Orto Botanico di Palermo

The botanical gardens in Sicily’s first city, Palermo, are among the oldest and most important in Europe. Conceived in the late 1700’s no expense was spared on their construction. As today, early visitors were greeted by a triumphal neo-classical Gymnasium (intended for exercising the mind rather than the body), flanked by symmetrical buildings housing tropical […]

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Relaxing, Riviera Style

I am on holiday and therefore I must relax: at least that’s what Him Indoors keeps telling me. The problem is I don’t find sitting by pools or lounging about in the least bit relaxing. It’s not as if I haven’t tried it. I am a get-up-and-go kind of boy, and will be until my […]

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Bella Donnas

Amaryllis belladonna: Jersey lily, naked lady, belladonna amaryllis    We gardeners spend so much time and energy trying to cultivate plants which aren’t 100% suited to our gardens. We slave away, attending to our tender treasures’ every need, hoping and praying that we might be rewarded by a precious bloom, two if we are lucky. […]

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Daily Flower Candy: Ceiba speciosa

Ceiba speciosa (formerly Chorisia speciosa): False kapok, floss silk tree, drunken stick, bottle tree We are in Sicily, Palermo to be precise, enjoying the balmy autumn weather, wonderful food, exquisite wine and eclectic architecture. So far the urban flora has been predictably Mediterranean – oleanders, palms, bougainvillea, lantana and cycads – but one tree has […]

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Tomato Time

I was catching up on missed editions of Gardener’s World last night, listening to Monty Don bemoaning the fact that his outdoor tomatoes, although blight free, were stubbornly refusing to ripen. I could not help feeling a tiny bit smug (which is awful I know) as our tomatoes have been bountiful this year. We are […]

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Kaleidoscopic Colours

I am in Cornwall, where the hydrangea is Queen of Shrubs. No seaside garden is complete without at least one; indeed many are packed with dozens of them, punctuated here and there by windswept cordylines. Love them or hate them, hydrangeas are possessed of some of the most unique flower colourings in the plant world. […]

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Beautiful Barnacles

One thing I miss living on a stretch of chalk coastline is a good old boulder. The best we manage in Broadstairs is a knobbly, football-sized flint. Today I am in St. Agnes, Cornwall, where gigantic rocks are ten-a-penny. Their smooth, static hulks litter the shoreline where they have been torn from the cliffs, molested […]

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Polegate Cottage: Three Months On

It’s been three months since we bought the house next door. The idea is to convert The Watch House and Polegate Cottage into one home, giving us a library, an additional bathroom and two more bedrooms for guests. We need to make a good job of it as we might never be able to afford […]

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Dahlia Week: Tips from the Top

Last Saturday we were lucky enough to hear from two of the dahlia world’sĀ greatest enthusiasts as part of a Dahlia Festival at The Salutation in Sandwich. As well as being the garden’s full time Head Gardener, local lad Steven Edney is also an RHS trial judge and dahlia committee member. He gleefully describes dahlias as […]

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Dahlia Week: Classy Collerettes

Dahlias come in all shapes and sizes. This is why, like other extensively hybridised flowers, dahlias are classified by flower type. There are waterlilies, stars, fimbriated (fringed) and cactus types; orchids, anemones, pompons and paeonies. Just don’t ask me to tell them all apart. Carving out a niche between the singles and the decorative doubles, […]

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