Five garden playhouses I’d like to live in

They say that youth is wasted on the young, well…to be frank, so are these playhouses! All right, I’m just joking and only slightly bitter. I was by all accounts a spoiled child, but this sort of thing didn’t exist in my day. If the kids who get these appreciate them as much I did my old fridge box with genuine lace curtains when I was five, then fair play to them. In the meantime…there’s nothing stopping me getting one of these now is there? Is there?

8X9 Lodge Playhouse Product code:

Painted Lodge Playhouse – B&Q, £1067

Ahh…picture perfect, this one. B&Q’s Lodge Playhouse measures six by eight feet and is made from 12mm responsibly-sourced shiplap cladding which you can paint whatever colour you wish (it’s provided unpainted and unassembled) but I rather like this dreamy blue. It’s big enough to sleep in and even has a mezzanine!

Smart Playhouse Kyoto Junior Playhouse

Kyoto Junior Playhouse – £2399.99, Smart Playhouse

Is your child big into modernism? If so, they’ll really appreciate the Kyoto Junior Smart Playhouse, which is a modernistic structure confusingly named after what’s probably Japan’s most traditional city. Smart Playhouse’s range of striking playhouses aren’t just toys – they really add something to your garden. This birch plywood construction is finished with a water-based painted finish.

 AXI Liam Double Swing Playhouse

Liam Double Swing Playhouse – £1,660.42, Axi

Now…why don’t they have swings on the side of so-called ‘proper’ houses? And where’s my look-out? What’s for sure is that I’d definitely have a better life in general if one of the routes out of my house was a slide, as is the case for this rather fabulous Liam double swing playhouse from Axi. Even better, the frame doubles as a sandpit!

Hideaway playhouse Waitrose Garden

Hideaway Playhouse – £729, Waitrose Garden

The Hideaway playhouse is a sturdy structure that puts the focus on safety with its four fixed windows, veranda, a tongue and groove floor and a solid board roof with mineral roofing felt. Additionally, you can get your little ones started early by tending to the two window boxes at the front. It also has an upstairs platform with a ladder.

The Wigwam Playhouse by dCor design

The Wigwam Playhouse – £376.99 (was £429.99), dCor Design

Supplied unpainted (should you find this particular palette a bit in-your-face) dCor Design’s wigwam playhouse has a unique design with two diamond-shaped windows and a side door. It’s constructed from dip-treated high-grade pine shiplap and has an interior height of 187cm. It’ll be fun to paint as well as to play in!

Five of the best: bird feeders

Nash Mealworm Peanut Butter Bird Feeder

Nash Peanut Butter Feeder – £7.95, Kew Gardens

Give your garden friends a break from the birdseed! This metal bird feeder from Kew Gardens will help you – it’s specifically designed to hold the company’s special salt-free and safe mealworm peanut butter. The raised lip at the front of the feeder will hold the jar firmly, and its design will keep birds safe from squirrels.

Garden-Bazaar-Police-Box-Bird-Feeder

Police Box Bird Feeder – £26.99 (was £35.99), Garden Bazaar

As if their ability to fly isn’t envy-inducing enough – now your feathered pals can travel through time! Or maybe not, seeing asTardis-like bird feeder is really a (presumably copyright-free) British Police Box, of the type used by members of the public to contact the police and – dare we say – beloved of a famous television doctor! It holds a good two pounds of bird seed.

M&S Garden Swing Bird Feeder

Bird Swing Feeder – £17.50, M&S

M&S’s wooden swing seat bird feeder has a removable tray, which means it’s easy to take out to clean as well as to replenish. Fashioned from sustainable wood, the feeder measures 17cm (height) x 23cm (width) x 15.5cm (depth) and at a weight of just less than half a kilo will hang happily from a branch of even moderate size.

