Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

Well done Sophie! Runner-up in Cultivation Street’s Ambassador competition

by Diane - September 20th, 2018

Haskins Garden Centre employee announced as runner-up in Cultivation Street’s Ambassador competition

Haskins Garden Centre employee announced as runner-up in Cultivation Street’s Ambassador competition

Sophie Lyall, customer services assistant at Haskins Garden Centre in West End has been announced as a runner-up in Cultivation Street’s national ambassador competition.

Cultivation Street is a campaign founded by David Domoney, celebrity TV Gardener and Broadcaster, to recognise and reward communities that are caring for their streets, as well as encouraging other communities to join together and start anew. The campaign was specifically introduced to celebrate community gardens and their ability to bring people together using nature to inspire, heal and connect the communities they are a part of. The annual ambassador competition rewards those that go the extra mile for their local communities.

Sophie has been a Cultivation Street Ambassador for Haskins in West End since February and co-ordinates the provision of compost, plants, bulbs, gloves, seeds and bird food to local schools. Working closely with Townhill Infant School, The Gregg School and Bitterne CE Primary School in Southampton, this summer Sophie worked with the children to increase their interest in gardening and helped them paint plant pots and grow sunflowers. In particular, Sophie helps out at Bitterne CE Primary School’s nature group, which sees a group of six children get together after school to learn more about gardening. Looking to the future, Sophie plans to refresh, replant and repaint Bitterne CE Primary School’s garden.

Delighted to have been announced as a runner-up in the competition, Sophie commented: “I’m passionate about teaching children what I know about gardening because they’re the next generation of gardeners. It’s great seeing how excited they get over a plant they have grown and it’s great to get children interested in being outdoors and enjoying nature, rather than sat in front of a computer screen. This is something Haskins is really keen on encouraging – getting children interested in gardening from a young age, which is evident from our ‘Garden Gang’ campaign.”

Before the school holidays, Sophie worked with Shamblehurst Primary School to help create a memory garden for a 7-year old pupil who passed away to cancer. Sophie sourced compost, large pots, herbs and wind chimes for the memory garden.

Sophie continued: “I’m proud to be a Cultivation Street Ambassador because I want the children I work with to have a garden they can enjoy and I want them to feel pleased that they have played a valuable part in creating it for others to enjoy. I hope that over the next few years, I can link up with more schools and community groups to see how Haskins can help.”

Alice Whitehouse, Cultivation Street’s campaign manager, commented: “This year’s campaign has seen more entries in all categories and we’ve been astounded by the level of gardens and projects entered into the competition, as well as the devoted ambassadors that have worked hard throughout the year. The Ambassadors are an integral part of the competition and Sophie from Haskins has been fantastic in her first year as an ambassador. We have no doubt that we will see more great work from her throughout the year.

“Sophie has been exemplary at interacting with local schools and community groups in her area. This included her hand delivering packs Calliope Geraniums, the official Cultivation Street sponsor, as part of the industry’s biggest plant giveaway, where 12,000 plants were given out to schools and community groups across the UK.”

Sophie Lyall is Haskins’ designated Cultivation Street Ambassador for the West End centre, serving as a dedicated point of contact to support local community groups and schools with a garden. To contact Sophie, visit Haskins in West End’s Customer Services department.

Haskins is located in Mansbridge Road, Gaters Hill, West End, SO18 3HW. For more information visit

roasted beetroot recipe

by Diane - September 14th, 2018
Roasted beetroot

Make your own roasted beetroot this autumn with Haskins Garden Centres’ recipe

Make your own roasted beetroot this autumn with Haskins Garden Centres’ recipe

Haskins is encouraging gardeners to make the most of their homegrown beetroot with a delicious roasted beetroot and balsamic vinegar recipe.

Alasdair Urquhart, Haskins’ in-house plant expert, commented: “This time of year is the ideal time to harvest beetroots. If you can resist picking the leaves for salads, they can be harvested right into October.

“My advice would be to twist the tops off instead of cutting, to maintain their deep colour and stop them from staining everything red. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals and roasting them will make a great side dish for roast meat or as a main for vegetarians. Even if you haven’t had time to grow your own beetroot this year, you can still follow our step-by-step recipe.”

Ingredients (serves 5)

  • 3 bunches of beetroot (with leaves)
  • 1oz butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 190°C.
  2. Twist the tops of the beetroot leaves off and set aside.
  3. Boil the beetroot for 20 minutes, drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  4. Peel the skin away from the beetroot.
  5. Quarter the beetroots.
  6. Add the butter, olive oil and some seasoning.
  7. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.
  9. Bake for a further 15 minutes until tender.

