I am sorry to say that 2018 was a terrible year for many of the daffodils grown in the UK.  The daffodils that were grown for my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial experienced snow at the end of March, at a time when many of my trialled daffodil cultivars were grown, some of my daffodils stood poised and ready, just thinking about blossoming and coming into flower. 

If you’re setting up a terrarium, vivarium, or bottle garden, and you’re looking for miniature orchids to add to your indoor garden, you may find that it is not always easy to tell which orchids are truly miniature and which aren’t.

Many orchids that are sold as miniatures are miniature sized when they are young, but as they grow and develop, many of these plants will soon outgrow a traditionally sized terrarium or bottle garden. 

A great many daffodil cultivars are listed as being scented, but daffodil flowers’ fragrances vary greatly, with some daffodil fragrances being more powerful than others, and some scents being more desirable and more pleasing.

Through my Daffodil Trials I have encountered a number of daffodils, which were listed as being fragrant, but when I grew the bulbs myself, I was disappointed to find that I was unable to detect any scent from their flowers however close I got to their blooms, and however many times I examined them. 

Daffodil: The remarkable story of the world’s most popular spring flower
Author: Noel Kingsbury
Photographer: Jo Whitworth
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-318-8

Daffodils are one of the most recognisable, most popular, and most widely revered flowers.  If you love daffodils and want to hear their story, then may I suggest a lovely book, Daffodil, which was written by Noel Kingsbury, and is illustrated with beautiful pictures taken by photographer, Jo Whitworth.

Plant Heritage are a plant conservation charity, based in Guildford, that encourage horticulturists, botanists, and gardeners to grow, propagate, share, and conserve a wide range of plants to protect and safeguard the variety of plants we have available to grow and enjoy.  This year, Plant Heritage are celebrating their 40th anniversary, so to mark the occasion they asked garden designer Jackie Currie to create an exhibit for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018, to publicise the value of Plant Heritage’s work.

A catch up with Phalaenopsis micholitzii, Aerangis biloba, Angraecum distichum, and Humata repens!

In November 2017, I conducted a large scale reorganisation of my orchids, moving plants from one terrarium into another.  My intention, and the end result of all of this disruption, was to group my orchid plants more interestingly: placing plants from different orchid species that originate from the same genus together wherever possible. 

Wildlife friendly ways to kill slugs and snails

I don’t like slug pellets.  Slug pellets have had a disastrous effect on the wild food chain – as well as killing slugs and snails, slug pellets harm hedgehogs, song thrushes, and other creatures.  Slug pellets kill these dear animals in the most cruel, drawn out, and painful manner.  Nothing could induce me to use slug pellets in my garden, allotment, or anywhere for that matter – however large the slug or snail population had become, and however many of my precious plants had been eaten. 

I love to visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, for me this is the most prestigious and exciting event of the horticultural calendar!  I enjoy seeing Chelsea’s show gardens of every size and style, I am always interested to discover the latest gardening products, and I really look forward to finding new favourite plants, whilst being reminded of old favourites.  I so enjoy visiting Chelsea’s Grand Pavilion, which is filled with over one hundred exhibits created by expert growers, from nurseries that seem to specialise in growing almost every kind of plant.

New David Austin Roses!

At this time of year, I love to see the new rose buds developing on my favourite roses, as they burst into life and produce the first flowers of the year.  At the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I am always filled with excitement as I meet the new introductions from David Austin Roses for the first time! 

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. 

I am a sentimental old soul, I treasure so many things that most folk would not think twice of throwing away.  I also keep things, just in case they become useful one day.  Yes, you could describe me as a hoarder!

I love our planet.  I love fields, meadows, glades, forests, hills, marshlands, bogs, mountains, streams, rivers, and oceans.  I love to see wildflowers growing in the wild. 

Why Use Peat Free Compost?

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which cover just 2-3% of the planet’s surface.  These scarce ecosystems are also very fragile, they are dependent on sufficient moisture levels being available, and they require a slightly cooler temperature range to allow the necessary sphagnum moss, which slowly forms peat, to grow, flourish, and reproduce.  Peat bogs can increase at a rate of one millimetre per year if the desired conditions are present. 

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.

Why Peat Free Compost?

There are many wild, beautiful, and fascinating areas of our planet that are diminishing due to human destruction.  These precious natural areas require our protection urgently, before it’s too late and they are destroyed or lost altogether.  There are relatively small areas of rainforests, peat bogs and peatlands remaining on our planet, yet these areas are continuing to be destroyed by humans. 

I have found that peat free composts can vary enormously: from bags of compost filled with bark chips, which could be used as a mulch, but can’t be used as intended – as a compost to grow container plants or seedlings, right through to the other extreme – the finest quality composts, which are capable of producing prize and award winning plants, and of course, every compost in between these two polar opposites! 

Since I published my December 2017 Orchidarium Update, a number of readers have had questions about how I gather my data, with many asking why do I collect data, and what equipment do I use?  So, here’s an article that I have written especially for you, which I hope will answer all of your questions.

Data is really exciting! 

It’s easy in life to make assumptions, but assumptions are rarely accurate. 

Now that the Christmas decorations have been taken down, if you find yourself wondering how to add a renewed freshness to your home, if you dream of an energising, yet relaxing sanctuary, then you might wish to consider growing some new houseplants and bringing some living greenery to your home.

It’s best to work with the conditions that your home can provide. 

Gifts for Gardeners

I treasure the joy I experience when I find the perfect gift for a special person.  I hope to share this joy with you, by sharing the best products that I have tried and tested this year, to help you find superb presents for your loved ones this Christmas.

Gardening Society Membership

There are many great local gardening societies who meet regularly across Surrey.   

For the last few years I have used Deep Rootrainers to grow the sweet pea plants for my Sweet Pea Trials.  I had been happy with the results that I had achieved using Deep Rootrainers from Haxnicks, but last year I decided to trial Deep Rootrainers against Maxi Rootrainers, which are also available from Haxnicks, to discover if using a larger sized, deeper Rootrainer would be beneficial for my sweet pea plants.

The Chinese Kitchen Garden: growing techniques and family recipes from a classic cuisine
By Wendy Kiang-Spray
Published by Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-677-6

If you’re making a list and checking it twice…..of all the interesting and exciting vegetables and crops that you hope to grow next year, then you might be interested to read The Chinese Kitchen Garden, a charming book, written by Wendy Kiang-Spray.