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...

Climbing Combinations

Most gardens contain a smattering of climbing plants decorating house walls or reducing the impact of metres of wooden fencing. But there are plenty of imaginative ways to use climbers to provide more colour for a longer time if you use plants in combination. In this blog I explore a few different ways of getting more colour and joy...

Gardening by Design Box of Tricks

If you want to build up your gardening knowledge and leave behind costly mistakes, then the Gardening by Design ‘Box of Tricks’ is for you, free of charge. My most popular talks and teaching topics are available as video tutorials containing practical, implementable advice, with photographs, diagrams, examples and summaries to help you get to grips with the topic and...

Seed sowing Success

With Spring in sight many gardeners’ thoughts turn to sowing seeds for this summer’s annual flower and vegetable crops and very little beats the excitement of seeing those tiny green shoots emerge.  Here are my tips for success: I recommend that you make a list of what you need and have space for before shopping for seeds whether online or...

Get your garden soil ready for summer

Soil is the greatest asset we have in our gardens but it is easy to overlook the importance of maintaining good soil quality and just let borders grow year after year.  The rain this winter seems to have been endless and apart from obvious problems of waterlogging in heavy soil, there is a hidden problem of plant nutrients being...