1 December 2012

Easton Walled Gardens sparkling in the frost

After some weeks of rain and cloud, yesterday we were rewarded with this. It felt like winter proper had arrived. So, in case I don’t have time to post again this month, a very happy Christmas to everyone.
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7 November 2012

Healthy plants for colour in November.

The onset of late autumn encourages us to look hard at the things in the gardens that are really earning their keep. Plants flowering or adding to the garden scene now tend to be extremely healthy and need very little care through the year. Here are some of the best plants in the gardens at Easton now.
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Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’ with Rubus thibetanus ‘Silver Fern’ in the Velvet Border. ‘Grace’ is an exceptional smokebush cultivar for autumn colour.
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Colchicums in the Cedar Meadow. Although they are coming to the end of their flowering time and the slugs have had a little taste, these have been up for at least 3 weeks. This meadow is managed as a spring meadow and is mown from July onwards. When the temperature starts to drop, we stop mowing to prevent the heads of these lovely autumn bulbs from being decapitated.
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Perhaps not to everyone’s taste is Prunus laurocastus ‘Marbled White’ but to my mind, beautifully marked. For us, this is the perfect shrub, being totally hardy, disease free, offering something all year round, easy to grow and not attractive to our resident rabbit population. It is growing quite densely but I am hoping to remove the lower branches as it grows. This will allow light underneath and we can plant delicate woodland plants below.
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Rudbeckia triloba or Brown Eyed Susan. Technically a biennial this has flowered with us as a shortlived perennial. In flower for at least a month and totally unaffected by the frosts of the last couple of nights. This is still flowering in the long border with Aster turbellinus, see below.
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The last of our Asters to flower with a wiry but graceful habit, this perennial makes about 1 metre in our beds. The tiny buds  and airy foliage have been attractive for months but it’s lovely to see the flowers now.
If you would like to see these plants and great autumn colour, the gardens are open on Sundays in November for FREE!

23 October 2012

Half term isn’t just about the kids…

Well, O.k. Mostly it is… but its even better if you can do something everyone enjoys.  We have been working hard scrubbing, mowing, polishing and devising to make sure you have a great visit to the gardens this week. Lots of our team at Easton have small children and we have spent time making sure your visit will be fun for everyone.
So… the children get to make grass hedgehogs, plant hyacinths to take home, play on the swing, play in the den and make collages out of autumn leaves. Together, you can explore the gardens enjoying the Autumn colour, plant a bulb in the meadows for posterity, roll pumpkins together and Christmas shop while the children colour in! Round off your visit to the tearoom and sample hedgehog cupcakes (which may have more chocolate than hedgehog in them).
A few things to do on your visit:
Roll a pumpkin, press gang small children into bringing them back.
Swing under the Cedar tree and discover a den.
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Make a bald hedgehog, take him home and water him and watch the grass grow on his back
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Feed our snails and pot up a hyacinth to take home.
Plant a bulb for posterity in the meadow near our giraffes
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Borrow our footballs, play games and run around A LOT…
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…go home tired and happy. zzzz.
The gardens are open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday October 24-26th and 28th
For more information please click here

4 October 2012

How to plant a pot for colour through till June

In September, Steve, Tim and I went to Whichford Pottery on a daytrip, following an irrestible invitation from Harriet Rycroft, the (as in, the only) Whichford gardener. She manages to transform 450 pots a year. Here’s one I particularly liked.
Whichford is a serious artisan pottery that is keeping old skills alive and developing new ones to adapt to new clays and customer requests. If this was a restaurant it would be world famous. As it is, the Japanese value the care and effort taken with each pot and they have kept the business as robust as it is through a difficult economic climate.
Harriet showed us how to plant a pot for colour from now until June. Our pots are not..ahem.. the stuff of Chelsea Gold so I was keen to see how she could get that much value out of one planting. Sure enough, with evergreens and a tonne of bulbs she made the whole thing look elegant and easy.
IMG-20120914-00975 The conifer is set just below the pot edge. Harriet is planting tulip bulbs good and deep and then adding a layer of compost,some slow release fertiliser, another layer of bulbs and so on until the bedding and evergreen plants are added to sit level with the conifer. Lastly, the smallest bulbs are just pushed into the pot.
Inspired by her scheme, this is our recipe mix for Winter and Spring pots.
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You will need:
1.Pots, compost and slow release fertiliser. If using a large pot, place it in position first as it will get heavier as you plant.
2. A selection of small evergreen shrubs and groundcover. This image shows (clockwise from top) Escallonia, Variegated golden Euonymus and Ajuga ‘Golden Beauty’ alongside the black grass Ophiopogon nigrescens.
3. Lots of bulbs for flowering from end of January to the end of May. For some pots I have gone for a strong statement of Tulipa ‘Blueberry Ripple’ and ‘Couleur Cardinale.’  As I built up the layers Fritillary meleagris, Iris Harmony, small Narcissi and Crocuses were added to the mix. Alliums can also be added for a last burst of colour.When we plant up the shrubs shown above, there will definitely be snowdrops involved.
4. Violas or Polyanthus to provide winter and spring colour. We have chosen Viola ‘Outback Fire’
South Kesteven-20121001-00996 South Kesteven-20121001-00999Lurking in this pot until spring, with other bulbs, is Iris bucharica which will add fullness to the planting.
Finally I put a wire mesh over the top of the most precious pots, just in case the squirrels find the bulbs.
If you want to do something similar the collections in our online shop offer a beautiful mix of named bulbs for planting into pots now. Click here for details.

