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Terri and Sue go willow-weaving

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We escape from computers, data, pictures, management and marketing. Instead we have willow wands, secateurs, a hunky bodkin and an arm’s length of string. Add to this the hands, the intention of our minds and expert tuition by Christine Brewster. We walk into a large, crammed studio stashed with willow and willow products. Above us a 5-metre long snake looks down. It could unhinge its jaw and imbibe, a woven fantasy. “The kettle’s just boiled,” says Christine, and our day begins.

Settling to the task one realises that you are following a path that’s been there, not just for centuries, but millennia. The line stretches back in time, but also wraps the world. People have always used woven plant material to make receptacles. They carry things and store things. Through observation, cunning and contrivance, techniques have evolved using the most basic tools and ingenuity. “At one time every village would have had a basket-maker” says Christine. The receptacles are ephemeral utilities, generally discarded and replaced, sometimes they are an art-form.

I settle to make an inverted basket – the handle coming from its bottom, a whacky medium for displaying some air plants. The difference between left and right, under and over, can be daunting.

Terri decides to make a plant support. She works with an intensity that is almost ferocious, her wayward wands periodically slapping me. (There is something here for everyone!) Her structure is like a six-foot waisted vase. Whilst weaving, the vertical supports are mounted on a cardboard fruit box – a free available resource. She spirals strands of willow, fingers working furiously as she pokes in further wands. At the top it doesn’t end in a confining point but opens out. It’s not a constraining corset but an enabling structure that will accommodate the plants’ needs. It looks dynamic.

I work on my little basket. The willow can feel silky and there’s the fascination of texture and tints, even in my crude effort. At the end Christine makes the showpiece handle, a combination of fierce use of the bodkin, dexterity, and working willow threads as though sowing silk. I gape like the snake. Terri finishes her plant support, and, being Terri, makes another.

Terri’s garden now has a new dimension with two wild sculptural eruptions. In the future a cornucopia of blossom will spill from them as they are colonised by rampant growth. I contemplate my curious basket with unexpected satisfaction.  My husband stares at it, puzzled, “it’s a new lid for the laundry basket” he concludes.

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Thank you Christine, I will see and understand baskets properly now, it’s an added dimension.

Susan A Tindall

Christine’s website: www.stripeybasket.co.uk

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An orgy or a diet plan?

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As the days lengthen and growth in the garden visibly expands, the compulsion to add to the burgeoning foliage is irresistible. Plant nurseries and garden centres can be addictive; I’ve visited more than seven this month, actually.

Confronted by actual plants, each more alluring than the last, the urge to have them in my own garden to watch them develop, day on day, is like a feast for the famished. Each plant is a welcome individual for which there is room in the infinite space of the mind’s garden. I do, just sometimes, think “Where will this go” and buy a plant that is a solution to a problem. Mostly, I just buy plants. There are a couple of dozen of them waiting for a home in the ground here at the moment. I expect they will go – pro-tem – into pots; we had over 70 pots by the end of last summer.

My friend, JP, isn’t like this. She has a plan. Over the weeks the conception of a new border evolves in her mind. She buys several plants of the same variety to maximise the impact. She chooses a core plant and selects those that go with it in accordance with the theme that has already been developed. She takes account of the longevity of the flowering season and deadheads regularly. She combines shapes quite beautifully. She does, in fact, do all the things I advise others to do. The effect, in JP’s garden, is first class, and even better in the second and then third year of its evolution. That is the diet sheet garden and I recommend it unequivocally.

So what can be said for the orgy? My garden has too many plants and an excess of different plants. There is too much going on for it to be beautiful. However, when I am within it I am in the company of a host of celebrities, a smorgasbord of talent and individuality. It’s a visual banquet, assembled just because I love them. It works, but just for me and it is selfish. In one’s own garden one can be an absolute monarch, perhaps, a despot.

