Stonesfield open gardens glory

Round & About

Gardening

In need of gardening inspiration? Visit Stonesfield open gardens and pick up some tips

Enjoy the glory of nine open gardens in Stonesfield on Sunday, 23rd June, including some which have never been open to the public before.

Organised by Stonesfield Gardening Club, a number of gardens are opening in aid of local charities. There are a variety including a mix of flower beds with a productive vegetable garden including soft fruits and apple trees. The lawns are slowly being left to become meadows.

A garden for wildlife where you are asked to pause a while, maybe sit for a few minutes, smell the roses, listen to the bird song and the waterfall. Stepped gardens with shrub and herbaceous borders, wildflower orchard, fruit cages and kitchen garden and a peaceful, work in progress garden, full of labours of love from lockdown learnings. Come for the view not the gardening knowledge.

Entry is £6 per person, cash only (accompanied children under 16 free). Tickets and maps will be available from St James Centre, High Street, Stonesfield OX29 8PU where teas and plants are also on sale. Gardens are open 2pm-5.30pm, last tickets at 5pm.

Limited car parking will be available in Stonesfield Primary School opposite St James Centre.

More at Open Garden | Stonesfield Gardening Club

Stonesfield Gardening Club is a friendly, sociable club with a full programme of events through the year. Membership is open to all.

Mad about blooms

Karen Neville

Gardening

Summer is on the horizon bringing with it warmer days, hopefully plenty of sun and the glorious sight and scent of roses blossoming and spreading their joy

Our most popular flower is rich in symbolism and history featuring in literature, music, heritage, as our national flower, in skin care products and as the emblem for many sports teams.

Classic and instantly recognisable, they are ideal for almost every style of garden, flowering abundantly from early summer in pastel shades of pink, peach, cream or snowy-white; vibrant yellow and gold; orange, crimson and red.

And as any gardener will tell you, there a few essential rose rules to ensure ‘everything comes up roses’.

Round & About gardening expert Cathie Welch will tell you “It’s all in the pruning!” and advises “before you prune, know your rose type and sharpen your secateurs to avoid damage”.

She adds: “Make sure you cut correctly in the right place. Dead heading throughout the summer and winter pruning should all be cut to ideally pencil thickness growth to encourage more flowers. Cut out dead and weak growths as well as congested growth and don’t forget the suckers which come from the wild rootstock.”

Ramblers are in full bloom at this time of year and to ensure an attractive abundance in future, she says: “After flowering has finished prune out some of the flowered shoots and tie in the annoying long ones that you have wanted to cut off because these will produce next year’ flowers.”

And remember to dead head throughout the summer.

If you prefer to admire the beauty of roses and take in the rich fragrance from someone else’s handiwork there are plenty of gorgeous English gardens full of stately blooms.

The gardens at Basildon Park near Pangbourne, have been lovingly restored over the decades and now feature many types of roses. Look out for the classic old Rosamundi rose, a beautiful light crimson semi-double bloom striped with white and the large, rich warm pink Compte de Chambord, both rice in fragrance. Added to the pleasure grounds in the 1960s, Lady Iliffe’s rose garden is a riot of roses, peonies and spring bulbs which really come to life in spring and summer.

Roses combine with fruit and vegetables at Buscot Park, Faringdon where the fine collection of old French roses mix with modern cultivars. Between the climbing roses, fruit are trained to the wall, and, later in the season, the spent shrub roses act as a frame to support ornamental marrows, courgettes, gourds and runner beans.

The fabulous three-day Blenheim Palace Flower Show between Friday 21st and Sunday 23rd showcases the best of British gardening with roses set to be one of the star attractions in the magnificent Grand Floral Pavilion.

In June, roses can be seen in different areas of the gardens on the Englefield Estate in West Berkshire, in the beds around the car park as well as in the box border along the lower terrace. Wilder roses are also in bloom in the woodland.

The Mary Rose Garden at Waterperry Gardens just outside Oxford city centre is home to hybrid teas, floribundas, climbers and ground cover roses. The latter may vary in size, ‘Pheasant’ covering a large area, whilst the pink ‘Surrey’ is much smaller, and free-flowering. The roses are grown both by themselves and as companions to other plants such as Irises, which provide early interest before the roses are in full bloom.

