Garden Water Features

GardenWaterFeatures-pinSomething to consider while planning your outdoor space this year….

Garden Water features are a relatively new fashion in the west. According to the feng shui experts, water features in the east are simply a way of life.

*Sitting on top of a cliff watching the waves break against the rocks is exhilarating.
*Relaxing in the countryside watching and listening to a river flowing nearby is calming.

Creating a water feature in your own space is both exhilarating and calming….. and excellent feng shui!

Decide on your plot

Although water features are a lot more productive ( and easier to keep clean ) if positioned in full sun, many small water features, fountains or waterfalls can be positioned in a more shady corner of your garden.

Make some plans first. Consider:
– The overall size of your water feature
– Sunny or shady position?
– Waterfall or fountain ? Or both?
– Will you keep fish?
– Rocks and stones to place around the pond / waterfall
– Water friendly plants and flowers – if your pond is in full sun, you will need to cover around two thirds of the surface with plants (water lilies for example)
Let your imagination run free and sketch some ideas or make lists of ideas for your garden water feature.
NB: Building and maintaining a large garden water feature isn’t necessarily cheap, and budget should be considered before you start your project.


Amazon have all sorts of water garden features , like this fun solar powered creation

Solar Powered Buckets and Tap Water Feature

Read all you can before taking on a water gardens project. And talk to those who’ve done it. You don’t need to take ALL the advice you’ll get, but some of it will be very useful. Know what’s in store before you start.

Garden water features are a stunning addition to a regular home garden, and encourage plenty of wildlife….

Frogs and toads will beat a path to your door when you have an outside water supply. They are great tenants and eat all sorts of bugs and slugs.

You may have to net your pond to protect the fish from birds – and possibly kittens and toddlers?

Encourage children to spend time in your water garden. Much healthier than the play station!

Grow flowers around your pond to encourage bees and butterflies. You could build a miniature rockery, and plant rockery plants. The only thing holding you back is your imagination!

Happy Gardening!
Linda x

P.S. This is a copy of the 50th content page of my new website – Garden Ideas

Gardening Now

gardeningnow-pinQuite a few years ago I ran a very popular gardening website – I even had an email list!

For various reasons, I had to give it up, but my passion for plants and all things gardening never went away so, drum roll please, I’m doing it once more ๐Ÿ™‚

I have a garden again, a small one, but space enough to grow some fabulous herbs and even a few veggies I hope. But, true to my nature, I can’t keep it to myself so I’ll be sharing extracts from my huge collection of articles and books and a few new ideas thrown in for good measure.

At the moment I’m doing it via a free platform but if it takes off, I’ll get a proper domain name. Here’s the link if you’d like to take a look, although it is a work in progress so not fully populated yet. Garden Ideas

The plants section has some great tips on growing flowers, fruits, veggies and herbs. And there are a few general gardening ideas and decor pages but that’s about it for now!

I’ll keep you posted as and when new stuff gets published, but start planning your gardening endeavours now so you’re ready for spring planting…

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

P.S. Now’s the time to start planning your next garden adventure! Just posted a new page with some great outdoor decor ideas – 10 Stunning Outdoor Decorations





The Natural Garden


Be at one with nature…

A natural garden encourages birds, bees and butterflies – and frogs, toads and lizards to a friendly environment.

Letting a garden go back to nature doesn’t always achieve this result. Sometimes nature needs a little help…..

Some years ago, my partner and I bought an acre of neglected woodland in France.

The land had been left to it’s own devices for many years and the undergrowth and overgrowth had become so entangled, the whole area was slowly dying.

For a natural garden to develop, it needs to breathe. When the brambles get going around young trees, it won’t be long before they are strangling the tree and eventually kill it. Brutal huh?! Deciding what must stay and what must go isn’t always easy.
First get rid of the heavy duty predators! Get them under control, or they will control you! Limit a bramble patch to a small area of the garden and cut back every year after fruiting. Enjoy the wild blackberries, or leave them to the birds – the choice is yours.

The same with nettles – Nettles are great in a natural garden. Not only do they encourage butterflies, they are also a good source of human nourishment – Nettles are high in iron and vitamin C and make great soup! BUT they will take over the whole plot if not contained. Again, limit their growth.