Pink Floral Teapot Bird House with Gold Detail

Pink Floral Teapot Bird House with Gold Detail – £19.99, Very

Very Alice in Wonderland, this one. Very’s teapot bird house has a small hole to provide shelter for garden birds, while the saucer attached to its base provides ample space for you to leave seed or other snacks. Also available in blue, the floral teapot design has gold detail on the lid.

 Terracotta apple bird feeder Terracotta apple bird feeder Product Reviews Overall rating(5) Value for money? Meet expectations? Recommend to a friend? Review this product Wonderful product appalling service Having three myself and loving this, ordered at beginning of December for Christmas present for relative, paying extra for named day delivery. Not delivered, order apparently lost and very inadequate response; they cannot tell me what has happened and their only offer is to refund the delivery costs. No idea if/when it will be delivered!! Thank you for your review, sorry that you have had a bad experience with the delivery and communication regarding this, we will look into this immediately. By SD, on 24 Dec 2016 2 out of 2 people found the above review helpful Was this review helpful to you?YesNo Bought this in 2013, still going strong I have had this feeder for over 3 years now and it looks as good as new. Looks very attractive hanging from an ash tree. Very easy to keep clean. I would highly recommend this. It is used by most of the birds visiting my garden including sparrows, goldfinch, blue tits, great tits, chaffinch, robin etc. I usually put sunflower hearts in mine. At this time of year, a huge crow sits on one branch of the tree and in a very dignified manner, eats from the feeder hanging on an opposite branch. I could easily move the feeder to an inaccessible branch but there is enough food for all the birds and the crow makes me laugh. By Jef, on 20 Jun 2016 6 out of 8 people found the above review helpful Was this review helpful to you?YesNo Fabulous I don't normally post reviews but this product is such a success on my balcony, I just had to write one! I filled it with sunflower hearts and the Blue Tits took to it at once, even popping inside the apple to feed, and now the Chaffinches and Siskins are using it too. Hasn't rained yet so don't know how waterproof it will, be but it is such an attractive feature on the balcony, it won't really matter. Highly recommended :) By Melissa , on 13 Apr 2016 1 out of 2 people found the above review helpful Was this review helpful to you?YesNo View all Terracotta apple bird feeder

Terracotta apple bird feeder – £11.50, RSPB

You’d expect the UK’s leading bird charity to know their stuff when it comes to this sort of thing, and the to know about this sort of thing – and the RSPB’s apple-shaped, terracotta bird feeder is equipped with three feeding holes and is frost resistant. It’s the perfect place for you to present bird seeds or suet snacks to your airborne pals.

Making a Pine Cone Christmas Wreath

A festive wreath with pine cones

A festive wreath with pine conesYesterday I explained that I have spent a lot of the year dealing with a surplus of pine cones. Having decided to love the massive Scots pine that gifts me with cones year-round, I offloaded a lot of the cones on eBay and gave them away to anyone who’d have them. I still had over a hundred left, mind.

Having lived in East London for a long time before moving to Kent, I had forgotten that there were parts of the country where you can leave your car or your festive wreath outside without it being stolen or vandalised. The first Christmas here I realised that it’s a bit remiss to leave your front door unadorned, and as I was about to buy one this week I thought: the cones!

After a bit of research online I discovered a lot of people do this. Just as I was about to buy a wreath base, I found a great video tutorial on how to easily make a wreath with pine cones.

You will need:

    • 1 wire coat hanger
    • Pliers
    • Glue gun and glue sticks (I think I used about six small ones)
    • Pony beads (make sure the hole in the beads is large enough to comfortably slot on and off the wire of the coat hanger)
    • Pine cones (I think I probably used about 60, though it depends on their size)
    • Large ribbon or fabric remnants

Unhooked wire coat hanger1. ‘Unhook’ the coat hanger so you have a long bit of bendy wire with a few kinks in it

 

 

 
Wire coat hanger shaped into a circle2. Shape the hanger into a circle and, using the pliers, remove the kinks as far as you can before bending the ends into hooks as shown.

