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If you’re looking for ways to make a positive difference to the environment, why not build a pond?  Ponds support a vast range of wildlife, from the bottom to the top of the food chain.  Insects, invertebrates, amphibians, and birds, all need ponds.  These ecologically important habitats give us the chance to see dazzling dragonflies and get closer to nature.  Ponds grant us exciting opportunities to grow waterlilies and aquatic plants! 

2020 Calendar of Specialist Plant Fairs, Festivals, Sales, and Swaps

Happy new year!  Happy new plants!  Here are the dates and details of plant sales, plant festivals, plant swaps, seed swaps, and other super opportunities to buy wonderful, locally grown plants at fantastic prices; as well as details of events where you can swap plants or seeds for free!  Great quality, rare, hard to find, special, and unusual plants can be found at the specialist plant fairs and other events that I have listed for you below, in this, my 2020 Calendar of UK Specialist Plant Fairs, Festivals, Sales, and Swaps!

East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing
Author: Meera Sodha
Publisher: Fig Tree Books
ISBN: 978-0-241-38756-6

I discovered Meera Sodha‘s recipe for Vegan Cauliflower Korma in Meera’s ‘The New Vegan’ column, in The Guardian, back in October 2018.  I’ve been a huge fan of Meera Sodha’s recipes, right from the first moment I tasted this delicious roasted cauliflower curry. 

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners 2019

Christmas time is such a special time of year.  It’s a time for meeting up, celebrating, and showing our thanks and appreciation to those around us.

Make the promise of a day out together, to visit a snowdrop garden

Love and friendship are priceless gifts.  Why not gift the promise of a day out together in a magnificent snowdrop garden, in January or February? 

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Snowdrop Events Calendar 2020

Welcome to my 2020 Snowdrop Gardens, Talks, Events, and Open Days Calendar!  Here are the dates, and all the details of the openings of the most beautiful and magnificent snowdrop gardens across the UK, Ireland, America, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.  These gardens are all opening to allow visitors the chance to experience the joy of visiting their snowdrop collections.  

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium

Welcome to the fourteenth and final instalment of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, from Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.

Since my last update, I’ve made the decision to empty my Madagascar BiOrbAir terrarium and re-plant this terrarium.  I found that the Madagascan orchids that I chose to grow together, inside this enclosure, required too strongly opposing growing conditions to make it possible to easily grow these orchids successfully in such close proximity to one another. 

Creating a Wildlife Pond

I’ve always had a great interest in ponds.  To me, the underwater world is fascinating; I’ve been interested in aquatic plants since I was a young child.  I can still remember the feeling, when my heart leapt for joy, as I discovered a clump of Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) for the first time, whilst I was out for a walk with my Grandparents. 

November Gardening Tips & Ideas

November is an exciting month, full of opportunities in the garden.  Take time out to enjoy the fleetingly beautiful glory of the moment, as leaves of burnished gold and crimson light up the landscape.  At this time of year, it’s important to plan ahead and to plant trees and bee friendly flowers, for future generations to enjoy.

Garden Twine Trial

Twine is an essential product for gardeners.  This small, but vital product helps us to support, tie in, and train our plants.  Garden twine assists us as we hang up bunches of herbs, garlic, and onions, for storing and drying.  Twine enables us to mark out rows, and carry out all manner of garden tasks.  Whether you enjoy growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, or cut flowers, if you’re fond of tending herbaceous borders, or you enjoy taking part in any other form of gardening activity; twine is a universally useful product!

Giving thanks for my Thanksgiving Cactus

Four or five years ago, two of my favourite people in the whole world gave me this lovely Thanksgiving Cactus.  I love this plant because I associate it with two people that I love very much but also because this cactus is a fun, easy going, and reliable houseplant that flourishes inside my home, in less than bright conditions.

Plant Conservation: Why it Matters and How it Works
Author: Timothy Walker
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-260-0

I felt that it would be both very timely and apt to write a review of Timothy Walker’s book, Plant Conservation: Why it Matters and How it Works, as this book presents a range of activities that we as individuals can do, to help to conserve the plants on our beautiful planet. 

Growing Garlic, Wild Garlic, and Elephant Garlic

Home grown garlic is one of life’s joys.  The best garlic is planted in autumn.  So, if you’re thinking of growing your own garlic, don’t delay, this is the time to plant it!

Garlic Growing Conditions

Over the years I’ve grown a lot of garlic.  The best garlic I’ve grown was planted in a free draining, sandy soil, in early autumn. 

Jackie Currie and her National Collection of Allium Species and Cultivars

Garden designer Jackie Currie, runs Euphorbia Design with her business partner, Lorraine Cooke.  Together they design and revitalise gardens in the Surrey area.  Jackie enjoys growing many plants, but her real passion is for Alliums.  She’s utterly devoted to this genus of plants, so much so, that Jackie’s garden and allotments are packed full and beautifully planted with thousands of Alliums. 

Orchidarium Update

In February 2017, which (as I write to you in September 2019) was over two and a half years ago, I decided to create an Orchidarium with an automated misting unit, LED lights, and fans, to house some of my miniature orchids and provide them with automatic care.  This wasn’t about creating a beautiful enclosure; I built this Orchidarium to house as many orchids from my collection as possible and to automatically administer the plants’ lighting and watering, and control their growing conditions.

An Update on the LED Lights, Misting Unit, & Equipment inside my Orchidarium

In February 2017, which (as I write to you in September 2019) was over two and a half years ago, I decided to build an Orchidarium to house some of my miniature orchids, with equipment that supplied the plants with automatic lighting, misting, and air circulation.  Inside my Orchidarium, this automated plant care is provided by a misting unit, a hygrometer, LED lights, and fans. 

Growing Tomatoes in Dalefoot Composts’ Peat Free Compost

I am a passionate advocate for going peat free.  I’ve always been a peat free gardener, but I’ve not always managed to find good quality peat free compost.  To search for good quality peat free products, I run peat free Compost Trials every year.  Dalefoot Composts have been the top performing compost brand, in all of my trials to date.

More Ideas for Sustainable Living

It’s frightening to think of all of the destruction and hurt that we have inflicted on our beautiful Planet Earth.  This is our shared catastrophe; we must act now to repair the damage we have caused our environment.  We all need to work together to tackle climate change, to heal the environmental damage we’ve inflamed, and make a positive difference to soothe and heal the planet.

Heritage Open Days 2019

An annual event, held every year in September, the Heritage Open Days allow visitors to experience local history, culture, and architecture.  The Heritage Open Days provide a rather wonderful opportunity to visit interesting, historic, beautiful, and important places, which are normally closed to the public.  These special events also give visitors an opportunity to enjoy free entry to some rather lovely places that usually charge an admission fee. 

Green & Blue Bee Brick and Bee Block

A couple of years ago, back in the late summer and early autumn of 2017, I discovered an award winning Cornish company, called Green & Blue.  I was keen to try two of this company’s products, namely their Green & Blue Bee Bricks and their Green & Blue Bee Blocks.  These products have been designed to provide nesting sites for red mason bees, leaf cutter bees, and other species of solitary bee. 

Garden spades

Every year, many of my readers have got in touch to ask me for my recommendations for a strong and effective, comfortable and lasting, spade or fork.  I love to help out.  I relish that wonderful feeling when I’ve tried and tested a product and have found the item to be incredibly useful and effective.  Knowing that I can help other gardeners with my recommendations is a wonderful feeling.