I first grew Chinese Kale ‘Kai lan’ (also known as Gai lan or ‘Kailaan’) in about 2006; I was really impressed by this vegetable’s speedy growth and the bounteous harvest my plants produced.  ‘Kai lan’ leaves, flower buds, and stems are all edible, but it’s the stems that provide the main harvest.  Try it raw, stir-fried, steamed, or boiled; ‘Kai lan’ is a little like broccoli.   

I always look forward to seeing Medwyn and Gwenda Wiliams, they’re such lovely people.  So, it was wonderful to be with Medwyn and Gwenda, to celebrate their amazing 12th consecutive Gold Medal win, for their incredible display of vegetables, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019!

It’s quite an amazing feat to produce full size vegetables at the end of May, when many growers haven’t yet sown most of their seeds and don’t dare to plant their tomatoes or anything tender outside, for fear of frost! 

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.

One of the gardens that I was most excited to visit at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017, was the RHS Kitchen Garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society commissioned Garden Designer Juliet Sargeant to design this special Feature Garden, to demonstrate the many interesting methods that gardeners can use to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers.  The RHS Kitchen Garden has been designed to showcase the extensive variety of beautiful, edible plants that are available for us to grow and eat.  

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.  

Creating a retirement garden

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.

The Just Retirement: A Garden For Every Retiree was created for the 2015 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, where the Royal Horticultural Society awarded the garden a Silver-Gilt medal.

Just Retirement: A Garden For Every Retiree was designed by Tracy Foster 

The Garden was built by Conway Landscapes

It was sponsored by Just Retirement Ltd

If you admired the vibrant and colourful plants featured in the Just Retirement Garden, A Garden For Every Retiree, here’s the planting list for your perusal…..

Gardening on a Budget

Gardening can be as expensive an activity as you’d like.  Whatever your budget it’s important to spend your money wisely on items you’ll find useful, indispensable or wonderful!

Specialist Plant Fairs, Seed and Plant Swaps

Village Fetes, Open Gardens, Gardening Society Plant Sales, Seed and Plant Swaps are all great places to buy plants at fantastic prices. 

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.  

This is such an exuberant and joyous month with Roses, Clematis, Peonies and Philadelphus flowers blooming, the garden feels decadent and luxurious.  I hope you can enjoy time in your garden or at your allotment this month, there’s so much to do, see and enjoy!

If you are wishing you could brighten your garden with some containers, but you’re away a lot, or you find watering difficult, don’t despair you have plenty of options: Lavender, Pelargoniums and Verbena cope well without a regimented watering regime, and Sedums and Sempervivums look beautiful and don’t require any additional watering.  

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, positive, wonderful, 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…

The Chelsea chop, so called as it’s carried out around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show, is simply a term to describe cutting back herbaceous, perennial plants, reducing the plants’ height by to up to a half, before flowering.  

The abundance of flowers, fruit, and scent makes this time of year feel rather decadent.  Make time to savour the sights and sounds of summer, and enjoy 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.  

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 the following seeds under cover: Cosmos bipinnatus and Verbena bonariensis.

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 and runner beans outside.  

The abundance of flowers, fruit and scent in the garden makes this time of year feel rather decadent.  Take in the sights and sounds of summer, and enjoy the fruits of your labour in the garden, or at your allotment this month.

It’s important to prune figs now, to let in more light and allow for a better harvest of delicious figs next year.  

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.