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.

Summer’s golden sunshine warms our gardens and gladdens our hearts, it’s sublime!  Make time to sow seeds now to enjoy stunning flowers next spring and delicious vegetables over the coming months.

Cornflowers (also known by their botanical name, Centaurea cyanus) attract a wide range of bees and butterflies; these rosette shaped blooms make great cut flowers, too. If you’re not a fan of the traditional blue cornflower, take your pick from the white, pink, cerise, lilac, purple, and (almost) black flowered forms available.

Making Meadows

Meadows present a natural, seemingly effortless beauty, with an undeniable allure.  For the most part, meadow guardians save much of the energy that gardeners spend repeatedly mowing and maintaining traditional lawns.  Nevertheless, meadows are not an easy option; creating a meadow requires endeavour, careful planning, and time, to ensure success.

Perennial meadow plants

Our native British, perennial meadow plants flourish in poor soils, where they grow contentedly alongside sedately-growing, fine-leaved grasses. 

Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count 2019

Butterfly Conservation are a registered charity, who work to protect British butterflies and moths.  Over the next few weeks, Butterfly Conservation are hoping that members of the public will take 15 minutes out of their day, to take note of the butterfly and moth species they see around them.  The charity hope that Butterfly Count participants will send them the details of their observations, as Butterfly Conservation use this valuable data to help them gauge the numbers of UK butterflies. 

Lovely gardening jobs to do from April to mid-May

Sowing seeds is a wonderfully cost-effective way to garden.  Many hardy annual plants can be grown from seed this month, providing us with a quick and easy way to fill our gardens with beautiful flowers, in a wide range of colours and forms.

Many annual plants provide a valuable source of nectar, pollen, and food for insects.  

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. 

Cut flower seeds to sow in April

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favourite cut flowers; these beautiful, easy to grow flowers, don’t require any cosseting.  You can sow these flowers from seed this month, directly where they are to flower, so there’s no messing about with potting seedlings on, and no need for a greenhouse or any special kit or equipment.

The Butterfly Dome at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016

The Butterfly Dome is a wonderful feature, which has been specially designed and created for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016.  I loved visiting the Butterfly Dome.  I hope you will enjoy seeing the butterflies, if you’re visiting the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year.

Earlier this year I tried out the Espresso Mushroom Company’s Kitchen Garden Mushroom Growing kits, I was so impressed with both of the mushroom kits I tried.  The more I have found out about the Espresso Mushroom Company, the more I have liked them, I am always delighted to see companies using recycled materials and thinking ethically, principles I fully support.

I love the excitement of the garden at this time of year, with colourful, cheery spring flowers emerging and the promise of so much more to come.  This is such an invigorating and inspiring time, with so much to see and do in the garden!

Prune Figs. The latex that figs readily emit when you prune is an irritant, so it’s advisable to wear gloves whilst pruning or tending to your plants, and then wash your hands thoroughly once you’ve finished.  

This is such an exciting time of year, with so many beautiful colours in the garden to enjoy, and hopefully a bounteous harvest to look forward to!  There are lots of lovely things that you can do now to make the most of your garden this month, and to ensure that your garden will look better than ever next year!

It’s time to move tender plants under cover.  

This is such an exciting time of year, with so many beautiful colours in the garden to enjoy and Harvest Festival to look forward to!  There are lots of lovely ideas of things that you can do to make the most of your garden now, and to ensure that your garden will look better than ever, next year!

If your fences are looking rather tatty or wobbly, have you considered planting a hedge?  

I just love this time of year when everywhere is developing a beautiful shade of green!  Every year it’s like a revelation as hedgerows, trees, lawns, everywhere, turn the most beautiful shade of fresh, new green.  There are many jobs you can do now to keep your garden or allotment looking beautiful, here are some ideas to get you started:

It’s the ideal time to sow French beans and runner beans outside.  

The end of summer is often a magical time, bathed in golden light and sunshine.  There’s certainly a lots of lovely things you could do in the garden, or at your allotment during the month ahead!

Vine weevils are a real pain, especially if you’ve got lots of container grown plants.  The adult vine weevils damage plant leaves, leaving a notch-shaped, irregular edge to the leaves, resulting in a rather ragged looking, tatty plant.  

With April sunshine and showers, let’s hope we see lots of rainbows this month!

Sowing seeds is a wonderfully cost-effective way of gardening, and a quick and easy way to provide a valuable source of nectar, pollen, and food for insects.  If you would like to grow more plants beneficial to bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects, then now is a good time to sow Cosmos bipinnatus and Verbena bonariensis seeds under cover.