Top notch, peat free ferns
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The garden centre has now entered a quieter phase: borders have been planted, pots and baskets have been filled with bedding, and many of us are enjoying the fruits of our labour. However, for some gardeners, it doesn't just stop at the end of May: there are gaps, and still so many wonderful plants to be had. I can vouch for that, there are still *so many* beautiful plants to be had...

Best wishes,


Open Gardens

As much as I enjoy organising Open Gardens - and this year I was a glutton for punishment by adding more events to make a festival - I am glad it's all over. We raised £2242.90 (after deducting expenses) from programme sales, and donations. THANK YOU VERY MUCH! The cash has been split three ways between Perennial RBGS, Burnage Good Neighbours and torture survivors in the North West. In addition, The Garden Cafe at Bud, run by volunteers from Boaz Trust and Freedom From Torture, raised £900, and our open gardeners collected £547 for The Christie, Breast Cancer Care, Macmillan Nurses, and The British Hen Welfare Trust.

Bud Nature Photography Competition

Congratulations to Sarah O'Malley with 'Dandelion In Levenshulme Garden'. She has won a £50 gift voucher to spend at Bud. We had some stunning entries, I loved them all. You'll find them on the Bud Nature Facebook page, where local artist Rod Kippen has created a slideshow: all the photographs were taken in south Manchester by Manchester residents.

Peat Free Ferns

Everyone loves a fern, don't they? I think they are fascinating, and infinitely more interesting than flowering plants (I should be careful here or I'll end up sounding like Uncle Monty in Withnail and I). They are older than any mountains and were the first things to recover after the mass extinction of the dinosaurs and lots of other plants and animals. They have a two stage life cycle, unlike flowering plants which produce flowers and seeds. It is complicated, but I think this Youtube video explains it well.

Ferns have been used as medicine since medieval times, but it wasn't until the late 16th century that they became highly regarded as garden plants, though not the natives, but plants brought from the new world by plant hunters. Our native ferns did grab the limelight in the 19th century, when the natural sciences became fashionable and ferns were admired both in the wild, and in gardens. The Victorians were known to dig up plants from the wild and employed 'Fern Hunters' to, literally, do their dirty work for them. The craze was fuelled by the fashion for Fern Cases or Terrariums, which allowed more tender species to be grown. By the beginning of the new century, many Victorian preoccupations were considered fussy, and this also applied to ferns. Fortunately for us, the best forms survived with the help of a few remaining enthusiasts: today, some of the best garden varieties, especially of our natives, are from the Victorian era.

Let's all bow at the altar of the truly amazing fern (I shall make one at the garden centre). Here are a few I've just received from an English peat free nursery; adaptable 'til the end: Polystichum setiferum 'Plumosodensum', Blechnum chilense, Athyrium niponicum var. pictum 'Silver Falls' and Athyrium filix-femina 'Frizzelliae'

Tree Orders

Our next delivery of fruit and ornamental trees will arrive in August. If there's a specific tree you'd like to order, why not see if it's on the list, or be tempted by something else from Frank P. Matthews' wide selection? Fruit trees cost between £35 - £40, unless trained e.g. espalier; ornamentals range from £40 - £50.
Frank P Matthews fruit tree and ornamental tree order sheet 2017


P.S. A not-to-miss NGS garden

I visited Cogshall Grange a couple of weeks ago, with my friend Severine and a group of Manchester based gardeners and designers. Severine organised the trip, which included a guided tour by the head gardener, with our entrance fees donated to a charity of the owner's choice. It is a private garden, designed by world-class designer Tom Stuart Smith, and open for the NGS on Sunday 6th August. You must go! 
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