 

 

 

 

 

Pine cone with glued-on bead applied

3. Take a cone and put a generous blob of glue on its base. Apply a bead to the base, taking great care to secure the bead on the cone while not blocking either side of the bead’s hole.

 

 

 

Pine cones with beads attached

4. Repeat for all of the other pine cones

 

 

 

 

Pine cone being slipped onto a wire coat hanger5. Once you’ve allowed time for the glue to dry properly (it’ll go from clear to cloudy) slide the pine cones onto the wire.

 

 

 

 

Pine cones arranged on the wire of a coat hangerIt’ll take a bit of arranging – you need to gently move the cones without breaking the cones or snapping off the beads, while ensuring that the beads are close enough together that the cones obscure the wire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A number of pine cones on a wire coat hanger(You might have to experiment with the order of sizes).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pine cones arranged on a circular wire6. Once the wire is full, carefully hook the ends together to form a circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making a red silk bow with glue7. Take the ribbon and tie into a large bow. I found that the ribbon I had wasn’t large enough to hide the hooked area or really look right, so I decided to make one out of a bit of silk I had lying around from a failed dress experiment. This is good for remnants as you need a section that’s long and thin, and so I was able to use a long section down the selvedge.

 

 

 

 

Gluing silk together to make a bowDisgracefully, instead of going upstairs to use the sewing machine, or ironing at all, I decided to glue the whole thing together as shown. What I wanted was a long strip with diagonal ends, and a long strip that I’d place on top of this before folding it over into the centre at either end and securing around the middle with another, narrower strip.

 

 

 

 

Christmas pine cone wreath on a front door8. Position the bow on top of your wreath.

Hang on your front door! Or anywhere else you fancy (it’s quite wide, so you’ll probably need a fairly long screw or nail on the door/in the wall).

Here you go! I thought about spraying it with white or gold paint but decided against it.

I’m quite pleased with this! Let’s see whether it stays together until January!

If you give this a go yourself, or can think of any other uses for pine cones (they’re still falling!) then please do let me know.

Also, please…be careful with glue guns. That glue gets really hot!

Preparing Pine Cones for Use in Crafts

Pine cones

Pine treeMy back garden is dominated by a pine tree which – though it’s beautiful – is sort of the bane of my life. Why?

  • It’s huge – so big I need to fill forms in if I want to cut it (not that I can reach it to do so).
  • It casts most of the back garden in shade so decreases the growing opportunities substantially
  • Pine trees, in their ongoing attempts to take over the world, leech acid into the soil. As a result, This is something I attempt to sort out (watch this space!). This decreases the growing opportunities substantially.
  • The ground around the pine tree is covered in either cones or an abundance of lengthy needles.Which constantly need raking or they cover the ground, decreasing the growing opportunities substantially.
  • Pines are really thirsty and suck all of the water out of the surrounding soil. Which decreases…you get the idea.
  • I think it might be a Scots pine and so there’s a decent chance it hates me.
  • It produces shedloads of pine cones. They don’t compost and they were starting to gather in huge amounts.

In its favour:

  • It’s really beautiful.
  • It’s a tree and they do loads of good stuff and that.
  • The birds love it.
  • I like Scots, even if they don’t like me.
  • I had so many pine cones!

If I see the cones as a plus, I’ll need to do something with them.

For making items you’re going to keep indoors, it’s best not to use pine cones as is though – they’re full of insects, are covered in sap, and are prone to opening and closing.

My preferred method of preserving the cones is to bake them – this has the advantage of melting the sap, which forms a lovely natural gloss.

Preparing Pine Cones By Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking tray with either foil or greaseproof paper and lay out the pine cones.
  2. Put the tray in the oven. Although many people recommend you should bake them for 30 minutes, I think this is far too long. The cones are ready when they have opened fully and the sap has melted. In any case, make sure you keep an eye on their progress and make sure they don’t burn. Any sign of smoke – take them out! Less dramatically, if you leave them in too long they start to darken and become rather brittle.
  3. Lay them out in a dry area and leave them for two or three days.

