The Original Garden Visitor's Guide

Sue's Garden - July Jottings

Welcome back everyone.  How did you get on in June? I cannot believe we are already more than half way through the year, where does the time go!

So much seems to have happened in the past month since my last jottings and we are most definitely in tumultuous times, so when it all gets a bit too much, I always seek the sanctuary of a garden, either my own, or a garden to visit. A few hours amongst the plants and I invariably feel better.

Now then; what jobs should we be doing in the garden at this time of year? Well, keeping on top of those pesky weeds, feeding plants and watering are the main chores of summer in any garden. Also, keep deadheading wilted blooms to help prolong those beautiful displays of flowers in your pots and borders, either by pinching out with the fingers or pruning with secateurs.

You may have some seed heads on some plants by now, so you could start collecting these for sowing in your garden next year.  Plants like Nigella (Love in a mist) and Honesty (Lunaria) are good examples.  You can collect the seeds from perennials and biennials too, but they will take a year to bloom.

Sue's Photo for July

Banksia baxteri
Banksia baxteri
Plantasia in Swansea, June 2016

Plantasia in Swansea, June 2016

Aberglasney Ninfarium

Aberglasney Ninfarium June 2016

Plantasia in Swansea, June 2016

Plantasia in Swansea, June 2016

Plantasia in Swansea, June 2016

Plantasia in Swansea, June 2016

Plantasia in Swansea, June 2016

Plantasia in Swansea, June 2016

Now is also the ideal time to prune your June flowering shrubs, for example, Philadelphus and Weigela - after they have completely finished flowering of course.

Now for that most prevalent garden problem of them all…….I get so many people asking me how to deal with slugs and snails – so this month I am going to talk about ways to deal with them. They have been in abundance in our gardens this year and all because we had such a wet winter, which means perfect conditions for these pests to thrive; so how can we eradicate or at least control them?    I try and get along with them as much as possible, as I do not like using chemicals to eradicate them, but there are other ways to deter them.

A non-chemical control is called Nemaslug; it is a microscopic nematode which gets watered into the soil.  These then enter each slug’s body and infect them with bacteria that cause a fatal disease, not nice for the slugs but it does work and will not have a detrimental effect on birds and other garden creatures. You can also use traps...a scooped out half of orange, grapefruit or melon skins, place cut side down, or use a jar part-filled with beer and sunk into the ground near vulnerable plants.  Check and empty these each morning.  Other traps are available from your local garden centre. Copper tape can be used to place around pots or stand containers on matting impregnated with copper salts.

You could go out at night with a torch and hand pick the slugs, place them in a container and take them to a spot well away from gardens like a hedgerow or field and release, but that’s probably a step too far for most of us!

Nemaslug control is unlikely to work on snails as they spend most of their time at or above soil level. You can use the fruit traps and beer traps as mentioned above or the copper tape and matting will work too. You could of course use pellets and these are widely available from your local garden centre, but be aware of how they affect other living creatures in your garden.

Right, now that the work is done, let’s move on to my ‘Plant of the Month’. This month it is Primula vialli. I saw this beauty in the woodland garden at Aberglasney in Wales.  Such a beautiful primula and at Aberglasney it is planted in the perfect place...shady, moist conditions.  See the photograph with this article.

I was fortunate in June to take a trip to South Wales, where I visited Plantasia in Swansea, the National Botanic Garden of Wales, Aberglasney and Singleton (a public botanical garden in Swansea).

Plantasia – this place is an unexpected tropical oasis in Parc Tawe retail-park in Swansea. It is a fantastic education resource for children.  In addition to the amazing selection of plants, of which there are several specimens of Deliciosa monsterosa (cheese plant) ten feet tall and Colocasia – a fantastic large dark leaved plant, they also have a Burmese python called ‘Gypsy’, insects, fish, spiders and snakes.  These creatures are all part of the conservation project, ‘a rainforest in the middle of the city, to highlight the importance of looking after and protecting the world we live in’.  Plantasia is split into two climates...the arid climate which shows how plants survive in the desert and the tropical climate which shows how the plants grow in tropical rainforests.  There is a beautiful waterfall, which you can hear wherever you are standing in the glasshouse. The water cascades down into a large pool full of Koi carp. Sadly, this amazing place could close due to lack of funding (it is currently funded by Swansea City Council) let’s hope that does not happen because it is a great resource and a fascinating place to visit too.

