First GARDEN TOUR 2020 – plus more about Lottie the dog

First GARDEN TOUR 2020 – plus more about Lottie the dog


Hi there it’s Alexandra from the
Middle-sized Garden Youtube channel and blog and it’s the first garden tour of the year.
It’s been a pretty mild winter so far here in southeast England in Kent,
probably temperatures around 10/11 Celsius during the day maybe 14/15 and
really not much lower than 5 and 6 at night, just the occasional frost but it
has been really really wet and this is unusual for this part of the world.
Eastern England is the driest part of the UK and we often have hosepipe bans
in the summer and it is usually wetter in the winter, but at the moment it’s so
wet that every time it rains, the ground just can’t really absorb any more water.
As far as the gardener’s concerned the leaves are off the trees and
everything’s just waiting for spring. The birdsong is fabulous and there are a few
really welcome signs of spring such as the snowdrops. I plant snowdrops in the
garden I try to choose types that naturalize well because I don’t want to
replant every year and I think snowdrops really appreciate being somewhere
where they’re not going to get much disturbance, so in the parts of the bed
where I tend to dig things up and add things and change things year by
yea,r snowdrops don’t really do very well there but whenever there are somewhere
like around a tree, where they’re really not going to be disturbed, they do
naturalise and they’re so welcome at this time of year.
Generally the cyclamen is just spreading itself around the garden – it’s got a
really pretty leaf and even when it’s not in flower it’s just a real asset, it’s
great ground cover at this time of year and then in the summer it just
disappears underground, so it’s really not taking up any space that you
would want to use for anything else, so I think cyclamen is a wonderful plant for
this time of year. It’s also time to be able to see what’s wrong in the garden
and one of the first things I noticed was this fungus around the Cotinus coggyria (smokebush tree). The smoke bush is one of the most
spectacular plants in the garden – in the summer its leaves are bright
purpe red and it has these puffed smoky flowers and everybody remarks on it when they come into the garden. And the
thought of having the garden without it is absolutely impossible, but it has had
something called verticillium wilt. Every now and then a great chunk of it dies.
This year we cut it down quite hard to give the new shoots a chance to
re-establish but I have just spotted this fungus on the side of it, so I went
on to Twitter which is a great resource if you’re a gardener because quite often
you can put a picture on with a question, and people are so generous with coming in and saying oh
well I think that’s that or that’s this. So I put this picture up and asked for advice and four or five
people said exactly the same thing, which is that it would be a bracket fungus or
Ganoderma and that is something that attaches itself to vulnerable trees when
they’re in their dying phase and the journalist Jean Vernon (@TheGreenJeanie) explained to me
that trees have three phases. You’ve got the growing phase when they’re young and
then we’ve got the mature phase and then you’ve got the dying phase, but the dying
phase can be quite long and indeed quite a few other people came along and said
exactly the same thing – that if you’ve got a fungus on a tree like this it may
still last quite a long time – but of course the important thing is to make
sure that it as it gets weaker that it can’t fall or topple or cause any damage
to either people or buildings. Now this tree is right in the middle of a border
and we brought it down quite a lot in height so I think it’s completely safe
as far as that’s concerned but who knows how much longer it’s going to be in this
garden? Lots of you’ve commented on our dog Lottie and so I thought this would
be a good opportunity to tell you a bit more about her. Lottie is a Saluki cross
and she’s a rescue dog and she’s our second Saluki – our previous dog was also
a rescue dog and he was a pure Saluki – and Salukis were the first dogs that
ever hunted with man. They were bred from the Arabian wolf – some people think about
7,000 years ago – and they are one of the oldest if not the oldest breed of dog,
and this makes them quite old-fashioned in their approach to life
and I often get the feeling that anything that existed 7,000 years ago
they understand perfectly but anything that’s more of a new invention like cars
and roads they are totally confused by and
don’t see any point in even thinking about.So a Saluki – like greyhounds- have
to be kept on the lead everywhere unless it’s a really secure area and of course
by a secure area I mean about an eight or nine foot fence
because they are fantastic jumpers and some of them can jump as high as eight
feet. Lottie is a very affectionate dog but it was quite difficult for us all to
settle in together because our first dog was a rescue dog but he was four when he
came to us and he’d spent two years at the rescue kennels and was in many ways
quite well trained, in fact very well trained.
Lottie had only been rescued about two or three months earlier and she was also
very much younger dog – probably only about eighteen months old- so she was
much more wild and we probably weren’t experienced enough dog owners to take on
a young dog with quite a few needs and issues. We did call in a dog specialist
and they said dog training was the correct way to go, so we used to take her
to dog training classes every Saturday morning for about a year, and that
certainly helped a lot because she’s a Saluki and because of her nature there
are certain things we can never expect her to do. Salukis and hunting dogs have
very very poor recall if they’re after something – a red mist descends as they
head after that rabbit or that squirrel and you’ll never get them back – so you
just have to be really careful about where we exercise her and there are very
very few places where we can take her off the lead. However she does love this
garden and she’s such a loving and affectionate family dog that I think
she’s happy to have these walks mostly on the lead. Because it’s been so wet I
haven’t really been able to get out and do very much in the garden- in fact I
can’t really point to anything I’ve done except to get some sacks of organic farm
yard manure and scatter them over the beds. The thing with organic is that
anyone can call anything ‘organic’ – it doesn’t really mean anything unless the
product you’re buying is affiliated to an association which ensures it meets
certain standards. So you can find quite a lot of organic garden manure
which actually is no such thing and indeed may have something like amino
pyralids or some other kind of weed killer in it, so when I bought my organic
manure I was very careful to make sure it had a Soil Association label on it
and if you’re in other parts of the world there will be other organic
standards and associations that can help you be sure that what you’re buying is
actually organic and doesn’t have chemicals in it. The reason for worrying
about organic manure because I’m not a wholly organic gardener – I do use the odd
chemicals occasionally – however some manures have been
contaminated with something called aminopyralids and those don’t really break
down very easily in manure. They’re used as weed killers on pasture land and the
cows and horses eat it. It passes through them without harming them but it doesn’t
really deteriorate in the manure until it’s been laid on the ground for several
months, so if you open a packet of manure which is got aminopyralids in it,
you may find that things like your beans absolutely just shrivel
and die. I’d suggest going to Charles Dow Dean’s
YouTube channel for a very good explanation on this if you’re more
interested and I will put that link in the description below. If you found this
interesting please do hit ‘like’ because then I’ll know you’d like to see more
garden tours and I’ve put the garden tours playlist on at the end of this video, so
do check it out if you’re interested in how the garden changes season-by-season. And if you would like more tips, ideas and inspiration for your middle-sized
garden then do subscribe to the Middle sized Garden youtube channel and thank
you for watching, good bye

