The Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode 18: Leven allotmenteer Calum Clunie visits his dream garden – and that happens to be Beechgrove! Meanwhile, Kirsty is with Scottish lavender growers on the banks of Loch Leven, near Kinross.
Our garden visit this week is to rural East Lothian, where Jackie and John Fry have worked tirelessly over the past four years to renovate an overgrown, 1.5-acre rural space to create an exquisitely informal garden that complements the landscape around it.
The Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode 18
How to grow lavender
Lavender is prized for its richly fragrant flowers and aromatic foliage. This easy-to-grow shrub thrives in a sunny spot, in free-draining soil or a container. Lavender is best planted in April or May as the soil naturally warms up and when many fresh plants become available in garden centres. Lavender should never be planted in winter when young plants are vulnerable to rotting in cold, wet soils.
Lavender looks great in flower borders, herb gardens and as a low hedge or edging to a border. It also grows well in containers. Lavender is a Mediterranean plant (in needs if not always in geographic origin) and needs lots of sun and fast-draining soil. It will not survive long in shady, damp or extremely cold conditions. It prefers poor, dry or moderately fertile soil, including chalky and alkaline soils. Lavender will not thrive in heavy clay soil or any soil that becomes waterlogged over winter.
Newly planted lavender should be watered regularly during its first summer. After that, once it’s well established, lavender is drought tolerant so rarely needs watering when grown in the ground unless there are severe drought conditions.
Plants in containers do need regular water in summer, as they dry out quickly, and the roots have a limited amount soil in which to search for moisture. In winter, keep the containers fairly dry, maybe in a cold greenhouse or in the rain shadow at the base of a wall to keep off excessive rain, which will help improve the plants’ tolerance to cold weather.
The cottage garden is a distinct style that uses informal design, traditional materials, dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. English in origin, it depends on grace and charm rather than grandeur and formal structure. Homely and functional gardens connected to cottages go back centuries, but their stylized reinvention occurred in 1870s England, as a reaction to the more structured, rigorously maintained estate gardens with their formal designs and mass plantings of greenhouse annuals.
The earliest cottage gardens were more practical than today’s, with emphasis on vegetables and herbs, fruit trees, perhaps a beehive, and even livestock. Flowers, used to fill spaces, gradually became more dominant. The traditional cottage garden was usually enclosed, perhaps with a rose-bowered gateway. Flowers common to early cottage gardens included traditional florists’ flowers such as primroses and violets, along with flowers with household use such as calendula and various herbs. Others were the richly scented old-fashioned roses that bloomed once a year, and simple flowers like daisies. In time, cottage-garden sections were added to some large estate gardens as well.
Modern cottage gardens include countless regional and personal variations and embrace plant materials, such as ornamental grasses or native plants not seen in the rural gardens of cottagers. Traditional roses, with their full fragrance and lush foliage, continue to be a cottage-garden mainstay—along with modern disease-resistant varieties that retain traditional attributes. Informal climbing plants, whether traditional or modern hybrids, are also common, as are the self-sowing annuals and freely spreading perennials favoured in traditional cottagers’ gardens.