Thanks to the recent rain, hedges, trees, fields and gardens are all looking refreshed. Water butts are now half-full rather than empty. The greenhouse and pots are again being watered with stored water rather than mains water. Unfortunately, we need a lot more rain to make up for the extended dry spell, as the rain has yet to penetrate deep into the soil.

The soil type in our area is predominately a clay soil, though in the river valleys it can be a silt soil. On the coast, for example at Allonby, soil is sandy and the Caldbeck area is an alkaline soil. The ideal soil should have a pH level of between 5.5 (acid) to 7.5 (slightly alkaline) with the ideal being 6.5 (slightly acid). It is a good idea to do a pH test on the soil wherever we garden, perhaps every 4/5 years, to check if it is remaining static, or has been affected by surface water run-off or even by the rain itself. Information is available on the internet to work out if applications of lime to reduce acidity are required or incorporation of manure and iron sulphate to reduce alkalinity. Manure will

increase the organic content of the soil and this will allow it to retain more moisture.

To help retain moisture, mulches will help; though a thickness of at least 100mm is required to have the greatest effect and so the cost of purchased mulch could be high. Much better to make your own compost and use it as mulch. If the soil surface is regularly hoed to a fine tilth this reduces evaporation. It was traditional to use plastic sheeting, carpet and similar materials to act as a weed suppressant and conserve water, but these materials are now seen as source of micro-plastic getting into the soil. These materials should be removed from all gardens and disposed of at the local authority tip.

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 25th June at The Swan Inn on Kirkgate at 7.15pm for 7.30pm. Come along and join us to talk about all things gardening.

Email: Ramblings from My Garden

Great news! All my rhododendrons have flowered, and they are all lovely pastel pinks and lilacs. I couldn’t be happier. They fit into my purple and blue borders perfectly and I seem to have escaped a colour scheme disaster.

In other important news, the big colour theme this year at Chelsea Flower Show was one I wasn’t expecting – green! Many of the gardens, including ‘Best in Show’ and the Duchess of Cambridge’s garden, featured very naturalistic woodland planting and nods to themes of nature and wild gardens were seen across the showground. So many entries in the past have featured bright, strong colour schemes but this year were replaced with subtle lime, white, pale yellow and an odd bit of cool blue too.

What looks so easy to create (it looks so natural after all) actually needs some thought and planning. It’s easy to create a natural woodland look with a few ferns and hostas but a few more tricks could help. The first, is to use the same good filler plant throughout your border to tie all the other plants together. This has the advantage of ‘filling up the gaps’ too - bare soil would


lose that lush feel that we’re looking for. Asarum europaeum (pictured) would create a glossy low growing carpet, ideal for the front of the border. To create more height, the choice at Chelsea was cow parsley and Silene fimbriata (pictured) to create naturalistic white flowers, euphorbias to provide lime green and of course ferns in every variety.


Now we have created a lush green border, how about creating more interest by varying the foliage? For a big showstopper, how about Angelica or Rodgersia (pictured) as their huge leaves and height contrast well with just about everything else in the border. My final suggestion is the silvery foliage of Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ a plant that can do both tasks – link the other plants together and provides contrast to other greener leaves. It looks good through most of the winter and would soon create a lovely pale carpet threading through all the other darker green shades.


Now your only problem is to create some shade for these plants if you don’t have it already. I can recommend some good trees ... Next time!

ISSUE 432 | 20 JUNE 2019 | 30

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