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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Happy New Year 2018

Apologies to those of you who looked forward to reading the blog: it didn't happen! Last year proved to be the busiest we have ever experienced. The benefits of a five minute slot on Gardeners' World has been unbelievable: there has not been a minute to spare. My New Year's Resolution is to try and write at least once a month.

At the moment we are starting to update the website. The Events Page is almost done and we will be starting to update the Plant List in the coming weeks. We are hoping, beyond hope, to start Mail Orders in April - watch this space!

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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Kalimeris mongolica versus Eurybia divaricata

Kalimeris mongolica v Eurybia divaricata

There seems to have been a bit of a mix up in the editing of our little piece for Gardeners' World. Many of you spotted the glaring mistake. Andy was talking about Kalimeris mongolica and the image shown was of him holding Eurybia divaricata (formerly known as Aster divaricata). We had purchased a small pot of Kalimeris mongolica (Ghengis Khan Aster), back in early spring, from the lovely Jack and Laura of 'Wildegoose Nursery' home of 'Bouts Violas'. We potted it on and Andy took cuttings and it went on to perform beautifully. This plant promises to be a real 'good doer'. It started flowering in July and went on into Autumn and there were no signs of the mildew that often attacks Asters. So to eliminate any confusion.....

Toward the end of summer we were lucky enough to be visited by a budding daisy expert, Maddie. On holiday, from Australia, she called in at the nursery to put the record straight. Like many of you, Maddie did get distracted by our beautiful unnamed Helianthus. The one that we dug up and gave to customers who were determined to have it, even though it came with a 'severe, thug warning' from us.

Like many of you, Maddie mesmerised by the bright yellow Helianthus.

Maddie, with Eurybia divaricata, but still mesmerised by the yellow Helianthus.

Finally, Maddie gives a big 'thumbs up' to Kalimeris mongolica

We do hope that Maddie has helped to put right any confusion regarding Kalimeris mongolica and Eurybia divaricata (formerly Aster divaricata).

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Sunday, 11 September 2016

BBC Gardeners' World Comes to Film

Tune in to BBC Gardeners' World this Friday 16th September 8.30 and you might see us! http://bbc.in/2bP4Ej3

How did it all happen? It was Thursday 4th August and we were at the nursery doing our usual jobs of splitting plants, potting on and watering! Andy's mobile rang and a young woman, Kathryn Braithwaite, said that she was from BBC Gardeners' World and that she would like to meet us with a view to filming at the nursery. Andy nonchalantly agreed, thinking it would probably be in a week or two, but Kathryn wanted to come that very afternoon. Once the call was ended, nonchalance dissolved into a frantic rush to tidy up, interspersed with Andy shouting, "Oh my god, Gardeners' World are coming to the nursery"!!!

Kathryn Braithwaite is the Horticultural Researcher for BBC Gardeners' World. She spent three hours at the nursery getting to know us, our backgrounds, how we grow our plants and what motivates us.


Kathryn Braithwaite Horticultural Researcher

Kathryn explained to us that Gardeners' World was being extended to a one hour programme, with extra features such as focussing on a particular plant family: Rosaceae, Asteraceae, Ranunculaceae and Apiaceae. Our feature would be on the Asteraceae family(daisies) which includes the more obvious plants like Asters (some now called Symphyotrichum), Leucanthemums, Helianthemums and Erigerons, all with a typical daisy-like appearance. Other less daisy-like in appearance include, Chichoriums, Centaureas and Eupatoriums to name just a few. All of which attract a huge variety of pollinators. Our favourite plant this year has been Kalimeris mongolica (Mongolian Aster or Genghis Khan Aster) so we hoped that it would feature on the day if we were chosen. Many of the plants that we grow at the nursery find their way into the large garden that Andy and I have maintained for the past twenty years (Cheriton Cottage) so we hoped that filming could take place there also.

At the end of the day Kathryn told us that she loved the nursery. The information that she had gleaned from us would be shown to the Director and we would hear in the next week or so.

Andy's biggest worry was whether we would have enough colour for the 'big day'. We ended up telling customers that certain plants were not for sell! This seemed a bit barmy as we hadn't even had the go ahead from the director. But then the call came and the Director, Emma Fitzmaurice, gave us the date for filming: Wednesday 31st August. Now it was my turn to go into panic mode. I don't even like having my photo taken and the thought of a camera filming me brought me to tears. I consoled myself with the idea that maybe I could avoid it and Andy could do all the work: eight hours filming for a five minute slot!!

