Clematis addisonii

This beautiful Clematis is Clematis addisonii which is native to only four counties in the western part of Virginia USA. Its native habitat is dry woods, glades, rock outcrops in soil that is calcareous. The flowers are solitary, urn shaped, purple to reddish purple with creamy tips. Flowering time is spring to early summer. A bushy subshrub with an erect to sprawling habit, about 2-3 feet (60-100cm) tall.

Back Care Tips for Gardeners

Gardening can be so much more than just your average household chore. For many people, enjoying the fresh air, conquering weeds and nurturing your plants to their full potential is a welcome escape from the stresses and complications of modern life. As a keen gardener, it is vital that you take good care of your back to ensure that it doesn’t come under strain during the repetitive movements associated with digging and weeding.

So follow these top tips to look after your back and keep you comfortable and healthy both now and in the future.

Warm up
Before you start doing any physical activity it’s important to take some time to warm up your muscles slowly and gradually to ensure that they are ready to get moving. Gardening is no exception, so 10-15 minutes of simple stretches can help you to ensure that your back and joints are fully primed before you begin work. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms and shoulders relaxed, then lower your right arm towards the ground as far as is comfortable and hold it for a few seconds. Straighten slowly and do the same to the left. Next, place your hands on your hips and slowly twist around to the right without moving your feet. Hold it for a few seconds, return to the centre and then twist to the left.

Take frequent breaks
Regular breaks offer you an important opportunity to rest your muscles and joints, as well as to make sure you remain well hydrated as you work. Take a break at least once an hour and have a cool glass of water or a cup of tea as you survey your progress so far and enjoy the satisfaction of your progress. 

Make life difficult for weeds
Weeding often requires prolonged periods of bending over the soil, and the process of digging and pulling up roots can put a lot of strain on your back. The best way to avoid this is to prevent the weeds from taking hold in the first place, so try to plan your garden without large patches of empty soil between plants. Where there are gaps, spread a layer of mulch across the surface to make it difficult for unwanted seedlings to creep in.

Use the right tools
We’re all guilty of taking our backs for granted at times, and many people bend forwards as they carry out tasks such as weeding, digging and mowing the lawn. However, with the right tools and a little planning you might be surprised at how many of these activities can be carried out from an upright stance. Make sure your spade, fork and hoe have long enough handles that you can use them without bending, and look out for tools with telescopic handles if you’re concerned about storage space. Growing your plants in containers or raised flowerbeds reduces the need for bending, and investing in a good quality kneeling pad can save you a lot of discomfort.

Never lift alone
If you need to lift a bag of compost or a heavy container, ask for assistance from somebody or use a trolley to ensure that you aren’t taking the strain by yourself. If you’re moving a wheelbarrow, make a conscious effort to bend at the knees to reach the handles rather than leaning forward and bending at the hip.

Listen to your body
Forget the stiff upper lip, pain is your body’s cry for help and it is a signal that you need to take a break, do some stretches and perhaps abandon the gardening for the day. If you start to feel any lasting discomfort then it’s important to seek help and have it treated before you attempt any more strenuous activities.

This post was written by Nicky Hand, who is a keen amateur gardener that plans to take good care of her back so that she can pursue her hobby well into retirement! Regular visits to a chiropractor can help you to keep your back in top condition, so visit Central Chiropractic& Physiotherapy Clinic for more details.

Setting up a Community Garden: Bring it to Life with Pond Liners and Other Accessories

In an age where everyone walks around with mini computers in their hands, texting, making phone calls, or checking the internet on the go, it’s more difficult to make friends and build the neighbourly communities past generations have enjoyed. Many housing communities or neighbourhoods have found the ingredients to create good old-fashioned community through building a community garden. It’s a fantastic place for anyone to learn how to make things grow, from seasoned gardeners to beginners. The great thing is that often the beginner gardeners can learn from the seasoned gardeners and build lasting relationships through working together on a common project. You can also literally eat the fruits of your labour.

