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Archive for October, 2011

The Incredible Gardens of King Charles the Martyr Church Hall, Tunbridge Wells

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

- Blog article with thanks to Richard Still

Many of the plants in the Hall Garden are self sown annuals, or biennials, and  it may be of interest to  readers  to list the  subjects that are most successful in self propagation, and the techniques I adopt to manage them :

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis).

These heralds of spring have always been a feature of the Hall Garden and they multiply vigorously by seed and offshoots. Originally concentrated beside the path to the office I have distributed them in clumps around the garden where they quickly achieve a critical mass which can in turn be separated. I have used some of the offshoots from the Hall to develop a drift of snowdrops in Woodbury Park Cemetery.

Primroses (Primula veris). Once established these native flowers also self propagate vigorously. As with snowdrops I believe it is hardly possible to have too many of these beautiful native flowers.

Forget me not (Myosotis).  These delightful little plants seed themselves very profusely and contribute a sea of blue to the area behind the Hall in Spring. I pull them out after flowering but they never fail to reappear.


White foxgloves frequently feature as a graceful t and stylish element in the designer gardens at Chelsea. My technique in obtaining a preponderance of white flowers each year is to cull all the non white specimens before they seed. They always choose suitable areas for themselves and seem to resent being moved. I much prefer the elegant wild variety flowering on one side of the arching stem to the more upright hybrids.

Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis).  This again is a favourite with garden designers with delicious lime green flowers in late spring. In fact it seeds itself rather too profusely; I control it by removing all flower heads before they seed. Even so seedlings appear all over the place and have to be culled.  Be warned if you introduce this charming plant into your garden.

Mullein  (Verbascum bombicyferum).

This is a very statuesque native plant that has been a very prominent feature behind the hall this year.  The mass of these very large specimens in the area cleared beside the bins seem almost threatening (see photograph). The young plants produce a handsome rosette of grey felted leaves.

Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii). This little plant lives up to its name and produces a pale yellow and white ground cover in late spring. It reseeds itself every year and, although it often appears in unexpected areas of the garden, it is always welcome.

Love in a mist (Nigella).  The attractive bulbous flower heads that appear on this old cottage flower can be relied on to produce a wealth of offspring. Seed mixes are available that provide delightful  mixed shades of blue.

Geranium  psilostemon.

The flowers of this herbaceous plant are a rather outrageous purple colour, of which it is possible to have too much .

Nasturtium  (Nasturtium!). I am not aware of any vernacular name for this rather dramatically coloured, sprawling plant that gives a very welcome burst of colour in mid to late summer, and can be relied on to reappear each year.

Californian poppy (Eschscholzia – spelling?). This plant reproduces itself freely to provide splashes of yellow and orange shades throughout the summer.

Lychnis chalcedonica. This herbaceous plant produces a mass of flowers in various shades of bright red to purple offset by grey leaves. It propagates freely and often appears unexpectedly. I have been given three plants this year and hope to establish this lovely herbaceous flower as a feature of the Hall garden.

Many other plants could be added to the above list and many less welcome weed seedlings s proliferate in the garden even more abundantly (another article, perhaps). The trick is to recognise the desirable plants in their infancy and to weed out the intruders. Care is required, but the result is very rewarding with a wealth of beautiful recurring flowers, costing nothing and adding to the naturalistic effect.

Photographs by Robert Avery and Richard Still

If you wish to see the garden or join us in one of our services at King Charles the Martyr, then please visit our website at

Autumn Leaf Clearance Service

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

The trees seem to be shedding their leaves with a vengeance, so it will soon be time to undertake the annual leaf clearance. The warmer weather we have been enjoying has contributed to a later fall and it is possible this will happen within a short space of time. So if you have got lots of trees surrounding your property and are worried about how you are going to cope with the sudden volume of leaves fear no more as the Gardenproud team are ready to help and fully equipped with leaf blowers and vacs. Call Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or email us

Is there going to be snow in October?

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Dunorlan Park

There have been reports recently that the recent good weather is about to take a nose dive and that we should expect snow this October.

As you can imagine this worried me.

As temperatures soared yesterday (Saturday 1st October to an all time high of 85.8F) it seems we are set for an indian summer! I was talking to a friend last night who had just returned from Sheffield and he was joking about the locals who were still wandering around in shorts and flip-flops!

Some plants are getting a little confused and blooming early. I noticed that in one of our new gardens the Rhododendrons are going for a second bloom.

If this trend continues it could extend the summer flowering period and impact on the traditional winding down of the garden during the late Autumn.

But be warned!

Last year we were all taken by surprise when the cold period hit early with snow fall towards the end of November. A lot of plants were damaged as a result of this and the prolonged periods of snow that followed during the winter. Among these bays, yuccas, palms and boxes all suffered. So this year we need to be prepared to move under cover less hardy plants and wrap wherever possible others.

Netweather  are suggesting that temperatures will remain close to the normal pattern in October, with November being slightly cooler than average. Forecasts of widespread snow during October have not been made by Netweather. Although they say that it is not uncommon to see some snow on the hills and mountains of Northern Britain and Scotland. So maybe reports of snow are a little exaggerated after all!