Friday 26th June 2015


The Friday group moved to Lil’s garden today as Bridge is away on the Garden House trip to Dublin. It was a very good morning as Lil describes:

‘We had a very successful and enjoyable session here this morning, and the weather was lovely. I was really appreciative of everyone coming and helping me and the garden looks so much better.

The main tasks we tackled and completed were clearing the small back garden to the basement flat and clipping all the box balls and hedges in the rest of the garden. Karin suggested that she have a go at reorganising my somewhat untidy greenhouse and it is now completely transformed and looks fantastic.

Many thanks to everyone.  Lil xx’

box balls

Greenhouse 2


N & A

Dawn’s beautiful home grown lilies!

Dawn's lilies

Friday 19th June 2015

garden 3

The foxes are still causing mayhem in the garden. This time in the herbaceous border where they have dug up annuals planted last week. The hazel twig structures over the dahlias have however survived.

Construction of the new tool-shed is underway – being painted and roof to be put on.

Activities in the garden this week:

  • Tidying herbaceous border and planting out more annuals from the cold frames

Garedn 1

  • Planting up summer containers
  • Taking out broad beans which have cropped and planting more successional vegetables

Veg bed

  • Planting pumpkins on compost heap (as at Great Dixter!)

pumpkins in compost bin

  • Pricking out lots of foxglove, pennisetum and verbena bonariensis seedlings

pricking out

  • Potting on chillies into clay pots

ally greenhouse

  • Watering as it has been dry and windy.

garden 2


Friday 12th June 2015

Bridge and chicken

The plant fair at the Garden House last weekend was a great success and the Friday group is now starting to plan for our charity day on 19th July.

sunken garden

The garden is looking very abundant but still lots of jobs to do especially as the foxes seem intent on digging up some of the plants probably attracted by the smell of chicken pellets.

We looked at some grasses before heading out into the garden.

  • Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ A tall, dramatic grass with an upright, architectural habit that likes full sun. The fine leaves fade to white as the flowers emerge. Both the leaves and flowers turn a wheat colour in late autumn and should be left to add winter interest in the garden.


  • Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ or switch grass. This grass starts off with green leaves that turn red at the tips in June, and produces light, airy flower panicles in summer. In autumn, the foliage turns a beautiful deep burgundy. It likes full sun and  can cope with dry summers.


  • Stipa tenuissima or pony tail grass is a deciduous grass that grows to 60cm. It has an upright tuft of thread-like leaves, with narrow, arching, feathery flowering panicles in summer. It is good in sunny borders.


  • Pennisetum thunbergii ‘Red Buttons’ -a deciduous grass that forms a compact mound of bright green foliage. In late summer bright red bristly flowers rise above the foliage and gradually fade to beige as they mature.


Activities in the garden this week:

  • Replanting dahlia bed after foxes dug up dahlias last week. Dahlias were planted with calamagrostis grasses and hazel sticks put into the bed to try and protect the plants

Ann dahlia bed

  • Harvesting lettuces, peas and broad beans and sowing purple mange tout and asparagus peas

Dinah lettuce peas

broad beans

  •  Planting out more annuals and filling in any gaps in the beds


  • Weeding and planting more sweetcorn and pumpkins in 3 sisters bed and adding a row of lettuces as edging at front of border

Clare Sharon

  • Lastly – taking home any excess produce!

Julia and Dinah

Friday 5th June 2015

DawnThe focus of the our gardening work today was to ensure the garden was looking its best for the specialist plant fair at the Garden House on Saturday. However, before we went outside we did have some discussion about a range of gardening subjects.

Nanette brought along an interesting rose from her garden. Nanette's roseAs you can see from the picture rosebuds are forming from the centre of the flower almost giving the impression of a ready made bouquet. With a bit of research I have found that this is called ‘proliferation’ and is likely to be a genetic mutation in the reproductive parts of the flower. When this appears in roses not all flowers on the plant are effected and usually it does not appear if the rose has a second flush. While the reason for rose proliferation is still not known for certain, it is known that cold springs and too much nitrogen in the soil can cause problems with both the number of flowers as well as the health of the flower. Some roses are more prone to this and apparently it is best to avoid roses that have the word ‘prolifera’ as part of its name. Proliferation is not harmful to the rose but it is suggested that the effected blooms are removed so that they don’t divert energy from the remaining healthy flowers. Proliferation can effect other plants such as the daisy family and opium poppies. Here is another example although not quite as dramatic as Nanette’s rose.

garden 007

Bridge also reminded us about the importance of feeding plants in containers, when planting up it is good to add some chicken pellets to the compost and then feed the pots about once per week. Ruth talked about a natural spray that she uses, SB invigorator, which works to control pests and reduce fungal diseases like mildew as well as provide a foliar feed.

