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  • CharLady blog – June

    Join the GIY Gang

    GIY (Grow It Yourself) is a global network of community food growers. It originated, and is very active, in Ireland, and is having its inaugural British gathering – sponsored by Carbon Gold – on Saturday 20 July in Birmingham. The GIY Gathering will bring people together for a fun-packed day of practical and philosophical talks about growing your own food, with opportunities to quiz expert growers, watch demonstrations and discuss and debate local food and the community food growing movement. There will be lots of friendly food growers to network with and according to Mark Diacono of Otter Farm, who will be speaking at the event, it will be “like Glastonbury for Growers”. Other speakers include BBC gardening presenter and author Alys Fowler; Abel & Cole food editor, author and urban gardener Rachel de Thample; food writer, gardening journalist and author Lia Leendertz, Paul Clarke (Pop Up Farm), Michael Michaud (Sea Spring Seeds founder), Michael Kelly (GIY founder), Dr David Shaw (Savari Trust) and Maddy Harland (Permaculture Magazine). All in all an unmissable event. Tickets and more information from www.giyinternational.org

    GIY (Grow It Yourself) team

    Team GIY

    GIY (Grow It Yourself) logo

    GIY logo


    Put gravel-filled saucers underneath pots to cut down on watering and create a humid microclimate


    Shady Characters of the Herb World

    Parsley in a pot

    Parsley in a pot

    While it is true that many herbs love nothing more than a sun-baked terrace, there are some that only really thrive in partial shade. Parsley, mint, sorrel, lovage, chives, chervil and lemon balm will have puny leaves and run to seed in a sunny position. Give them fertile, well-drained, but moisture retentive soil with not too much sun and they will keep on cropping. Find a spot not too far from the kitchen door where you can grow them all in pots (except lovage which gets too large) so that they are close at hand for cutting. The other advantage of growing mint and lemon balm in pots is that you can stop them running rampant in the garden.


    Position pea netting at least a foot above the ground so that hedgehogs can forage for pests without getting caught in the netting


    A Singular Choice

    Think of the beneficial insects when you buy new plants for your garden and select varieties with single flowers so that pollen and nectar are easily accessible to our buzzy friends. Garden Centres now stock plants with ‘Bee Friendly’ logos and the RHS has a ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ sticker, look for these if you need some guidance. I’ve never been much of a fan of multi-petalled flowers – I think they generally look too top heavy – and now I’m doubly determined to include as many single petalled flowers as possible.

    Single petalled flower being enjoyed by a bee

    Single petalled flower being enjoyed by a bee


    If you take an evening walk around the garden in fine weather, carry a small basket and your secateurs so that you can deadhead your roses

    Countdown to a Garden Visit


    Bouquet of garden flowers

    Bouquet of flowers fresh from the garden

    You know the scenario, it was all looking lovely a couple of weeks ago, but now that your knowledgeable gardening friend/mother-in-law/London sophisticate is about to pay a visit, it has all got a bit out of hand. What to do? Here’s a list of things that will perk it up a treat:

    • * Mow the lawn – it instantly tidies the garden and the scent of freshly mown grass is irresistible (unless you have an allergy).
    • * Trim or strim the edges of the lawn for a sharp finish.
    • * Whizz round with your secateurs and deadhead anything that’s looking a bit tired; cut back to a fresh shoot rather than leaving a bare stem.
    • * Fill a jug with your prettiest flowers and place them on the garden table so that they will draw the eye when your guest sits down.
    • * Do not apologize or point out any shortcomings as you walk around the garden, they may not even notice the things you are agonizing about.
    • * If your visitor is an expert then ask their advice – they will enjoy being asked.

    It is better to water well but less often, than to give a daily light watering

    Fruity Goings On

    June is the month when the ‘June drop’ takes place. If you have never heard of it, it is a natural thinning process when apple, pear, plum and cherry trees shed some of their immature fruit. It happens over a short period with a larger proportion of fruit shed in dry weather, presumably to lessen the strain on the tree. Once it has happened you can do some further thinning by hand if the tree is still carrying a heavy crop. As tempting as it is to leave every fruit in place, they will be smaller if left unthinned and the weight can cause branches to break, especially in windy weather. Poor weather conditions in 2012 saw British fruit yields down by up to 50% but things are looking brighter this season. Apparently the recent cold weather, a key part of a successful fruit harvest, could see fruit-filled branches in the autumn.

    Report from Chelsea Flower Show

    May’s Chelsea Flower Show seemed to me to be quite a subdued event.  The overall effect was quite muted with few colour highlights and a lot of textural green.  This was partly due to the difficult year and the continuing cold conditions which meant that many flowers were in bud rather than in flower, but –  I never thought I would say this – I think I missed Diarmuid Gavin’s input.  He is the grit in the oystershell that helps form the pearl – irritating but essential for beautiful results.  One of my favourite gardens was The Wasteland by Kate Gould.  She elevated recycling to an art form in her garden – never have deconstructed washing machine drums, shopping trolleys or bed springs looked so glam.

    Chelsea Flower Show 3

    ‘The Wasteland’ by Kate Gould, Chelsea Flower Show 2013



    Chelsea Flower Show 1

    ‘The Wasteland’ by Kate Gould, Chelsea Flower Show 2013

    Chelsea Flower Show 2

    ‘The Wasteland’ by Kate Gould, Chelsea Flower Show 2013