Climbing plants for cover

I am regularly asked for plant suggestions to break up the bulk of a fence or wall, soften the outlook and give colour without spilling out over the lawn or occupying all the space in a border.  That is quite an ask of a plant! The coloured leaves of climber Actinidia kolomikta But happily there is an answer: Climbers.  Plants that can...

Late summer perennials

First things first, what exactly is a perennial?  In the horticultural context it is any plant that lives for more than two years.  In common gardening parlance we use the term for a non-woody plant where the above ground stems die off in autumn but the roots and crown survive the winter to produce new stems, leaves and flowers...

Trees for privacy in the garden

Summer holidays mark a few weeks when we all spend more time outside and especially in the garden.  But few of us live with no near neighbours and a common challenge is to create a garden with a sense of privacy without overwhelming and darkening what might already be a small space. Clearly in most situations a fence or hedge...

The Lawn in Summer

Even with gardens getting smaller, the vast majority of Great British gardens will have a Great British lawn.  But by the end of July many will not be looking quite so great, indeed they will take on a distinctly yellow, crispy look.  So this month, I will talk about why that is not a permanent plant catastrophe and a...

Time to sow the seeds of success

After spending much of February and early March advising gardeners that it is too early to sow seeds, I am now reassuring people that they have not missed the boat and that early April is an ideal time to sow seeds of annual flowers and vegetables. April sees rising temperatures and noticeably longer days so that after germination your seeds...

The rise of Succulents

Alongside cacti, succulent plants are enjoying an increase in popularity at the moment.  They are primarily used as houseplants or summer patio display but there are a hardy few that will thrive outside in the UK all year round.  There is an attraction to their adaptation to ‘feast and famine’ especially if you are inclined to be erratic in...

Garden conifers – not just for Christmas

If asked to name a conifer tree in December most people might say “Christmas Tree” and many would know that the traditional conifer decorated indoors is a Norway Spruce.  But there are very many shapes, colours and sizes of conifer tree that are rather better suited to growing in our gardens than Christmas trees or Leyland Cypress hedges. Removing side...

Pointy end up – planting bulbs in autumn

Yes, I am writing about planting bulbs in autumn which I know is a well visited subject in gardening programmes and columns at this time of year.  So rather than repeating guidance on planting bulbs – and to be honest you do not need to know much more than “pointy end up” – I am thinking about what happens...

The good, the bad and the Ivy

In my previous blog post I included “a controlled amount of ivy” in my suggestions for a native mixed hedge.  So this time I thought that I would talk more about this evergreen climber that appears in pretty much every garden, usually uninvited. As households try to reduce both fossil fuel consumption and energy bills, research has found that a...

Choosing trees for a small garden

Trees can add instant height, structure and several seasons of interest to a garden but choosing a tree for a small garden takes careful consideration.  July is not the best month for planting if you can avoid it because the soil is dry and temperatures higher and these add to the stress of the plant when the roots are...