2016 Environmentally Friendly and Wildlife competition results!
We have been really impressed by the huge variety of ideas to help local wildlife and fantastic environmentally friendly ideas, tips and projects submitted to our competition over the last few months – in fact we had so many great entries that we have decided to issue an extra 10 special runner up prizes along with our six winning entrants.
We’ll be sharing as many of your ideas as we can here over the next few weeks, but today we have the huge pleasure of announcing the winners and sharing their ideas!
Carole Ward – with her entry about the many ways she attracts wildlife to her garden
Cimicifuga, or Actaea are grown for their spectacular lush foliage, much like Hosta are, however where a Hosta’s flowers can be quite unremarkable, the rising spears of Actaea are simply stunning, with clustered racemes of dainty white flowers formed in midsummer.
Their sweet scent is a magnet for insects and they are a great source of nectar for butterflies and bees.
Actaea really love to be planted in shade, and they are not alone! It can be quite daunting when you find yourself confronted with a North facing or shady garden, but don’t despair – there are far more shade loving plants out there than you think, including flowering varieties that will inject a bit of colour!
For more plants that are ideal for planting in shaded or North facing gardens read our article on Shade Gardening – CLICK HERE.
Cimicifuga will spread out so plant it where it has room to grow. It will thrive in cool positions, they will cope with full sun only if the soil is kept moist but well drained and not in boggy conditions. Ideally plant in full or semi shade. Make sure they are sheltered or protected from frost. This is a long lasting plant that can be slow to start and may not flower in its first year, when it does, deadhead spent flowers. Once established leave undisturbed, feed in late spring.
These are supplied as loose roots – for more information and a helpful video guide with step by step instructions on planting loose roots CLICK HERE.
Peonies really are a must have perennial garden plant. The enormous and gorgeous blooms are a real sight when in flower and they are so versatile that they can be grown almost anywhere.
The beloved Peony has been around for years of course, but their relevance and place within any modern garden is never in question. Grown for their giant majestic flowers, they look amazing as part of a late spring or early summer border and are accommodating enough to compliment various other perennial plants such as Heleniums, Lupins, Digitalis, Salvia and Poppies.
The staying power of these perennials is amazing and can offer endless pleasure for many years after planting (with stories of lasting over 40 years in parts of America).
We are now entering late autumn and the weather is a little cold outside but no frosts have arrived yet in what we all must agree has been a relatively mild autumn this year. Temperatures are still in double figures in some parts of the country and conditions are perfect for planting Peonies. In fact autumn and spring are ideal times for planting, in preparation of a great show in late spring and throughout the summer months. Loose rooted plants are great for planting now and with three or four growth buds you normally find they are more reliable and establish quicker than pot grown Peonies.
Planting Peonies from loose bare roots is quite an easy task and is suitable for gardeners of all skill levels, and is actually a great introducing to growing perennials for a beginner. They will tolerate neutral to slightly acidic soil, provided good drainage is present and the soil is well drained. It is often best to start them in autumn in pots, then transplant into their final position in the border once they have been established in late winter or early spring.
Unpack the rooted plants on arrival and prepare the soil by adding some organic matter. Alternatively you can use multi-purpose compost (such as John Innes) which will have an added feed that will be beneficial to encouraging the foliage to grow quicker.
Add a couple of crocs to the bottom of the pot. This will allow the moisture to drain away regularly during the growing period.
Add compost or soil to approximately one third the height of the pot. Place the roots with the buds facing upwards.
Mix some fish and bone meal with the remaining compost and fill firmly around the roots, right up to top of the pot. The fish and bone meal will act as a feed, encouraging vibrant and healthy foliage.
As the roots supplied are hardy field grown, the pots should be moved outside and not kept indoors or in a warm greenhouse. They are used to the cold weather so will easily survive outdoors
Plant outdoors in sheltered areas as they don’t like windy locations too much, although choose sunny location if possible. Choose a place where you know you are unlikely to move them again such as near larger shrubs, trees or a fence.
Top Tip : Peonies hate being disturbed! To avoid this make sure that once the foliage is well establish and ready to plant outdoors into their final location, gently remove the entire contents of the pot and replant into a hole the same depth of the pot (replant all in one go, no division of roots from soil). This essentially tricks the plants into thinking they haven’t been disturbed and won’t result in a slowdown of growth.
