Another gardening year is drawing to a close. Were you happy with the way the garden turned out? Did the plants respond to all the hard work and time that you put in? Whether it was flowers or veg there is always a little niggle of disappointment. Like the lady I was talking to the other evening who would love to get her Sarcococca ( Christmas Box ) to flower. She told me it only ever has foliage, no flowers. Sarcococca, like most other plants will grow in any fertile soil but if it is too rich in nitrogen then foliage rather than flowers could be the end result. So don’t be too disappointed if 2017 didn’t turn out quite like you had hoped, use this to your advantage and do a soil test or try a different variety of plant.Now I really must get on with my journey. My work with Bailey Bartlett meant that I was home every night. I got to visit building sites with deliveries of bricks, blocks and timber and I also had to go to quarries and collect sand, chippings and sometimes stone for walls. I enjoyed my time with Bailey Bartlett and all the staff that worked there but as I mentioned earlier there is always disappointment. The bosses decided to close the Crediton branch and concentrate on the Bideford depot, some of the staff were near retirement age and the rest of us could go to Bideford or find another job. I started doing a few electrical jobs for people in and around Crediton with the thought of maybe working for myself full time, but without a regular wage and the cost of doing up the house, I decided that this was not an option. I carried on doing the odd electrical jobs evenings and weekends. Back then I didn’t go to church so my weekends where free. My father had always said that people went to church to see what their neighbours were wearing and to talk about them the following week. This is probably why I didn’t feel the need to go. It’s interesting though that the vicar at Beaford, the Rev H Marshall gave a bible and a book of common prayer to James Jewell on 30th April 1885. We think this was my grandfather, but don’t know for sure. I will tell you about my next job in the January magazine. Now I think it’s time to take a stroll outside to see what needs doing in the ................ Vegetable Garden Continue harvesting sprouts, broccoli, winter cauliflower and cabbage. Root crops such as parsnips can be left in the ground until needed. With cauliflowers, bend some of the leaves over the heads to protect them from the frost and remove lower leaves on sprout plants to make it easier for picking. Rough turn the ground as it becomes vacant so the winter weather can break it down into a fine tilth ready for spring planting. Flower Garden I was always one of those gardeners who had to have the flower beds and borders tidied up and put to bed as the saying goes, with all the old stems cut down, fallen leaves cleared up and put on the compost heap. We now have a new way of thinking and we are advised to leave some if not all of the old stems and seed heads in place so that the insects have somewhere to over winter. This in turn provides food for the birds. Goldfinch numbers have increased over the last couple of years: as have the number of Red Admiral butterflies. I now tidy the beds and borders in early March, before new growth begins. Fruit Garden Keep an eye on any stored fruit and eat or throw away any that are showing signs of rot. Keep the fruit garden weed free. Lawns December is a good time to give the lawn mower a little tlc. Give it a good clean, sharpen the blade and if it has a grass box or bag, give this a good wash with a pressure washer. Trees, Shrubs and Climbers Continue to move or plant new deciduous shrubs or trees any time throughout the dormant period but this is best completed before the growing season starts in early March. If you buy a cut Christmas tree for the festive season, (one with no roots ) you could end up with a carpet full of pine needles. Try these basic steps to help reduce needle drop. Before you take the tree indoors cut about an inch off the trunk. Then stand it in a bucket of water for a short while to allow it to take up water. Once indoors place it in a stand that has a vase which the trunk fits in, once in position fill the vase with water and keep it topped up until it’s all over. Plant of the month Callicarpa Bodinieri This is one of those shrubs that is just doing nothing for most of the year, it has flowers that are hardly visible. Then autumn arrives and the leaves turn orange and red and as the leaves fall the beauty of the shrub is revealed, clusters of small violet – purple berries which remain on the bare stems well into December. Have a great Christmas and New Year, but most of all Enjoy your gardening
Garden notes for November from Bert Jewell
As I write these notes continuing on from last month where I mentioned I’d had the flu, well what a coincidence, I have just had my flu jab. Fingers crossed, no more flu. Now let’s continue my journey. Not long after we were married the company that I drove for made some changes. Most of the raw materials were being brought in by the people who made it and the other drivers were becoming owner drivers. As I couldn’t afford my own lorry and the lorry I drove was sold, I had to find another job. Back then you could find a job quite easily and I got a job working for Bailey Bartlett, a builder’s merchant based in Bideford and Crediton, in what is now The Bike Shed on Union Road. We knew that the terraced house that we had modernised would be too small if we started a family so after a couple of years we put it on the market. It was sold the very same day with a very good profit. There was a house for sale in the High Street that needed quite a lot of work doing to it, but we had sold ours and things were moving fast. So we bought the High St property for just over £15,000. It had ten rooms plus a cellar, it also had a small garden which was long and narrow, was this my old dream coming true. The house used to have a shop facing the High Street with a living room behind. We know this because there was a wall across the middle of the room with a window in it. We did hear that years ago it was a tailor’s shop, but we are not sure. One of the first jobs we did was to take out this middle wall, so with Acro props in place we started. It was lathe and plaster on timber studding so it didn’t take long. Once it was removed a large metal R.S.J was installed. All the downstairs walls were re-plastered and new windows were fitted in the front of the house, our new lounge diner was complete. While all this was going on we lived upstairs. It is a three storey house so there was plenty of room. Now I think we should go outside and see what’s happening in the .......... Vegetable garden It’s getting to that time of year when daylight hours are in short supply, but there are still things to do. If you haven’t yet taken down the runner beans, pick the longest straightest dried up pods, take out the beans and put them in a paper bag. Keep them somewhere frost free over winter and you have seed for next year. Cut the old elms down to ground level but leave the roots in the soil, they release nitrogen as they rot. Plant Garlic cloves in well prepared ground about 6” apart and continue rough turning the ground as soon as crops are harvested.