Activities in the garden this week:

  • Planting up beds with summer bedding including dahlias and chrysanthemums

Elaine etc

  • Transforming the bed by the garden room by making wigwams for annual climbers including Eccremocarpus scaber or Chilean glory flower


and Ipomoea or Morning glory   Morning%20Glory%20Grandpa%20Ott

  • Working on the veg bed planting outdoor tomatoes and beetroot and rescuing the tortoise from over indulging on lettuces

tortoise trapped Ruth and tort

  • Planting up the large pots with a range of plants including Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’ a lovely pelargonium that has   rose scented leaves and purple pink flowers
Scented Pelargonium 'Attar of Roses'
Scented Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’


Friday 29th May 2015



iris 2

The garden is looking amazing and very abundant at the moment and this is in part due to the work undertaken in recent months to improve the soil. Bridge has also adopted Helen Dillon’s philosophy that if you are tired with a plant or it is not really working in a particular place then do make changes. There have certainly been many changes in the garden this year – not least all the work to take down and lay foundations for the new shed which is now on order.

camassia 2

rock rose

wisteria 2

Activities in the garden this week:

  • Developing the bed under the Hawthorn tree with Vicky helping to devise some method of edging for this bed

Under hawthorn tree

  • Continuing to working on the orange bed


  • Planting up the new hydrangea glade
  • Pricking out seedlings
  • Planting annual climbers like Thunbergia (black eyed Susan) in pots to grow up the clematis

Mary and Clare

Mary and Clare 2



Friday 22nd May 2015


We had a quick look at a couple of plants before heading next door to tackle Carole’s rockery, a Friday group make over project.


Sweet rocket or Hesperis matronalis are fully hardy and like sun or partial shade. They will self seed and are very fragrant particularly at night.

Scabious can be annuals or perennials and they have a long flowering season and generally grow very well on chalk.


The rockery is very large and had become really overgrown with weeds, bluebells and ivy. It was also very shaded by shrubs that had grown too tall. The group set too and cleared the rockery and removed ivy, cut back a Philadelphus and removed a very large branch of a tree that was overhanging the rockery. New compost was added to improve the soil ready for planting up. Definitely a good mornings work!




Elaine 2

Cathy etc

Katy lots


stand 2 stand

Friday 15th May 2015


Judas tree

The Judas tree or Cercis siliquastrum is looking wonderful in the front garden at the moment.

We discussed gardening tasks to do now such as sowing more peas as successional planting really extends the opportunity for harvesting peas throughout the summer. It is still too early to plant out tomatoes although if they are to be grown outside in pots or beds it is important to harden them off first by bringing them out just during the day then back into greenhouse or conservatory at night. It is also time to earth up potatoes to help protect the tubers from the sun and provide more of a bountiful crop.

Julia W read us some very useful common-sense tips from Helen Dillon from an article in The English Garden magazine. She says that ‘conventional garden wisdom says ‘the right place for the right plant’ but plants can be contrary. So go by the books to begin with, but if that doesn’t work, ignore the books and plant where you want. If that doesn’t work then throw the plant out of the window and plant it where it lands!  and ‘Life’s too short to keep growing the same plants out of habit, so take a good look at your garden, dig up the plants that bore you or you have grown to dislike, and replace them with something better. Prioritise – don’t give really good spots in the garden to plants that don’t really need them. Keep them for plants that do.’

Plant identification:

  • Astrantia major or more commonly known as Hattie’s Pincushion or Masterwort are clump-forming herbaceous perennials, they are long flowering and can cope with semi-shade


  • Alchemilla mollis or Lady’s mantle are perennials with  sprays of tiny, yellow or greenish flowers which are often used in flower arranging. They look good in the front of the border and can be grown in sun or semi-shade. They do seed freely!


  • Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’ is a vigorous, spreading evergreen shrub that grows to 30cm in height, with dark grey-green leaves and has single, bright orange flowers in late spring and early summer


Activities in the garden this week:

  • Continuing the work to build the base for the new shed
  • Tying in the clematis
  • Removing the forsythia
  • Working on cut flower bed to remove tulips and wallfowers and to plant ammi majus, corncockles, cornflowers, calendula and poppies
  • Preparing the veg bed with compost for pumpkins, beans and sweetcorn
  • Starting work on new fernery area

Hilary Liz 2

Hilary liz














A weekly account of the activities of the Friday Gardening Group at the Garden House in Brighton