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.

I’ve admired the work of Master Florist Henck Röling for a number of years now.  Henck Röling is a Master Florist and Artist, he works for some of London’s top florists, Henck creates weekly flower arrangements for the Ritz, Southerby’s, and Fortnum and Mason, to name but a few.  As well as at top London hotels and restaurants, you may have seen some of Henck’s work at Kew Gardens’ Orchid Festivals, where Henck has created an absolutely fabulous series of floral installations over the past eight years.

Kew Orchid Festival 2018 Thailand!

From Saturday the 10th February 2018, until Sunday the 11th March 2018, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are hosting their 23rd Orchid Festival.  If you’re looking for a wonderful day out, you’re sure to find it here, at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew!

This inspiring plant extravaganza has been designed to celebrate Thailand’s vibrant plants and culture.  

Mothering Sunday, also known as Mother’s Day, will be held on Sunday 11th March 2018, in the UK.  If you’re looking for a special family day out, you might be interested in discovering more about the following gardens and attractions, which are offering free entry to Mothers, or other special offers on Mother’s Day 2018.  Some of these Mother’s Day offers differ, so I’ve listed the details of each event for Mother’s Day 2018 offer separately for every venue. 

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018

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 2018 – spending a restful, restorative hour watching and counting birds.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a marvellous activity to share.  You could snuggle up by the fire and count the birds that you see from your window, or you could wrap up warmly to count birds in the park, at your allotment, or why not join a birdwatch at your school or college, or during your lunch break at your place of work.  

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. 

To visit my 2019 Calendar of Specialist Plant Fairs, Festivals, Sales, and Swaps, please click here.

Happy new year!  Happy new plants – what a great idea!  Here are the details of many local plant sales, fetes, festivals, sales, swaps, and other super opportunities to buy wonderful, locally grown plants at fantastic prices, or even to swap plants or seeds for free!  

I love growing sweet peas!  I hope to inspire and encourage you to grow your own sweet pea plants, so that you can experience these wonderful plants for yourself.

Sweet peas, also known by their botanical name of Lathyrus odoratus, are beautifully fragrant, hardy annuals.  Throughout my ongoing Sweet Pea Trials, I work to provide my readers with a wealth of information to help you to learn how to grow the healthiest, most floriferous sweet pea plants, that will produce the earliest flowers, with the tallest flowering stems over the longest flowering period!

I am particularly fond of scented daffodils; last year I conducted a Scented Daffodil Trial, to showcase beautiful and enchanting daffodil cultivars, which produce exquisitely fragrant, long lasting flowers.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing the finest performing daffodil cultivars from my 2017 Scented Daffodil Trial with you, and as September is a great month to plant daffodil bulbs, this column offered me the perfect opportunity.

Fragrant daffodils deliver an uplifting joy and bring an unadulterated cheer into the spring garden; these scented daffodils can brighten your view and gladden your heart.  Many daffodil cultivars are listed as being scented, but some daffodil cultivars are more perfumed and more pleasing than others.

In 2016, I decided to run a Scented Daffodil Trial, to showcase the most beautifully scented, long flowering daffodils.  

The Heritage Open Days are four very special days of the year, where you can experience local history, culture, and architecture, and visit special places which are normally closed to the public, as well as enjoying free entry to places that charge an admission fee.

The 2017 Heritage Open Days will be held from Thursday 7th September 2017 to  Sunday 10th September 2017.  

Specialist Plant Nurseries

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show features an array of award winning specialist nurseries, this is a fabulous place to buy plants!  Whether you’re looking for South African plants, hardy plants, drought tolerant plants, indoor plants, air plants, orchids, ferns, ivy, clematis, herbaceous perennials,  bulbous plants, or succulents, you’re sure to find your favourite at this special show!

One of the gardens that I was most excited to visit at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017, was the RHS Kitchen Garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society commissioned Garden Designer Juliet Sargeant to design this special Feature Garden, to demonstrate the many interesting methods that gardeners can use to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers.  The RHS Kitchen Garden has been designed to showcase the extensive variety of beautiful, edible plants that are available for us to grow and eat.  

The Chris Evans Taste Garden is one of five Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens created for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Radio 2.  The Chris Evans Taste Garden has been designed by Jon Wheatley.  Jon has taken inspiration from Mary Berry, in his design for an edible garden, which reflects the most delicious edible plants grown in gardens and allotments across the UK.

If you’re planning a special family day out to celebrate Father’s Day 2017, I hope this list of garden events and activities will help you to enjoy a wonderful weekend with your family and friends.

Gardens and Parks to visit on Father’s Day 2017

The Big Sheep, Abbotsham, Bideford, Devon, EX39 5AP, are offering free entry to all Fathers who are accompanied by a full price, paying child, on Father’s Day, Sunday 18th June 2017, for all the details, please click here.

Cut flower seeds to sow in April

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favourite cut flowers; these beautiful, easy to grow flowers, don’t require any cosseting.  You can sow these flowers from seed this month, directly where they are to flower, so there’s no messing about with potting seedlings on, and no need for a greenhouse or any special kit or equipment.

Disabled Access Day began in 2015.  The idea behind this event was to create a special day to celebrate the attractions, gardens, and other days and evenings out, that offer great accessibility for disabled visitors.

The attractions participating in Disabled Access Day 2017, could feature carefully and considerately thought out and planned, level access for disabled visitors, over smooth, wide paths, that are easy to access for visitors, whether they are using a wheelchair or walking on foot, making the garden or attraction a pleasure to visit for disabled visitors who find walking difficult.