Cobra finds its Gardener’s Garden

1655p
The wait to find the Cobra Gardener’s Garden is over.

The story of the Gardener’s Garden, a competition to acknowledge and reward the hard work of domestic gardeners in a similar way in which Chelsea recognises professional garden designers, began early on in 2014 with the mission to find the best private garden in the country.

Many gardens were entered, all of a staggeringly impressive standard, however there could only be one winner worthy of our Cobra gold medal. The winner would receive the first prize of £1000 of Cobra garden machinery and two runner’s up would receive £300 each to spend on the range to enhance their gardening passion further.

1548p

We are now delighted to announce that the 2014 Cobra Gardener’s Garden is “Ramblers” in Gloucestershire. Jane and Les Hale’s “Ramblers” garden is a product of their love for horticultural care. Their process involved embracing the natural landscape surrounding the garden that in turn expanded the size to include an orchard and a vegetable plot within its two acres. They now open the garden for NGS visitors to enjoy and with a little help from fresh legs for one morning a week, this garden produced the goods to win the competition.

The first runner up, and winner of our silver medal, comes from near Doncaster with the entry of Ellicar Gardens with its natural swimming pool as the central focus of Sarah Murch’s garden. Other aspects of the garden include a wildflower meadow and a small woodland walk, which incorporates the natural theme elegantly and without force. Ellicar Gardens also provides a home for wildlife, and NGS visitors, that spend their time enjoying the landscaping too!

Our bronze medal was awarded to Fiona Chancellor’s Shropshire garden named “Windy Ridge”. The 2/3 acre village garden welcomes around 1000 visitors each year as part of the National Gardens Scheme. The strong underlying design holds together both the traditional and modern aspects of the garden, incorporating many features including sculptures to hold the eye. Over the past 29 years there have been many alterations to the garden but change is always a good thing.

Tamsin Westhorpe, editor-at-large of the English Garden magazine, who we partnered with to run the competition, said: “In the second year of this competition we have been astounded by the quality of gardens put forward. Judging is a pleasure and the standard was high which made it take many hours of deliberation to pick the winner.”

1665p

“The English Garden magazine is all about sharing and discovering great gardens and working with Cobra on this wonderful competition is a highlight of the year to us. I hope that reading about the winner will inspire others to enter – if you wish to do so you should start to take photos of your garden now. After all who wouldn’t want £1000 to spend on Cobra machinery?”

The gold medal winner of this year’s competition Jane Hale commented: “I entered the competition because I wanted to have the chance to share our garden with others. I feel a garden should have an understanding of place and should flow into the wider landscape and I wanted to share this with others.

1594pc

“Our garden is situated in a sheltered valley in rural West Gloucestershire. In the borders the plants are allowed to billow and support each other and “feel comfortable”, and we have also cut windows into hedges to allow glimpses of the orchard and valley beyond.”

Jane also shared with us her top five gardening tips.

  1. Try and create different levels of interest so that there is always something new to see – clematis Viticella climbing through trees is a good example of this
  2. Stop and enjoy the moment in the garden instead of rushing on to do the next job
  3. Gravel mulch really helps areas of soil – which also looks really good
  4. When staking use natural stakes as far as possible (e.g. hazel twigs) so that they blend into the surroundings
  5. Think of some evergreen structures, which could be box balls, so that the garden has a definition and shape all year round

1553pc

We spoke to chief executive of the National Gardens Scheme, George Plumptre, about the competition. In our discussion, George said: “Behind the glitz and glamour of Chelsea Flower Show gold medals for elite professionals is the reality of that the life blood of English gardens pulses through the ranks of ordinary amateur garden owners doing their own thing at home. There is wonderful and varied talent which too often goes unrecognised.”

“For nearly 90 years we have prided ourselves in seeking out the very best in private English gardens and encouraging them to enjoy the plaudits of visitors as well as raising funds for charity. We are thrilled that all three finalists open their gardens in support of the National Gardens Scheme.”

If you think your garden could be worth of the Gardener’s Garden title, keep your eyes peeled for details of next year’s competition.

Have healthy hedges with Cobra this autumn

Cobra hedge

Frosty mornings and glowing russet leaves all point to one thing. Autumn is here. But don’t abandon the gardening just because it’s a little chilly.

Now is the time to plant a new hedge! Newly planted hedges establish best at this time of year.

When shopping for plants, it’s worth noting bare rooted deciduous plants can be cheaper than pot grown so keep an eye out. Evergreen and Semi-Evergreen shrubs are best planted early autumn, however, with deciduous hedges its best to hold off until mid-autumn/late winter. Avoid trying to plant a hedge until the soil is easy to work with after the first rains of the season.

Good soil preparation is a key factor when planting a new hedge. Rather than digging individual holes it is best to prepare one long trench. Fork in organic matter to help break the soil up and give the plants a starting boost.

Dig a trench one spade’s depth and 1m (3ft) wide for any hedge. Remove all weeds and loosen the soil. When spacing the plants, try not to plant too closely to allow room to spread and develop. Place each plant slightly proud of the soil and fill in around the roots then firm in well, water, then mulch with a compost.

Water well for the first two years to keep the hedge healthy and encourage growth.

Evergreen hedges generally grow faster than deciduous so they will need trimming at least once a year – preferably twice. Cobra has a range of both electric and petrol hedgetrimmers for when the hedge becomes unruly.

The Cobra H55E 600w electric hedgetrimmer, for just £59.99 including VAT, features a 55cm double sided blade and tooth spacing of 20mm that makes light work of domestic hedges.

For trickier hedges, try the Cobra LRH40E 500w long reach hedge trimmer, built to tackle the most awkward jobs. It’s articulating head and tooth spacing of 20mm, along with a maximum length of 185cm, will make light work of long and tall hedges.

When dealing with hedges it’s important to remember a few key points:

  • It is illegal to disturb nesting birds so it is best to leave pruning until autumn and check the hedge thoroughly for wildlife before cutting;
  • Always remember safety comes first when trimming a hedge – never use hedge trimmers in wet conditions;
  • Keep any chords untangled and out the way to avoid tripping;
  • For extra protection make sure you wear safety goggles and sturdy gloves.