Kew Orchid Festival

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are currently hosting their 23rd annual Orchid Festival.  You’ll find an array of colourful orchids, inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew, until Sunday 11th March 2018, when the Orchid Festival closes for another year.  I hope that you can make it to Kew to see this impressive orchid spectacle during the next couple of weeks! 

If you’re looking to plant up containers to bring an immediate dose of cheer to your garden, varieties of pansies and violas, purchased in flower from your local nursery, in your favourite colours, will brighten your garden.  With regular deadheading they, will flower from now until summer arrives.

If you’re looking ahead to the summer and you’re keen on bedding plants, this is a great time to sow seeds of Lobelia, Antirrhinums, and Pelargoniums, in the warmth indoors.

Here are the dates and details of some of the 2018 Daffodil Shows and Competitions that will be held this year:

Royal Horticultural Society Daffodil Competitions and Shows

RHS Garden Rosemoor
Rosemoor Daffodil Competition will be held on Saturday 10th March 2018 and Sunday 11th March 2018.  On Saturday, the Rosemoor Daffodil Competition will open at 11.30am after judging has finished.  

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. 

Now that the Christmas decorations have been taken down, if you find yourself wondering how to add a renewed freshness to your home, if you dream of an energising, yet relaxing sanctuary, then you might wish to consider growing some new houseplants and bringing some living greenery to your home.

It’s best to work with the conditions that your home can provide. 

For the last few years I have used Deep Rootrainers to grow the sweet pea plants for my Sweet Pea Trials.  I had been happy with the results that I had achieved using Deep Rootrainers from Haxnicks, but last year I decided to trial Deep Rootrainers against Maxi Rootrainers, which are also available from Haxnicks, to discover if using a larger sized, deeper Rootrainer would be beneficial for my sweet pea plants.

I used to have a large glasshouse.  I felt so fortunate to be able to enjoy the use of my glasshouse, every day I appreciated the exciting range of crops I could grow inside, and the extended growing season and bountiful harvest that my glasshouse helped to provide me with.  I was so grateful, excited, and so inspired by the vast array of glorious fruit and vegetables that I grew inside the glasshouse. 

As autumn turns to winter, days shorten and the prospect of warming ourselves by the fire may be more enticing than being outdoors, take time to warm your heart with thoughts of elegantly perfumed roses.  This is the perfect opportunity to order roses as bare root plants to plant during the winter time, while the plants are dormant, to deliver charming, beautiful rose blooms and delectable fragrance to your garden or allotment next summer.

Inside the Floral Marquee at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017, I met Jackie Currie, a passionate Allium expert and Garden Designer from Surrey.  The RHS judges presented Jackie with a Silver-Gilt Medal, for her first ever exhibit at Hampton Court, which featured a selection of Alliums, from Jackie Currie’s National Collection of Alliums.

Beth: Congratulations on your beautiful Allium exhibit and your success here at Hampton Court Jackie!

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.  

Jonathan Hogarth of Hogarth Hostas holds a National Collection of Small and Miniature Hostas.  In 2016 Jonathan exhibited his Hosta collection at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where the RHS judges presented him with a Silver-Gilt Medal, and at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, where Jonathan was presented with a Gold Medal and the Best Plant Heritage Exhibit by the RHS judges.

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.  

Inside The Festival of Roses Marquee at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017

Each summer I look forward to being enveloped by the delightful summery warmth of the tea-rose perfume that fills the air inside The Festival of Roses Marquee, at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.  Whatever the weather at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, I look forward to the wondrous feeling of being encompassed by the combined scent of hundreds of roses inside the Festival of Roses Marquee.  

Craig House Cacti is an award winning cacti and succulent nursery, run by Stan Griffin and Vicki Newman.  This endearing couple are almost as famous for their cacti themed clothing, as they are for the top quality, award winning cacti and succulent plants that they grow, show, and exhibit.  Craig House Cacti sell a variety of different cacti and succulent seeds online.

Containers filled with your favourite coloured flowering plants can bring so much joy to you, and to the bees and butterflies in your garden.

Beautifully scented plants are always top of my list.   The dwarf, compact, lavender cultivars, known as Lavandula angustifolia, are such lovely options for containers in a sunny spot, where their calming, soothing fragrance can be welcomed and enjoyed by all.  

I am an advocate for buying British grown plants, which have been raised and grown in our great British weather!  I enjoy purchasing plants from independent, specialist nurseries, where I appreciate finding exquisite plants, which are perfectly adapted to our climate.

Daisy Roots Nursery has been created and nurtured over the past fifteen years, by Hertfordshire Nurserywoman, Annie Godfrey.  I was thrilled to meet up with Annie Godfrey at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where I congratulated Annie on her Gold Medal, which was presented to her by the RHS judges, for a magnificent display of drought tolerant perennials and grasses, which were all grown by Annie Godfrey, at Daisy Roots Nursery in Hertfordshire.