Coming Home

Gingko biloba, Archway, London, October 2014

There’s nothing like a long spell away from home to remind you of what you take for granted …. and sometimes what you might do differently with your life. I have missed a good strong cup of tea (a cliche, but so true), the cramped comfort of our little country, clean air (even London air is better than anything you can breath in China), freedom of information (the BBC is off-air whilst the protests in Hong Kong continue) and most of all rain. I have not felt a drop of the wet stuff in three weeks: Autumn in Northern China is clear and dry compared to England and consequently everything there looks dry, faded and wan. Not so in London where I’ve returned to a reassuringly damp, grey, soggy day. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Fiery colours as sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) begins to turn

Wonderful contrasts as sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) begins to turn

I have missed most of October, but happily not the brilliant colours of autumn. Wanting to feel the cool rain on my face I ventured out this afternoon, passing a row of four sweet gums (Liquidambar styraciflua) at the bottom of Highgate Hill. Two trees must be fifteen years old and two about ten years younger, but each one is coloured completely differently, varying between green-edged-magenta and deepest burgundy. Sweet gum has to be one of my favourite trees, and as soon as I get a garden big enough I’ll be planting a forest of them.

Sweet gums are a match for maples and acers when it comes to intense colour

Sweet gums are a match for maples and acers when it comes to range and intensity of colour

A young gingko (Gingko biloba) teetered on the edge of autumn, its fan-shaped leaves poised to turn clear, butter-yellow any day now. This is a common tree in Chinese cities and it would be good to see it planted more often in London. Gingko has a lovely, upright crown in youth which is ideal for street planting.

Gingko biloba is considered tolerant of both drought and pollution, the makings of a great urban tree

Gingko biloba is considered tolerant of both drought and pollution; the makings of a great urban tree

And it’s not all over yet for the flowers, with precious little roses and more exotic passion flowers (Passiflora caerulaea) preparing for their swan song. The mild weather has sustained them, and may well continue to do so for a little while yet.

It's not over yet for these miniature floribunda roses

There will be more to come from this miniature floribunda rose

Is there any tropical flower quite as alluring as the passion flower?

Is there any tropical flower quite as alluring as the passion flower?

And what might I do differently? Well, I have long been resolved to find more ways to explore my passion for plants, photography and writing and have a few more ideas how I might do that as time goes on. A book perhaps, a photography course and certainly further development of this blog, which has offered me such a great outlet for the last two and a half years. Watch this space……

The pavements on Highgate Hill are piled high with the leaves of Platanus × hispanica, the London plane

The pavements of Highgate Hill are piled high with the leaves of Platanus × hispanica, the London plane

Daily Flower Candy – Cuscuta epithymum

Strawberry bootlace anyone?

If you’ve ever passed a gorse bush on a cliff top or heath and wondered why it’s covered in something resembling a blanket woven from strawberry bootlaces, then you’ve encountered one of Britain’s most curious plants, Cuscuta epithymum, otherwise known as dodder.

Dodder begins its annual lifecycle in spring when it germinates and twines around a host plant, preferably a gorse bush (Ulex europaeus), heather (Calluna vulgaris) or clover (Trifolium spp). Once the dodder has become established its lower stems wither, effectively leaving the young plant high and dry. All is not lost, because suckers on the dodder’s wandering, chlorophyll-free threads penetrate the stem of the host, allowing the dodder to live as a parasite. It then spreads rapidly, often completely smothering its unwitting victim.

Far from doddering along, this 'outbreak' of Cuscuta epithymum will spread like wildfire given the chance

Far from doddering along, this ‘outbreak’ of dodder will spread like wildfire

The whispy, red-pigmented strands are not designed to photosynthesise and become even more interesting when spangled with clusters of tiny pinkish-white flowers in summer. Dodder is one of life’s survivors, a unique energy-sapping oddity which occupies a unique place in our island’s flora.

These photographs taken in Zennor, West Cornwall, in September 2014.

Strawberry bootlace anyone?

Strawberry bootlace anyone?

The Remains of the Day

Viewed from the beneath the magnolia, our little garden is bathed in soft golden light

There comes a point every year when I begin to lose sight of our London garden. It’s nothing to do with my failing vision (although I do like to sport a natty pair of specs), or exuberant foliage, but everything to do with the shortening day-length. Come October there may be a few precious moments of daylight before I leave for the office, but already it’s dark by the time I get home.

