At this time of year one of my favourite plants is Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’, an absolutely gorgeous shrub that gives me everything I dream of but don’t expect to find in the midst of winter – namely enchantingly pretty flowers with an exquisite fragrance.  This delightful shrub was raised by Hillier’s legendary plant breeder, Alan Postill and named for his wife, Jacqueline back in 1982.

Rather than traipsing around the shops and frittering the weekend away in seemingly endless queues to buy gifts this December, I’d like to encourage you to head out into the garden to propagate your favourite plants and share the joy of home-grown gifts this Christmas!

Mint is a fast-growing and spreading plant.  I always recommend growing mint in containers to prevent this plant’s naturally assertive growth from taking over your garden, patio, and any nearby countryside! 

The Rose of the Year 2023 is Rosa ‘Peach Melba®’ (KORmelpea)

Every year I wait in anticipation to discover the newest winner of The Rose of the Year Competition.  I adore growing roses and I particularly enjoy trialling plants and finding new, naturally healthy roses I can recommend.  In February 2023, Roses UK sent me a new bare root rose to trial – the winner of the Rose of the Year 2023 Competition – Rosa ‘Peach Melba®’ (KORmelpea)

June bestows blessings upon us – a final opportunity to grow incredibly productive and delicious vegetables this summer!  Savvy gardeners who sow cucumber and courgette seeds directly in the soil now avoid the hassle of washing up pots, the time needed to pot up seedlings, and the expense of buying compost.

All risk of frost has passed so you don’t need a greenhouse. 

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.

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.

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

2022 Compost Trial: Growing Dwarf French Beans

Going peat-free is a positive action that each of us can take to protect our peatlands, safeguard nature, and protect our planet.  When you are buying plants, before you make a purchase ask if the plants were raised in peat-free compost.  When buying compost, check the packaging to see whether the growing media contains any peat – look to buy growing media and composts that are 100% peat-free. 

Kick Start the Year by Growing Your Favourite Flavours: Sow these Red Chilli Pepper & Sweet Pepper Seeds Now!

Chilli pepper and sweet pepper plants grow slowly and can take longer than we expect to reach maturity and produce peppers.  January is my favourite time to sow chilli and sweet pepper seeds, as it gives the plants a longer growing season with extra time for fruit to develop and ripen, compared to the standard spring-sown plants. 

Rosa ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a Wonderful Rose!

Last year, Roses UK and Dickson Roses kindly sent me a ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ rose; I was particularly excited to receive this plant, as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was the winner of the Rose of the Year Competition 2022.  A year has passed since my plant arrived and I can now tell you just how wonderful this rose really is! 

New English Roses from David Austin Roses for Autumn 2022/2023

One of the things I look forward to most at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show is the opportunity to meet the new rose introductions face to face and discover their fragrances.  I was sorry to miss visiting the Chelsea this year.  David Austin Roses launched two brand-new roses at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022. 

June blesses us with the truly wonderful convenience of being able to sow seeds outside without any risk of frost culling seedlings or dashing our hopes.  Make the most of this wonderful moment: summer can feel endless, but speed is of the essence if you are to provide your courgettes, pumpkins, French beans, and runner bean plants with sufficient time to grow, mature, and produce a decent harvest.

Runner beans are miraculous vegetables that will comfortably fulfil any gardener’s lofty ambitions to grow stunning plants that look attractive, flower freely, and produce an abundant harvest of delicious beans within a small space!

I am a self-confessed runner bean fan.  For years, I’ve been running Runner Bean Trials searching for the best tasting and most productive runner bean varieties and the optimum growing methods to cultivate these vegetables. 

The Peat Free April Campaign starts today!

This #PeatFreeApril we need your help to find the country’s #PeatFreeHeroes – and tell the #PeatVillains we’re on to them.

Any time in April you visit your local garden centre or supermarket, look out for their compost.  Do they only sell peat-free compost?  Then they’re a peat-free hero! Take a picture of their peat-free compost. 

Yesterday afternoon when I logged onto Twitter, the first thing I saw was an open letter on the use of peat signed by some well-known professional horticulturists and illustrated with a picture of Peter Seabrook.  Earlier this year, I responded to some of the claims Peter Seabrook made about peat in Hort Week; today I’m responding to the claims made by the following professional horticulturists in an open letter, which was published by Garden Trade News.

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…..

Finding flowers indoors inside my Orchidarium & outside in my garden

I find if I’m feeling a little jaded, taking a tour of my orchids or popping outdoors to reacquaint myself with the plants and nature in my garden is an almost guaranteed way to lift my spirits and rejuvenate my soul.  If you’re feeling weary, I hope you can recharge your batteries by spending time with your houseplants, or relaxing outside in your garden, or perhaps escape to visit a park, garden, or enjoy a revitalising walk at a nature reserve nearby.

Planting bulbs is rather like giving yourself a wonderful promise of future flowers and happiness.  What could be lovelier?  If you want to enjoy spring flowers, such as daffodils and crocus, and early summer-flowering bulbs, like alliums, then it’s time to start planting bulbs!

When purchasing bulbs, wherever possible choose top-sized bulbs, as larger bulbs are more floriferous than smaller bulbs.