Take in the scent of the contemporary Rose Garden with its viewing platform overlooking the roses as well as the garden beyond at Savill Garden and immerse yourself in the old fashioned scented French musk roses inter-planted with a wide range of shrubs and perennials.

Greys Court near Henley is full of wonderful sights and scents as the roses come into bloom throughout June. The rose garden traces the history of the rose from the early damask varieties to the modern hybrid perennials.

There are around 2,000 roses throughout the gardens at Abbey House Manor Gardens, Malmesbury, with climbers wandering their way through foxgloves and other flowers. Once part of a Benedictine Monastery, the gardens only open on selected dates during the summer months.

The rose arbor provides seating in avenue of white and mauve alliums and white camtasisa at Rookwood Garden, Newbury where you can enjoy a tour with tea lead by the owners.

Set in the beautiful historic grounds of Windsor Great Park, the Royal Windsor Flower Show is a fabulous one-day event on Saturday, 8th June celebrating gardening, nature, cookery, traditional crafts and old fashioned fun. No doubt roses will be one of the main attractions.

Mad about the blooms

Liz Nicholls

Gardening

Summer is on the horizon bringing with it warmer days, hopefully plenty of sun and the glorious sight and scent of roses blossoming & spreading their joy

Which country is one of the world’s largest suppliers of roses with 54% of its land filled with the fragrant flower? Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed Ecuador where the natural light provides the perfect year-round climate for them to thrive.

How about the most expensive rose in the world? The David Austin Juliet Rose, named after Shakespeare’s tragic heroine, was developed over the course of 15 years at a cost of a whopping £2.3million. The delicate apricot coloured large headed blooms were first displayed at Chelsea Flower Show in 2006.

More rose facts: the oldest living one is 1,000 years old and can be found on the wall of the Cathedral of Hildesheim in Germany, all varieties of rose are edible and the earliest rose fossils have been discovered in Colorado dating back 35 million years.

The most popular flower is rich in symbolism and history featuring in literature, music, heritage, as our national flower, in skincare and as the emblem for many sports team. Classic and instantly recognisable, they are ideal for almost every style of garden, flowering abundantly from early summer in pastel shades of pink, peach, cream or snowy-white; vibrant yellow and gold; orange, crimson and red. As any gardener will tell you, there are a few rose rules to ensure ‘everything comes up roses’.

Round & About gardening guru Cathie Welch says: “It’s all in the pruning! Before you prune, know your rose type and sharpen your secateurs. Cut correctly in the right place, dead heading throughout summer. Winter pruning should be cut to ideally pencil thickness to encourage more flowers. Cut out dead, weak and congested growth and don’t forget the suckers which come from the wild rootstock.”

Ramblers are in full bloom at this time of year and to ensure an attractive abundance, she adds: “After flowering has finished prune out some of the flowered shoots and tie in the annoying long ones that you have wanted to cut off because these will produce next year’s flowers.”

If you prefer to admire the beauty of roses and take in the rich fragrance from someone else’s handiwork there are plenty of gorgeous English gardens full of stately blooms.

The Rose Garden at Cliveden, SL1 8NS, is a heavenly place to visit, tucked away in a grove of mature trees. The contrast of the natural setting with the formality of the rose garden and its riot of colour and fragrance makes it feel like a magical secret garden. Wander under climbing rose arches with every colour from palest lemon to vibrant oranges to velvety dark crimson. With more than 900 in the summer-long display you’re sure to find a favourite.

Visit Waddesdon Manor, HP18 0JH, this month for the sweet scent of the rose garden from the colourful blooms filling the stately setting. The beds in the aviary and parterre have been decorated with colour influenced by Victorian-inspired planting.

National Gardening Week

Round & About

Gardening

Haskins Garden Centre’s in-house plant expert, Alasdair Urquhart, gives his top tips for beginner gardeners

Alasdair Urquhart’s advice perfectly captures the essence of starting a green-fingered journey. Gardening indeed offers numerous benefits beyond just beautifying outdoor spaces. It’s about connecting with nature, engaging physically, and experiencing the joy of nurturing living things.