Susan A. Tindall

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Great British Garden Revival plant list Episode 5 – Rock gardens & Herb Gardens)

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Hope you are enjoying the show. Here is a list of the plants mentioned in Episode 5, with links to our plant info pages for more info about the plants.

Like our plant info? To look up more plants:

  • Get the ‘Joy of Plants’ smartphone/tablet app so you can look up plants whenever you like www.joyofplants.com/apps

Episode 5 Rock Gardens with Carol Klein

To find more Rock Garden plants in our Plant Finder app or Garden Centre Plant Finders, use Find by/Garden Style/Rock Garden.

Gentian

Gentiana ferrari

Lilium martagon (Turk’s cap lily)

Lilium martagon var. album (Turk’s cap lily)

Colchicum (Autumn crocus, Naked ladies)

Geranium

Campanula (Bell flower)

Saxifraga

Dionysia (Cushion alpine)

Dwarf conifers

Hepatica (Liverwort)

Cyclamen intaminatum

Cyclamen hederafolium

Cyclamen coum

Erodium

Lewisia

Erinus alpinus (Fairy foxglove)

Alpine bulbs

Alpine tulips

Tulipa pulchella var. violacea

Episode 5 Herb gardens with Toby Buckland

To find more Herbs in our Plant Finder app or Garden Centre Plant Finders, use Find by/Garden Style/Herb Garden.

Ocimum basilicum (Basil)

Ocimum basilicum var. minimum (Greek basil)

Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’ (Cinnamon basil)

Ocimum basilicum (Red Rubin basil)

Rosmarinus officianalis (Rosemary)

Petroselinum crispum (Parsley)

Mentha (Mint)

Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’ (Purple sage)

Urtica (Nettle)

Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion)

Lavandula (Lavender)

Santolina

Teucrium

Sage

Satureja montana (Winter savory)

Rumex acetosa (Garden sorrel)

Coriandrum sativum (Coriander)

Porophyllum ruderale (Bolivian coriander)

Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum pupureum (African blue basil)

Satureja spicigera (Creeping savory) – peppery and pungent

Satureja hortensis (Summer savory) – beans, stews & casseroles, stops flatulence

Stachys officinalis (Bishops wort) joyofplants.com?q=1&p=15611

Thymus vulgaris (Thyme)

Mentha suaveolens (Apple mint)

Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm)

Origanum vulgare (Marjoram)

Echinacea (Cone flower) – cold remedy & attractive to bees and butterflies

Calendula officinalis – anti-inflammatory & healing for the skin. To make a skin salve, pick the flowers, dry them, add to a jar with sunflower oil. Leave for 3 weeks in the airing cupboard, agitating the jar every day. You need approximately 70 flower heads for a jar (10 plants).

Levisticum officinale (Lovage) – for soups & casseroles

Herb care:

Shrubby, perennial herbs (eg Sage, Rosemary & Lavender) – prune in Spring

Herbaceous herbs (eg Mint) – prune in Summer

Storing herbs: dry them, freeze them in water or olive oil, or in jars of honey

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Great British Garden Revival plant list Episode 3 (Cottage gardens & Houseplants)

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Hope you are enjoying the show. Here is a list of the plants mentioned in Episode 3, with links to our plant info pages for more info about the plants.

Like our plant info? To look up more plants:

  • Get the ‘Joy of Plants’ smartphone/tablet app so you can look up plants whenever you like www.joyofplants.com/apps

Episode 3 – Cottage Gardens with Carol Klein

Alchemilla (Ladies mantle)

Origanum vulgare (Marjoram)

Saponaria officinalis (Soapwort)

Phlox

Lunaria annua (Honesty)

Oenothera (Evening primrose)

Aster cordifolius ‘Little Carlow’

Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii (Coneflower)

Cosmos bippinatus (Cosmos)

Dahlia ‘Classic Swan Lake’

Sanguisorba (Burnet)

Achillea (Yarrow)

Eryngium (Sea holly)