Flower garden All the spring flowering bulbs and corms should be planted by now, but if you haven’t quite finished, Tulips and Hyacinths can still be planted up until the end of this month. Bulbs planted late especially Daffodils will have very short flower stems and weak foliage. Once the growing season gets under way the ageing process has begun and without nutrients and moisture the growth becomes stunted. Fruit garden This is a good time to take cuttings of Blackcurrants, Redcurrants, Gooseberries and Vines. Once the leaves have fallen, cut out a selection of straight stems from the plant you wish to propagate from, they need to be at least 12” long. Make a straight cut just below a leaf node at the base of the cutting and a sloping cut about 8” above just above a leaf node. Make a slit in the soil with a garden spade in a sheltered part of the garden and push the cuttings in until only about 2” is above ground. Firm the soil and leave for at least a year. Lawns The mild damp weather of late means the grass is still growing, so cut it as often as necessary, but not too short or when the ground is waterlogged. Make good any broken or damaged edges. Trees, Shrubs and Climbers Take hardwood cuttings of Trees, shrubs and climbing Roses in the same way I mentioned in the fruit garden. I find that Clematis is best propagated by layering. Container grown trees and shrubs can be planted at any time of the year so long as they are watered until established. Bare root trees and shrubs are best planted in late autumn or early winter whilst the soil is still warm and unlikely to dry out over winter. If you are planting new ones, soak the roots in a bucket of water for an hour before planting and give the ground a good soak afterwards. Plant of the month “Viburnum Davidii” A small rounded evergreen shrub growing to about 3’ high with a spread of about 4’. It does have rather beautiful upstanding berries in a shade of turquoise, but to get them you need male and female plants. Any well drained soil in sun or light shade. Enjoy your gardening
Garden notes for October from Bert Jewell
I often visit gardening clubs, societies and other groups to either judge their shows or to give a talk on specific garden themes. Because of the decline in the wildlife visitors to our gardens ie: Butterflies, Moths, Bees, Birds and Insects and others, I try to encourage people to grow at least one plant that will attract wildlife, whether it’s a dwarf Buddleia to grow on the patio or a Helenium to grow in the border. A nest box or a bug hotel it will all help. On a recent visit to the Cotswolds our journey took us to Berkely Castle where they have a large Butterfly house. It has a large number of species including the Atlas Moth with its 6” wingspan. Talking of journeys I must get on with mine. The house we bought to start our married life needed modernisation. So we set about getting plans drown up to build a single story extension in the back yard. This was to be our new kitchen and bathroom. Whilst the plans where being processed we stripped out all the old lathe and plaster on the walls and ceiling, rewired and then plaster boarded and skimmed. Once permission was given for the extension we started clearing out the back yard and digging out the foundations. All this had to be done by hand and all had to go through the house. Because we were both working most of the work was done during evenings and weekends. If I was home my day started at 5am so that I could get to where I had to load fairly early in the morning. Margaret was living in work related accommodation, but helped carry building materials through the house on her days off. Most of the work had been completed by December ready for our January wedding. Margaret had to work over the festive period so time together was limited. I drove into Exeter on Christmas Eve to see her when I suddenly had the most terrible back pain. I spent the night in the nurse’s quarters but had to be gone early on Christmas morning. I drove back to the bedsit and reluctantly went to bed. That was the last thing I remembered for just over a week. The late Dr Markby told me later that because of the long hours and hard work I had no resistance to the flu. The owner of the bedsit was an ex nurse and she would not let Margaret visit me in case she brought something nasty back from hospital. Now I think we should see if things are healthy in the ............... Vegetable garden Now is a good time to plant Spring Cabbage and over wintering Onion sets. Cabbage plants need firm soil to withstand the rigours of winter, so walk up and down the planting line a couple of times, then position plants 18” apart and as deep as the seed leaves. Water well to get established. Select the Onion sets you want to plant and with a pair of scissors cut off any old dry brown leaves. The birds will think these are worms and pull the sets out of the ground. Plant them about 6” apart using a small trowel or bulb planter to take out a shallow hole. They should be planted so that just the tip is showing above the ground. If you push them into the ground or use a dibber, the soil below the set will become firm and the developing roots will lift the set out of the ground. Flower garden Continue planting spring bedding if you haven’t yet finished, but don’t leave it too long, they will take longer to establish once the soil becomes cold. Tulips can be planted any time this month or early November. If the soil is heavy add a little coarse grit to the planting hole. Lift gladioli corms when the foliage is dying down, dry and store somewhere frost free. Fruit garden Young Strawberry plants raised from this year’s runners can be planted out this month. Prune Blackberries by cutting out the canes that have fruited this year, tie in all new canes to fruit next year. Lawns Reduce the frequency of mowing, but keep the lawn free from fallen leaves. The shade they create will turn the grass yellow.
