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I’m always looking for ways to make my daily gardening work better, more efficient and less labour intensive.

Like a lot of domestic gardeners, I use a 40 litre brightly coloured trug to collect garden waste which I fill (inevitably always a little too full, and heavy!) then dispose of into a garden wheely bin.  I find this perfect for collecting weeds, carting around small amounts of compost, or moving a few small plants from one place to another.   

For larger waste items, like wood prunings , I often use an empty tonne bag (1000 litres) as I find this to be a far more efficient way of transporting waste from one area of the garden to the bin.   The only trouble is that tonne bags are challenging to use when you are on your own – really you need somebody to hold it open for you as you put the waste in.  They are also a little bulky, cumbersome and difficult to empty in a tidy fashion.

I’ve always thought there is a gap in the market for something in between these two methods, so I was pleased to come across this 272 litre garden bag from Vine Rituals.  What I like most about it is how easy it is to transport (it folds down flat, so doesn’t take up unnecessary space in my already jam-packed van), and also that it holds itself open via a flexible removable support loop, which also keeps it upright, leaving your hands free to work. Perfect for the lone gardener!

While I may not be using this new bag daily, it is a great new addition to my van. Really perfect for collecting moss after scarifying, leaves in Autumn, grass clippings and other lighter but bulkier garden waste.   The bags are also light-weight, tear-resistant and water resistant. Voila!

You can buy a single one for £8.99 or a pack of three for £15.99 which I think is pretty good value.

If you’ d like to try out these bags, Vine Rituals are offering Bonnie Gardener readers a 10-20 % discount on their purchase through this link

I’d love to know how you get on with them if you decide to try them – please let me know!

Happy gardening in the meantime and enjoy this lovely weather!

Nicola   

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After its inaugural success in 2018, Lanark’s FlowerFest will return to central Scotland’s Castlebank Park from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th May 2019.

The Royal Burgh of Lanark lies at the head of the Garden Valley, and boasts Castlebank Park, perched above the River Clyde, with the restored Castlebank Gardens and newly developed Horticultural Centre, which is also home to Lanark in Bloom – custodians of the town’s many beautiful hanging baskets and planters.

The theme for this year’s FlowerFest 2019 is The Women’s Football World Cup, which takes place in France this June, and for which Scotland’s Ladies Team have qualified.  

Across the three days of the festival there is a great line-up of attractions for all ages, including: Garden Centre displays, Schools’ and Nurseries’ Planter Competition, Gardeners’ Question Time with Beechgrove Garden’s George Anderson, musical entertainment from local groups, high-quality craft marquee, food & drink outlets, local producer demonstrations, tractor rides, yoga tasters and much, much more. The Tolbooth Arts and Heritage Centre in Lanark High Street will also be hosting a botanical art exhibition from 6th – 17th May 2019.

Local residents can look out for the full FlowerFest 2019 Programme, which will be posted through their doors over the coming weeks.

A free shuttle bus will be running to and from Castlebank Park to various points in Lanark.

Entry is £3 for adults per day or £5 for a 3-day weekend pass. School age children are free.

FlowerFest is presented by Lanark Community Development Trust, with generous support from the Border Biscuits Community Support Fund. 

Further information is available at www.facebook.com/LanarkFestivals and https://lanarktrust.co.uk/our-projects/lanark-vision/lanark-festivals/lanark-flowerfest/

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The positive link between gardening and health is being celebrated by Scotland’s Garden Scheme as it unveils hundreds of private gardens opening to the public during 2019 to raise money for charity.

Whether you garden, have a desire to learn more or just want to reap the wellbeing benefits of being around nature, the national open garden charity is encouraging people to get out and explore Scotland’s horticultural treasures.

Over the year, 516 gardens will be welcoming visitors under the scheme including seven allotments, 14 community gardens, 34 villages and groups, 39 historic designed landscapes and four therapeutic gardens. Children’s activities will be taking place in 47 gardens and 180 gardens will be serving homemade teas. Visitors will be able to explore 15 spectacular gardens on spring and summer trails in Fife, and 26 gardens and woodlands for snowdrops and winter walks. Included in the 64 gardens opening for the first time are:

  • Dumfries Station Garden, a colourful, all-year interest garden planted on both sides of a working train station by a thriving ‘station adopters’ community group;
  • Fairnielaw in North Berwick with its mixed tree mini forest and contemporary garden rooms;
  • the popular Berridale Allotments and Gardens in Cathcart, a Glaswegian horticultural stalwart since before WW2;
  • the plots of the Allotment Association of Crieff, renowned to be the most scenic in Scotland;
  • Ellisland Wild Garden next to the River Nith in Dumfriesshire and the former home of poet Robert Burns;
  • a quirky enclosed tarmac garden at the Bravehound project at Erskine Hospital in Bishopton, which provides companion dogs to military veterans;
  • Preston Hall Walled Garden in Midlothian, a beautiful example of a 18th century walled garden which the owners started to restore in 2011; and
  • the romantic garden at Ardno and Strachur House on Loch Fyne with its walled garden, gorge and meadow.

