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Sow seeds of something different this spring!

April is the month for seed sowing.  We can sow hardy annuals and half-hardy annuals now, as well as the seeds of fruit and vegetables, but perhaps you’d like to grow something different?  Mistletoe berries are ripe now, so it’s the perfect time to gather berries and raise your own mistletoe plants!

Mistletoe (Viscum album)

Mistletoe doesn’t grow in the soil; it grows up in the branches of trees. 

Sow pea seeds now to enjoy decorative flowers and the sweet taste of delicious peas, pods, leaves and tendrils in late spring and summertime!

Homegrown peas are a taste sensation!  Peas are decorative plants that produce handsome flowers and tasty edible leaves, tendrils, pods, and peas.  You’ll need a bright and sunny area to grow these delicious vegetables (peas won’t grow in the shade). 

I adore my houseplants.  I relish the tranquil, serene, and yet simultaneously refreshing atmosphere that indoor plants bring to my home.  Not all houseplants are easy to grow.  Many plants need much higher humidity and light levels than we naturally have inside our homes.  I want to help you find houseplants that are true heroes, eager to grow in the same conditions we have indoors. 

In my last pond update, I showed you the shape of our wildlife pond after it was dug out and explained my thinking behind the design for the contours of my new wildlife pond.  With the pond now all ready to set up, the next phase of our wildlife pond project is to prepare and install the equipment needed to make it all work!

Designing our new wildlife pond

Back in June I shared the first stage of my project to build a wildlife pond in our new garden.  We hoped to have our pond up and running this summer, but due to the cost of buying the liner, plants, and other equipment, plus the sheer monumental task of shifting so much concrete and the need to repeatedly dig up reappearing bamboo suckers, it has taken us longer to get everything in place. 

Meadows epitomise the picturesque idyllic summer garden that so many of us dream of.  However, creating a successful meadow is often more of a challenging project than we anticipate.  Whether you’re creating a new meadow or fixing a failed meadow, August and September are the months that meadow gardeners must spring into action!

Preparation is the key to success.  It’s easy to rush soil preparations, giddy with the excitement of sowing seeds – this is where most people fail. 

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.

I never purchase supermarket watermelons; I dislike their lack of flavour and irritating hard seeds.  However, after years of growing melons for Melon Trials, I hope I always spend spring and summertime growing watermelons!  The best watermelon I’ve grown so far is ‘Little Darling’.  I adore this watermelon’s sensationally sweet flavour and refreshingly crisp texture.  ‘Little Darling’ produces hardly any seeds, the few seeds that do materialise are soft and not noticeable. 

Grow Mint: Reinvigorate Your Life & Awaken Your Senses!

I adore mint and relish this herb’s energy.  Freshly harvested mint leaves can be used to make enticing cocktails, herbal teas, and an array of delicious savoury and dessert recipes.  Most people are familiar with peppermint or spearmint, but have you tried any other varieties?

A whole world of different flavoured mints is available to those who grow their own plants. 

Vegepod Gardening in the Shade

Whether you garden in sunshine or shade, there are plants that will be perfectly suited to growing in your garden – it’s just a case of finding them!  In 2019, my Vegepod was moved from a sunny spot, to a new enclosed, deeply shaded area of my garden.  I am not exaggerating when I say that in its new position my Vegepod truly was shaded – my Vegepod was sandwiched in a tight space, wedged between a tall conifer hedge, a two storey high wall, a tall fence, and an 8ft tall pergola that was smothered with climbing plants – the plants growing in my Vegepod did not receive any direct sunshine whatsoever.

Over the past ten years, we’ve experienced an increasing number of droughts in spring and summertime.  Applying a mulch now, while the ground is still moist from the autumn and winter rains will protect and enhance your soil, adding nutrients that will support soil microorganisims and feed your plants.  Mulching will suppress weeds, and help the soil retain moisture.  Early spring is the perfect time to apply an organic mulch of homemade garden compost, Strulch®, woodchip, well-rotted manure, or peat-free compost

Celebrating Self-Watering Containers: Making Growing Edibles Easier for All & Saving Water too!

Spring and summer weather often leaves plants and gardeners wilting during punishing droughts and intense heatwaves.  Raising plants in containers requires far more water than growing plants in the ground.  If you’ve got a penchant for container gardening, I’d like to introduce you to self-watering containers: literal lifesavers for plants and gardeners! 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Springtime

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in springtime.  Over the past few weeks, our weather has been so very summery; my Marsh Marigold flowers have simply sparkled in the sunshine!  I’m having an amazing time by my wildlife pond.  I’ve got some really exciting news to share with you about the wildlife I’ve seen by my pond; I’ve even got a homemade video for you – so you can share in the excitement, but first of all, let me tell you about the water in my pond and show you how my aquatic plants have developed since my last update

Water Levels

I took this picture not long after my last pond update

Sunflowers bring such positive energy and welcome cheer to our gardens!  If you want to brighten up your garden with pollinator-friendly flowers in summertime, April is the ideal time to sow sunflower seeds.  There’s no need for any special equipment; sunflowers are hardy annuals that can be sown outdoors now.  Seeds can be started off in containers of peat-free compost and planted out after they have developed their first true leaves. 

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. 

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.

New Miniature Orchid Flowers

I’ve taken pictures of a few of my miniature orchids to show you the plants that I’ve been focusing my attention on this week.  Currently, my main preoccupation has been to be poised and ready to pollinate my Aerangis macrocentra plants, in the hope that the last remaining flower of my first plant to bloom survived long enough for my second plant’s first flower to open. 

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. 

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. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Early Summer

Summer has finally arrived!  Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in summertime.  It’s so lovely to be able to share my wildlife pond with you through these updates; I am looking forward to taking you on a tour of the aquatic and herbaceous plants growing in this area of my garden.