Jeff Turner offers helpful advice and tips for creating a magnificent colour display with these terrific plants.
Peonies are relatively easy to care for and provided you don’t move them too much you will find they offer little problems. Because of the large sized heads they produce, you may find that you will need to offer the plants some support and staking the stems can be beneficial. Water lightly on a regularly basis during the early periods but they are drought resistant once established, provided the soil is getting enough moisture.
You can provide a liquid feed in spring to encourage more vibrant and colourful flowers, however provided the soil is relatively fertile, this doesn’t need to be more than once or twice a season. Once flowers begin to fade you can deadhead blooms and cut back to a strong leaf and at the end of the flowering season it’s probably best to cut right back to ground level after flowering has finished. This will help to avoid any overwintering diseases that may occur, while also looking neater and tidier on the whole.
You can apply a light winter mulch in the first year if very cold frosts exist to avoid the new roots from heaving out of the soil during frozen periods. The roots are field grown and very hardy so a mulch is not a requirement but can be extra protection if you feel it is needed. After the plant has become fully establish and survived a full calendar period, then there is no need to mulch at all.
If you find that your garden has limited access to natural light then fear not, there are still many plants available for growing in partial or even fully shaded areas.
Highly shaded areas need not be a deterrent to getting active in the garden and are in fact increasing becoming more popular as gardeners in many urban areas are finding ways of making the most of every possible little piece of space. Be creative and you will easily find something that can fill almost every little corner of the garden.
Creating your own border when light is restricted can actually be an easy process and doesn’t differ too much from planning a sunny border.
Two essential considerations when selecting shade loving plants….
Make sure the soil receives a good level of nutrients
During the wetter periods of the year and in particular when little light is present to absorb the extra moisture on the surface, good drainage will help maintain a good growing environment and provide the best chance possible for the roots. Because the sun is restricted then you can help the plants in shaded areas by adding a natural organic substance or fertiliser to the soil to help enrich the soil. This will help replace the nutrients that may be missing and hopefully help avoid the soil from drying out.
Creating your own border when light is limited can be an easy process. When choosing plants have a check to see if they will tolerate partial shade or full shade, then let your own preference be the guide. Have a look now at some of our suggested plants and bulbs, all suitable for planting now in preparation for flowering next year.
The front of a border can benefit from the stunning foliage that Heuchera can bring, particularly since recent developments in breeding have introduced new colourful varieties such as ‘Autumn Leaves’ (bright ruby red foliage) and ‘Plum Royale’ (shiny purple foliage). These low-growing plants will easily fill gaps and spaces in the border that may be left between larger trees and shrubs.
If you would like to add little fragrance in spring then we suggest trying the very reliable Convallaria Bordeaux (Giant Lily of the Valley), great for planting in groups where the white flowers show themselves from the middle of spring on wards.
Popular shrubs for a shade-loving border come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be grown as stand-alone items in a border, while all those listed below will work side-by-side with many perennials and shrubs to add a really varied showing.
The big leaf varieties will do well in shade. Our pick is Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Magical Revolution Blue,’ which will tolerate even fully shaded areas where almost no natural light gets in. This variety produces large headed blue flowers, which actually turn deep purple as the flowers mature.
If you have a south-facing or a wall where light is obstructed then why not try growing a climber up the wall, with Virginia Creeper the ideal candidate because of its remarkable leaf colourings, especially in autumn.
A great variegated leafed evergreen shrub that will grow in almost any garden soil and location. Wonderful for growing underneath trees as well, where the blue flowers appearing in spring can last up until autumn.
For year around appeal you could also try the increasingly popular Pachysandra terminalis, which will save hours of intensive garden labour by suppressing weeds and acting as a ground cover shrub. The vivid green, succulent foliage is a real sight when planted in rows and can act as a low growing path boundary or screen.
A good way to make the most of shaded areas under trees and large shrubs is the introduction of naturalising bulbs, which left undisturbed over time will often multiply to create a beautiful woodland effect.
Many varieties are suitable to grow is shaded areas and our favourites to give a try are ‘Cheerfulness’ (Showy double white variety), ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ (Lemon yellow blooms) and the original native UK Daffodil ‘Obvallaris’, fondly known as the Tenby Daffodil. (Illustrated in order mentioned from left to right).
