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Tag Archives: gardening
  • Posted on July 5, 2017

    Vintage Teacup Planters

    We love this idea of using vintage teacups as planters for small plants and flowers! You could find all shapes and colours of teacups to match you own style and build up your collection bit by bit. We've also included some gardening tips from Emma Hardy, so your plants will stay happy and healthy!

     

    Preparing pots and plants

    Once you have decided on the container that you would like to plant up, you’ll need to prepare both the pots and plants before planting. Some of the key tasks include:

    • Making drainage holes  Few plants (apart from bog and water plants) like to sit in very wet soil, so it is important to provide adequate drainage in each container. If the container you are using does not have drainage holes in the bottom, then you can make some by drilling or hammering a heavy-duty nail into the base a few times.

    • Using drainage crocks  These are bits of old plant pot or tiles that are placed over the drainage holes in the container so that the hole will not become blocked by potting mix and inhibit drainage. Simply break up old pots or tiles with a hammer (take care not to let small shards hit you) and keep them for use in future projects.

    • Getting the container ready  To reduce the likelihood of infection by pests and diseases, clean the container on both the outside and inside with warm, soapy water before planting up. Remember to rinse thoroughly.

    • Loosening plant roots  Sometimes plants can become root-bound if they have been sitting in their plastic pots for a long time. Loosening the roots slightly will encourage them to spread out and grow when you re-pot them. Gently press your fingertips into the roots and then tease them out slightly, making sure that you do not damage them as you do so.

    • Soaking plants before planting  Before re-potting a plant, always soak it in water for at least 10 minutes to get the potting mix really wet.

     

    Vintage teacup planters

    Dainty Teacups

    Collect vintage cups and saucers, and create a pretty desktop garden to brighten up your day. If you are feeling brave, drill a drainage hole in the base of each cup using a hand drill. If you would rather not damage your cups, then adding gravel and being careful not to overwater should keep the plants healthy.

     

    teacup materials

    Materials

    Fine gravel

    Teacups and saucers

    Potting mix with a little fine gravel added

    Selection of alpine plants such as:

    Armeria juniperifolia (thrift) in white cup with ornate pattern

    Clematis marmoraria in pink cup

    Eranthis cilicica (winter aconite) in white cup with blue interior

    Fritillaria uva-vulpis (fritillary) in turquoise with gold cup

    Primula marginata Dwarf Form (primrose) in white cup with flower

    Saxifraga ‘Penelope’ (saxifrage) in yellow cup with the decorated saucer

    Saxifraga 5 petraschii (saxifrage) in gray cup with white flower

    Sedum species (stonecrop) in the yellow and gold cup

    vintage teacups step 2

    Put about a tablespoon of fine gravel in the bottom of each of the teacups.

    vintage teacup step 2

    Spoon some potting mix into the first cup, remembering to leave enough room for the plant.

    vinatge teacup step 3

    Take the plant out of its plastic pot and gently shake off any excess potting mix. Position the plant in the cup and fill round the edges with more potting mix so that the plant sits firmly in place. Plant the remaining teacups in the same way.

    vintage teacup step 4

    Sprinkle some fine gravel over the surface of the potting mix in each cup, making sure that it is completely covered. Water each cup carefully, ensuring that the mix is damp but not waterlogged. Deadhead spent flowers as necessary, to keep the plants in bloom.

     

    For more miniature gardening projects, check out Teeny Tiny Gardening by Emma Hardy.

    Teeny Tiny Gardening by Emma Hardy

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    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with vintage, project, gardening

  • Posted on April 12, 2017

    Planted Enamel Ladles

    With the sun shining and the Easter bank holiday coming up, we thought it was time to get our fingers green! This lovely little display uses simple enamel ladles planted with pretty succulents to create a really charming result and is a perfect project no matter how big or small your garden is! Choose ladles with a large cup so that the roots of the plants will have enough room to grow and spread. Break off pieces from the larger succulents—these are generally quite tough plants and can take a bit of rough handling—and firm them into the potting mix well so they can take root and thrive.

