April is such a magical time of year!  It’s quite simply awe inspiring to see the landscape being painted by mother nature in every beautiful shade of green, as more leaves unfurl and the view becomes ever greener each day.  I love to be outside, surrounded by the birds singing and bees buzzing.  On warm days you may see butterflies flying: look out for the green toned Brimstone butterfly this month. 

I just love growing sweet peas!   I love to be enveloped by the sweet pea flower’s powerful and sensuous scent, while I’m encompassed by the flower’s beauty and charm.  Eternal bliss!  Everyone should have at least a few moments of pause and reflection, to recharge with their favourite sweet pea blooms each and every summer.

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.

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. 

Gifts for Gardeners

I treasure the joy I experience when I find the perfect gift for a special person.  I hope to share this joy with you, by sharing the best products that I have tried and tested this year, to help you find superb presents for your loved ones this Christmas.

Gardening Society Membership

There are many great local gardening societies who meet regularly across Surrey.   

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.

The Chinese Kitchen Garden: growing techniques and family recipes from a classic cuisine
By Wendy Kiang-Spray
Published by Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-677-6

If you’re making a list and checking it twice…..of all the interesting and exciting vegetables and crops that you hope to grow next year, then you might be interested to read The Chinese Kitchen Garden, a charming book, written by Wendy Kiang-Spray.

The Book of Orchids: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World.
By Professor Mark Chase, Dr Maarten Christenhusz, and Tom Mirenda
ISBN: 978-1-78240-403-3
Published by The Ivy Press

Comprised of six hundred and fifty-six pages and weighing in at 2.3kg, The Book of Orchids is a substantial book that’s jam packed full of interesting information about orchids!

The English Roses
By David Austin
Published by Conran Octopus
ISBN: 978-1-84091-751-2

This is the third edition of this book, The English Roses by David Austin, to be published, having been updated to include some of the new rose introductions that David Austin Roses have made since the first edition of this book was printed in 2005.

David Austin begins The English Roses by introducing the reader to the history of the rose and rose growing, focussing on the history, breeding, and development of the English Roses, acquainting the reader with some of the roses David used in part to breed the English Roses – the Gallicas, Damasks, and the Albas.  

Hedera The Complete Guide
by Hugh McAllister and Rosalyn Marshall
Published by the Royal Horticultural Society
ISBN: 978-1-90705-773-1

Could there be a more wonderful Christmas gift than a book about ivy?

Ivy is such a valuable garden plant, evergreen, hardy, and native to the UK, whatever your garden’s style, ivy can enhance it.  Hedera The Complete Guide, really is just that, a complete and wonderful guide to this fascinating plant genus. 

I discovered Green & Blue Bee Bricks and Green & Blue Bee Blocks earlier this year.  I was so excited to find these specially designed, stand alone bee houses, that can be placed in your garden, or at your allotment, or used in construction as you would a regular brick, to provide homes for solitary bees in walls, houses, offices, sheds, conservatories, and greenhouses!

No Dig Organic Home & Garden:
Grow, Cook, Use & Store Your Harvest
By Charles Dowding & Stephanie Hafferty
Published by Permanent Publications
ISBN: 978-1-85623-301-9

I have included the No Dig Organic Home & Garden book by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty in my recommended 2017 Gifts for Gardeners article, as this is simply a great gardening book, which clearly explains the principles of the organic ‘no dig’ method of gardening.

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.

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.

The M&G Garden was designed by James Basson and built by Crocus.  The M&G Garden was awarded a Gold Medal, the Best Construction Award, and Best in Show, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017.  I caught up with James Basson at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, to find out more about this special, award winning garden.

Beth: Are the plants going back to Malta afterwards?

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.  

The weather in May can take us by surprise – we might be basking in the heat of the sun, or we are equally as likely to be jolted, shocked, and stopped in our tracks, as we turn to grab our coats to protect us during periods of rather bleak, chilly weather.  It’s the same for our plants – they won’t enjoy a check in their growth if inclement weather strikes, so take care to protect any tender plants in your care this month.