Summer bedding

It has been a long, cool spring and we are still not out of the woods yet, with cold nights still a possibility. Spring flowers have lasted well but it is time to think about pulling up spring bedding and replacing it with summer flowers. Most summer bedding plants, including petunias, pelargoniums, fuchsias and busy…

Squeeze in some squash

Maybe I am still a child at heart but I find winter squash the most exciting of all vegetables, to grow and harvest. Squash can be a bit confusing but summer squash and winter squash are treated the same way but summer squash are eaten in summer, when the fruits are immature and winter squash…

Peony perfection

Is there a more perfect garden plant than the peony? The flowers are beautiful, sumptuous and often fragrant. The plants are hardy, live for decades with little attention and the foliage is never an embarrassment in the border. I was made aware of their longevity long ago when, as a child, I found an overgrown…

Sowing salads

April has been cool so far and some of us could do with some rain – though I am not asking for any, quite yet. But once the overnight frosts thaw and the mist clears, we have had some lovely days. The sun has surprising strength and now we seem to have passed the cold…

Doubly sweet: Sweet Williams and sweetcorn

As spring slowly moves into summer – or it should be – a new range of flowers starts to dominate our gardens. Many of these are biennials and include lots of old-fashioned, cottage style flowers that are reminders of times past. Wallflowers, foxgloves, forget-me-nots and, best of all, sweet Williams. Sweet Williams are hardy beinnials,…

Magnolias for Easter

Magnolias are the most beautiful of all flowering trees. They also have the largest flowers of any hardy trees. Although there are species that bloom throughout summer we tend to plant the spring-flowering kinds. By far the most popular is the pink and white M. x soulangeana (below). It is a good choice for most…

Super spuds

Whether you think potatoes should be planted on Good Friday or, as in Ireland, St Patrick’s Day, it is time to get potatoes in the ground. Few of us have enough room to grow all the potatoes we need. They take up a lot of room and they are also a lot of work –…

Daffodil envy

There can be few gardens that do not contain at least a few daffodils – they must be our favourite flowers. And no wonder; they are long-lived and provide the first real splash of colour in spring. When I started this new garden it contained nothing but grass – not a tree, shrub or flower…

Camellias for Mothers’ Day

Despite the date moving, it being tied to Easter, Mothers’ Day always seems like the start of spring. Traditionally linked with picking bunches of primroses and daffodils, it is inextricably linked with flowers. In the 70s, when I worked at Nag’s Hall, the ubiquitous pot chrysanth was a popular gift choice and cinerarias were cheap…

Primroses

With gentler weather we have all been getting out and about more and any walk in the countryside will be enlivened by jewel-like clusters of primrose flowers under hedges. Primroses (Primula vulgaris) is one of our earliest wild flowers – the name means ‘first rose’ from ‘prime’. The pale yellow flowers are delicately scented and…