His emphasis on starting with simple yet impactful projects is excellent advice for new gardeners. These projects serve as learning opportunities while also yielding satisfying results. Alasdair’s encouragement to embrace experimentation speaks to the heart of gardening as a continuous learning process. Even when things don’t go as planned, there’s always something to be gained and improved upon for the next season.

1. Create a Colourful Summer Pot: Choose vibrant flowers like Bacopa, Marigolds, Lobelia, and more in complementary colour schemes. Pre-made packs simplify the process, just fill your pot with compost, add the plants, and enjoy. Regular liquid feedings will support healthy growth.

2. Grow a Tomato and some Lettuce: Start with cherry tomatoes like Sweet Million or Sungold for delicious salad additions, Pair them with loose-leaf lettuces such as Lollo Rossa or Red Salad Bowl for continuous fresh leaves. This project introduces mixed cropping and yields tasty results for summer barbecues.

3. Create a space for local wildlife: Enhance biodiversity by sowing wildflower seed mixes designed for birds, bees, and butterflies. Prepare the soil, sow the seeds evenly, and water gently. Allow some flowers to go to seed for self-sowing next year. Integrate bee and butterfly-friendly herbs like Rosemary and Thyme for additional wildlife support.

These projects cater to a range of interests and skill levels, making them perfect for National Gardening Week celebrations. And for more guidance and tips, Haskins Garden Centre is a valuable resource for both new and experienced gardeners alike.

For more information on Haskins Garden Centres and the huge variety of plants and gardening advice available, please visit Haskins Garden Centres. Alternatively, you can follow @HaskinsGarden on Twitter and @HaskinsGardenCentres on Facebook to share any garden-related queries and keep up to date with all the latest news.

Wildlife garden & nature photography competition

Round & About

Gardening

We’ve teamed up with Adam Henson to invite you to send us pictures of the wildlife in your garden – or local park – and win seeds to help improve biodiversity

One of the UK’s best-known farmers and TV presenter Adam Henson has launched a range of British Wildflower Seeds, the first product line to launch from his new online store, Wildscape.

Developed in collaboration with leading experts in ecology and sustainable agriculture, Wildscape promise to create beautiful spaces, bringing joy to all those who experience them and creating essential habitats to foster biodiversity.

“I believe everyone should consider growing wildflowers,” says Adam, “not only are they beautiful native British blooms, but they also support local biodiversity. No matter if it’s a small pot in an urban setting or large garden, wildflowers create a mini ecosystem right outside your window, attracting a variety of birds, insects, and other delightful creatures.”

Someone who is doing their bit for nature and enjoying it is Chris Waymouth who has shared some pictures of some creatures in his Buckinghamshire garden.

“I was brought up in a small village in Northamptonshire and my father was a lover of wildlife and the outdoors,” Chris tells us. “I used to roam the fields beside the River Nene, absorbing all that the countryside had to offer.

“I used to roam the fields beside the River Nene, absorbing all that the countryside had to offer.”

“As a youngster I wasn’t allowed to touch my father’s prized Rolleiflex camera. I had to make do with a Kodak Brownie, until I was given a simple Agfa for my 21st birthday and this really kickstarted my lifelong interest in photography.

“When I met my wife she had some pro-quality Canon kit and this took me to another level. Digital cameras arrived on the scene and this was another step forward. Finally, three or four years ago, I became pretty serious about my hobby and invested in a mirrorless camera with extremely high resolution and I’ve expanded my range of lenses to seven. These include macro for close-ups of insects and flowers etc, and very long telephoto lenses for bird and wildlife shots.

“My garden in Jordans backs on to beech woods. It is not a showpiece; I prefer a more natural look including a wild area at the back. It is through here that my four-legged visitors arrive: muntjac, roe deer, fox, badger, hedgehog, not to mention the two or three rabbits who are usually trimming my lawn when I pull back the curtains in the morning. Plus, of course, the squirrels. I enjoy stretching my longest lenses to maximum reach to get full-face shots of all of these.

