Peatlands are a unique type of wetland.  These ancient, wet, and boggy areas of our countryside bestow many blessings and privileges on us, yet peatlands are the unsung heroes of our landscape.  So many of us are unaware of the priceless ways that peatlands enrich our lives and protect us.

Peatlands benefit us by:

• Peatlands filter water to help provide us with good quality, clean drinking water.

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. 

Take the Pledge to be Peat-Free and Proud!

For decades, we’ve heard hundreds of empty promises to protect and restore our peatlands, but the sad fact is that our peatlands are still in danger and these precious areas are still being damaged today.  Humans have been relentlessly draining these rare habitats and ripping out the life and soul – the mosses, plants, life, and peat – from our peatlands for an unthinkable amount of time. 

Urgent Action is needed to protect our peatlands

We urgently need our leaders to take responsibility and introduce laws and treaties that will protect our environment.  There is so much to be done that could help our planet and not enough action being taken.  Many of the messages and promises that were shared at COP26 are statements that have been shared many times before but are yet to be acted upon. 

Over the past couple of weeks, the pair of Aerangis macrocentra plants inside my Tall Orchidarium have been busy developing seed pods, which is very exciting!  These two orchids flowered one after the other; there was only a single day when both plants had a flower in bloom at the same time.  Thankfully, I managed to cross-pollinate at least two of these plants’ flowers, but the other seed pods you see here in my pictures were self-pollinated, either by the insects inside my terrarium or by the plants themselves.

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.

Peatlands cover just 3% of our planet’s surface, yet these precious areas store more carbon than all the world’s forests and vegetive plants combined.  Home to rare plants and wildlife, peatlands support a biodiverse range of plants, insects, birds, and wildlife, including many species that can only survive in these unique habitats.  As well as protecting us from climate change and providing us with beautiful open countryside refuges, peatlands offer us many other advantages. 

New Miniature Orchid Flowers

I’ve taken pictures of a few of my miniature orchids to show you the plants that I’ve been focusing my attention on this week.  Currently, my main preoccupation has been to be poised and ready to pollinate my Aerangis macrocentra plants, in the hope that the last remaining flower of my first plant to bloom survived long enough for my second plant’s first flower to open. 

Winter provides us with a wonderful opportunity to plant trees.  What could be a better Christmas gift than planting a tree with your family?  I’m a particular fan of planting bare-root trees: trees that are grown in the ground (not containers) and then lifted, dispatched, and planted while they’re dormant.  Bare-root trees are grown in the soil, they’re naturally peat-free, require less watering at the nursery, and can be grown plastic-free – as there’s no need for containers. 

White Flowered Orchids

Being around plants lifts my spirits.  Watching my plants produce vibrant and healthy green leaves gives me endless pleasure, but I understand that many people favour growing flowering plants.  Leaves are often taken for granted, as foliage is assumed to be a permanent fixture that doesn’t change and lives on forever; whereas the fleeting presence of a flower commands interaction and appreciation. 

Garden Designer Jackie Currie and Plant Heritage won a Gold Medal for their ‘National Plant Collections Everywhere!’ exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021!  This stunning exhibit showcased plants from National Plant Collections grown inside living rooms, glasshouses, gardens, and allotments, across the UK.

One of the stars of the exhibit was the Salvia caymanensis, grown by John and Linsey Pink who hold a National Collection of Salvias. 

The Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods

I attended the ‘Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods’ conference, hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.  I fully support the Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods.  I am just one of the 3000 global experts and concerned citizens from 114 countries that signed this declaration which aims to promote the long-term protection and restoration of natural forest ecosystems worldwide. 

Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse
Author: Dave Goulson
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 976-1-787-33334-5

Orchidarium Update

I’ve designed and created so many terrariums, including a number of terrariums and orchidariums that I’ve written updates for (see my Orchidarium, my Rainforest Terrarium, my Tall Orchidarium, my Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, my White Orchid Trial Terrarium, and my Madagascar Terrarium).  Each terrarium update I publish takes an inordinate amount of time and energy to put together; hence why I’ve not published a full update for this Orchidarium in an absolute age! 

At this time of year, foxglove flowers pulsate with the relaxing, soothing sound of summer, as bees hum happily whilst they disappear in and out of the tubular flowers.

Foxgloves are superb plants for bees; they’re fantastic plants for gardeners, too!  These obliging plants are self-supporting and rarely need any assistance.  Water your seedlings in dry weather until they’ve settled in; once they’re established, foxgloves are fairly drought tolerant and slug resistant.

Tall Orchidarium Update

Welcome to my first update on the Phalaenopsis and other orchids I’m growing inside my Tall Orchidarium.

I first set up my Tall Orchidarium in November 2019 (18 months ago).  If you would like to start at the beginning and see how my Tall Orchidarium was designed and set up, please click here.

I am absolutely thrilled with my Tall Orchidarium. 

Grow Phalaenopsis hybrids & enjoy an easier life, surrounded by flowers!

I hold two National Collections of orchids – a National Collection of Miniature Aerangis and Angraecum Species and a National Collection of Miniature Phalaenopsis Species.  I set up these collections to raise awareness of the dangers that these miniature orchid species (and other plants) are facing in the wild and to help conserve these fascinating plants.

I’m supporting Peat Free April – a campaign by garden writers, nature writers, and gardeners who want to ban the use of peat in horticulture and protect the planet’s peatlands and peat bogs.

We really need your help to push the government to protect peat bogs and peatlands, so please sign this petition to ask the government to ban the use of peat in horticulture.

An Update on the Aerangis & Angraecum Orchids inside my Tall Orchidarium

I set up my Tall Orchidarium in November 2019.  I am absolutely thrilled with this custom built terrarium, which Matthew (from Custom Aquaria) built for me in autumn 2019.  I’m growing a large number of orchids inside my Tall Orchidarium, so I’ve divided up this update (which covers the period from November 2019 to March 2021) into three posts of slightly more manageable sizes. 

Phalaenopsis pulchra is still flowering today!

This Phalaenopsis pulchra flower opened fifty-two days ago (the bloom opened on the 8th September 2020).  Phalaenopsis orchids can produce incredibly long lasting flowers.  However, the blooms of Phalaenopsis hybrids tend to persist for more prolonged periods than the wild species plants.  A number of the Phalaenopsis hybrids I’ve grown are particularly floriferous, sending out masses of long lasting flowers and blooming continually for longer than a year at a time, without appearing to flag or tire at all.