17. July 2020 by Isabelle Van Groeningen

I’m on vacation

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Flagge Deutschland für deutsche Übersetzung – auf Deutsch lesen – I’m on vacation until mid-August recovering from this turbulent spring and I also wish you relaxing summer weeks. If you still need reading, I have a suggestion:

Sommerlektüre im Garten und am Strand: Gebrauchsanweisung fürs Gärtnern

Take care!

Isabelle Van Groeningen

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05. July 2020 by Isabelle Van Groeningen

The garden in summer

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Urlaub im Garten © Isabelle Van Groeningen - Garten im Sommer
Have a holiday in your own garden

It is hard to believe that the time for summer holidays is really there. The longest day has come and gone. Our nightingale, that continued singing in the hope of finding a mate all of last summer, was obviously more successful this year: he has stopped his wonderful chant.

Deadheading on the arrival of summer in the garden

Garten im Sommer Cleome © Isabelle Van Groeningen
The garden in summer – Cleome

A sure sign that the summer solstice has taken place, is that Thea, our head gardener has cut back the catmints for a second flush of flowers, and filled gaps in the border with summer annuals like Nicotiana mutabilis, Cosmos and Cleome. Next week the Alchemilla mollis will also be chopped back, to prevent it from seeding and obtain a fresh crop of leaves.

The Shade Walk is heaving with stunning hydrangeas, taking over the lead from the roses. Their first flush of flower is coming to an end and need deadheading to tidy them up and encourage new shoots for the late-summer flower display. Just remember if your have roses that produce particularly good rosehips, to leave the faded flowers. You can just shake off the faded petals if need be.

Schattengang © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Shade Walk

Filling summer holes in the flower beds

I love using annuals such as tobacco plants as well as dahlias to fill irritating holes in the border. The work involved pays off great dividends, as they will continue to flower to the end of the season. I like to raise the plants in advance in pots, so I can put them out now as they start to flower. Like that they stand a better chance of survival in amongst the taller neighbours, and I have more flexibility in placing the plants exactly there where I need them.

Make sure you soak rootballs of any plants you may be planting at this time of year, and fill the planting hole with water. Give it a good, soggy start!

Visit your own garden

Sommer im Garten © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Summer in your own garden

This is the time of year for visiting other gardens as well as your own. Your paradise is not only there to be gardened in; it is also there for your enjoyment. On lovely summer days it is bliss to have breakfast on the terrace in the early-morning sunshine, or take afternoon tea (or coffee!) in the shade of a tree, surrounded by your flowers.

Garten im Sommer Buddleja 'White Profusion' © Isabelle Van Groeningen
The Garden in summer – Buddleja ‘White Profusion’

On hot, sweltering evenings, retreat into the dark greenery of your garden, just lit up with enough candles that you can move around safely. Listen to the noises of your garden-nightlife, enjoy the smells of the night-pollinated flowers such as Buddleja or Evening Primrose and simply relax. These excursions into your garden will give you a totally new perspective of your surroundings. You will go to bed after a wonderful evening sitting in the darkness of your garden, all relaxed and happy.

Harvest and successive cropping

Garten im Sommer Stachelbeere © Isabelle Van Groeningen

Flagge Deutschland für deutsche Übersetzung – zur deutschen Version – For those of you who this spring have kept busy growing vegetables the harvesting and picking season has started and should continue for many months. You may also be watching the ripening fruit crops – there is an abundance of cherries this year, and the first glasses of strawberry jam and redcurrant jelly are made. I love this busy season harvest, thinking up recipes and processing all this delicious produce. Below Is my favourite recipe for my favourite summer desert.

Garten im Sommer - ERnte - Rote Johannisbeere 'Jonkheer van Tets' © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Redcurrant ‘Jonkheer van Tets’

Filling gaps in the vegetable garden

Where early crops have been harvested, fill any gaps in the vegetable beds with follow-up sowing of lettuce, carrots, radishes, turnips and dwarf French beans. The days are still sufficiently long for the plants to develop strongly, and it is a shame to leave empty spaces turn weedy and neglected. Draw little channels in the bed with the side of a hoe, and water these rills before sowing, then scatter the seed thinly, and cover lightly with soil before watering it once more. Keep an eye on your seedlings, making sure they do not dry out during hot, sunny spells!