    Planted ladles with succulents and moss

    Planted Enamel Ladles

    YOU WILL NEED

    Enamel ladles

    Potting mix

    Handful of gravel

    PLANTS

    Left ladle: Moss (available from garden centers and florists)

    Middle ladle: Echeveria ‘Perle von Nürnberg,’ Sedum album (white stonecrop), S. burrito (burro’s tail), S. ✕ rubrotinctum (banana cactus), and Sempervivum ‘Ohio Burgundy’ (houseleek)

    Right ladle: Anacampseros telephiastrum, Crassula ovate (friendship tree), and Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’ (stonecrop)

    Planted ladles, what you need

    STEPS

    1. Soak the rootballs of the plants for 10 minutes or so until the potting mix is wet. Put a handful of potting mix in the bottom of the ladle and add a little gravel to improve drainage.

    2. Carefully take one of the larger succulents from its pot and remove some of the excess potting mix to reduce the size of the rootball. Plant it on one side of the ladle.

    3. Take another of the larger succulents from its pot and again remove some of the potting mix. Plant at the back of the ladle, firming it in place.

    4. Add the smaller succulents to the ladle, breaking smaller bits off the larger plants if necessary, and plant them around the larger ones. Press down the potting mix.

    5. Fill in any holes with more potting mix and firm it in place so that the plants will not move.

    6. Add a sprinkling of gravel to the surface of the potting mix, pushing it around the plants with your fingers. This will help keep moisture in and looks nice, too. Plant up the other ladles and then water carefully, allowing excess water to drain off.

    Planting succulents in enamel ladles

    AFTERCARE

    Succulents can withstand dry conditions, but remember to check the potting mix regularly and water the ladles when they are very dry.

    This project is from Tiny Tabletop Gardens by Emma Hardy, available here.

    Tiny Tabletop Gardens by Emma Hardy

    Photography by Debbie Patterson © CICO Books

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    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with handmade, easter, bank holiday, project, nature, gardening

  • Posted on April 14, 2016

    Get in the garden for National Gardening Week

    One of the things we love about gardening is how everyone can get involved, no matter how big or small; tiny fingers are very useful for planting seeds in our experience. So, in honour of the Royal Horticultural Society’s #NationalGardeningWeek we decided to share a project from our children’s book My First Gardening Book that’s perfect for any budding green-fingered enthusiast! Best of all, in the spirit of getting everyone gardening, you don’t even need a garden!

    Eggshell Gardens

    The next time your family has boiled eggs for breakfast, ask everyone to eat their egg very carefully so that they do not break the shells—then you can fill them with miniature flowers and moss to make a tiny garden.

    You will need

    Eggs

    Knife

    Bowl

    Potting mix (compost)

    Garden sieve (optional)

    Egg cups or egg carton

    Pin

    Spoon

    Moss (available from florists)

    Plants with small roots: Forget-me-nots, Krauss’ spikemoss, Violets ‘Moonlight’, Sweet violets

    You can either eat boiled eggs and keep the shells or ask an adult to help you cut the tops off raw eggs using a knife. Do this over a bowl so you can tip the raw egg out—you can use it to make an omelet later!

    Rinse the empty eggshells carefully in warm water.

    Check that your potting mix (compost) isn’t lumpy. If it is, you can push a little of the mix through a garden sieve, if you have one, or use your fingers to break up any lumps.

    Place the each eggshell upside down in an egg cup or carton and very carefully make a few small holes in the bottom of each egg with the pin. This is so that the water can drain away.

    Put the eggshells the right way round in the egg cups or carton. Spoon a little potting mix (compost) into each egg, making sure that there will be enough room for the plants.

    Put one plant in each egg and add a little more potting mix. Gently push a small piece of moss onto the top of the potting mix if you wish.

    Hints and tips

    • The potting mix will dry out quickly, so water the eggshells every day with just a little water.

    • Flowers like violets will carry on flowering for a few weeks so “deadhead” them by pinching off any faded flowers. This will encourage new ones to grow.

    My First Gardening Book is available here.


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, school holidays, my first series, nature, activities for kids, gardening, 2016

  • Posted on December 8, 2015

    Wreath of Succulents

    Are you looking for a beautiful and timeless Winter decoration for an upcoming Christmas party? This living wreath of succulents from The Winter Garden by Emma Hardy radiates natural sophistication and will keep your garden looking colourful and festive through the colder months.