If you have a number of trees in your garden, serious decisions are needed. Don’t cut in haste! Be prepared to lose a few trees along the way though. We were obliged to cut down a number of large trees and it was heart wrenching to see them lying on the floor. BUT they were stealing light from the land and worse – leaning on other trees, passing on viruses, lifting the tiles off the roof of the house! etc;


When we started making sense of our woodland/giant bramble patch, the task was enormous and we approached the ‘natural garden’ project on a day to day basis, discovering forgotten paths, fruit trees the birds had obviously planted, wild flowers we had no names for, luminous green lizards, and even the odd snake skin, shed by a rather large snake I guess!

We wanted to create a natural garden from a natural mess. Nature hadn’t been kind to our acre of land, and it was up to us to put it right. What a responsibility!!
Our priorities were WITH nature and not against it, so we went with the lay of the land as much as possible, and now the garden feeds us as well as much of the local wildlife.

We have hazelnut trees but also many red squirrels = NO hazelnuts for us!

There are frogs all over the garden although we still haven’t got a ‘proper’ pond. The frogs live in the vegetable patch and do a great job of keeping the slugs under control.

Creating a natural garden relies more on common sense than great horticultural experience. Keep nature in mind at all times while you plan your garden. Consider:


*friendly creatures ( frogs, toads etc;)

*the natural lay of the land

*controlling brambles and nettles

*using trees for shade ( adjust seating areas perhaps )

Water is the key to life!

Whatever you do don’t forget the water supplies. Rather than battling with hoses, sprinklers and complicated watering systems, try collecting rain water!

We’ve used this system for years in our garden and it truly works. We keep a water butt next to the greenhouse, and direct the water from the roof through odd scraps of guttering and old pipe.

The reflection from the glass of the greenhouse also warms the water slightly – much better for the small greenhouse plants than direct cold tap water…brrrr!

Find an old plastic container, with a lid to avoid drowning stray mice, cats or hedgehogs. Rig up your water collecting system as best you can. It may take a little trial and error, but persistence will conquer all!

A water storage system is a MUST-HAVE in your natural garden – practical and environment friendly.

Creating a natural garden isn’t just a question of letting nature ‘take its course’. Help it along a little…and you will gain many hours of pleasure from your wild outdoor space – So will the butterflies and bees ๐Ÿ™‚ Plant some flowers in strategic places round the garden. Or go for the natural look and save a space for a mini-flower meadow! These wildflower collections are available at Thompson & Morgan UK – the seeds are such a good price, it’s worth having a go at growing flowers even if you have a small space available.


Cornfield Mixture (UK)

Happy Gardening!
Linda x

P.S. Don’t forget to create some seating areas so you can relax and enjoy the moment as often as you can ๐Ÿ™‚

“Growing Mushrooms”

Yes I’m posting this on Christmas eve – just taking a moment to consider next year’s projects. Fungi is featuring large at the moment!

Growing mushrooms at home is very do-able, with the right growing conditions, to produce a bumper crop. Fungi are just as nutritious as vegetables and don’t have to be treated as a luxury crop.


They have their own particular seasons, and different species of fungi require different conditions to thrive. They taste good too ๐Ÿ™‚ and can be grown in kit form throughout the year. Add them to the family meal every night .. mm, how good is that!

Growing mushrooms – Collecting wild species:

There are hundreds of different species of fungi. Fungi have an important role to play in the natural world around us. Some aid growth of other plants and trees, some will poison those same plants.

NB: Never eat any form of fungi without a positive identification first. Some wild varieties really are highly dangerous and should not be eaten.

However, once you know what to look for, collecting wild food is a rewarding and tasty experience! As a family, we have collected and eaten chanterelles, giant puff balls, shaggy ink caps, field mushrooms, and, my particular favourite, ‘chicken-of-the-woods’. The chicken-of-the-woods fungi lives on the bark of trees like the beefsteak fungi.

One sizeable ‘chicken-of-the-woods’ will feed a family for 2 days. And it really is delicious!


Growing mushrooms – Life cycle:

Mushrooms are the fruit of a fungi, as a pear of a pear tree. The fungi lives under leaves, in grassland, under the bark of trees and anywhere else that suit them!

