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November 2011
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January 2012

December 2011

Enjoy your Poinsettia, but Just for Christmas

When I worked in Garden Centres, by Christmas eve, I was sick of the sight of Poinsettias. (and Cyclamen and Christmas trees for that matter) But in the 7 years i've been working for myself I have mellowed slightly.


The red bracts are cheery colour for the Christmas and New year period, and unlike Cyclamen, they don't mind the central heating. Just as long as you keep them moist, they'll be fine, because they are used to the warmth of Mexico and the Carribean.

That's where I first saw one in the ground, not in a pot, - On my Honeymoon in St Lucia.- I'd love to show you the photo, but that was pre digital cameras, and i'd have to find it to scan it in, - but believe me It was a about 8 feet high and as our anniversary is in January, it was in full colour.

That's the thing you see, they want to be that big, - to get them to grow here in pots, the nurserymen (and women) use a growth regulator. So I was amused by this lovely blog, by the Cycling gardener, that suggests that Poinsettias are - like puppies and embarrassing grandparents, - they're not just for Christmas.

You see, although his blog is totally correct about how you care for Poinsettias, and how you get them to recolour, - why would you?, when the resulting plant is trying to get to St Lucian size, and it means you having to draw the curtains in the spare room at a certain time all through the Autumn.

No, you MAY be able to get your Poinsettia to recolour, but I say use our great English Nurseries each year. Make sure you enjoy your Poinsettia, - but JUST for Christmas.


Four years on, - how my front garden looks

We've been living in Horsley 4 years today.

The saying is - "we've been in our house", - but for me the garden was just as important when we moved, and it was the reason we'd overlooked this property several times in our search.I'd literally driven past it, and not noticed the house was there.

Our back garden isn't huge. 40ft by 60ft on the particulars, which i'd looked over and dismissed because of it.  Not small, particularly by modern house sizes, but it's all visible from my office, and the chickens at the bottom of the garden are only about 12 metres away from me. (great for a spot of chicken tv, when i'm procrastinating over a planting plan)

The front garden is actually as big as the back, but when we arrived you couldn't tell.


This photo is taken from between the house and the garage, looking out to the road. The brick driveway goes to the entrance but is very narrow, and is only wide enough for one car, (and not wide enough for you to get out of it without stepping off the drive). - it widens out by the garage when you're past the evergreen magnolia, - but that meant that although we could park 3 cars, there was a shuffle to get anyone out. So our first priority was to get extra parking.

I also wanted to get more planting borders, - easier to maintain grass ( it was practically all moss when we got here) and easy parking and entrance and exit on to the road.

Like most people, I didn't have the budget to do it all at once, but knowing what I ultimately wanted has made it easier to do work in stages.


The "hedge" of overgrown shrubs was first to go, which gained us about 10 feet of garden, - enough to put in an in and out drive. Borders were created under the trees, and by the driveway.

The 2 magnolia trees are now the statements and focus of the garden, instead of hiding it. Plus as well as having room to park a hideous number of cars on the drive ( there have been 10 at a coffee morning) I have 5 big borders of plants.


As with all gardens, there are plenty of things to focus on for the future. I've loved some plant combinations, and others havn't worked. One of these days, I'll be able to afford to replace the brick driveway, but 4 years on, i'm quite pleased with my front garden. It ticks the boxs of framing the house, parking the cars, and having plenty of space for plants.