The next three weeks will be spent in Hong Kong and China. When I return the clocks will have changed, effectively ending my gardening season in London and plunging me into four months of perpetual darkness.

Begonias, nasturtiums and Abutilon 'Nabob' are still going strong despite the cooler nights

Begonias, nasturtiums and Abutilon ‘Nabob’ are still going strong despite the cooler nights

The occasional day spent at home in autumn reveals our garden in a different light. This Saturday, for example, dawned dank and dispiriting; leaves, flowers and vegetables showing their first signs of senility. Quickly the weather sharpened up its act to offer a crisp, warm autumn day, perfect for tidying and bulb planting. Having had success this year, I am planting more Lilium martagon ‘Album’ and Narcissus ‘W.P. Milner’ wherever there’s a little gap to fill.

Fading fast, the leaves of Hosta 'Patriot'

Fading fast, the leaves of Hosta ‘Patriot’

Our neighbours, vocal Italians who seem to have a penchant for rampant climbers, provide us with a backdrop of Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) intertwined with equally pernicious Russian vine (Fallopia baldschuanica) and Clematis armandii. The long, wandering stems of the creeper, invisible until autumn, now appear bright, ruby-red against the white flowers of the vine and glossy foliage of the clematis. A dazzling combination when lit by the mid-morning sun.

For just a few weeks every year, our neighbours' jumble of climbers becomes a feature worth gawping at

For just a few weeks every year, our neighbours’ jumble of climbers becomes a feature worth looking at

With flowers of the truest blue you’ll find in a flower, Salvia patens is looking terrific right now, even in low light. I planted eight of them in August to replace mildew-ridden sweet peas, alongside frothy Gaura lindheimerii. The late-flowering duo will need to make way soon for a colourful planting of tulips and wallflowers, which will duly be replaced by more sweet peas in spring.

Salvia patens, with the canes that supported the sweetpeas it replaced in the background

Salvia patens brightens up a dank, dark autumn morning

Hidden in the shadows beneath a magnolia is a lovely variegated form of the toad lily, Tricyrtis hirta ‘Variegata’. The cream-coloured leaf borders are very minimal so won’t offend anyone who dislikes strong variegation. Long, slightly angled stems, reminiscent of willow gentian (Gentiana asclepiadea), produce lots of plum-freckled, starry white flowers. It’s worth pushing on through the undergrowth and a carpet of Cyclamen hederifolium to find them.

Toad in the hole. Tricyrtis hirta 'Variegata' is tolerant of any level of shade

Toad in the hole. Tricyrtis hirta ‘Variegata’ is tolerant of any level of shade

Daylight hours at home during winter offer precious gardening opportunities. Keeping up with fallen leaves is a chore, but it’s essential they are kept out of the pond. The vegetable garden has already been cleared of anything that’s ceased to be productive so that the rain and frost can get to the soil. The last tasks of the year, reserved for a fine day in November, will be planting tulip bulbs and clearing away faded perennials. Before we know it the snowdrops will be pushing their thin, silvery shoots into the cold air and the cycle will begin again.

Bought as a tiny plant from Homebase, 'David' the tree fern now produces fronds 4ft long

Bought as a tiny plant from Homebase, ‘David’ the tree fern now produces fronds 4ft long

Kinky Leeks and Gracious Grapes – The RHS London Harvest Festival Show 2014

Not long 'til Halloween and the pumpkins and squashes  are in their prime

Apart from Cinderella, few people are likely to consider an after-dark encounter with a giant pumpkin an exciting prospect, but the Royal Horticultural Society are out to change all that. In a revision to the normal schedule, the RHS London Harvest Festival Show opened late on Tuesday, treating members and their guests to an evening of carrot carving, apple bobbing, foraging masterclasses and, of course, prize-winning fruit and veg.

