Autumn

Now that summer is definitely behind us, we can enjoy the gentle decay of perennials and autumnal tree colours. We are much less concerned with tidiness at this time of year than in the past, ensuring plenty of shelter and food for the garden wildlife as well as providing protection for the soil over winter. […]

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Now that summer is definitely behind us, we can enjoy the gentle decay of perennials and autumnal tree colours. We are much less concerned with tidiness at this time of year than in the past, ensuring plenty of shelter and food for the garden wildlife as well as providing protection for the soil over winter.

There is, however, still plenty to be getting on with in the garden. One of the loveliest jobs at this time of year is planting as many bulbs as possible. There’s is nothing more encouraging than seeing new growth poking through the soil; crocus opening up in late winter sunshine for newly emerging queen bumblebees; dwarf narcissi in all their many shapes and colours; bold, bright and blousy tulip combinations.

Now is the perfect time to plant most bulbs. Tulips are better delayed until November and even December as the cold temperatures reduce the risk of tulip blight, but all others will be happy to get into the ground while it is still quite warm and before frosts. There are so many possibilities with bulbs, definitely something for everyone: from indoor pots to naturalising in lawns; outdoor containers and window boxes; borders and under trees.

By following a few simple rules you will get the most out of your bulbs and can look forward to cheery spring colour.

When planting, a good guide is to plant to a depth 3 times the size of the bulb, so larger daffodils will be deeper than tiny crocus, for example. One of the main causes of daffodils coming up with leafy growth but no flowers is planting too shallow.

Bulbs should be planted with the pointy end upwards, more obvious in some than others but the blunt end may have remnants of the roots as a guide.

All bulbs like a free draining soil so if your garden soil is quite heavy then fill the bottom of the planting hole with some gritty compost. We used some of last year’s leaf mould mixed with some grit, or you could use some old compost from this year’s pots.

If your garden becomes quite waterlogged over winter you might be better to plant your bulbs in pots and place them in gaps in the garden next spring.

Ideally bulbs in pots should be planted at the same depth as in the ground but this will depend on your pot size, and the most important thing is to have about 4cm of compost below the bulbs. A bulb ‘lasagne’ is a great way to layer up different bulb varieties in the same pot to give you many weeks of flowers. Begin with the largest bulbs at the bottom eg tulips, cover with a layer of compost, then add another layer of a different bulb eg narcissi, and finish with some wee crocus or iris. You could add some evergreen herbs and ferns to give your container some winter interest before the bulbs appear in the spring.

This year we are planting gaps in borders with crocus, allium and narcissi; filling containers and pots with tulips and muscari; lining the nook path with fritillary and experimenting with camassia, narcissi and alliums in the lawn.

To achieve a naturalistic feel to bulbs in your lawn it is best to scatter them on the ground and plant them where they fall. We have done this along the strip of lawn we leave unmown throughout the summer months. Fingers crossed the squirrels don’t get them!

Gardening jobs to do….or not!

May has not started with the warmth of early summer, we are clinging to the remnants of wintery chill especially at nighttime with temperatures plummeting to zero or below. Challenging times in the gardening calendar as we juggle trays of seedlings still needing the protection of the greenhouse or kitchen windowsill, but desperate to stretch […]

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May has not started with the warmth of early summer, we are clinging to the remnants of wintery chill especially at nighttime with temperatures plummeting to zero or below. Challenging times in the gardening calendar as we juggle trays of seedlings still needing the protection of the greenhouse or kitchen windowsill, but desperate to stretch their roots and put on growth outside. We do expect Spring to throw us some variable weather, but we are increasingly experiencing more extreme weather events as part of the changing climate. Gardeners have to learn to anticipate and adapt to these challenges, but we can also do so much to help reduce our impact on the environment.

Gardens are increasingly important for wildlife and more and more of us are embracing the wilder aspects of gardening, ensuring they providing food, water and shelter within a range of habitats, throughout the year. There are approximately 1 million acres of garden in the UK, with up to half of that grown as lawn. This is potentially a very valuable wildlife haven and Plantlife wants to find out just how important they are. By taking part in ‘No Mow May’, then ‘Every Flower Counts’ survey of your patch at the end of the month we can all help to build a picture of our lawns as wildlife sanctuaries.

Taking part in No Mow May has many benefits; leaving our petrol mower in the shed cuts down on fossil fuels and air pollution, allowing plants to flower provides food for pollinating insects and we can expect to see daisies, dandelions, self-heal, buttercup, clovers, speedwell, longer grass provides places for sheltering insects which in turn provide essential food for the busy parents feeding young birds in the nest. Blackbirds particularly love to forage for food across our lawn.

This year, with the coldest of Springs and a record dry April, it will be interesting to take part and see just how much our lawn has grown in height and diversity.