The Big Day!

The day started bright and early at 8.30am. The weather was a perfect sunshiney day. The first to arrive was the sound man, Gary Moore,a man with an incredibly firm handshake. Gary proved to be a 'life-saver' for me. He had a keen interest in wildlife and a great knowledge of butterflies. In between takes he kept my mind occupied chatting enthusiastically about wildlife and recommending good books and apps for my phone.

Gary Moore Soundman ("Quiet please!")

Next to arrive was the Cameraman, Shane Appleton, a man at ease with his camera. Throughout the day, in a quiet, unassuming manner he encouraged us to relax and enjoy the filming. Apologising profusely, when WE got it wrong and he needed US to do it again!

Shane Appleton Cameraman ("Don't look at the camera!")

Next to arrive was Kathryn and the Director, Emma Fitzmaurice, the woman who brought the whole team together. She was focused and professional. In a gentle, persuasive way she guided us throughout the day.


Emma Fitzmaurice Director ("That was lovely. Perfect!")

As the day progressed Andy relaxed and began to really enjoy himself. He found the whole experience really exciting and was amazed at how much work was involved to create a feature. As he said, "At the end of the day not everyone gets an opportunity to take part in a Gardeners' World programme. We need to make the most of it"



Andy beginning to enjoy the day


Emma & Shane helping me overcome my fears.

It was a long and tiring eight hour day and the feature will only be five minutes long. We have no idea what bits of filming will be aired. We hope that our lovely daughter, Roxana, will be featured doing the important job of watering the plants. Sadly there are no pictures of her as she spent the whole day photographing the shoot. Many thanks to her for a fantastic record of the day.

Finally a great big thank you to Kathryn, Emma, Gary and Shane for making our day so enjoyable.


The team at work filming at Cheriton Cottage

We hope you enjoy the programme.

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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Gardening and Health

This is not a happy blog but I think it is very relevant to all of you who work outside or spend hours in your garden. Yes it is an advert for a hair salon: Mawsons in Winchester and the reason will become clear towards the end. But mostly it is a health alert for those of you who work outside for most of the year. So whether male or female, whether or not you visit a hair salon regularly, please spare some time to read this blog.

During the summer months, I have always slapped factor 30 sunscreen on my face and have worn a scarf to protect my head. Neither of which has proved to be enough to protect me from the sun's rays. The ability of fabric to block harmful rays will depend on the density of the weave. Holding my scarves up to the light, I can now see the hundreds of pinpoints of light shining through the fabric.

I can still recall the day when the sun burnt the top of my head. It was one of those scorching hot days, when even the birds and insects are at rest: I should have been too, but there was work to be done. I pulled my hefty, cotton hat down to shield my eyes, sunglasses on, sunscreen renewed I worked through the relentless heat. Unbeknown to me, the sun's ray were merrily filtering through my hat and penetrating deep into my scalp.

My scalp never recovered from that day three years ago. For the past two years, I have been treated for Discoid Lupus. The causes of Lupus are not really understood,but my dermatologist thinks that it is likely that mine was triggered by long hours spent in the sun. My immune system rushed to repair the sun burn damage and continues to do so: it is in overdrive. My dermatologist said that it was difficult for him to understand how, with so much hair and hats, my scalp was in such a state. He was more used to seeing scalps like mine on balding sailors!

I don't intend to go into the horrors of Discoid Lupus. There is plenty of information on the web (that I do my best not to look at). The treatment thus far has included all sorts of nasty smelling concoctions that seem to have everything under control for now. I stopped using them last September. However with summer approaching, the dermatologist is probably going to insist that I start taking anti-malarial tablets to protect me from the sun (and the side-effects looks pretty horrid). For I am now photosensitive, I can't even sit under florescent lighting without it irritating my scalp. The other scary thing is that Discoid Lupus can develop into Systemic Lupus which attacks all your internal organs. But that's another story.

I can hear those of you who love to get a tan and those who say,' I been working outside all my life and never had a problem'. Well you are the people I am most worried about. I know of a two plant hunters who died from cancer: one got it on the back of his neck; another who got it on his forehead; also a sailor who got it on his head. I now wear factor 50+ sunscreen, whatever the weather. I order hats from the Australian company 'Sun Togs' that give 50+ protection and I further line them with blackout lining: the best being a legionnaire's hat that covers the neck as well. I only wish that I had done this sooner.