When conditions are right fungi will produce its fruit -which starts to deteriorate almost as soon as it’s fully grown and therefore should be picked and eaten while still young.

Wine growers have to be very precise in the timing of their harvest of grapes and fungi enthusiasts need to develop that same skill. But luckily it’s not that hard!

Watch how they develop and decay. It all happens over a couple of days. A scientific experiment and a little research won’t take up much of your time and will benefit you and your family in the long run.

Using a kit will demonstrate the life cycle beautifully… the three stages are:

-spawning: the spawn is established in a growing medium

-pinning: Tiny pin heads of mycelium appear

-fruiting: the developing mushroom

Growing Mushrooms – the kit:

If you’ve never grown them before, a kit really will help with the fungi learning curve!

Each stage of development requires different conditions. Button varieties will develop without light, while other species may require light during one or more of its stages of development.

They can also be grown in those out of the way dark corners in the garden, where nothing else will grow. Many varieties can be grown outside in mild climates. They rarely cope with very low temperatures though and should be grown indoors during cold weather conditions.


There are loads of kits on Amazon. This one caught my eye!

The easiest mushroom Growing Kit on the market
Unique viability guarantee – 100% success every time
Grow your own delicious mushrooms at home
Excellent gift
Excellent educational product for children


Growing mushrooms for Nutrition:

Growing mushrooms not only adds a special taste to every meal, mushrooms also have plenty of nutritious qualities!

They are relatively high in protein, low in fat, high in fibre, and they also contain a range of vitamins. Lots of great reasons to grow your own.

They have been found to have anti-cancer properties and can help with all kinds of medical conditions, from menopausal problems to immune system deficiencies. If you are really getting into growing mushrooms you may want to find out more about them.. try The Mushroom Council – Their factsheets are fascinating. And they’ve got loads of mushroom recipes!

And this looks interesting – Although it’s been out for a few years now, this book is still a best-seller of it’s genre. On my wishlist!


Mycelium Running: A Guide to Healing the Planet Through Gardening with Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms
Mycelium Running is a manual for the mycological rescue of the planet. That’s right: growing more mushrooms may be the best thing we can do to save the environment, and in this groundbreaking text from mushroom expert Paul Stamets, you’ll find out how.


Let me know how you get on if you decide to have a go at saving the world with fungi!

Best wishes for a happy holiday ๐Ÿ™‚

Linda x

A World of Herbs


Herbs hold some wonderful secrets that we can share if we venture into their world for a moment.

My favourite herb of the moment is Aloe Vera. Not a culinary herb perhaps but the benefits of aloe vera are enormous. For example, the sap inside the leaves will help soothe and repair your skin after a minor burn. Perfect to grow on the kitchen windowsill and you don’t even have to remember to water it every day.

Many herbs will grow on a bright windowsill, although care should be taken that the sun isn’t too hot through the glass as this will scorch the leaves of your herbs, and will dry the pots out very quickly. If you have direct sunshine on your chosen windowsill, create shade for your plants during the hottest part of the day.

The quickest way to get a herb garden going is to buy small plants all ready to go. Many supermarkets in the UK sell small herb plants but any garden centre should have a choice of herbs. Stick to three or four if you’re new to growing herbs. You can add to your garden later. Always check on the growing requirements when you buy plants. Some hybrid varieties are less robust and may need to be grown indoors in a moderate climate.

Other herbs need a fair amount of space and may not be practical for the space you have available. Double check before you buy. Same goes if you’re starting your plants from seed. Read through the recommendations on the back of the seed packet so that you get an idea how big your plants could grow and also check on indoor/outdoor requirements.

Follow any ‘instructions’ as far as possible for best results. It’s worth investing in a Herb Book to refer to and be inspired by.

A couple of culinary herbs that work well on the windowsill or in a herb garden are basil and chives:


Basil is generally known as one of the tomato herbs, as a tomato apparently doesn’t taste right without it! Many shop bought sauces are tomato and basil based, and growing basil on the windowsill will save a trip to the shops from time to time, as well as avoiding processed food – always a plus.

Basil is an annual plant in moderate climates but will grow as a bi-ennial in a warmer environment, producing flower and seed in the second year.