Great for planting en masse and leaving to multiply in highly shaded areas. The dwarf nature of these perennial bulbs make they great for adding a little bit of colour where needed. For some spring colour try planting Crocus ‘Prince Claus’ (colourful blend of white and blue) or the wonderful yellow Crocus ‘Fuscotinctus’. Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’ will offer an enchanting pale blue display or the popular Muscari armeniacum will create a sea of lavender blue/purple.
The perfect flower to round up our list. Coming across bluebells in the wild is a real treat and many people like to grow their own. They love being planted under trees and are a real delight in dappled shade. Also supply these in the green for easy transplantation and reliable results.
Echinacea are incredibly vibrant coloured cone flowers with giant heads on tall stems. Their bright colours will attract wildlife to your garden, as bees and butterflies love this plant as much as we do. The purpurea varieties are the only Echinacea grown from root stock, producing those thick stems that make them perfect for use as cut flowers. Echinacea are a tough plant, their eye catching colourful blooms that draw so much attention actually love to be ignored, a great hassle free choice for you garden.
The delightful shades of Echinacea purpurea are ideal for a summer border. The cheerful flowers look great mixed in with other plants and bulbs, or can be planted en-masse for a bold splash of colour. They will even do well in pots – plant in a deep container and position where they will get plenty of sunlight.
Echinacea are spectacular in a mixed border – as illustrated above. They partner really well with Rudbeckia varieties, as you can see above, the bright purples look particularly striking against the bright yellow of the Rudbeckia Goldsturm. We’ve highlighted a few more great companion plants in the gallery below.
Echinacea need to be grown in full sun, they won’t thrive at all in shade but will cope with a little. They are tolerant of a wide range of soils as long as it is well drained and they are drought tolerant once established. Deadhead to prolong flowering. You can propagate by division in spring and autumn but they prefer not to be disturbed and can become more bushy in habit but less floriferous.
Jeff demonstrates how to plant border perennials together in this easy to follow video. Rudbeckia and Echinacea complement each other exceptionally and both make excellent summer border plants.
Pinch off spent flowers on a regular basis — or use them as cuttings in flower arrangements — to extend the blooming period. Apply a quality flower fertilizer several times during the gardening season to promote big, beautiful blossoms. Mulch to prevent weeds, conserve moisture and improve aesthetics.
Cut plants to the ground in late winter after flowers have gone to seed.
For a large, showy display you can’t go wrong with a beautiful Lily and this month we’re focusing on the OrientalandOriental Trumpet (OT) Lilies. Native to Japan, these highly fragrant beauties are often called stargazers as their flowers tend to be outward and upward facing, as if they are looking up.
With their unusual and unique colour and markings Oriental Lilies are truly exquisite specimens, producing an abundance of flowers per bulb. Hardy and easy to grow, they will reach heights of two to six feet tall, excellent additions to a beds or borders and they can even be grown in pots. Oriental lilies will bloom late in the summer season, July – September.
OT lilies are a cross between Oriental and Trumpet varieties producing very tall plants, up to 2.5m mature height, perfect for the back of you borders. These beautiful Lilies can be incorporated into the back of your garden borders where they can tower over other bulbs and plants and act as a wonderful backdrop for your display. They will reach their full height by their third year and will naturalise if left undisturbed.
Plant at least 15cm/6in deep. Liliums prefer fertile, well drained soils, they’re not keen on lime in the soil. Surround each bulb with a little sharp sand under and above to keep off slugs and excessive wet. They give a much better display when planted in clumps of 3, 6 or 12 bulbs, 45cm apart. They appreciate the shelter of low growing shrubs or other plants near their roots. Planting time is from October to April/May. You can also plant lilies in pots. As they can get quite tall use a large pot that will fully accommodate the roots and you may also need to stake the plants for a bit of extra support. Stake at the time of planting to avoid damaging the bulbs.
How-to Video Tutorials
Giant Goliath Lilies
Worse pest: The Red Lily Beatle. The adult bugs will eat away the foliage and flowers. Look out for orange-red eggs or black larvae under the leaves or late for full size (8mm) bright red adult Beatles. You can protect your lilies by spraying them or by hand you can remove and crush them but a large infestation could be very time consuming as you need to check daily!
