Debbie  Le Jardin Des espiemonts
Tel 0563646876

Gardening in a heatwave


The heatwave we're enjoying (or, for those who don't like it hot, suffering) looks set to continue, so here's a few simple tips for caring for your garden during the canicule.
Most importantly, do your watering first thing in the morning, before it gets hot, or last thing at night, when the heat has gone from the sun. Watering during the day damages plants as the water on the leaves magnifies the heat of the sun, resulting in scorching. If any plants are wilting so badly you absolutely have to water them during the day, be careful to water the base of the plant, irrigating the soil rather than pouring water onto the plant from above.
In the pottager, shallow, surface rooting plants like lettuce and tomatoes will wilt quickly and will require more watering, while deeper rooting vegetables like carrots, parsnips and potatoes will be able to reach water from deeper in the ground. During the process of  forming fruits, plants require plenty of water,  so be sure to give your summer produce plants a good soaking. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, summer squashes etc will all be much more productive if watered sufficiently.
Add organic matter into the soil to improve its condition and increase its moisture-holding capacities. Also top it with mulch. Adding a bulky, organic mulch of 2 or 3cm onto the surface of the soil will help retain water.
Eliminate weeds so they're not competing with your plants for water. It's a sad fact of life that dandelions and thistles are more vigorous than your prize Begonias. Don't disrupt the soil unduly with lots of digging and forking over though, as this increases water loss from the surface of the soil.
Excessive planting at this time of year is, of course, not advisable, and is best left until autumn or spring (though if you do put in the odd new plant, just make sure you water it well each day). Now, however, is a good time to plan ahead and view the beautiful range of summer flowering plants available if you're planning new planting schemes in the near future. It's important to choose plants that will cope with the climate here in South West France. Don't assume that because a plant worked well in your garden in England it will be ok over here, as both the winters and the summers are more extreme.
Sillver foliaged plants, such as Achilleas, Artemisia, Cistus, Dianthus, Lavender, Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme, will thrive in full sun, as these coloured leaves absorb less heat and they also produce an oily film on their leaves that both acts as a sunscreen and seals in water. 
Succulents such as Crassula, Delosperma, Sedums and Sempervivums will also cope very well with extended hot temperatures, as they store water in their leaves.
Plants like Acanthus, Euphorbia, Poppies and Verbascum that develop long tap roots can cope with periods of draught as their roots access water deeper down in the ground and, logically, you'll also do well with plants that are native to hot countries - think Agapanthus, Guara, Kniphofia  and Salvia.
Lawnmowing slows down and even ceases during very hot summers as the grass dries out. To extend the greenery as long as possible though, raise the blades on your lawnmower as the temperatures rise, as this is less stressful for the grass. Don't worry too much about your grass going brown though - in this heat, this is inevitable, but grass is very resilient, and it will grow back.
If you want to avoid large areas of parched grass, you could consider a gravel garden. This is a good year-round option as the stones act as a moisture-conserving mulch in the summer and also improve drainage in the winter. 
Any gardening work is, of course, best done during the cool morning hours, with hats, sunglasses and suncream letting you work safely. To get the best out of your garden during this hot spell, however, sit in the shade of a favourite tree, with a cold drink and a good book, and cool off with regular dips in the pool!

May's gardening jobs

Everywhere’s looking very green at the minute, with trees leafing up and the grass growing rapidly. While we’re still having to dodge the showers (I can’t believe how much rain we had last Monday  – so impressed with all you dedicated gardeners who still made it to the plant swap!) the weather’s moving steadily towards summer, and our gardens are coming on leaps and bounds at this time of year. Here’s a list of this month’s top 10 jobs.
It’s lawn mowing season! Weekly or fortnightly sessions are now a must.
Weeding – think of it as a workout, summer’s just around the corner!
Spring-flowering bulbs: dead head them as the blooms fade. Once they have finished flowering, you can lift and divide any overcrowded clumps.
Pest patrol: spring showers bring out slugs and snails – get them now before they get your plants. Also keep an eye out for viburnum beetle and lily beetle grubs.
Box tree caterpillar – this one gets its own bullet point as it’s such an important pest to keep an eye out for! If you find this caterpillar on your buxus, deal with it immediately as it will devour your box very quickly indeed. You can remove them by hand, or treat with a pyrethrum spray. See my previous article about box tree caterpillar in the gardening section of TAG for further details.
Rain water: however you collect it, citerns or water butts, make the most of this weather and build up your supplies while you can, ready for the summer.
Greenhouses: open up your doors and vents on warm days to let the air circulate.
Vegetable plants: if you did some early sowings in March and April you should now have some lovely young seedlings ready for planting. Continue sowing seeds such assweetcorn, courgettes, cucumber and kale.
Potatoes:  if you have any remaining potato tubers, plant them as soon as possible. Begin earthing up your potatoes once the shoots grow to about 23cm/9”
Flowers: brighten up your garden with some colourful flowers. Now is a good time to direct sow annuals - we’re especially fond of lovely, cheerful sunflowers. It’s also a good time to plant perennials. While you can continue to plant throughout the summer, as long as you water the plants regularly, doing it now will give them a better chance of survival as the continuing spring showers will water them in.
Debbie Le Jardin des Espiemonts

Jobs for September
Lavender (Lavandula) grows really well over here in France. It loves the sun, is drought resistant, and grows well in poor soil. With its beautiful fragrance and pollinator-friendly qualities, it’s a popular addition to many gardens.
It’s an easy-to-grow, low-maintenance plant, but what many people don’t know is that it is best cared for by giving it bi-annual pruning. By pruning now, and again in the spring, you will encourage healthy new growth, forming a compact, bushy plant, with lots of flowers.
To prune lavender, use secateurs to cut off the flower stems, cutting into the green foliage but ensuring that you don’t cut as far down as the woody stems. Cutting into the old wood would result in loss of flowering from those stems. If your plants already have that overly woody, straggly, leggy look, then it’s best replacing them and starting again.
The hardiest varieties are Lavandula Angustifolia cultivars, which are English varieties. Ironically, Lavandula Stoechas(French lavender) doesn’t grow so reliably here as the harsh winters in this region can be too severe (though it thrives in the warmer climates further south).
Of course, traditional lavender is beautiful, but don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to green foliage with blue-purple flowers. Different cultivars come in many varieties, with silver foliage, variegated foliage, pink flowers, white flowers, and large and dwarf varieties. Have some fun with it, and enjoy this plant that, with a bit of low maintenance a couple of times each year, will add colour, scent and life to your garden.