“Then there are the birds. Lots of them! I have half a dozen feeders in the front garden and a couple at the back and clearly the word is out among our feathered friends that this place is good for a meal or two. The list of regulars include all the usual garden birds: robin, blackbird, song thrush, chaffinch, bullfinch, blue tit, great tit, long-tailed tit, dunnock, wren, jay, green and great spotted woodpeckers and just recently a brambling, not to mention the ever-present woodpigeon, collar dove, magpie, jackdaw, crow, green parakeet and the red kite circling majestically overhead.

“Although I do not have a huge array of flowers, there are plenty to attract bees and a variety of bugs and this is where the macro lens comes into its own, capturing the subject at 1.4x life size. With the high resolution of the camera (a Canon EOS R5) I can then “crop” (zoom into) the photo once it is on my computer and end up with some highly detailed, sharp images.

“I have something like 35,000 photos on my computer – here are just a few for you to enjoy.”

To enter, upload your pictures to Instagram or Facebook and tag @roundandaboutmag with the hashtag #RAphotocompetition to be involved and we’ll choose a winner to receive the seeds. The competition ends June 1st.

Zone out!

Karen Neville

Gardening

You’ve done all the preparation and your garden is good to be ‘glammed up’ all ready for you to sit back and relax and enjoy the summer

Courtyard, green oasis, large and luscious, small and secluded – whatever type of garden you have you’ll want to make it work for you and its place in your life.

A popular option is to create zones or spaces designed to suit a particular purpose and this can be achieved with thought out planning even in smaller gardens where two or three areas works well, perhaps create a larger focal zone with one or two smaller ones, it will largely depend on how you use your garden space.

Most of us want a relaxation area, somewhere to lie back perhaps on a lounger or even in a swing seat or hammock if there’s room and you’re likely to want an entertaining / dining area too. Perhaps you work from home and a garden room offers you somewhere to escape to or is it an ideal place for the kids to chill out?

Let’s sit back and relax and consider the choices – patio and / or decking are a good place to start, make space for both if you can and you’re creating zones without realising it. Seating is  a must, chairs and a table, anything from a cute stylish bistro set for a smaller space to a full on comfy garden sofa taking the indoors out and wooden table and chairs fit for a banquet. How about an egg chair or a padded bench if you need extra or occasional seating, you may find that once you’ve created your zones, the seating falls into place naturally. Need more relaxation and the ultimate chill zone? Soothe away the day in a hot tub.

Summer is the time to entertain al fresco and enjoy the fruits of your hard work with friends and family. Once you’ve decided on your seating go a step further and explore your dining options, do you like nothing better than the sizzle of a burger on the BBQ, like to mix up your toppings on a pizza oven or will only a full-on outdoor kitchen feed your need?

Garden rooms have increasingly become an extension of your home and not just for those who work from home. Always wanted to run your own business but not sure where you’d do it, they make the ideal space for a beauty salon or dog grooming parlour. They’re a great way to gain an extra room without the cost of moving or an extension. Channel your inner peace and indulge in some me time with a yoga studio, pop the kids in for a playroom or creative types will enjoy setting up their easel or instruments there.

One thing that’s pretty much a necessity in this country is some sort of shade or cover. Awnings and sails add a decorative touch and are available in a variety of styles and colours. If you’re after a more permanent fixture then pergolas and gazebos will add a stylish touch either to house your furniture or as a shelter.

If you’ve been coveting a beautiful hand-crafted bespoke oak building in your garden or adjoining your home, you’re not the only one! The Artisan Oak team work with clients to help you design your dream bespoke space. The company believe oak to be one of the most beautiful materials to use, with raw textures and uncompromisable strength. They also offer a landscaping service and incorporate materials such as glass, stone, brick and other wood, working along side sub-contractors for a hassle-free project. Visit artisan-oak.com

Looking for finishing touches to complete your masterpiece? A fire pit will help ward off any chills while lighting will allow you to enjoy your haven late into the night.