Preparing Pine Cones By Washing

  1. Fill a sink with warm water and add approximately 250ml vinegar.
  2. Soak the pine cones for half an hour and check that the sap has washed away from them.
  3. Rinse the cones in clean water
  4. Lay the cones out on some layers of newspaper and leave them to dry for three or four days
  5. Although this process will ensure the cones are open and free of insects, they’ll have no sheen as the sap has been washed away rather than melted.

So here we are. Lovely, prepared pine cones. What to do with them? The previous owners already filled the living room fireplace with them.

I thought of donating them to a local florist but I was too embarrassed to suggest it. Throwing them away seems sinful. I started flogging them on eBay – they cost so much to post that there’s no profit in it, but the important thing is that they were being used in the wider world. I got rid of over 1,000 that way.

Still got plenty left tPile of long decomposing pine needleshough…and it’s December and currently I have the only unadorned door in the street. So I’m going to make a festive wreath. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s not all hopeless with the endlessly growing pile of needles (left) either. Apparently they can be used for mulch.

Which means I might have to revise my opinion on the massive pine.

Now…what on earth can redeem the neighbouring hawthorn tree that blights my life?

 

 

.

 

A-Maze-ing: Precision Garden Box Hedges

Foxes in a Hedge

Box Hedge Maze
I wouldn’t really have got into topiary (aside from my pipe dreams of having a huge box Miffy head on the forecourt) had I not inherited a maze. It wasn’t exactly Versailles:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be honest, I’m not sure what the people who ‘built’ it were thinking of. It’s just about cat height now. That’s not to say it doesn’t have fans. This is maybe my favourite photo of all time:

Foxes in Garden Box Hedge Maze

It soon became obvious, though, that immaculate hedges are quite the thing around here – the competition in my street alone is really quite fierce.

Down the street, there is a fairly small forecourt that contains a hedge of awe-inspiring precision.

I’m aware that’s a statement that’s difficult to take at face value, so with the help of snooper’s dream Google Streetview, I have managed to amass images of it.

Seriously, get a load of this:

Perfect Hedge 2016

Also thanks to Streeview, I can get hope and inspiration from watching how it’s developed over the years!

Young box hedging
2008 – a series of small box plants

 

Young Clipped Box Hedge
2009 – growing slowly but surely

 

dreamhedge2012
2012 – really taking shape now

 

Beautiful Hedge
2012: mathematical accuracy

 

Perfect Hedge 2016
2016: Argh! How does he do it?!

Anyway – three years on from the first image in this article, here’s mine:

Hedge Maze 2016
Hedge Maze 2016

Hmm. It’s filled out a bit, but is still a bit sparse in places…and it’s clearly that density is crucial, if the Google Streetview experiment is anything to go by.

What’s clear, though, is that it could do with a bit more than the basic secateur trim that it’s been getting the past three years. So I’ve got a proper, quite powerful, mind-yourself-with-that now, electric hedge trimmer.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this one. In the meantime – any tips, especially on corners?!

Pokeweed (or Pokeberry): Exotic, pretty, resilient and out of control

Pokeberry or Pokeweed in a UK Garden

Pokeberry or Pokeweed in a UK Garden

In the first year you live in a house with a garden, everything that shows up is a surprise. In late spring, in a part of the garden that’s completely in the shade (thanks to a gigantic pine tree), some leaves started bursting up; they were a sort of reddish colour at first but then green.

Honesty, this plant grew so quickly I felt I could almost see it spreading. In no time there was a mass of leaves and some rather peculiar flower. I’d never seen anything like it – if anything it looked more weird than the photos. The central flower stem started off covered in green flowers that were pink in the centre. These gradually changed into really shiny seeds, that started off pink and gradually changed to an almost-black purple. It looked a bit Space-Agey, or like something out of Chorlton and the Wheelies.