Trees, Shrubs and Climbers It’s that time of year when new trees, shrubs and climbers can be planted. Knowing that they should make new roots before top growth starts in the spring prepare the planting hole adding well rotted garden compost or a planting compost bought from a garden centre. Always plant any new additions at the same depth as they were in the container or field for bare root. Container plants can be planted any time this month or early November. Leave bare root plants till the end of the month or after leaf fall. Stake new trees and secure with a good quality tree tie to avoid rubbing. Plant of the month “Liquidamber” Now is the time to buy a Liquidamber tree. It is one of the best for rich autumn colours and if bought now before the leaves fall, you can pick out the one with the brightest colours. It grows well in most garden soils, in sun or light shade. It can grow to 50’ high if left un-pruned. Prune from late autumn to early spring once all the leaves have fallen. Leave the central leader un-pruned as long as possible to avoid lots of competing side shoots. Enjoy your gardening
Garden notes for September from Bert Jewell
August was the month to harvest and enjoy the crops that we grew and to take time out to admire the flowers in the borders, pots and baskets and to maybe think about what changes to make if any. September however sees the workload increase in preparation for next year, but before we go into the garden, let me tell you a little more about my journey. After working for the haulage firm in North St for just over two years I was offered a job with another firm, still in Crediton, but with a more up to date lorry with power steering. The loads still had to be sheeted and roped. The work involved fetching materials from London, Wales, Avonmouth and a quarry near Glastonbury. There was also the occasional farm delivery. On deciding to take the job I was told that I could no longer stay in my lodgings. Although they did not come with the job and I was staying with a relative. The advice I was given was to seek alternative accommodation. A friend, an ex lorry driver and his wife had a spare room in their house in East St and agreed to let me rent it with a cooked meal when I was home. The London trips usually resulted in me sleeping in the cab somewhere in or around the city in one of the lorry parks. It was while working for this firm that Margaret and I decided to get married. As neither of our parents owned their own home we agreed to try to buy a property before the big day. The result was a small terraced cottage, it had a living room, one bedroom, an attic room and a galvanised lean-to kitchen and outdoor toilet. It cost us £1.100. It had no rear entrance with only a yard at the back, still no garden. The idea of me being a gardener had long been forgotten. Talking of gardens how are things in the Vegetable garden Continue harvesting crops such as Sweetcorn, French and Runner Beans, Lettuce, Autumn Cauliflower, main crop Potatoes and Onions. Talking of Onions, if you think yours are good why not put them in a local produce show. Select the best ones while still growing, about two weeks before the show, peel down the outer skins to ground level and slightly lift with a fork to break some of the roots. The exposed skin will ripen and tan, making them look better on the show bench You can also plant overwintering Onion sets now for harvesting next May or early June. Plant out Spring Cabbage plants 12” to 18” apart with 18” between the rows. If all your Tomatoes haven’t ripened before the weather turns, bring them indoors and they will soon be ready to eat. Flower garden The summer bedding will soon be coming to an end and the beds and tubs will need cleaning out. The spent bedding can be put on the compost heap, but any perennial weeds should be put in the brown bin. Once the beds are clear, sprinkle a hand full of balanced fertiliser over a couple of square yard and lightly fork in. For pots and tubs, replace the top 2” to 3” with new compost. New bedding for winter and spring can now be planted together with Daffodils and Crocus bulbs. Leave Hyacinths and Tulips until next month. Fruit garden Harvest autumn fruiting Raspberries and prune summer fruiting ones if you didn’t do it last month. Prune Plum trees as soon as possible once you have gathered the fruit, never prune in winter. Lawns The autumn is a good time to give the lawn some well earned tlc. Treat any areas of moss then leave for about a week. Once the moss has turned black, give the lawn a good raking either by hand or with a powered rake. Mow the lawn then spike those areas that were mossy. Feed the lawn with a low Nitrogen feed and leave for three days before you start to cut it again. Trees, Shrubs and Climbers There is still time to trim Beech, Hornbeam and Leyland Cypress (Leylandii) hedges, but it should be done by the end of the month so that the cuts can callus before winter sets in. Yew and Box can have their last trim of the year as can Privet and Lonicera Nitida. Make sure climbing plants are tied in and check any newly planted Trees and Shrubs after windy weather. Plant of the month - Cyclamen Hederifolium This variety is autumn flowering and has large Ivy shaped leaves with dots or marbling. The flowers appear before the leaves. It grows best in well drained soil with plenty of humus and light shade Enjoy your gardening
Garden notes for August from Bert Jewell
I was invited to give a talk at a Fuchsia and Pelargonium society meeting just outside of Plymouth in early July. My talk was on the growing and showing of Pelargoniums and because of the decline in our wildlife I try to encourage people to grow a few plants that will entice birds, bees and other beneficial insects into their gardens. On my journey back home later that evening I couldn’t help but notice the huge swathes of tall pink spires of Rosebay Willowherb, a food source for the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawkmoth . Talking about journeys lets continue mine from last month ............... As I mentioned in the magazine I sometimes took people on outings, one such outing I shall never forget. I was asked to drive a group of ladies from Western Lodge (now the old building beside Crediton hospital converted to flats) to Box house in Axminster. Western Lodge was a residential home for women with learning difficulties and Box house was for men with similar problems. It was for an annual get together with refreshments and a dance. There were two coaches and on arrival at Box House we were asked to drive in for the passengers to get off, then reverse out, turn around and reverse in ready to leave later that evening. Once the passengers had left the coaches, the staff from Box House with some of their clients saw us reverse out into the main road. One of the clients came aboard my coach and immediately asked me my name. I told him it was Jewell. He then said “I’ve got a relation called Jewell, Daisy my sister”. Daisy was my mother’s name so I checked with one of the staff and yes his name was William Boyland ( Bill ). Boyland was my mother’s maiden name. I had an uncle that I had never heard of. Mother told me he had been put away when he was young because of his condition. Talking of conditions, let’s see what conditions are like in the ............. Vegetable garden After all the hard work over the last couple of months it’s now time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Harvest French Beans and Runner Beans as soon as they are ready, with the dry hot conditions they will quickly become stringy. Harvest second early Potatoes, Beetroot, Onions and Summer Cabbage. Sow Spring Cabbage seed to plant out mid September. Watch out for Potato blight. This is brown patches on the leaves mainly around the edges. If the haulms (stems) show sign of infection, remove them as soon as they start to die down. This should save the tubers. Flower garden Keep the borders and containers flowering by regular deadheading and feeding. Keep weeds at bay by running a small hoe around the borders. Plant autumn flowering bulbs. Fruit garden It’s that time again when the fruit bushes and canes need pruning. We normally prune the Blackcurrants when we pick the fruit, by cutting out the whole stem that has borne fruit but if new growth from the base is in short supply, cut the old stems down by half. New shoots will grow from just below the cut and will bear fruit next year. Cut out all the old summer fruiting Raspberry canes once the fruit has been picked, then tie in the new canes and leave until January when the tops can be cut off if they are above the height of the supports.
