Action Stations!

One can be excused for inactivity during January – after all, Christmas is exhausting – but with the arrival of February the garden begins to demand one’s attention again. First of all there are the early signs of spring. Snowdrops are starting to bloom, tiny blue anemones poke tightly curled buds and bronzed leaves through […]

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Daily Flower Candy: Iris ‘Blue Note’ and Iris ‘Painted Lady’

I planted so many pots with bulbs before Christmas that I’ve had to bring them on in serried ranks down the side of both paths that lead to my house. It’s not a glamorous solution, but in a tiny space one learns to make use of every nook and cranny. Sheltered beneath walls and fences, […]

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Chelsea Flower Show 2017: Chengdu Silk Road Garden

  When I go to the Chelsea Flower Show, I want to see flowers. Whilst in the Great Pavilion this expectation is met in spades, occasionally some of the garden designers forget and start getting a bit too green, or worse, brown. This is fine, but don’t expect me to like it. For all its […]

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Daily Flower Candy: Iris bucharica AGM

Despite being a plantaholic, the existence of certain plants eludes me. Then, all of a sudden, a ‘new’ discovery will burst onto the scene, reminding me of the woefully limited extent of my knowledge. Iris bucharica is one such plant, never seen before and yet everywhere at Great Dixter’s Spring Plant Fair. It strikes me […]

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Great Dixter Spring Plant Fair 2017

  Every visit to Great Dixter is a treat, but when the additional carrot of a plant fair is dangled in front of my face, that treat becomes an irresistible temptation. And so it was, having hauled myself out of bed at the crack of dawn to complete my domestic duties, I set off towards […]

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Chelsea Flower Show 2016: The Vestra Wealth Garden of Mindful Living

Despite the unpredictability of the British weather, the idea of outdoor living has always appealed to me. In another life I’m convinced I lived somewhere tropical; the Caribbean or South East Asia perhaps. When Country Life International drops onto the doormat I ogle at the mega-bucks houses in Sydney, Barbados, Marbella and Thailand, their sumptuous […]

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Daily Flower Candy: Iris confusa

Iris confusa: bamboo iris, 扁竹蘭 As the fig, olive and bay have matured, our seaside garden has become partly shaded. Where once plants basked in full sun, there are now spots that remain in cool shadow for most of the day. Having fought against the prevailing conditions for a few seasons, I have seen sense […]

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My Top Spring Bulbs 2016

For the last two months our seaside garden has been ablaze with spring bulbs. Even if I do say so myself, this year’s display has surpassed all others in terms of longevity and flower-power. I put this down to three things: firstly, the best selection of varieties I have ever made; secondly, a plentiful number […]

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How to Create a Spring Bulb Theatre

One can never plant too many spring-flowering bulbs. However tedious the chore may seem in late summer and autumn, planting spring bulbs is one of the most reliably rewarding gardening activities I know. Bulbs are, by-and-large, inexpensive, readily obtainable, easy to grow and pest free. Chosen with a little care one can enjoy colourful flowers […]

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Daily Flower Candy: Iris histrioides ‘George’ AGM

I don’t know about you, but my green fingers fail me when it comes to keeping early spring irises flowering from one season to the next. The tiny bulbs, mainly cultivars and hybrids of Iris reticulata and Iris histrioides, are about the size, shape and colour of a garlic clove (‘reticulata’ refers the the protective […]

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