Office works, locals and keen gardeners mingle in the RHS Lindley Hall

Office workers, locals and keen gardeners mingle in the RHS Lindley Hall

Long standing followers of The Frustrated Gardener will know that the RHS London shows are favourites of mine. They are gloriously old fashioned, so much so that one can imagine Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham sending his best grapes down on the train from York, or Sherlock Holmes inspecting the entries with his inscrutable eye. The show must appear now very much as it did in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Prize winning pumpkins, RHS Autumn Harvest Show 2014

1st prize went to Peter Geyelin’s gargantuan fruit

The competition for heaviest pumpkin may be a little light-hearted, but other classes certainly are not. Gardeners and growers who exhibit here know their onions, their leeks and their parsnips. The highest standards are called for and judges take no prisoners. However, in the new spirit of transparency adopted by the RHS at other shows, a table is laid out explaining what the defects are that exhibitors will lose points for. Heaven forbid one’s cauliflower should have a lumpy curd or one’s leeks be slightly kinked. It’s a level of perfection, indeed artifice, that very few strive for nowadays, but wonderful to witness.

What not to do. The National Vegetable Society point out the faults the judges will be looking for

What not to do. The National Vegetable Society point out the faults the judges will be looking for

The first thing I do every year is check out which Duke has won first prize for his grapes. This year the Duke of Devonshire came out tops in both classes for white grapes, going head-to-head with the Duke of Marlborough. I imagine their noble rivalry must be something of a friendly tradition and, like the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, I’d like to imagine it will continue in perpetuity.

Prize winning leeks, RHS London Harvest Festival Show 2014

No kinks here! Perfect leeks, as white as alabaster, pick up the prizes

In an area ambitiously dubbed the ‘Wild Wood’, master forager Claudio Bincoletto was on hand to give advice about hunting for your own food. Asked what he thought about British truffles, he kindly described them as ‘tasting like wet hazlenuts’ and offered a jar of the real thing to sniff. Woodsy and wonderful. He didn’t look like man you’d argue with.

Not long 'til Halloween and the pumpkins and squashes  are in their prime

Not long ’til Halloween and the pumpkins and squashes are in their prime

The catering at these events is a big attraction; nothing too corporate, just a handful of well chosen suppliers offering quality food and drink. Hiver beer from the Real Ale Company always goes down a treat, as do the little gyoza prepared by The Garlic Farm. If I were a coffee drinker, I’d have dived straight for the espresso martinis served from the back of a Piaggio Ape by Word on the Street.

Through the evening we were serenaded by Robin Grey and friends, playing on a banjos, ukeleles, guitars and percussion. They were lucky to be heard over the din created by ‘Can You Dig It?’ and their carrot recorder making workshop. I regret not having a go, as participants seemed to be having a lot of fun, even if the resulting cacophony almost made one’s ears bleed.

Showgoers of all ages take the weight off their feet and enjoy a snack in the Wild Wood

Showgoers of all ages take the weight off their feet and enjoy a snack in the Wild Wood

Ending on a more serious note, opening late does seem to be helping the RHS attract a more mixed audience, without who’s interest I suspect they might struggle to continue these venerable London shows. This part of Westminster is hardly buzzing at night, so it’s a fun diversion for locals and office workers alike. As for me, I’ll keep going for as long as they continue, making the most of a living, breathing piece of England’s horticultural heritage.

All the colours of autumn can be seen in rainbow chard, chillies and tomatoes

All the colours of autumn can be seen in rainbow chard, chillies and tomatoes




Feeling Fruity

Tasty tomatoes, October 2014

These juicy shots are principally for the delight and delectation of my Aussie friend Helen, who is a great proponent of all sorts of heritage fruit and vegetables. For the first time in many years we have grown tomatoes outside in London, planted in raised beds. They have kept us in petite red and gold fruits since August, with lots more to come. We have room for double the number of plants next year, so I can be more adventurous with my choice of varieties. Spurring me on is this super assortment of fruits purchased at Broadstairs Food Festival at the weekend. They were grown locally at Thanet Earth, the UK’s largest greenhouse complex, and taste as good as they look. Him Indoors has been making soups and pasta sauces with them, but they’re amazing simply sliced and sprinkled with salt, balanced on lightly grilled, olive oil-drizzled Italian bread. Heaven!

More sweet and savoury goings on tomorrow when I visit the RHS London Harvest Festival Show in the Lindley Hall.

A tempting trug of Thanet-grown tomatoes

A tempting trug of Thanet-grown tomatoes

The Winds of Change

Still going strong, Dahlia 'Twyning's After Eight', D. 'American Dawn' and Aeonium 'Zwartkop'

I’ve just come in from the garden, where the temperature has dropped dramatically since lunchtime. A brisk, rain-laden breeze has whipped up, carrying away summer’s last whispers. I fear autumn is finally here. This means one thing – it’s time to prepare the garden for winter and spring.