Seed sowing in March
If you prefer to start from scratch with your vegetable plants and sow your own seeds rather than buying young plants, then now is the time to get busy! Some plants still require you to wait a bit longer, with April also being a busy sowing month, and of course, you may have already done some sowing under cover, but March is the busy month where we kick-start the direct sowing season, and the following plants can be sown either directly into your vegetable beds or into seed beds, pots or seed trays (see the individual seed packets for advice). N.B. This is a rough guide only  different cultivars may have different recommended sowing times, so do read your packets.

Artichoke (globe)
Bean (Broad  successional sowing  you could have started some off last month)
Broccoli (calabrese)
Cabbage (summer)
Chilli peeper
Pak choi
Spring onion

Spring Clean Your Garden!
John and I have just celebrated our first anniversary in our house, and after a year in South West France, we’re still getting used to the climate over here. There have been plenty of cold, wet days this winter, but it’s also been lovely and mild on many days, and we’ve enjoyed absolutely loads of bright blue skies that make me feel so grateful to be living in such a beautiful part of the world! It feels like spring is just around the corner, with some trees and shrubs in bud and spring bulbs poking through. We’ll all soon be busy enjoying our gardens, with lots of lovely seed sowing and planting, but before this time, it’s really useful to do some groundwork: a really good spring clean, for a tidy, orderly garden, that will pave the way for a successful spring and summer growing season.
Pest PatrolAs the weather grows warmer, pests re- emerge, so it’s a good idea to make regular pest patrols, as early infestations can often be removed by hand, avoiding or at least reducing, the over-use of insecticides. Inspect crowns of perennial plants for overwintering pests such as slugs, snails and aphid colonies. Inspect pots and containers and compost heaps for vine weevil larvae.  As with dealing with the other big garden nuisance – weeds - the more proactive you are in dealing with this continuous problem, the easier your ongoing management will be.
PruningPruning is a really important part of looking after your plants, and gives your garden a neat, tidy look too.

Leggy plants are not attractive, and regular trimming will keep them in shape. Winter-flowering heathers can be trimmed now, as the flowers disappear. Prune lavender, as well, ensuring that you trim the new growth only and don’t cut into the old wood (this would stop new shoots from developing). Lavenders benefit from bi-annual pruning, in the spring and the autumn, to keep them in shape. If you look after them, these fragrant, pollinator-friendly plants will last for years. They’re low maintenance and do really well over here in France.

Prune summer-flowering deciduous shrubs, e.g. Hydrangea paniculataLavateraLeycesteriaPerovskia, hardy fuchsias, and deciduous Ceanothus, and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges, before the birds start nesting. Don’t prune spring-flowering shrubs just yet though - wait until after they have flowered.
Pollard (hard prune) shrubs such as Cornus and Salix, before the leaves begin to appear on the stems. This encourages vigorous new growth and augments the stem colour, which will give you  intense, vibrant winter interest which you’ll really appreciate later in the year.

Also prune hardy evergreen hedges; vines such as Ivy, Virginia Creeper/Boston Ivy (to keep windows, gutters and roof tiles clear); overwintered fuchsias (back to one or two buds on each shoot); winter flowering shrubs such as Mahonia and vibrunum x bodnatense, after they’ve finished flowering; and winter flowering jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) after flowering (cut back the previous year’s growth to 5cm from the old wood to encourage new growth for next year’s blooms).

If you have any variegated evergreens, remove any reverted (purely green) shoots, to safeguard the variegation, otherwise the green shoots will become dominant, as they grow more quickly and vigorously than the variegated shoots.
When you have finished pruning, mulch and feed all of those plants, to assist with their post-pruning growth spurt.
Cut back grasses and perennialsPerennials and ornamental grasses that you left for winter interest should be cut back now before new growth begins. Clip them to within a few centimetres of the ground to enable vigorous, healthy new growth.

Divide and plant bulbs “in the green”Once bulbs such as Galanthus (snowdrops) have finished flowering, you can lift and divide them. Planting “in the green” means after they’ve finished flowering but before the leaves have died down. This helps with moisture absorption and getting established in the new planting position.

When tidying up your spring bulbs over these next few months, don’t cut back the foliage like you do with grasses and perennials. Deadhead your bulbs as the flowers begin to fade, but leave the foliage to die down naturally, as this will allow the energy to return from the plant back into the bulb. 

WeedingI know that I’m always saying “Go and do some weeding,” but as we all know, it’s an ongoing task, and really is a spring cleaning essential. As the days lengthen and the weather warms up, the increased daylight and warmer temperatures will encourage weed growth, so get on top of it now! You’ll never have a totally weed-free garden, but the more weeds you can remove before they go to seed and spread themselves all over the place, the easier it will be to keep on top of it throughout the oncoming season. Do a thorough job and make sure you pull perennial weeds out by the root to prevent re-growth.
Remove winter annuals
Now is the time to remove any spent annual plants from your winter planting. At the same time, clear away any remaining debris of leaves and twigs, all of which can be added to your compost pile. Woody material takes a little longer to break down, but you can speed up the process by breaking it up into smaller pieces before adding it to your composter.
Improve your soilOnce your beds and borders are nice and clear, you can work on your soil condition. Dig in organic matter such as well rotted compost or manure. This is especially important for clay soils, and will improve the soil structure. Don’t dig wet soil though as this is counter-productive and will actually spoil the soil structure. A good rule of thumb is if the soil sticks to your spade then it’s too wet to dig.
Prepare vegetable seed bedsI love this bit, as I find growing my own food incredibly rewarding, and look forward to vegetable seed sowing each year. Thoroughly weed your seed beds and fork in plenty of compost. Remove any stones and then rake it to a nice smooth finish. If you want to be really meticulous, you could even sieve the soil!
Direct sow broad beansOK, so my last 2 points aren’t about spring cleaning at all, but once you’ve done all of your essential prepping, you deserve a bit of the fun stuff, and can get on with some early vegetable gardening, starting with broad beans. They’re a nice early direct sow plant, and while you can follow up with loads of other fabulous vegetables in a few weeks’ time (peas, cabbages, leeks etc) broad beans are the safest ones to start with, and are easy to grow. They’re more tolerant of poor soil conditions than other legumes, but like all the other peas and beans, they will respond well to soil with plenty of organic matter added to it. 
Of course, you can sow a greater variety of vegetable seeds immediately, if you do so under cover. However, it’s not a good idea to do too many too early. They can become leggy due to low light levels, there’s additional work and costs involved in caring for them, plus later sowings catch up and grow just as fast. It depends on how much time and space you have and how impatient you are to begin. I like to content myself with the broad beans and a good sort through my seeds, planning my planting schedule and waiting eagerly for just a few more weeks.
Chit potato tubersThe shops are well stocked with a wide range of potato tubers at the minute, and you can choose your favourite varieties, to suit your culinary requirements, with different varieties lending themselves well for use in salads, as mash or as chips etc. They come in 3 broad categories, earlies, second earlies and maincrops(for when you plant and harvest them), and personally, I like to grow at least one variety of each. Whatever you choose, it’s useful (though not essential) to “chit” them prior to planting, as this starts of their growth process, encouraging them to begin sprouting. Place them on end in modular trays (egg boxes or seed trays) in a bright, dry, cool, frost-free place. Position  them rose end uppermost (the end with the most eyes) and leave them for 4 – 6 weeks, by which time their short green shoots will be about 2.5cm/1inch long, and they’ll be ready for planting.
Happy gardening everyone. Put in the effort now and then in a few short weeks, the real fun will begin!