    Wreath of Succulents

     Wreath of Succulents

    This beautiful living wreath is very simple to make and will look good all year round. Succulents are tough plants and cope well when divided, rooting well when replanted. I’ve used a large selection of plants, but if they are not available at your garden center or you wish to keep the cost down, simply break off sections from succulents you already have. Try to vary the colors from greens and whites to reds and mauves.

     

    You will need:

    Moss (available from florists)

    Wire wreath base, 14 in (35cm) in diameter

    Potting compost

    Copper wire

    Selection of succulents—I used Jovibarba hirta neilreichii, Jovibarba heuffelii, Sedum acre

    ‘Golden Queen,’ Sedum ‘Alba,’ Sedum ‘Sakhalin,’ Saxifraga ‘Southside Seedling,’ Delosperma congestum ‘Golden Nugget,’ Lewisia tweedyi, Sempervivum ‘Fuego,’ Rhodiola

    pachyclados, Chiastophyllum oppositifolium, and Androsace sempervivoides

    Stiff floristry wire

    Wire cutters

     

    1. Tear the moss into pieces and lay them in a ring shape slightly larger than the wire wreath base, root side up, on the table. Lay the wire wreath base on top of the moss.

    The Winter Garden Step 1

    2. Place handfuls of potting compost on the wire wreath base. Gather up the moss to cover the base and potting compost completely, wrapping copper wire around it to hold it in place.

    Wreath of Succulents Step 2

    3. Cut a length of copper wire about 20 in (50cm) long and fold it in half. Wrap it around what will be the top of the wreath, twisting it around itself to form a loop to act as a hanger.

    Wreath of Succulents Step 3

    4. Gently pull florets and sections of the succulents from their main plants, keeping the roots intact. Cut the floristry wire into lengths of about 4 in (10cm) and bend them in half to form a “U” shape. Dig a small hole in the moss with your finger and lay the plant in it, securing it in place by pushing a bent wire around the base of it. This will be easier with some succulents than others, but judge each one individually, adding an additional wire if you need to.

    Wreath of Succulents Step 4

    5. Work around the wreath, adding more plants and varying the shapes and colors to form an attractive arrangement. Leave little gaps between plants so they will have room to grow and fill the space. Check that all the plants, the potting compost, and the oss are securely held in place by the wire. Wind the wire around itself a few times to fasten it and cut with wire cutters.

    Wreath of Succulents Step 5

    Aftercare

    Ideally, the wreath should be left lying horizontal for at least a couple of weeks to give the plants a chance to root themselves, but if you are making it at the last minute to decorate a party, ensuring that the plants are tightly held in place should be enough to keep it looking good when it is hanging. Succulents can survive quite dry conditions, so make sure that the wreath does not become waterlogged. In very dry weather, just moisten the moss and potting compost a little.

     

    For more stylish winter gardening projects and decorating ideas see The Winter Garden by Emma Hardy available here. 


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Craft Projects, Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with christmas, christmas decorations, christmas craft, 2015, gardening, winter, craft

  • Posted on September 3, 2015

    Autumn Planting

    House feeling strangely empty? After 6 long weeks (or more?!) the children are back at school this week and, if you’re not quite sure what to do with yourselves, our new book The Winter Garden by Emma Hardy is on hand to fill those long hours between 9am and 3pm. Early autumn is the perfect time to start planting bulbs for next spring, and in some cases, you can grow indoors and force the bulbs to flower in midwinter. So these lovely hyacinths are perfect for bringing a beautiful floral touch to your Christmas celebrations. What are you waiting for? Time to get green-fingered! (Although, we totally wouldn’t blame you if you fancied a sit down with a good book and a cup of tea first…)

    Hyacinths in glass jars

    I love the simplicity of these hyacinths, requiring just a bulb, glass jar, and water. They provide you with scented blooms in the middle of winter, and even before flowering they look beautiful, with their incredible roots twisting and weaving around the inside of the jar. Choose jars with narrow necks so the bulbs do not sit in water, varying the shapes and sizes of them to create an interesting display.