Alasdair added: “Roasting the beetroot will elevate their taste to a new level and the addition of the vinegar makes for a really tasty and vibrant dish.”

Haskins has centres in Ferndown in Dorset, West End in Southampton and Roundstone and Snowhill in West Sussex. For more information visit


by Diane - August 8th, 2018


Staying fit doesn’t have to mean expensive gym memberships or fitness classes. Everyday activities around the home have huge physical benefits and can support mental wellbeing too.

Gardening is an excellent all-round exercise for improving strength, endurance and flexibility and can be of great help in reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other medical conditions.

To celebrate the warmer weather, AXA PPP healthcare has released an infographic, outlining just how beneficial an afternoon in the garden can be on the body.

For more tips on getting fit in the garden, visit AXA PPP healthcare’s benefits of gardening page.

Gardening for health

Soak up the summer at Boughton House

by Diane - July 23rd, 2018

Soak up the summer at Boughton House

Gardeners at Northamptonshire’s Boughton House have been hard at work as anticipation for the Estate’s summer opening heats up.

The Northamptonshire home of the Duke of Buccleuch, which will stage its annual seasonal opening in August, expects to see visitors flocking to enjoy its historic House, Gardens and cultural programme.

Led by David Cullum, the parks and gardens team has been redoubling its efforts in the recent hot weather to ensure the Gardens are a feast for the senses this August.

David Cullum, parks and gardens manager at Boughton House, said: “We’ve been especially hard at work preparing our Gardens and keeping them at their best in the dry weather.

“From the Walled Garden with its herbaceous border and flowerbeds, to our stunning Rose Garden, visitors will be able to enjoy our green spaces in full bloom.

“Our two new Gardens for 2018 – The Wedding Garden and the Alpine Garden – are really coming into their own this summer as well.

“And with a break in rainfall in recent weeks, we’ve been able to relax our mowing schedules and focus on the creation of a new bee enclosure in the orchard ahead of schedule. Not only will this benefit pollination in the Walled Garden and parklands, but we hope we may be blessed with some Boughton honey in the future.”

The Gardens at Boughton House will open throughout August between 12pm-5pm, with last entry at 4pm. Tickets cost £6 for adults, £3 for children and £14 for families (two adults and two children). As an added bonus, Gardens tickets holders will also gain access to the Armoury and the special MEMORY exhibition.

Reflecting on historic and significant memories of the House and its residents, key MEMORY exhibits will include the chapel altarpiece from Boughton’s time as a WWII prisoner of war camp, as well as the map of St Lucia, drawn by the 2nd Duke following his disastrous 1722 expedition to the Caribbean and some of the Duke of Marlborough’s campaign maps from the War of Spanish Succession.

The exhibition will see the collaboration of Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy and other memory-related charities.

Guided House tours will begin at 1pm, with the last tour at 3.30pm daily throughout August. The Great Hall Tour, plus entry to the Gardens, Armoury and special exhibition costs £10 for adults, £8 for children and £30 for families (two adults and two children). Children under five go free.  The State Rooms tour is available for an extra £2.00 per person, while the Books, Beds and Beyond Tour is an additional £10 per person.

The Estate will also host alfresco cinema and theatre events, with screenings of Moulin Rouge and The Greatest Showman on Friday 10 August and Saturday 11 August. And back by popular demand, Chaperhouse Theatre Company will take to the Estate’s sprawling lawns for a performance of Robin Hood and his Merry Men on Tuesday 14 August.

Tickets to Robin Hood and his Merry Men can be purchased at Adult tickets are priced from £17.60 and children’s from £11. Gates open at 5pm on Tuesday 14th August, with the show starting at 6pm.

Tickets for Moulin Rouge are priced at £13.20 for over 15s and £8 for under 15s. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Book today

To find out more, contact Boughton House on 01536 515 731 or email

Visit Boughton on Facebook @BoughtonHouse or Instagram @boughton_house_official

*** Please note, Orpheus and the Mount will not be accessible from Thursday 23rd August until Wednesday 29th August. ***

Urban Arboreal – a modern glossary of city trees

by Diane - July 18th, 2018
Urban Arboreal

Beautifully illustrated Urban Arboreal

Urban Arboreal – a modern glossary of city trees is a wonderful book. The book explores 70 trees which are illustrated by Kelly Louise Judd.
The contents page lists the trees by their Latin name, which might feel pretentious but is a good way of listing them. I’m fond of Latin names of the garden flowers I tend and love to try and learn more. It makes sense from a plant point of view too to display the related trees together which can highlight the differences as well as the similarities.