Val says and if you do not like the sound of all this work call John in to help!
Debbie  Le Jardin Des espiemonts
Tel 0563646876

January Gardening Jobs
Watch the weather
Check for rot
Clear Leaves
Prepare vegetable beds
Pest Proofing

1)Watch the weather
The weather is very changeable in this part of  France, so it’s a good idea to be vigilant to different requirements. Make sure that your support structures, stakes and ties are all secure during strong winds. Heat your greenhouse on cold days, ventilate it on sunny days. Raise/move potted plants out of waterlogged areas during heavy periods of rain, but remember to water them (sparingly) during any longer dry spells. 
2) Check for rot
We’ve not had excessive rain like in the UK but it’s still a damp time of year which makes plants more susceptible to rotting. Inspect for rots such as: black root rot, crown rot, delphinium black blotch, phytophthora root rot, and sclerotinia. Remember to check your stored bulbs as well and remove any rotten ones immediately before the rot spreads.  Remove dead leaves from around basal rosettes of alpines to reduce the incidence of rotting.

3)Clear Leaves
Still lots to be done with leaf clearing and creating leaf mould, so keep at it! Ensure regular leaf clearing from alpine beds, as these low-lying plants are easily swamped.

4) Weeding
Of course, weeding is a continuous activity, but this is a good month for tackling any overgrown beds and borders, ready for spring planting. The recent warm weather we’ve enjoyed here in south west France has kept weeds growing and flowering; deal with them now to avoid an even bigger job later on, as you really don’t want them todistribute their seeds all over your garden.

5) Prepare vegetable beds
If you’re planning on growing broad beans, now is the time to prepare your vegetable beds.  Weed them, of course, and dig them when the soil is dry, as digging wet soil damages the soil structure. You can then apply organic matter: leaf mould or well rotted compost or manure, and leave it to settle ready for sowing next month.

6) Sowing
This is a great month for sowing cold germinators. Sow them inside (at a temperature of 18-22 degrees) and move them outside into the cold in 4 weeks’ time.

Now is the time to prune your vines. If you haven’t already pruned your climbing roses and your apple and pear trees, do so now. Also prune your blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry bushes.

8) Planting
Bareroot season continues: carry on with planting deciduous trees, hedges and roses. If you’re staking the plant, put the stake in before the plant, so you don’t damage the roots. Check on newly planted trees and shrubs after frosts and strong winds, and firm them back into the ground if they’ve been lifted.

9)Pest Proofing
Put guards around your trees and shrubs to protect them from rabbits, hares and deer. If deer are a persistent problem, soak a rope in a deer repellent product such as Repulsive and place around your plants. Alternatively, make your own product, by mixing 4 eggs, 4 tablespoons of hot pepper sauce and a gallon of water. Apply with a sprayer, and re-apply every couple of weeks, or after rain.

Harvest: beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, kale,parsnips, leeks, Swedes, turnips

December Gardening Jobs

Quick checklist – 10 jobs to do now!
1) Winter protection

2) Pruning

3) Planting

4) Containers

5) Take cuttings

6) Alpines

7) Compost heap

8) Check stored crops

9) Harvest

10) Christmas decorations

There are still some things to do outside, but not so many that you have to force yourself out in the freezing cold! Fortunately, in this part of South West France, we have lovely spells of winter weather. I love these beautiful misty mornings that turn into warm afternoons with sunshine and bright blue skies, when it’s really nice to go out into the garden.

1)      Winter protection
Freezing water expands and causes damage, so insulate outdoor taps or turn the water off. I loved Val’s empty bottle in the water butt tip! Check your greenhouse heaters (if using), but also open up the greenhouse on warmer days, as ventilating it will reduce humidity and reduce the risk of disease.

2)      Pruning
Fruit trees such as apple and pear trees (but not stone fruit trees). Keep some of the twigs to use as pea sticks.
Climbing roses - if not already done, do so now. Prune old flowered side shoots back by 2/3 of their length and cut away any diseased/damaged growth. Tie-in new shoots to the support.
Acers (Japanese Maples), birches and vines – before Christmas, as they will bleed sap if you do it any later.
Do not prune the old flower heads on your hydrangeas – leave them in place until the spring, as they provide frost protection to the new buds further down the stems.

3)      Planting
Deciduous trees and shrubs (planting and transplanting).
If you have not done your onions and garlic – do it now!
Raspberries and blueberries.

4)      Containers
Create some winter interest in your garden by planting containers with hardy plants such as cyclamen, grasses, ivy, skimmia etc.

5)      Take cuttings
Hardwood cuttings from trees and shrubs.
Root cutting from perennials such as oriental poppies, phlox, mint etc. to be grown-on in cold frames.

6)      Alpines
Spread fresh gravel in alpine gardens.

7)      Compost Heap
Now is a good time to turn your compost heap. Think of it as a good way to keep warm in the winter and as a great pre-Christmas dinner workout!
For those of you receiving big tins of chocolates from visiting relatives, here’s an interesting fact: Quality Street wrappers are made from cellulose (from wood pulp) so can be composted in your compost heap!