Using traditional techniques dating back 4,000 years and hand thrown on the wheel in Crete, these quality pots are fired at 1,150 degrees centigrade, guaranteeing quality and durability, ensuring they are frost proof to endure our winters. Order online at cretepots.com or visit the Crete Pots showroom displaying over 150 pots in the heart of Hampshire.

Metal Gates Ltd are manufacturers, fabricators and installers of quality metal gates, railings, garage doors, balustrades and staircases. The family business has over 30 years’ experience in the metalwork industry, they can guarantee quality craftsmanship and a professional service from planning to installation. Contact them on  01628 621974 for a free no obligation quote. More at metalgatesltd.com

Want to live more sustainably? The Festival of Sustainable Homes, May 17th and 18th at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre, Swindon SN5 8UB, offers advice on improving the energy efficiency of new build and existing homes. Exhibits, seminars, live demos and expert advice will all be on offer at the Good Energy sponsored event. Find out more at nsbrc.co.uk/whats-on/our-events/the-festival-of-sustainable-homes

Zone out!

Liz Nicholls

Gardening

Summer beckons, so why not think how you can best enjoy your outside space, come rain or shine? We speaks to some Bucks specialists who can help you

Picture the scene… The Euros have kicked off and you’re relaxing with friends, a chilled drink in your hand, as the action unfolds on the big screen…

And all of this (delete the hypothetical footie and replace with Wimbledon, the Grand Prix or the Olympics as you wish) in your own back yard. It’s an enticing prospect isn’t it? Well it’s not beyond the realm of possibility, thanks to a lightbulb moment Bob Best had last summer.

While Bob, who runs Herts Pergolas, was with his team admiring their recent handiwork, he noticed that the flat, white surface would make a perfect screen so a projector could be fitted opposite. “Suddenly the penny dropped,” says Bob, who has years of experience across the home counties building conservatories before switching to pergolas in 2022. “I thought: this is the perfect way to make the most of the space, watching the Euros. That’s the dream, in your own garden! You could add a hot tub or whatever floats your boat as well.” 

It’s a popular trend to create outdoor zones to suit a particular purpose which can make a huge difference, even in smaller gardens, where two or three areas work well. Outdoor structures such as pergolas are a great way to define a space and are often easier to achieve than extensions because they usually don’t require planning permission. That’s why pergolas are a fashionable choice with Bob’s customers, taking gardens to the next level.

“The bulk of our team’s work is now pergolas, led by our customers, which is great,” says Bob who lives in Kings Langley. “Our pergolas are made of aluminium, have a polyester powder-coated finish and are available in white or grey, which looks really elegant. They come in three sizes, 3 x 3m, 3 x 4m and 8 x 4m. The roof is fully adjustable, and they come with a full-height blinds and LED lighting with optional remote-controlled heaters and USB sockets to charge phones or devices. What’s genius, too, is they have internal drainage so that inevitable rain drains on to your patio area. It’s the way forward!” Visit hertspergolas.co.uk

Garden rooms have increasingly become an extension of your home and not just for those who work from home. If you’ve been coveting a beautiful hand-crafted bespoke oak building in your garden or adjoining your home, you’re not the only one! The Artisan Oak team work with clients across Bucks to help you design your dream bespoke space. The company, based just outside Stoke Bruerne, believe oak to be one of the most beautiful materials to use, with raw textures and uncompromisable strength. They also offer a landscaping service and incorporate materials such as glass, stone, brick and other wood, working along side sub-contractors for a hassle-free project. Visit artisan-oak.com

Seating is also a must, anything from a cute stylish bistro set for a smaller space to a full on comfy garden sofa next to a fire pit.

But, before you start planning your garden layout, you might come across an unsightly stump blocking your way. This is where the Wycombe-based Simply Stumps team step in. Led by owner Scott Howfield, a fully qualified arborist with 25 years of experience and a vast array of five-star reviews, they offer a convenient Whatsapp or online quote system at simplystumps.co.uk/free-quote/. Scott emphasises the challenge of removing tree stumps due to their extensive root systems, making digging them out nearly impossible. Instead, he recommends stump grinding, which produces fine woodchips that are easy to move and make excellent mulch for the garden. It’s a clean and efficient solution that avoids the hassle of dealing with a leftover stump. Scott also highlights the risk of honey fungus, which can use old stumps as a food source to attack living trees. As he aptly puts it, “it’s most definitely a case of better out than in!”

