Sunday, 11 September 2016
Tune in to BBC Gardeners' World this Friday 16th September 8.30 and you might see us! http://bbc.in/2bP4Ej3
How did it all happen? It was Thursday 4th August and we were at the nursery doing our usual jobs of splitting plants, potting on and watering! Andy's mobile rang and a young woman, Kathryn Braithwaite, said that she was from BBC Gardeners' World and that she would like to meet us with a view to filming at the nursery. Andy nonchalantly agreed, thinking it would probably be in a week or two, but Kathryn wanted to come that very afternoon. Once the call was ended, nonchalance dissolved into a frantic rush to tidy up, interspersed with Andy shouting, "Oh my god, Gardeners' World are coming to the nursery"!!!
Kathryn Braithwaite is the Horticultural Researcher for BBC Gardeners' World. She spent three hours at the nursery getting to know us, our backgrounds, how we grow our plants and what motivates us.
Kathryn Braithwaite Horticultural Researcher
Kathryn explained to us that Gardeners' World was being extended to a one hour programme, with extra features such as focussing on a particular plant family: Rosaceae, Asteraceae, Ranunculaceae and Apiaceae. Our feature would be on the Asteraceae family(daisies) which includes the more obvious plants like Asters (some now called Symphyotrichum), Leucanthemums, Helianthemums and Erigerons, all with a typical daisy-like appearance. Other less daisy-like in appearance include, Chichoriums, Centaureas and Eupatoriums to name just a few. All of which attract a huge variety of pollinators. Our favourite plant this year has been Kalimeris mongolica (Mongolian Aster or Genghis Khan Aster) so we hoped that it would feature on the day if we were chosen. Many of the plants that we grow at the nursery find their way into the large garden that Andy and I have maintained for the past twenty years (Cheriton Cottage) so we hoped that filming could take place there also.
At the end of the day Kathryn told us that she loved the nursery. The information that she had gleaned from us would be shown to the Director and we would hear in the next week or so.
Andy's biggest worry was whether we would have enough colour for the 'big day'. We ended up telling customers that certain plants were not for sell! This seemed a bit barmy as we hadn't even had the go ahead from the director. But then the call came and the Director, Emma Fitzmaurice, gave us the date for filming: Wednesday 31st August. Now it was my turn to go into panic mode. I don't even like having my photo taken and the thought of a camera filming me brought me to tears. I consoled myself with the idea that maybe I could avoid it and Andy could do all the work: eight hours filming for a five minute slot!!
The Big Day!
The day started bright and early at 8.30am. The weather was a perfect sunshiney day. The first to arrive was the sound man, Gary Moore,a man with an incredibly firm handshake. Gary proved to be a 'life-saver' for me. He had a keen interest in wildlife and a great knowledge of butterflies. In between takes he kept my mind occupied chatting enthusiastically about wildlife and recommending good books and apps for my phone.
Gary Moore Soundman ("Quiet please!")
Next to arrive was the Cameraman, Shane Appleton, a man at ease with his camera. Throughout the day, in a quiet, unassuming manner he encouraged us to relax and enjoy the filming. Apologising profusely, when WE got it wrong and he needed US to do it again!
Shane Appleton Cameraman ("Don't look at the camera!")
Next to arrive was Kathryn and the Director, Emma Fitzmaurice, the woman who brought the whole team together. She was focused and professional. In a gentle, persuasive way she guided us throughout the day.
Emma Fitzmaurice Director ("That was lovely. Perfect!")
As the day progressed Andy relaxed and began to really enjoy himself. He found the whole experience really exciting and was amazed at how much work was involved to create a feature. As he said, "At the end of the day not everyone gets an opportunity to take part in a Gardeners' World programme. We need to make the most of it"
Andy beginning to enjoy the day
Emma & Shane helping me overcome my fears.
