Gardener's Corner

Gardener's Corner is a comprehensive source of tips and tricks for gardening from University of Birmingham Groundkeeper Lewis Warwick and the Wellbeing Taskforce's own keen gardener Jodie Hopewell. This page will be updated each week with new articles covering every type of garden.

Featured videos from Winterbourne House and Gardens

Birdsong in the gardens
Calm mornings in the garden
A walk amongst the flowers


Gardener's Corner: Ducklings and Fledglings

As we transition from spring to summer we all hope to cross paths with fluffy ducklings and fledgling birds. It’s important to remember that these very adorable new additions may well be out and about with protective parents and it’s in everyone’s interest to keep your distance so to reduce any possible stress for the animals and increase the time they spend within your view. On a more serious note, it is also important to remember that wild birds and their nests are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In this article I’m going to share some facts about the lives of young birds and their families.

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ducks

Gardener's Corner: Alpine beds and rock gardens

I'm sure most of you who have been hiking in the mountains will have noticed the various rock plants and alpines that grow there. Alpine plants will find a home in dry stone walls, screes, nooks and crannies and alongside streams. Rock and alpine plants are perfect for exposed and seemingly inhospitable places but they can also be adapted to your garden. As you explore the prospect of adding a rock garden to your home, you will find that it is a surprisingly lovely way of adding colour.

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Alpines

Gardener's Corner: The thrifty gardener

Once you’ve been bitten by the gardening bug it can very tempting to splash out on lovely plants and garden features. As someone who has recently added countless bulbs, shrubs, sacks of compost and bird feeders (I’ve also got a bird bath in the post) to my garden, I’ve put together a list of money saving, and environmentally friendly, tips to reuse and recycle household rubbish instead. A penny saved is a penny earned!

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Gardener's Corner: How to encourage birds

In my experience the most effective way of encouraging birds into your garden is to make sure your feeders are well stocked. Fat balls are always a popular choice, I would recommend buying them in bulk to reduce the likelihood of any unsatisfied visitors! Fat balls will be enjoyed by birds and squirrels, this week alone I’ve seen Crows, Wood Pigeons, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Black Birds, Dunnocks, Jays and Robins on mine. Fat balls can be messy so I would think carefully about where you place your feeder. Whilst smaller garden birds and squirrels will grasp onto the wires, larger birds, including blackbirds, are ground feeders and won’t be able to get at the balls if they don’t have a perch to stand on. A few weeks ago I brought a refillable bird house shaped feeder from Wilko, this has been popular with small birds and doesn’t seem to have generated much mess.

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robin

Gardener's Corner: Ponds

The subject of ponds and water features can be quite extensive, so I will try to keep this as basic as possible. First of all, if you don't already have a pond or water feature there are several options available, but for this article we'll stick to the two basic kinds, the pre-formed mould type and the flexible liner type. The pre-formed mould type is a plastic or fibreglass mould which is available in several different shapes and sizes. Personally, I would go for the flexible liner type, ultimately though it's about personal choice and what suits your garden. Some of you may be lucky enough to have a natural body of water in your garden, which makes for a great feature providing it's hasn't been taken over by any native plants.

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ponds

Gardener's Corner: Small Gardens

Having a small garden has plenty of advantages over that of a large garden, it's far less maintenance intensive in both time and effort. It can also be a lot cheaper in terms of things you want to do, be that landscaping, selecting plants, adding furniture, decking or even sheds. It's really important to maximise the use of space in a small garden. To get off to the best start I would recommend putting some time aside to create a plan of what you would like to do, whether that’s starting from scratch or just making a few small changes.

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small gardens

 

Gardener's Corner: Composting

Composting is always a good way to create your own organic material for use in your garden, beds, tubs and containers. It also acts as a great source of minerals and nutrients perfect for plants which have just been planted or have not yet fully established. It’s important not to use this material on its own to grow plants in as this is unlikely to work. Homemade composts should be mixed with traditional soils at a ratio of 3 to 1 - 3 traditional soils and compost, 1 homemade composted material.

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compost

 

Gardener's Corner: House Plants

House plants are a great way of bringing the outside indoors. They can add colour to your home, both with their leaves and flowers and the decorative pots you keep them in. When choosing a house plant try to pick a young one that has recently arrived in store. Look for one that has vigorous growth, healthy/lush foliage and strong stems. All of this means the plant has far more chance of surviving when you bring it home. Avoid plants that are the opposite of above, especially ones that are pot bound or that have diseases. When a plant gets too large for its pot and the roots circle around inside the pot, the plant's growth becomes restricted. If your plants seem to dry out more quickly than they used to, but are otherwise healthy, they are probably pot bound.

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House plants

 

Gardener's Corner: Planters

Whilst we don't all have the luxury of an outdoor space, it’s important to remember gardens can come in all shapes and sizes. For those of us that don't have a garden we can instead opt for a window box or if you have a balcony a small planter or tub. In this post I will share with you a few things that you can do with those options.

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window-box

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