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. 

Sunflowers bring such positive energy and welcome cheer to our gardens!  If you want to brighten up your garden with pollinator-friendly flowers in summertime, April is the ideal time to sow sunflower seeds.  There’s no need for any special equipment; sunflowers are hardy annuals that can be sown outdoors now.  Seeds can be started off in containers of peat-free compost and planted out after they have developed their first true leaves. 

The Most Sustainable Compost is Homemade – Sharing Over 20 Tips for Successful Composting!

To celebrate Compost Week, I’m sharing tips to help you make top-quality compost in your garden, allotment, or neighbourhood.

Why Compost?

Making a compost heap or setting up a compost bin is such a positive thing to do.  Even if you don’t really care about getting fabulous (free) compost delivered straight to your garden, or you’re not interested in improving your garden soil, if you compost your grass cuttings, prunings,  and vegetable peelings, you’ll save yourself time and energy, and spare yourself the need to make trips to the tip to get rid of your garden or kitchen waste at weekends. 

Spring is such an uplifting time in the garden.  As the days lengthen and spring flowers come into bloom, the anticipation of the wealth of flowers we’ll admire in our countryside and gardens over the coming seasons provides me with an abundance of reasons to be thankful.  If your garden is looking a little lacklustre at the moment, don’t worry – there are some delightful spring-flowering perennial plants available at nurseries and garden centres, which will brighten up our gardens this spring and in the years that follow.

Clematis are divided into three groups.  We assign each clematis to a group based upon the time of year the plant flowers, and when the growth that holds their flowers develops.  By evaluating our clematis and assigning our plants to a specific group, we can establish the optimum time to prune our clematis.

  • Group One Clematis produce their flowering stems in the summer before flowering and bloom early in the year (in autumn, winter, and springtime).
  • 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. 

    Happy new year!  I want to help you create a positive and uplifting garden where you can relax, grow your favourite plants, and make real connections with nature.

    Do you have a compost heap in your garden?  How about in your college or office garden?  Composting is such a wonderful thing to do; it’s great for the environment, good for wildlife, produces amazing compost, and saves money! 

    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. 

    The Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composter

    I’m such a fan of home composting; I want to encourage everyone to set up a compost bin!

    Last year, the designers of Aerobin sent me one of their Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composters to try out.  Over the past year, I’ve put the Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composter to the test.  I decided to trial this product because it’s designed to be placed on a paved or concrete area, and this together with the product’s compact size makes it perfect for small patio gardens. 

    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. 

    An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Autumn

    Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in October.

    I’ve been very fortunate – the wish I made for autumn sunshine (I expressed this hope at the end of my last update) came true!  September blessed us with glorious warm weather and uplifting sunshine; it was so hot on a couple of days that it felt like mid-summer!

    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…..

    RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

    For one year only, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show 2021 has moved to September!  How has the change of date affected this event?  Moving from a late spring show to an early autumn spectacle has opened Chelsea’s door to allow new VIP (very important plant) access for late summer flowering perennials, berries, seed heads, dahlias, pumpkins, tomatoes, and vegetables!

    Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count 2021

    This weekend brings us our final chances to take a Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2021.  This lovely annual event closes for the year on Sunday 8th August 2021.

    A Butterfly Count lasts for 15 minutes, it’s fun, relaxing, and really couldn’t be easier to do!

    Why count butterflies?

    The information gathered from all the Butterfly Counts taken across the UK, will help Butterfly Conservation to identify the species of butterflies and day flying moths that are becoming more scarce and highlight which species are succeeding or recovering. 

    For the past fourteen years, I’ve grown a delicious harvest of Florence Fennel bulbs by going against traditional gardening advice; instead of ending my sowings of Florence Fennel seeds by June or July, I’ve continued sowing seed throughout August and September.  Gardeners in Northern regions of the UK would be unlikely to succeed following my advice, but in my Surrey garden’s sandy soil these later sown seeds have produced a wonderful last hurrah of medium-sized sweet tasting Florence Fennel bulbs.

    Alliums: Spectacular Summer Flowering Bulbs!

    Last autumn, Dutch Grown sent me a range of their bulbs to try.  I planted all the bulbs Dutch Grown sent me in containers filled with peat-free composts from Dalefoot Composts, Melcourt SylvaGrow, and Happy Compost.  I’ve already published one update full of pictures of Dutch Grown’s colourful spring flowering bulbs; this update is dedicated to Dutch Grown’s Alliums…here are the results!

    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.