question and answer session with a panel of 5 of our industry's top designers and landscapers who sat and answered questions possed to them. It really was an excellent opportunity to hear how they overcame obstacles both now and in their early career, how they deal with certain situations and how they started in their chosen profession.

All in all it was a really great day, I thoroughly enjoyed learning, networking with other designers and landscapers and of course meeting suppliers.  I came away feeling inspired, enthused and excited to take on whatever 2014 brings!

Hits: 2712 0 Comments
0

Blog Categories

Tag Cloud

alpines poppies Phyllostachys nigra water conservation Seed sowing GYO ornamental grasses Ashwood Nurseries June garden Rachel de Thame cottage garden Stoneleigh structure herbs garden March garden cyclamen Joanna Lumley Perennial rosemary garden design tip pests basil Cosmos astrosanguineus garden room sound in the garden National Trust November garden Herb Charlie Dimmock Jekka McVicar rock gardens Hidcote RHS Tatton Park February eco-friendly Gardeners World Floating Paradise Gardens of London garden design planning your garden Greenhouse July garden grey water Narcissus career in horticulture RHS Malvern unity form Cloches Horticulture bulbs Great British Garden Revival September garden autumn garden topiary Tom Hart-Dyke snow Coastal plants Trees Joe Swift Levens Hall Urban Heat Island October garden colour in your garden Highgrove rococo Snowdrops John Massey cottage gardens Shrubs Matt James pollinators saving water Geranium Birmingham Library repetition productive garden birch front garden traditional style Malvern Hills Horticultural Alys Fowler twitter Wildflowers New York Highline Carol Klein Winter shrubs green spaces London timber Ilex Horticulturalist May garden Chelsea Physic Garden bees Nicki Jackson Cambridge botanical garden blue January garden deer lawn care Fleece paving Lawrence Johnston Glasshouse RHS Hampton Court garden advice at home RHS Chelsea herbaceous borders Briza maxima Stone Lane Gardens Alan Titchmarsh Spring shrubs winter garden water Events & Shows contemporary Blue Daisy April garden edible garden show NSALG Kensington Roof Garden show gardens Berberis spring garden watering can rainwater harvesting spring bulbs hosepipe Futurescape Taxus vertical garden HTA reclaimed materials ash Selfridges Roof Garden Herb garden sorbus BBC plant pots Monty Don kitchen garden Joseph Banks sunflowers Acuba hydroponic surfaces bulb display Garden Planning gravel legacy gift Sophie Raworth Decking roof gardens watering Hosta roof garden plants Berginia sweat peas Kew Gardens Daffodils Laurel Toby Buckland patio drought ha ha water butt Kelmarsh Hall National Gardening Week build garden focal points HNC Euphorbia August garden courtyard Urban Heat Island Effect wildlife acer Absorb pollution winner pollinating insects house plants kerb-side appeal Echinacea terracota RHS stonemarket Buxus December garden elm Mrs Loudon Achillea water feature doddington hall Lantra Moss Bank Park Chelsea Flower Show grow your own Crocus CorTen pond Bamboo wild flowers scented shrubs gardening on tv Cut flowers summer garden February garden Wisley Chris Beardshaw James Wong CorTen steel Capability Brown hard landscaping movement in the garden Prince Harry garden design trends Malvern Spring Show heatwave women and work award composting recycled materials

Welcome to Blue Daisy Blog



Our Promise

promiseWe work hard to keep our customers happy.  We work to a voluntary customer charter.

Peace of Mind

simplybusinessWe take our responsibilities seriously so we're insured through Simply Business.

Click on the logo for our Garden Design insurance details. For Gardening details see our gardening services page.

Proud Members Of...

landscapejuicen... The Landscape Juice Network where we interact with other professional gardeners, designers and landscapers.