Eryngium eburneum (Sea holly)

Verbascum (Mullein)

Dierama pulcherrimum (Angel’s fishing rod)

Lathyrus latifolius (Sweet pea)

Lathyrus latifolius ‘Pink pearl’ (Sweet pea)

Helianthus (Sunflower)

Buddleja (Butterfly bush)

Anemone hupehensis (Japanese anemone)

Salvia (Sage)

Look up more plants suitable for cottage gardens in our apps and Plant Finders by searching Find plants / Garden style & size / Cottage garden

Episode 3 – Houseplants with Tom Hart Dyke

Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant)

Ficus elastica  (Rubber plant)

Begonia

Orchid

Drosera binata (Sundew)

Drosera capensis (Cape sundew)

Sarracenia

Ficus Benjamina ‘Starlight’ (Weeping fig)

Tillandsia (Air plant)

Tillandsia aeranthos (Air plant)

Tillandsia cyanea (Air plant)

Puntia micro dasis

Streptocarpus ‘Crystal Ice’ (Cape primrose)

Gloxinia

Sinningia leukotricha

Dracaena

Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’ (Dragon’s Blood Tree)

Platycerium bifurnatum (Stag’s horn fern)

Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’ (Peace lily)

Look up more houseplants in our apps and Plant Finders by searching Find plants / Garden style & size / Indoors

Or Browse plants and look through the group of Houseplants.

Author: Terri Jones

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Great British Garden Revival plant list episode 1

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Hope you are enjoying the show. Here is a list of the plants mentioned, with links to our plant info pages for more info about the plants. If you like our plant info you can:

  • Get the ‘Joy of Plants’ smartphone/tablet app so you can look up plants whenever you like www.joyofplants.com/apps

Episode 1 Wild Flowers
Rhinanthus minor (Yellow rattle)
Scabiosa columbaria (Small scabious)
Leontodon hispidus (Rough hawkbit)
Centaurea (Knapweeds)
Succisa pratensis (Devil’s bit scabious)
Daucus carota (Wild carrot)
Lotus corniculatus (Bird’s foot trefoil)
Thymus serpyllum (Wild thyme)
Leucanthemum vulgare (Oxeye daisy)
Knautia arvensis (Field scabious)
Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort)
Primula (Primrose)
Viola (Violet)
Papaver rhoeas (Poppy)
Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell)
Eupatorium cannabinum (Agrimony)

Episode 1 Front Gardens

Convolvulus cneorum (Bindweed )
Ceratostigma willmottianum (Plumbago)
Lonicera
Crab apple
Dianthus
Pachysandra terminalis
Clematis armandii
Anemone hupehensis
Rheum
Rubus idaeus
Rhododendron
Aster
Rudbeckia
Grasses
Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

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St Francis Hospice – planting and caring

Passing St Francis Hospice (at Havering Green in Essex) I caught a glimpse of their front door. It looked so beautiful and inviting that I went to investigate. The handsome door is flanked by tubs with plants in clear bright colours, full of life and vigour. Their fresh, well ordered appearance speaks of the vigilant care and attention that they receive.

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A week later I still recall these images and feel refreshed by them. Plants that are well tended nurture the spirit and, quite simply, make one feel better. The plants at the hospice reflect the care that the patients will receive, as well as the gift of beauty. In case all this sounds too heavy I am reminded of a very old joke that my father used to tell:

A priest is walking down a lane when he sees, through a gate, a beautiful garden that’s being tended by a gardener. ‘You and God have created a beautiful garden’ the priest says.  ‘Aah!’ the gardener returns, ‘you should have seen it when God had it on His own.’

A gratifying joke that’s not just cynical but an affirmation that gardens need care. The human interventions – planting, pruning, deadheading, weeding and feeding, all those adjustments to the natural world – give a positive charge to nature, a managed beauty. You do have to know when to stop though!

Susan A. Tindall

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