It was a long and tiring eight hour day and the feature will only be five minutes long. We have no idea what bits of filming will be aired. We hope that our lovely daughter, Roxana, will be featured doing the important job of watering the plants. Sadly there are no pictures of her as she spent the whole day photographing the shoot. Many thanks to her for a fantastic record of the day.
Finally a great big thank you to Kathryn, Emma, Gary and Shane for making our day so enjoyable.
The team at work filming at Cheriton Cottage
We hope you enjoy the programme.
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Friday, 5 February 2016
Anemonella thalictroides & Cenolophium denudatum
I tried, and failed, several times to get the beautiful Anemonella thalictroides to germinate. I ordered seeds from various sources and tried differing methods and times of sowing: all to no avail. I knew that the seeds were best sown fresh and my sources all assured me that they were.
While at a Rare Plant Fair I got chatting to two other growers (both of whom had a wonderful display of Anemonella thalictroides): I told them my woes. The first said that she had no problems; that her seeds came up like cress; but that perhaps where she lived it was a cooler climate and that helped. The other grower emphasised the need for fresh seeds. I said that my sources assured me that the seeds were fresh. He countered with, "Fresh means fresh! By the time they have collected, packaged and posted them to you, they'll be a week old. And that's not fresh!" He suggested that the best way was to buy a plant and collect my own seeds: so I did.
I collect a lot of seeds myself and sometimes it's easy to miss the opportunity, they blow away in the wind or they have mechanisms that project them far and wide. I decided it might help if the seeds could fall naturally onto a bed of compost. I filled four trays with compost and put a layer of grit on the top. The trays were placed in a cool corner of the shade area, with the pot of Anemonella thalictroides balancing precariously in the middle. Every time I passed by, I gave them a little tap, hoping to loosen any ripe seeds. In time I got busy and forgot about them. A couple of months later and, lo and behold, we noticed a few seedlings had emerged, then hundreds. Success at last!
However the 'must have' Cenolophium denudatum still eludes me. I only manage to germinate a few each year. But I persist because I know I must be doing something wrong. The latest batch of seeds were eagerly gathered by me: some sown immediately; others in September. We live in hope that this will be the year.
Andy are I are still like children in a sweet shop, when it comes to growing. Each day, Andy will say, "I've poured a tea. Got your glasses? Let's check the seeds." There follows groans of disappointment at the trays that still show no signs of growth, and whoops of delight when we spot those first few leaves emerging from beneath their beds of soil. There is a joy in sowing your own seeds, watching the little seedlings emerge, pricking them out and then growing them on. The final pleasure is in planting them out in the garden to watch them reach their full potential. Knowing that we grew them all from tiny seeds.
If you are interested in growing from seed,I will go into more detail as the season progresses.
Saturday, 30 January 2016
Mrs Garnett-Orme died in 2000. Her great nephew, William Cecil, and his wife, Nicola, inherited Cheriton Cottage. Not long after, I joined Andy to work in the garden. By their own admission, Nicola and William are not gardeners. However they have introduced some fun into the garden. The old watercress beds now boast a desert island, with a drawbridge, and a little boat, being the only access.
The Desert Island
And a pair of sheep have taken up residence:
Luckily for us, Nicola and William share our ethos of wildlife friendly gardening: the drive is sprayed twice a year and that is the sum total of chemicals we use in the garden. Every spring, all the borders are mulched with a thick layer of horse manure and the soil is now deep and rich and doesn't require any other additions.
I was desperate to bring the borders alive for the summer months. At first, it was difficult to persuade Nicola and William to allow me to change and enhance the borders. The garden had been Mrs Garnett-Orme's pride and I think we all felt it would be sacrilegious to interfere with it. But it was clear, that by the end of May, the garden looked sad and tired. Also, the garden was mainly blues and yellows, and both Nicola and I are more 'pink people'. It has been a slow and respectful process, but nearly all the borders have now been brought into the summer.
