When everything is less than rosy

It is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and many of us will be enjoying the rewards of all our hard work over the past year. But we all know that gardening is not always the simple ‘plant and enjoy’ that we expect. Here are a few of the problems you may find in…

Pots of winter sunshine

It has taken me many decades to finally adopt a fair attitude to heathers. When I was still very much an apprentice and working at Nags Hall, heathers, planted with conifers, were all the rage. Open plan estates were dotted with neat lawns and island beds of heathers and conifers, promising colour all year and…

Apple time

It is the season when we are surrounded by apples and it is a sin to buy imported apples. Of all the fruits we can grow, apples are the most rewarding and probably the easiest. It is true that strawberries will crop more quickly but the plants need replacement after two years and apples are…

Tulips and hyacinths

We should be planting spring-flowering bulbs over the next few months but one type needs planting as soon as possible; prepared hyacinths. It was always exciting when the boxes of prepared hyacinths arrived when I was working at Nags Hall in the 80s. They were always displayed next to hyacinth glasses and I am sure…

Crocus and ‘not’ crocus

As the garden centre shelves start to fill with wonderful spring-flowering bulbs, look out for the autumn-flowering section. Autumn-flowering bulbs are wonderful and bring a real touch of freshness to the autumn garden. But, unlike the daffodils and tulips, which can wait a while for planting, these need planting now. After all, they will be…

Autumn shrubs

It is not a huge challenge to fill your garden with colour and fragrance i summer, but now that autumn is officially with us, it can be more difficult to keep the garden looking fresh and colourful. Of course, bedding plants should still be blooming but autumn-flowering shrubs are not so common. But there are…

Heucheras for autumn

It is a Bank Holiday weekend and the sun is shining. So there is reason to celebrate and a garden centre visit is a welcome treat. The benches are full of tempting plants to make autumn more colourful and my favourites for patio pots are heucheras and heucherellas. There is plenty of time to plant…

Time for lawn care

A little work in autumn works wonders when it comes to a healthy green lawn. Lawns are rather contentious these days. When I started gardening it was perfectly acceptable to spray chemicals against weeds and to spend Sundays devoted to maintaining immaculate turf. Thoughts today often recommend leaving lawns long for wildlife and pollinators. It…

Apple pruning

It may seem a strange thing to do but the few weeks following mid August into September are the perfect time to prune apples. When I first mention this the reaction is usually that I am mad and I will be cutting off all the fruits. But summer pruning never cuts off any fruit. And…

Keep your plants fed

Our gardens are full of plants, all growing well. Plants in containers are different to those in our borders because they rely on us to supply all their nutrients and water. So although you can expect the plants in your beds to find their own and the roots to search out water, your patio pots…