The plants we choose to have in our gardens have a huge impact on the insects that will come and visit or live on them, and this, in turn, will affect the birds, bats, mammals that choose to make our gardens their home.

We are all busy making sure our gardens are blooming with bright cheery summer flowers, but it will benefit your garden wildlife as well as the planet if you spend some time planning before plundering the garden centres. Not all flowers are equal. As a general rule, simple flowers provide pollen on the stamen and sugary nectar for visiting insects. The fancy doubles have been bred to turn stamen into extra petals, which in turn make the nectaries inaccessible, so no pollinator food. These cultivars are also rarely pollinated so the flowers tend to remain open for longer, another plus for the gardener. However, although they may appear attractive to us, they offer little for wildlife. Of course they are fun to grow, but it pays to consider making sure you include some flowers for the bees too. For example we have dahlia ‘bright eyes’, loved by bees throughout the summer, but the snazzy cacti varieties offer little to pollinators. Just spend some time watching which flowers are buzzing with insects and you’ll know soon what to choose.

By visiting out plant sale kiosk you will be able to pick up some interesting summer annuals, perennial border plants or interesting herbs and edibles to grow at home. These have all been grown here so have had to put up with our erratic weather conditions and will be fully hardy. We don’t use peat in any of our compost mixes and we are introducing take away cardboard containers for you to decant your purchases into. This way we get to keep our plastic pots to reuse time and time again, and you don’t end up with stacks of used pots taking up space in the back of your shed, and less plastic is good news for the climate.

The Flowery Meadow

Towards the end of winter, one of the many jobs to tackle in the Gardens is cutting down the old foliage and seed heads from the flowery meadow. These have been left over winter to provide food and shelter for wildlife, but also to enjoy and appreciate the turning of the seasons within the gardens, […]

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Towards the end of winter, one of the many jobs to tackle in the Gardens is cutting down the old foliage and seed heads from the flowery meadow. These have been left over winter to provide food and shelter for wildlife, but also to enjoy and appreciate the turning of the seasons within the gardens, the architectural beauty of the seedheads, and the subtle tones of autumnal colour.

Now we want to remove the fallen leaves, mosses and old growth to make way for the new seedlings. Using the green tracking allows us to work through the meadow without compacting the soil or damaging the new growth; old scaffolding boards or planks of wood work just as well.

This is a joyous task, particularly on a day when you begin to feel a hint of warmth in the sun. Spotting tiny seedlings and imagining the flowers to come is magical, and a challenge to identification skills!

As the days lengthen and the bare soil warms, the plants grow quickly. No two years are ever the same and it’s so exciting to watch and discover which plants have survived, or flourished, or need a bit of intervention later in the year!

There are many descriptions of ‘meadows’ in gardening: wildlife meadows where only native wildflowers are used recreate a particular natural habitat; annual meadows or mixes of arable ‘weeds’ such as poppies, corn marigolds and cornflowers; pictorial meadows of colourful plants taken from all over the world. These all require some work, and have varying maintenance regimes. If you have ever scattering some meadow mix seed or throwing a ‘seed bomb’ and been lucky enough to end up with a flowering meadow year after year, then I’d like to know your secret!

Meadow cranesbill, Ragged Robin and Ox-eye daisy

Our meadow began by clearing the site then sowing a ‘bee and butterfly’ mix from Scotia seeds. This was quickly swamped by vigorous grasses so we found that the most effective method was to supplement this by growing some plug plants, sowing seed in autumn then planting out in Spring, to give us variety. By spending time studying the plant groupings, tinkering and tweaking the plant mixes, taking out some that threaten to dominate the more delicate flowers eg oxeye daisy or greater knapweed, sowing seeds of desirable plants such as Ladys Smock to attract Orange tip butterflies or Birdsfoot trefoil for the Common Blue butterfly, we can continually experiment and learn.

Including a range of flower shapes, colours and sizes makes for a dynamic and interesting patch, but it also caters for the varying needs of the insect populations; long tongued bumblebees can access nectar in vipers bugloss, larger insects such as the garden bumblebee will appreciate the big landing pads of the umbellifers and oxeye daisies. We tend to plant out native Scottish wildlfowers, but we are not too strict about it, and I don’t think the bees, beetles and butterflies mind.

Common Carder bumblebee on Devils-bit Scabious

Paula, Head Gardener

Cultural Cookery Jan- Feb 2021 recipe book

Check out the Cultural Cookery Recipe book with wonderful dishes from; Italy, Turkey and the Middle East, Scotland, Jamaica, and Azerbaijan. Cultural Cookery Recipe Book January – February Featuring recipes from; Italy- vegetarian lasagna and minestrone soup Turkey and the Middle East; Basic Hummus, Baklava, and Turkish Ezogelin soup with red, lentils, bulgar and rice. […]

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Check out the Cultural Cookery Recipe book with wonderful dishes from; Italy, Turkey and the Middle East, Scotland, Jamaica, and Azerbaijan.

