Category Archives: Wildlife

Here’s your August garden checklist – now get gardening!

August is an important time for every gardener – preparing plants for winter and harvesting ripened fruits before the dawn of autumn. So we’ve compiled a list of what needs to be done in every garden before September, with this August garden checklist.

1. Be summer water-wise!

Prioritise newly planted areas and trees that have been planted in the last year. Avoid wasting water by putting pots in reservoirs or use self-watering hanging baskets. Irrigation systems are an efficient way to water if timers are set correctly although they do take time to install – get in touch if you need us to help with this! And check out our blog on watering here.

Prepping a border for planting
Prepping a border for planting later in the year

2. Plant bulbs for autumn flowering

To create a colourful display for autumn, plant bulbs in your garden soon 10cm deep, in a sunny position, taking care not to damage emerging shoots. Autumn-flowering crocuses and colchicums mark a change of the seasons and bring welcome colour to rock gardens, borders and grassy areas. Popular species also provide a valuable source of late-season pollen for bees. Crocuses prefer well-drained, gritty, fertile soil while colchicums do well in a deep, humus-rich, moist but well-drained areas.

3. Review your borders

Take notes and photos for reference for future maintenance and development. Keep a record of what plants will need lifting and dividing in late autumn, whether colours are working well together and where gaps are.

A gorgeous border we’ve maintained and developed

4. Deadhead

Continue through August to deadhead plants such as dahlias, roses and summer annuals to prolong displays into early autumn.

5. Tidy wisteria

Pruning helps to encourage flower buds to form. Summer prune wisteria by cutting back the whippy green shoots of the current year’s growth to five or six leaves.

6. Pest damage

Lastly on our August garden Checklist is pest damage! Plants such as Penstemon and Chrysanthemum are susceptible to leaf bud eelworm. Look for stunted growth and distorted, blotched leaves. To reduce spread, avoid wetting foliage when watering and use sterile potting compost.

compost bins

Keep Calm and Compost on!

Recently the Design & Build Team put in some compost bays in one of the gardens we care for in Aston Tirrold. If you currently have more time on your hands, why not start your own compost bin? Here’s everything you need to know about composting. Remember…Keep Calm and Compost on!

I’m a big advocate of garden-based composting so I apologise in advance as I climb up on top of my compost heap to preach its’ virtues!

#1 Garden-based composting reduces your carbon footprint

There are lots of good reasons to compost. At the moment, if we remove waste from your garden then it is transported to a local green waste processing plant called Agrivert to be turned into compost. Yay!! But can you reduce your carbon footprint even further by processing the majority of garden waste within your garden? The best bit is that you can then use the compost produced to reduce your annual mulching costs and to feed all the lovely plants in your garden, which should give you healthier and more productive specimens.

Fun Fact: Did you know, composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in three months? Find out more.

#2 Using compost to mulch helps combat the effects of climate change on your plants

The structure of the soil depends largely on the presence of organic matter. The worms eat organic matter (i.e. compost) and create channels of air as they move through the soil. Plant roots and soil animals need this air to breathe. The channels also fill with water after rain. Smaller channels also exist between the crumb structure of healthy soil which helps retain moisture. The more compost you can make and use on the soil, the better the crumb and soil structure, which also reduces the need to give plants additional water in drier weather. Another vital step in garden care now we are seeing the changes in climate and an increase in hot dry periods each year.

#3 You don’t need to add a lot of compost to the soil to make a big difference to the plants

I was relistening to an old Sow, Grow Repeat podcast by Alice Fowler (my gardening hero) and Jane Perrone where they and others extoled the virtues of compost and discussed different methods of composting and one expert talked about the amount of self-made compost you would need to put down to feed the soil (and therefore your plants) and it is only ¼ of an inch!

#4 You reduce your need for chemical/artificial fertilisers to feed the plants

Compost is an amazing natural source of essential mineral nutrients for your plants. It will have everything your plants need including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and it will help buffer soils that are very acidic or alkaline. It can also help to keep the soil PH in check and helps to suppress plant disease.

Are you convinced yet? No…keep reading, I haven’t given up yet 😊

Photo of Jenny using a fork to turn the compost in a bin

When I have spoken to clients about composting, here are some of the reasons people give for not composting. Let’s see if I can answer your concerns and perhaps change your mind and convince you to give it a go.

