November is a wonderful time to head outdoors in search of seed heads, pine cones, interesting stems and fallen branches to create stunning indoor decorations for Christmas.

Honesty (Lunaria annua) seed heads are called silicules.  As a whole they may appear a little drab, but gently flex Honesty seed capsules between your fingers and the outer casing will peel off and reveal the elegant beauty of Lunaria annua

I enjoy running horticultural trials; I spend much of my time searching for the most gorgeous plants that will produce a profusion of flowers and attract bees and pollinating insects.  I love to share the most successful plants from my trials with you to help you find top quality plants to enhance your garden.  The plants I recommend in this column need to be grown in a bright and sunny location, in well-drained soil or containers filled with peat-free compost.

Over the past ten years, we’ve experienced an increasing number of droughts in spring and summertime.  Applying a mulch now, while the ground is still moist from the autumn and winter rains will protect and enhance your soil, adding nutrients that will support soil microorganisims and feed your plants.  Mulching will suppress weeds, and help the soil retain moisture.  Early spring is the perfect time to apply an organic mulch of homemade garden compost, Strulch®, woodchip, well-rotted manure, or peat-free compost

Sunflowers bring such positive energy and welcome cheer to our gardens!  If you want to brighten up your garden with pollinator-friendly flowers in summertime, April is the ideal time to sow sunflower seeds.  There’s no need for any special equipment; sunflowers are hardy annuals that can be sown outdoors now.  Seeds can be started off in containers of peat-free compost and planted out after they have developed their first true leaves. 

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (part two)

Welcome to part two of my overview of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (if you missed part one, please click here).  Let me take you on a tour of the gardens and exhibits I visited at this year’s very special autumn RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021…..

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

For one year only, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show 2021 has moved to September!  How has the change of date affected this event?  Moving from a late spring show to an early autumn spectacle has opened Chelsea’s door to allow new VIP (very important plant) access for late summer flowering perennials, berries, seed heads, dahlias, pumpkins, tomatoes, and vegetables!

Summer’s golden sunshine warms our gardens and gladdens our hearts, it’s sublime!  Make time to sow seeds now to enjoy stunning flowers next spring and delicious vegetables over the coming months.

Cornflowers (also known by their botanical name, Centaurea cyanus) attract a wide range of bees and butterflies; these rosette shaped blooms make great cut flowers, too. If you’re not a fan of the traditional blue cornflower, take your pick from the white, pink, cerise, lilac, purple, and (almost) black flowered forms available.

I first grew Chinese Kale ‘Kailaan’ (also known as Gai lan or ‘Kai laan’) in about 2006; I was really impressed by this vegetable’s speedy growth and the bounteous harvest my plants produced.  ‘Kai lan’ leaves, flower buds, and stems are all edible, but it’s the stems that provide the main harvest.  Try it raw, stir-fried, steamed, or boiled; ‘Kai lan’ is a little like broccoli.   

Making Meadows

Meadows present a natural, seemingly effortless beauty, with an undeniable allure.  For the most part, meadow guardians save much of the energy that gardeners spend repeatedly mowing and maintaining traditional lawns.  Nevertheless, meadows are not an easy option; creating a meadow requires endeavour, careful planning, and time, to ensure success.

Perennial meadow plants

Our native British, perennial meadow plants flourish in poor soils, where they grow contentedly alongside sedately-growing, fine-leaved grasses. 

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Welcome to the second part of my overview of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019.  (If you missed the first part of my Chelsea overview, click here to see the first instalment.)

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show is the world’s most prestigious flower show.  Held in the Royal Hospital’s grounds, at Chelsea, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a great place to find inspiration and ideas for your home and garden. 

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

A highlight of the horticultural calendar, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show runs from Tuesday 21st May 2019, to Saturday 25th May 2019.

In preparation for the show, over the past three weeks, award winning garden designers, together with their teams, made up of some of the best landscape architects, project managers, builders, technicians, horticulturalists, artists, and crafts people, have been working tirelessly to transform the Royal Hospital’s grounds at Chelsea, into a plant filled oasis. 

Lovely gardening jobs to do from April to mid-May

Sowing seeds is a wonderfully cost-effective way to garden.  Many hardy annual plants can be grown from seed this month, providing us with a quick and easy way to fill our gardens with beautiful flowers, in a wide range of colours and forms.

Many annual plants provide a valuable source of nectar, pollen, and food for insects.  

April Gardening Opportunities

April is a magical time in the garden.  This month offers us so many wonderful opportunities.  There are so many seeds you can sow now, so whether you favour growing vegetables, herbs, fruit, or flowers, don’t miss this chance to grow the plants that hold a special place in your heart.

Viola tricolor

Viola tricolor, often known as ‘Heart’s Ease’ is a dainty, yet easy to grow plant, which produces edible and very pretty, purple, yellow, and white flowers that have an attractive painterly quality. 

It’s so important to appreciate, look after and cherish every square inch of earth, every inch of our planet.  For those living in town centres or cities, or areas where outdoor space is at a premium, it can sometimes be hard to find inspiration of how to green up and make the most of the limited areas of ground, roof, or wall space that are available. 

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

The highlight of the horticultural calendar, The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show is the world’s most prestigious flower show!  Over the past three weeks, award winning garden designers from all over the world, together with their teams, made up of some of the best landscape architects, project managers, builders, technicians, horticulturalists, artists and crafts people, have been working solidly to transform the Royal Hospital’s grounds at Chelsea into an oasis of gardening ideas and inspiration!

The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden

At this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show I couldn’t wait to visit the Welcome to Yorkshire show garden, which was designed by Mark Gregory and built by Mark and Landform Consultants.  This show garden took a picturesque, heart-warming view of the Yorkshire countryside to the centre of London, where I was there, ready to welcome this garden with open arms! 

Daisy Roots is a small, independent nursery, run by Anne Godfrey in Hertfordshire.  Anne Godfrey specialises in growing drought tolerant, hardy perennials and ornamental grasses, which Anne propagates herself from seeds and cuttings, at her nursery in Hertford.  All of the plants sold by Daisy Roots are hardy, healthy, and drought resistant.

Last year, I celebrated Daisy Roots Gold Medal win at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, where I loved the beautiful irises, Verbascums, Anthemis, Aquilegias, and ornamental grasses that made up the nursery’s Gold Medal winning display! 

I love our planet, I love plants and nature.  I want to protect our environment.  I want to live more sustainably.  Sustainability is not a new desire for me, it is something that I have always aspired to.  Firstly though I must tell you that I am far from perfect, I make mistakes and I am always learning.  I want to improve, I want to make changes to live more sustainably and to live ethically. 

Sweet Pea Superstars!

I just love growing sweet peas!   I love to be enveloped by the sweet pea flower’s powerful and sensuous scent, while I’m encompassed by the flower’s beauty and charm.  Eternal bliss!  Everyone should have at least a few moments of pause and reflection, to recharge with their favourite sweet pea blooms each and every summer.

If you’re looking to plant up containers to bring an immediate dose of cheer to your garden, varieties of pansies and violas, purchased in flower from your local nursery, in your favourite colours, will brighten your garden.  With regular deadheading they, will flower from now until summer arrives.

If you’re looking ahead to the summer and you’re keen on bedding plants, this is a great time to sow seeds of Lobelia, Antirrhinums, and Pelargoniums, in the warmth indoors.