Cultural Cookery Recipe Book January – February

Featuring recipes from;

  • Italy- vegetarian lasagna and minestrone soup
  • Turkey and the Middle East; Basic Hummus, Baklava, and Turkish Ezogelin soup with red, lentils, bulgar and rice.
  • Scotland; Cullen Skink soup, Soda farls and Cranachan.
  • Jamaica; jerk chicken, rice and peas and pineapple salsa
  • Azerbaijan; Cabbage Aaash Soup, Halva Zanjabil, Kutab Azerbaijan Flat bread

Watch all the Cultural Cookery Show episodes on our Facebook.

Appreciating Gardens in Winter

We are desperately looking forward to Spring, and signs are just around the corner. With snowdrops popping through the ground and buds appearing on bare branches. However February is still a winter month, and it is a good time to spend a few moments appreciating what makes gardens special in winter, and maybe plan a […]

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We are desperately looking forward to Spring, and signs are just around the corner. With snowdrops popping through the ground and buds appearing on bare branches. However February is still a winter month, and it is a good time to spend a few moments appreciating what makes gardens special in winter, and maybe plan a few changes to add interest for next winter.

Evergreens are an obvious group of plants to add structure and there are many examples around The Hidden Gardens. The Ballet border is lined by low clipped hedging of Cotoneaster and Gaultheria. Both of which provide winter berries to keep the blackbirds happy.

The red-stemmed Gaultheria compliments the crimson red of the Skimmia buds at this time of year. Before they open up in late spring to give a display of fragrant white flowers loved by bees. Contrasting leaf shape and texture is another way add interest, keep your eyes open for inspiration while on your daily walks.

Rosemary, Euphorbia and Thyme in the patio planters

Many herbs such as rosemary and thyme are evergreen and have the added bonus of a waft of scent as you brush past them. Or pick a few sprigs to give dinnertime a connection with the garden even in winter. These plants are happy to be grown in pots on a windowsill or back court provided you give them good drainage, with holes in the bottom of pots and a gritty compost. Their roots hate being cold and wet over winter.

Spidery Witch hazel flowers against the dark green Pine, P. mugo

Flowers may be less abundant and showy in the winter months but the early blooms are all the more appreciated for their splashes of colour. They are also important stashes of pollen for any early emerging pollinating insects. The spidery yellow witch hazel flowers are beautiful, contrasting with the dark green of the dwarf pines.

Espalier pears and apples along the White Wall Border

The stark tree trunks and branches of the espalier fruit trees add form to the white wall border, and allow a glimpse of the old factory wall, usually obscured by an abundant growth of climbing clematis and vigorous vines.

Beech hedge
White Birch, Betula utilis var jacquemontii

Trees devoid of leaves draw our attention to the patterned bark. While others hold onto their autumnal leaves until spring, giving winter colour in the beech hedge, and somewhere for the robins, tits and dunnocks to shelter.

We don’t cut back our perennials until towards the end of winter, leaving seedheads for birds, and nooks and crannies for overwintering ladybirds and hibernating insects. Plus they look fabulous on a sunny, frosty morning.

And this is the time to begin enjoying bulbs, with the snowdrops appearing through the leaf litter. Crocus and iris will follow shortly, then the daffodils and alliums and tulips. Although it’s not the time to plant bulbs, this is very much the time to make notes of where you have gaps and spaces in your planting and plan bursts of colour for next Spring. The bare borders will soon fill with summer growth and you’ll find it hard to imagine there’s space for more plants. But I see some spaces in the border next to our office entrance and I definitely want to be watching some snowdrops appearing there this time next year!

Paula
Head Gardener

Cultural Cookery Recipe Book Nov- Dec 2020

Check out our latest Cultural Cookery Recipe Book with warming winter recipes from all over the world. And they are all vegetarian! You can watch all the Cultural Cookery Show episodes here on Facebook and cook along at home. Learn how to make the recipes and top cooking tips. Recipes; Borscht and Georgian kidney bean […]

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Check out our latest Cultural Cookery Recipe Book with warming winter recipes from all over the world. And they are all vegetarian!

You can watch all the Cultural Cookery Show episodes here on Facebook and cook along at home. Learn how to make the recipes and top cooking tips.

Recipes;

  • Borscht and Georgian kidney bean salad
  • Chinese recipes- Tofu stir fry and vegetarian spring rolls
  • Scottish dishes- warming Scotch Broth, Scottish Rumbledethumps, and volunteer Lesley’s Grans delicious shortbread recipe.
  • Afghan recipes- Afghani pulao and Afghan Borani Banjan (Aubergine & Tomato Bake)
  • Palestinian dishes- Red Lentil and Squash Soup with Za’atar Croutons and Sabanekh Wa Jibneh (Spinach and Cheese Parcels).

