In the Garden

Now’s the time to plant spring bulbs

by claire, October 20th, 2015

Spring bulbs make a wonderful display in vintage containers and if you haven’t done it already, now is the time to get planting!

They’re perfect for adding some bright colour and focal points in the garden when there’s not much else going on and look welcoming by gates and doorways.  Don’t forget you can bring spring indoors too – cheer up a room or windowsill with a stunning centrepiece and heavenly scent.

Pretty much anything goes when you’re choosing a container for bulbs so be as creative as you like – here’s a selection of my favourite ideas to give you a little inspiration.

Mabel & Rose - Vintage Garden & Home


Hwit Blog
Image via Hwit Blogg


Good Housekeeping
Image via Good Housekeeping




Image via Abigail Ahern


Image via Songbird Blog


Image via Aiken Houes & Gardens


Image via My French Country Home




Find a vintage container for your spring bulbs
at Mabel & Rose


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DIY Handmade Plant Markers

by claire, December 10th, 2014

I do like a hand-made gift or two at Christmas and I often resort to making stuff for the people in my life that are super difficult to buy for.  Every gardener needs plant markers and there are some lovely ideas out there, so here’s a little round up of my favourites.


Handmade polymer clay markers via Wit and Whistle


I just love rustic twig plant markers like these by Braggingbags over on Etsy


Recycled vintage spoons make quirky plant markers – via LazyLighteningArt on Etsy


Paint some stones with blackboard paint and voilà – image via


Terracotta Plant markers via


Painted Stones via Etsy


Colourful polymer clays markers via Reese Dixon 

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Women’s Farm & Garden Association

by claire, November 5th, 2014


Thinking about retraining?

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing some horticultural training for a while now, but slightly put off by the thought of writing essays and sitting exams again – I still regularly have anxiety dreams about missing exams and deadlines!  Anyway, while researching different courses I stumbled across the Women’s Farm & Garden Association and their brilliant ‘Work and Retrain as a Gardener Scheme’ (WRAGS).

Gain Practical Skills

WRAGS is a practical course (yay no exams!) and provides placements for trainees in a working garden near to their home. Over the course of a year, trainees work 15 hours a week as part of a gardening team or with an experienced garden owner and will come away with a wealth of practical gardening skills.  Started in 1993 it was originally aimed at women returning to work after starting a family but the emphasis has now changed and it’s open to anyone who wants to gain some professional training or looking for a career change.

Workshops & Workdays

I love the symbiotic nature of the scheme – they’re always looking for new garden owners to get involved too. And, while I’m still procrastinating about whether to sign up, I have at least made the first step and joined the Women’s Farm & Garden Assocation (WFGA) which gives me access to some excellent workshops, workdays and garden tours.  WFGA is a registered charity founded in 1899 – it was instrumental in forming the Women’s Land Army during the First World War and has done much to promote and support women working on the land over the last century.


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And then it was Autumn…

by claire, October 13th, 2014

 “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Bee Kind

by claire, February 24th, 2014

BumblebeeIt’s been such a mild winter and I know that spring is on the horizon, but I was still surprised  to spot my first Bumblebee of the year today – a Queen emerging from hibernation thinking about building a new nest perhaps?  Looking around my garden I’m wondering what in the way of food I’ve got to offer her at this time of year and have  to admit that the larder is looking decidedly empty.

So, I popped on over to the  Bumblebee Conservation Trust website, where they’ve got a brilliant ‘Bee kind’ tool that helps you identify how Bee friendly your garden is and recommends other species that you can plant to make it a haven for these wonderful little creatures throughout the year.


BBCT is a great charity established to help protect the 24 different species of Bumblebee in the UK, which have experienced a massive decline in recent years, with 2 species disappearing altogether from our shores since 1940. The decline has been mainly due to changes in agriculture and the impact on our landscape meaning that bumblebees have found themselves both hungry and homeless.

It would be devastating if these bumbly insects were to disappear from our gardens, not to mention the huge impact it would have on pollination rates for lots of agricultural crops and the demise in many wildflower species.   The BBCT website is full of interesting facts, like why bumblebees have smelly feet and can help you identify the different species that you’ve got in your garden. It also has lots of information about what you can do to support their work, so do check it out.


And, if you’re looking for a quick way to encourage bees into your garden then try our Seedball Bee Mix, a specially selected collection of wildflowers that will attract bees to your garden or allotment with minimum effort. We will be donating 10% of our profits from sales of Bee mix tins to BBCT  between now and the  end of March 2014.



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Heady Hyacinths

by claire, February 5th, 2014

It might be cold outside but spring is definitely in the air in the Mabel & Rose workshop as our spring bulbs come into bloom.  My favourite are these gorgeous pink hyacinths planted in a pretty vintage French tureen, a treasure found on one of our French trips last year.









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A Guide to Gardening with Seedballs

by claire, November 11th, 2013

Gardening with seedballs is super easy and fun – here is a quick guide to get you started.


How to scatter seedballs

Seedballs are easy to use because they don’t need to be planted – simply scatter them where you want them to grow (preferably on top of soil or compost), and let nature do the rest. Seedballs also grow well in pots and containers.

They don’t need to be broken up and should be left whole – once water has permeated the clay, the seeds will slowly begin to germinate inside the ball. Scattered seed balls should not be picked up once it’s rained, as this could damage any growing roots.

