Grow your own figs and grapes

Holidaymakers buying plants or collecting plant material as holiday souvenirs often bring home more than they bargained for and unwittingly transport pests, diseases, or invasive species into the UK; causing lasting, and sometimes irreversible, problems for themselves and UK horticulture as a whole.

Instead, make your holiday excitement last all summer, every year, with UK grown plants that will flourish inside your conservatory or glasshouse, at your garden or allotment. 

Brilliant plants for bees and butterflies!

The furry bees, colourful butterflies, mysterious moths, darting hoverflies, and other pollinating insects that visit my garden are just as fascinating as the plants I grow.  The sound of bees buzzing and the sight of butterflies fluttering relaxes and inspires me.  I want to help you find the best pollen and nectar-rich plants to attract insects and bring your garden to life!

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. 

Every year I run Compost Trials to discover the best quality peat-free composts on the market.  Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing composts in all of my Trials, over the past seven years.

One of my favourite products is Dalefoot’s Double Strength Wool Compost, a nutrient rich, organic compost, comprised of natural materials, including bracken and Herdwick sheep’s wool. 

If you’re looking for ways to make a positive difference to the environment, why not build a pond?  Ponds support a vast range of wildlife, from the bottom to the top of the food chain.  Insects, invertebrates, amphibians, and birds, all need ponds.  These ecologically important habitats give us the chance to see dazzling dragonflies and get closer to nature.  Ponds grant us exciting opportunities to grow waterlilies and aquatic plants! 

Creating a Wildlife Pond

I’ve always had a great interest in ponds, to me, the underwater world is fascinating.  I’ve been interested in aquatic plants since I was a young child.  I can still remember the feeling, as my heart leapt and did a little somersault when I discovered a clump of Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) for the very first time, whilst I was out for a walk with my Grandparents; I was utterly captivated by the beauty of this large clump of Caltha palustris

November Gardening Tips & Ideas

November is an exciting month, full of opportunities in the garden.  Take time out to enjoy the fleetingly beautiful glory of the moment, as leaves of burnished gold and crimson light up the landscape.  At this time of year, it’s important to plan ahead and to plant trees and bee friendly flowers, for future generations to enjoy.

Garden Twine Trial

Twine is an essential product for gardeners.  This small, but vital product helps us to support, tie in, and train our plants.  Garden twine assists us as we hang up bunches of herbs, garlic, and onions, for storing and drying.  Twine enables us to mark out rows, and carry out all manner of garden tasks.  Whether you enjoy growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, or cut flowers, if you’re fond of tending herbaceous borders, or you enjoy taking part in any other form of gardening activity; twine is a universally useful product!

Autumn leaves

Autumn is such a magical season.  Each year, I’m utterly enchanted by autumn; I watch in delight, as the leaves on trees and shrubs turn from green to gold, burnished amber, and a stunning array of fiery autumnal hues.  Autumn leaves twirl and dance, as they make their descent, gliding and tumbling through the air, whispering softly as they flutter, before gently landing on the ground below. 

Growing Garlic, Wild Garlic, and Elephant Garlic

Home grown garlic is one of life’s joys.  The best garlic is planted in autumn.  So, if you’re thinking of growing your own garlic, don’t delay, this is the time to plant it!

Garlic Growing Conditions

Over the years I’ve grown a lot of garlic.  The best garlic I’ve grown was planted in a free draining, sandy soil, in early autumn. 

Jackie Currie and her National Collection of Allium Species and Cultivars

Garden designer Jackie Currie, runs Euphorbia Design with her business partner, Lorraine Cooke.  Together they design and revitalise gardens in the Surrey area.  Jackie enjoys growing many plants, but her real passion is for Alliums.  She’s utterly devoted to this genus of plants, so much so, that Jackie’s garden and allotments are packed full and beautifully planted with thousands of Alliums. 

More Ideas for Sustainable Living

It’s frightening to think of all of the destruction and hurt that we have inflicted on our beautiful Planet Earth.  This is our shared catastrophe; we must act now to repair the damage we have caused our environment.  We all need to work together to tackle climate change, to heal the environmental damage we’ve inflamed, and make a positive difference to soothe and heal the planet.

Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count 2019

Time seems to pass so quickly in the summertime.  I have written this post, simply to remind you, that you have just a few days left to take a Butterfly Count, for the Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count 2019.

Taking a Butterfly Count is one of my favourite summer activities.  Butterfly counts are free and they’re great fun to do, too! 

It’s so wonderful to see how plants and gardens can bring people together.  Garden designer, David Neale designed and built the Silent Pool Gin Garden, for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019.  This urban garden celebrates the transformative power of plants, demonstrating how even a small, awkwardly shaped garden, in the centre of town, can be an oasis of calm; a place where city dwellers can relax and unwind. 

Green & Blue Bee Brick and Bee Block

A couple of years ago, back in the late summer and early autumn of 2017, I discovered an award winning Cornish company, called Green & Blue.  I was keen to try two of this company’s products, namely their Green & Blue Bee Bricks and their Green & Blue Bee Blocks.  These products have been designed to provide nesting sites for red mason bees, leaf cutter bees, and other species of solitary bee. 

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. 

Garden Designer, Andrew Duff, sculptor David Harber, and Estate Agents Savills have worked together to produce a Show Garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019.  This garden was created with a shared desire to demonstrate how to add useful and effective, natural beauty to improve urban areas by creating sustainable woodland gardens.  The Savills and David Harber Garden comes complete with all the features that we look for in a beautiful garden, including: a pond, specimen trees, plants, and sculpture.

More ways to use less plastic in the garden

Over the past few years, we’ve all become more aware of the dangers of our over use of plastic and the damage that this material can do to us, our environment, and to creatures of all shapes and sizes who live in the rivers, oceans, and in the landscape around us.  For the most part, the horticultural sector has taken their time to address the horticultural industry’s use of plastic. 

Sweetly scented summer flowering shrubs

I relish plants that produce fragrant flowers.  Philadelphus aren’t the most memorable group of plants for ten or eleven months of the year, but while they’re in flower, these shrubs perfume the garden with their intoxicating and deliciously sweet scent.

Philadelphus

Philadelphus aren’t fussy plants, they’re fully hardy and flower reliably every year.  Plant in full sun or partial shade, in any well drained soil. 

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!