We’ve joined Yaldi’s Glasgow Community Lottery

Support us by taking part in Glasgow’s new Community Lottery! We are excited to be part of Glasgow’s YALDI Lottery; the new Glasgow Community Lottery. You can help us to raise funds for wildlife by selecting us as your chosen charity when you buy a lottery ticket.– £1 per ticket – 50% goes to your chosen […]

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Support us by taking part in Glasgow’s new Community Lottery!

We are excited to be part of Glasgow’s YALDI Lottery; the new Glasgow Community Lottery.

You can help us to raise funds for wildlife by selecting us as your chosen charity when you buy a lottery ticket.
– £1 per ticket 
– 50% goes to your chosen cause and 10% to other local good causes
– Plus there’s a £25,000 grand prize

Click here to find out more and support The Hidden Gardens 

Good luck!

Cultural Cookery Recipe Book Aug- Sept 2020

Cultural Cookery Recipe Book August to September 2020 Recipes from; Japan; sesame sauce, Teriyaki Tofu and Japanese Cucumber salad. Greece- Spanakopita, Gigantes Plaki and Avgolemono soup. Kashmiri dishes; Paneer Masala, Rajma(Red kidney beans) and Dum Aloo. Nigerian recipes; Dodo (fried plantains), Nigerian Jollof rice and Efo Riro (spinach stew). Spanish Tapas dishes- Berenjenas con Miel […]

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Cultural Cookery Recipe Book August to September 2020

Recipes from;

  • Japan; sesame sauce, Teriyaki Tofu and Japanese Cucumber salad.
  • Greece- Spanakopita, Gigantes Plaki and Avgolemono soup.
  • Kashmiri dishes; Paneer Masala, Rajma(Red kidney beans) and Dum Aloo.
  • Nigerian recipes; Dodo (fried plantains), Nigerian Jollof rice and Efo Riro (spinach stew).
  • Spanish Tapas dishes- Berenjenas con Miel (Fried Eggplant With Honey) Fried Padron Peppers, Coliflor Rebozada (Spanish Fried Cauliflower) Tortilla de Patatas (Classic Spanish Omelet)

Cultural Cookery Recipe book July to August 2020

Here’s the Cultural Cookery Recipe book July to August 2020. Featuring vegetarian recipes from; Turkey- Aubergines in a tomato sauce (Soslu Patlican), Turkish Flatbread, Cacik Morrocan- Roasted carrot dip with harrisa and orange, Spiced Chickpeas and Harira soup South America- Sweet Potato, sweetcorn Quesadillas, Guacamole, Tomato Salsa Malaysia- Pumpkin Rendang, Malaysian Corn Fritters, Fluffy Rice- […]

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Here’s the Cultural Cookery Recipe book July to August 2020.

Featuring vegetarian recipes from;

Turkey- Aubergines in a tomato sauce
(Soslu Patlican), Turkish Flatbread, Cacik

Morrocan- Roasted carrot dip with harrisa and orange, Spiced Chickpeas and Harira soup

South America- Sweet Potato, sweetcorn Quesadillas, Guacamole, Tomato Salsa

Malaysia- Pumpkin Rendang, Malaysian Corn Fritters, Fluffy Rice- Absorption method

India- Radish and Roasted Peanut Salad, Bhindi Masala (Kerala Okra Curry), Kerala Mung Dal with Cumin and Spinach

Playing with Poetry

We had a lot of fun playing with poetry in the Hidden Gardens on Saturday 18th May and Saturday 20th July as part of this summer’s Wild About Gardens events. For the first event in May, we asked people to help us make a Circle Poem. Our inspiration was the poem Roundabout from Crazy Mayonnaisy […]

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We had a lot of fun playing with poetry in the Hidden Gardens on Saturday 18th May and Saturday 20th July as part of this summer’s Wild About Gardens events.

For the first event in May, we asked people to help us make a Circle Poem. Our inspiration was the poem Roundabout from Crazy Mayonnaisy Mum by Julia Donaldson. Julia’s poem takes a two-word phrase and makes new two-word phrases by adding a new word to the last word of the previous phrase. Because the afternoon was all about window ledge gardening, we started our poem with the phrase Window Box and that was followed by Box Fresh, then Fresh Air and so on. We ended up with a poem that went all around the edge of the Gingko tree.

At the second event in July, we made a Poetry Hunt using two poems that we cut up into snippets and hid in the gardens. The poems we used were Garlic by Finola Scott and Listening to the Trees by Mandy Haggith. Each poem was divided into six pieces and we asked people to search for them by taking a walk around the different parts of the Hidden Gardens. At the end of their hunt, they had put the poems back together again.

You can have a look at the photos we took.

Thanks for all your ideas!

Sarah and Claire from The Write Stuff.