15 September 2012

Top Ten bulbs for planting now

This week we launched our bulb collections available in two sizes.This makes a fantastic present for an anniversary or as a thank you. Visit to order. Below are the bulbs we have chosen, all of which we grow in the gardens here so they have been thoroughly tested for reliability and ease of growing.
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I have chosen the bulbs which have worked really well for us and give a succession of colour. They are good doers and will give your garden colour from February to May with surprisingly little effort. Each bulb collection comes with hints and tips to get the most out of your bulbs and can be sent with a gift message.
Gift boxes include the following:
EWG Greenhouse 23.2.12 (28) Iris 'Harmony' 
Iris ‘Harmony’
A stunning sky blue flower with royal blue and yellow markings, reaches 15cm high. This hardy bulb needs well-drained soil and good light. Flowering between February-March, its ancestors are native to Western Asia’s mountainsides and cultivated fields.
EWG 1.3.12 (5) Crocus tommasinianus
Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’
A beautiful, fast-growing crocus flowering between February-March, thrives in rocky and stony areas, with ancestors from the light woodland of South-East Europe.
EWG 24.4.12 (76)Anenome blanda
Anenome blanda Mixed
These charming daisy-like flowers come in gentle shades of pink, blue and white. The bulbs tend to lie dormant in the summer, so are perfect for planting around the base of perennials yet to come up.
EWG 20.3.12 (50)Scilla sibirica 'Alba'
Scilla sibirica 'Alba'
A beautiful white form of the better known blue Scilla, these delicate stars flower in early Spring. Excellent in pots or blank spaces in your border, Scilla are traditionally found in meadows and woodland all the way from Southern Russia down to NW Iran.
EWG 20.3.12 (44) Chionodoxa
Chionodoxa luciliae
One of our favourite bulbs! Flowering when little else is, these true blue flowers with white centres are perfect for either borders or turf. Flowering in March and April, they are a hardy bulb, happy in both sun and partial shade.
EWG 27.3.09 (64) Puschkinia libanotica
Puschkinia libanotica
Light blue and white flowers reaching 15cm high, flowering in early spring. Originally from the mountains of Turkey, these delightful bulbs will spread a little from original planting, but not so much as to take over.
EWG 20.3.12 (25) Narcissus 'Tete a Tete'
Narcissus 'Tete a Tete'
One of the world's most popular daffodils and deservedly so! Making an early show in March, these beautiful, small daffodils give a good strong yellow that looks excellent with blue. Perfect for growing in pots or in gardens.
Great Dixter 8.4.09 (52) Fritillaria meleagris
Fritillaria meleagris
The Snakeshead Lily. Every aspiring patch of meadow should include these beautiful flowers. Native to West and Southern Europe’s damp meadowland and light woodland, with purple and white chequerboard petals, they are perfect for grassy areas, especially if damp. Flowers in mid to late Spring.
EWG 19.3.11 (25) Tulipa sylvestris
Tulipa sylvestris
A surprisingly tall species tulip growing to 30cm, the thin stems and elegant shaped yellow flowers work well in informal settings such as the edge of borders or in turf. Flowering in April, the bulbs like a sunny spot.Native to Northern Europe.
EWG 24.4.12 (14) Narcissus 'Thalia'
Narcissus 'Thalia'
A refined and elegant daffodil with white clusters of flowers on each stem, bringing style to any pot or garden. Their ancestors are native to Finisterre in France.
All these bulbs come from cultivated stock, they are not removed from their native habitat.You can buy them online at along with our sweet pea seeds.

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