I adore my houseplants.  I relish the tranquil, serene, and yet simultaneously refreshing atmosphere that indoor plants bring to my home.  Not all houseplants are easy to grow.  Many plants need much higher humidity and light levels than we naturally have inside our homes.  I want to help you find houseplants that are true heroes, eager to grow in the same conditions we have indoors. 

At this time of year, as temperatures plummet and frosts highlight winter foliage with sparkles that glisten in the morning sunlight, gardeners are blessed with a seasonal window of opportunity to plant bare root plants.  Be sure to capitalise on this moment, as bare root plants are only available during the winter months  This is a chance to purchase top-quality plants, whilst making a substantial saving on usual retail prices.

Rather than traipsing around the shops and frittering the weekend away in seemingly endless queues to buy gifts this December, I’d like to encourage you to head out into the garden to propagate your favourite plants and share the joy of home-grown gifts this Christmas!

Mint is a fast-growing and spreading plant.  I always recommend growing mint in containers to prevent this plant’s naturally assertive growth from taking over your garden, patio, and any nearby countryside! 

November is a wonderful time to head outdoors in search of seed heads, pine cones, interesting stems and fallen branches to create stunning indoor decorations for Christmas.

Honesty (Lunaria annua) seed heads are called silicules.  As a whole they may appear a little drab, but gently flex Honesty seed capsules between your fingers and the outer casing will peel off and reveal the elegant beauty of Lunaria annua

Nurseries, garden centres, and online retailers are now displaying Thanksgiving Cacti on their shelves!  Thanksgiving Cacti are easy to grow houseplants.  One of the many endearing qualities about these plants is that we can enjoy Thanksgiving Cacti this season, but these long-lived plants can flourish for over one hundred years, allowing Thanksgiving Cacti to be celebrated and passed on to future generations. 

A favourite with garden designers, every year Angelica archangelica is one of the most admired and coveted plants at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in May.  This is the perfect time to sow Angelica archangelica seeds; don’t miss out on this opportunity to introduce this glamorous and statuesque plant to your garden or allotment!

There’s no need to mess around with pots or compost, as Angelica archangelica become rather resentful if their roots are disturbed; therefore, sowing seeds directly where you want your plants to grow is both the easiest and most successful option. 

Heritage Open Days 2023

I’m mindful that my recent article about Gertrude Jekyll may have inspired you to want to learn more about this inspirational gardener and horticulturist, so in this post I’m sharing information on an array of Gertrude Jekyll themed events, as well as gardens, vineyards, and interesting places you can visit during the Heritage Open Days.

Every September, the Heritage Open Days allow visitors to experience local history, culture, and architecture. 

Meadows epitomise the picturesque idyllic summer garden that so many of us dream of.  However, creating a successful meadow is often more of a challenging project than we anticipate.  Whether you’re creating a new meadow or fixing a failed meadow, August and September are the months that meadow gardeners must spring into action!

Preparation is the key to success.  It’s easy to rush soil preparations, giddy with the excitement of sowing seeds – this is where most people fail. 

My Final Big Butterfly Counts for Butterfly Conservation in 2023

I’m sad that Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count has finished for another year, but I am delighted that I managed to take two Big Butterfly Counts yesterday; the sun shone following a day of heavy rain and thunderstorms.  I am already looking forward to the Big Butterfly Count returning in 2024; however, before then I plan to spend as much time as possible outdoors with butterflies and moths!

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2023

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count runs from Friday the 14th July 2023 until Sunday 6th August 2023.  Taking a Butterfly Count is one of my absolute favourite things to do.  I’d really like to encourage you to join in and take your own Butterfly Count – they’re great fun!  A Butterfly Count only lasts for 15 minutes – this activity won’t take up much of your time – you could take a Butterfly Count in your tea break, whilst sitting having lunch, or when you’re out for a walk.   

Butterfly Conservation report that in the UK, long-term trends show that 80% of our butterfly species have decreased in abundance or distribution – or both – since the 1970s.  Do you see many butterflies and moths in your garden?  I hope to inspire everyone to help butterflies and moths.  Please don’t allow any pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides to be used on your garden, allotment, or indeed on any area in your locality, as these products obliterate our bees, butterflies, and moths.

Since we moved house we’ve been so busy with life, work, and fixing things.  Our heating broke the day after we moved in and temperatures inside our home plummeted for a week during a particularly cold snap this winter; this wiped out a lot of my orchids and houseplants.  Since then I’ve been busy trying to revive and propagate the plants that survived.

June is a magical time for gardeners.  All risk of frost has passed now, which gives us an exciting opportunity to grow a wide range of tasty vegetables from seed.  Unless you have a balcony or patio garden, there’s no need to bother with pots and compost.  Seize the moment and sow seeds directly in the ground where you want you want your plants to grow. 

June bestows blessings upon us – a final opportunity to grow incredibly productive and delicious vegetables this summer!  Savvy gardeners who sow cucumber and courgette seeds directly in the soil now avoid the hassle of washing up pots, the time needed to pot up seedlings, and the expense of buying compost.

All risk of frost has passed so you don’t need a greenhouse. 

I never purchase supermarket watermelons; I dislike their lack of flavour and irritating hard seeds.  However, after years of growing melons for Melon Trials, I hope I always spend spring and summertime growing watermelons!  The best watermelon I’ve grown so far is ‘Little Darling’.  I adore this watermelon’s sensationally sweet flavour and refreshingly crisp texture.  ‘Little Darling’ produces hardly any seeds, the few seeds that do materialise are soft and not noticeable. 

Grow Mint: Reinvigorate Your Life & Awaken Your Senses!

I adore mint and relish this herb’s energy.  Freshly harvested mint leaves can be used to make enticing cocktails, herbal teas, and an array of delicious savoury and dessert recipes.  Most people are familiar with peppermint or spearmint, but have you tried any other varieties?

A whole world of different flavoured mints is available to those who grow their own plants. 

Vegepod Gardening in the Shade

Whether you garden in sunshine or shade, there are plants that will be perfectly suited to growing in your garden – it’s just a case of finding them!  In 2019, my Vegepod was moved from a sunny spot, to a new enclosed, deeply shaded area of my garden.  I am not exaggerating when I say that in its new position my Vegepod truly was shaded – my Vegepod was sandwiched in a tight space, wedged between a tall conifer hedge, a two storey high wall, a tall fence, and an 8ft tall pergola that was smothered with climbing plants – the plants growing in my Vegepod did not receive any direct sunshine whatsoever.

In case you missed it, last week I posted my latest Compost Trial Report.  The top-performing composts in this trial were Heart of Eden All Purpose Natural Compost, Harmony Gardens Multipurpose Compost, and Bathgate Horticulture Peat-free Multi-Purpose Compost; these are all peat-free growing medias.  I’d urge everyone to use peat-free compost.  Peatlands are unique wetland nature reserves and habitats for rare plants and wildlife

2022 Compost Trial: Growing Dwarf French Beans

Going peat-free is a positive action that each of us can take to protect our peatlands, safeguard nature, and protect our planet.  When you are buying plants, before you make a purchase ask if the plants were raised in peat-free compost.  When buying compost, check the packaging to see whether the growing media contains any peat – look to buy growing media and composts that are 100% peat-free. 

I’ve Moved to a New Garden!

There have been so many unexpected changes in my life over the past four months.  I was so very grateful for my old cottage and garden, my lovely neighbours, and fantastic local community; I didn’t have any plans to move, but then a larger level garden was spotted and we wondered if we could try to stretch ourselves to make this our home.