35 thoughts on “First GARDEN TOUR 2020 – plus more about Lottie the dog

  1. I'm so sorry about your smoke bush. I planted one last year after being inspired by my neighbor's smoke bush (and the pictures of yours next to that birch :-)). Are there any disease resistant varieties?

  2. Gosh….I have so much to comment on this 1st garden tour of 2020 of yours…..
    Hurray!…Spring's here..👏
    Thanks so much for sharing…..will look at cyclamens differently now.
    Love you sharing so much about Lottie..💖💝🥰

  3. Thank you for the garden update and the visit with Lottie. She is a lovely dog! I live in Southern California and snowdrops don’t normally do well here. I have lived in my home for over 30 years and snowdrops come up in my yard every year. A previous owner must have planted them. I have no idea what type they are. I have moved bulbs all over the yard and they don’t mind a bit. The snowdrops are in full bloom right now and look fantastic!

  4. Thank you for the tour. It's very interesting to see what your garden is like in January. Mine, here in Michigan, is covered with snow. Also, thank you for telling us about Salukis and Lottie. My two dogs are also rescues. Take care. 💜

  5. Good morning and Thank you Alexandra for your January tour video. I'm so glad you have signs of spring…we don't , it's very cold here in NJ. Sorry about all the wetness and your smoke bush, I'm sad when beautiful trees don't last so long. I hope it lasts a long time even with the fungus.Thank you for telling us about Lottie. She is a beauty and it was so interesting to learn about her breed which I never heard about before. She has such a pretty face. Thanks as always for taking the time to make this video for us. Have a beautiful day!