The next year, it had spread about 30 feet along the shaded area, and had produced about 15 of the large flower heads. It had also cropped up in other locations, including a patch about 80 feet away. All in the shade.

Intrigued, I posted a picture on a gardening forum. An American reader point out that it was pokeweed, or pokeberry. I couldn’t see pictures that looked exactly like my plant, but there was a definite resemblance to other plants in the Phytolaccaceae family.

I told an American friend I had pokeweed in my garden and she mentioned something that caused me to drop everything and get digging. ‘It forms a really deep and invasive tap root. I’ve just burnt a pile of it.’ With the word ‘tap root’ ringing in my head, I went out and started digging – in fact I dug until my palms bled.

Amy (said friend) wasn’t wrong. The roots were deep…huge, in fact – one was the size of a baby! And they’d spread everywhere

I think I dug them all out but really – I’ll find out for definite next year.

I’m sad though…I actually thought it looked nice (this is how Japanese knotweed spread throughout the country, isn’t it?). I’m not sad enough to carry on digging it out of the garden when I see it (seedlings are still forming – the seeds, though poisonous, are tempting to birds and the plant spreads that way, too).

Have you had any encounters with this strange plant? I’m in Kent, the hottest county in the mainland UK, and would be interested to know where this came from. Do you know what genus it is?

Oranges and Lemons: A Pair of Citrus Trees

Citrus Trees either side of a front door
An unrecognisable pair of citrus trees peeping out of a box
Hello lads!

Oh there’s nothing more I enjoy on Black Friday* than buying myself stuff I don’t really need.

That’s a lie. I do need homegrown citrus. Especially the trees are as fruitful as my other fruit trees. Though, strictly speaking, only the Japanese Wineberry has pulled its weight this year and that’s more of a collection of wayward twigs than a fruit tree.

Also, I need to inform the world about citrus trees…this sense of public duty will force me to feed and water the trees appropriately – everybody’s happy!

Anyway, reasoning out of the way – here we go:

My Black Friday Trees (definitely a poem in that) were part of a deal from Amazon for £26.99, reduced from near on forty quid. When they arrived I realised they were from a site called YouGarden, which offers the same pair of citrus trees at the same price all year round…I feel such a fool! Still, I got a smashing pair of citrus trees for a bargain price, and in the process put some cash in the pockets of one of the world’s most ruthless multinationals…everybody’s happy!

Anyway – on the left is the exciting moment they arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pair of fruit trees hanging around in a messy kitchen]

Make yourself at home,boys! Yeah OK I’m going to tidy up later on. Yeah, they are real optics. Honestly, if you don’t get over yourselves I’m going to put you outside.

Citrus Trees either side of a front door

OK. Have it your way.

 

I can say from first impressions that they are EXACTLY as they appeared in the picture online apart from the fact the presence of a lovely pot of citrus feed, and the absence of the cards with photos of the fruit on (thank goodness, that sort of thing is lethal to a hoarder and they hang around in my utility room like mini gravestones for Plants I Have Known).

They have arrived, perfectly, just as we’re about to have the first frost of the year (I’m in subtropical Kent), so they’re only posing on the doorstep here before being transferred to my greenhouse. Blimey, I’d better clear that out!

This is what I’m a few short months from.

Citrus fruits - oranges and lemons - on trees

And if it doesn’t pan out…I’m expecting a bumper crop of wineberries. (And my gin will just have to go without).

If you want to join the wait with me you can get a pair of citrus trees (an orange and a lemon) from YouGarden. I’ll keep you updated in great detail in any case, so don’t panic,

*Apologies for the vulgar phrase which has regrettably entered common parlance but still does its job, albeit in a way that makes you die a bit inside every time you hear it

 

The Kärcher K2 Compact Air-Cooled Pressure Washer: A Love Story (or a Review)

Karcher Compact Pressure Washer K2

Fair enough…the tiled seating area at outside my back door was getting a bit grubby.