Some lawns are just beginning to show signs of stress due to the hot dry conditions. Don’t be tempted to start watering or feeding. This would only tempt the roots to come to the surface, unless of course you watered for a long period to really soak the soil. When the rain comes the grass will quickly green up.
Trees, Shrubs and Climbers
Yearly trimming of Beech hedges not only keeps them in shape but also helps them maintain the brown leaves through the winter. New twigs are created each time you cut the hedge. The leaves will remain on new growth right through the year from green to brown.
Trim Pyracantha to reveal the berries.
Plant of the month
A hardy perennial for the middle or back of the flower border. They will grow in a range of heights from 2’ to 4’, depending on which variety you grow. The flowers are yellows through to reds and all have a prominent central disc that is great for bees and butterflies. They will grow in any well drained soil in the sun or light shade.
Enjoy your gardening
Garden notes for July from Bert Jewell
As I sit in the office writing these notes, my mind keeps going down to the allotment. A lot of my freshly planted Brassicas have been snapped off by the gales. I will come to terms with it and sort something out; maybe the writing will calm me. Now, about my journey. Moving to Crediton was at the time quite daunting, but turned out to be a very good move. I did the occasional general haulage job with the flat bed E.R.F lorry and the odd farm delivery with the small Bedford lorry, but most of my work was with the furniture van, driving and helping with removals. I met a lot of different people whilst working as a removal man, from clergy (when we delivered the grand piano to the parish church) to farmers who were retiring and moving into a town house or worse still a bungalow. I also met Margaret when I was bringing her family down to live just outside Crediton from Somerset. What a coincidence that the girl from the village was also called Margaret. The time came for me to take my coach driving test and together with my boss and another driver I made my way to Exeter. I can’t remember when we had to pick up the examiner but I remember his name was Mr Gage. The first thing he said to me was that the passengers wanted a smooth ride and that he would tell me where to drive. I remember the last part of the test was changing into bottom gear whilst coming down Pennsylvania Hill and I just nicked the gear. At the end of the test he shook my hand and told me I had passed but I had to polish up on the bottom gear. My work then involved me doing the school run, picking up children from Newton St Cyres and around Cowley. I also took people on outings one of which I will tell you about next time. Now let’s go into the ................... Vegetable garden If you grow your own veg as I try to do, the biggest problem at this time of year is that everything is ready at the same time. Root crops such as potatoes and carrots can be left in the ground for a little longer. But other crops like Cauliflower, Lettuce, summer Cabbage and Calabrese need to be harvested as soon as they are firm enough to cut. It is also important to keep plants well watered during dry weather; stress will encourage them to run to seed. Seeds to sow now include maincrop Carrots, spring Cabbage and early Peas, they mature quicker than maincrop varieties. Flower garden The flower borders, containers and hanging baskets should all be looking their best at this time of year. Try to keep the display going all summer by carefully dead heading, this stops the plants from producing seed making it flower again. Adding a potash rich feed when watering will also help as the nutrients in the multipurpose compost only last for six weeks at best. Lawns Continue cutting the lawns on a regular basis unless we have a prolonged dry hot period, it has happened before. Don’t stop cutting the grass altogether but maybe once every two weeks with the deck raised and the grass box removed, the cut grass will create shade for the roots. Fruit After all the Strawberries have been harvested it’s time to tidy up the beds. Remove any straw or other type of matting, then; cut all the plants down to about 2” above the ground. Clean it up and put the waste on the compost heap. Sprinkle a handful of either a balanced or high potash fertilizer over the bed at a rate of a handful to a square yard. Then give the bed a good watering. Trees, Shrubs and Climbers Keep fast growing hedges like Privet and Lonicera Nitida in shape by Trimming every 6 – 7 weeks. Dead head Climbing Roses by cutting out each flower as it dies, once all the flowers in the cluster has finished the stem can be cut back by about a third, to a healthy leaf joint. You may well get another flush of flowers later on. Prune Philadelphus (Mock Orange) by following the flower stems back to a healthy side shoot cut the stem just above that shoot. Plant of the month BUDDLEIA DAVIDII (Butterfly bush) Every garden should have one of these as you can now get dwarf types to grow on the patio. They will grow in any soil in sun or light shade, but need pruning every year. Cut the tall stems down to half their length in mid autumn, to help stop wind damage. Then cut them down to about 2” – 3” from their base just above a leaf joint during March. They are good for a large variety of wildlife. Enjoy your gardening
Garden notes for June from Bert Jewell
Let’s continue further along my journey. Shall I take the job in Crediton or not, I kept asking myself over and over again. My mother didn’t want me to go and father said I had to please myself. Then there was the girl from the village, although we weren’t serious about each other yet, how would she react! Where would I live if I moved? I had to decide what I wanted to do and let my brother know by the end of the following week. After a lot of soul searching I decided to take the job and gave in notice to leave the place I had worked for nearly eight years. I had learnt a lot from that place of work, about different types of steel, quite a lot about electrical installations and how to work with other people. I told my brother what I had decided and he said that a bedsit was available in one of the properties in Parliament Street. It was the cheapest option, so I said yes I would take it. There was nowhere to park a car so I sold mine but there was no garden for me to deal with either. After saying goodbye to friends I had made in the village, including the girl and to my work mates, my brother collected me and my few worldly goods from home and we set off, the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I went into the office at 8am on the morning of my first day and was told to go into the yard and meet the man who I would be working under. He was the brother in law of the man who had his name on the Lorries. I was shown some of the vehicles I would be driving. There was the Bedford Furniture van, a small Bedford Lorry for farm deliveries and an E.R.F flat bed Lorry for general haulage. It had no side or tail boards and all loads had to be sheeted and tied down with ropes, there were no curtain sided vehicles. Back then I was also shown the coach that I would take my test on. Before I tell about that I think we should take a stroll around the....... Vegetable garden Keeping the veg patch free from weeds has been fairly easy with all the fine dry weather we’ve been having, but don’t hang the hoe up just yet. The first drop of rain will have the weeds popping up just where you don’t want them. Regular hoeing will check weed seedlings before they can get established. If the ground is wet put down pieces of board to use as stepping stones. Late May early June is a good time to put in runner and French beans, either seed or plants. Sow, maincrop carrots, peas, sweet corn and swede.