Plants that grow from seedballs don’t need thinning out – the seedball will begin to grow as a cluster of plants, but will later disperse as the clay disintegrates and disperses.

When to scatter seedballs

Seedballs can be scattered at any time of the year, although the best time is normally spring or autumn – recommended time to scatter your seedballs can be found on the product listing and on the tin itself.

 Where to scatter seedballs

Seedballs should be scattered on top of soil or compost – they can also be grown in pots, containers and window boxes in your garden or on a balcony. If the area you want to plant is grassy, then it’s best to remove a layer of top-soil before scattering. More information about growing a wildflower meadow can be found on the plantlife website.

 How many seedballs to use

This depends on how dense you want the flowers to be, but as a guide you should use at least twenty seed balls per square meter for your garden. If growing in a small pot, 3 – 5 seed balls should be enough. For larger pots or window boxes, 10 – 20 seed balls should do the trick.


If they’re scattered outside seedballs shouldn’t need watering, except during a really dry spell. If your seedballs are inside or under cover you should water them every 1-2 days.

Germinating & Flowering

Seeds will start to germinate when conditions are right, normally after plenty of rain and when it’s not too cold.  It can sometimes take a while for seeds to begin sprouting so it’s important to be patient!

When exactly the seed ball grows and flowers will depend on the type of seed ball bought. Mixed tins contain a variety of seed species in one ball – some of these are annuals and some are perennials.

Growing wildflowers is definitely a long-term project and native UK wildflowers are slow-growers compared to many of the exotic plants common to gardens. Not only may seed balls take some time to sprout but they will also take their time to fully grow and flower. While some species will flower within the first year, many will not flower until the second year.

Storing Seedballs

Seedballs will keep well for planting the next year if they are stored in a cool and dry place.

Seedballs at Mabel & Rose

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Seedballs at Mabel & Rose

by claire, November 6th, 2013

10705-03I was really excited to receive my new stock of Seedball tins just in time for the Christmas rush – a revolutionary way to create wildflower gardens and meadows, these gorgeous little tins make the perfect stocking filler or secret santa gift.

Using seedballs couldn’t be easier – simply scatter them where you want them to grow and then sit back and let nature do the rest.  Because they don’t have to be planted, they’re ideal for anyone who isn’t keen on propagating from seed.

How does a seedball work?

Each seedball contains a mini ecosystem: wildflower seeds are mixed with clay, peat-free compost and a tiny bit of chilli powder, and rolled into a small ball. They measure approximately 1cm in diameter, making them dead easy to scatter.

The dried clay acts as a protective casing from common seed predators (such as ants, mice and birds). When sufficient rain permeates the clay, the seeds inside begin to germinate – helped along by the nutrients and minerals contained within the balls. The chilli powder continues to deter predators while the seedball slowely degrades and the seeds sprout.

History of the seedball

Different forms of seedballs have been used throughout history – from ancient Chinese civilisations to Native American tribes. Recently, seedballs were re-invented and advanced by Masanobu Fukuoka, the Japanese natural farming innovator. Fukuoka showed that seedballs could produce high crop yields without the need for plowing, weeding, or the application of pesticides and fertiliser.

Although seedballs are fairly new to the UK, they’re commonly used in ecological restoration projects across many other parts of the world, such as the Rainmaker Project in Kenya. They’ve also been used creatively for re-greening urban areas and guerrilla gardening.

Seedball tins at Mabel & Rose


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Kiftsgate Court on Fathers Day

by Dan, June 18th, 2013

On Fathers Day this year we went on a family trip to the beautiful and inspiring gardens at Kiftsgate Court.

Situated next door to the National Trust gardens at Hidecote, Kiftsgate has some really creative planting on a dizzyingly steep embankment, as well as some lovely rose borders and terraces around the main house. It’s also usually a lot quieter than more well known neighbour!

There’s also a little woodland stroll through a bluebell wood – we were a little late for the bluebells but the foxgloves were starting to grow through ready for a great summer display.

We particularly enjoyed the huge variety of Astrantias, one of our favourite flowers at the moment, and the giant Wisteria covering the back of the house gave off a delicious jasmine scent to the upper terraces.

Visit for more details of this wonderful garden.

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Be Nice to Nettles

by claire, May 20th, 2013 - 1 comment

Nettles are one of the most successful wild plants in the country and also one of the most recognised – as children we quickly learn to to avoid them and with good reason as most of us will remember the burning itch of being stung.   The stinging structure of the humble nettle is similar to that of the hypodermic needle so no wonder it hurts!

Until now, I must admit that I’ve regarded the nettle as an annoying weed and something I should root out from my garden. But this week is ‘National be Nice to Nettles Week’ and as a keen wildlife gardener I was interested to read just how important the nettle patch is to a huge variety of species.

Because stinging nettles are avoided by most grazing animals it makes them the ideal habitat for over 40 species of insects who can move around them without activating the sting.  In particular the nettle is home buy antibiotics online to many of our native moths and butterflies including the Red Admiral, Peacock and Tortoiseshell.  In the spring they also provide an important food source for ladybirds and in late summer birds feed on the seeds.

For more information about creating your own nettle patch or to get involved visit Be Nice to Nettles Week

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