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! 

I was both excited and incredibly relieved when I heard that the National Trust had purchased Munstead Wood, the Surrey home and eleven-acre garden of the legendary horticulturist, designer, writer, artist, photographer, and craftswoman, Gertrude Jekyll.

Gertrude lived at Munstead Wood in Busbridge, Godalming, from the 1890s until her death in 1932.  Having met the renowned architect Edwin Lutyens early in his career, long before he achieved fame and was knighted, Gertrude invited Edwin to design her an Arts and Crafts house to complement the garden. 

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.

I enjoy running horticultural trials; I spend much of my time searching for the most gorgeous plants that will produce a profusion of flowers and attract bees and pollinating insects.  I love to share the most successful plants from my trials with you to help you find top quality plants to enhance your garden.  The plants I recommend in this column need to be grown in a bright and sunny location, in well-drained soil or containers filled with peat-free compost.

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. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Early Autumn

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in September!  Since my last update, we’ve gone from one extreme to the other – from drought – to a stormy week of thunder, lightening, and heavy rain; followed by more rain over the last two weeks.  My pond (and water butts and water tanks) are all full to the brim! 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in the Intense Heat of Summer & the Drought of 2022

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond during the heatwave and drought of 2022.  I’ve been anxiously watching the water level in my pond as it recedes.  I’ve invested in another water tank and I’ve been busy scouring the local area for any second-hand water butts and water tanks for sale. 

When midsummer passes us by, rhubarb production naturally slows down.  Unless you’re growing a late summer and autumn cropping rhubarb (like ‘Livingstone’), stop picking rhubarb now to allow your plants to build up their strength for next year’s harvests.  Rhubarb thrives in wet summers.  After heavy rain (or a thorough watering), spread a mulch of well-rotted manure or homemade garden compost over the soil around your plants.

Spring is such an uplifting time in the garden.  As the days lengthen and spring flowers come into bloom, the anticipation of the wealth of flowers we’ll admire in our countryside and gardens over the coming seasons provides me with an abundance of reasons to be thankful.  If your garden is looking a little lacklustre at the moment, don’t worry – there are some delightful spring-flowering perennial plants available at nurseries and garden centres, which will brighten up our gardens this spring and in the years that follow.

Garden Designer Jackie Currie and Plant Heritage won a Gold Medal for their ‘National Plant Collections Everywhere!’ exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021!  This stunning exhibit showcased plants from National Plant Collections grown inside living rooms, glasshouses, gardens, and allotments, across the UK.

One of the stars of the exhibit was the Salvia caymanensis, grown by John and Linsey Pink who hold a National Collection of Salvias. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Autumn

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in October.

I’ve been very fortunate – the wish I made for autumn sunshine (I expressed this hope at the end of my last update) came true!  September blessed us with glorious warm weather and uplifting sunshine; it was so hot on a couple of days that it felt like mid-summer!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (part three)

Welcome to the third part of my overview of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (see part one here and part two here)……

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (part two)

Welcome to part two of my overview of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (if you missed part one, please click here).  Let me take you on a tour of the gardens and exhibits I visited at this year’s very special autumn RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021…..

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

For one year only, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show 2021 has moved to September!  How has the change of date affected this event?  Moving from a late spring show to an early autumn spectacle has opened Chelsea’s door to allow new VIP (very important plant) access for late summer flowering perennials, berries, seed heads, dahlias, pumpkins, tomatoes, and vegetables!

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Late Summer

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond at the end of August.  I find peace and solace in nature and I love spending time by our wildlife pond.  Usually my visits are fleeting, lasting just a few minutes, but these short burst of connection with plants and wildlife revitalise and recharge me, instantly eliminating all the stresses of life. 

Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count 2021

This weekend brings us our final chances to take a Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2021.  This lovely annual event closes for the year on Sunday 8th August 2021.

A Butterfly Count lasts for 15 minutes, it’s fun, relaxing, and really couldn’t be easier to do!

Why count butterflies?

The information gathered from all the Butterfly Counts taken across the UK, will help Butterfly Conservation to identify the species of butterflies and day flying moths that are becoming more scarce and highlight which species are succeeding or recovering. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Midsummer

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in midsummer.  I’ve got so much to show you, as this area of my garden is currently full of plants at all stages of growth.  I can’t wait for you to see the flowers, but what you can’t see is the scent.  I’ve only grown a few plants with perfumed flowers in this area, but they produce strongly scented flowers that fill this part of my garden with fragrance. 

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2021!

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count runs from Friday the 16th July 2021 until Sunday 8th August 2021.  I’d really like to encourage you to join in and take your own Butterfly Count – this is such a lovely thing to do.  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 lunch break. 

Grasses form a fundamental part of many gardens.  The seed heads of ornamental grasses take on a magical quality as they shine in September’s golden sunlight.  September is a superb time to plant ornamental grasses, like: Deschampsia, Festuca, Heliotrichon, and Stipa.

Has your garden been hosting family sports tournaments this summer?  If your grass is worn through in places, it’s the perfect time to fill in those bare patches. 

RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Decade

Today the Royal Horticultural Society launched a competition inviting the public to vote to decide the winner of the prestigious accolade of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Decade.  The nominated plants are all winners of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year Competition.  Here are the nominees……

Anemone ‘Wild Swan’

Back in 2010, Anemone ‘Wild Swan’ ‘Macane001’ was the winner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year Competition.