I am sorry to say that 2018 was a terrible year for many of the daffodils grown in the UK.  The daffodils that were grown for my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial experienced snow at the end of March, at a time when many of my trialled daffodil cultivars were grown, some of my daffodils stood poised and ready, just thinking about blossoming and coming into flower. 

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. 

Remembering loved ones

When you’ve lost someone you love, it’s natural to want to arrange a fitting memorial and to plan a meaningful tribute in their memory.  Memorials of any kind are such a personal choice, but I want to help you by sharing some information and ideas of ways that you could leave a lasting legacy, one that will beautifully celebrate the life of someone close to your heart, whilst being kind to the environment. 

I love our planet, I love plants and nature.  I want to protect our environment.  I want to live more sustainably.  Sustainability is not a new desire for me, it is something that I have always aspired to.  Firstly though I must tell you that I am far from perfect, I make mistakes and I am always learning.  I want to improve, I want to make changes to live more sustainably and to live ethically. 

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018

If you’re in need of some time out, a delightful and quite simply enchanting activity that you can take part in this weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018 – spending a restful, restorative hour watching and counting birds.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a marvellous activity to share.  You could snuggle up by the fire and count the birds that you see from your window, or you could wrap up warmly to count birds in the park, at your allotment, or why not join a birdwatch at your school or college, or during your lunch break at your place of work.  

I love growing sweet peas!  I hope to inspire and encourage you to grow your own sweet pea plants, so that you can experience these wonderful plants for yourself.

Sweet peas, also known by their botanical name of Lathyrus odoratus, are beautifully fragrant, hardy annuals.  Throughout my ongoing Sweet Pea Trials, I work to provide my readers with a wealth of information to help you to learn how to grow the healthiest, most floriferous sweet pea plants, that will produce the earliest flowers, with the tallest flowering stems over the longest flowering period!

If you’re looking for some time out, a lovely and relaxing activity that you can take part in this weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 – simply spending a restful, restorative hour watching and counting birds.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a delightful activity to share.  You could snuggle up by the fire and count the birds you see from your window, or wrap up warmly to count birds in the park, or at your allotment.  

Life can be busy and stressful, it’s not always easy to make time to stop, relax, and appreciate the beauty of nature.  If you’re looking for some time out, a lovely and relaxing activity that you can take part in this month is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 – spending a restful hour watching and counting birds.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a delightful activity to share.  

I received this beautiful holly as a gift from a group of very special friends this autumn.  This Ilex ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ specimen was purchased from Squire’s Garden Centre in Milford, Surrey, where it was described as an ‘Instant Impact’ plant.  This standard holly cost £99.99, the plant is guaranteed by Squire’s for three years from the date of purchase.  

Though I didn’t find 2016 to be a particularly successful year for growing Sweet Peas – the plants grown for my 2016 Sweet Pea Trial didn’t produce as many flowers as I had hoped, my love of Sweet Peas has not diminished in strength.  I love Sweet Peas.  I highly recommend that you experience growing these magnificent annual flowers.

The Sweet Peas I have grown for the 2016 Sweet Pea Trial, are also known by their botanical name of Lathyrus odoratus.  

Cleve West designed The M&G Garden for The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.  The RHS judges awarded The M&G Garden a Gold Medal, and Swatton Landscape, who built The M&G Garden, were presented with The Best Construction Award.  This is a new award, the only one of its kind, which was presented for the first time this year, to recognise the importance, and the skill, of the contractors who work at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and to recognise the impact of their work in the finish of each of the Show Gardens.  

I love Sweet Peas.  Every year I look forward to being charmed by the Sweet Pea’s beautiful flowers and romanced by their heavenly fragrance.  Sweet Peas are certainly an annual that I recommend you try growing.  Sweet Peas, which are also known by their botanical name of Lathyrus odoratus, are very versatile, here in the UK, you can sow their seeds from September right through until April.  

In the garden I am always thinking ahead, whether I’m ordering seed for future sowings, designing a new feature, planning a long-term trial or just thinking about which new plants to grow next year; it’s always wise to plan for the future so that you can fulfil all your gardening dreams.  At this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the Just Retirement Garden: A garden for every retiree, designed by Tracy Foster, demonstrated how planning ahead for your retirement and encompassing accessible, interesting, creative and useful features within your garden design can bring enjoyment, as well as creating the space to enjoy hobbies, entertain friends and make the most of the joy of gardening in retirement.

I enjoy the quiet romance of February in the garden.  Here are some jobs you can be getting on with this month:

To enjoy the best flowering display from your Wisteria you need to prune it; you’ll enjoy more flowers of better quality, and it will look tidier.  At this time of year the structure of the plant is clear of foliage, so it’s easy to see where to prune. 

I love this time of year!  I look forward to seeing the beautiful, diamond like sparkle of the first frosts glistening in the morning sunlight.  There are lots of lovely things you can do now, both indoors and out, to ensure that your garden is in tip-top condition, with lots of wonderful new plants that you can look forward to growing next year!  

This time of year is so exciting, with Christmas coming and lots of celebrations on the horizon!  Make the most of any bright, sunny days, wrap up warmly and get out in the garden!

Mycorrhizal fungi are a UK species of fungi that occur naturally in the soil.  Mycorrhizal fungi have a special growing relationship with some plants, they effectively work together to create a stronger, wider reaching root system for the plant; helping the plant to withstand drought and stress.  

Although it’s still jolly chilly outside, the daylight hours are lengthening each day, which means there’s more time to be outside enjoying the garden!

There are so many beautiful plants and flowers to be enjoyed at this time of year, many of them scented to attract pollinating insects.  As there aren’t as many insects around in winter, the scent plants produce is often incredibly powerful as well as sweet.  

The garden is fascinating at this time of year.  I love the wonderful sound of the birds singing, and I just relish the scents of honeysuckle, roses and other flowers; even the scent of the grass is so relaxing.

If you get time to put your feet up it’s the ideal time to pre-order bulbs, corms, and tubers from specialist nurseries to plant this autumn.  

The abundance of flowers, fruit and scent makes this time of year feel rather decadent.  Make time to enjoy the sights and sounds of summer, as well as enjoying the fruits of your labour in the garden this month.

Prune Wisteria.  After flowering cut back the long whippy green shoots – the current year’s growth – to five or six leaf joints.