For some people, November means moustaches, but for us gardeners November means leaves.
There are more than fifty trees in the Genus garden at Field Cottage. We have a spinney at each end where mainly sycamores have seeded themselves on mounds. These small hills are made up of slag left over from the days when the farm was a stone quarry.
As well as the sycamore, there are beech, horsechestnut, lime, elm and ash. We collect the leaves to make leaf mould using a three-year rotation. The bin on the left in the picture is this year’s collection, on the right is last year’s and the bin in the middle is two years old. The mould is thick and dark and very rich. We’ll mix it with compost and put it on the flower and vegetable beds next spring.
Gardening offers many health benefits: it increases flexibility, provides a workout, helps to keep you supple and can even boost your mood, alleviating depression and anxiety. But for allergy sufferers, gardening can become very challenging, even during the winter months.
Itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose or wheezing is enough to make you down tools and head for the sanctity of your sofa, but dedicated gardeners can take steps to reduce allergies and irritation. Whilst most sufferers are affected between March and October, tree pollen can cause issues throughout the year. These tips will help you to wave bye-bye to allergies and get back to gardening in no time.
- See an allergy specialist or your GP, who can determine what’s causing your allergies or prescribe medication to provide relief from symptoms
- Keep an eye on the daily pollen count. Levels tend to be lower early in the morning and late evenings, making these prime gardening times for allergy sufferers
- Get rid of problem plants. Weeds and evergreens can aggravate allergies, so stick to plants such as bulbs, daisies, cacti, petunias, pansies and dahlias, which are all less likely to cause those pesky symptoms
Another useful tip is to wash clothing and take a shower after gardening, using a saltwater wash to remove pollen from your nose. Don’t let allergies get in the way of your favourite hobby; there are plenty of ways around the problem.
A new gardening show hosted by Fern Britton will air on BBC in early 2014. ‘Grow, Make, Eat: The Great Allotment Challenge’ will be a gardening show with a difference; a contest for 9 pairs of amateur gardeners to try their hand at various challenges, with one pair eliminated each week.
Three experts in their respective fields will oversee the challenges, which will range from making jam to growing vegetables. The experts to impress include Jonathan Moseley, a floral expert, horticulturalist Jim Buttress and Thane Prince, a preserves connoisseur.
Grow your own
Filmed in a walled garden on the Mapledurham estate in Oxfordshire, the six-part series aims to entice a new generation of gardeners to allotments, growing their own produce and creating a sustainable future.
‘Bake Off meets Ground Force’
After The Great British Bake Off attracted more than 8.4 million viewers, the bosses at BBC Two are hopeful that this new gardening show will reach similar levels of popularity, igniting an interest in gardening for younger people. The show has been dubbed as ‘Bake Off meets Ground Force’ and each pair of contestants will be given 4 months ahead of filming to harvest their crop – so it’s probably about time they start digging for victory!
Exercise addicts are always trying to convince us of the benefits of yoga – increased flexibility, stronger joints and bones and a relaxed body and mind. But did you know that 30 – 45 minutes of gardening a day could have the same effect? In fact, your 30 minute gardening session could provide the same benefits as a 2 mile walk or 5 mile cycle!
Burn those calories
Spending 30 minutes planting can burn around 135 calories, whilst weeding your garden for half an hour can burn a further 156 calories. Not to mention all that stretching, bending and extending which helps you to become more flexible whilst keeping your joints strong and supple. Just make sure you’re wearing trousers with good knee protection!
Lifting bags of compost, shovelling and pushing a wheelbarrow all provide resistance training for healthier joints and bones, and whilst you’re gardening, you’re working all your major muscle groups. Gardening rates as a moderate to strenuous form of exercise, alongside walking and cycling.
Other health benefits
Gardening has a whole host of other benefits too, such as decreasing your cholesterol level and lowering your blood pressure. There is evidence that gardening can reduce the risk of a heart attack in the over 60s, and can also lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
If you’re new to gardening, you can break your 30 minutes into smaller sessions throughout the day. As long as each session is at least 8 minutes long, you’ll still reap all the health benefits.
Do your gardening clothes look like this?
We're fascinated by what people wear when they're gardening.
Email us your images and tell us what you like/hate about your clothes.
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We’ve been asking gardeners this question for some time now. The answers embody universal truths, as well as being as personal and individual as the gardeners themselves. They make great reading. So often you say, “Oh yes, that’s true for me too.” Or, “I never thought about it like that.Here are two of the many thoughts we've received so far:
I’ve always gardened because I’ve had to, since I had a garden, just to keep it looking tidy and nice. And I like seeing the flowers growing. I’ve never grown vegetables, just a bit of lettuce. Norah
There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly cut grass, tomato vines and buddleia. The best moments are when a plant or tree suddenly flourishes after two to 3 years of constant attention. All of this gives me the greatest of pleasure. Paul
The London Evening Standard featured Genus in its Homes and Property section this Wednesday, recommending to its readers that they "See it buy it".
A new BBC series could see thousands of people who have lost their passion for gardening take an interest once again. ‘Great British Garden Revival’ is a 10-part series which will offer ideas and tips to people who want to learn more about gardening, and will be presented by expert gardeners (and familiar faces) Charlie Dimmock and Monty Don.
It’s thought that this could lead to a revival of the nation’s passion for gardening – just as the TV show ‘Great British Bakeoff’ did for the UK’s baking industry, which is now worth a cool £3.4 billion. The show will focus on traditional horticulture, looking at everything from roof gardens and house plants to cottage gardens, kitchen gardens and ornamental bedding, so there will be something to inspire and motivate everyone.
The show’s main aim is to reverse the growing trend for decking and paving and get Britain gardening. With the recent news that gardening offers numerous health benefits for the over 60s, including cutting your chance of heart attack, it seems that this show will hit the nation’s screens at just the right time.
The series begins on Monday December 9th on BBC Two.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is often also referred to as winter blues or winter depression, and affects up to 20% of the population annually. It’s a type of depression which occurs seasonally, with symptoms including sleeping more, a lack of interest in activities and low mood. SAD symptoms usually start as the days get shorter, becoming more severe from December through until February.
What causes SAD?
It’s thought that SAD is linked to reduced levels of sunlight, and that light is responsible for stimulating the hypothalamus in the brain, which controls appetite, mood and sleep patterns. Reduced exposure to light in winter can affect the production of serotonin, the ‘happy’ hormone which regulates mood, as well as disrupting the body’s internal clock.
Boost your mood by gardening
Gardening is a positive way to fight the symptoms of SAD, as spending time in your garden will maximise the amount of sunlight you’re exposed to every day. Staying active and keeping your mind occupied will not only ensure you stay physically fit, it will also help to cure restlessness and insomnia, increasing your appetite and creating a daily routine that should help to regulate your body’s internal clock.
Gardening also releases endorphins which can help to fight depression, and it gives you a sense of looking forward to spring, when the bulbs you have planted will bloom! Tending an allotment is also a way to ensure you have daily social interaction, which can help to relieve SAD symptoms and boost positivity.