One thing that’s bound to be a godsend in this country is some sort of shade or cover. The experienced team at Verdec will help you create a fantastic outdoor area with bespoke timber garden structures and buildings, such as summerhouses, offices, adventure playgrounds, decking, hard landscaping and patios. Find out more at verdecfencing.co.uk

If you’re looking for high-quality long-lasting outdoor furniture covers or gazebo side panels check out family-run, UK-based Kover-it. The team manufacture all types of covers, including for sofa sets, BBQs, pool tables and gazebos. All are bespoke and manufactured to ensure the best fit. Visit kover-it.co.uk

Metal Gates Ltd are manufacturers, fabricators and installers of quality metal gates, railings, garage doors, balustrades and staircases. The family business has over 30 years’ experience in the metalwork industry, they can guarantee quality craftsmanship and a professional service from planning to installation. Contact them on  01628 621974 for a free no obligation quote. More at metalgatesltd.com

Zone out!

Karen Neville

Gardening

You’ve done all the preparation and your garden is good to be ‘glammed up’ all ready for you to sit back and relax and enjoy the summer

Courtyard, green oasis, large and luscious, small and secluded – whatever type of garden you have you’ll want to make it work for you and its place in your life.

An increasingly popular way to make the most of your garden is to create zones or spaces designed to suit a particular purpose.

Careful planning even in smaller gardens can result in two or three areas, try a larger focal zone with one or two smaller ones, it will largely depend on how you use your garden space.

Most of us want a relaxation area, somewhere to lie back on a lounger and probably an entertaining/dining area too. Perhaps you work from home and a garden room offers you some escape or just want a space to chill out?

Sit back and consider the choices – patio and/or decking are a good place to start, make space for both if you can and you’re creating zones without realising it. Seating is a must, chairs and a table, anything from a cute bistro set to a full on comfy garden sofa taking the indoors out or a wooden table and chairs fit for a banquet. You may find that once you’ve created your zones, the seating falls into place naturally.

Add a touch of class, comfort and luxury to your garden with unique, high quality rattan and teak furniture and ornaments from Rattan & Teak. Customers can be assured of an expert, premium installation service and bespoke delivery that befits the superior product they are purchasing. Visit rattanandteak.co.uk for more.

If you’re looking for high-quality long-lasting outdoor furniture covers or gazebo side panels check out family-run, UK-based cover manufacturer – Kover-it. They manufacture all types of covers, including for sofa sets, BBQs, pool tables, durable waterproof sides for gazebos. All are bespoke and manufactured to ensure the best fit. For more info visit kover-it.co.uk

With over 40 years of experience across our family run buiness, you can be confident Surrey Pools and Water can offer bespoke solutions in all aspects of your garden features, including swimming pools, hot tubs and jacuzzis, water features, breakdowns, repairs and maintenance, liner replacements as well as irrigation and rain water harvesting. Operating across all GU postcodes, we pride ourselves on first class quality, excellent workmanship and customer service. More at surreypoolsandwater.co.uk

Summer is the time to entertain al fresco and enjoy the fruits of your hard work with friends and family. Explore your dining options, do you like nothing better than the sizzle of a burger on the BBQ, like to mix up your toppings with a pizza oven or will only a full-on outdoor kitchen feed your need?

BBQ areas are rapidly becoming extensions of your kitchen, from live fire cooking to the ease and convenience of a Traeger Wood Fired Grills, Black Box BBQ, near Liss, has knowledgeable staff and all the useful gear to ensure your BBQ area is a great place to relax, eat and entertain. Find out more at blackboxbbq.co.uk and call 01420 612591.

Garden rooms have increasingly become an extension of your home and not just for those who work from home. Always wanted to run your own business but not sure where you’d do i? They make the ideal space for a beauty salon or dog grooming parlour and are a great way to gain an extra room without the cost of moving or an extension.

