True Blue

  There is nothing more irritating for a gardener than to strive unsuccessfully to cultivate a plant, only to discover that someone who apparently makes no effort whatsoever is able to grow that plant to perfection.  It happens all the time, which is even more exasperating. This frustrating phenomenon is nothing to do with plants […]

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My Favourite Walk: Chapel Porth Valley, St Agnes

    I have been walking down and up the valley to Chapel Porth for over forty years. Not continually, of course, but at least once or twice a year and frequently more. Without question this gentle perambulation is my favourite in all the world. It offers dazzling light and dappled shade, cool stillness and […]

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Daily Flower Candy: Correa ‘Marian’s Marvel’

  My sweetie jar has been a little empty of late, so I think it’s high time I resumed my occasional Daily Flower Candy series, highlighting some of my favourite garden-worthy plants. Today’s sweet treat is Correa ‘Marian’s Marvel’, a shrub that had passed me by until I stumbled over it three times in the space […]

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Rhododendron Rebound

  Although I’ve never been able to grow them well, rhododendrons have always held a special place in my heart. I grew up visiting the gardens of Cornwall in the school holidays –  Trewidden, Glendurgan, Trengwainton, Lanhydrock, Trelissick and Penjerrick – long before the gates of Heligan and Trebah had swung open. As a small […]

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Return to Eden

It is May 2000 and I am standing in a long line of chattering, excitable people wearing white hard hats. This is not an audition for a Village People tribute act, but the queue to board a makeshift train that will transport us to the edge of an ugly, sterile china clay quarry. Below us, […]

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Tumbledown

We are staying at Trevoole, one of our favourite places in Cornwall. And because I am on holiday I can take precious time to see what’s in front of me. Outside our bedroom in the farmhouse there’s a romantically ramshackle entrance porch. Over the years the glazing has become increasingly cracked and opaque. Outside plants […]

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Bewitched, Bothered and Bewintered

As winter draws to a close, I can sum it up in one word: soggy. Dreams of bracing walks along the beach beneath clear, blue skies have been denied, replaced by nightmare navigations along muddy paths and through swampy fields.  I promise myself every year that I will visit more gardens during the winter (Anglesey […]

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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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In the Pink

It’s early June and the hedgerows of England are at their most ebullient. Nowhere are they more vivacious than in the West County where the crystal clear air permits colours to pop and sparkle. Warmed by the summer sun, refreshed by the last rains of spring, our hedges are flushed with foxgloves, ferns, campions and buttercups, […]

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Daily Flower Candy: Erigeron glaucus (beach aster)

The recipe for a classic seaside garden is as tried and tested as that for the most British of cakes, a Victoria Sandwich. Take a sheet of tightly mown lawn, add a fringe of hydrangeas (preferably blue) and spike with a handful of cordylines (Cordyline australis). Add phormiums (a modern twist) or agapanthus to taste and then […]

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