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Runner beans are miraculous vegetables that will comfortably fulfil any gardener’s lofty ambitions to grow stunning plants that look attractive, flower freely, and produce an abundant harvest of delicious beans within a small space!

I am a self-confessed runner bean fan.  For years, I’ve been running Runner Bean Trials searching for the best tasting and most productive runner bean varieties and the optimum growing methods to cultivate these vegetables. 

Divine Rose Gardens to Visit & Fabulous Rose Events to Attend this Summer!

When we think of summertime we often think of roses.  I adore roses.  I love growing roses and visiting rose gardens.  Here are some lovely gardens where you can celebrate and immerse yourself in the rose’s beauty and fragrance.

How to use this calendar:

The events are grouped by geographical area, use the filter hierarchy to select events near you – e.g.,

This calendar is dynamic and will update as I add new events. Please don’t waste paper or resources printing this calendar and remember to check back for new events as I add them!

Please note: to make it easier for you to find events, I have created a page divider, which you’ll find right at the very top of this page.

The Peat Free April Campaign starts today!

This #PeatFreeApril we need your help to find the country’s #PeatFreeHeroes – and tell the #PeatVillains we’re on to them.

Any time in April you visit your local garden centre or supermarket, look out for their compost.  Do they only sell peat-free compost?  Then they’re a peat-free hero! Take a picture of their peat-free compost. 

The Most Sustainable Compost is Homemade – Sharing Over 20 Tips for Successful Composting!

To celebrate Compost Week, I’m sharing tips to help you make top-quality compost in your garden, allotment, or neighbourhood.

Why Compost?

Making a compost heap or setting up a compost bin is such a positive thing to do.  Even if you don’t really care about getting fabulous (free) compost delivered straight to your garden, or you’re not interested in improving your garden soil, if you compost your grass cuttings, prunings,  and vegetable peelings, you’ll save yourself time and energy, and spare yourself the need to make trips to the tip to get rid of your garden or kitchen waste at weekends. 

Take the Pledge to be Peat-Free and Proud!

For decades, we’ve heard hundreds of empty promises to protect and restore our peatlands, but the sad fact is that our peatlands are still in danger and these precious areas are still being damaged today.  Humans have been relentlessly draining these rare habitats and ripping out the life and soul – the mosses, plants, life, and peat – from our peatlands for an unthinkable amount of time. 

Sheltering from the Storm and Appreciating Orchid Seed Pods & Flowers

Mother Nature reminds us of her immense power today.  Storm Eunice currently has us firmly in her grip.  Eunice is battling against the trees, pushing them, flaying, whirling, and then ruthlessly discarding anything that isn’t tied down securely enough.  As I write, I am eternally thankful that my sturdy glasshouse and Vegepod are both intact and remain where I left them, safely in my garden. 

Clematis are divided into three groups.  We assign each clematis to a group based upon the time of year the plant flowers, and when the growth that holds their flowers develops.  By evaluating our clematis and assigning our plants to a specific group, we can establish the optimum time to prune our clematis.

  • Group One Clematis produce their flowering stems in the summer before flowering and bloom early in the year (in autumn, winter, and springtime).
  • Urgent Action is needed to protect our peatlands

    We urgently need our leaders to take responsibility and introduce laws and treaties that will protect our environment.  There is so much to be done that could help our planet and not enough action being taken.  Many of the messages and promises that were shared at COP26 are statements that have been shared many times before but are yet to be acted upon. 

    Happy new year!  I want to help you create a positive and uplifting garden where you can relax, grow your favourite plants, and make real connections with nature.

    Do you have a compost heap in your garden?  How about in your college or office garden?  Composting is such a wonderful thing to do; it’s great for the environment, good for wildlife, produces amazing compost, and saves money! 

    Yesterday afternoon when I logged onto Twitter, the first thing I saw was an open letter on the use of peat signed by some well-known professional horticulturists and illustrated with a picture of Peter Seabrook.  Earlier this year, I responded to some of the claims Peter Seabrook made about peat in Hort Week; today I’m responding to the claims made by the following professional horticulturists in an open letter, which was published by Garden Trade News.

    New Miniature Orchid Flowers

    I’ve taken pictures of a few of my miniature orchids to show you the plants that I’ve been focusing my attention on this week.  Currently, my main preoccupation has been to be poised and ready to pollinate my Aerangis macrocentra plants, in the hope that the last remaining flower of my first plant to bloom survived long enough for my second plant’s first flower to open. 

    Winter provides us with a wonderful opportunity to plant trees.  What could be a better Christmas gift than planting a tree with your family?  I’m a particular fan of planting bare-root trees: trees that are grown in the ground (not containers) and then lifted, dispatched, and planted while they’re dormant.  Bare-root trees are grown in the soil, they’re naturally peat-free, require less watering at the nursery, and can be grown plastic-free – as there’s no need for containers. 

    White Flowered Orchids

    Being around plants lifts my spirits.  Watching my plants produce vibrant and healthy green leaves gives me endless pleasure, but I understand that many people favour growing flowering plants.  Leaves are often taken for granted, as foliage is assumed to be a permanent fixture that doesn’t change and lives on forever; whereas the fleeting presence of a flower commands interaction and appreciation. 

    The Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composter

    I’m such a fan of home composting; I want to encourage everyone to set up a compost bin!

    Last year, the designers of Aerobin sent me one of their Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composters to try out.  Over the past year, I’ve put the Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composter to the test.  I decided to trial this product because it’s designed to be placed on a paved or concrete area, and this together with the product’s compact size makes it perfect for small patio gardens. 

    Garden Designer Jackie Currie and Plant Heritage won a Gold Medal for their ‘National Plant Collections Everywhere!’ exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021!  This stunning exhibit showcased plants from National Plant Collections grown inside living rooms, glasshouses, gardens, and allotments, across the UK.

    One of the stars of the exhibit was the Salvia caymanensis, grown by John and Linsey Pink who hold a National Collection of Salvias. 

    One very good thing to come out of the pandemic has been the rise in online talks and events.  We’ve realised that we don’t have to get in our cars and drive to meetings, we can enjoy listening to speakers, learning about plants, and connecting with groups, charities, and organisations, from the comfort of our own homes.  Together we can discover more about plants and make real connections online, whilst saving money on transport and avoiding all the associated environmental costs. 

    The Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods

    I attended the ‘Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods’ conference, hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.  I fully support the Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods.  I am just one of the 3000 global experts and concerned citizens from 114 countries that signed this declaration which aims to promote the long-term protection and restoration of natural forest ecosystems worldwide. 

    Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse
    Author: Dave Goulson
    Publisher: Jonathan Cape
    ISBN: 976-1-787-33334-5

    The Labelling on Bags of Compost is Changing – Find Out About the Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media

    I’ve been campaigning about the lack of regulation for the labelling of bags of compost for many years, so I was interested to hear that finally, things are changing – a new Responsible Sourcing Scheme (RSS) comes into effect in January 2022.