And I am improving my garden a small task at a time. Even better…I’ll have to get a new gadget!

I never lose my enthusiasm for buying stuff to sort out problems, even though the success rate is low – I usually just end up with loads of unused stuff and get an expert out.

With that in mind, I went for the bottom of the range Kärcher K2 Compact Air-Cooled Pressure Washer. (You can see it above).

I looked through the online reviews and the reviews were good, though there were some complaints that a pressure washer they bought for under £50 turned out to be ‘plasticky.’ Mindful that I too prefer budget light industrial equipment to be composed of ivory or maybe bakelite I went ahead anyway. I had nothing to lose but my algae!

Talking of which: here’s the patio before it was attacked by the cheapo Kärcher (my affection for the washer is now so strong that it feels harsh and disloyal for me to use such a pejorative phrase).

BEFORE:

A Wet, Dirty Garden Patio Covered in Algae and Sludge

I should point out that to get the pressure washer started you’ll also need:

  • access to either a household outside tap or a water butt tap
  • an accessible power socket

The Kärcher’s cable is 5m in length, and its hose lead stretches to 4m, so if your garden is quite large you might also need:

  • a cable reel  – but please do take great care when using an electrical device that emits a lot of water
  • a garden hose (Kärcher’s hose is all very nice but costs more than the pressure washer itself – I have a more er…spartan garden hose and it did the trick perfectly)

DURING:

A pressure washer blasting away dirt

I was dazzled by the performance of the ‘one way lance’ (which produces a ‘constant high-pressure jet ideal for cleaning a variety of surfaces including cars, patios and decking‘), which is one of two attachments provided with the cleaner…

12b086f47b66c7f6e76ae6657b8dbf7abd54198c

…only to find that the ‘dirtblaster’ (a powerful rotary nozzle designed with a rotating pencil jet which provides up to 50% greater cleaning power than a standard high pressure lance, for instance used for removing stubborn dirt on moss covered or weathered surfaces’) was even better.

inprogress

AFTER:

I foolishly started the process on a late November afternoon at around 4pm. Though it only took about an hour and a half to do the whole thing, the light quality wasn’t great by the end, so even though you can see this is only a ‘once over’:

Patio after Pressure Washing in the Dark

…here it is a couple of days later, in the daylight:

Cleaned patio

Turns out the tiles were cream and brick red! They’ll get cleaner when I go over them again.

It really did only take 90 minutes – that’s just as long as it took for Tottenham’s European Champions League dreams to end. The manual says you can cover about 20 square metres an hour with it, and I’d say that’s about right.

What I haven’t mentioned though is…how much fun it all was! Really – time flew by and before I knew it I was looking forward to cleaning my car! Though I haven’t got round to it quite yet – saving that as a treat. 😉

PROS:

  • Incredibly cheap
  • Easy and quick to operate
  • Easy to carry
  • Effective
  • Loads of fun

CONS:

  • Made out of plastic. I don’t know why, but this seems to disturb some people
  • You’ll get more than a bit grubby and/or wet
  • Those of you who remember Chas and Dave might find yourselves singing the brand name ‘Kärcher’ in the style of their classic ‘Gertcha.’*

So, in short: This pressure washer is perfect for what I need it for – cleaning the greenhouse, the patio and paths, grubby rendering on the lower part of the house (though I’ll need to take care with the paintwork) and the car.

Which left me thinking…what on earth do the other models do? Advise you on tax-efficient pension arrangements? Cook breakfast?