Stoic dahlias are plodding on, albeit with slightly smaller flowers now, and my late planted lilies are going strong. Fat buds of Lilium ‘Tarrango’ are about to burst open to reveal shocking pink flowers – something to look forward to next weekend before I head off to China. Lilium ‘Kushi Maya’ is making great friends with Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ and Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ in a threesome I hadn’t planned, but which works well. The blooms of Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ have been tragically short-lived; they flopped and turned brown after a warm week and won’t be seen again until next September. Following on is the lovely single crocus, C. speciosus ‘Conqueror’ which has graceful, violet-blue flowers. I think I prefer the crocus to the colchicum, although the corms need more light and greater freedom than I can offer them. On the kitchen worktop, Fuchsia arborescens is doing a great impression of a lilac, forming a 1m high shrub covered in big heads of clear pink blossom.

Dahlia 'Twyning's After Eight' combines fine bronzy foliage with sparkling white flowers, occasionally tinged pink

Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ combines bronzy foliage with sparkling white flowers, occasionally tinged pink

I had expected Ipomoea indica to drop down a gear as the nights drew in and cooled, but not a bit of it. Ultramarine trumpets are now coming thick and fast as this vigorous climber rails against the ageing year. Likewise, Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ seems to be throwing up gigantic new leaves with abandon. It’s not known as ‘elephant ear’ for nothing. The merest sniff of frost will reduce the leaves to pulp, but I shall enjoy their water repellent darkness while they last.

A dry day tomorrow should allow for some bulb planting. A box containing Fritillaria ‘William Rex’ is stinking out our entrance hall, permeating every corner with its special blend of fox and marajuna. I can’t see Tom Ford releasing this particular fragrance any time soon. Narcissi won’t wait much longer either and need planting now. No time to waste as the winds of change blow winter ever closer.

Still going strong, Dahlia 'Twyning's After Eight', D. 'American Dawn' and Aeonium 'Zwartkop'

Still going strong, Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’, D. ‘American Dawn’ and Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’

Daily Flower Candy: Lilium ‘Kushi Maya’

Lilium 'Kushi Maya', The Watch House, October 2014

‘Lilies in October!?’ I hear you exclaim. Maybe in the southern hemisphere, but not in England, surely? Well yes actually, these wonderful, fragrant flowers are in full bloom in our coastal garden now. The reason? The bulbs were purchased at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in early July and have taken until now to grow and flower. And very welcome they are too with their fabulous scent, mingling with Cestrum nocturnum (also, rather suggestively, known as ‘Lady of the night’), filling these balmy autumn evenings with a heady concoction of sweetness and spice.

Lilium ‘Kushi Maya’ is a ground-breaking hybrid created by Dutch breeders using cutting-edge embryo recovery techniques. A flower of shy but beautiful Lilium nepalense was pollinated with pollen from an Oriental hybrid and the resulting embryos nurtured in a test tube to prevent them being aborted. All a little unromantic, but what remarkable offspring. L. ‘Kushi Maya’ retains its species parent’s fabulous apple and blackberry colouring, but gains strength and stamina from its hybrid genes. Given an acidic soil (or compost) and a year or so to get going, the bulbs produce stems up to 1.5m tall, each adorned with a number of gently nodding, backswept flowers. Planted late it makes a great companion for damson-coloured dahlias such as D. ‘Arabian Night’ or Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’. Alternatively, set against a background of plummy foliage this special lily is guaranteed to create a little bit of autumn ecstasy.

Lilium ‘Kushi Maya’ is available in spring from both Harts Nursery and H. W. Hyde and Son. It is protected by Plant Breeders Rights and remains relatively uncommon.

'Kushi Maya', a name given to female Nepalese children, can be translated as 'Happy Love'.

