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John Cushnie - Celebrity Gardener

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

We have BBC presenter John Cushnie in studio today just in time for that summer planting frenzy, even for those of us with a small garden space.

For the many of us with a small garden or balcony area we can still make the most of our outside space, when we know how to use it.
It's officially summertime and people are out in their gardens planting, pruning and potting.

John Cushnie
John runs his own landscape design and contracting company in Co Down. Cushnie Landscapes. He is the presenter of the BBC-TV series 'The Greenmount Garden' and also regular panelist on BBC Radio 4 on Gardener's Question Time.

He writes for the Daily Telegraph, Gardener's World, Gardens Illustrated, Garden Heaven and the Belfast Newsletter & lectures throughout the British Isles and on the occasional cruise.

He has previously published many gardening books, including 'Ground Cover', 'How to Garden', 'Trees for the Garden', 'Shrubs for the Garden', 'How to Propagate' and 'How to Prune'.

He is the Co Author of GQT Plant Chooser and GQT Techniques and Tips for Gardeners.
John specialises in design, landscaping, articles in magazines, newspapers, books, lectures, demonstrations, after dinner/lunch talks, hosts gardening cruises.

John's tips for your garden:
It's crucial you familiarize yourself with your garden - not just knowing its size and shape.
If you want to get the best out of your garden you will need to do such things as feeling the wind, seeing where the sun shines on your face, shiver in the shade and be aware of the lie of the land.

Examples of small spaces and how best to use them are:
1. Long, narrow garden: A garden in deep shade - use pale colours of paint and gravel to reflect light. Plant shade loving plants such as Hosta, Trillium, Hydrangea.
2. Cold and draughty garden: Filter rather than block the wind by using plants such as bamboo. Change wind direction with a solid timber panel angled across the flow.
3. High Wall and unsightly down pipes: Train vigorous, self clinging evergreen climbers such as ivy to hide pipe work. Others are fragrant Clematis but will require support.
4. Hiding bins and bikes: If garden is very small, don't take up space with hedging plants; instead screen using trellis fencing with trained fruit trees.
5. Unwelcoming Entrance: Plant bold containers with seasonal colour and fragrance such as lavender in summer, Sarcococca in winter and wallflowers mixed with hyacinths in spring.

Which vegetable can be grown in small pots?
. Lettuce and spring onion.
. Herbs: mints, thyme, parsley, sage and fennel.
. Root crops: carrots, potatoes, parsnips.
. Greens: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli.
. Legumes: peas, beans and veg that tend to grow upwards and need support.
. The posh veggies: asparagus, artichoke, sugar and asparagus peas.

Container Gardening:
Containers are interesting and attractive in any garden but essential where the whole garden comprises hard surfaces. They can be used for growing climbers against bare walls or for producing home grown fruit, herbs and veg. They are also the answer when it comes to planting a rooftop garden or balcony.
Best Bulbs for small spaces:
Lilies are a must - will fill a small basement or balcony garden with perfume. Cyclamen, dahlias, gladioli also produce lots of colour.
Small flowering bulbs such as Iris, species tulips and snowdrops are ideal for colour and rockery in containers and window boxes.
For a wildflower garden: Wild garlic, (plant in container to prevent from spreading further than you want). Fragrant plants are hyacinths or cyclamen.
Tip! Avoid snowdrops. If they are wizened and dried out they are unlikely to do well. Best time to plant them is immediately after they have flowered when fresh with green leaves still attached.
Plant Spacing:
Mark out the bed and set out the plants. Check spacing to suit the spread of each plant.