Practical Gardening

We started our May meeting discussing what we are currently enjoying in our gardens. This included Azaleas, Camellias – ‘Donation’ variety reported to be gorgeous but were just finishing, Tulips, Iris, Magnolias Soulangeana and Stellata, Welsh Poppies, Geums, Centaura, Scabious, Skimmia plus many more. A Chilean Firebush Embothrium coccineum ( -photo right) was much desired by one member. Apple trees and any number of veg varieties are also being grown by some members

Based on a past recommendation within the group, another member has purchased a waspinator-

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Practical gardening

We started our April meeting discussing offers to the group from Hartleys Garden Centre where the owner has agreed to take us on a guided tour. In addition our group are to have an exclusive guided visit to a beautiful garden in Birkdale which opens in Summer under the National Garden Scheme. This garden is described as ‘a walled garden surrounding a Victorian house with formal and informal planting mainly cottage garden style, accessed by bark and gravel paths.’  It is gorgeous.

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We discussed what our gardens looked like after the recent bad weather.  One of our members had taken photos of her gardens to show how bare it looks at the moment.  She will do this every month so we can see the changes.

One of the group who is very successful with pots shared what are her favourite plants for pots are:

Pot 1- Put a cordaline in the middle, and put scarlet geraniums and deep blue lobelia around it.Pot 2. Pot full of deep blue headbourne lilies  These plants do not like to be moved they like to be pot bound. Pot 3. Argyranthemum Molimba rose which is a gorgeous plant which flowers until the frost. Edged with petunias. Wheelbarrow -Scarlet geraniums, Purple nemesis, pink and white verbena, pink dassia, trailing ivy, trailing dark blue lobelia. Nita also suggests using blue pots to add to the impact. Continue reading

Practical Gardening

We started our November meeting planning forward to next year. Some of the group had moved plants which were in the wrong places, one had had a stepping stone path laid across the lawn which had proved very successful and all had essentially been clearing out and tidying up.

We found that during Summer Cosmos had proven very popular with many planning to grow it again from seed.

cosmos 2cosmos






Having practiced taking geranium cuttings at the last meeting we reviewed successes and failures – there had been both

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Practical Gardening

At our October meeting we took stock, with everyone agreeing they have greatly enjoyed our group and discussions over the past gardening year. A common theme was that we have  all benefited from learning from others in activities, discussions and demonstrations. Sharing plants and cuttings etc. has increased our garden stocks and Summer meetings in group members’ gardens plus Ness Gardens with Gardeners Question Time visit  mid September were hugely enjoyed by all.

Examples of those things we agreed to do more of this coming year include Continue reading

Practical Gardening

Over the Summer months’  relaxed get togethers in different members’ gardens have been hugely enjoyed by all the group. These visits have given us the chance to see three gardens and hear some of the trials, tribulations and joys of  getting these gardens to their excellent and lovely current  states. Tea and cakes also helped the flow of enthusiasm and sharing of ideas. Many thanks to Brenda, Debbie and Barbara our hosts.

On 16th September 10 members of the group visited Ness Botanic Gardens Continue reading

Practical Gardening May/June meetings

U3A prac gdn hanging basket At our May meeting , Wanda very ably demonstrated how to plant a successful hanging basket, the beautiful results of which can be seen left. Wanda’s tips included:

– use a basket liner – either purchased ready made or cut from eg coconut matting material – but don’t trim this until the basket is full

– cover the bottom of the basket with a double layer of black plastic to aid water retention

  • –  add chicken manure fertiliser pellets and  water retaining granules  into the compost then water  well before putting this mix into the basket to approx a third/half level

– plant the basket top and sides with a mixture of desired plants such as calabrattia, trailing fuschia, lobetia, lysimachia nummularia, and glechoma. When fully planted, fill the basket with more compost and then cover the compost with damp sphagnum moss to reduce evaporation and absorb more water. Drench the basket with water before hanging up – a pulley is  a useful aid to easier watering but is not essential.

At our June meeting we discussed growing herbs. Mediterranean herbs such as basil and rosemary enjoy being in poor quality/used compost and kept on the dry side, in full sun wherever possible. To prevent herbs mixing in to each other in a large pot, several members recommended planting smaller pots of each herb within a bigger pot. Basil should not be allowed to flower and if  planted around tomatoes,  discourages bugs  Continue reading

Practical Gardening – 3rd April meeting

At our April get together we reflected that the mild weather this year means our gardens seem ahead and more colourful than usual for this time of year . A number of the group have now planted their seed potatoes and courgettes (see March post for planting info)  – progress is keenly awaited by all.

U3A daffs Aprl 17

Roberta had brought different varieties of daffodils for us to admire and identify. these included Binka, Pheasant Eye , Mounthead and Winston Churchill ( see picture )

We debated the joys of ivy (eg attractive/ excellent for wildlife) and problems (eg poisonous/ smothers everything)  with one member really struggling to get this under control. RHS  Recommendations for controlling/removing ivy are at:

We talked about  planting garden pots . Nita advised it is vital to plant in good quality John Innes compost and to add grit. Pots should be fed once a month with tomato fertiliser – this was used by many in the group. The group shared planting ideas with Nita having  had great success with the following plant groupings: Continue reading

Practical Gardening – 6th March

 The group shared their love of sweet peas which, if not yet started shoGardening sweet peasuld be asap – and  then planted out with support as soon as ready. (Pinch out the top two leaves once three pairs of leaves have formed to encourage ‘bushiness.’) Wanda has great success supporting her seedlings with twigs up to a privet hedge where they romp away once at that height.

Update on Monty Don Gardeners World sweet pea trial: This trial a couple of years ago compared the performance of the same variety of sweet peas (Monty Don) and found that where  seeds were started in October they produced twice as many flowers as those started in the spring.

Maureen reported back that the spring bulb pot she demonstrated has flowered well Continue reading

Practical Gardening

February meeting:

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Snowdrops, cyclamen, Himalayan poppies and hellebores were  among the plants being enjoyed in our gardens at the moment, with Bill (Ashton) photographing the slide show photos shown in this post,  from his lovely garden, the morning of the meeting.

Brian (Leach) took us through vegetables suitable for growing in confined spaces (pots/borders/raised beds etc) and suggested any  novices could try potatoes, spinach beet, onion sets , courgettes, swiss chard and also parsley and rhubarb. We agreed to buy early potatoes and courgette seeds, for members to discuss ‘spritting and next steps’ at our March meeting and ‘have a go’.

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