8)      Check Stored crops
Check stored produce for rot, and invasion by mice or rats.

9)      Harvest
There’s lots of lovely Christmas food to be harvested: leeks, parsnips, sprouts, winter cabbage.

10)   Christmas decorations
Make beautiful Christmas decorations with things from the garden – holly, ivy, mistletoe, pine cones etc. Go on, get creative!
Debbie  Le Jardin Des espiemonts
Tel 0563646876

Le Jardin de la Mothe

The Fifi Gardening Group have just enjoyed a lovely Christmas outing to Le Jardin de la Mothe where we began with a tour of the garden and followed it with a delicious lunch and a creative afternoon of Christmas wreath making.
Earlier in the year, John and I visited this privately owned garden, kids in tow, and received a lovely warm welcome from Marion, Harty and their family. As we sat in the kitchen, enjoying the home-made chocolate cake, and talking about the history of the garden, which Marion and Harty started from scratch, 25 years ago, I knew this would be a brilliant  venue for a gardening group outing: a gorgeous garden, fantastic company, and good cake – what more could you want?
This garden, occupying a plot of 3,500 square meters, was developed by Marion, an artist, for the function of creating a beautiful space. She modestly describes herself as “Not a trained gardener” and “not a plants woman,” but she has taken what was an empty field and has created a stunning garden,which has won the distinction of being named Jardinremarquable.
This prestigious award, which can be presented to gardens big or small, public or private, is bestowed by the National Council of Parks and Gardens (part of the Ministry of Culture and Communication) to those gardens deemed to have achieved a high level of remarkable achievement. See theComité des Parcs et Jardins de France’s website for the comprehensive list of all such gardens:
For Marion, her garden is all about shapes and textures and the different forms of the garden. Approaching gardening from the perspective of an artist rather than a horticulturalist, she uses evergreen hedges and shrubs to good effect, creating portholes in hedges and spiral topiary in cypress to add interest and to frame the views. Inspired by Sissinghurst, the garden is designed as a series of enchanting 'rooms' which you enjoy before discovering another one. I love the gloriette, which provides elevated views of the surrounding valley, and the lime walk is my personal favourite, as it creates a grand approach to the pool garden, with its lovely herbaceous border. But to be honest, it’s all gorgeous, and each new glimpse of a new vista, and each new path, beckoning you to follow it into another part of the garden, creates a magical ambience, so it’s not surprising to discover that a film crew used the garden as the set for a recent adaptation of Alice inWonderland. (There’s a new family member in residence atJardin de la Mothe  a celebrity rabbit – as the film crew gave the lapine star to Marion’s children once filming was complete).

Marion remembers the early days of the garden. She spoke to me about one of my previous TAG articles “Taming the wilderness” and empathised with that daunting prospect oftaking a large, open space and commencing with the project of creating a structured garden. To begin, she and Hartydivided their garden up, planting tall, ornamental hedges, and resourcefully building walls using stones from the house which were left over after they created openings for windows and doors. They then started off with favourite plants, likeeuphorbias, and concentrated on one space at a time, and the garden has been a work in progress ever since, with the family dating and aging plants along with special events like familyanniversaries and historical events such as the millennium.
An interesting fact for any low maintenance gardeners out there is that Le Jardin de la Mothe is not irrigated. This will be of particular interest to the many members of the local community who are part-time residents and who spend spells of time away from their gardens but still want them to look vibrant upon their return. Marion has achieved this by selecting low-maintenance plants, shrubs and evergreens, which require occasional plant care and pruning, but not regular watering.
Another appealing technique is that of the “mobile garden”: movable containers (zinnias, zahlias etc) that add colour and fill in the gaps left once the plant such as hemerocalis havefinished and died back. This is a technique that is easily replicated and adds instant “wow factor” in the long-term garden.
In terms of public access to the gardens, it costs 3€ for a visit to the garden. There are covered areas, shade from the sun, and shelter from the rain, and seating all around the garden –Marion and Harty offer you a warm welcome and want you to be comfortable, take your time, and enjoy your visit. Tea and coffee is also available for a small charge, to be enjoyed in the heated barn, or in the garden. You can also have lunch (15, including entrance fee, wine and coffee) and flexible furniture options cater for groups of all different sizes. They run special events such as concerts, plant sales and craft sessions, and as we discovered, the wreath making sessions (25 € for entrance fee, lunch and all materials) are a fabulous day out!

Contact details are as follows:
La Mothe
Salles Courbatties
12260 Aveyron
sat nav co-ordinates:
A visit to the garden on a Thursday could also take in the weekly Villefranche market.

We’ve been asked to do monthly checklists of jobs to be done in the garden. Here’s our first one – happy gardening!

November jobs
Quick Checklist: 10 jobs to do now!
Clear up leaves
Perennials: cut back, lift and divide, relocate etc.
Protect against the cold
Protect against pests and diseases
Soil preparation
Take care of wildlife
Seasonal sowing and planting – bare root stock, bulbs, alpines, perennials, winter bedding
Pruning and taking cuttings

Clear up fallen leaves
I know this was top of the list last month. Well, it’s still a big, continuous job, so get out there and get on with it (or get someone else to do it for you)! Alder, oak and hornbeam leaves will rot down into leaf mould in a year, while beech, horse chestnut, sweet chestnut and sycamore will take a few years. 
Continue caring for your perennial plants, removing yellowing leaves, cutting them back once they have died down; lifting and dividing and moving as required.

Protect against the cold
If you’ve not taken your cold protection measures in the garden, do so now, as the weather grows colder. Remember to lag outside taps and water pipes to prevent freezing.
Pests and Diseases
Continue to check plants for pests and diseases. In particular, keep an eye out for whitefly on your brassicas,wooly ahpids on your apple trees, leek rust, leek moth and allium leaf miner on your leeks.
Safeguard your plants by raking up leaves under roses to prevent blackspot spores from overwintering in the soil; applying grease bands to your fruit trees to prevent winter moth damage, and picking fruit off trees, to prevent brown rot infections in the spring. 
Soil Preparation
Now is a good time for improving and maintaining your kitchen garden, perhaps building raised beds and paying attention to pathways which allow access to your vegetable beds whilst avoiding standing on the soil and compacting it. Walking on wet soil damages soil structure and is especially bad for clay soils.