Flower garden Lift Tulip and Hyacinth bulbs once the foliage has died down clean them off and store in a cool dark place until autumn when they can be replanted ready for next spring. Daffodil bulbs are best lifted every 3 – 4 years discarding any rotten or damaged bulbs and separate the others to be planted as individual bulbs. Now that the risk of frost has passed, plant out bedding into borders and containers. Fruit garden Keep fruit bushes, canes and trees well watered during dry periods, this will help to swell the crops and keep the plants healthy. Lawns Lawns will need regular mowing to keep the whole garden looking good Oh and don’t forget the edges. Trimmed edges on a lawn, to me are like the icing on the cake. Trees, Shrubs and Climbers Fast growing hedges like Privet and Lonicera Nitida (Nitida is green leaved, Baggesens Gold is the yellow leaved variety) will need frequent clipping to maintain shape and density, the Lonicera more than the privet. Clematis Montana can be tidied up once the flowering has finished but pruning too hard could mean fewer flowers next year. Tie in new growth on climbing and rambling Roses. Carefully pinch out dead flower heads from Rhododendrons. Plant of the month Geranium (Hardy Cranesbill) So called because of its seed pod. These hardy plants live outside all year round and should not be mistaken for Pelargonium’s which are sold as Geraniums. I would like to see these plants sold under their true name but it’s all about marketing. Anyway, Geraniums will grow in any well drained soil in sun or light shade and are available in a wide range of colours and growth habit, some used as groundcover and others reaching 2’ or more. The ground cover varieties can be dead headed using a pair of shears, this way you should get a second flush of flowers. Dead head the taller varieties once the flowers have faded and cut the stems down in the autumn.
Enjoy your gardening
Garden notes for May from Bert Jewell
As I write these notes the sun is shining. Lots of queen wasps have come out of hibernation and are looking for somewhere to build their nests. I’m allergic to wasp stings and try to give them a wide berth but they are fascinating creatures. They build their nest with wood fibre, gnawed from fence panels and other pieces of wood, then mixed with saliva and placed in position to form the structure they call home. Now I’m supposed to be telling you about my journey. So, I had never thought of changing my job and although I could set up and operate lathes, because I didn’t start out as an apprentice I wouldn’t have that piece of paper saying I was an engineer. I was unsure what to do, the job I was in was noisy and sometimes boring. The job that was on offer would take me outside travelling around the country. I told my parents what my brother had said, fathers reaction was “you’ll never make a driver” mother said nothing. I think father’s comments helped me decide what to do. I wanted to prove to him that I could become a driver. So I had a day off from work and headed down to Crediton. The firm offering the job was situated in what is now the square. The office and yard was off North Street with two other properties along Parliament St, opposite what is now the Three Little Pigs. It used to be the Market House, how things have changed. The interview went well and my job if I took it would involve driving a Furniture Removal Lorry, doing the occasional delivery of cattle feed to local farms, some general haulage and learn to drive a coach. I could drive a lorry on my full driving licence but would have to take a test to drive a coach, known then as a PSV licence. Did I take the job? I’ll let you know next month. Now let’s see what needs doing in the .......... Vegetable garden It’s a busy time in the veg garden with the earthing up or round hoeing of potatoes and the sowing of veg seeds if you didn’t do it last month. If you grow your own runner beans from seed sown direct into the soil where they are to mature, put the supports in first, either in a wigwam or in a straight line. Then plant the seed at a depth of 2”. To help stop the seeds from rotting try planting them on their ends, this allows any moisture to run off. Keep the veg patch weed free by regular hoeing. Flower garden Now is a good time to lift any polyanthus and primrose plants from borders and pots, and carefully pull the clumps apart. Then replant each new plantlet in a shady part of the garden to mature over the summer months. They will be ready to plant out in the autumn for next spring’s display. Clear all other spring flowering plants like pansies, violas and bellis daisies, then prepare the ground for summer bedding. Weed and lightly fork in some general purpose fertiliser. Plant out summer bedding towards the end of the month when all risk of frost has past. Fruit garden Keep weeds under control in the fruit garden as they can take nutrients away from developing fruit, and water plants during dry periods. Lawns Feed established lawns if you didn’t do it last month and mow at least once a week. A well kept lawn makes the whole garden look great. Trees, Shrubs and Climbers Privet and Lonicera Nitida hedges will need cutting early this month and about every 6 to 8 weeks throughout the summer. Prune Forsythia and Flowering Current once all the flowering has finished. Climbing plants are growing away quite strongly at the moment, so tie in all new shoots to stop the wind from breaking them off. Water any newly planted trees, shrubs or climbers if the weather continues to stay dry. Plants of the month “Weeds” Weeds are plants in the wrong place or so we gardeners claim. They can take a lot of nutrients out of the soil which would be more useful to the plants we are trying to grow, but like all things on this planet they have their uses. Take groundsel for instance, this is a weed related to ragwort and also a shrub we grow in our gardens, “Senecio Greyi” a silver leaved shrub with yellow flowers. The annual groundsel is a food source for the caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth. They are brightly coloured with orange and black bands. Groundsel is also prone to a form of rust. If the groundsel in your garden has rust you may well get it on your spring flowering wallflowers. Rosebay willowherb produces thousands of seeds and can quickly spread over a large area, but the foliage is a food source for the caterpillars of the Elephant Hawk moth. The caterpillar when threatened changes it’s shape to resemble an Elephant head. Enjoy your gardening.