Be Prepared to Lead
Be prepared to lead the project, but make room for others to get involved in leadership. Good leaders know how to facilitate and build a strong, dynamic team. Give your team the opportunity to speak into the planning. Delegate tasks, such as planning the dimensions, layout, types of plants allowed, and even teaching a few gardening lessons. Set up a committee to plan the elements you want in your garden. If you want it to draw individuals for more than just growing food, create a beautiful space with benches, ponds, and grass you can sit or play on. Building a pond is actually pretty easy with the essential equipment. Consult Swallow Aquatics to find out what you’ll need. In fact, it’s a good idea to visit the site for options, suggestions, and to use as a part of your research.

 Assemble a Team
 If you live in an apartment community where there are grounds restrictions, or if you’d like to build the community garden in a city-owned space, talk to the proper authorities to ensure that you can proceed. If you explain the benefits of a community garden and that individuals who have relationships with their neighbours often stay longer, chances are your property manager will encourage the idea. Create some small fliers and bring them with you when you’re talking to neighbours, so they can reference the information and think about it after you've spoken to them. Be warm, friendly, and polite. Explain the reasons you’d like to start the garden. Ask what they think. This is the time to gain valuable feedback – and generate excitement.

Consult Experts 
Gather advice from seasoned gardeners. If no expert gardeners live in your community, solicit outside help from a local gardening club. Show the expert the plan you and your team have built, and ask advice before you begin building. The expert should be able to tell you if you need to move certain plants based on daylight, or how often certain plants will need to be taken care of, so you can decide how high-maintenance you want your garden to be. What’s more, expert gardeners love gardening, so chances are you’ll find individuals who would love to teach a class once a month or check in with your beginner gardeners to see their progress.

Set up a Workday
Once you’ve gotten an okay from an expert, begin by setting up a workday. Invite all neighbours – share with them your plans. Even if some neighbours haven’t stepped forward to be part of the lead team, chances are that they would love to have at least a small section of the garden. Before hand, plan out your needs and decide on delegating different tasks once they are in place. Outline child-appropriate jobs. Also bring refreshments, a sign-up sheet to section off the garden, and a guest book to keep in touch. You can send your participants articles about helpful gardening tips or even recipes when your garden begins to grow.

Paige One enjoys writing articles that offer advice on how to improve your home garden and in this case, your community garden.

Kew Gardens

One of the main highlights of Kew Gardens is the Victorian Palm House. This is quite simply a stunning building built in the mid Victorian Era it was one of the largest buildings of its type and is understandably now a grade 1 listed building.

The shape of it is reminiscent of an upturned boat, which is because no one had built anything quite like this at its time so the architects borrowed from the ship building industry. We were fortunate when we went that the building was almost deserted, so at times we had whole sections to ourselves.

Inside the Palm House, Kew Gardens London
Where is everyone
Cycad at Palm House, Kew Gardens London

Palm House, Kew Gardens London

The Beehive Ginger (Zingiber spectabile)
The Beehive Ginger (Zingiber spectabile). 
Up on the balconies you can see the way it resembles the upturned hull of a boat.

Intricate detail from a time when form was as important as function.

alocasia amazonica
Alocasia amazonica
Tropical plants in the Palm House at Kew Gardens, London
You can almost feel the heat and humidity in here

Tropical plants in the Palm House at Kew Gardens, London
Non stop lush green growth
Fiji Fan Palm - Pritchardia pacifica at the Palm House in Kew Gardens

Exotic Garden Blog - Alternative Eden
Taken from the balcony, and I didn't spot a name from this view. (but its a palm!)
Kew Gardens Palm House view
Another deserted view
The palm house can keep you occupied for couple of hours, and Kew Gardens really is a full day out. We have been many times over the years and always manage to find something new that is worth looking at in more detail or even an area of the gardens we haven't explored previously.

I will feature different aspects of Kew over the next few weeks, drawing on the other glasshouses, as well as various plant collections outside.

Kew is situated in West London, and is well connected to public transport. we arrived this time on the boat along the Thames from Westminster. If you are coming from further afield then it really would be worth staying in London for a few days and seeing some of the other gardens, or perhaps tie a visit in with the Hampton Court Flower Show in early July. If you are tying in the two attractions then a hotel based in West London would make sense for example any of the following would work well, Crowne Plaza Heathrow or Crown Plaza at Kensington, or alternatively there are several Holiday Inn Hotels well situated; Heathrow, Heathrow Ariel, Kensington Forum.