New Timber Spaces offers the perfect solution for the versatile and personalized outdoor space you’re looking for. Their expertise in designing, building, and customizing garden rooms ensures each customer receives a tailored, high-quality sanctuary that enhances their outdoor lifestyle. Transform your garden with a garden room, cabin or outdoor office with their exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail. More at newtimberspaces.com

One thing that’s pretty much a necessity in this country is some sort of shade or cover. Awnings and sails add a decorative touch and are available in a variety of styles and colours. If you’re after a more permanent fixture then pergolas and gazebos will add a stylish touch to cover your furniture or just as a shelter.

In East Hampshire there’s a family firm, Ambassador Timber Buildings, manufacturing and installing premium-quality bespoke, custom-made outdoor buildings in oak, cedar, larch, and other timber, as well as composite cladding finish. They also supply and install aluminium shading solutions. See their advert in this magazine or visit their website – ambassador-projects.com

Need finishing touches to complete your masterpiece? Garden decor such as stylish pots will attract attention, a fire pit will help ward off any chills while lighting will allow you to enjoy your haven late into the night.

Using traditional techniques dating back 4,000 years and hand thrown on the wheel in Crete, these quality pots are fired at 1,150 degrees centigrade, guaranteeing quality and durability, ensuring they are frost proof to endure our winters. Order online at cretepots.com or visit the Crete Pots showroom displaying over 150 pots in the heart of Hampshire.

Prepare for al fresco dining with Culinary Concepts. Set the table with perfect dining pieces and illuminate your space with beautiful garden lanterns. Visit our Hampshire Showroom, at Lodge Farm, Hook Road, North Warnborough, RG29 1HA (just past Newlyns Farm Shop).Visit culinaryconcepts.co.uk for latest opening hours.

The Money-Saving Gardener Anya Lautenbach

Liz Nicholls

Gardening

Self-taught Bucks “garden fairy” Anya Lautenbach’s new book can help you create your dream garden on a smaller budget, thanks to her hard-won experience

Standing amid a drift of beatifully  blooming narcissi, Anya Lautenbach has a smile as radiant as the blooming half-acre garden she has nurtured.

And this positive, sunny sight is even more miraculous because Anya is the first to admit that her self-taught gardening skills have helped her dig her way out from a dark place.

Anya grew up in Poland and was inspired by her grandparents who knew how to grow and forage for their food, having survived WWII. She arrived in the UK in her late twenties to learn English, leaving behind a career in business development. But while working on Mohamed Fayed’s Balnagown Castle estate in the Scottish Highlands, she felt extremely homesick and, on her mother’s advice, she bought a plant, which helped her feel “rooted”.

From this tiny plant baby, a strong passion grew, with Anya growing and propagating new plants, channelling the knowledge she’d absorbed as a child. Once her English had improved, she moved to Buckinghamshire to return to her corporate life, getting married and having her first son before moving to her current home in Marlow in 2012. She loved the natural beauty all around her but nonetheless felt herself sliding into a mental health crisis.

Propagation can connect us to previous generations.”

“I never asked for any help in terms of mental health,” she says. “I felt trapped and lost and I couldn’t even go for a run because I had a newborn.” Anya also struggled to process her shock and pain when close relatives back home in Poland were struggling with long-term illness. “It was like storm after storm after storm, and I was so overwhelmed, constantly in tears, struggling with what was happening back home,” she says. “Since then I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, which I now see as my superpower, but before then it was hard.”

Thanks to her mother-in-law’s encouragement, Anya began taking cuttings and her passion for the life-changing magic of plants grew, “almost like a positive dose of medicine. Propagation saved me from a serious mental breakdown.”

Anya, who lives with her husband and two sons, started posting short, easy-to-follow gardening hacks on her Instagram @anya_thegarden_fairy which went viral, especially as the cost of living crisis began to pinch. Today, she has more than a million followers across social media channels, including 690,000 on Facebook, almost half a million on Instagram and 60,000 on TikTok, where her tutorials include splitting clumps of “Rozanne” geraniums and other tips.