‘Kushi Maya’, a name given to female Nepalese children, can be translated as ‘Happy Love’


Daily Flower Candy: Colchicum ‘Waterlily’

Colchicum 'Waterlily', The Watch House, September 2014

These flowers may faintly resemble those of a Nymphaea, but here the resemblance of Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ to an aquatic plant ends. Like other colchicums, the flowers of C. ‘Waterlily’ emerge naked, buxom and blushing from fecund, cinnamon-coloured bulbs each autumn. They prefer a well-drained soil, which remains moist rather than wet in summer, and full sun or light shade. Introduced in 1928 C. ‘Waterlily’ is unusual in that it has fully double petals. This makes the flowers rather top-heavy, so it’s best to grow them through ground cover plants, such as vinca, so that the blooms don’t collapse onto the ground and get spoilt.

Growing Colchicum 'Waterlily' in pots helps to protect the blooms from slugs and rainsplashes

Growing Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ in pots helps to protect the blooms from slugs and rainsplashes

I like to grow these luscious beauties in a terracotta pot, which allows me to display them in a prominent position when flowering and hide them away in spring as soon as the ungainly leaves emerge. A top-dressing of horticultural grit gives a modicum of protection from slugs, and prevents any compost splashing onto the petals. Like other colchicums, a faint chequerboard pattern can be seen in the petals when the light is behind them. The freshness and vitality of C. ‘Waterlily’, at a time when all else is waning, is very welcome and provides a wonderful contrast to crisp, fallen, autumn leaves.

The generously double flowers of Colchicum 'Waterlily' resemble a dahlia more than a waterlily

The generously double flowers of Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ resemble a dahlia rather than a waterlily

Trebah Gardens, Cornwall

Cool waters

On the steep sides of the Helford River in Cornwall lie two famous gardens, as similar in style as the two halves of a 1920’s semi. The likeness is not so surprising when you discover that both were influenced by the same family at a crucial point in their development. The Foxes, a large, wealthy quaker dynasty, created at least six of Cornwall’s finest gardens. Being shipping agents, they were well placed to organise the transportation of thousands of new species to England. Their neighbouring gardens offered ideal conditions for plants from warm temperate regions of the world, with fine houses at their heads, warm valleys sheltered valleys in their midst and waves lapping at their feet. Their names were Glendurgan and Trebah.

The view from below the top terrace at Trebah with the Helford River in the distance

The view from the lawn path at Trebah with the Helford River in the distance

When Trebah first opened to the public in 1987 it put the National Trust’s Glendurgan in the shade. Here was a ‘new’ garden being bravely rescued from an uncertain fate. There was no visitor centre, no smart guide book and little in the way of interpretation. Trebah was The Lost Gardens of Heligan before Tim Smit had even set his sights on rescuing them. It was an exciting and brave development on an otherwise established garden scene. Back then I was still in my teens and I loved Trebah for not being as stuffy as Glendurgan, which had been open to paying visitors for many years.

An unusual hydrangea without the usual large petals

An unusual hydrangea without the usual mop-head flowers

Fast forward to 2014 and Trebah has in many ways become as prim and proper as its neighbour. It is still a fine garden, full of fine plants, but has somehow lost its magic. It is not my style to be critical of gardens, the pleasure in which is such a personal thing, but in this instance I confess to being disappointed. The visitor centre, comprising a very good cafe and less praise-worthy gift shop, feels overly extravagant for a garden of this scale. Named the Hibbert Centre after Major Tony Hibbert, who donated the house and garden to the Trebah Garden Trust, the building cost over £1M to construct. However it’s Trebah’s branding that offends me the most. The garden’s logo, fashioned in an unpleasant combination of bright purple and emerald green, has been devised in a style I could only describe as ‘provincial leisure centre chic’. It is entirely at odds with the garden and one can only imagine that the designer must have been asked to come up with something ‘trendy’. Adding insult to injury, it is repeated continually on too many irrelevant and repetitive pieces of signage and interpretation. The National Trust must be wondering what drove their neighbour to put up the graphical equivalent of stone cladding.

Amaryllis belladonna relishes the conditions provided by Trebah's warm, sheltered, south-facing slopes.

Amaryllis belladonna relishes the conditions provided by Trebah’s warm, sheltered, south-facing slopes

Sadly, and I will be kind shortly, the garden trust’s latest project, a lofty amphitheatre, smacks of well-intentioned folly. Stark, hard-edged and miles from the carpark, one wonders how well this feature will be used and if the money might not have been more wisely employed elsewhere in the garden, or on a rebranding exercise. One hopes that appropriate planting, moss and lichen will quickly soften the granite blocks, but I still question the appeal of such a monument for the vast majority of regular visitors.