Chives are perfect to add a mild onion taste to your recipe. The flowers are edible and decorate a green salad perfectly. Every year or so, gently dig up plants or tip out of their pots, separate the roots and re-plant. Chive plants make great gifts if you find yourself with far too many to use.

There are many herbs that can be grown for culinary or medicinal purposes, although always refer to a reliable source before administering medicinal herbs.

At the first signs of a cold, a thyme and lemon tisane can soothe symptoms and possibly even stop the cold germs in their tracks! And, barring any allergies, this prevention plan is safe for practically everyone.

To help you get started, I’ve put together three volumes of herbs *listed here** that will give you a great start to building your herb garden, however big or small. ‘The Herb Garden’ is packed with general herb growing tips and ideas. The second volume gets to grips with twenty everyday herbs. And the third volume deals with twenty occasional herbs that may need a little more attention, but are all fairly straightforward and explained in detail.

But whichever path you follow, make it a magical one with the scent, beauty and health giving properties of these wonderful plants.

Happy Gardening!
Linda x

Forest Gardening


Over the past few weeks I’ve been on a couple of Forest Garden tours run by Martin Crawford of the Agroforestry Research Trust – Honestly, this man knows his stuff! There are millions of plants on our planet and of course it’s not really conceivable that any one person would know about all of them, but wow, does he come close ๐Ÿ™‚

The experiments and test sites he grows on are mainly in Devon although Martin is known all over the world for his books and forest gardening knowledge in general. The photograph here is at a young nursery near Dartmoor on a very full-on weather day – sun, wind and rain while out in the middle of a field is bracing to say the least!

The concept of Forest Gardening isn’t new and research projects have been in flow for many years. The Agroforestry Research Trust was set up in 1992 and has a number of sites, courses and publications available to anyone who has an interest in preserving our land and producing food for the future.

Pop over to the Agroforestry site here – – and be inspired!

I sound like an advert but I promise they aren’t paying me for this! I’m just very interested in the concept and have seen a couple of sites showing what can be done. Anyway, check it out and if you have the space, start growing ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Gardening!
Linda x

If you just want to grab a book, this one is a good place to start…



Creating a Forest Garden







Indoor hydroponic gardening, or hydroponics as it’s commonly known, has had a bad press over the past few years, due to illegal plants being grown away from watchful eyes and extending the growing season indefinitely.

So let’s lay the bad press to rest and find out what all the fuss is really about…..

Hydroponics is the answer to growing plants if you haven’t a garden, are physically challenged, or simply live in a short season growing region. With a fairly small initial outlay – no more than the cost of a few regular garden tools – you can set up an indoor hydroponic gardening area in a cupboard under the stairs, a basement or even the attic if it’s easily accessible.

Hydroponics – the running costs:

Running costs have to be considered as the lights will be drawing electricity for long periods. It’s impossible to put an exact figure on the electricity bill, but when you come to buy your starter kit, the information should be available according to your area and the lights used. Technology is improving all the time and newer energy-saving bulbs are becoming available as time goes on.

Then there are costs of nutrients – these are needed to add to the water to replace nutrients normally extracted from the soil.

New cubes will have to be purchased from time to time… cubes are pots and soil combined and seeds are started and moved on using cubes which are made from materials such as rockwool.

Seeds have to be bought, but with a little careful attention, the germination rate will be good, and seeds can be sown sparingly.

Getting started:

You can start off the seeds in a couple of different ways. If you use a soil-less mix – peat pots or similar, the seeds will germinate with fresh water only. But if you decide to start the seeds in ‘rockwool’ – which is a popular hydroponics medium – you will need to add nutrients to the water from the start.

Seeds and cuttings can be easily started in rockwool filled cubes and you should have full instructions in your kit as to how and when you should plant different species of plant.

NB: Make sure you have as much information as possible when buying hydroponics equipment. Buying a kit is the best introduction to this type of gardening. Don’t spend money on ‘extras’. The gadgets and add-ons may not be beneficial to you. Grow some stuff first, then decide if you need to spend any more money!



Urban Bamboo Hydroponic Garden – Planting System, Indoor Greenhouse, 12 Plants, Integrated Circulation Pump, 24W LED, 7L, Breeding in Nutrient Solution, Potting Pots, Bamboo

I love the style of this system, although it is perhaps a little pricey. There are lots of different systems on Amazon . Have a quick browse and see which one suits your needs.


