2022 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener and a passionate advocate for peat-free gardening.  I want to help you be a successful gardener, so every year I run independent Compost Trials and share the results on my website.

I’ve included organic and vegan, peat-free composts in this Compost Trial.  All of the composts in this Compost Trial are 100% peat-free.

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. 

This month I am celebrating some of our succulent, soft fruit superstars: plums, damsons, and greengages!  This closely related group of fruits require less pruning than apples and pears and offer a contrasting range of flavours: from deliciously sharp and tart damsons, sweet-tasting plums, and syrupy, honey-flavoured gages.  Greengages, damsons, and plums all have different flavours, but tastes also vary from one named variety to another. 

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.

Rosa ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a Wonderful Rose!

Last year, Roses UK and Dickson Roses kindly sent me a ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ rose; I was particularly excited to receive this plant, as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was the winner of the Rose of the Year Competition 2022.  A year has passed since my plant arrived and I can now tell you just how wonderful this rose really is! 

June blesses us with the truly wonderful convenience of being able to sow seeds outside without any risk of frost culling seedlings or dashing our hopes.  Make the most of this wonderful moment: summer can feel endless, but speed is of the essence if you are to provide your courgettes, pumpkins, French beans, and runner bean plants with sufficient time to grow, mature, and produce a decent harvest.

Runner beans are miraculous vegetables that will comfortably fulfil any gardener’s lofty ambitions to grow stunning plants that look attractive, flower freely, and produce an abundant harvest of delicious beans within a small space!

I am a self-confessed runner bean fan.  For years, I’ve been running Runner Bean Trials searching for the best tasting and most productive runner bean varieties and the optimum growing methods to cultivate these vegetables. 

Divine Rose Gardens to Visit & Fabulous Rose Events to Attend this Summer!

When we think of summertime we often think of roses.  I adore roses.  I love growing roses and visiting rose gardens.  Here are some lovely gardens where you can celebrate and immerse yourself in the rose’s beauty and fragrance.

How to use this calendar:

The events are grouped by geographical area, use the filter hierarchy to select events near you – e.g.,

The Most Sustainable Compost is Homemade – Sharing Over 20 Tips for Successful Composting!

To celebrate Compost Week, I’m sharing tips to help you make top-quality compost in your garden, allotment, or neighbourhood.

Why Compost?

Making a compost heap or setting up a compost bin is such a positive thing to do.  Even if you don’t really care about getting fabulous (free) compost delivered straight to your garden, or you’re not interested in improving your garden soil, if you compost your grass cuttings, prunings,  and vegetable peelings, you’ll save yourself time and energy, and spare yourself the need to make trips to the tip to get rid of your garden or kitchen waste at weekends. 

Urgent Action is needed to protect our peatlands

We urgently need our leaders to take responsibility and introduce laws and treaties that will protect our environment.  There is so much to be done that could help our planet and not enough action being taken.  Many of the messages and promises that were shared at COP26 are statements that have been shared many times before but are yet to be acted upon. 

One very good thing to come out of the pandemic has been the rise in online talks and events.  We’ve realised that we don’t have to get in our cars and drive to meetings, we can enjoy listening to speakers, learning about plants, and connecting with groups, charities, and organisations, from the comfort of our own homes.  Together we can discover more about plants and make real connections online, whilst saving money on transport and avoiding all the associated environmental costs. 

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. 

Rosa ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – Winner of the Rose of the Year 2022!

I absolutely adore roses, their flowers can be everything I want in a bloom; roses can be sumptuous, glamorous, and luxurious, yet also relaxing and comforting.  I find the scents of my favourite roses feel uplifting and reviving.  Every year, I look forward with great anticipation to meeting the winner of the Rose of the Year Competition.

For the past fourteen years, I’ve grown a delicious harvest of Florence Fennel bulbs by going against traditional gardening advice; instead of ending my sowings of Florence Fennel seeds by June or July, I’ve continued sowing seed throughout August and September.  Gardeners in Northern regions of the UK would be unlikely to succeed following my advice, but in my Surrey garden’s sandy soil these later sown seeds have produced a wonderful last hurrah of medium-sized sweet tasting Florence Fennel bulbs.

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. 

Colourful Vegetables

Swiss Chard is one of the most strikingly beautiful garden plants. Its vibrant colourings and exquisite beauty earn Swiss Chard a deserving place in decorative gardens, as well as in kitchen gardens and potagers.  These magnificent vegetables produce fantastically colourful, edible stems which are best sautéed or steamed.  Swiss Chard’s lush green leaves can be eaten in a similar way to spinach or used as a vegetable wrap.

At this time of year, foxglove flowers pulsate with the relaxing, soothing sound of summer, as bees hum happily whilst they disappear in and out of the tubular flowers.

Foxgloves are superb plants for bees; they’re fantastic plants for gardeners, too!  These obliging plants are self-supporting and rarely need any assistance.  Water your seedlings in dry weather until they’ve settled in; once they’re established, foxgloves are fairly drought tolerant and slug resistant.