Garden notes for April from Bert Jewell
How did the Austin A35 cope with the long journey? Well, all in all, everything went really well, but as I wrote last time we set off at about 2am. It was dark and cold; we had the lights on plus the heater and the radio. I had been driving for quite a while when I realised that the lights were not very bright. With the heater, radio and lights we were taking more out of the battery than we were putting in. We pulled into the next lay-by, turned everything off, but left the engine running for a while to recharge the battery. Then we put on our coats and made ourselves as comfortable as we could and dozed off for a while until it started to get light. We really enjoyed Blackpool, the illuminations, the nightly entertainment in the hotel and meals like we had never had before. It was the first holiday away that either of us had experienced, but as we all know all good things come to an end. The week was over and I drove the little Austin A35 back home without a hitch. I went to work on the Monday after the holiday feeling refreshed but restless. My brother had changed his job and was now driving a lorry for a haulage firm in Crediton. If he was passing where I worked he would call in to see how I was doing and ask about mother and father. Mother seemed to carry on without complaining but father’s health was failing, lots of chest problems and he was a heavy smoker. One day in the spring of 1967 my brother called in to see me and told me that if I wanted a job as a lorry driver, there was a vacancy where he worked in Crediton and that if I was interested I had to go down for an interview. How did it go?! I’ll tell you next time. Now let’s see what needs doing in the ............... Vegetable garden Planting and sowing moves up a gear this month, so whenever you have any spare time get out there and plant first early potatoes towards the middle of the month and second early and maincrop during the second half. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and if frost is expected earth up any shoots that have come through the soil. Sow seeds of Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Leeks, Beetroot, Parsnips, and many other types of veg including hardy herbs like Dill, Parsley and Coriander. Keep the veg patch weed free and water the rows of seeds if the weather turns dry. Continue to harvest any veg that has overwintered. Flower garden Continue to dead head spring flowering bulbs and to help make sure of a good display next year, leave the foliage as nature decides for at least six weeks after flowering before you cut them down. The old flower stems of Ceratostiga ( Hardy Plumbago ), can be cut down to ground level this month, new growth will spring up from the base. Make up hanging baskets if you have somewhere light and frost free to keep them until towards the end of May. Plant hardy perennials any time this month but leave the planting of dormant Dahlia tubers until the end of April. Fruit garden There is still not a lot going on in the fruit garden as I write these notes, but plants are starting to show signs of life. Strawberry plants can be put in this month but they will benefit from not fruiting this year, so cut off the flower stems before the fruit sets. This will give you better and stronger plants next year. Lawns Now is a good time to feed the lawn down here in the South West, leave until May if you live up in the North. Use a recommended lawn feed and if you have weeds and moss, use one that contains the ingredients to control them. Always follow the instructions on the packet, too much Nitrogen will burn the grass and leave the lawn with brown patches. Trees, Shrubs and Climbers Early Spring is a good time to give the woody plants in your garden a bit of T.L.C. Clean out any Ivy, weeds and rubbish from under hedges and then sprinkle some general fertiliser along its length about 12” out from the trunks. Tie in climbing Roses and Shrubs grown against a wall or other support. Prune winter Jasmine by cutting off the dead flower heads and the tips of the shoots. This will encourage new shoots to develop making the plant bushier. Give lime hating plants a feed of Sequestered Iron to help stop the leaves turning yellow. Plant of the month “Pulmonaria” ( Lungwort ) In medieval times it was thought that the large spotty leaves on this plant would cure lung diseases. I prefer to use them as ground cover plants in a shady part of the garden, they wilt in the sun. They grow in any reasonable soil to about 12” x 12” with white, pink or blue flowers. Enjoy your gardening
Garden notes for March from Bert Jewell
If you grow a lot of plants and like to keep your garden in tip top condition, cancel any short breaks or long holidays and get to work on your plot at the first opportunity. I’m only joking of course, but seriously, March is the best month to get ahead. But before we go out into the garden lets travel a little further along my journey. Thoughts of me becoming a full time gardener were fast becoming childhood dreams. There were other things to think about now, Beer! The odd game of darts! Going to the pictures with mates from work! Attending Judo and self defence classes once a week during school term time! The girl who lived in the village! And of course my second hand grey Austin A35 car.