Hydroponics – caring for your plants:

Light, temperature and humidity are all elements involved in producing your hydroponic veggies. The exact number for each element will depend on your kit and what you’re growing.

Generally the temperature shouldn’t be much more than 80 degrees, or there is a risk of burning the foliage. Minimum temperature around 70 degrees, so for many of us, this requires power to keep the temperature up.

The other main ingredient for a good crop is nutrients – If you’re not using soil, your plants will need nutrients fed to them every day in their water supply. Look around for good prices, but don’t be tempted by the cheapest. You need all the nutrients your plants require, so no skimping on the vitamins!

The Crops:

Hydroponic gardening under lights will produce a crop of virtually anything in less time than an outside crop. When one lot of plants gets going and has moved to the growing on stage, start off some more seeds so you have a constantly producing hydro-garden.

Keep notes of any temperature changes and what happened with the plants. A gardening journal is invaluable in any growing situation but even more so with indoor hydroponic gardening, there are different issues to deal with for example:

*power cuts

*temperature and humidity fluctuations

*changing nutrients

*bugs and viruses

Outdoor gardening has similar issues, but we have no control over the weather, and we accept our destiny, albeit hard, when the cabbage white butterfly has just annihilated a whole crop of winter greens in 2 days.

Indoor gardening gives you much more control over the environment. In fact, you are in control totally, and notes are best kept!!

A few final points about Hydroponics:

1. Read about the product before you buy – does it really suit your needs?

2. Make sure you have all growing mediums and nutrients before you start.

3. Don’t be too ambitious. Start with a simple crop and let your knowledge grow!

4. Remember your electricity bill may be higher than usual. Perhaps grow crops that would be expensive to buy?

5. Keep notes. As I mentioned above, a journal is invaluable to the hydroponic gardener.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x



CHERVIL (Anthriscus cerefolium)

Chervil is in the same family as carrots and is similar to parsley. There are two main varieties, one with flat and one with curly leaves. It has a taste a little like anise and brings out the flavour of other herbs when cooked together.

It was once known as myrris because of its resemblance to myrrh. It has been used in religious ceremonies and also has many medicinal qualities.

In roman times chervil was used as a spring tonic but is not widely used as a medicinal herb these days. It is mostly used in the kitchen and is one of the main herbs in French cuisine as part of the fines herbes mixture. The other herbs – chives, tarragon and parsley complement each other and chervil brings out the taste of all of them.

Chervil can be added to many dishes and shouldnโ€™t be ignored when the recipe says; chervil (optional). Add some to your recipes and get lots of brownie points for a wonderful tasting meal.

Chervil is native to Middle Eastern countries but can be grown easily in many moderate climates.

Medicinal uses for Chervil:

Chervil has been used extensively in folk medicine throughout the ages. It was once said that eating a whole plant cured hiccups. The herb is warm and soothing and is often used as a digestive aid.

A cold infusion of chervil tea is a soothing eyewash. Young tender leaves added to salads not only improve the flavour of your meal but are also believed to act as a mild tonic.

Here’s to Herbs!

Linda x

P.S. I took this info from ’20 Occasional Herbs’ which helps you grow your own delicious herbs, listed on Herbs and Healing



chopped chivesAbout Chives

Chives are a member of the onion group and grow wild in many parts of Europe and North America, although they originate from China. They’ve been collected from the wild for centuries but werenโ€™t cultivated until the Middle Ages. There are a number of different hybrids available including a โ€˜garlicโ€™ variety.

Chives are easy to grow and produce purple or white edible flowers that can be used to garnish a meal, or dried and used in a flower arrangement. The bright green leaves are used in the kitchen and their delicate onion flavour enhances any meal.

Chives are primarily a culinary herb, but being part of the onion family, they do aid digestion, and they have also been used in helping fight cold and flu symptoms, although onions are more effective.


Chopped chives can be added to any recipe that needs a mild onion flavour. They are especially good when added to potato salads, but can also be stirred into many recipes. The edible flowers will add a pretty garnish to any meal.

Tip: To avoid chopping your fingernails into the recipe, use a pair of kitchen scissors instead of a knife!


