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I relish the opportunities that each season offers us.  January provides the chance to pause and rest, take stock of our plants and introduce new plants to delight us over the years ahead!

This is the perfect time to plant trees, hedging plants, roses, and soft fruit: plants that are lifted during the dormant season and sold bare root; the plants’ roots are coated in wax or wrapped, to prevent desiccation. 

I always look forward to seeing Jonathan Hogarth and his beautiful displays of miniature Hostas at the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows, so it was especially nice to have a chance to have a proper catch up with Jonathan this week; Jonathan has given me special permission to share his very best, tried and tested, Hosta growing tips with you!

Vegepod Raised Garden Beds

I love growing vegetables, it’s a truly wonderful, soul enriching experience to grow your own food!  Sadly an increasing number of us are without the luxury of a garden or allotment and have nowhere to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit, or flowers; while a great many others struggle to garden in small, often paved spaces, without any access to the soil.

For me, deliciously scented flowers are a delightfully uplifting feature of the garden.  A beautiful moment spent enjoying garden flowers and their fragrances is utter bliss!  Time spent with delectably fragrant flowers eases life’s worries and stresses, brings joy to our day and makes everything feel better.  I have a particular fondness for scented daffodils or Narcissus.  Narcissus is the botanical name for this genus, while daffodil is the common name we use, but both names refer to the same group of plants.

A great many daffodil cultivars are listed as being scented, but daffodil flowers’ fragrances vary greatly, with some daffodil fragrances being more powerful than others, and some scents being more desirable and more pleasing.

Through my Daffodil Trials I have encountered a number of daffodils, which were listed as being fragrant, but when I grew the bulbs myself, I was disappointed to find that I was unable to detect any scent from their flowers however close I got to their blooms, and however many times I examined them. 

Wildlife friendly ways to kill slugs and snails

I don’t like slug pellets.  Slug pellets have had a disastrous effect on the wild food chain – as well as killing slugs and snails, slug pellets harm hedgehogs, song thrushes, and other creatures.  Slug pellets kill these dear animals in the most cruel, drawn out, and painful manner.  Nothing could induce me to use slug pellets in my garden, allotment, or anywhere for that matter – however large the slug or snail population had become, and however many of my precious plants had been eaten. 

I love to visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, for me this is the most prestigious and exciting event of the horticultural calendar!  I enjoy seeing Chelsea’s show gardens of every size and style, I am always interested to discover the latest gardening products, and I really look forward to finding new favourite plants, whilst being reminded of old favourites.  I so enjoy visiting Chelsea’s Grand Pavilion, which is filled with over one hundred exhibits created by expert growers, from nurseries that seem to specialise in growing almost every kind of plant.

Through my work I have become very well acquainted with so many fascinating plants, but I have also enjoyed getting to know some interesting people, many of whom I have met at the different gardens I have visited.  I hold a deep affection for the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, I am a great fan and supporter of Kew’s work in conservation and plant science, and I love to visit the beautiful glasshouses and gardens at Kew; Kew’s plant collections amaze and delight me! 

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

The highlight of the horticultural calendar, The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show is the world’s most prestigious flower show!  Over the past three weeks, award winning garden designers from all over the world, together with their teams, made up of some of the best landscape architects, project managers, builders, technicians, horticulturalists, artists and crafts people, have been working solidly to transform the Royal Hospital’s grounds at Chelsea into an oasis of gardening ideas and inspiration!

I love to visit the Grand Pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show!  This vast arena, which extends to almost three acres in size, is filled with super exhibits created by around one hundred specialist nurseries during the week of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  It’s such a joy to visit!  If you’re looking for some new plants, and you don’t have a particular variety or species in mind, visiting specialist nurseries, or enjoying a day out at a specialist plant fair, or a flower show, such as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show or the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, can help to connect you with your new favourite plant or plants!

Daisy Roots is a small, independent nursery, run by Anne Godfrey in Hertfordshire.  Anne Godfrey specialises in growing drought tolerant, hardy perennials and ornamental grasses, which Anne propagates herself from seeds and cuttings, at her nursery in Hertford.  All of the plants sold by Daisy Roots are hardy, healthy, and drought resistant.

Last year, I celebrated Daisy Roots Gold Medal win at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, where I loved the beautiful irises, Verbascums, Anthemis, Aquilegias, and ornamental grasses that made up the nursery’s Gold Medal winning display! 

I have been waiting for this moment for some time now!  I spoke to David Neale in 2015 about his ambition and aspiration to design and build a show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, so I was really excited when David told me that he would be building a show garden for the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show!  I have now visited David at the Chelsea Flower Show, I am so happy to tell you, that the Silent Pool Gin Garden was awarded a Silver-Gilt Medal by the RHS judges at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018! 

New David Austin Roses!

At this time of year, I love to see the new rose buds developing on my favourite roses, as they burst into life and produce the first flowers of the year.  At the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I am always filled with excitement as I meet the new introductions from David Austin Roses for the first time! 

I interviewed Surrey based Garden Designer David Neale, of NealeRichards Garden Design, for the November 2015 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.  During this interview David Neale spoke about his hopes for the future, and his ambition to design and build a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  I caught up with David earlier this year, when I was thrilled to discover that David’s dreams have come true! 

I interviewed Surrey based Garden Designer David Neale, of NealeRichards Garden Design, for the November 2015 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.  During this interview David Neale spoke about his hopes for the future, and his ambition to design and build a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  I am thrilled to discover that David’s dreams have now come true!

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. 

Why Use Peat Free Compost?

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which cover just 2-3% of the planet’s surface.  These scarce ecosystems are also very fragile, they are dependent on sufficient moisture levels being available, and they require a slightly cooler temperature range to allow the necessary sphagnum moss, which slowly forms peat, to grow, flourish, and reproduce.  Peat bogs can increase at a rate of one millimetre per year if the desired conditions are present. 

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.

Why Peat Free Compost?

There are many wild, beautiful, and fascinating areas of our planet that are diminishing due to human destruction.  These precious natural areas require our protection urgently, before it’s too late and they are destroyed or lost altogether.  There are relatively small areas of rainforests, peat bogs and peatlands remaining on our planet, yet these areas are continuing to be destroyed by humans. 

I have found that peat free composts can vary enormously: from bags of compost filled with bark chips, which could be used as a mulch, but can’t be used as intended – as a compost to grow container plants or seedlings, right through to the other extreme – the finest quality composts, which are capable of producing prize and award winning plants, and of course, every compost in between these two polar opposites!