Wednesday, March 18 , 2020
We want to bring the gardening community together. Although we can’t physically be together at this difficult moment in time, we can share our passion for plants online across social media. In times of crisis it is normal to feel panicked as worry for ourselves and our loved ones builds. We completely understand this. We are a small business and so the lives of our families and friends are interwoven into the heart of our business. This Spring we have decided to focus on gardening more than ever. Connecting with nature is calming and good for the wellness of body and mind. With many people self isolating growing plants is a good way to feel uplifted and more connected to nature. Gardening is something that everyone can get involved in and we want to share your growing with the #gardeningtogether across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter so we can stay connected as a gardening community. Please share photos of your plants. We want to see the successes and failures so we can help each other and share our love of gardening.
You don’t need a grand landscaped garden to grow plants. You can start small. Many of us will remember germinating cress at school on wet paper towels. Seeds and bulbs and even little plug plants are widely available from garden centers, supermarkets and online. Amazon, Thompson and Morgan and a number of independent growers deliver too. Some seed suppliers , like groseeds use their profits to fund safe drinking water in Africa.
You can start off seeds in plastic containers, up-cycle ice cream tubs and those plastic trays for supermarket berries. Add some soil and a few drainage holes and get growing. Some vegetables, like peppers, chilies and melons are full of seeds. Scoop them out, soak them overnight and plant them in some soil. Keep them somewhere warm, near a radiator or sunny window and watch them germinate. You could even order some extra hot chili plants online if you want to get a head start and spice up your gardening and cooking. Don’t be afraid to try something new and experiment!
Get ready to bloom!
Calendula and poppies are very easy to grow, scatter seeds in flower beds or planters and leave them to it. More experienced gardeners should try Dahlias. These are commonly bought as tubers, but they are surprisingly straightforward to grow from seed, but the best bit about growing these is that you can never predict exactly what colour will bloom. Like humans, Dahlias take traits from both parent flowers and it’s a gene lottery. Frangipani seeds are the same, with so many beautiful colour and fragrance combinations what are you waiting for? Frangipani, also known as Plumeria make fantastic house or conservatory plants too so you don’t even need a garden! Our planters work well indoors just ask our team.
Get the children in your life involved with Mimosa Pudica. This annual is from the pea family, it is known as the sensitive plant. Touch the leaves and watch them close up, leaf by leaf. They have pretty pink, pom-pom flowers and are really easy to grow. Soak the seeds in warm water for the best results and watch the eyes of little ones widen in awe – honestly they love them!
Start a Vegetable Garden
Vegetables can be grown with your flowers. This encourages pollinators and makes the most of your space. While raised vegetable beds are nice, you don’t need them to get started. Tomatoes can tumble from hanging baskets, planters and troughs. Crops like Strawberries can run amok in flower beds so you might prefer to contain them in pots, a re-purposed fountain or even an old Belfast sink! Cosmos, sunflowers and cornflowers are a bees’s dream and they will pollinate your courgettes and beans while they are passing. Marigolds keep pests away from tomatoes. Nasturtiums repel whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, some beetles and cabbage loopers making them an ideal companion for tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, broccoli, cabbage and radishes, you can also eat the leaves and flowers. Edible flowers are a huge gardening trend! (see our blog )
Little trees can still crop well. Column apple trees don’t take up much space and cherry blooms are gorgeous, although we find that the birds feast on the fruits before we get a chance! You can’t go wrong with a Victoria Plum, wonderful spring blossom with juicy fruits in late summer.
There are many trees and shrubs that do well in containers, especially Magnolias because they are very slowing growing but produce magnificent blooms! Try Susan, Satisfaction and New Pink. Spring blossom and showy Magnolia bloom really lift the spirits and bring joy to gardeners and everyone who sees them.
Getting out in the garden is a positive way to keep active. We are currently open six days a week in our rural show garden in Kent if you need to stock up on planters in a wide range of sizes and styles. We deliver our handmade stone planters so you can just call us on 01892 740866
2020 has been an unpredictable year so far. Many people lost their fences in the recent storms. Why not try replacing it with flowering hedging? Camelias have evergreen leaves and wonderful blooms this time of year. By choosing a few different varieties you can stagger the blooms to keep colour in your garden for many weeks.
Bull Bays (Magnolia Grandiflora) work well with evergreen leaves and they flower later in the year with fragrant, saucer-sized, white blooms. These are very slow growing though, so buy larger shrubs or be very patient! Roses, such as Queen Elizabeth grow quickly into hedges and the thorns deter intruders. You can add a stone bench to create a reading nook in the corner where your hedges meet, or add a statue as a focal point for the months that your hedge is not in flower.
It is national compost week and your plants need this stuff to grow well. You can make your own with grass clippings, fruit and vegetable peelings and fallen leaves. But you can also grow “green manure”. Borage, otherwise known as comfrey is a good all rounder. It is very easy to grow and has pretty flowers that attract bees and it’s long roots tap into nutrients, deep into the soil and bring them up into the plant. The leaves can be soaked in rainwater for a fortnight or so to make a green fertiliser. This is simple, organic and the plants love it. But be warned, the concoction stinks like actual manure! Tuck it away in a corner out of sniffing distance!
Propagate and share!
We often find that some seeds and cuttings take off better than others. In normal times, if you have more courgette plants than space or spare seeds you can always swap with friends and neighbors. You might discover a new plant or ways to grow it. But while we are being encouraged to self isolate we can still share our favourite flowers and plants or growing experiences online. Take a picture and pop it on our Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter with #GardeningTogether and we can feel that we are part of the gardening community whatever your experience level or location. Don’t be shy!
Here is our first tip from Jenny at Chilstone. Blue mop-head Hydrangeas make great cut flowers. Cut the stems at an angle. Pop the flowers in a jug or vase. They bloom for ages, When they have finished flowering check the stems, there will often be little, white roots. Cut off the dead flower head and plant the rooted stems and watch them grow! #GardeningTogether
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