I bought it from the garage next to our workshop. I knew quite a lot of the mechanics and they made sure the car was in sound condition before I drove it home. There was a block of garages within the little council estate and one of them came under father’s tenancy, so I was able to put the car under cover. Over the next two or three months, I made a few subtle changes to the appearance of my Austin A35. I spray painted red flashes on each of the front wings, fitted winkers and disconnected the trafficators which were fitted between the front and rear doors. I fitted two lamps just above the front bumper, one a fog lamp and the other a spot light, I also fitted a car radio. The girl in the village and I had become an item. I got on well with her parents and they were happy for us to go on holiday together. We decided to go to a Butlin’s hotel in Blackpool. Over the next few months we both saved what we could. About a month before the holiday I sent a money order to pay the balance, I can’t remember how much. The day of our departure arrived and we decided to leave early in the morning, about 2am. We put our suitcases in the back of the car, said our goodbyes and off we went. Now I think it’s time to get out into the ........
Vegetable garden With the lengthening days and temperature increase, weed seeds will be germinating at an alarming rate. These can be kept under control with the regular use of a push pull hoe, using boards to move around on if the soil is wet. When the soil is ready and all the weed have gone you can sow seeds of Lettuce, Radishes, Spring Onions, Leeks, Broad Beans, and early varieties of Carrots and Peas. Parsnips can be sown into soil that has not been manured in the last twelve months, old Parsnip seed will not germinate. When planting Onion sets, cut off any old dead leaves, birds think they are worms and pull out the set. Continue to harvest winter veg and rough turn the soil as it becomes vacant. Flower garden Continue to tidy up the flower borders by removing last year’s old plant material. Cut down stems of Penstemon and sprinkle a handful of slow release fertilizer around each plant, lightly forking it in. Cut down old Sedum flower stems, if you try pulling them off you will pull out a part of the plant. Dead head Spring flowering Bulbs by cutting off just the dead flower, leaving the stem to act as a leaf, the leaves feed the bulbs so try to leave them as long as possible before you tie them up or cut them off.
Things are still fairly quiet in the fruit garden, so it’s a great opportunity to get out all the weeds, then mulch everything with garden compost or farmyard manure. Applied at around two inches deep this will help retain moisture and feed the plants.
Check for worm casts before you first cut the grass, they can easily be dispersed with a stiff broom. Trim all lawn edges and re-cut any that needs redefining , then cut the lawn with the deck raised.
Trees Shrubs and Climbers
There is quite a bit of pruning and cutting out to be done this month. So let’s start with the coloured stemmed Dogwoods, ( Cornus ) we used to cut these down to about 3” above the ground but as with so many things thoughts have changed and we now cut out most of the old wood and reduce the new growth by about two thirds. With Hydrangea remove the old flower heads of the Mophead varieties plus any week or dead stems. Bushes can be pruned by cutting down to a strong bud, but you may lose some flowers this year. Buddleia bushes need to be pruned hard this month by cutting all stems down to within 3” to 4” above where it was cut last year. The exception to this is Buddleia Globosa and Buddleia Alternifolia. These should be trimmed after flowering to help keep in shape.
Late March is the best time to prune modern Rose bushes ( Hybrid Teas and Floribunda ), young shoots will have started to develop making it easy to see where to cut. Prune back to just above a bud as close to the base as possible, cut out any weak or dead stems.
Plant of the month
“Cornus Mas” This shrub can really look fantastic during March with its masses of small yellow flowers on leafless stems. Can grow to about 10’ high and will grow in any reasonable soil, sun or shade. Flowers are followed by red berries and good Autumn colour. Enjoy your gardening
Garden Notes for February from Bert Jewell
Once my hand and wrist had mended and the doctor had given me the all clear to go back to work I had to decide how I was going to get there. For a while I relied on an old bicycle and a kind neighbour who worked in the same town. Although I had passed my test to ride a motorcycle and I loved the speed and adrenaline rush they can create, I decided to take lessons to drive a car. I thought if I had a car, I wouldn’t have to dress up in all the leathers, boots, goggles, gloves and helmet. There was also a girl in the village who helped me decide. Her dad had a motorbike and she didn’t like riding pillion. Once I had saved up enough to pay for some driving lessons ( the only money I spent was on cigarettes and lodge money to my parents ) I booked up with the local school of motoring. After playing a few tunes on the gearbox and stalling the engine once or twice, things seemed to go well. There was one thing that caused a constant niggle, the car was dual controlled and the instructor continually applied the brake or depressed the clutch. One day whilst having a lesson I remember coming to a crossroad and on changing gear I found that the instructor had again depressed the clutch. After negotiating the crossroad I drove on until we came to a stone landing. These are areas beside the road like a lay by, were chippings are stored ready for when the roads are resurfaced. Much to the amazement of the instructor I pulled in. “What is the problem” he asks, “You Sir” was my reply. “I have to be able to use the pedals on my own if I am going to learn to drive, so we decide now whether you continue to teach me or I get someone else”. He agreed to use the pedals on his side of the car only in an emergency, so we continued with the lesson. I passed my driving test on the second attempt and bought my first car soon after. Before I tell you about the car I think we should have a look around the ........
Vegetable garden Don’t feel that you have to start putting in seeds and plants just because they are available in the garden centres, or we have had a few sunny days. If the ground is cold, freshly planted plants may well just sit there doing nothing, but they are ageing , so when they do start to grow they will just go to seed. If you really want to start early, warm up the soil with a sheet of black polythene for a couple of weeks removing all weeds first, then towards the end of the month remove the polythene and plant early Peas, Broad Beans, Lettuce and early Carrots.