Keep up the weeding. It will give you a head start for the busy spring period. Weed roots grow, thickening and spreading throughout the winter, which makes them more of a problem when the weather warms up in March. Stubborn weeds such as chickweed can set flower and set seed even in the cold of November.

Prepare your vegetable beds for autumn planting, digging in compost where required.
Improve the soil in beds for spring planting by applying fresh manure and leaving it to rot down over winter.

Take care of wildlife
Remember to look after birds as the weather grows colder, topping up bird feeders. The birds will look after you in turn by eating pests such as aphids, caterpillars, slugs and snails.

If lighting bonfires, inspect for hedgehogs that might have taken up home there. 
Goldfinch and companions feeding

Seasonal sowing and planting – bare root stock, bulbs, alpines, perennials, winter bedding
Greenhouse sowing options include: cyclamen, delphinium, foxglove, laurentiallupinsweetpeas,verbascum.

Continue to plant your spring flowering bulbs for early colour next year: narcissus, crocus, tulip etc – they’re socheerful, how can you resist? 

For some winter colour you can plant Helleborus Niger (Christmas rose). Continue planting winter bedding if desired, along with alpines and perennials for a longer-term option. 

In your vegetable garden you can continue to sow winter salads and oriental greens under glass. 

There are lots of autumn planting varieties of garlic, onion and shallot to choose from. Plant them now for an early summer harvest (you can plant more in the spring, for late summer/early autumn harvesting). For autumn planting, it’s especially important to plant into well prepared soil (plenty of well rotted organic matter) as heavy, clay soils will be more prone to water logging, resulting in rotting, diseased crops. 

If we were back in the UK we’d be advising people that it’s OK to plant asparagus now as well, but here in France the different climate makes this unwise and there are no asparagus crowns to be found in the garden centres and nurseries, so you’ll have to wait until springfor that. However, you can plant rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, blueberries, currant bushes and spring cabbages. 

Bare root season continues, so now is a cost-effective time to purchase trees and shrubs. I’m planting walnut trees, as I have developed a liking for vin de noix! 

Pruning and taking cuttings
Prune large roses and shrubs to avoid wind rock. Prunegrapevines, current and gooseberry bushes, deciduous shrubs and trees. Trim summer-flowering heathers. Take care not to prune spring flowering shrubs, such as clematis, buddleja and forsythia. With fruit trees, prune apple and pear trees between now and February but don’t prune plum and cherry trees until the summer, as they are susceptible to silver leaf fungus.
Continue to take hardwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs and trees. 

If you haven’t yet reviewed your gardening year and started planning your next one, do it now, to make informed choices about your seed orders and implement effective crop rotations.

You could be enjoying the following crops from your garden right now: apples, artichokes - Jerusalem,beetroot, Brussels sproutscabbage  autumncalabrese,cauliflower  autumncarrotsceleriaccelery, chicory,garlic, endive, kohl rabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, nuts, onions, parsley, parsnips, pears, potatoes, pumpkin, rocketsalsify, spinach, turnip - main crop, squash,swede.

Your leeks might begin to bolt round about now so check them regularly and harvest them at the first sign of bolting so you don’t waste them. 

Harvest and freeze herbs for use throughout the winter.

Leave harvesting parsnips until after the first frosts, as this will make them sweeter. 

If you plan on making Christmas wreathes, pick some holly with berries now and store in a bucket of water away from birds, as they will eat the berries.

October Jobs
The first frosts have appeared, the leaves are turning and autumn has arrived! There’s lots to be done in the garden, so wrap up warm and get out there!
Quick Checklist: 10 jobs to do now!
1)      Clear up leaves & net your ponds
2)      Perennials: cut back, lift and divide, relocate etc.
3)      Protect against the cold
4)      Protect against pests and diseases
5)      Seasonal sowing and planting – bare root stock, bulbs, alpines, perennials, winter bedding
6)      Pruning and taking cuttings
7)      Composting
8)      Cleaning
9)      Planning
10)   Harvesting!

1.       Clear up fallen leaves
This is the top of the list, as it’s a pretty continuous job! It’s worth it though: removing old leaves reduces the risk of harbouring over-wintering fungal spores, and reduces the hiding places for slugs and snails. Plus, you get to create lots of lovely leaf mould to improve your soil! Rake leaves or blast them with a leaf blower, then pile them in a corner or put them in your leaf mould composting bin. In a year or two you’ll have a fantastic mulch.

Net ponds
Cover your ponds to prevent leaves falling into them. If you are clearing pond weed, lay the weed next to the pond for a day, to allow wildlife to escape back into the water. Make the netting tight enough so birds don’t get trapped in it but leave gaps around the edges, so frogs can get in and out.

2.       Perennials
Cut back perennials that have died down; lift and divide herbaceous perennials that you wish to propagate; move any plants that you want to relocate to another spot in the garden.

In your kitchen garden, divide rhubarb crowns and re-plant the healthiest specimens. Cut back globe artichokes, raspberry canes, asparagus foliage, and old foliage on strawberry plants.

3.       Protect against the cold
Move tender plants indoors or into the greenhouse (inspecting them, as you go, for signs of any pests, such as aphids). Leave plenty of space between the plants to provide ventilation and to reduce the risk of disease.

Protect half-hardy plants with a fleece. Raise pots off the ground to prevent water logging.
A nice little tip for looking after your autumn cauliflowers is to wrap the outer leaves around the cauliflower heads to protect from the frost. 

Mulch borders with bark chippings, well rotted manure, leaf mould or re-cycled compost from any mushroom kits, grow bags, planters and containers. Mulching is good practice during the winter as it insulates plant roots throughout the cold weather, prevents nutrients from being leached from bare soil and it keeps weeds under control.

4.       Protect against pests and diseases
Regularly check plants and trees for pests and diseases and remove/treat accordingly.

Apply a winter wash to fruit trees to kill overwintering pests. Wrap glue/grease bands around apple, pear, plum and cherry tree trunks. This serves to trap wingless winter moths, preventing them from climbing up the tree to lay their eggs. Remove diseased fruits from branches and the ground, to avoid infections

Remove netting from fruit beds so birds can catch and eat any resident pests. It’s a good idea to look after birds throughout the winter and to encourage them into your garden for a natural, organic method of pest control. So think about investing in bird baths and bird feeders and top them up regularly.

