Oranges & Lemons

orange and lemon trees in old potsThe citrus trees are thriving in the hot, sunny weather. There’s loads of blossom and young fruit, so I’m making sure that they are fed and watered regularly, or the fruit will drop long before it reaches maturity. Apparently citrus need a minimum of eight hours of sunlight a day to really thrive and they are certainly getting that at the moment which is probably why they look so good. Inevitably it will all get a lot more difficult to achieve at the end of the summer when they will need that tricky combo of good light and protection, but for the moment I’m just enjoying their loveliness.
freshly opened orange blossomembryo lemons forming on a sub lateral

Create your own Seed Packets

Unless you diligently dead-head your annuals you’ll likely find an abundance of seed heads replacing the flowers as summer strides forward. The long warm days are great for drying seeds heads and there’s something very satisfying about harvesting them, it’s like money in the bank for next year.  I tend to leave them to dry out for a few weeks in a tray on a high shelf. Thereafter they can be put in packets, labelled and dated.  A pack of seeds makes a wonderful and thoughtful present, I tend to make up a few packets which can be used as emergency gifts or easily sent as a surprise with a letter.  Our free seed packet creator allows you to design your own seed packet. You can choose from a range of colours and patterns as well as enter a message before you print them out, so now you can be organised and prepared for the year ahead with style. Enjoy !
free custom seed packet templates

Step 1

Using our free seed packet templates choose your pattern, colour and type your message.

Step 2

cutting out a seed packet templatePrint out your custom seed packet and cut it out.

Step 3
where to fold the seed packet
Fold tabs along dotted lines and glue them down.make your own seed packets

Step 4
home made seed packet template
Put your dried seeds in and seal the top tab ! Voila.

a useful tip for saving seeds

funny donut seed packet

Tickle your Roots

It’s the time of year when it’s tempting to introduce some colour into the borders while waiting for the late summer blooms to get going. We all do it – and provided you prepare the ground well, water thoroughly and mulch, the plants should settle in well.  But when you buy large plants at this time of year they often have a mass of roots on the margins of the root ball even when they aren’t pot bound. It’s a good idea to gently scuff them up so that when you plant, the roots travel out into the surrounding soil rather than continuing to travel round in circles, following the shape of their previous home.  I’ve found that Sophie Conran’s hand rake is the perfect tool for the job –  at the end of each of its tines there’s a little kick in the opposite direction and these are ideal for gently loosening the roots. My new plants have all been given this treatment and look very happy in their new home.the root ball of a pot plantplant with root ball that has been tickled out.

Capellagarden’s Garden

garden path made from fleeceFor the full time gardening students at Capellagarden, the year runs from March to September.  At the start many of them may never have gardened before, but from Day 1 groups of 4 students will be given the entire responsibility for one of the rotational plots within the teaching garden.  They choose the seeds, plan the layout, prepare the soil and do the planting.  They help one another, pooling what knowledge they do have, and what they don’t know they find out by asking the tutors, or looking things up in the library.  As their confidence grows they are encouraged to experiment and push the boundaries and learn through their successes and failures. They also grow flowers for cutting, tend the orchard, help in the productive garden that feeds the school, as well as having responsibility an area of herbaceous border and doing greenhouse work. As Carl Malmstem intended, it is all very hands-on and the garden is impressively productive. I asked students what they do after Capellagarden – some go on to further study at university, some start their own gardening companies, some buy land (it’s still very cheap in rural Sweden) and some stay on as helpers at Capellagarden. The short course students dip in to all aspects of the garden and do all sorts of other interesting things including dying with indigo, learning about lactic fermentation, making sweet preserves, picking and arranging flowers from the garden and visiting other gardens on the island.

rotational plots

Rotational plots

a place to sit on the rotational plot

A place to sit on the rotational plots

the productive garden, full of  produce

The productive garden

lady harvest carrots from the productive garden

Harvesting carrots in the productive garden

home grown produce for sale

The Garden Shop

spare plants go into the leftover garden

The left over garden using up all the spare flower plants

annual flower plot

Annual flower plots

compost heaps laden with straw

Summer School compost heaps

Indigo dyed fabric and clothes drying on a washing line
Indigo dyed fabric and clothes


A Summer Gardening School in Sweden

the colourful doorway to capellagarden schoolThe wonderful thing about writing about gardens and gardening is that you get to go to some amazing places and meet lots of people who share your interests.  My recent visit to Sweden where I visited the island of Oland to write about the Summer Gardening School at Capellagarden  was just such a  treat.  Capellagarden is a fascinating place – it’s a creative school where international students attend year long courses in cabinet making and furniture design, ceramics, textile craft and design, and ecological gardening. They also run week long summer courses, including one on gardening, which was why I was there. Short summer courses are very popular in Sweden  - people attend them as a rest from their day job, as a taster for a course they are considering doing, or as the first step in a change of plot at CapellagardensCapellagarden was founded in 1960 by Carl Malmstem, an eminent 20th century Swedish furniture designer. He was disenchanted with the way education focused on academic achievement and wanted to create a place where hand and mind were integrated – think an updated version of the Arts & Craft movement, or the Shakers (without the religion). The students live and work communally alongside their tutors with everyone pitching in and helping with the chores and the cooking as well as creating work of a very high standard. mix of pottery at Capellagardenclassroom at Capella Gardens