If you are a passionate lover of trees then this book is for you. It’s a delight to browse through with its wonderful illustrations and the words explore trees in an interesting way.

The importance of trees in our environment can not be stated enough, this book will help reinforce this. It explores trees that provide food and forages for birds and insects and touches on the human factor, how important it is for our lives to be enriched by greenery.  The book has a facing page illustrating the tree, with a page full of text about it and the location it is known in. A silhouette of the tree is included and the illustration usually shows a mature tree and leaves and fruits.

Recent stirrings in Sheffield about the destruction of street trees highlighted this importance of trees to people in the places where they live and this book explores the world through trees and how we impact on them, as well as exploring how they impact on our lives.

The snippets make each tree’s story a delight to read: Aquilaria sinenis in Hong Kong tells us that in China over one million five year old trees are being planted. The explanation of why it’s on the CITES vulnerable list is fascinating and that there are only 100 mature trees of this type left in Hong Kong.
The descriptions such as that of the Jaracanda may well leave you ready to set off on a journey to explore these trees in person.

Each illustration is a work of art in it’s own right, this book is one to have open when friends come round as they too can then admire the beautiful artwork within.

This book is a must have purchase for anyone who loves trees but will be appreciated by anyone with a general love of the environment. The carefully chosen trees explore the whole world and bring interesting information to us, making the book fascinating as both a guide to trees of the world and a travel inspiration.

This book is remarkable in several ways, the way the story of the trees uses history, trivia and myths to weave a glamorous back story for each tree, but also in that it’s the first time I’ve ever wanted to hang a page of a book on the wall! There are so many lovely drawings in this book that I might find a place to display it where I can enjoy it every day!

Available online and at all good bookshops from on September 6, 2018 Pre-order now at

Chicken sitting

by Diane - July 18th, 2018
Eggs! A range of sizes

Bet that one hurt!

I’m currently chicken sitting for someone who isn’t well. I’ve been collecting the eggs> This was the first lot I collected. There’s an absolutely huge one.

Bees everywhere

by Diane - July 18th, 2018
Bees queuing up to get on pumpkin flowers on allotment

Bees queuing up to get on pumpkin flowers on allotment

There’s tons of bumblebees about at the moment as well as honey bees. I spotted a third bee trying to squeeze into this flower and by the time I’d got my phone out to take the photo it’d decided to leave the two already in the flower to it.

It’s lovely to see honeybees and bumblebees about!

it’s not just
A mature tree can be the equivalent of an acre of forage for bees so it’s important to ask your local councils to be planting bee friendly trees when they replace trees.

And the BBKA have some info too

Wyevale Garden Centres reveals

by Diane - July 18th, 2018

what to do in the gardenWyevale Garden Centres reveals:

Gardening Jobs of the Month for August


The UK’s gardeners are making the most of the August weather to spend time outdoors, but they should also be looking to the seasons ahead and begin preparing their garden for the colder spell. There are plenty of jobs to keep you busy in the garden this month; it’s the perfect time of year to plant your winter vegetables and start cutting back and deadheading flowers to encourage continual healthy growth.

David Mitchell, buying manager for horticulture at Wyevale Garden Centres, shares his gardening jobs of the month, helping you to get one step closer to your dream back garden:

  1. Safeguard your tomato plants

Remove the lower level leaves from your tomato plant to help reduce its risk of disease and keep it thriving for longer. When a tomato plant’s growth is dense or when the leaves lie to close to the ground this can mean that the leaves are permanently in the shade. By removing the lower level leaves from the plant the remaining leaves have more space and access to sunlight so are more likely to stay drier and free from soil containing pathogens, thus they are more protected from disease.


  1. Prune your perennial herbs

Whether you’re looking to flavour your meat or garnish your cocktails, herbs are the plant of the moment and a fantastic addition to gardens of all sizes. Oregano and thyme are perennial herbs which mean they grow back each year without needing to be replanted. To promote their growth each year, trim them in August before the winter months hit to ensure they withstand the frost.


  1. Plan ahead for gardening leave

It is important not to leave your plants neglected while you are on holiday. A great way to make sure your plants are being watered without asking the neighbours to cover is to invest in a growbag waterer. Once set up, you can control the amount and frequency of water needed for your plants, leaving them perfectly hydrated without becoming waterlogged.


