6 months ago

This England

This England is the quarterly magazine for all who love our green and pleasant land and are unashamedly proud of their English roots. Published since 1968 the magazine has now become one of England’s best loved magazines and has a readership of over 115,000 people from around the world. As well as being popular in England it outsells all other British heritage magazines in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and is sent to readers in every country of the world. Published in Cheltenham, in the heart of picturesque Gloucestershire, the magazine is edited, printed and despatched direct from England. Subscribe today and celebrate all that is best about England and the English way of life.

Notes from a Cottage

Notes from a Cottage Garden by Rosemary Pettigrew ‘To Do’ List Service the lawnmower I always put off doing this but I have noticed puffs of smoke coming out of the mower when it is fi rst started so I think it needs some TLC. One of the lessons of gardening is that things rarely go to plan! Inspired by Sissinghurst, last winter I was full of enthusiasm for creating a white garden of my own. However, this has met with limited success. The white roses I bought turned out to be pale pink most of the time before eventually turning white. However, the white tulips were superb — I planted the bulbs very close together embedded in grit. The flowers contrasted beautifully against the dark green of the surrounding box hedging and lasted for many weeks. I then dug them all out and replanted with white cosmos which looked pretty but lacked the sculptural splendour of the tulips. The cosmos tended to get raggedy looking and needed a lot of effort as the faded blooms had to be deadheaded on a daily basis. The bees liked them though. The problem with a white garden is that there are all sorts of different whites which don’t always marry well with each other. And then other colours tend to seep in — selfseeded nigella, nasturtiums and borage looked so attractive I couldn’t pull them up. I think you have to be ruthless to have a completely white garden. Next year I will try to make it mainly white with touches of pastel — so the nasturtiums will definitely have to go! PETER FRY Gardens to Visit Audley End House and Gardens, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4JF. A Jacobean mansion set in magnifi cent grounds designed by Capability Brown. Winter allows visitors to see the structure of the garden with its evergreen shrubberies, cloud hedges and formal beds. In the parkland beyond there are swathes of daffodils. Dunham Massey Hall, Woodhouse Lane, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 4SJ. Opened in 2009, the superb Winter Garden is one of the largest in the country. There are 7 acres carefully designed to provide winter interest with shrubs, trees and evergreens all planted for scent, colour and texture. Towering beeches and oaks are underplanted with thousands of bulbs including snowdrops, cyclamen and iris. Painswick Rococo Gardens, Gloucester Road, Painswick, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 6TH. A theatrical 18th-century garden with spectacular views of the Cotswolds and justly famous for its snowdrop displays. Cut back hellebore leaves Hellebores produce such large, leathery leaves that they can easily engulf the fl owers. I cut the leaves right back. Make a new flower bed There’s a really uneven patch in the lawn and this winter I plan to dig it up and make it into a fl ower bed — I saw a lovely mixture of lavender, alliums and ornamental grasses recently and hope to try out this combination. Feed the lawn The fl owerbeds have had a good mulch so now it’s the time for the lawn. I did have one of those special spreaders for the fertiliser but it gave such an uneven fl ow that I ended up with patches of different shades of green, yellow and brown — depending on how much of the granules had been deposited. I’m going to do it by hand this time. Take rose cuttings I have a lovely Blush Noisette rose that has clusters of pink fl owers and a wonderful scent. It is so well behaved with glossy, disease-resistant leaves and two fl ushes of fl owers that several friends have asked me if I could take cuttings for them. I’ve never done this before but it seems quite straightforward. I need to cut a good strong stem produced in the summer into lengths of about 8-12 inches ensuring there is a bud at the top and bottom of each one. Then all the leaves except one at the top of each cutting need to go before the bases are dipped in rooting compound. I’ll stick all the cuttings round the edge of a container of sand or compost, cover with a plastic bag and put in the greenhouse. Simples! 26 THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017

Plant of the Season Hamamelis Aplant that really brightens up the garden in winter with the bright, spidery fl owers glowing even in the coldest conditions. These small deciduous trees originate from Asia, North America, Japan and China and there are now many sizes and colours available. Commonly called witch hazel, the name is believed to have originated from the Old English word ‘wice’ meaning bendable. Another explanation is that as the twigs have long been used as water divining rods, the plant may have been associated with witches and magic. The plant is also called the Epiphany tree as it fl owers around Epiphany (6th January). Hamamelis virginiana is native to North America and its leaves and bark have traditionally been used to make skincare products to soothe skin problems such as eczema, bruises and nappy rash. However, the usual variety found in this country is Hamamelis mollis which has sulphuryellow fl owers with a spicy fragrance. There are a huge range of cultivars available including Hamemelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ which has pale-yellow fl owers, ‘Orange Peel’ is marmalade coloured, ‘Firecracker’ is a striking red and ‘Amethyst’ is purple. Plant in the autumn or winter in sun or dappled shade on a free draining site or in a container. Although woodland plants, they will fl ower better in a sunny position. The plants prefer acid soils but can tolerate most conditions except chalk as long as plenty of organic matter is incorporated. Don’t plant them too deep as they are shallow rooted, and keep well watered in summer so they don’t dry out. Mulch deeply in winter, ensuring that the mulch doesn’t touch the trunk and wrap up young plants in fl eece to protect them from frost. If your hamamelis grows too large they can be pruned after fl owering. DAVID ZUBRASKI/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO Making a Mountain out of a Molehill Thanks to readers, I now have some more ideas to try in my ongoing battles with moles. Don Gillespie from Durban, South Africa advises soaking used, dried teabags in a strong solution of garlic paste and water, then inserting several tea bags into the ends of the tunnels making sure that the earth is piled up over them to eliminate air pockets. Don tells me that this method worked in his garden and he has had no trouble since. Audrey Chapman of Darlington uses dog poo instead but as I don’t have a dog this isn’t going to work! Other readers have suggested inserting battery-powered and solar-powered stakes into the runs. These make a buzzing noise that apparently the mole can’t stand. Yet another solution is a mole smoker that sends castor-oil fumes down the mole tunnels. That should make them run! Alternatively I could take the online advice of the RSPCA who look on the bright side of having moles in the garden as it increases soil aeration. Regular readers will know that I am very fond of hedgehogs and have a resident family in the garden. So I was pleased to receive a newsletter from the Hedgehog Preservation Society — whose Patron is Sir Ken Dodd OBE. It’s full of interesting information including the announcement that RHS Harlow Carr has offi cially opened a Hedgehog Street Garden to show visitors that no matter what your style of gardening you can still be hedgehog friendly. The Society also produces a Hogalogue with lots of hedgehoggy goodies ideal for Christmas. For more details see www. I would be delighted to receive your comments, questions and advice, so please e-mail me at or write to our editorial offi ce: This England, The Lypiatts, Lansdown Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 2JA. © RHS © RHS THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017 27