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Happy Thanksgiving!  If you’re celebrating today, I wish you a joyful and uplifting day of celebration.  Today, I’m celebrating my Thanksgiving cacti, which are keeping perfect time and flowering for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving cacti (also known by their botanical name, Schlumbergera) are easy to care for, long-lived houseplants that thrive in shaded and semi-shaded conditions.  Unlike traditional cacti, which grow in bright and sunny, dry and arid conditions; Thanksgiving cacti flourish in a humid environment, away from bright sunshine.

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Autumn

Hello.  Welcome to my garden and an autumnal tour of my wildlife pond!  My pond doesn’t appear as beautiful in autumn as it does in late spring and summertime.  None of my aquatic plants are in flower today, so you could be forgiven for believing that as most of the plants are dying back and there aren’t any flowers around, that there’s not much life here now. 

The Quadgrow Self Watering Planter

Earlier this year, Greenhouse Sensation sent me a Quadgrow Self Watering Planter to try.  If you’ve not seen a Quadgrow before, it’s a plastic container growing system (made from recycled plastic) that uses capillary action to provide plants with automatic watering.  This clever design alters the way we irrigate plants.  Instead of watering plants in the traditional sense (watering plants from above with a watering can), with the Quadgrow we deliver the water and nutrients right where they’re needed – at the plants’ roots. 

October offers us many opportunities in the garden.  The soil is still warm, so it’s a great time for planting or moving plants that aren’t yet in their ideal position.  It’s worth taking time out to consider how your garden works for you.  Did you sustain any losses over the dry spring and summer?  Has this opened up any new planting opportunities?

What to do with your tomatoes in September

As autumn’s whisper reverberates through our landscape, many plants are now fading, as they respond to the changing season and become rapidly aged by the ever lengthening nights’ embrace.  This is a season of salvage, protection, and celebration; it’s time to bring tender plants inside our homes, conservatories, and glasshouses, and to gather in our harvest.

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. 

Summer’s golden sunshine warms our gardens and gladdens our hearts, it’s sublime!  Make time to sow seeds now to enjoy stunning flowers next spring and delicious vegetables over the coming months.

Cornflowers (also known by their botanical name, Centaurea cyanus) attract a wide range of bees and butterflies; these rosette shaped blooms make great cut flowers, too. If you’re not a fan of the traditional blue cornflower, take your pick from the white, pink, cerise, lilac, purple, and (almost) black flowered forms available.

New Plants for Free

Would you like some free plants?  If you’ve got a gloriously healthy evergreen shrub or a magnificent tree growing in your garden, then why not take semi-ripe cuttings to increase your stock and share the joy of these beautiful plants with your neighbours, friends, and family?

Ivy (also known by its botanical name of Hedera)

Many plants can be propagated using semi-ripe cuttings, including ivy (Hedera). 

I first grew Chinese Kale ‘Kai lan’ (also known as Gai lan or ‘Kailaan’) in about 2006; I was really impressed by this vegetable’s speedy growth and the bounteous harvest my plants produced.  ‘Kai lan’ leaves, flower buds, and stems are all edible, but it’s the stems that provide the main harvest.  Try it raw, stir-fried, steamed, or boiled; ‘Kai lan’ is a little like broccoli.   

In times of stress, our gardens and allotments become our refuge and remind us of the true value of plants and outside spaces.  For me, time in my garden is priceless; it lifts my spirits, leaving me feeling revitalised.  One of my favourite things to do is to grow my own food.

You don’t need a large garden to grow your own vegetables. 

Growing tomatoes is so much fun!  Tomato plants will grow happily in a sunny border or in large containers of peat-free compost.

There are two types of tomatoes – cordon and bush tomatoes.  Cordon (also known as indeterminate) tomatoes can form tall plants, reaching 2m or more!  Don’t worry – you can ‘stop’ your plants from growing any taller by simply pinching out the tip of your plant’s stem, when your plants have reached your desired height.

Brilliant plants for bees and butterflies!

The furry bees, colourful butterflies, mysterious moths, darting hoverflies, and other pollinating insects that visit my garden are just as fascinating as the plants I grow.  The sound of bees buzzing and the sight of butterflies fluttering relaxes and inspires me.  I want to help you find the best pollen and nectar-rich plants to attract insects and bring your garden to life!

Making Meadows

Meadows present a natural, seemingly effortless beauty, with an undeniable allure.  For the most part, meadow guardians save much of the energy that gardeners spend repeatedly mowing and maintaining traditional lawns.  Nevertheless, meadows are not an easy option; creating a meadow requires endeavour, careful planning, and time, to ensure success.

Perennial meadow plants

Our native British, perennial meadow plants flourish in poor soils, where they grow contentedly alongside sedately-growing, fine-leaved grasses. 

Peatlands and peat bogs: precious environments that urgently need our protection

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which now cover just 2-3% of our planet’s surface.  Home to a fascinating range of native plants and wildlife, peatlands form unique ecosystems that support incredible flora and fauna.  Many of the plants, insects, birds, and wildlife that have evolved in these boggy, acidic areas can’t survive anywhere else.

Every year I run Compost Trials to discover the best quality peat-free composts on the market.  Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing composts in all of my Trials, over the past seven years.

One of my favourite products is Dalefoot’s Double Strength Wool Compost, a nutrient rich, organic compost, comprised of natural materials, including bracken and Herdwick sheep’s wool. 

November Gardening Tips & Ideas

November is an exciting month, full of opportunities in the garden.  Take time out to enjoy the fleetingly beautiful glory of the moment, as leaves of burnished gold and crimson light up the landscape.  At this time of year, it’s important to plan ahead and to plant trees and bee friendly flowers, for future generations to enjoy.

Giving thanks for my Thanksgiving Cactus

Four or five years ago, two of my favourite people in the whole world gave me this lovely Thanksgiving Cactus.  I love this plant because I associate it with two people that I love very much but also because this cactus is a fun, easy going, and reliable houseplant that flourishes inside my home, in less than bright conditions.

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Autumn leaves

Autumn is such a magical season.  Each year, I’m utterly enchanted by autumn; I watch in delight, as the leaves on trees and shrubs turn from green to gold, burnished amber, and a stunning array of fiery autumnal hues.  Autumn leaves twirl and dance, as they make their descent, gliding and tumbling through the air, whispering softly as they flutter, before gently landing on the ground below. 

Growing Garlic, Wild Garlic, and Elephant Garlic

Home grown garlic is one of life’s joys.  The best garlic is planted in autumn.  So, if you’re thinking of growing your own garlic, don’t delay, this is the time to plant it!

Garlic Growing Conditions

Over the years I’ve grown a lot of garlic.  The best garlic I’ve grown was planted in a free draining, sandy soil, in early autumn. 

Jackie Currie and her National Collection of Allium Species and Cultivars

Garden designer Jackie Currie, runs Euphorbia Design with her business partner, Lorraine Cooke.  Together they design and revitalise gardens in the Surrey area.  Jackie enjoys growing many plants, but her real passion is for Alliums.  She’s utterly devoted to this genus of plants, so much so, that Jackie’s garden and allotments are packed full and beautifully planted with thousands of Alliums.