A favourite with garden designers, every year Angelica archangelica is one of the most admired and coveted plants at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in May.  This is the perfect time to sow Angelica archangelica seeds; don’t miss out on this opportunity to introduce this glamorous and statuesque plant to your garden or allotment!

There’s no need to mess around with pots or compost, as Angelica archangelica become rather resentful if their roots are disturbed; therefore, sowing seeds directly where you want your plants to grow is both the easiest and most successful option. 

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.

Many ornamental grasses hold onto their foliage overwinter; this provides a delightful structural softness, texture, and delicacy for our winter gardens.  Grasses will be producing new growth soon; therefore, this is the ideal moment to pop on some gardening gloves and use your fingers to comb through deciduous grasses, removing all the old stems ready for the arrival of fresh new growth.

Traditionally, parsnips are left growing in the ground over winter to allow time for the frosty winter weather to improve their flavour.  However, parsnips tend to develop canker and become less appetising as they reach old age.  To achieve the healthiest harvest, lift your parsnips now, before decay sets in and store your parsnips in the freezer until you are ready to use them. 

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. 

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.

Clematis are divided into three groups.  We assign each clematis to a group based upon the time of year the plant flowers, and when the growth that holds their flowers develops.  By evaluating our clematis and assigning our plants to a specific group, we can establish the optimum time to prune our clematis.

  • Group One Clematis produce their flowering stems in the summer before flowering and bloom early in the year (in autumn, winter, and springtime).
  • 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. 

    Winter provides us with a wonderful opportunity to plant trees.  What could be a better Christmas gift than planting a tree with your family?  I’m a particular fan of planting bare-root trees: trees that are grown in the ground (not containers) and then lifted, dispatched, and planted while they’re dormant.  Bare-root trees are grown in the soil, they’re naturally peat-free, require less watering at the nursery, and can be grown plastic-free – as there’s no need for containers. 

    The Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composter

    I’m such a fan of home composting; I want to encourage everyone to set up a compost bin!

    Last year, the designers of Aerobin sent me one of their Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composters to try out.  Over the past year, I’ve put the Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composter to the test.  I decided to trial this product because it’s designed to be placed on a paved or concrete area, and this together with the product’s compact size makes it perfect for small patio gardens. 

    The Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods

    I attended the ‘Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods’ conference, hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.  I fully support the Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods.  I am just one of the 3000 global experts and concerned citizens from 114 countries that signed this declaration which aims to promote the long-term protection and restoration of natural forest ecosystems worldwide. 

    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!

    Alliums: Spectacular Summer Flowering Bulbs!

    Last autumn, Dutch Grown sent me a range of their bulbs to try.  I planted all the bulbs Dutch Grown sent me in containers filled with peat-free composts from Dalefoot Composts, Melcourt SylvaGrow, and Happy Compost.  I’ve already published one update full of pictures of Dutch Grown’s colourful spring flowering bulbs; this update is dedicated to Dutch Grown’s Alliums…here are the results!

    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.

    Colourful Spring & Summer Flowering Bulbs

    If you’re in need of some early summer cheer, I’ve got a stack of photographs I’ve taken of vibrant and flamboyant flowers that I hope will brighten up your day!

    Last autumn, Dutch Grown sent me some of their bulbs to trial.  I’m sharing my photographs I’ve taken of these flowers along with some info about each of the plants to help you, if you’re considering planting bulbs this autumn.

    I remember heading out on a sunny day in May, some years ago now.  My new raised bed was completed, so I was heading over to my allotment, filled with excitement and armed with an open packet of Hesperis matronalis var. albiflora seeds.  Somewhat comically, I tripped up en route, throwing myself and the entire contents of my seed packet down onto my neighbour, Caroline’s allotment.

    April is a truly generous and forgiving time of year for gardeners.  This month provides us with numerous opportunities to grow an extensive range of exciting and exotic fruit and vegetables from seed.

    Although there’s a wealth of seed choices on offer, not all of the unusual edibles we can grow are guaranteed to succeed in our variable climate and not every variety produces the best flavoured harvest.