I know they differ in the power of the motor and number of attachments and so on…but really, how much better can it get? I’m not really very good on doing my homework on comparisons with products but since the K7 Premium Pressure Washer is, at the time of writing, over £500, I really had to put the stats side by side:

Kärcher K2 Home Air-Cooled Pressure Washer = under £50 – 110 bar pressure, 180 watts, water-cooled, suction intake (detergent tube), 4m hose length, 380 litre/hour water flow, 2 attachments
Kärcher K7 Premium Full Control Home Pressure Washer = over £500 – 160 bar pressure, 2800 watts, water-colled, plug and clean detergent intake), 10m hose length,600 litre/hour water flow, 5 attachments

Admittedly, the K7 looks lovely (less ‘plasticky’!) and has all the bells and whistles, I’m sure the extra power and pressure counts when you’re working on larger areas (a park or country estate?) and is probably quite a bit sturdier which might show over time but… Please do tell me if you’ve tried the other ranges…I’d be more than happy for an excuse to buy another gadget…

*Pro or Con? It’s up to you.
 

 

How to Plant, Grow and Care for Rosemary

Sprig of Rosemary

Sprig of RosemaryRosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis, if you’re on more formal terms with the most common variety of this highly aromatic herb – smells so Christmassy to me. You’d almost think that I cooked just one day in the year. Leaves from this hardy and woody shrub can be harvested all year round and I like it so much – roasted with potatoes, mainly – that it was the first herb I wanted to grow in my new garden. The fact it grows into a substantial, perennial, evergreen plant with dark, needle-like leaves and, in the spring, flowers that some swear are just as tasty, means it has secured a permanent place in front of the back door. Not least because it perseveres bravely when other, less hardy herbs have given up the ghost. If you’re still looking for reasons to bring it into your life, rosemary:

  • Encourages bees and other pollinators
  • Is evergreen and hardy
  • Has edible leaves
  • Produces purple-blue flowers in the spring (which are also edible)
  • Is a versatile herb
  • Grows in difficult soil with little maintenance

Growing Rosemary from Seed or Cuttings

Despite being extremely easy to care for, rosemary is rather difficult to grow from seed. If you fancy a challenge, you can throw a few bob Prince Charles’s way and buy rosemary seeds from Duchy Originals.

However, if you already have access to a rosemary plant then you can take softwood cuttings from a healthy specimen at any time from May to August. The plants will mature more quickly than their seed-grown counterparts and can be easily grown as follows:

  1. Using a sharp knife, take cuttings (from young shoots, torn off at stem level) of about 10cm
  2. Remove leaves from the lower 4cm and cut off the base of the stem just below a leaf node (i.e. from where you’ve removed a leaf)
  3. Dip stem ends in hormone rooting powder
  4. Fill pots with a gritty compost and insert the compost around the edges (or alternatively, individually in the modules of a seed tray
  5. Water and place in a shaded, sheltered area (or a propagator – though placing the pot in a plastic bag will retain the moisture equally well)
  6. A few weeks later, tip the pot over gently and inspect the roots of the soil. Once they’ve formed decent roots, carefully separate them
  7. Repot your rosemary seedlings in a loam-based compost, e,g. John Innes No. 2
  8. Water regularly – transfer to larger pots as they grow and plant out the following spring.

…or you can just buy a rosemary plant ready-grown!

Caring for Rosemary

I can say from experience that Rosemary is a remarkably hardy and tolerant plant, though it prefers full sun and well-drained soil and flowers in April, May and June. To ensure you have a plentiful supply of young, succulent leaves for culinary use you should gather the leaves regularly and prune plants each spring. Rosemary should be planted outside in April, and will grow well in containers, though you should use a large and deep pot as plants can grow tall and have long and deep roots. Plant in a potting compost with a handful of sand or grit and keep well watered throughout summer.

Varieties of Rosemary

You’re most likely to find Rosmarinus officinalis in the UK though it too comes in many varieties:

Miss Jessopp’s Upright – has an eventual height and spread of approximately two metres

Prostatus Group – a low-growing, spreading form of rosemary

Cooking with Rosemary

Rosemary leaves can be used to:

Rosemary flowers can be used to:

  • add a slightly sweeter flavour than the leaves to stews, soups and vegetables
  • add flavour to biscuit dough