Grow some chives at home and have these tasty and handy herbs at your fingertips evey day. When you buy them in plastic bags in the supermarket, they are often quite expensive and perhaps non-organic – but the one issue, that is really something we can avoid at the moment, is that they are often sold in plastic bags… aaargh, more plastic.

Oh, and of course, they don’t stay fresh for very long. As soon as you open the bag, they will start deteriorating and need using straight away.

When you have a pot of chives on the windowsill or in the garden, you can cut exactly how much you want and they are always fresh and organic!

Tip: Cut chives from the outside of the plant so that the centre leaves get a chance to grow taller.

Chives are ideal for edging paths and borders and also make an excellent companion plant, deterring pests such as carrot root fly.

Chives are one of the few plants in the onion family that will grow readily from seed, and there are different varieties. Have a look in your local garden centre where you may be able to grab a ready grown plant or two as well – saving you the time to start off your own seeds.

Although, having said that, there is something very rewarding about growing your plants from seed. You could order them online as well of course. Thompson & Morgan are a good supplier but they only deliver to the UK so if you are buying online from outside the UK, there’s always Amazon of course!


Thompson & Morgan UK

(This link will take you directly to a ready grown plant, but while you’re there, type ‘chives’ into their search bar and you’ll find seeds as well.)

Chives are a perfect pot plant to keep on the windowsill. You don’t need any garden space at all, so no excuses here ๐Ÿ™‚


Happy herb growing!
Linda x

P.S. There are some useful tips and hints for growing chives in 20 Everyday Herbs (listed on our Herbs and Healing page)



Now I have a garden again, I’m trying to get some herbs going. This lovage plant was donated by a lovely gardening friend.

Then the weather happened and I really thought I’d killed the poor plant, but here we are… looks like the birds may have had a bite or two but hopefully its hardiness will see it through…

I’ve vowed to be nicer to my plants from now on and watch out for crazy weather forecasts ๐Ÿ™‚

About Lovage

Lovage is a hardy perennial plant and will last for many years given the right growing conditions. It will also grow anything from 3ft to 7ft (1-2m) tall, so needs to be placed at the back of a bed so as not to overshadow lower growing plants.

Lovage has a strong taste, similar to celery, and is often used as a substitute for celery salt. The seeds are ground to make salt, and the leaves are generally used for flavouring stews and soups.

The leaves can also be added to the salad bowl. Some cultures strip the bark off the plant and eat the stem raw as a vegetable, although generally the plant is used for its foliage and seed. Lovage has a high level of vitamin C.

Originally from Mediterranean areas lovage has adapted well to cooler climates. It grows well in the UK and other parts of Europe. It is associated with, and often used in place of, celery and parsley.

Medicinal uses for Lovage

Lovage has been used for many centuries in culinary and medicinal preparations and has been the main ingredient in many medicines. It was considered to be something of a wonder drug.

Lovage is known to stimulate the appetite, and aiding digestion. It was also added to baths at one time to deodorize and cleanse the skin.

Culpepper claimed that the powdered roots mulled in wine would โ€œwarm a cold stomach, helps digestion, and consumes all raw and superfluous moisture thereinโ€ (Culpeper, 1814).

In fact, lovage has been used for many ailments from sore feet to digestive complaints – google the medicinal qualities of lovage – you’ll be surprised why this ancient herb has fallen out of fashion in recent years.

Then, get some growing ๐Ÿ™‚ A healthy plant, or maybe two, is probably all you’ll need unless you’re going into production. Start off a whole packet of seeds, re-pot when ready and spread the love!

As this is one of my favourite herbs I had to include it in one of my herb books, of course. Along with 19 others, 20 Everyday herbs is a must-have before you start your herb garden, even if you’re just growing a few herbs in pots. (Book listed here)

If you have a UK address Thompson & Morgan have beautiful grown lovage plants so you don’t have to mess about with seeds! And the great thing about this herb is that it’s perennial. Buy it once and you’ll have it growing for years. (I hope mine looks like this one day)


Lovage Levisticum officinale

Perennial herb – Aromatic lovage seed can also be harvested for adding to savoury baked dishes. This tall hardy herb makes a useful addition toย  kitchen gardens. Height: 2m (79″). Spread: 1m (39″). Lovage at Thompson & Morgan UK

Happy Gardening!

Linda x