Monthly Archives: February 2018

  • Golden daffodils herald the arrival of spring

    Daffodils. A modest, humble flower that has inspired some of the world's greatest artists and poets to eulogise about their beauty and what they represent.

    William Wordsworth's most famous poem, 'I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud' is also known as 'Daffodils'. The romantic poet was moved to write the poem following a walk in Ullswater in the Lake District with his sister, Dorothy. The 'host of golden daffodils' that he described might not be such a familiar sight today as they were in the early 1800s, but perhaps that’s what makes them even more welcome when we do manage to catch a glimpse of them out in the wild.
    field of Daffodils
    Image by Katherine McCormack (Unsplash)
    Of course, there's another reason why we all love to see daffodils start to poke their heads up. Their emergence is a colourful sign that winter is - at last! - about to turn into spring. It's why daffodils are referred to as "the heralds of spring".

    Britain lost many of its daffs during the war, when every available piece of land had to be used for food. One of the most prolific areas for daffodil growing used to be the Tamar Valley on the Devon-Cornwall border.

    Here, the market garden heritage goes back generations – it helps to explain why there is such a connection to the dear old daff in this area. When landowners and flower producers pulled up their daffodil fields to help the war effort, they simply tossed them aside or into hedgerows, which is why today, you can see all sorts of local varieties in seemingly random places throughout the valley.
    Daffodils in vase
    Image by Annie Spratt (Unsplash)
    There are now a number of national campaigns to help restore our daffodils. Because daffodils aren’t just a part of the British landscape. They’re also part of our heritage.

    The Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was awarded National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their ‘Heralds of Spring’ project. Volunteers are out and about in the valley this spring, locating, identifying and mapping daffodils so the sites can be protected as much as possible in future.

    Now in its second year, the project has already identified more than 100 old local varieties. Wow! Who knew that there were so many different types of daffs, even in such a small part of the world.

    In 2016, English Heritage launched its biggest ever bulb-planting initiative to help save native and historic varieties of daffodils and bluebells. The charity’s gardeners planted 25,000 heritage bulbs at its historic gardens.

    We can all do our bit by making sure we plant native varieties in our gardens. Daffodils (Latin name Narcissus), should be planted in September to October to guarantee a beautiful display from February to May. They’re hardy and they enjoy a sunny spot or somewhere with light shade. They’re great for pots, too.

    Because they’re so easy to grow, they’re unlikely to let you down. And what a sight for sore eyes they are at the end of those long winter months!
    Daffodils
    Image by AJ Garcia (Unsplash)

  • 3 of the best gardens to see in South Korea, hosts of the 2018 Winter Olympics

    South Korea is the first Asian state outside of Japan to be chosen to host the Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics.
    Winter Olympics 2018
    The 2018 Games got under way on 9 February in the mountainous area of Pyeongchang in the north east of the country. South Korea is hoping the event will boost the tourism industry.

    At one time, forests covered two-thirds of the country, but most of these are now gone. However, several thousands of plant species are known to remain.

    So, what can visitors expect if they want to see beautiful landscapes and gardens? The answer is: a lot! For thousands of years, Koreans have created stunning gardens, using the landscape around them. Historically and to this day, the people here just love beautiful gardens.

    Here are three of the finest.

    The Secret Garden of Changdeokgung

    The World Heritage-listed Changdeokgung Palace is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting South Korea’s capital, Seoul. Dating back over 600 years, the Palace is one of the city’s five main palaces and regarded as the most majestic.

    Among the grounds is the secret garden, a serene glade reached through a wooded area. The focal point is a pond with a series of ornate pavilions and trees and shrubs awash with colour. Tourist visits are tightly managed on a booking-only basis.
    Secret Garden in Seoul

    Seoullo 7017

    A complete contrast to the regal splendours of Changdeokgung, the Seoul Skygarden is South Korea’s newest world class garden. Seoullo 7017 is a pedestrian walkway with 24,000 trees, shrubs and plants boasting some 250 varieties.

    What makes this 1km-long garden so remarkable is that it has been transformed from what was previously the dangerous Seoul Station overpass highway. Costing over $50 million – much of which went on strengthening the structure – it’s a contemporary example of the walk-orientated gardens the country is famous for.

    Why the name, 7017? Because the original road was built in 1970 and its rebirth as a sky garden came in 2017.

    Garden of Morning Calm

    Some 50km outside of the capital, this privately-owned garden was created in the 1990s and offers 30,000 square metres of largely indigenous species. What you see depends on the season – but whatever time of the year, a riot of colour is guaranteed. The name comes from ‘Land of the Morning Calm’, the descriptive term often used to describe Korea.

    Pyeongchang

    But what of Pyeongchang itself? Apart from the world class skiing and winter sports facilities, the area offers plenty of mountain and woodland scenery. The top tourist attraction in the area is Woljeongsa Temple in the Odaesan Mountain National Park, which administers 60 Buddhist temples. Relics relating to Buddha, including bones, were said to have been brought here.

