Tool and Tuck Tin in the UK Allotments

Allotments are the UK’s version of Pea Patches. Of course, the allotment system has been going on for a long time in the UK. Their at home spaces are small so they take great pride in procuring an extra space to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers. Allotments are typically about 300 sq yds so there is even room for a small potting shed. I look at Allotments as a meeting place like Starbucks but you bring your own coffee. Anyway, they are very popular. They are rented from local governments like councils and parishes. These Allotment Tuck and Tool Tins are very much like the very old fashioned lunch boxes carried back in the 40’s and 50’s. All of the tins from Burgon and Ball are well made and functional. These have a hidden sliding compartment in the lid. Naturally, the tin comes without all the stuff in the picture…it’s just the tin…er…the Allotment Tuck and Tool Box. Plenty large enough for pruners, twine, seeds, trowel and lunch in the slider. I’m sure there are a million other uses for it. It’s worth having it just to tell people you have a new Allotment Tuck and Tool Tin:)

Cyclamen, Hydrangeas and Roses

October Surprise!

Cyclamen hederifolium, one of the hardiest of hardy cyclamen, is in the middle of its surprisingly long bloom cycle. Hardy cyclamen (not to be confused with the large flowered annual florist’s cyclamen), have small blooms that can cover autumn’s cooling ground with hundreds of tiny pink and white butterfly-like flowers. All hardy cyclamen grow from bulb-like structures called corms. These corms live for about ten years. During their ten years of growth C. hederifolium corms can have as many as 50 to 100 flowers. While the corms are increasing in size, the flowers reseed themselves in places that you never thought anything would grow. They are “tough as nails” plants that thrive in the shade of water hogs like laurel hedges, firs and maples.

Back Away from the Hydrangea!

If you can stand it, leave dried hydrangea blossoms on the shrub. Think about it as your winter “dried arrangement”. NOT pruning back now assures strong stems for next year. Pruning mophead hydrangeas now makes next year’s stems thin and wimpy. Flowers formed on wimpy stems will be too heavy and your mopheads will be flopheads. If you really can’t stand looking at the dried arrangement, cut off only the spent flowers and leave the stems alone. Then…back away!

November for Roses?

Now is the perfect time to take rose cuttings, especially from heirloom roses, those grown before 1867, the true antiques. There are plenty of heirloom roses growing in gardens all around the South Sound. They are usually shrubbier than the modern hybrid teas and have a far better fragrance. And they are EASY to propagate. Cut a stem as long and as wide as a #2 pencil. Bury two or three inches of the stem in a mixture of sand and soil…no need to be finicky…garden soil is fine. Keep the pot outside in the rain and forget about it until spring. You’ll soon see leaf growth but don’t be fooled. Roots won’t start growing until it warms up again. Warning! This is so easy it could become addictive…


The Bones

Every design book tells us to make sure we have the “bones” in place to make a good garden a great and complete one.  By “bones”, they often mean hardscapes like trellises, arches or stonework but “bones” also means evergreens. The go-to broadleaf evergreen in the South Sound is the ubiquitous rhododendron but a far more architecturally interesting and versatile choice is a needled evergreen, a conifer. The best book for a short course on what you can do with conifers is “The Timber Press Pocket Guide to Conifers” by Richard L. Bitner. “Conifers” has more than three hundred color photos packed into a handy guide, just right for a trip to your local nursery for some “bones”.  213 pages