  1. Lop back your lavender

As with many blooms, it’s important to cut back lavender after its flowering period to promote new growth. Make sure you do so lightly to help maintain the plant’s well-rounded shape. You should be pruning around one third of the plant using a sharp, clean set of pruning shears.


  1. Deadhead petunia and potted dahlias

Deadheading ensures that plants maintain a healthy continual bloom and August is the ideal month to trim back potted petunias and dahlias. Plants such as dahlias have tough and stringy stems so opt for secateurs, scissors or knives when removing the flower heads.

  1. Wind down for winter

Use thus month to plant your hardy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and Brussel sprouts, so they are ready to be harvested throughout the winter months. Make sure you plant in an open site with free-draining soil and cultivate before planting to ensure these vegetables have the best chance of growing.

For more information and advice on August’s jobs of the month, along with all the tools you need to gain ground in the garden,

Gardening Jobs of the Month for June

by Diane - June 1st, 2018

Wyevale Garden Centres reveals:

Gardening Jobs of the Month for June


Summer is here and we can’t wait to share with you our tips for making the most out of your garden this June. The sun is shining, fruits are ripe and flowers are in full bloom which means your garden will be attracting admirers both wanted and unwanted! Pests will be lurking to feast on ripe fruits so make sure your garden is protected, whilst you should also take action to make sure that your plants are getting the food and care they need to flourish.

Lilidh Matthews, horticulture buyer at Wyevale Garden Centres, shares her gardening jobs of the month, helping you to get one step closer to your dream garden:

  1. Snip off and spray your roses

June is the perfect time to deadhead your roses after they have flowered. This is a quick and easy job which stimulates the growth of new blooms and extends the flowering season. Make sure you snip off the old flower at the base of the bloom, this will encourage the plant to send new shoots from the leaves near the top of the bush, producing smaller flowers. Don’t forget to spray your roses too to ensure they remain healthy throughout the drier months.

  1. Protect ripe fruits from ravenous pests!

Your garden is looking particularly vibrant, packed full of exotic colours and scents, which mean it won’t just be friends and family flocking to enjoy it, but plenty of wildlife too. Birds and other species will be seeking out fruits and seeds to snack on, so be ready to protect your produce. Mesh netting is a great, non-chemical solution to deter pests and allow your fruit to fully ripen. Remember, it’s important to wait until the bees and butterflies have worked their pollinating magic before you cover your plants.


  1. Plant out tender vegetables

Make sure to plant tender vegetables such as cucumbers, courgettes, and peppers. June is the perfect time to plant up these vegetables as there is a significantly reduced risk of wind and frost, conditions which are detrimental to the growth of tender vegetables. The hot weather provides the perfect conditions for these vegetables to grow, ready to harvest in the following months!

  1. Start feeding and pinch out tomatoes

Pinching encourages branching on the tomato plants as by cutting off part of the main stem you encourage the plant to grow two new stems from the leaf nodes below the pinch. Simply use your fingernails to pinch off the new growth at the end of the stem (if you don’t want to use your fingers you can always use a sharp pair of pruning shears!).


  1. Feed baskets and containers

Check baskets and containers every day to avoid drying out in the hot weather. Ensure that they remain moist but not soggy as over-watering leads to poor quality plants. Make sure to also apply a liquid fertiliser once a week to ensure the containers and baskets maintain optimum conditions for plant growth.


  1. Offer your support!

June is the perfect time to support your tall-growing perennials. During these warmer months perennials are in full bloom and therefore vulnerable to collapse as their long stems and heavy heads make them top-heavy and prone to flopping. Make sure these plants have plenty of support to stay upright and prevent damage during windy or rainy days by using frames or canes and tying the stems securely using twine.

For more information and advice on May’s jobs of the month, along with all the tools you need to gain ground in the garden,


by Diane - June 1st, 2018

As a beekeeper I am prepared to go and collect honey bee swarms. One side effect of being on the swarm collectors list is that I can calls about other bees.
Two calls yesterday from quite close by.
One lot in a bird box. Probably bumblebees I tell them, but send me a photo anyway and I’ll check.
Another lot in soffits. Again same response, but the lady wasn’t sure how to take photos as they were flying near the roof so I told her I’d manage with a silhouette of a bee.

So I got emailed the photos and yes both lots bumblebees.
I confirmed by email and sent them some info about bumblebees. They don’t stay a huge amount of time and are quite fun to watch.