Easy veg: beetroot

Beetroot is an ideal veg to grow if you are a beginner. There are lots of reasons. The seeds are large and easy to handle and they do not need special conditions to germinate. Because they are large they are easy to space so that reduces the need to thin them. Beetroot has few pests,…

Easter daffodils

Happy Easter. With warm weather forecast we should be enjoying the best of daffodils and no flowers are quite as lovely at Easter. By choosing different varieties you can have daffodils in flower from January to May. I have planted almost 100 kinds in my garden but I can never decide which I like best….

Easy Veg: Peas

Although the weather is not always springlike at the moment, just a few days can bring a huge difference and spring is upon us even if we can’t quite believe it at the moment. Many of us want to grow some fresh vegetables and many are easy to grow to supplement our meals so, over…

Marvellous marigolds

When you need summer colour you can rely on, there is no better choice than marigolds. They have been garden favourites for centuries, ever since many of them were introduced from Central America. No respectable garden was complete without them in the 1960s and 70s but then they fell from favour as tastes became more…

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…

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,…