Trouble in the garden

After a hot week, when I have been trying to keep out of the heat so the garden has been a bit neglected, things may be getting back to some sort of normality. Lawns are looking a bit tired and some leafy plants have had a tough time. Any watering was done in the evening…

Butterfly bushes

It has not been an easy year for butterflies. The cold April, followed by a wet May has not been ideal for flying or for the raising of caterpillars but the past week of hot weather has seen larger numbers of adults in our gardens. There are lots of flowers we can plant to provide…

Keep containers colourful

Our summer pots and baskets should be looking perfect right now. All the plants will be flowering well and none will look too tired. Even if you have done nothing except water them they should be doing well on the nutrients in the compost. But this can’t last and if you want your pots to…

Potatoes need attention

It is a sad fact that potatoes are so common that few people think much about them. Bags of them have to be labelled with the variety but most people don’t recognise any variation other than red and white. Admittedly the advent of ‘Rooster’ brought a rush of excitement to the nation but now ‘Rooster’…

Confusing cucumbers

While tomatoes are the most popular home-grown crop, far fewer people try their hand at growing cucumbers. Perhaps this is because people feel that there is far less variety among cucumbers and they are not worth growing at home or because they are perceived as more difficult to grow. It is true that they are…

Height of summer

The garden is looking its glorious best and our favourite summer flowers are at their peak. But just as things are looking so wonderful we shouldn’t rest on our laurels and we need to think about how to ensure that things look just as good next year. It is not a great time for planting…

Brilliant begonias

When it comes to luxuriant summer colour you can’t beat begonias. The variety is huge, with every colour except lilac and blue, the blooms can be small or massive and they can be used in borders, window boxes and patio pots. The most popular for bedding are the Semperflorens kind, which are called wax begonias…

How to be minted

It won’t be too long before it is time to dig up the first new potatoes. In fact, there may be a few in the bags I planted in the polytunnel, but I will wait a little longer. But even outside, early potatoes are usually ready to lift in early July. A good sign is…

The wonder of rhodos

Now is the season for rhododendrons. There may have been a few in bloom earlier in the season but they are now at their peak, perhaps a little later than usual because of the cool spring. When I lived in Oxted, at the foot of the Downs, I could only dream of growing rhododendrons, even…

Bees and butterflies

The cold spring, now wet and windy, has been tough for bees and butterflies. I am sure I have seen far fewer bees than usual and, despite the apple trees being covered in flowers, I have not seen a single bee on them. A few plants have been attracting bumblebees, especially the pulmonarias which have…