The Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode 6: Carole and Mairi are in Beechgrove to show how to create a bluebell wood. They also lay ready-sown turf to create a near-instant carpet of colour.
Meanwhile, in sunny Joppa, George shows the happy results of some of his pruning exploits from last year, while Kirsty is back in her allotment creating a cold frame from scratch using recycled bits and pieces. And we return to visit ecologist and passionate environmentalist Kevin Hughes at Caly Gardens to see how the garden and its precious wildlife have survived the winter.
The Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode 6
Although the native English bluebell and the larger Spanish bluebell are often grown in gardens, they can multiply and become a nuisance, requiring control. Spanish bluebells can also hybridise with the native form so are best controlled in gardens close to woodlands where the English bluebell is growing.
While many gardeners welcome the native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) in their gardens, it can become a nuisance. The larger Spanish bluebell (H. hispanica) is also pretty, but can become a problem too, not just because of its spreading habit, but also due to its ability to hybridise with the native English form. The hybrid forms could potentially oust the natives and we advise against growing Spanish bluebells in rural gardens.
Flowers of native bluebells are narrowly bell-shaped, with straight-sided petals, deeply curled back at the tips. The majority of flowers droop from one side of the stem. The anthers are creamy-white and the leaves narrow, usually between 0.7-1.5cm wide (about ¼-¾in), although occasionally up to 2cm (¾in).
The bell-shaped flowers of Spanish bluebells and the hybrids between this and the English (known as H. × massartiana) open more widely than on English bluebells, with the petal tips just flaring outwards or curling back only slightly. Some flowers may droop from one side, but most are arranged all around the stem and held more erect. The anthers of Spanish and hybrid bluebells are usually pale to dark blue, and the leaves are wider, up to 3-3.5cm (about 1¼in) across.
Lawn weeds: selecting weedkillers
A sprinkling of wildflowers in a lawn can be a joyous thing for gardeners and wildlife. However, where a gardener chooses to create a more traditional green swathe, some control of the plants that are not grass may be needed. This can be done by good cultivation and by digging out, but there lawn weedkillers are widely available too. Below you can find details of which weedkillers work best for tackling specific weeds.
Weedy lawns can make great wildflower meadows, providing a rich habitat for insects and other wildlife. However, if you want to create a lawn that is mainly or solely grass, you will need to control some of the plants that seed into the turf. You can simply dig out some weeds with a small handfork or weed grubbing tool. However, you will also see many lawn weedkillers available that can target lawn weeds.
Coldframes and mini-greenhouses – Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode 6
Coldframes and mini-greenhouses are useful accessories to a greenhouse, and can also be a partial alternative to a greenhouse. Frames are merely boxes that lie flat on the ground with a glazed, sloping lid and mini-greenhouses are glazed boxes that stand vertically with openings on one side.
There are sound reasons to use coldframes and mini-greenhouses, particularly where greenhouses are not an option, perhaps because of the cost or lack of space. Coldframes and mini-greenhouses can be easily moved to a spot suitable for growing a particular plant or crop (e.g. brighter for vegetables or shadier for cuttings).
Glasshouses and polythene tunnels still provide the best growing environment as they are walk-in and the conditions inside are easier to manage. This is because the larger volume of air acts as a buffer, reducing fluctuations in temperature and humidity – so are less severe than inside coldframes and mini-greenhouses.