  6. Beautifully and informatively presented as usual. Lottie's history was particularly appreciated. Thank you.

    Shortly after moving to southwest France (ten years ago now!), an old cherry tree stopped thriving. Several months later, it died. The gardening service which chopped it down wrote on their bill as the reason for its removal, "It was at the end of its life." So sad to think that I outlived a tree as I consider them to be natural monuments. At present, it's the plum tree out in the front garden which has developed shelf fungus growths signalling that it is nearing, "… the end of its life." The flow of give and take permeates our interface with nature.

  7. Lottie is beautiful. Your garden is lovely even in winter. I love the structure of your evergreens. My smoke tree died last year too, but we determined it was because of excessive rain. I will be planting a new one!

  8. I planted snowdrops last fall. But they are not up yet. Love your dog. I grew up in southern Illinois and the university of southern Illinois had those dogs as their mascot. So I have always remembered them.

  9. I’m surprise you use chemicals? I thought your garden was 100% organic. What kind of chemicals do you use and for what for? Thanks again. I love the layout of your garden, and especially the contrast between your flower beds and the beautiful grass

  10. Your garden is inspirational, lots of wonderful little moments. Your saluki is a kindred spirit with my smooth collie, very sensitive nature, and athletic. Too bad we can't grow many of the plants that are a standout in your garden in Canada. In spring, could you please do a birch bleach washing video!

  11. Always good to see a gardener with a dog and see how they interact with the garden. I currently have 2 rescue greyhounds and my experience with my youngest is very similar to yours. I have had 10 of them in my life and have always had older dogs. She came to me when she was 2 and still in that puppy stage. Now she is just an older puppy at 7! Great to see some activity in the garden. Will be some time before that happens here in the Midwest USA.

  12. Hello Alexandra, Your garden is so beautiful this month. We have had a lot of rain and warmer temperatures as well. I love the snow drops and your smoke tree. I heard the smoke bush is coming out this year with a variety that is light lime in color. This will create a nice contrast with the older variety and I’m looking forward to adding one to my garden. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge 🥰 Have a wonderful winter, Chris-Raleigh NC

  13. Lottie is a beauty. Sadly I lost my rescue GSD x last week to cancer – on my birthday of all days 🙁 I have 2 other rescues but there's still a big hole in my heart. He was a sweet dog. Thankfully, Spring is around the corner so we can all look forward to warmer, drier, gardening days to come.

  14. Hi there, We had a large tree. But it was rapidly in decline due to disease. We had a tough choice to make. But what we ultimately realized was that losing that tree was actually an opportunity – a chance to redesign and reimagine our space. Now, as spring approaches, we look forward to our new small ornamental tree planted in its place which will soon be exploding in color.

  15. Alexandra, thanks for showing us garden in the winter. I've noticed you seem like the type of person that gives everything they do a lot of thought and care (more so than many other gardeners and gardening channels), but you don't let perfection get in the way of progress. Keep up the good work!

  16. Lottie’s a top dog – she seems to get the “zoomies” like greyhounds do, where they run crazily to burn off energy! Great video first up for 2020.

  17. Great video. I didn't know anything about your dog species so that was very interesting. Your bird song is amazing. You could easily do a relaxing bird song video 🙂

  18. Thank you Alexandra, it was wonderful hearing about your sweet dog. Shes lucky to have you and your beautiful garden.

  19. Alexandra, here is to another beautiful gardening season! Love your garden and Lottie (even though I am a cat person myself)

  20. Interesting about the beans & the compost. Will have to pass that info onto the veg grower of the house. Bean fail here this season, not impressed 🙁

  21. Thank you for rescuing Lottie and taking such good care of her. Your garden is very beautiful and peaceful in the winter. Good suggestions about snowdrops. I was planting annuals over them after they bloomed, but maybe I should not do that. They do seem like they would be perfect around a tree where they won't get disturbed. I have been planning to buy a purple smoke bush for a corner of my front flower garden as they are so striking.

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