Karen Gimson came to talk to Ticknall Garden Club at their November meeting. As well as being a garden designer she broadcasts on gardening topics at Radio Leicester and writes articles for Garden News. Her wide experience was very evident as she interspersed her talk with very practical advice.
She set out to show that flowers could be grown throughout the year both for beauty in the garden and for decoration indoors. Her lovely photographs demonstrated the best varieties to grow.
Starting in the cold winter months she recommended snowdrops, sarcococca, forsythia and daphne. Madeline was a reliable yellow snowdrop to buy. Sarcococca Purple Stem was a good fragrant small plant, forsythia Lynwood Gold was a neater variety and Eternal Fragrance was a patio-size daphne.
The heads of the flowers of hellebore and hepatica look stunning as a centrepiece. The Gold Collection hellebores have more upward-facing flowers and are repeat flowering so come highly praised. Alstroemerias can be flowering in winter if put in pots with all stems pulled out and then brought under cover. They make an excellent cut flower.
If mice are a problem when growing in pots Karen explained how to construct a mouse-proof table: Stand your table on a flat sheet of wood or other rigid surface and place this on four upturned plant pots placed away from the corners. Mice cannot move along upside down so cannot negotiate the overhang to get to the legs of the table.
Snow Baby is a new dwarf daffodil just as reliable as tête-à-tête. Hawara is the latest in the season to flower. Winston Churchill is an excellent double-scented variety. To prevent daffodil stems from getting too leggy she waters with Tomorite as soon as leaves appear.
Red tulips look great grown in swathes of grass, but smaller species tulips are more reliable for coming back each year.
As time was running out, she only had time to cover lilac, lupins, roses and violas as other plants she grew. Slugs on lupins and other plants can be kept at bay using a garlic water solution. To keep perennial violas growing well she advised cutting them hard to the ground after flowering. Then cover with an inch of compost and water with a potash feed.
She hoped that she might be invited back to finish the rest of her talk someday and there was no doubt that after giving such good advice and information she would be assured of a warm welcome.
Karen urged the audience to log on to her blog at bramblegarden.com for lots more of her ideas.