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. 

The Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count runs from the 20th July 2018, until the 12th August 2018.  During this time, Butterfly Conservation – a registered charity who work to protect British butterflies and moths, are asking members of the public to take 15 minutes out of their day, to take note of the butterfly and moth species they see around them.

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. 

I discovered Green & Blue Bee Bricks and Green & Blue Bee Blocks earlier this year.  I was so excited to find these specially designed, stand alone bee houses, that can be placed in your garden, or at your allotment, or used in construction as you would a regular brick, to provide homes for solitary bees in walls, houses, offices, sheds, conservatories, and greenhouses!

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!

Butterflies are again a special feature of the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017.  I love butterflies, so for me the Butterfly Dome is one of my favourite features of this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.  Visitors to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017, can enjoy a butterfly meadow, the puparium, and of course the Butterfly Dome.

Containers filled with your favourite coloured flowering plants can bring so much joy to you, and to the bees and butterflies in your garden.

Beautifully scented plants are always top of my list.   The dwarf, compact, lavender cultivars, known as Lavandula angustifolia, are such lovely options for containers in a sunny spot, where their calming, soothing fragrance can be welcomed and enjoyed by all.  

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.

There are so many fabulous varieties of Nigella available.  

Gardening for Butterflies: How you can attract and protect beautiful, beneficial insects
The Xerces Society
ISBN: 978-1-60469-598-4

Published by Timber Press

I live in the UK.  I very much enjoyed reading Gardening for Butterflies, I found it very interesting to read about the butterfly species that live in America, their preferred nectar and larval host plants, and the challenges that these butterflies are facing.  

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.  

This year Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count starts on the 15th July 2016, and runs until the 7th August 2016.  During this time, if you want to take part, you simply spend 15 minutes, in the sunshine, counting butterflies and day-flying moths.  You can choose to take your Big Butterfly Count in your garden, or a friend’s garden, or a garden open to the public, in a forest, at a park, in a field, meadow or nature reserve, or whilst you’re taking a walk.  

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.

The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey of butterflies that we can all take part in.  This year Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count starts on the 15th July 2016, and runs until the 7th August 2016.  During this time, if you want to take part, you simply spend 15 minutes, on a sunny day, counting butterflies and day-flying moths.  You can choose to take your Big Butterfly Count in your garden, or in the gardens of your school, college or university, in a forest, at a park, or nature reserve, or whilst you’re taking a walk.  

Whether you’ve got a garden, patio, balcony, or a windowsill, remembering to choose flowering plants that produce pollen and nectar that bees and other pollinating insects can access when you’re selecting new plants is a wonderful and worthwhile thing to do.

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.  

Today I took part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count!  I spent a very happy and relaxing 15 minutes counting different butterflies and day flying moths and recording them on the specially designed app, which is available without charge for Android and iOS.  Here are just a few of the butterflies I spotted.  If you’d like to take part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, you have plenty of time, it runs from 17th July 2015 through until 9th August 2015.  

I hate slug pellets, I would never use them, not even the organic kind, slug pellets are incredibly detrimental to wild life killing lovely hedgehogs (a natural predator of slugs and snails) in a horrid, drawn-out and painful way. If like me, you want to want to protect our wildlife and help preserve the natural balance of nature, there are many ways you can protect your precious plants from slugs and snails.