The Side Patio In June
However the yellow poppy, Meconopsis cambrica, still invade the pink borders.Could it be that Mrs Garnett-Orme is still watching us? If she is, I do hope she likes what we have done.
We look after the flower borders and prune all the shrubs and fruit trees in one day a week! Sometimes, I wonder how that is possible, but we know the garden intimately and we love it, so that helps.
Garden Open 2014
Over the coming months, I hope to show you some of what we do in the garden.
Saturday, 30 January 2016
Seed Germination - Differing Needs
I enjoy splitting plants. It allows me to see the structure of the plant clearly: the formation of the roots and how they will grow in the ground. Also I have instant plants. Propagating by cuttings is another quick and rewarding way of increasing stock. But there is something satisfying and magical about growing from seed.
The beautiful Orlaya grandiflora have just popped up in their tray and last week the tray was frozen solid.
Many seeds have a reputation for being difficult, but they're not really. Mostly, we are not providing the right conditions to trigger them out of their dormancy. We need to try and recreate the same conditions that the seed would find in its natural habitat. For instance, some Australian species, such as Dianella, need smoke, rather than heat, to trigger germination. The hard, thick coats of Lathyrus and Lupinus, benefit from scarifying or the careful removal of a small part of the hard outer seed coat, opposite the eye. Some seeds benefit from soaking overnight, to soften or remove water repellent coverings. Others need to be coaxed with alternating periods of cold and warmth. The tiny seeds of Digitalis want to be sown on the top of the compost and left uncovered, as they need light to germinate. While Centaureas and Delphiniums require a good covering of compost and darkness. The time of year you sow is important too: spring, summer or autumn.
Arguably, the most vital element in the process is making sure your seeds come from a reliable source and are viable. But if, like me, you find some scrunched up, dirty old packet of seeds in the back of the shed, it is still worth giving them a go:
"Against all expectations, seed scientists from the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's garden in West Sussex, have germinated 200-year-old seeds discovered in the National Archives - now growing into vigorous young plants."
Friday, 29 January 2016
Andy was employed by Mrs Garnett-Orme in her later years, when she was no longer able to work in the garden. Occasionally, when I had a day off from work with the N.H.S., I would go along to help him. Only another gardener would understand why, on my day off, I would choose to go and work in the garden: it was, and still is a beautiful place to be.
Mainly I would be helping Andy to plant, around two hundred, Penstemon. He would take cuttings in autumn and over-winter them in the glass-house, potting them into liners in the spring, ready for planting out at the beginning of June. Penstemons were the mainstay from June onwards, taking the place of the early flowering bulbs.
Mrs Garnett-Orme created a stunning spring garden and it is virtually impossible to put a fork into the ground without digging up bulbs. At the front of the house are spreading Eranthis x tubergeniana and E. hyemalis, a mass of puschkinias and ipheons, Scilla tubergeniana, followed by Scilla 'Spring Beauty'. Throughout the garden, there is an abundance of snowdrops, crocus tommasinianus, leucojum and ornithogalums and focal points of Iris reticulata. Swaths of narcissus line the river in the wild area, along with ever increasing Fritillaria meleagris. Anemone nemorosa have naturalised a large area.
All the deciduous trees are underplanted with bulbs.
Spring in this garden is not only a feast for the eyes, but an abundant nectar source for early emerging butterflies & bees.
In early to mid-summer, one of my favourites, Nectaroscordum siculum, (now brought back into fashion by recent Chelsea Gardens) join with Camasssias. In October, there are clumps of Sternbergia and in November, early flowering snowdrops (the name of which escapes me).
To be continued.........
Roxana Fraser, Garden Designer & Our Photographer.
Common Blue in Nursery Wild Area
Poly tunnel at The Nursery
Painted Lady Butterfly on Buddlja 'White Profusion'
Peacock Butterfly in Nursery Wild Area
Knot Grass Moth Caterpillar in Wild Area
Busy Bee on Symphyotrichum