 Keep an eye out for our follow up blogs from other parts of Kew Gardens.

Make the Most of Your Garden this Summer

It’s official; summer is finally here. The warmer months offer the perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fresh air in your garden, there are a few preparations that you can carry out to ensure that your garden is looking its best and fully primed so that you can dash outside at a moment’s notice to make the most of every last drop of sunshine.

Summer Blooms
If you’ve missed the boat in terms of sowing from seed, there’s still plenty that you can do with bedding plants from your local garden centre. With a few choice blooms you can transform your flowerbeds in the blink of an eye, and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to colours and shapes. To really maximise the impact of your flowerbeds, aim for a good mix of plants that reach the height of their flowering at early, mid and late summer so that your garden will be beautiful from start to finish.

Lawn Care
The lawn is fairly resilient to dry weather, but in a period of sustained drought it may need to be watered in order to avoid brown patches appearing across the turf. A sprinkler system is a great investment to take the hassle out of daily watering and to keep your lawn looking its best. While the summer is at its peak you should mow the lawn less regularly and with a higher blade height in order to reduce the amount of stress the grass is subjected to.

All of those beautiful flowers will need to be watered too, and when the weather is dry (even if it’s not sunny) they need a drink at least once a day. The best time to water your flowers is during the evening, to avoid the risk of scorching and to minimise the amount that evaporates in the heat of the day. To really give your flowering plants the best chance it’s a good idea to keep on top of the worst of the weeding, since these invaders will compete for whatever water hits to soil.

There’s nothing quite like hosting a social gathering in the summer, where you can relax in the garden and chew the fat as twilight falls all around you. If, like so many others, you didn’t have the opportunity to use your barbecue last year it’s worth dusting it off in advance of making any plans just to be sure that it is still in good working order after a period of idleness. Fire pits are another great addition to a garden party, giving you a focal point as well as a source of light and warmth.

To truly make the most of your garden, no matter what the weather might throw at us, you could go all out and create a dedicated ‘outdoor room’. This can be anything from a straightforward patio area to a full scale construction, but at the very least it generally involves a solid foundation and some comfy furniture to create a whole new space to enjoy on a regular basis.

This post was written by keen amateur gardener Nicky Hand. To really make the most out of a dedicated socialising space in your garden, creating an area of decking gives you a great foundation. Take a look at MillboardDecking for an environmentally friendly solution.

Neonicotinoids in pesticides

There are so many news stories talking about the danger to bees of Neonicotinoids in pesticides, and whilst some would argue the link has not been made many people are actively avoiding the products that contain Neonicotinoids. 
If you want to avoid Neonicotinoids then have compiled a helpful list:

UK Home and garden products that contain neonicotinoid pesticides
Product Name
Active Ingredient
Bug Free Extra
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Provado Lawn Grub Killer
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Provado Ultimate Bug Killer
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Provado Ultimate Bug Killer Concentrate
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Provado Vine Weevil Killer
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Sherriff Amenity
Bug Attack Granules
Westland Horticulture Limited
Bug Attack Quick Sticks
Westland Horticulture Limited
Bug Attack Ready to Use
Westland Horticulture Limited
Abamectin and thiamethoxam
Westland Plant Rescue Bug Killer Concentrate Ornamentals Plants
Westland Horticulture Limited
Westland Plant Rescue Bug Killer Ornamentals Plants
Westland Horticulture Limited
Abamectin and thiamethoxam
Baby Bio House Plant Insecticide
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Multirose Bug Killer
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Provado Ultimate Bug Killer 2
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Methiocarb and Thiacloprid
Provado Ultimate Bug Killer Concentrate 2
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Provado Ultimate Bug Killer Ready to Use
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Provado Vine Weevil Killer 2
Bayer CropScience Ltd
Bugclear Ultra
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
BugClear Ultra
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
BugClear Ultra for Pots
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
BugClear Ultra for Pots Ready to Use
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
BugClear Ultra Gun!
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
Bugclear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
Bugclear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
RoseClear for Bugs
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
Roseclear Ultra
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
Roseclear Ultra GUN!
The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
Source: Pan-UK

Clearly you need to make your own decision on the use of garden chemicals and the impact on the Bumblebees.