Brassica pests are a nuisance right now, so keep a close eye on winter cabbages, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. Remove yellowing leaves as these are of no use to the plant but will harbour fungal diseases, such as grey mould/botrytis, and remove old plants once they have finished cropping. Inspect plants regularly for brassica whitefly and mealy cabbage aphids.

Inspect leek plants for signs of leek rust (a fungal disease), and for leek moths (which affect leeks and onions) the caterpillars of which feed between the leaves and burrow down into the stem and bulb.

5.       Seasonal sowing and planting – bare root stock, bulbs, alpines, perennials, winter bedding
If you want to do some seed sowing, you can sow hollyhocks indoors/in the greenhouse. In a cold frame or under cloches you can sow: sweet peas, oriental poppies and hellebore seeds. You can direct sow outside: wildflower seeds and hardy annuals such as cornflowers, poached egg plant, annual poppies and larkspur.

For your kitchen garden, you can sow: winter radish and oriental greens, hardy leaves and winter salads such as pak choi, mibuna and mizuna, winter varieties of spinach, kale and chard, and lamb’s lettuce (corn salad). You could also try sowing broad beans – a hardy variety for an overwintered crop. Do any of you do this here? As this is our first autumn and winter, we are still adjusting to the climate, and wonder if the winter will prove too harsh. Worth a try, anyway, as sometimes, gardening is just about experimenting. Another possible overwintering option is round seeded peas, a hardy variety. If you’ve sown any spring cabbages, you can now transplant them into the vegetable patch.

For an indoor sowing option, sow herbs, cress and mustard seeds in pots or trays for a windowsill herb garden. You could also try your hand at a mushroom-growing kit.

In the veggie patch, plant: rhubarb and asparagus crowns, autumn garlic bulbs and onion sets, strawberries and blueberries (blueberries need to go into acid soil or pots of ericaceous compost). While you’re out there, earth up celeriac, to keep the flesh white.

This is the season for bare root trees and shrubs – make the most of it, as they’re much cheaper than buying the potted varieties. Now is also a good time for planting hedges.

For a bit of future colour, plant spring bulbs. You can also plant perennials and biennials you’ve grown from seed this year, and this is your last chance to direct sow hardy annuals.

For a bit of instant, temporary colour, plant winter bedding.

If you want to reposition any young trees or shrubs, do it now.

6.       Pruning and taking cuttings
Pruning to do this month: climbing roses and rambling roses, once they have finished flowering. Clear overhanging plants from pathways to maintain access routes . In the fruit garden, prune: blackcurrent bushes, gooseberries, red and white currents, and hybrid berry fruits, such as logan berries and tayberries. Trim hedges so they look neat for the winer.
Take hardwood cutting from deciduous shrubs.

7.       Composting
We are addicted to composting. Nothing is wasted here, as any food scraps (very few of these, to be honest, as we all have healthy appetites!) are fed to the dog or the chickens, and then any other organic waste goes straight into the compost bin, along with – how shall I put this delicately -  the debris from cleaning out the chicken shed. The result is the most fabulous compost, and this is what we’ll be digging into our veggie beds throughout autumn and winter as we prepare the ground for spring planting. (It goes without saying that we’ll be thoroughly weeding each bed beforehand).  Check your planting scheme and apply compost as required, bearing in mind that root plants, such as carrots, don’t like newly composted beds, while other plants, such as beans and beans and other legumes, love them.

For any woody material that isn’t suitable for the composter, start building a bonfire. Keep it covered with a tarp so it stays dry ready for burning. Of course, position your bonfire sensibly, away from trees and wooden garden structures. Also, check with your local Mairie about bonfire laws in your commune. Many areas have a bonfire ban in place from May to October. Alternatively, you could take the debris to the decheterie, though in our household, expecting John not to have a bonfire would be like asking the children never to eat sweets!

8.       Cleaning
The autumn is a great time for cleaning. Empty, clean and disinfect your greenhouse prior to bringing in the tender plants from outdoors; this prevents pests and diseases from over-wintering. Clean out water butts ready for the autumn rain to refill them. Also repair any cracks in your citerne ready to collect autumn rain. Service and clean all of your garden tools and machinery.

There’s always plenty of odd jobs that need doing: check and maintain all garden structures and buildings – sheds, barns, gazebos, fences, compost bins, cold frames etc. Apply a coat of paint or wood stain for winter protection, if required. Do it now, before it gets too cold and wet!

9.       Planning
This is the comfy bit, and another gardening job that I love!  Shopping! Buy new trees and plants for autumn planting, order next year’s seeds, update your gardening accessories. You’ve been working hard in your garden all year – relax and treat yourself a little.

Also, work on your garden notebook: assess this year’s successes and failures and plan for next year - new border planting, different varieties, crop rotations etc.

10.   Harvesting
I must admit, this is my absolutely favourite part of gardening! These are all the lovely things you could be eating right now, if all has gone to plan: apple, artichoke (Jerusalem), beans, beetroot, Brussels sprouts , cabbage, Chinese cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, carrots, celeriac, celery, chillis, chicory, endive, fennel, figs,  garlic, grapes, Hamburg parsley, kohl rabi, lamb’s lettuce, leaf beet, leek, lettuce, marrow, melon,  nuts, onions, onions, salad, oriental mustards, parsley, parsnip, peas, pears, peppers , potatoes, pumpkin, rocket, salsify, spinach, squash, swede, tomatoes, turnip, sea kale beet , squash, sweet corn, watercress.

Now is the time to be finishing up and clearing away any remaining tomato, pepper and courgette plants. Any un-harvested green tomatoes and peppers can be hung upside down indoors to ripen, placed on a sunny windowsill, or put in a draw with ripe apples or bananas (which emit ethylene, the gas which initiates the ripening process).

When your pea and bean plants are finished, cut off the top growth and leave the roots in the soil. These legumes are nitrogen-fixing plants and as their roots break down they will slowly release nitrogen into the soil, thus fertilising it.

Check harvested crops regularly and remove rotten ones immediately.

Make yourself some lovely big pots of casseroles, soups and stews and enjoy!

Plant Identification
When we go out to customers’ gardens we find lots of people who say: “I really like this, but I’m not sure what it is,” or “I’d like to get some more of these, but I don’t know what to ask for.”  
To be honest, we think that the most important thing is knowing whether you like it or not, but it can be useful to know the names of the plants in your garden. This helps with plant care as well as future plant selection, and really, it’s just nice to know.
So, do you have any plants in your garden that you’d like to know the names of? Love them and would like to know what they are? Not sure if they’re flowers or weeds? Email us a photo of them and we’ll do plant ID for you.
Val says  I am putting this in the gardening section and here for maximum exposure.