Terrill Dobson, National Organiser for Scotland’s Gardens Scheme said:

“We gardeners share a secret – our gardens are like a very special friend, helping us with our health and wellbeing. When we’re stressed, they calm us. They get us out of the house when the winter darkness is tugging at us. And our garden can nourish us, literally, as you can grow so much in a small space. Fortunately, even if you are not a gardener, you can still enjoy many of the benefits by visiting them. What a wonderful way to spend time, out in the fresh air, surrounded by the serenity of a beautiful garden.”

More than 250 local and national charities will benefit from the funds raised through garden openings including Scotland’s Gardens Scheme’s own beneficiary charities – the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, Maggie’s and Perennial. It will also be offering a £5,000 bursary to a guest charity to help fund garden-based projects to improve physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Last year Horatio’s Garden received a bursary towards a garden room at its project at the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit in Glasgow. Over £1 million has been raised for charity over the last four years through Scotland’s Garden Scheme’s openings.

Visitors can plan their days out to participating gardens by clicking onto www.scotlandsgardens.org.  Click on which area you’d like to visit and details of all gardens opening locally will be displayed, with opening hours, online map and key details.

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I often get asked about garden design – particularly by people who have new build properties and have to design their garden from scratch.  Lucky them! So when Puma Landscaping in Edinburgh got in touch with me to ask about a collaboration on my blog I was really keen to get their ideas around different ways to design a garden.  In this article, James Allan from Puma Landscaping gives us his expert ideas on some fundamental garden design concepts. Enjoy!

James said:

“When decorating and furnishing our homes, nearly every one of us do so with some sort of plan and overall design theme. But what many people fail to do is link their indoor space to their outdoor one. Designing your garden to reflect the rest of your home creates a seamless move from the indoors to the outdoors that can help to ensure that you making the most of both. In this article we take a look at some common garden types and how they can perfectly reflect your home.

Minimalist

“Many people are attracted to properties that are designed in a minimalist fashion. With the hectic pace of daily life, many of us now crave a serene and comforting place where we can retreat to after a long and stressful day. Minimalist properties strip away the layers and banish excess clutter, making every space simple and straightforward. It results in more open space, greater natural light, less fuss and ultimately less stress.

“If you enjoy a minimalist style indoors, you’re not going to want a lavish outdoor area, rather something simpler, plainer and low maintenance. Lawns are pretty minimalist and low maintenance, but if you’d prefer not be regularly mowing through summer, then this should be replaced with gravel or artificial grass. A simple patio area is also a good idea, as is decking – perfect for creating a place to enjoy the sun or have a barbecue. In terms of plants and flowers, plant with hardy evergreens such as Buxus or Yew and durable perennials such as geraniums.

Cottage/rustic garden

“If you live in a country cottage or other rustic-style home, then a simpler, linear and basic modern looking garden simply won’t ‘fit’ with the look. Therefore, a more traditional looking garden is required – and thankfully this is not too difficult to achieve.

“One of the best ways to do it is to add rustic architectural elements to your outside space. Think about creating paths with old cobble stones or bricks, and use reclaimed wood for projects such as benches or signs. Plants such as purple hyacinths (or any other that suit your chosen colour palette) can look great in rustic containers such as galvanized tubs, livestock feeders or old watering cans.

“If you love to grow your own fruit and veg, then adding a kitchen garden area to your cottage garden is a great idea. It may not be as pretty as the rest of your garden (although architectural plants such as globe artichokes look fabulous) but it will be so rewarding when you can simply walk from your kitchen and pull up some flavoursome carrots and cook them with pride. They’re always tastier than anything you can buy! To start your kitchen garden area, think about using raised beds to control drainage, decrease weeds and keep pests away.

Flower garden

“If you’re someone who loves to surround themselves with flowers at home, then it makes sense to turn your garden into a flower garden, the inside of your home segueing perfectly into the outdoor. The great thing about flower gardens is that there are no real rules, simply mix, blend and contrast a colour palette of flowers that complement each other. Flower gardens are both fun and pleasurable to look at as well as providing you with cut flowers all through the year. They’re also a hive of activity, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies to your garden.

Contemporary garden

“If you live in a modern, contemporary property, then a rustic, chintzy garden really isn’t going to be in keeping with it. With contemporary homes, less is more, but not quite to the extent of a minimalist garden. Contemporary gardens are best kept clutter-free, with lots of straight lines, neat borders and geometric shapes.

For a centrepiece, patios work well, as does decking and so too does a water feature, although this should be subtle rather than spectacular. Contemporary gardens should fit seamlessly with their indoor counterpart, so unlike rustic or cottage gardens which may showcase a plethora of plants and flowers, you should aim for simple green foliage and structured topiary. Bamboo, euphorbia and grasses also work well, giving the garden a nice, airy feel.”

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