Published: 29 June 2012
Blackwood Gardens
The team at The Gardening is developing a four acre garden set within the hills of Devon.

Sheltered from the west winds by mature trees and with great views of the countryside looking east, this site provides a fabulous setting for a working garden. The soil is typical of much of Devon, a heavy red clay soil that dries hard in the summer and stays wet in the winter even though it gently slopes on the side of a hill. We are fortunate to have our own water supply via a new borehole; however we will still need to be careful with the amount of water we use. We will be incorporating water saving devices when and where possible to ensure efficient harvesting, storage and use.


The kitchen garden.

Some areas of the garden have already been laid out with the hardlandscaping and planting completed.


The kitchen garden


The kitchen garden has been in use for a couple of seasons now. The timber raised beds are cropping well this year despite the difficult growing conditions. We try to follow a crop rotation system by growing a range of brassica, legumes, root and salad crops in different positions each season. Using all available growing space is important to maximise harvesting, quicker growing salad crops are sown between the longer maturing crops such as the taller beans. We are trying a range of Vitax products to encourage good growth and maximum yields from the kitchen garden and will share the results with you. 

In the main glasshouse we are sowing and planting edible crops to encourage early maturity and harvesting. The peach trees are starting to colour up with that wonderful smell beginning to fill the space. The grape vine is now reaching a size where strong lateral shoots are being tied in to form a permanent framework, and there are some signs of fruiting buds.


Grapes forming.
Flowers on the tomato plants.


In one corner of the kitchen garden is a smaller glasshouse that will be used as part of the container growing trials we are planning. Comparing indoor and outdoor container growing will highlight the importance of protection especially when growing early or late season crops. These will be watered using some of the latest micro irrigation technology available to gardeners; we are working with some leading manufactures on this project. More about all this in the near future.

The tool shed houses our collection of Bulldog tools that will be used throughout the garden and in our ‘How to...’ videos. Bulldog tools are supporting this project with their great range of quality garden tools. 


The lower lawn and pond

On the lower lawn certain areas are being set aside to create wildflower meadows. These will add visual interest and increase the number of wildlife species in the garden. The large pond also plays an important part in attracting wildlife of all shapes and sizes, the largest is possibly the Heron, followed be the occasional fox who, after taking a drink then walks across the lawn and out through the opposite boundary hedge. 

Running along the western boundary is a track that is very sheltered and will be developed into a butterfly walk. At present there are several Buddleja davidii bushes grown from wild seed plus some patches stinging nettles; with careful clearing and new planting of food plants a suitable habitat can be created to attract a large variety of butterflies


Lilies and Irises in the pond.

Butterfly Lane.

Silver Birches in the higher meadow.


The higher meadow


More wildflower and long grass areas have been created around specimen trees in the higher meadow; here the canopies of the Birch trees provide dappled shade making a great place to sit and relax while listening to the birds singing and insects buzzing about on a hot day [this experience being somewhat limited this year!]

Running alongside the higher meadow is the mixed shrubbery. This comprises of a range of deciduous and evergreen species that give a true mix of shapes and sizes plus colour and texture throughout the seasons. These plants will be used to demonstrate different maintenance and pruning techniques in future ‘How to..’ videos. An extension to this shrubbery is being planned specifically for growing acid loving plants such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias.   

Other areas that are also at the planning stage are a cottage style garden and a long, narrow courtyard. These two different styles of gardening will hopefully show what can be achieved within fairly small spaces while giving interest and enjoyment all year round.

The Gardening team very much hope that readers will enjoy seeing the Blackwood garden on a regular basis as it grows and matures through the different seasons. It will be used for photographs and the filming of the many features within the magazine, not only for the gardening and horticultural activities but also the fantastic wildlife that is so essential in every garden.


The lower lawn.
Reported by Chris Allen  

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