I look at our flower borders and think what a mess. The old flower stems and foliage of the perennials are still there from last year. The thinking has changed over the last few years and it is now thought by leaving old plant material in place over winter encourages more birds in the garden, with plenty of over wintering insects and more places to forage. But the time is fast approaching for the big clean up to start. I shall begin by cutting down the Ornamental Grasses. Carefully cut off the old stems as close to the ground as you can, avoiding any new shoots. Clean up around the plant and apply a slow release fertiliser, lightly forking it in.
Any remaining Apple and Pear pruning should be finished this month before the leaf buds start to open. Continue to plant new soft fruit bushes or canes. Prune autumn fruiting Raspberries by cutting all the canes down to ground level.
You may well find that the grass is beginning to grow, but try to avoid the temptation to get out there with the mower unless the conditions are right. No frost, ground not waterlogged and the mower deck is high.
Trees, Shrubs and Climbers
Mahonias have looked great this year with their yellow, lily of the valley scented flowers. But the plant can become leggy, so once the flowers have finished, cut the stem off just below the flower head. This will encourage new shoots to develop lower down the stems. Large flowered Hybrid Clematis that start flowering in June and continue through to late August, should be cut down to about 2” from the ground or to a well developed bud.
Plant of the month
“Corylus Contorta” The Corkscrew Hazel. An unusual relative of the common Hazel, grown for the twisted stems which bear yellow catkins this month. Can grow up to 10’ or more in any well drained soil. It will tolerate a windswept site. Prune out any old wood in March . The catkins are male, look for the rather sparse female flowers, they are red but tiny.
Enjoy your gardening
Garden Notes for January from Bert Jewell
On reading over the last couple of months notes I realise that I hadn’t mentioned that I had bought a motor bike. To get to work from the village I had to push a bicycle up hill on both journeys to and from work. A friend was a motorcycle mechanic and he managed to get me a good deal on a 250cc BSA. I learnt to ride and passed my test in Exeter. This was back in the 60’s when the examiner would walk out in front of you for the emergency stop. Now let’s get back to my journey. On returning home after my time in hospital I found my bike propped up against the house wall, the forks bent, the crash bar which is fitted to hold two spotlights was completely smashed. My arm and hand in plaster, it seemed there was no joy from my parents that I was still here. Believe it or not I had a good laugh in the hospital ward, the nurses were great and the other patients were good for a laugh, despite their injuries. My first day home made me feel as if my world had fallen apart, but one thing I learnt whilst growing up was never to give up. The time while my wrist healed seemed like an eternity, we had no books to read but sometimes had a paper if mother went shopping.
There was a small village store and post office, but she could now go to town on a bus or a lady from the village would sometimes go shopping and take mother with her. They became good friends and mother started doing the odd bit of housework for her. She lived in the Rectory which was just across the road from the church. Mother would mention the church regarding someone she’d meet who was a church goer. Father’s reaction was quite short. He said “ we are having nothing to do with the church, they go there to see what their neighbours are wearing and then talk about them behind their backs.” I now find this interesting because we have a bible which was given to a James Jewell by the Rector of Beaford, the Rev H Marshall on April 30th 1885. This could be my grandfather. Also in the bible are the dates of birth of what appears to be my father’s brothers and sisters. One day I will try to find out more about my ancestors. Now let’s go into the
Christmas is over for another year, all that needs doing now is to finish off the leftover turkey and mince pies, pour yourself a glass of wine and relax with a good seed catalogue. If you have never grown veg before and want to try, start off with something fairly easy like salad crops or runner beans, waiting until spring before you start. If you have a patio, purchase a few plants from your local garden centre and grow them in pots. Runner beans can be grown up a wigwam shaped frame in a decent sized pot. They not only look good but supply you with fresh beans. Check on any stored vegetables and lift parsnips as required.
This is fairly quiet at this time of year, but if you have a warm spell you could see daffs poking through the ground by the end of the month. Carry on dead heading Pansies and Violas in tubs and borders and cut out old leaves on Hellebores at ground level. This will give more colour by exposing the flower heads.
The fruit garden is having a well earned rest. So now is a good time to prune Apple and Pear trees ( not Plums or Cherries ) . I aim to open up the middle of the tree a little to let air circulate and light in and to cut last year’s growth back to two buds. This helps to create flower buds for this year’s fruit. Leave autumn fruiting Raspberries until next month Lawns It’s not a good idea to walk around on the lawn too much during the winter. The soil will become compacted and mud will come to the surface. This will create the perfect condition for moss and weeds to get established, making it harder to put right in the spring.
Trees, Shrubs and Climbers
Enjoy the coloured stems of Dogwood, the peeling bark of Eucalyptus and the yellow flowers of the Winter Jasmine and Mahonia. Shake any snow off the shrubs and hedges, the weight may alter the shape. Prune Wisteria by cutting all new growth back to two buds.
I read a lot of gardening books and magazines and find it interesting to see how they all differ in their approach to how best to attract wildlife into your garden. I find that bumble bees are quite happy with plants that have tubular shaped flowers, like Penstemon, Foxglove and Fuchsias. The bumble bees you see in early spring are the queens that have survived the winter. The ones you see during the summer are the workers. They nest in the ground and are often dug up by badgers.
Plant of the month
Jasminum Nudiflorum ( Winter Jasmine ) Not the prettiest of plants through the summer months, but when winter comes, out pops its bright yellow flowers to brighten up a dull day. It grows best in shade so a north facing wall is ideal in any reasonable soil. Needs to be tied into a frame work or allowed to scramble around other shrubs. Enjoy your gardening