    YOU WILL NEED

    A selection of glass jars with narrow necks

    Hyacinth bulbs suitable for forcing

    Newspaper or scrap paper

    1 Fill a clean glass jar with water, stopping just short of the rim. Dry around the rim to ensure that the bulb will not get wet.

    2 Place a hyacinth bulb on the rim of the jar, with the pointed end facing upward. If the roots of the bulb have already started to sprout, tuck them into the jar, being careful not to damage them. If the bottom of the bulb does touch the water, remove the bulb and pour a little water out, as the bulb may start to rot if in direct contact with water.

    3 To make a cover for the bulb, cut a piece of paper about 10 x 14 in (25 x 35cm). Fold it in half, matching up the two shorter sides.

    4 With the fold along the top of the paper, fold the top right and left corners down to meet each other in the middle, then crease along the folds.

    5 Fold the bottom edge of the top layer of paper up by about 1 in (2.5cm) and crease along the fold. Fold it over again by the same amount.

    6 Repeat step 5 on the other side of the paper.

    7 Open the hat shape up and carefully slip over the bulb and top of the jar, making sure that the bulb stays in place. Keep it in a dark, cool cupboard or shed.

    8 Check the bulb after a few weeks, by which time the roots should have grown and the bulb should have started to shoot. If it has not, simply leave it for a little longer. When the bulb has started to grow, bring it out into the light and remove the paper cover. Leave in a warm spot and within a few weeks (depending on the conditions) the hyacinth should flower.

    AFTERCARE

    Check the water level in the jars and top up if necessary. If the foliage develops much faster than the flower, put the bulb back into the dark for a few days, making sure it is in a cool spot. When the hyacinths have bloomed, cut off the dead flower and leave for a few weeks with the leaves in place, then either plant out in a sheltered spot in the garden or dry the bulbs out and store in a cool shed, ready to replant the following fall.

    The Winter Garden by Emma Hardy is available here.


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with Emma Hardy, flowers, nature, 2015, gardening, planting

  • Posted on June 17, 2015

    Bee Treats in Your Garden!

    We’re big bee fans in the office. When we visited The Midnight Apothecary, one of our favourite things about the wild garden (apart from the excellent Wild Cocktails Lottie makes with the produce of course!) was the abundance of bumble bees. Sadly there have been no end of reports lately regarding the decline of bees and as we head into warmer months it gets ever more important to look after our bumbly friends. Number one on loads of Things To Help Bees lists is making your garden bee-friendly with plants and flowers. So we’ve got some tips here from Emma Hardy, author of The Urban Wildlife Gardener. Plus, you get to enjoy an abundance of pretty flowers and tasty herbs. It’s Win-Win!

     Plant a bee-friendly container

    For a bee-friendly container that will flower throughout the summer, choose a range of plants to attract as many bees as possible.

    If possible, select a large tub so that you can pack in as many nectar- and pollen-rich plants as you can. Prepare the tub, and try some of the following plants:

    Common Mint or Spearmint (Mentha spicata): flowers in summer

    Foxglove (Digitalis species): flowers from late spring to midsummer

    Globe Thistle (Echinops species): flowers from early summer onward

    Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile): flowers from summer through to fall

    Lavender (Lavandula species): flowers in summer

    Macedonian Scabious (Knautia macedonica): flowers from early summer

    Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense): flowers in early summer

    Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): flowers from summer through to fall

    Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum): flowers in summer through to fall

    Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): flowers from spring through to fall left

     

    Make a bee-friendly herb tub

    Make a bee-friendly pot that will provide beautiful herbs for the kitchen as well. Here, an old metal wok has been repurposed to make an attractive planter that is perfect for a collection of fragrant thyme plants that will captivate any number of bees and butterflies. Thyme is quite low-growing and does not need deep soil, so this container works well.

    YOU WILL NEED

    Large metal wok (or a similar shallow pan)

    Gravel

    Sand

    Potting compost

    A varied selection of thyme plants

    1 Drill holes in the base of the wok for drainage, and add enough gravel to cover the base of the wok as thyme likes very well drained soil.

    2 Mix a few handfuls of sand with the potting compost to mimic the soil that thyme would naturally grow in. Pour the sand and potting compost mixture into the wok and spread it out.