The box tree caterpillar and box tree moth, Diaphania perspectalis, is native to East Asia but has been found in Europe throughout the last 7 years.
Your first indication of an infestation is likely to be the discovery of white webbing on your Buxus plants, and the discovery of the caterpillars, which are a greenish/yellow colour. If you’re unlucky enough to not find these in time, your next indication will be a severe defoliation of yourBuxus!
The moth, which has a wingspan of 4cm, usually has slightly iridescent white wings with a brown border, but wings can sometimes be completely brown.
Young caterpillars are greenish/yellow with a black head, while older ones, which grow up to 4 cm long, also have thick black stripes and thin white stripes all along their bodies.
They produce webbing in amongst the leaves and stems oftheir feeding area, and feed on the box leaves. They have a voracious appetite!
The caterpillars and eggs can be removed by hand. If you want to use an insecticide, then products containing pyrethrum will be the most effective.
There may be up to 2 or 3 generations of caterpillar a year and they’re most active from April to October. Eggs (which are pale yellow, flat, and measure 1 mm in diameter) are laid on the underside of the leaf, in a flat sheet, overlapping each other. They are hard to see at first, but become easier to findonce they mature, as a black spot develops in each egg where the caterpillar’s head is growing. The species overwinters in amongst the webbing on the Buxus leaves. As autumn approaches, the caterpillars will be busy creating their winter habitat, so now is a good time to check your Buxus, beforethese pests complete their development, ready for wreaking havoc in the spring      !

Box tree caterpillar

Box tree moth

Damaged buxus

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Advice from John and Debbie at Jardin des Espiemonts

Dear Val,
We agree with Sally’s advice about the hard pruning twice a year. John’s a big fan of giving plants a severe pruning. Obviously, different plants have different requirements, but generally speaking, a thorough pruning keeps a plant under control while encouraging healthy new growth, so the plant will perform better and be much more vigorous. Another benefit, useful in this instance, is that with the re-growth, it gives you an opportunity to create the shape you want and train it in the desired direction. Of course you want to keep your customers happy, but effective pruning should mean that your gite guests can enjoy the view from the balcony, and still enjoy your beautiful plant. Train new growth along your straining wires and cut away any undesired, intrusive new growth and, rather than disrupting the view, your wisteria should frame and enhance it.

We wouldn’t recommend moving your wisteria - they do not like being moved, and the more established they are, the more likely it is that they will not respond well to being uprooted, and may die during the process.
If it’s not flowering well this year then maybe your pruning technique could do with a bit of enhancing. Did you cut past the buds, maybe? That’s good advice from Liz about checking out a video showing pruning in progress. And while you can get Alan Titchmarsh on You Tube, here in South West France we have the equally knowledgeable and infinitely better looking John from Le Jardin des Espiemonts! What do you think – I reckon I’ll volunteer him to run a gardening group workshop on pruning wisteria round at your place in January/February of next year!
Love Debbie
Comments to

Taming the Wilderness

I wonder how many of you are in the same position as us at the moment. You’ve found your beautiful French home, with a bit of land and you can’t wait to get stuck into the garden. You’re here for the outdoor living, and have so many plans - but there’s so much to do! So where do you start?
Perhaps surprisingly, we’re going to tell you to not rush into doing too much too quickly. Weeding – well, you can do as much of that as you like – but as for any major changes and re-designing of your new garden – take your time. In fact, take a long time. If you can, it’s a good idea to live with your garden for a year before making any big or permanent decisions, and during that year, at different times of the day and during each of the seasons, make lots of observations and get to know your garden.
Of course, for some people, you can’t even see the garden: it’s just a jungle of weeds, waist-high grass and neglected trees and shrubs. In that case, get stuck in to a vigorous routine of strimming (to clear the overgrowth), mowing (once the wilderness is trimmed down to an accessible length), and weeding (when you can actually get into the garden).
Some might be tempted, when faced with an overgrown tangle, to chop down, dig up and rotivate the whole lot. We’d advise against this for two reasons.
The first is that you could lose valuable planting: mature, rare, beautiful or functional specimens that you might not initially appreciate, but which in time you’ll realise add something to your garden. Maybe a mature tree provides valuable shade, or a row of hedging provides shelter from prevailing winds. One of our clients once instructed us to dig up a patch of “unsightly weeds” that was in fact a gorgeous clump of Campanula Persicifolia.
The second reason is that while rotivating has its place – it’s great for breaking up and aerating the soil after you’ve weeded it, and you’re certainly going to be spending some amount of time with a spade in your hand - this should never be used as an alternative to weeding. It would give you a short term fix, yes, in that the weeds would look under control as they’d be chopped up and buried in the soil, but it then leads to a long term problem: perennial weeds, chopped up into a myriad of tiny pieces and dispersed all over the garden, will come back with a vengeance as each tiny piece will grow back as a new weed.
Don’t be tempted to fling around too much weed killer either. Latest reports have found high concentrations of herbicides in human urine:
It’s worrying thinking about long term effects on both the environment and individuals’ health. Add to that the fact that weeds develop a resistance to over-used weedkillers, especially when the same product is used in consecutive applications, and you realise there are no real short cuts. The solution? Good old-fashioned hard work. Get into your garden and pull up your weeds by the root. Yes, it’s labour intensive, but time invested in thorough weeding now makes garden maintenance in the future so much easier.
So, you’re now at a stage where you can see what you’ve got. Here comes the nice bit. Walk around your garden. Look at what you have and think about what you want. Do you have any borrowed landscapes – nice views to incorporate into your design - or do you need to disguise an unattractive view, such as a pylon, with some clever planting or hard landscaping elements?
Think about what you want from your garden. Is it to be a family garden, with play areas for children; a practical space for animals; a productive kitchen garden; a decorative cottage garden? Of course, you can incorporate elements of all of the above and more.
It’s a good idea to sketch a plan of what elements you want and in what places. Think about how the micro climates of the garden will affect the position of each area and what planting will work in each place.
Observe light levels at different times of the day. Take note of moisture levels, wind direction and soil type, as these will all influence what plants will thrive in what areas. That all sounds pretty obvious, I know, but it’s amazing how many people we come across who have sun-loving plants such as Lavendula, Rudbeckia and Perovskia Atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) planted in full shade.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to put the right plant in the right place. For example, you might want to cover up an expanse of wall or create a covered terrace, but it’s not as simple as choosing whatever climbing plant catches your eye; it’s vital to work out the coverage required and match this to the height and spread of the plant, as well as to observe how much direct sun the space receives. Hydrangea anomala, Jasminum nudiflorum, Lonicera japonica, for instance, are all good choices for North or East facing positions that don’t receive much direct sunlight, as these plants can tolerate the shade and cooler conditions, while Ceanothus, Magnolia grandiflora, Passiflora caerulea and Wisteria are more suitable for south or West facing spaces, as these plants can cope with direct sun, dry spells and reflected heat from walls.
Think as well about the juxtaposition of your garden elements and their proximity to the house. Consider the practicalities of everyday use: it’s a good idea to create a herb garden next to the kitchen and a dining area near to the house whilst placing the compost bins further away and out of sight, maybe next to the veggie patch, so you can throw your organic waste straight into them.
Think also about on-going maintenance. How much time and motivation do you have for the routine up-keep of your garden? Or do you have the finances to pay someone else to do the hard work? Or maybe a low maintenance scheme of trees, shrubs, grasses and hardy perennials will be more appropriate.
Whatever you decide, take your time. Gardens are not so much about instant gratification as they are about gradual development, care and nurturing. It can take a number of years for a garden to mature into the space you want, so spend time planning carefully and then enjoy the process and, finally, the end result.