Introduced to the UK over 200 years ago Scabiosa caucasia are a striking alternative to the sunny yellow, orange and red shades that tend to dominate the summer months. They become a beautiful sight once their amazing and colourful blooms appear during the summer, flowering perpetually from June through to the first frosts in autumn. They make excellent cut flowers, but left in the garden are highly attractive to butterflies and bees.
Scabiosa like a sunny position. They will do best in temperate weather conditions, do not allow to get over wet in winter. In a really hot summer they can die back but as the weather cools towards October they may start to flower again. Extremely hardy and free flowering; they will thrive in most well drained soils – particularly good for chalky soil.
Deadhead to promote flowering. When established they will be more drought tolerant.
Will naturalise if left undisturbed making them a good addition to a wild garden.
‘Snow Cushion’ is a mound-forming, deciduous to semi-evergreen perennial with broadly lance-shaped, variably-lobed, grey-green leaves and upright, wiry stems bearing semi-double, white flower heads from early summer into autumn.
You can easily attract various wildlife to your garden all year around by allocating just a little bit of time and space to your garden this Autumn. For many people wildlife is a welcomed addition to the garden providing extra character. Also the knowledge that they are doing their bit to help with British conservation.
Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).
If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.
Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months. A bird table is also a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden. Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.
They will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed.
Of course, they are fascinating wildlife to watch as they scurry around during the day. They feed off acorns, buds, nuts, berries and seeds. They will initially appear scared and frightened but with regular feeding they will soon feel at home in your garden. They are easily found around woodland areas, large trees, beech tress. Squirrels are especially attracted to your bird feeders, although take caution as they can damage them over time.
Provide water and shelter for Toads! These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. (If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs).
A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals. Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails. An ideal natural defender of you Hostaplants!
These big beautiful shrubs are hugely popular and why not? Lush broad foliage with huge clusters of flowers that change colour in different soils – what’s not to love! Most Hydrangeas like the morning sun and will thrive if planted in a shady or partially shaded area – especially the big leaf varieties.
The big bold “flowers” on the mophead are actually colourful leaves so in a botanical sense aren’t flowers at all. Beautiful to look at BUT not as useful to anyone creating a garden with wildlife in mind. For that you need the lace-cap varieties which are loaded with pollen so great for bees, butterflies and other useful insects.
Colour changes in hydrangeas occur naturally as the plants mature – but the PH levels of your soil will affect blue and pink varieties especially the big leaf varieties.
If the pH level of your soil is more acidic then Hydrangeas will turn blue, going mauve in neutral soils and pink in alkaline. (Neutral is pH 7.0)
Know your soils! – you can buy tests to check the pH levels of you garden soil from most garden centres OR if you’re lucky enough to be living next door to a keen gardener make friends with them and you might pick up a bit of local knowledge!
Urban myth or amazing fact?
Rusty nails will turn a Hydrangea blue!
Sorry but we couldn’t possibly go around dispelling advice passed down for generations here! However if you do decide to try this make sure you:
DON’T damage the root of the Hydrangea when you add your nails
DO plant the nails 8-10 inches away from the base of the Hydrangea
DO plant the nails at 8-10 inches intervals around the base of the Hydrangea
DON’T do it at all if you have inquisitive pets (or children) who might dig them up and hurt themselves!
White and green flowered Hydrangeas will generally keep their colour regardless of soil PH – although the pink and blue varieties that do change colour often will mature to white and green!
An easy way to keep your Hydrangea’s true to their colour is to grow them in containers or raised flower beds. Hard water from taps can also effect a change in colour so use rainwater to water your hydrangeas where you can. Saving and using rainwater has the added bonus of saving money on your water bills and being great for the environment!
A superb collection of two premium, colour changing Hydrangeas which really do make the ultimate statement in the summer garden, from July to October. You will receive one each of Magical Amethyst (lime-green and Pink) and Magical Revolution (blue and purple).
Firstly a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who submitted. This year the standards were truly excellent and it was extremely difficult to pick between the fantastic entrants! A big congratulations to our winners. Our first prize of £100 will be going to Mr. Edwards for his eye catching Tulips. Prizes of £25 each will be going to our runners up Ms. Baird for her Narcissi Rip Van Winkle, Ms. Lee with her Crocus, Ms. Ralph with her Mixed Tulips and Ms. Hughes for the best garden picture.
Thanks again to everyone who entered, and keep checking back for more opportunities to win!