Dorling Kindersley published her first book, The Money-Saving Gardener: Create Your Dream Garden at a Fraction of the Cost in February, and it has become a Sunday Times bestseller. The book is a mine of helpful, creative tips to help save your pennies, the planet and maybe your sanity. “Propagation can connect us to previous generations – and to future generations too,” says Anya. “I’m delighted by the response!”

How does your garden grow?

Round & About

Gardening

Spring, even the sound of the word lifts your spirits. Little shoots of colour start to emerge and with it hope for the warmer months ahead, so get digging and clearing and start getting your garden in shape

Getting your garden ready for spring should be a pleasure rather than a chore, so it’s time to dig deep and get some spade work in and you’ll reap the rewards later.

Even for professionals such as our expert Cathie Welch, kick starting your garden for spring is no easy task: “Gardening is a real challenge these days and every season will be different.” So where to start? Cathie advises ‘mulch, mulch, mulch’. “The most important thing any gardener can do is to improve the soil. A thick mulch of home-made garden compost, well-rotted manure or suitable compost that is peat free.

“It’s a huge subject but anything that is not wood chip or multi-purpose potting compost should be ok but check to avoid expensive mistakes. A thick mulch will keep in the moisture, suppress germinating weeds, feed the plants, prevent soil compaction from walking on it as well as looking fabulous.”

Having done the ground work, you need to turn your attention to your plants health, which means pruning and training. This time of year is especially important for roses to ensure a fragrant colourful abundance in the summer months to come – make sure you know whether you have climbers, ramblers, bush, shrub and prune accordingly, says Cathie.

And it’s not just roses that need some TLC, “Wisteria is another tricky one that needs its spur prune by mid March as do apples and pears,” Cathie continues, “many other plants can be cut hard back like Spireaea, Hypericum, Buddleia and all the Dogwood Cornus to name but a few. Avoid pruning Acers until they are in full leaf and never prune plums and other stone fruits until the summer. Evergreens should ideally wait and be especially vigilant of nesting birds. When you prune consider making piles or a dead hedge if you have space rather than burning or binning.”

For many of us our lawns are the crowning glory. This month is the ideal time to sow a new lawn or repair worn patches. As the month progresses, it may even be time to cut the lawn again. Some lawn basics – set the mower blades high to avoid scalping. Rake (scarify) the lawn to get rid of debris, dead grass and moss. Aerate badly drained areas of the lawn with a hollow tined fork. Try to avoid walking on waterlogged lawns and working in sodden borders to avoid soil compaction.

Cathie warns against neglecting your lawn. “If you want a green striped lawn then that is hard work scarifying, aerating, top dressing and seeding at this time of year. Think about whether you can let areas grow a little longer or create a meadow (not easy) but you are creating diverse habitats.”

And finally, to planting. Cathie says: “Take time to enjoy the bulbs, emerging shoots and the warming sun.” Find out more advice and about her services at cathiesgardeningschool.co.uk

“This year, why not try your hand at sustainable gardening,” asks Wantage based Helena Whall who runs a garden and planting design business. “Sustainable gardening means gardening in an environmentally conscious way – putting nature at the forefront of all your gardening practices. Gardening sustainably is not only good for the environment, it is also good for your health and well-being, so it’s a win-win! Gardening sustainability is not difficult or expensive and you don’t need a large garden.”

Helena’s top tips for making your garden greener include planting a tree and one or two shrubs which will provide habitat and shelter for birds as well as offering shade in the increasingly warm summers. Choose pollinator-friendly plants, Helena adds: “As a rule of thumb, the greater the diversity of flowering plants in your garden, the greater the diversity of pollinators you will get. And it goes without saying, that avoiding the use of pesticides will enhance the biodiversity in your garden.”

Choosing the right plant for the right place in your garden is also crucial and most importantly as she concludes: “Don’t forget on the next warm day, take a chair outside and sit and enjoy the wildlife in your garden.”

For help to make your garden more sustainable, contact Helena Whall Garden & Planting Design at [email protected]

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