Less than impressed, friend Beth and Him Indoors vote with their expressions.

Less than impressed, friend Beth and Him Indoors vote on the new amphitheatre with their expressions.

At this point I will get back to the plants, which is what this blog is all about. Entering the garden at the foot of the top terrace, visitors are greeted by a fine collection of mediterranean shrubs, agaves, aeoniums, echiums and other tender exotics. Notable among these are Kniphofia rooperi and Grevillea victoriae. These foreign imports appreciate the more open, well drained conditions found in this part of the garden and flourish outside all year round. The path winds up, past lush clumps of hydrangea and hedychium, to a crystal-clear koi pond fed by spring water and fringed with tree ferns.

Water from a spring cascades through cool greenery into the koi pond

The pond flows over into a narrow channel which feeds Trebah’s water garden, completed in 2010. This is an altogether more appropriate feature which blazes with primulas, zantedeschia and lysichiton in spring , mellowing to shady green as the year progresses. Pops of colour are introduced for autumn in the form of golden rudbeckias and Lobelia tupa. Venerable tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) are everywhere at Trebah, some having been planted as long ago as 1880 when Charles Fox took delivery of no less that 300 trunks shipped over from New South Wales.

By early autumn, the vegetation in the Water Garden has almost obscured the complex layout of pools and cascades

By early autumn, the vegetation in the Water Garden has almost obscured the layout of pools and cascades

From the water garden a path meanders through dense thickets of tree fern, giant rhubarb (Gunnera manicata) and bamboos to what must be one of the greatest swathes of mop-head hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) in the country. Again, I have to admit this feature is not particularly to my taste, the bumpy landscape created by the dumpy bushes adding up to a rather ill-defined and crude scene. Most visitors appear to love it, and during late summer it’s one of Trebah’s biggest attractions. I will temper my dismissiveness of the hydrangeas by praising another new feature, a Monet-style bridge over the Mallard Pond, which greatly improves the view of the garden from where it meets the sea at The Didi, back up to the house.

The new Monet-style bridge

The new Monet-style bridge crosses the Mallard Pond amidst two acres of hydrangeas

Trebah’s diminutive beach, affectionately know as ‘Yankee Beach’, has seen more action than most. During World War II, it was used by the 29th US Infantry Division, comprising some 7,500 men, to launch an assault on Omaha Beach in Normandy. The back of the beach remains concreted over from that time, but the views out into the Helford River and to the sea beyond are beautiful at any time of year.

I have been hard on Trebah, but I mean well and would still encourage you to visit. Here is a garden which has a remarkable history and a bright future, but which needs something other than expensive amphitheatres to recapture the raw magic it possessed 25 years ago. It’s time to take the stone cladding down and invest in a can or two of Farrow and Ball … you just need to look next door to see that I’m right.

Click here to visit Trebah’s website and experience that lovely logo first hand!


Even Trebah’s garden plan can’t avoid looking like a map of a zoo

Getting Noticed

Frustrated Gardener, The Gazette, September 2014

It’s always nice to be noticed, and even nicer to be appreciated. Today I am walking tall and smiling like the Cheshire Cat as not one, not two, but three organisations have good things to say about The Frustrated Gardener.

First off, my company magazine ‘The Gazette’ has written a lovely profile about me and my hobby and passion, gardening. This involved a two hour photoshoot in our London garden which was terrific fun and the nearest I’ll come to being a supermodel. David Gandy need not watch his back!

Gazette article, The Frustrated Gardener, September 2014

Secondly, the team at Notcutts Garden Centres have nominated The Frustrated Gardener for their 2014 ‘Notcutts Loves’ blog awards in the category ‘urban gardening’. I hadn’t really considered myself an urban gardener before, but I guess it’s fitting for someone who tends two town gardens. If you’d like to cast a vote in my favour, or eye up the competition, click here.

And, last but not least, the website UK Doors Direct has included The Frustrated Gardener in their Top 10 gardening blogs. I had no idea about the accolade until I started to spot visitors coming from their website, but I am delighted to find myself in the company of so many great blogs. If you are a new visitor and like what you find, why not follow me?

The Big Time? Maybe not, but it makes for one very happy Frustrated Gardener.

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