Plant of the Month

Primula vialli
Primula vialli - Aberglasney

Eremaea, June 2016

The National Botanic Garden of Wales

Now, The National Botanic Garden of Wales is a place I have wanted to visit for a long time.  On the day I went the weather was not too kind...very, very wet and windy! Most of the visit was spent in the Great Glasshouse, the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! I could have spent the whole day here studying all the plants and taking photographs.

It is an amazing area and so well designed to make the best use of the space.  The plants are separated into geographical zones and are from the five Mediterranean climate regions of the world - Central Chile, the Western Cape of South Africa, Western and South Australia, California and the Mediterranean basin (including the Canaries and neighbouring islands located off the western Atlantic coast of Africa).

The glasshouse has been designed to enable you to see the plants from different vantage points.  This place is a fantastic educational resource for children.  On the day I visited there must have been about five groups of school children on an educational day out. There is so much to see and enjoy at The National Botanic Garden of Wales, both inside and outside the Great Glasshouse.  It is a fantastic place to visit and I will undoubtedly be returning.


My next stop was Aberglasney – and well, where do I begin? This place is a horticulturists paradise, a gardener and designers place to visit for inspiration and absolutely a garden to visit on your list of ‘places to visit’ in South Wales.  You may remember a TV series called ‘A Garden Lost in Time’, which documented how Aberglasney was rediscovered and its restoration. It is without doubt one of the most remarkable restorations of its kind.

The gardens are very well looked after and maintained and there are many rare and unusual species of plants. One of the jaw dropping moments for me was the Ninfarium. This part of the house used to be the service rooms and the inner courtyard; it had become a ruin but now is covered by an atrium of glass. This provides the perfect environment for an astonishing array of exotic plants.

When you visit these stunning gardens, you must take a stroll through the woodland garden.  It is a fairly new creation, very cleverly thought through and well designed.  Every plant has been placed in a very naturalistic way.  Each way you look as you follow the footpath through the garden just continuously surprises you.  It is so beautiful...a must see. This is a masterpiece of design.

The sunken garden is another of those ‘oh my goodness’ moments! Very modern hard landscaping with curving raised beds sinuating around the square of the garden.  In these raised beds you have the structure with evergreens and then the colours come in with the blues of the Delphiniums and oranges of the Kniphophias to name just two. In the centre of this garden is a tranquil circular pool of water with a square pool of water slightly cutting into the circle...beautiful.

My final garden I visited in South Wales was Singleton – a public botanical garden in Swansea – this is a gem of a garden right in the middle of Swansea. My breath was taken away by the sheer beauty of this place.

As you enter the botanical garden, which is in the middle of Singleton Park, you walk between herbaceous borders full of colour and interest and through to the formal beds.  One of these square beds is planted up with fuchsias...standard and bush varieties, with a meticulously mown lawn.  I have never seen so many different fuchsias in one area!  There were also hanging baskets overflowing with bright begonias and other gorgeous colour co-ordinated bedding plants.

Alongside the fuchsias there is a very formal bed planted in a traditional council bedding scheme (the style of which was itself inherited from the Victorians, who loved bright, bold, carpet bedding displays) using Begonias and Cannas.  Next to this bed there is a very impressive bed absolutely overflowing with Delphiniums in every shade of blue and purple.

There is also a stunning glasshouse housing some extraordinary tropical plants...many of which I had never seen before.

Singleton is run by a dedicated team of staff with the support of volunteers and is also funded by Swansea City Council.

The Park and Botanical Garden are free to walk through and the Friends of Singleton run an excellent plant sales area, which sells a great range of interesting plants at very reasonable prices.

In July I am hoping to visit some more gardens and look forward to telling you all about them in my August Jottings.

Until then, Happy gardening and garden visiting. 

Sue x

Singleton Park
Singleton Park -' a gem of a garden right in the middle of Swansea'.
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