Annual flowers from seed

Annuals are the least expensive and quickest way to fill a garden with colour. The photo above is of a garden that was completely bare in February but, by August the same year, after laying new turf, was filled with colour from annuals. All from a few packets of seeds I had sown that March….

Rhubarb, rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of the simplest home-grown crops. A clump should remain productive for up to a decade and can be relied on to produce tasty crops every year. Rhubarb is hardy and will grow in most soils, provided the soil is not waterlogged in winter or too dry in summer. But rhubarb does appreciate…

Get set for spring

The weather is not exactly conducive for doing much in the garden. It is either cold or soggy underfoot. I find myself staring out of the window wishing spring were here. But it isn’t far away and now is the perfect time to think about spring sowing and getting everything ready.  Most plants can be…

In the bleak midwinter,

… except that it is not like winter at all. It has been unseasonably mild and not at all like winter. It is strange how plants react to peculiar weather and although some plants have been behaving oddly, with flowers on the apple trees, others seem to avoid being tricked by mild nights. The witch…

Time to take stock and to plan for next year

As the year nears its end we look forward to a new gardening year and make plans for 2022. Those of us with gardens have been fortunate over the past two years; to have somewhere to go and work and lose ourselves. I am sure our gardens have all progressed well as we have been…

A touch of luxury: Orchids

If you want to give a gift that has a touch of class and could last for years, choose a moth orchid (phalaenopsis). Many years ago, when I started gardening, orchids were rare and expensive. I was desperate to own and grow orchids but they were hard to find and the most common were cymbidiums…

Cyclamen and poinsettias

Cyclamen I have a great fondness for cyclamen. Apart from being colourful and elegant, they remind me of my grandparents who always had one in the bitterly cold front room in the bay window, seen by no one but passers by. Their plant was probably decades old, kept in a lean-to greenhouse in summer when…

Hyacinths for Christmas

What do you buy a gardener for Christmas? There are gloves, tools, hand cream and plants as well as more practical gifts like labels, compost and pots. But with all of us needing cheering up, I think that plants are a good choice and Nags Hall is packed with plants for all pockets and tastes….

Feeling the chill

We have been blessed with a mild autumn and I have been enjoying the display from the latest autumn flowers. Salvias, alstroemerias and the chrysanthemums have been blooming as though winter was never going to arrive but a series of hard frosts has brought me back to reality with a bump. At this time of…

Little garden helpers: ladybirds

Of all the insects that we find in our gardens, ladybirds, after bees, must be the most highly regarded. Although their colouration is designed to warn birds that they are not a tasty snack, we are always glad to see them. While I shake or brush off any other insect that uses me as a…