#1 “I don’t have a compost heap”

If you have space for composting we can build some bays to suit your space. Here’s some we created earlier…

photo of three compost bins GreenArt built

#2 “I don’t have the space for a compost heap”

If you don’t have the space for a heap you can get all shapes and sizes of bins online or in garden centres. You can also get wormery bins which are relatively small and allow you to recycle a more diverse range of food waste. Check out these ideas for composting in tiny spaces!

#3 “I don’t have the time to compost”

Compost doesn’t have to be labour intensive. Once you know what to compost it doesn’t have to take a lot of time and if you position the bin well, then it’s just like filling a garden waste or food waste bin. It is important to turn the heap to help the process, but you only have to do this about once a week, (and it is a good workout). If this feels like too much work, we can manage your compost for you and turn the heap on our visits. All you have to do is leave the waste we need to add in an accessible place in the garden.

#4 “I don’t know what I should and shouldn’t put into my compost bin”

We can provide you with a handy laminated sheet which tells you what to put in it. You can also add paper and cardboard in your bin as this helps with managing the moisture levels and adds carbon to your heap. This helps to further reduce your carbon footprint. Brilliant or what?

photo of what we put in a compost bin - garden waste, cardboard

#5 “My old heap didn’t really seem to work”

Heaps have to be managed. You have to get the right carbon and nitrogen ratio to get the heap working effectively. Our handy composting guide will help you put the right things in to get lovely black fertile compost out.

#6 “It seems to take ages”

Composting isn’t a super quick process. It takes months rather than weeks. You can speed up the process by adding different materials into the mix but the best way to make the compost quickly is to cut up the waste into small pieces. Helpfully, we will do this when we manage your compost. However, another way to do this is to invest in a garden shredder which will cut the waste up even smaller and speed up the composting process significantly.

#7 “Compost heaps attract rats”

There are a few things you can do to dissuade wildlife from settling into a compost heap. Rats are much more likely to nest in your heap if it remains undisturbed i.e. if you turn your heap regularly, they will find another place to build their nests. Foodstuffs can encourage pests particularly things like eggshells. If you bake your eggshells to dry them out before adding them to the pile, they will not attract rats. (Alternatively, dispose of them in your council food waste bin instead).

I don’t expect you to be as enthusiastic a composter after reading this as I am but I hope (as I climb back down off my heap) that I have convinced you to give garden-based compost a try. Go on, you know you want to 😊

And if you want more information about Green Art custom compost bays or what and what not to add to your heap, get in touch for our handy guide!

A Very Hungry Caterpillar

When you saw the title of this blog, you may have thought you were about to read a review of the Eric Carle picture book, however, I would instead like to talk to you about a garden pest which we are starting to see increased infestations of locally. (If this were a film, this is the bit where the music would be building up to a Dun, Dun, Derrr….) The Box Moth ‘Cydalima Perspectalis’.

Continue reading…

Winter is coming. Spare a thought for the wildlife in your garden.

A few weeks ago, Tim and I were planting up a mixed hedge of pretty-much full-size trees to replace a Leylandii hedge for a lovely couple in Benson. When the client was explaining the reason behind the job, Tim and I stood aghast; the hedge (belonging to the neighbouring property) had been removed without warning by developers who were building new houses in the field next door. Our client had literally walked out into his garden one morning to find he no longer had a 20ft hedge screening his garden from the neighbouring field.

Continue reading…

Bee Kind

Bee kind…

The careful insect ‘midst his work I view,

ow from the flowers exhaust the fragrant dew,

With golden treasures loads his little thighs,

And steer his distant journey through the skies.

(John Gay, Rural Sports)

Continue reading…

Feeling hot, hot, hot…

Whilst August brought our gardens much needed rain after the longest heat wave on record since 1976, September is proving to be unseasonably warm and dry. As the amount of water our plants need increases, so does the scarcity of water and this is only set to worsen over the coming years. Scientists predict that due to climate change, the risk of extreme heatwaves is increasing across the world.

Continue reading…

A little help for those that need it in their Garden

My grandmother was a huge influence on my passion for gardening. I very fondly recall the long summer days spent alongside her and my parents at their shared allotment. Had you ever had the pleasure of visiting her, you wouldn’t have needed the exact address, you could have identified her front door by it being the one with the most pots and flowers and shrubs (and the odd garden gnome of course).

Continue reading…

Water, water, everywhere, but be sure to do it right!

We’re right in the middle of another Great British Summer so we of course should be expecting high temperatures and dry days. After a long, cold winter and a very late spring this year, the summer heat has been exceptional and even though you and I might be loving sitting out in the sunshine or preparing a steak for the barbeque, our gardens need to be managed at this time of year just as much as at other times.

Continue reading…