    3 Soak the thyme plants in water so that the roots are thoroughly wet and take them out of their pots.

    4 Gently pull the roots out to encourage them to spread in their new surroundings, and plant them in the wok, scooping holes in the potting compost and pushing the plants into them.

    5 If necessary, add more potting compost to even the surface, and flatten it off.

    6 Place some gravel and a few larger stones over the surface of the potting compost. This gives a decorative touch, but it will also help to retain moisture and heat.

    The Urban Wildlife Gardener by Emma Hardy is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with Emma Hardy, plants, nature, 2015, gardening, wildlife, bees, herbs, home

  • Posted on February 4, 2015

    Midweek Chat with Matt Jackson

    With spring just around the corner (we say, hopefully) lots of us are turning our thoughts to our gardens and the year ahead. Whether these plans are at the hypothetical stage waiting for slightly warmer weather (we certainly don't blame you!) or if you like to be outside come snow or shine, we've got an exciting new book that could revolutionise your gardening approach. Lunar and Biodynamic Gardening by Matt Jackson is the perfect introduction to this fascinating subject, and can show any gardener how they can work with nature to improve their gardens. We caught up with Matt to learn more.

    Hi Matt! Welcome to our blog. Could you explain the principles behind biodynamic gardening, and how this differs from moon gardening?

    Biodynamic gardening starts with the soil first, and expands outwards to regard all life in the garden as a single organism. It focuses on creating the perfect, most natural and highly organic growing conditions for plants and animals by restoring the health and vibrancy of the soil, and by recognising the effects of everything, including the solar system, on how plants germinate, grow and crop. Lunar gardening recognises the effect that the moon in particular, but also the sun, planets and stars all have upon the lifecycles of plants and animals. It harnesses these powerful natural influences to turbocharge the garden.

    How did you get into gardening?

    I studied first as an artist, but upon leaving art college I soon became drawn to professional horticulture. I had always worked weekends as a gardener since the age of about 11, and as a young man trained with the National Trust in Cornwall.

    What inspires your garden designs?

    I am influenced by the great gardens in which I have worked, and those that I have visited, but more and more I find that nature gives some of the greatest lessons. I love what we have come to recognise as the classic English Garden, which is one of rooms and interlocking spaces, perfected by the arts and crafts gardeners, and very applicable to modern, smaller gardens. I am less keen on the current modern, cutting edge of design, which sees lots of rusty metal and mirrors.

    What drove you to the methods of biodynamic and moon gardening?

    I was trained conventionally, but throughout my career have gardened with a questioning mind. I moved to become an organic gardener by choice, and then saw the complete sense in no-dig gardening. I soon found myself hearing about and even more profoundly natural, and highly advanced form of organic gardening so I decided to try it out.

    What was the biggest challenge you faced during your first year as a biodynamic gardener?

    Trying to know and understand everything straight away, and then tie it all in with the finest detail of a sowing calendar. It is possible, and in fact best to start simple, get the soil healthy, and grow your knowledge base over time.

    Lots of people don’t have large gardens or green spaces, is it possible to apply these theories on a small scale?

    It most certainly is. The effects of the moon and the entire cosmos happen at a cellular level, in plants and in us, so even a small tray of cress on a windowsill germinate better just prior to a full moon.

    What tips would you give someone who was interested in getting started with biodynamic or moon gardening?  

    I would start with learning the principles from a simple, entry level book. Imbibe the information, but be happy to forget lots, so as just to get a feel for it. I then would plan how to use my space, and begin everything by making the soil healthy. Finally I would get a good biodynamic gardening calendar and list of the plants I want to sow, grow or maintain, and this can then be used to plan the growing season ahead.

    We’ve just had the full moon, what should we be doing in our gardens this weekend?

    If you have recently sown seed then it will have had a good start, and the full moon will have given it a boost. I personally put in some broad beans to bulk up losses in my seedlings over the winter. As the moon begins to wane, and is on a descending path it is the perfect time to get into the garden and prune woody plants, such as Roses and fruit trees.

    So there we have it! Feeling inspired? Lunar and Biodynamic Gardening by Matt Jackson is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, UK, What's new and was tagged with outdoor living, nature, mid-week chat, 2015, gardening, Matt Jackson

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