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September 2013

5 fantastic examples of urban gardening

30 September 2013

Urban gardeningSometimes, the best things are those which are unexpected, such as a garden on the roof of a tower block! Urban gardening is a movement sweeping the nation – here are just 5 of the most stunning examples of urban gardens.

1. O’Hare Airport’s ‘Vertical Farm’

At this Chicago airport, vertical PVC towers with bright lighting support a variety of plants, herbs and edible flowers that grow up and down the columns. It’s positively futuristic and very hi-tech.

2. Berges de Seine, Paris

In Paris, a floating garden of five islands is being built on the Seine, each with its own separate theme, linked by foot bridges – there’s even ‘mist island’ with its own aqua mist machines. This is urban gardening at its very best!

3. Skip Gardens, London

This sustainable urban garden is a moveable vegetable garden planted in skips at London’s Kings Cross, run by volunteers and local youngsters – it’s amazing!

4. Bosco Verticale, Milan

This project planned for 2013 will consist of one 80m and one 112m high tower planted in the business district of Milan, filled with 730 trees , 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 plants, bringing a hectare of forest to the heart of the city.

5. SkyFarm, Germany

This funky vertical gardening concept by Manuel Dreesman, a German designer, allows you to suspend acrylic planters in your urban space to grow vegetable and herbs, on your balcony or terrace. Ingenious!

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Gardening and the five senses

27 September 2013

Gardening is renowned for its therapeutic benefits, helping you to feel more relaxed, alleviating symptoms of stress and depression and allowing you to enjoy nature. In Japan, gardens are designed specifically to delight each of your five senses, and we think it's possible to engage all of the senses in your garden at home, too.

The five senses of gardeningSight

What could be more beautiful than a garden filled with brightly coloured flowers? Colour can uplift you, instil calm and boost your mood. Coloured fish such as Koi can also add visual appeal to a stunning, colourful garden.


Cottage gardens have a wonderful heady aroma of French Lavender and the subtle aroma of violets. Aromatic herbs such as rosemary and mint create a fresh scent that appeals to your sense of smell and can help you to unwind.


Whether you love the sound of birds singing, find gentle chimes soothing or like to listen to running water, you can add all of these to your garden. Even the rustling of grass and crunch of gravel is refreshing and invigorating.


Growing your own vegetables, planting a fruit tree or starting your own herb garden enables you to enjoy produce fresh from your own back yard – delicious and healthy! Add Nasturtiums to salads or consider a bay or nut tree.


The feel of velvety leaves and feathery fern fronds can bring back memories of childhood – gardening is such a tactile experience. Even the feel of different textured surfaces underfoot such as soft grass and crunchy gravel awakens your sense of touch.

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Horticultural therapy for veterans

25 September 2013

Solider having horticultural therapyThe charity Thrive has recently launched a new project, ‘Down to Earth’ in Gateshead and the West Midlands, aimed at helping ex-service personnel living with mental ill health or physical disability to  develop horticultural skills and possibly even launch a new career.

Funded by the Royal British Legion, which awarded the charity around £200,000 to develop two projects over the next three years, the project ran two taster horticultural therapy sessions in Birmingham and Gateshead over the summer for ex-service personnel.

A new passion

The project aims to help veterans who may be suffering from anxiety, mental ill health, PTSD and a range of other physical and mental disabilities.

With 38 years’ experience of using ‘social and therapeutic horticulture’ (STH) to help people, Thrive’s trainers and the ‘Down to Earth’ programme will provide former service men and women with qualifications, skills and experience which could lead to a City and Guilds qualification. Working as part of a team, veterans can improve their health and fitness, get involved with local park maintenance and could even work towards a new career.

Mental health benefits

Research by Thrive shows that gardens offer a restorative, nurturing environment, and that gardening is beneficial for those looking to restore a sense of balance to their lives. With more than 12,000 Armed Forces redundancies planned over the next three years, the Down to Earth programme is set to have a huge impact on the lives of UK veterans.

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Great blogs for growing vegetables

19 September 2013

Growing carrotsGrowing your own vegetables is a great way to ensure you know exactly where your 5 a day is coming from, so with that in mind, here are a few of the web’s best blogs for growing vegetables – filled with tips, inspiration and tempting photographs.


With the strapline ‘grow. cook. eat.’ it’s no wonder that this blog is filled with DIY projects, gardening guides and a section related to growing your own herbs – try the clever indoor herb garden or whip up something tasty from the recipes section.


This inspirational blog includes tips on growing your own vegetables, ideas and recipes for pickling and gardening advice posts on how to spot pests and disease, as well as some fabulous food photography!

The Rusted Vegetable Garden

Looking for tips on growing tomatoes, how to start seeds indoors or the perfect way to plant radishes? Then this blog will become your new best friend.  It even links to a YouTube channel filled with gardening advice.

Grow Our Own

Less of a how-to blog and more of an inspirational diary of one woman’s experience with gardening as therapy, this blog is filled with pictures and information about the benefits of growing your own vegetables and herbs.

Pippa’s Gardening News

This blog is part of Pippa Greenwood’s informative site, with information on growing vegetables, tips and tricks, information on pests and disease and plenty of great photography to inspire you.

Well, we don’t know about you but Team Genus is feeling peckish now! If you enjoy growing your own vegetables, we’d love to hear about your efforts. Leave us a comment and tell us what you’re growing!

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University gets students gardening

13 September 2013

Beer and vegetablesIt seems gardening hasn’t just come to schools – it’s making its way to universities as well, starting with the University of Newcastle which has announced a number of innovative projects to get its students gardening.

‘Grow your own’ brewery

The university has launched its own microbrewery in a disused barn on the campus, in which students will brew beer from raw materials, including hops and barley, grown in the campus allotment.

