Terrific tomatoes

I can’t remember when I first grew tomatoes. It was certainly a long time ago. Along with runner beans and beetroot, tomatoes are the most popular homegrown crop. Tomatoes have come a long way in the past few decades although, ironically, the big boost in tomatoes has come from the past with the popularity of…

Lilies come of age

There was a time, before many of you were born, when lilies were exotic and considered difficult to grow. Like many garden centres, Knights, in my day, would offer loose lily bulbs in boxes and the choice was limited. There was the heavily scented Lilium regale, with white, maroon-flushed flowers and a range of trumpet…

In the kitchen garden

Growing veg at home has its ups and downs. Usually it gets a boost during recessions when people think they can save money by growing their own fruit and veg. Experienced gardeners know that this is not always the case. A lot of things can go wrong and just as you shouldn’t count your chickens…

June means box and fruit

Here in Ireland, restricted movement means travelling no further than 5km though the UK has looser restrictions. Fortunately, despite my isolated location, the nearest business is a strawberry farm, 1km away, and Wexford is known throughout the country for its strawberries. The recent hot weather has been perfect for early fruit in tunnels to ripen…

The trouble with hostas

Hostas should be in their freshest, finest livery right now. Nothing is quite as beautiful as a mature clump of beautiful hosta foliage. Of course there is a problem and I deliberately didn’t show it in the photo above. It is a shame that I can never write about hostas for long without having to…

Roses need a little TLC

I can’t imagine a garden without roses. Whenever I say or write that I find I have to spend the next five minutes or 300 words justifying myself. People have such strong views on them. I know all about the problems with diseases, the aphids, the prickles. But I counter that with the fact that…

The scents of May

Growing up in Lingfield and then Oxted, Sundays often involved family trips to the great gardens of the Weald such as Sheffield Park. It was these that fostered a love of azaleas with their vibrant colours and scent, often accented by a carpet of bluebells. Unfortunately, living in Oxted at the foot of the Downs,…

The joy of clematis

Clematis are the most popular of woody climbers. They are varied in size, shape and colour and adaptable too. There is a clematis for almost every part of the garden though they are especially popular for clothing trellis against house walls and for patio pots. Curiously, these are not the best places for the majority…

The decline of peat

I bought some bags of compost the other day, not from a garden centre but the local agricultural supplier where I had to pick up layer’s pellets for work. It was out of desperation since garden centres are not open and I can’t face squashing my eggs and strawberries buying compost in supermarkets. Here in…

Bedding plants – making gardens colourful

Back in the 70s and 80s we had very different tastes in bedding plants and our buying habits were different too. The range of plants was smaller and, dare I say it, more traditional, with a distinctly Victorian feel about it. Scarlet salvias, white alyssum and blue lobelia were still de rigeur and French marigolds,…