Talk of the Month
Whats On in April
24th/25th April – Spring celebration including village open gardens.
What to do in the garden this month
- Pinch out fuchsias to ensure bushy growth with plenty of flowers.
- Deadhead daffodils and tulips as the flowers disappear but leave the foliage to die back naturally. Leave the flower heads on snowdrops and scillas so that they can self-seed.
- Sow hardy annual flowers directly into beds and plant herbaceous perennials.
- Feed roses, fruit trees and bushes.
- Dig in a 5cm layer of compost or well-rotted manure into your vegetable beds.
- Divide Hostas before they come into leaf.
- Plant new asparagus beds.
- Plant potatoes, shallots and onion sets.
- Lift and divide perennial plants now to improve their vigour and create new plants for your garden.
Christmas greenery, straight from the garden
What could be more lovely than stepping out on a cold and frosty morning to pick home-grown Christmas greenery, straight from the garden? Graham Rice offers some expert plant suggestions.
It used to be that the only option for holiday greenery in the home was the Christmas tree, along with holly and ivy. Now everything’s changed, and very definitely for the better.
Today an increasing range of attractive evergreen alternatives for decorative foliage is available to use in wreaths, in table decorations and in long-lasting seasonal arrangements. And the great thing about so many of these alternatives is that you can grow them yourself at home. Here are ten options.
Numbers at the end of each entry refer to plant height and RHS hardiness rating.
Edged in gold
Fresh and bright
Holly with a difference
White Christmas pine
Longest lasting evergreen
Did you know?
Lockdown has encouraged many of us to spend more time in the kitchen where we invariably reach for one herb or another as they are used for flavouring or garnishing food. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs generally refers to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant including seeds, bark, roots and fruits.
In botany, the noun “herb” refers to a “plant that does not produce a woody stem”, and the adjective “herbaceous” means “herb-like”, referring to parts of the plant that are green and soft in texture.
Herbs can be perennials such as thyme, sage or lavender, biennials such as parsley, or annuals like basil. Perennial herbs can be shrubs such as rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), or trees such as bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) – this contrasts with botanical herbs, which by definition cannot be woody plants. Some plants are used as both herbs and spices, such as dill weed and dill seed or coriander leaves and seeds. There are also some herbs, such as those in the mint family, that are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Here are RHS chief of horticulture, Guy Barter’s tips to remember when growing herbs:
- Herbs can be grown in any reasonably fertile, well-drained soil. Where drainage is questionable, create raised beds or plant your herbs in pots.
- Good, all-weather access is vital to growing herbs. If a hard path of light-coloured, reflective paving can be created, so much the better. At RHS Wisley, pebble/concrete panels are used in the herb garden, which reflect light back into the plants, and create warmth to ameliorate chilly nights.
- Herbs generally need little fertiliser and crop well without much feeding. Over-feeding can in fact decrease the concentration of flavours.
- Most herbs need a neutral to alkaline soil.
- High levels of sunlight are particularly important for obtaining good herb flavour, and so herbs should be planted in the best lit area of the garden and some of the favourite herbs are:
French Tarragon – A delicious herb and great paired with chicken and fish. Also add a few sprigs to flavour vinegar to make a superb salad dressing.
Chives – Much loved for their fresh, delicate, onion flavour. Complements many dishes, including salads and sauces.
Lemon Thyme – A wonderful and unique flavour adding citrus notes to meat and fish dishes. Looks very attractive grown in pots and window boxes.
Garden Mint – The traditional garden mint, full of flavour and superb for making mint sauce or adding to new potatoes when cooking.
Purple Sage – Strong, aromatic flavour and much famed for adding to stuffing, especially with pork or poultry. The evergreen foliage looks great in the garden year-round.
Curled Parsley – A good dark curled leaf variety, great for so many dishes and highly nutritious.
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KILMINGTON KIDS' CORNERDon’t forget that if you have any gardening stories or photos to share with us, we would love to hear from you!