If health reasons don't inspire you to protect yourselves, then perhaps vanity will. My dermatologist says that he can see early signs of hair loss. Also that I should prepare myself for the day that my hair could fall out in big clumps. Horror! Which brings me back to the hair salon advert. I have been on a quest to find a hairdresser that will provide a sympathetic ear and who has some understanding of hair loss.

A.J. at Mawsons Hair Salon in Winchester has had training in hair loss. A.J. is friendly and competent.I feel that I will be in safe hands should the worse happen. She also does a pretty good cut!

To finish.....

Ironically, throughout the world, the butterfly has become the symbol of Lupus Societies. One of the features of the disease is a reddish rash, over the cheeks and nose, which bears a striking resemblance to a butterfly!

Please don't think you are immune to the dangers of the sun's rays, or your immune system could start attacking you too.




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Friday, 5 February 2016

Sowing & Growing 3



Anemonella thalictroides & Cenolophium denudatum

I tried, and failed, several times to get the beautiful Anemonella thalictroides to germinate. I ordered seeds from various sources and tried differing methods and times of sowing: all to no avail. I knew that the seeds were best sown fresh and my sources all assured me that they were.


Anemonella thalictroides

While at a Rare Plant Fair I got chatting to two other growers (both of whom had a wonderful display of Anemonella thalictroides): I told them my woes. The first said that she had no problems; that her seeds came up like cress; but that perhaps where she lived it was a cooler climate and that helped. The other grower emphasised the need for fresh seeds. I said that my sources assured me that the seeds were fresh. He countered with, "Fresh means fresh! By the time they have collected, packaged and posted them to you, they'll be a week old. And that's not fresh!" He suggested that the best way was to buy a plant and collect my own seeds: so I did.

I collect a lot of seeds myself and sometimes it's easy to miss the opportunity, they blow away in the wind or they have mechanisms that project them far and wide. I decided it might help if the seeds could fall naturally onto a bed of compost. I filled four trays with compost and put a layer of grit on the top. The trays were placed in a cool corner of the shade area, with the pot of Anemonella thalictroides balancing precariously in the middle. Every time I passed by, I gave them a little tap, hoping to loosen any ripe seeds. In time I got busy and forgot about them. A couple of months later and, lo and behold, we noticed a few seedlings had emerged, then hundreds. Success at last!

However the 'must have' Cenolophium denudatum still eludes me. I only manage to germinate a few each year. But I persist because I know I must be doing something wrong. The latest batch of seeds were eagerly gathered by me: some sown immediately; others in September. We live in hope that this will be the year.

Andy are I are still like children in a sweet shop, when it comes to growing. Each day, Andy will say, "I've poured a tea. Got your glasses? Let's check the seeds." There follows groans of disappointment at the trays that still show no signs of growth, and whoops of delight when we spot those first few leaves emerging from beneath their beds of soil. There is a joy in sowing your own seeds, watching the little seedlings emerge, pricking them out and then growing them on. The final pleasure is in planting them out in the garden to watch them reach their full potential. Knowing that we grew them all from tiny seeds.

If you are interested in growing from seed,I will go into more detail as the season progresses.

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Roxana Fraser, Garden Designer & Our Photographer.

Roxana Fraser, Garden Designer & Our Photographer.

  • For previous blogs type in search:
  • Sowing and Growing
  • Gardening and Health
  • BBC Gardeners' World
  • Kalimeris versus Eurybia divaricata
  • A Brief History of Cheriton Cottage
  • Happy New Year
  • Winter at The Nursery
Cheriton Cottage

Cheriton Cottage

Common Blue in Nursery Wild Area

Common Blue in Nursery Wild Area

Poly tunnel at The Nursery

Poly tunnel at The Nursery

Painted Lady Butterfly on Buddlja 'White Profusion'

Painted Lady Butterfly on Buddlja 'White Profusion'

Peacock Butterfly in Nursery Wild Area

Peacock Butterfly in Nursery Wild Area

Knot Grass Moth Caterpillar in Wild Area

Knot Grass Moth Caterpillar in Wild Area

Busy Bee on Symphyotrichum

Busy Bee on Symphyotrichum

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