    If gardens and green landscapes are your thing, then maybe it’s time to get your skates on and head to South Korea!

  • Red roses - the universal language of love

    February 14 … Valentine’s Day, and the day when red roses sell like hot cakes across the world.

    There are a million and one stories about why Valentine’s Day is on this particular day. Our favourite is that people in England and France in the Middle Ages wanted to mark what they believed was the start of the bird mating season – 14 February.
    Valentines day Red Rose
    But why do love birds give red roses on Valentine’s Day? We’ve been digging deep to unearth some of the folklore and facts surrounding roses.

    Saying it with a red rose

    – Of all the theories, the most probable is that this developed out of ‘floriography’ – the language of flowers. Giving flowers as a message, without words, is said to date back thousands of years, possibly originating in the Middle East. The red rose was associated with romantic love and so the tradition grew.

    In Victorian times, the term “tussie-mussie” was coined to describe a posy that would be carried as an accessory – and to convey a message to an intended recipient. Of course, it was important that people used the correct flowers to convey their message. It was apparently not uncommon for people to get the wrong end of the stick because the incorrect flowers were worn or presented as a token!

    Aphrodite’s tears

    – In Greek Mythology, the red rose was created by Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love. When her lover, Adonis, was killed, her tears fell into his spilled blood, out of which a blanket of red roses bloomed.

    Roses go back a long, long way

    – Fossils have been discovered in Colorado which suggest that roses were grown there 35 to 40 million years ago. However, it’s thought that they originated in Asia long before then.

    There are plenty to choose from

    – It’s believed that there are 30,000 different varieties of roses grown all around the world.

    The oldest rose

    – There is a rosebush in Hildesheim near Hanover in Germany that has been dated at over 1,000 years old. It climbs on the wall of Hildesheim Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The pale pink flowers tend to blossom in late May and last for a couple of weeks.

    The Wars of the Roses

    – Roses can symbolise division as well as union and love. The series of civil wars between the houses of Lancaster and York bedevilled England from 1455 to 1486. Lancaster’s symbol was a red rose, York’s was a white rose. It ended at the Battle of Bosworth, when Henry Tudor (Lancaster) defeated King Richard III. Richard was killed in battle and Henry became the first Tudor king. He famously combined the red rose of Lancaster with the white rose of York, which was the central part of the rose. However, for some reason, the white part of the Tudor rose has been lost over time and has developed into the red rose of England.

    The final word – we’ll leave that to the King of Quotes, William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet.

    What's in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • FEBRUARY means one thing for certain..

    FEBRUARY means one thing for certain: spring is getting closer! But it’s not here yet and, even though the days are growing longer, this month can feel like the darkest, saddest one for gardeners. Fortunately your lawn is the gift that just keeps on giving – there’s always something to do; and right now you can do the work indoors as well as outside!
    February Moss Control

    PLANNING:

    This is the job that you can do from a comfy armchair. If you kept a simple record of your lawn care last year, now is the time to review it, see what worked well and what didn’t, and make some adjustments for this year’s schedule. And if you didn’t keep a diary, now is when you can start one. Set it up so you can log the main interventions month by month, note any extreme weather, and of course remember to record how the lawn responds. It takes very little time but can transform your lawn care, making it more efficient and more effective.

    MOWING:

    Don’t just leave your mower gathering dust until you need it. You may need it right now! Grass does like to be ‘topped off’ during February; it keeps the air circulating and stops it becoming a dense wet mess that attracts disease. But it will need the same sharp blades you’ll need once your spring mowing begins. So first things first, get the blade sharpened – and get the rest of the mower into good order too, lubricating, tightening, generally making sure this much neglected machine becomes the jewel in your lawn kit for the year ahead.

    LEAVES AND ROOTS:

    You can be nourishing and supporting your grass right now by applying a ferrous sulphate feed (if not already done), and also by doing a hollow-tine aeration. UK weather is unpredictable, so do pay attention to the prevailing conditions, but if they’re right then these two jobs can really help your grass stay fit until the warm spring sunshine does its stuff.

    HOUSEKEEPING:

    Too early for a spring clean in the house? No problem; start outdoors! “But it’s too wet to get the leaves off the lawn; and what’s the point of moving the wooden benches?” Common excuses, but there’s a reason the professionals will be out there doing exactly that. And that reason is prevention. Some routine housekeeping on your lawn will help prevent disease and other problems from taking hold.
    Hollow Core Shot
    So, don’t just peer nostalgically through your window into the garden; get out there and get busy. Just a note to finish with, however: there’s a lot of bad lawn advice circulating out there, which is why I’m always telling people to learn from the professionals. But just as important is to decipher what we learn. You don’t have to become a lawn obsessive; just take the common sense stuff and only do what your lawn needs. It’s just good simple lawn husbandry.

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