Softwood cuttings, more plants for free

I find April the most uplifting month in the garden because plants are all growing at full throttle. It may seem that there is an endless list of gardening tasks to do, but as we get into this month it is worth making time to undertake some propagation.  There is great joy in getting new plants for nothing and being...

Succession planting in the ornamental garden

You may be familiar with the phrase succession planting from vegetable gardening where it is used to ensure a constant supply of fresh produce, especially for quick summer crops grown from seed. In the ornamental garden we grow fewer annuals - although I will come back to these very useful contributors to the summer borders – and the term succession...

Spring planting and the cold greenhouse

This blog for February gives me the ideal opportunity to discuss best use of the spring planting season and a cold (i.e. unheated greenhouse) if you have one.  Gardening writing, including mine, regularly talks about ‘early spring’ rather than specifying a particular month because the advent of increasing temperatures varies so much from place to place even within south east...

A year of less stuff gardening?

As I was starting to write this blog I read an article by someone who had given away all their belongings and was wandering the world carrying only a rucksack. The idea of giving up any form of long term residence is unlikely to appeal to a gardener but it did make me think about how easy it is to...

How not to kill your Christmas Houseplants

Houseplants make great presents but to ensure that a plant, like a puppy, is not just for Christmas here are a few key tips on buying and looking after plants for yourself or as gifts. The first question is on what and where to buy.  Like buying any plant at any time of year, you want a healthy plant with a...

Fresh air, exercise & leaf mould

I was brought up in a fairly rural village and my mother’s mantra for a healthy childhood seemed to be “fresh air and exercise”.  That suited me pretty well as we children roamed the country lanes on our bicycles (more likely to meet a tractor than a car) and I spent many happy hours in a huge tract of National...

Lazy Daisy summer borders

Have you ever noticed how many of the flowers we rely on for a late summer display tale the form of a Daisy? Although daisies are one of the most familiar flower forms that we see from the small native Lawn Daisy (Bellis perennis) to the tall Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) the flowers themselves are most definitely worth a closer look....

Late summer gardening

By high summer it is tempting to ease off the gardening work and I would not deny anyone a well deserved rest.  But there are a couple of tasks that will keep your garden in good health and giving a great display right through to the end of the season. The first of these is deadheading.  The object is to keep...

A Walled Garden to Impress

It is slightly unusual for me to devote an article to a garden that I have visited but there are two reasons for writing about the Walled Garden at the Luton Hoo Estate.  In the interests of transparency I should say that I attended a free Press Day for garden writers that involved lunch and chocolate cake...

When to give up on a Shrub

June may seem a strange month to be talking about giving up on a shrub and digging it out but after last year’s dry summer and the cold spell in December, there are quite a few shrubs lurking in gardens that are not ever going to be healthy again.  Here on the Kent/Sussex borders we can get away with choosing...