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…

Sow some veg

We have endured a cold, dry April that was terrible for sowing seeds outside and now we are in May we have the sort of softer days and showers we would have expected last month. The good news is that, with less cold nights and plenty of moisture in the soil, it is perfect for…

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…