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Finding flowers indoors inside my Orchidarium & outside in my garden

I find if I’m feeling a little jaded, taking a tour of my orchids or popping outdoors to reacquaint myself with the plants and nature in my garden is an almost guaranteed way to lift my spirits and rejuvenate my soul.  If you’re feeling weary, I hope you can recharge your batteries by spending time with your houseplants, or relaxing outside in your garden, or perhaps escape to visit a park, garden, or enjoy a revitalising walk at a nature reserve nearby.

2021 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for peat-free composts.  I know from experience, that it’s not always easy to find a good quality peat-free growing media.  I understand that gardeners who have used peat-based composts all their lives might be hesitant to switch to a peat-free compost; while gardeners who have purchased a poor performing peat-free compost could naturally be reluctant to try peat-free growing media again. 

Rosa ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – Winner of the Rose of the Year 2022!

I absolutely adore roses, their flowers can be everything I want in a bloom; roses can be sumptuous, glamorous, and luxurious, yet also relaxing and comforting.  I find the scents of my favourite roses feel uplifting and reviving.  Every year, I look forward with great anticipation to meeting the winner of the Rose of the Year Competition.

For the past fourteen years, I’ve grown a delicious harvest of Florence Fennel bulbs by going against traditional gardening advice; instead of ending my sowings of Florence Fennel seeds by June or July, I’ve continued sowing seed throughout August and September.  Gardeners in Northern regions of the UK would be unlikely to succeed following my advice, but in my Surrey garden’s sandy soil these later sown seeds have produced a wonderful last hurrah of medium-sized sweet tasting Florence Fennel bulbs.

Alliums: Spectacular Summer Flowering Bulbs!

Last autumn, Dutch Grown sent me a range of their bulbs to try.  I planted all the bulbs Dutch Grown sent me in containers filled with peat-free composts from Dalefoot Composts, Melcourt SylvaGrow, and Happy Compost.  I’ve already published one update full of pictures of Dutch Grown’s colourful spring flowering bulbs; this update is dedicated to Dutch Grown’s Alliums…here are the results!

At this time of year, foxglove flowers pulsate with the relaxing, soothing sound of summer, as bees hum happily whilst they disappear in and out of the tubular flowers.

Foxgloves are superb plants for bees; they’re fantastic plants for gardeners, too!  These obliging plants are self-supporting and rarely need any assistance.  Water your seedlings in dry weather until they’ve settled in; once they’re established, foxgloves are fairly drought tolerant and slug resistant.

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Early Summer

Summer has finally arrived!  Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in summertime.  It’s so lovely to be able to share my wildlife pond with you through these updates; I am looking forward to taking you on a tour of the aquatic and herbaceous plants growing in this area of my garden. 

Colourful Spring & Summer Flowering Bulbs

If you’re in need of some early summer cheer, I’ve got a stack of photographs I’ve taken of vibrant and flamboyant flowers that I hope will brighten up your day!

Last autumn, Dutch Grown sent me some of their bulbs to trial.  I’m sharing my photographs I’ve taken of these flowers along with some info about each of the plants to help you, if you’re considering planting bulbs this autumn.

I remember heading out on a sunny day in May, some years ago now.  My new raised bed was completed, so I was heading over to my allotment, filled with excitement and armed with an open packet of Hesperis matronalis var. albiflora seeds.  Somewhat comically, I tripped up en route, throwing myself and the entire contents of my seed packet down onto my neighbour, Caroline’s allotment.

I spend a vast proportion of my time running Indoor Trials and Outdoor Trials.  When I’m working on Orchid Trials, I find it such a thrill to discover beautiful miniature orchids that look stunning visually, but are also easy to grow and flower.  I love to write about these plants to help you discover orchids that aren’t demanding or difficult to grow. 

Grow Phalaenopsis hybrids & enjoy an easier life, surrounded by flowers!

I hold two National Collections of orchids – a National Collection of Miniature Aerangis and Angraecum Species and a National Collection of Miniature Phalaenopsis Species.  I set up these collections to raise awareness of the dangers that these miniature orchid species (and other plants) are facing in the wild and to help conserve these fascinating plants.

April is a truly generous and forgiving time of year for gardeners.  This month provides us with numerous opportunities to grow an extensive range of exciting and exotic fruit and vegetables from seed.

Although there’s a wealth of seed choices on offer, not all of the unusual edibles we can grow are guaranteed to succeed in our variable climate and not every variety produces the best flavoured harvest. 

2021 Calendar of Specialist Plant Fairs, Festivals, Plant Sales, & Plant & Seed Swaps

Here’s my calendar featuring the dates and details of plant sales, plant festivals, and other super opportunities to buy wonderful, locally grown plants!  Great quality, rare, hard to find, unusual, choice plants and old favourites can all be found at the specialist plant fairs and other events that I have listed for you below.

2020 Compost Trial: Growing Dwarf French Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for peat-free composts – I want to encourage everyone to go peat-free!  However, I do understand that gardeners who use peat-based composts might be reluctant to switch to a peat-free compost, if they aren’t familiar with this type of growing media.  Trying a new compost can feel like a venture into the unknown; none of us want to start the gardening season off on the wrong foot, to be unnecessarily delayed, or to have our gardening compromised by using products that are not as good quality or effective as we might wish for. 

An Update on the Aerangis & Angraecum Orchids inside my Tall Orchidarium

I set up my Tall Orchidarium in November 2019.  I am absolutely thrilled with this custom built terrarium, which Matthew (from Custom Aquaria) built for me in autumn 2019.  I’m growing a large number of orchids inside my Tall Orchidarium, so I’ve divided up this update (which covers the period from November 2019 to March 2021) into three posts of slightly more manageable sizes. 

Sow these tomato seeds now to grow the tastiest tomatoes this summer!

Every year, I trial new plants and products in my quest to discover the top performing composts and the tastiest and most productive edible plants.

Last year, the Quadgrow Self Watering Planter performed exceptionally well in my Trials.  Growing tomatoes is easy with the Quadgrow; simply top up the Quadgrow’s 30l reservoir with Nutrigrow and water and the planter will automatically water and fertilise your plants for around two weeks. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Late Winter

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond.  In this post, you can see the pictures I’ve taken of my wildlife pond throughout autumn and winter 2020/21, right up to this weekend and the present day (hello future readers, this weekend was the 27th and 28th of February 2021).  Other than observing my aquatic plants as they’ve died back, my husband and I have not carried out any maintenance to our pond since my last update, but that’s all about to change!

Growing Microgreens & Edible Sprouting Seeds Indoors

One of the many joys of growing our own food is that this wonderful process allows us a marvellous opportunity to eat freshly harvested fruit, vegetables, and herbs, which usually have a dramatically improved flavour and freshness compared to the equivalent alternatives we can purchase in our local supermarket.  Usually, when we imagine growing our own produce, we think of a process that takes anywhere from between a number of months to a number of years to produce vegetables, fruit, or herbs. 

Tall Orchidarium equipment update

Welcome to the first update for my Tall Orchidarium!  I set up my Tall Orchidarium in November 2019.  This update reveals how the equipment inside my Tall Orchidarium has performed over the past 15 months (from November 2019 until February 2021).

If you would like to find out how the Angraecum and Aerangis species I’m growing inside my Tall Orchidarium grew from November 2019 to March 2021, please click here.

Finding the Best Composts to Grow Tomatoes

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for using peat-free composts.  Every year, I uncover the best quality peat-free composts on the market in my peat-free Compost Trials.  I ran this Compost Trial to help you find top quality composts that will enable your tomato plants to produce bumper harvests of tomatoes!