Grow and sell vegetables

Students are being encouraged to help grow organic vegetables in the University gardens, with the produce being sold back to their peers through campus shops. And a three-quarter acre orchard has been opened to be managed and maintained by undergraduates.

Apiary acquisitions

This commitment to gardening is not restricted to urban food growth. The acquisition of two apiaries will help students learn some of the principles of animal husbandry, and provide the necessary bees to help pollinate and propagate growth throughout the orchard, garden and allotments.

This focus on teaching students gardening will equip them with new and valuable skills, and provide an exciting new urban oasis in the centre of Newcastle. We at Genus Gardenwear will be following the progress of these projects with interest!

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Our gardening clothes in The Sunday Times

12 September 2013


We were thrilled to see Genus in the Sunday Times Home supplement of 8 September 2013.

The editors of the gardening section chose our range of gardening clothes to feature in their  “We Dig This” slot.


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Gardening comes to the classroom

9 September 2013

Child with tomatoesHidden among the more contentious educational reforms put forward by the government is a proposal to include gardening on the National Curriculum for students aged 7 to 14. The idea is to teach children and young people the value of growing their own food and the skills required to do so.

The changes put forward by education minister Michael Gove should bring gardening skills to every school in the country. However there are already 17,250 schools participating in the Campaign for School Gardening scheme run by the Royal Horticultural Society. Since 2007, these schools have been showing children how to grow food and flowers from seeds.

Along with learning about plants, children are also encouraged to gain valuable life skills that contribute to their mental health and general wellbeing as part of the Campaign for School Gardening. The health benefits of gardening are well understood in adults, so by encouraging students to take up the hobby early, they too should become healthier and enjoy greater peace of mind as a result. Finally children are shown that gardening can help create a sustainable environment that benefits the wider community.

Whether or not Michael Gove’s planned curriculum changes will come to fruition remains in doubt. However with initiatives like the Campaign for School Gardening, it is encouraging to see that children are already learning the rewards of planning, managing and maintaining their own gardens.

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Buckingham Palace Gardens to host special football match

6 September 2013

More normally associated with exclusive garden parties, Buckingham Palace is set to host a one-off football match to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the English Football Association’s formation. The game has been arranged by Prince William, in recognition of his role as the president of the FA.

Buckingham palace gardens

Buckingham Palace is surrounded by 40 acres of land, providing ample space for a temporary football pitch within its gardens. Head gardener Tony Stones has just under a month to prepare for the first-ever match to be played at Buckingham Palace, pitting Civil Service FC against Polytechnic FC.

The match is also being held in celebration of the 400,000 grassroots volunteers who help stage non-league football matches across the country. 150 of these volunteers will receive medals at a ceremony run alongside the game.

Creating the pitch itself is unlikely to trouble Tony Stones and his team, but the aftermath may be more problematic. The playing surface is likely to be damaged by the 22 players during the match, needing care and attention to restore the turf before next year’s party season restarts in Buckingham Palace Gardens. But with a team of eight full-time gardeners and three part time helpers, Tony should have the resources he needs to get Buckingham Palace Gardens and grass back to normality.

As yet there is no word on whether the Queen will accompany Prince William to the match. Whether she does make it or not, the day is sure to memorable for the players and volunteers participating in this memorable event.

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Rare beetle discovered in UK garden

4 September 2013

Gardener and amateur moth hunter Angie Hill got something of a surprise earlier this week when stumbled across a giant beetle. The creature, later identified as a European rhinoceros beetle had been caught as part of a moth counting exercise taking place in Worcestershire.

See a picture of the giant beetle here.

What makes Angie’s discovery so interesting is that this is thought to be the first time that such a beetle has been discovered in the UK. Measuring up to 6cm in length the European rhinoceros beetle is one of the largest species, but is usually found in the Mediterranean and North African regions, quite some way from the West of England. Despite its somewhat fearsome appearance, the beetle is completely harmless.

The appearance of the beetle suggests that there may actually be a small colony of the creatures living in nearby gardens or woods. The European rhinoceros beetle feeds on rotting wood leading some experts to suggest that they may have been imported accidentally in a bag of wood chips used by local gardeners.

Although the species prefers the warmer weather of Southern Europe, they could survive and thrive in the woods of Worcestershire if the UK has another run of relatively warm summers as in recent years. Beetle experts will be keeping a close eye on local gardens and woods to see if other insects begin to make the migration from across the Channel to make their homes here in the UK.

In the meantime, Angie’s bug has had its portrait taken before being released back into her garden.

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Defensive gardening

3 September 2013

Rose on iron fence - defensive gardeningGardening is an enjoyable activity that yields beautiful results, but did you know that gardening can also help secure your home? Here are some ideas for keeping your home safe and your garden looking lovely.

Pick some prickly plants

Fences provide little deterrent against determined thieves, but with the use of some spiky plants, you can make it even harder for them to get onto your property.

Climbing roses are a particularly pretty addition to any garden, but their spiky stems are also painful when grasped. They’re also perfect for growing along fences and walls, doubling the defence.

You could also consider surrounding your house of garden with a spiky hedge. Holly is an attractive evergreen, although it does require regular maintenance to control growth. Mahonia is another good choice, thanks to its fragrant winter blossoms, berries that attract garden birds, and a spiky, holly-like leaf that deters burglars.

You could also consider planting borders filled with spiny hedges and flowers behind fences, making it much harder for an intruder to jump across. Wider borders also make it harder for burglars to escape, again reducing the attractiveness of your property for a break-in.

Keep your windows clear

Plants that grow across your windows provide cover for would-be burglars to hide behind as they scout out target houses. If you trim foliage and plants around your windows, thieves have nowhere to lurk, making your house a lot less attractive to a would-be burglar.

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