JOHN’S JOURNAL

The Beauty of a Firepit

I have many fond memories of having bonfires in the back garden and around the nursery, often after a spring tidy or an Autumn cut back, embracing nature to turn a large heap of clippings into a small pile of ash, also perfect for fertilising the flowerbeds with. Now at this time of year another great way of embracing this element is to create yourself a fire pit!

At the nursery we’ve recently seen the return of our Firepit located outside the garden room, a great focal point and also somewhere lovely to gather around on a Autumn and Winters day, listening to the crackle of the logs and the smell wafts across the nursery signalling the Winter months are approaching. It’s also something that was quite simple to build. There’s a range of different styles you can use to create the firepit, new and also reclaimed, helping lift it off the ground and when the fire gets going the heat of the bowl radiates.

At the nursery we have surrounded our firepit with a stack of logs all the way round, 2 logs thick and then wrapped it in chicken mesh to hold them together, very simple yet really effective, you could also build the log circle further out allowing you to then sit on this to enjoy the warmth, just check the smokes blowing in the right direction first, this is also something you need to consider before you build one, what direction does the wind often blow? And how near are your neighbours? If you’re in the middle of the countryside you’re normally ok.

Fire Pits are a great social space, often tucked away at the bottom of the garden, make yourself a log store nearby where you can fit a good few wheelbarrows of logs, then when the flames are roaring and the marshmallows are toasting you’ve got an ample supply. Cooking on them is another great use for them and the ones at the nursery have swing arm cooking grills that lift on and off, perfect for roasting some chestnuts or maybe a flame grilled steak! Cooking with fire also links in with the benefits of a wood fired oven, perfect for pizzas and also for cooking meats and flatbreads. Again they make a great focal point and perfect for creating an outdoor kitchen, wood and gas fired options are available if you’re after something in a smoke free zone, and great for adding atmosphere, linked with a covered area the options are endless to embrace your outdoor space and having something to look forward to using over the coming months.

Q AND A

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

 

How deep do you plant bulbs?

As a general rule of thumb plant them 2 to 3 times the height of the bulbs, so Narcissus bulbs are normally 2 inches tall so 4-6 inches deep is fine depending on how good your topsoil is. Taller growing bulbs like the large Alliums want to be deeper so around the 6 inch mark and shorter bulbs can be shallower so stick to the twice as deep rule for those.

 

How do I overwinter Gauras?

Gauras, Salvia, Verbena and Penstemmon all fall into the same group. They don’t want to be cut back at this time of year as they’re a woody perennial, cut them back to the top of their basal leaves at this time of year, no less than 18inches (45cm) from the ground. Then you only prune them harder back at the end of April as the remaining growth through the winter helps protect the young shoots from lower down against the Spring frosts.

 

Should I protect my Bay plants in pots?

Bay trees are the perfect counterpart to any sunny entrance but in the hard winter months their roots need a little protection, the top of them is totally hardy but they just don’t like having their roots frozen. So the solution is to wrap the pots in bubble wrap around the sides, not the top so to let moisture in still and then wrap the sides and top with hessian and you can do this decoratively. The trapped air of the bubble wrap then insulates the pots and the Hessian then makes them look pleasing to the eye.

 

1 –Fill Log Stores

It’s time to stock up on your logs and fill your log stores and sheds, any freshly cut timber needs a year to dry out and season so plan ahead to make your own

2– Garden Lighting

Add lights around your garden to uplight trees and features, electrically powered or solar options are available, great for adding atmosphere

3 – Pumpkin Carving

It’s time to get creative and carve your pumpkins, whether they be white or orange they look beautiful at night with a candle lit

4 – Harvest Chillies

They look great with their firefly colours amongst the other Autumn plants but now is a time to embrace and harvest these for using in cooking or salads

5 – Wipe Houseplants

Clean the leaves on your houseplants to help them shine, use a slightly damp cloth and support the leaf with your other hand when wiping

6 – Feed Winter Cyclamen

Feed them with a Tomato liquid feed to help boost them and encourage lots of flowers, remove any yellowing leaves as well

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cotinus

Commonly known as Smokebush they are one of the best shrubs for Autumn colour. In every shade of red, yellow and orange their leaves are beautiful at this time of year, clouds of smoke like flowers in late Summer held over their rounded foliage, great for sun or shade