Sit back, enjoy, harvest. I will be doing the same, as I take a summer break, and will be back with my regular gardening thoughts in the middle of August. Have a wonderful summer!

Recipe: Summer Pudding

The soft fruit that is so abundant at this time of year, makes the finest of English deserts: a summer pudding. It is refreshing, and is the perfect finish to a summers lunch.


  • A mixture of fruit
  • Grated lemon rind
  • Sugar
  • White bread
  • Greek yoghurt, cream or vanilla ice cream

Pick a bowl-full of any soft fruit you can find like red or black currants, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blue berries.  

Briefly bring the fruit to the boil, just long enough to soften them, adding a little sugar and the grated rind of half a lemon. How much sugar depends on the type of fruit and the sweetness of your tooth!

Slice the bread, removing crusts. Line a round dish with the slices of bread, fitting them tightly. Then, using a slotted spoon, ladle the fruit into this dish, leaving some for a sauce. 

Cover the top with mor sliced bread, then put a plate on top, weighed down by some heavy object such as jam jars. Put in the fridge to cool for at least 4 hours. 

Bring the remaining fruit and juice to the boil, and cook on a high heat to reduce the liquid until it becomes a slightly thicker sauce.

To serve: turn the pudding out onto a plate and pour some of the sauce over it. Serve with yoghurt, cream or ice cream and a little more of the sauce.

Bon Appétit!

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28. June 2020 by Isabelle Van Groeningen

Greenfly and other pest problems

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Honigtau & Blattläuse © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Honigtau & Blattläuse

Flagge Deutschland für deutsche Übersetzung – zur deutschen Version – Gardening is more than going about smelling roses – like the greenfly. You are regularly confronted by enemies that are out to attack your plants. This season the pests seem to have been about in great numbers. There is little you can do about some of them, other than letting nature take its course and wait for it to pass. Sometimes you can give a gentle helping hand, that does not necessary involve the use of chemicals.

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21. June 2020 by Isabelle Van Groeningen

Clump-forming Euphorbias for the Border

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Wolfsmilch im Staundenbeet - Euphporbia palustris + Allium © Isabelle Van Groeningen
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Rosa 'Munstead Wood' © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Euphorbia und Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’

Flagge Deutschland für deutsche Übersetzung – zur deutschen Version – Euphorbia may not be top of the wish list for many, but they really deserve a closer look, as they can add great character to a planting scheme. The genus Euphorbia contains a wide spectrum of plants. From the well-known poinsettia used to adorn the house at Christmas, (Euphorbia pulcherrima), to drought-tolerant cactus-like plants, as well as a wide range of useful and decorative hardy garden plants.

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14. June 2020 by Isabelle Van Groeningen


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Digitalis purpurea © Isabelle Van Groeningen
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Foxgloves - Digitalis opportunisten © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Foxgloves – Digitalis opportunisten

– zur deutschen Version – One of our most charming wildflowers are without doubt the foxgloves. This is the time of year when their impressive tall flower stems, clad with luminous purple nodding flowers bring great drama to shadier areas. These are much loved by a variety of bees and bumblebees who busily crawl deep into the spotted throats of the pendulous thimbles. The botanical name Digitalis, comes from the Latin digitus, or finger.

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06. June 2020 by Isabelle Van Groeningen

Roses particularly attractive for Bees

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Rosa glauca © Isabelle Van Groeningen
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Roses attractice for bees - Rosa glauca © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Rosa glauca

Flagge Deutschland für deutsche ÜbersetzungDie deutsche Version lesen – Last week I promised you more about roses. There are over 150 different species roses occurring in the wild, and over the past 400 years or more, more than 30.000 hybrids have been raised. They range from compact groundcovering roses to gigantic rambling beasts that will grow high up into trees. This time I want to concentrate on those that are of particular interest to insects: the single or semi-double ones.

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31. May 2020 by Isabelle Van Groeningen

The Queen has arrived: the rose season has started

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Wurzelhaus-Roothouse Roses © Isabelle Van Groeningen

Flagge Deutschland für deutsche Übersetzung – Zur deutschen Version – Having taken a strong dislike to roses very early on in life, it took many years before I accepted them back. I still don’t think they make a great contribution to the garden as a plant,  unless they are in flower, or covered in rosehips.  They rarely have a good shape, mostly their form is ruined through pruning, and with time they develop stout, prickly stems with knobbly  joints where they have been pruned in the past.

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