What to Sow in June

Everything is growing away and this warmer weather will have had a great influence on the allotment.

Lettuce: Keep on successional sowing summer lettuce varieties all the way through until  July - August to give you a wide range of salads in the Autumn. However, you will get patchy germination of lettuces when (if) temperatures are high. It prefers the cool. Get round this by sowing late in the day or in the evening, as the crucial time, temperature-wise, is about four hours after sowing.

Courgettes and cucumbers:

Courgettes and cucumbers grow fast, and because of that you can still just about get away with sowing them now and get good crops. And even if  you sowed your courgettes weeks ago, sow some more again. Your originals will eventually start to fade and these will keep you going.

Peas and beans 
This is the last chance to sow main crop peas, mange tout and sugar snap peas, so get them in the ground as soon as possible. Second sowings (or first, if you missed the boat earlier) of French beans can be made now, to pick up when earlier sowings lose energy.

Sow summer calabrese now, in to the ground. This is also the time to start sowing brassicas for autumn and winter use. Plants such as brussels sprouts need a long old grow. They do best sown direct, because this allows them to put down an anchoring tap root that will serve them well when the winter winters come.

RHS Wisley

The Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Wisley is located Surrey just to the south of London. It  is one of four gardens run by the RHS, the others being Harlow Carr, Hyde Hall and Rosemoor.

Wisley is the second most visited paid entry garden in the United Kingdom after Kew Gardens. Wisley was founded by Victorian businessman and RHS member George Ferguson Wilson, who had purchased a 60 acre (243,000 m²) site in 1878.He established the "Oakwood Experimental Garden" on part of the site, where he attempted to "make difficult plants grow successfully".

Wilson died in 1902 and Oakwood  was purchased by Sir Thomas Hanbury, the creator of the celebrated garden La Mortola on the Italian Riviera. He gifted both sites to the RHS in 1903. Since then Wisley has developed steadily and it is now is a large and diverse garden covering 240 acres (971,000 m²). In addition to numerous formal and informal decorative gardens, several glasshouses and an extensive arboretum, it includes small scale "model gardens" which are intended to show visitors what they can achieve in their own gardens, and a trials field where new cultivars are assessed.

In 2005 the RHS started work on a large new Glasshouse, which is always a favourite whenever we visit.

Hard to believe that just a few weeks ago we still have lovely warm sunshine!

The glass house is divided into three distinct climatic zones; a temperate tropical section, leading into arids and succulents before entering a more humid tropical section.

As soon as you enter a large Begonia luxurians dominates the planting in front of you. 

Schefflera macrophylla

Throughout the tropical section, orchids have been attached to trees and the greenhouse itself. The one below is Miltonia 'Oscar Kirsch'

Miltonia 'Oscar Kirsch'

The waterfall is starting to age quite nicely now, the main rocks are all artificial and have taken a few years
to mellow down and get a covering of algae on them. Cannas to each side.
 As you approach the arid section the lush plants give way to a fine collection of cycads before drifting into aloes, agaves and cacti.

Macrozamia moorei

Encephalartos villosus
The succulents soon take over and this section of the glasshouse is a real success

Sansevieria trifasciata var. laurentii
Aloe striata
Aloe glauca
Euphorbia trigona frubra

Pachypodium lamerei var. ramosum

Echinopsis aurea 'Leucomalla'
Copiapoa coquimbana

Mammillaria bombycina 
Yucca filifera
Euphorbia pulvinata
Ferocactus viridescens

Echinocactus grusonii
Echinocactus grusonii

Parodia magnifica 
Agave filifera
A last look back at the main arid bed, this area has really settled in well over the last few years. Naturalistic planting of arids, when done well works beautifully. 

From the arid section you walk through some doors and are immediately back into the tropics, with the hot tropical humid part of the house.

Queen of the night

Philodendron sp
A little friend to guard the pool

The unmistakeable flower of hibiscus

Wisley is well situated on the A3 close to the junction with the M25, which makes road the easiest way to get to the garden. If you are travelling a long way then Guildford makes a convenient base, with the well located Holiday Inn Guildford situated on the A3 just 10 miles from Wisley.

Wisley is a great garden and you really need a full day to get the most out of your visit!
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