►The making of a garden

Kathy Hammond’s garden design project and tips

The Gardens and Gardening group met at Kathy Hammond’s garden, Kathy has moved to Crouch End in the last year and has created a new garden and wildlife pond. She talked about what she had learnt and what had worked well and less well, and the group shared tips on ponds, watering, seed growing and … that persistent problem – slugs.

Garden design ideas. Kathy found The Ultimate Garden Planner by Peter McHoy fantastically useful – crammed with photos and diagrams and lists (bought secondhand at Oxfam book shop). Also The Tree and Shrub Expert, by D G Hessayon and Good Planting by Rosemary Verey (both books also found secondhand).

Building a wildlife pond. Shallow levels are good for pond-life. Frogs, newts and toads magically arrive once you have built a pond – and transporting amphibians from other gardens is not really a good idea as it is thought that can spread viral or bacterial diseases particularly amongst frogs. Some shade is really essential as young tadpoles and baby frogs cannot tolerate water that gets too warm (shade is something Kathy didn’t have enough of and she is working on planting some more overhanging pond-margin plants for next year). Newts are voracious eaters of mosquito larvae which is great news! Waterside nurseries has great ‘how to’ tips for designing and maintaining different sorts of ponds.

Advice on how to build a pond in your garden

For (inexpensive) early veg and flowers sow seeds in Jan/Feb in potting compost and grow in a seed tray on a cool but well-lit windowsill and, once they have germinated, harden off the seedlings by putting them outside whenever it is warm enough. This works really well for most annual veg and flowers like tomatoes, aubergines, peas, globe artichoke, sweet peas, hollyhocks, sunflower, and morning glory. Some seeds like climbing french bean need a fairly dry compost.

Advice from the Royal Horticultural Society on seed sowing

Fertiliser. Be thoughtful where and when to add what fertiliser. Three main elements are needed for plant growth. Nitrogen (N) enhances plant and leaf growth (so if you give too much at the wrong time to flowering plants you get loads of enormous leaves and fewer flowers!); phosphorous (P) encourages root, flower and fruit production; potassium (K) promotes fruit and flowers. Rhs website or commercial seed growers websites have more information on what fertiliser with which mix of elements is best for different plants at different stages of their growth.

Rhubarb leaf spray. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid and have been found to be effective against mildew and aphids. Look online for how to cook up the leaves and what concentration to use.

Slugs. Most of our gardeners thought slugs weren’t so much of a problem this year, but if you are infested then, nematodes seem to work against the small slugs that live in the soil, and for those giant orange horrors, try beer traps (cheapish if you use home-made beer), and if that doesn’t work….. there is always the scissor treatment – make a regular patrol of your garden about half an hour after sunset, especially if you have just watered.

What plants worked well in the hot and dry summer? This year hollyhocks, lavender, thyme, sedum, rosemary, fennel all flourished in the heat and needed very little extra water.

Good colour combinations

White Cosmos and purple verbena look marvellous together. Veg can look good in any garden (orange flowers of courgette or squash are very attractive – and both of these flourished in this hot summer).


The Garden – Before and After

April 13

May 28

July 13

The Pond – Before and After

April 13

May 28

August 1

How to join the Gardening Group

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