2022 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener and a passionate advocate for peat-free gardening.  I want to help you be a successful gardener, so every year I run independent Compost Trials and share the results on my website.

I’ve included organic and vegan, peat-free composts in this Compost Trial.  All of the composts in this Compost Trial are 100% peat-free.

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in the Intense Heat of Summer & the Drought of 2022

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond during the heatwave and drought of 2022.  I’ve been anxiously watching the water level in my pond as it recedes.  I’ve invested in another water tank and I’ve been busy scouring the local area for any second-hand water butts and water tanks for sale. 

Rosa ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a Wonderful Rose!

Last year, Roses UK and Dickson Roses kindly sent me a ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ rose; I was particularly excited to receive this plant, as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was the winner of the Rose of the Year Competition 2022.  A year has passed since my plant arrived and I can now tell you just how wonderful this rose really is! 

New English Roses from David Austin Roses for Autumn 2022/2023

One of the things I look forward to most at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show is the opportunity to meet the new rose introductions face to face and discover their fragrances.  I was sorry to miss visiting the Chelsea this year.  David Austin Roses launched two brand-new roses at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022. 

Love Orchids

I adore orchids and houseplants.  I get so much enjoyment from being surrounded by foliage and flowers and I simply love growing orchids and houseplants.  Since Brexit, the range of orchid nurseries open to UK customers has dramatically reduced.  Thankfully, we still have a number of UK nurseries who are growing orchids in Britain.  Love Orchids are a small family-run, British company, based in Southern England. 

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. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Springtime

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in springtime.  Over the past few weeks, our weather has been so very summery; my Marsh Marigold flowers have simply sparkled in the sunshine!  I’m having an amazing time by my wildlife pond.  I’ve got some really exciting news to share with you about the wildlife I’ve seen by my pond; I’ve even got a homemade video for you – so you can share in the excitement, but first of all, let me tell you about the water in my pond and show you how my aquatic plants have developed since my last update

Water Levels

I took this picture not long after my last pond update

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. 

Spring is such an uplifting time in the garden.  As the days lengthen and spring flowers come into bloom, the anticipation of the wealth of flowers we’ll admire in our countryside and gardens over the coming seasons provides me with an abundance of reasons to be thankful.  If your garden is looking a little lacklustre at the moment, don’t worry – there are some delightful spring-flowering perennial plants available at nurseries and garden centres, which will brighten up our gardens this spring and in the years that follow.

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).
  • An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Late Winter

    Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in winter!  It feels funny saying ‘winter’, as the weather has been so mild this season that it already feels like spring.  Many of my aquatic plants are now coming into growth.  Last weekend, whilst I was observing all the new leafy growth on our aquatic plants and marvelling at the abundance of duckweed, I spotted a frog! 

    The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2022

    If you’re in need of some time out, a delightful and quite simply enchanting activity that you can take part in this weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2022 – spending a restful, restorative hour watching and counting birds.  I love birds, wildlife and nature.  I adore taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch! 

    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.