Roddy Llewellyn: The beauty of simplicity

15:07 01 February 2012

Roddy Llewellyn: The beauty of simplicity

Roddy Llewellyn: The beauty of simplicity

Why plants found growing in the wild can be preferable to man-made creations

Roddy Llewellyn: The beauty of simplicity

Why plants found growing in the wild can be preferable to man-made creations...

The more I garden the more I appreciate the simple beauty of species plants, i.e. plants found growing in the wild, rather than those that have been bred by man in the quest of creating something more beautiful. I am thinking of crocus tommasianus (with small, single flowers ranging from lilac to purple) and the wild jonquil daffodil (Narcissus jonquilla) both of which easily naturalise and spread fast if happy.

When I visited St. Petersburg a few years ago I couldnt help but notice the limited trees and shrubs growing there. The winters there make ours feel more than balmy in comparison, by far the most widely deciduous tree/shrub planted there being lilac. This is something to bear in mind if you have a cold and exposed garden during the winter. Again I prefer the good old common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, with a scent that is hard to beat even amongst her grander, man-bred relations.

If you have not eaten your way through your entire parsnip crop it is best to dig them up and lie them in a heap somewhere cold, at the base of a wall, for example, lightly covered in soil. They will keep firm for quite some time. If the ground is neither frozen nor sodden, you can always sow a fresh crop of parsnips now. Those grown for showing are often sown, two to a station, above an inverted cone shape about two feet deep formed with a crow bar or iron spike. Once the hole is formed it is filled with fresh potting compost with a fine tilth, the idea being that the root eventually fills the

hole to form one mighty parsnip. If both seeds germinate, the weaker one is removed.

Because winter started so late in southern Warwickshire, I did not need to lift my dahlia tubers until early December, and even then there was little evidence of frost burn on the leaves. What a strange year it has been. In about late February you can take the tubers out of storage, out of their boxes filled with dry organic potting compost, if you want to take cuttings. Ideal conditions for doing this is are in the greenhouse or conservatory where the temperature does not drop between 13oC / 55oF. Place the tubers in a box, cover them in old compost (I sometimes use old grow bag compost from last year) so that the tubers are covered and last years dead shoot still shows. As the new little shoots appear you can increasing watering.

After about one month some of the new shoots can be cut off once they have grown to a length of about 5cm (2 in.) Cut just above the tuber, clean the base to just below a leaf joint, remove lower leaves, and dip the ends in a rooting powder. If placed individually into small (6cm / 2 in.) pots they will be happier as there will be no

need to disturb the roots until they are planted outside once the threat of frost is over.

These cuttings will be more than happy to start off their lives in a propagator although they will do perfectly well in a box with a sheet of glass over the top in a warmish room. February can prove to be a dry month. If indeed there hasnt been much rain or snow remember to water containerised bulbs, especially tulips. While on the subject of water, please consider installing water butts fed by down pipes from your shed or greenhouse gutter.

If your last summer was as dry as mine was you will be giving it serious thought. In February you can start to force rhubarb. If you havent got one of those beautiful terracotta forcers, you can always use an ordinary (large) flower pot or indeed a box full of dry leaves. Broad beans can be sown during this month in boxes in a slightly heated greenhouse. In a warm greenhouse you can start sowing peas and lettuces.

Late this month is the time to lift and divide clumps of over-congested chives. The chive is a tough plant and will grow practically anywhere. So long as it is not freezing cold you can always start to prune your roses. With bush roses the main aim is to keep the centre of the plant open and to prune back to shoots that face outwards. Give them a mulch of farm yard manure and they will love you all the more. If you do not fancy yourself as a good gardener, you can always attack your roses with shears. RH S trials have proven that roses produce more flowers as a result.


Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Homes & Gardens

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Katrina Ives.

An infatuation with the letter Q and a deep-seated love of pottery led Katrina Ives to launch Qtique – a range of beautifully crafted English pottery mugs with a fun-loving edge, designed right here in the Cotswolds. We caught up with her to find out more about the lovable kawaii-inspired ‘Muggsies’ and running a successful homeware business

Read more
Monday, October 5, 2015
Alwinton Sofa in Walloon Stripe

Are you sitting comfortably? Pamela Miri of North Woodchester’s Sofas & Stuff gives us her ‘five most important things to ask yourself when choosing a sofa’

Read more
Friday, September 18, 2015
Image by Saffron Blaze licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

It may be the home of Cotswold stone cottages and traditional style, but the rolling green countryside also plays host to some fab handmade products and quirky designs – we pick our top autumn homeware essentials to inject some local style into your home

Read more
Monday, July 27, 2015
This multi-purpose building provides a double garage and premises for a small business with self-contained living space above.

Sylva Group tells how its timber frame building provides dedicated work premises as well as additional living accommodation, giving a young family more space to work, rest and play at their Oxfordshire home.

Read more
The three bedroom 1930s semi-detached house for which the Johnsons have repainted the front door in ‘Moroccan Resort’ by Valspar

The Johnsons saw beyond the 70s psychedelic colours and patterns of their Bath house, and set about bringing it lovingly into the 21st century

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
Games rooms are becoming an almost essential feature in many homes

Games rooms are becoming an almost essential feature in many homes. Gary Drage explains why.

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
House sparrow

It’s now full speed ahead into summer, with the natural world hitting the fast lane as the warmer weather approaches. Sue Bradley discovers the sounds and sights of summer

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
Huntington rose

The colour and scent that June brings to us is impossible to envisage in the depths of winter. But here it is and let us revel in it because like all good things it is only transitory. You can’t have Christmas every day.

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
Verbena bonariensis

Roddy Llewellyn explains why weeds can become boring guests that refuse to leave your garden, and how best to deal with them

Read more
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
The Richard Harvey Collection

It’s important to make your mark in a home, but faced with a blank canvas, the task isn’t always easy. However, Richard and Louise Harvey are on hand to help in their shop, The Richard Harvey Collection.

Read more
Wendy and Julian, who began his own business Appletree Interiors and has worked hard to double the size of Appletree Cottage

It may have taken Wendy Needham and Julian Curtis a little time to track down hidden Appletree Cottage, near Stroud, but once they did they instantly fell in love with its historic charm

Read more
Charlie felt the house looked disjointed without the Garden Room which was one of the last building works to be added by their builder Ian Spence. The garden includes a vegetable patch where they grow asparagus, potatoes, raspberries and herbs

Having lived in the Old Vicarage for 21 years, Janey Saunders still looks at her Gloucestershire home as an ongoing project

Read more
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Lakes by Yoo Luxury Holiday Homes, Cotswolds

Promotional feature: For many people, designing and building their own home is a thing of dreams. But the risks, stress and time commitment associated with being a self builder can be a real deterrent. Craig Strachan at Sylva Group explains how it’s possible to create a dream home without having to build it yourself.

Read more
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Chesterfield 3-seater settee

Promotional feature: DesignerSofas4U, the UK’s largest manufacturer of Chesterfield sofas & Leather sofas, offer expert tips to maintain your sofa so its looks beautiful for years.

Read more

Planning Finder

subscription ad

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Warwickshire's trusted business finder

Job Search in the Cotswolds

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search