Pepper enjoys the long grass but we think that a little bit of tidying up is required

We’ve received this lovely piece from Neville, telling us about his own garden taming experiences, so we’re sharing this with you – thanks Nev!
Next month we’re going to be writing about creating an alpine garden. We’re working on ours at the moment and are having lots of fun propagating our alpine collection as well as shopping for some new varieties. Most of all, we’re enjoying the sunshine!

Neville Stott tells us about his garden taming and the pleasures that can be found sometimes in a wilderness.

The initial purchase

After looking at several properties we decided on one that has a good location and also met the requirements on our shopping list.  The land was however quite a bit larger than we anticipated, but on the positive side it would allow us to have veg patch, fruit trees etc.  Garden maintenance was a distant thought far in the back of our minds, what little did we know about growth rates. 

Typically what we had bought was a house, barn, small garden area and a big field.  Below is a picture of what we started with nice, tidy and everything under control.

The garden fights back

Every time we returned to the house it seemed that the garden had advanced in leaps and bounds, in fact it was fast becoming a jungle with chest high grass and thistles not to mention the brambles.  This could not go on, something had to be done.  Entering the drive was like entering a deserted town complete with tumbleweed rolling across the gravel

Tackling the job

field mouse

Bramble patch


Hare in field

Humming bird hawk moth

Tongue orchid

The challenge

After many hours researching tools to tackle the jungle I took the plunge and ordered a walk behind brush cutter mower.  I decided on  a walk behind as the terrain is quite varied and a ride on mower would probably break, in any case I needed the excercise.  Cue "ride of the valkeries"

In total, the time to bring this jungle into control was fours days.  The grass, thistles, brambles and small trees just disappeared into a nice mulch  The most difficult part were the brambles as they had formed into massive patches and I needed full CE protective equipment, but there are enough left over for blackberry crumbles.

Back to normal

Since we moved over the garden has been actively managed, and we have a vegetable patch, fruit trees and a natural area for wild flowers.

There is still much to be done, the garden will evolve over time, but will still maintain the blend of natural and cultivated areas.
Neville Stott

Gardening des Espiemonts

My husband and I have just moved to France with our 3 children, Daisy, 6, Poppy, 4 and Oscar, 2. Back in the UK we had our own horticultural business, running a plant nursery, providing gardening services, and delivering gardening workshops in schools, nurseries and children’s centres, teaching children how to grow vegetables and develop a taste for healthy food. Prior to this, my husband, John, trained with the Royal Horticultural Society and worked in a number of plant nurseries and public and private gardens.
 We’ve bought a beautiful old Quercy stone house, for which we have fabulous renovation plans. Of course, the reality is that we’ll probably end up living in it for some time to come in its current state of “huge potential” until we actually get round to doing anything! We are based in Les Espiemonts, Caylus, next to the army camp. When people ask me if I mind the noise, I can honestly reply that, yes, we do hear them (and in fact, the house sometimes shakes with the vibrations of the heavier artillery) but actually, they make less noise than some of our former neighbours, with a penchant for loud music and shouting at their children!  
Working from home, we’re setting up our new nursery and gardening business, Le Jardin des Espiemonts, tailoring our plants to this climate, and growing a variety of alpines and perennials. We’re enjoying the challenge of setting up our nursery once more, and as well as working on the gardens of the customers we have picked up so far, we are also busily working on our own garden, which, how shall we put it, just like the house, has a huge amount of potential!
Even though we’ve only been here for a few months, we’re feeling really at home. I’ve joined lots of local groups (Fifi, the Saint Antonin Walking Group, Kim’s gym at La Salle) and have made some lovely new friends. I attended my first ever Fifi coffee morning at the end of April, and immediately signed up to become a member. I found everyone to be really friendly and I was made to feel immediately welcome.
We’re going to be writing a regular column for TAG: Gardening des Espiemonts, covering all aspects of plants and gardening. We’d like to share our gardening journey with you, as we gradually transform our new garden and realise its full potential and as we work on our exciting project of establishing our new plant nursery. We’ll be looking at different topics each month, including current gardening issues such as the importance of planting for pollinators and avoiding excessive use of nasty chemicals like round-up, and the kind of issues that we all face in this area of France: selecting plants for local conditions, dealing with rocky gardens or heavy clay soil, coping with local pests and diseases etc.
We’ll be starting next month with an issue that’s close to our hearts: “Taming the Wilderness.”
Have any of you moved into your beautiful French property, with more space than you could dream of, and looked at your huge expanse of garden and thought, “Oh crikey, where do I start?” Maybe you have what is basically a field, and want to make it more interesting. Maybe you have an overgrown tangle of waist-high grass and weeds. If this is you now, or if you’ve transformed your garden already, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at to send us your photos (before and after) and share your tips on how you’ve tamed your wilderness. We look forward to hearing from you!


Alpine plants