One tip I’d like to share is: do not visit more than two gardens in one day otherwise the third will inevitably have the least of your attention. This is what happened when we stumbled upon Le Jardin Secret on our last day in Marrakesh. Continue reading Marrakesh (Part Five): Le Jardin Secret by Tom Stuart-Smith
Today I’m talking surprise appearances, broccoli and rhubarb starting to crop, my new cut flower bed is underway, only a small moan about problems and a little froggy friend. Continue reading Allotment Month 16: surprise, surprise
It’s been niggling me for yonks: people calling Lupins “cottage garden” plants. Continue reading Who died and made Lupins a ‘cottage garden’ plant?
There’s one thing I will guarantee right now: you are going to see many more green flowers this year. In magazines, on TV and at the design shows. For gardeners it’s like we’ve discovered a new seam of Jade, luminous gems that really do grow on trees. Continue reading Let’s make green flowers our naughty little secret
I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure recently for our garden to look good. In photos, in person and increasingly stressing whether it will be good enough for our NGS open days, it’s weighing on my mind. Continue reading Release the stress, embrace the mess
Winter is a fresh season. Everything is stripped back, cleansed and reset for the coming year. It’s a time when bold architecture comes to the fore, as the below 30 photos gathered on mine and Chris’ travels around London this winter testify. Continue reading 30 unreal photos of London garden design in the dead season
I recently learnt that one colony of our rare native Pasque flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, was wiped out in 1992 by someone dumping rubble on it. Life is so fragile. Continue reading And so, we fight
In 2017 we are opening our garden on the National Open Garden Scheme to raise money for care charities – the more people who come on the days the more we raise! Continue reading Visit 2 Littlebury Road
Our garden is into its fourth year now and I’m continuing to play around with things, add new plants and the colour palette is slowly evolving. I’m excited about ‘the big grow’ this year and new plants being started from seed across February and March. Continue reading Pot’s Growing On: Waking from hibernation
Jardin Majorelle is best known today for being owned by Yves Saint Lauren, who famously saved it in the 1980s from both disrepair and developers building a hotel on the site. It was made however by a French artist called Jacques Majorelle who began creating this unique garden and house in the 1940s. Continue reading Marrakesh (Part Four): Jardin Majorelle
The second oldest garden we visited was by far the most visually arresting of designs. It is immaculate and inspirational. Yet it is marred by a multifaceted dark past which I find hard to ignore. Built around 1867, you will never forget a visit to the beautiful Bahia Palace. Continue reading Marrakesh (Part Three): Islamic tiled courtyards at Bahia Palace
I’ve wanted to visit Marrakesh for about ten years, drawn by its bright colours. What I hadn’t appreciated is its rich gardening culture, as popular today as it was in the city’s ancient past. The oldest garden we visited on our trip was that of the five hundred year old El Badi Palace next to the Riad Badi in which we stayed. It’s enormous. Continue reading Marrakesh (Part Two): blown away by ancient Islamic garden design at the El Badi Palace
Over the last year I’ve been thinking of creating an app that uses people’s smartphone geolocation to tag every plant (and eventually living being) on the planet but it looks like Apple has beaten everyone to the punch in a really amazing and exciting way. Continue reading Will Apple images save planet Earth?
My overwhelming impression of Marrakesh in Northern Africa is of a city greener than expected, filled with stray cats, colour and people on scooters who don’t care about mowing you down. Continue reading Marrakesh (part one): beautiful and bonkers, on the urban garden trail in the red city
At the weekend my Instagram buddy lamaisonbleue tipped me off to the fact the Crossrail Place Roof Garden at Canary Wharf had opened. Despite the construction of this £500 million station being heavily featured on TV (for its genius balances and weights to deal with changing temperatures in weather) I’d somehow missed its grand unveiling. Chris and I rushed to the scene on Sunday to check it out. Continue reading Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Canary Wharf
Month 13: my allotment has expanded a bit this year as I’ve taken on some unused adjacent plot. This is thick with grass and other weeds so I’m using weed suppressant membrane to bring it under control with less effort. It may not look pretty, but it works. Continue reading Allotment: weed suppressant membrane – beating weeds organically
Back in November Chris and I had the opportunity to spend a sunny Autumn afternoon at Stowe in Buckinghamshire (a short drive from where I grew up). I can’t say we fell in love with the place but it’s an interesting exercise in seeing and experiencing first-hand the fundamental building blocks of landscape garden design. Continue reading Landscape design at Stowe Garden in Buckinghamshire
Last year I grew a set of seven different potato cultivars and only really liked one of them, ‘Jazzy’. So, tonight I asked my Twitter buddies which potatoes they recommend and I was inundated with amazing suggestions! There are some clear winners, namely ‘Charlotte’ which everyone recommended and ‘Anya’ / ‘Pink Fir Apple’. Below is the full list with links to the Twitter accounts of those who recommended them. Continue reading The best potatoes to grow
The short period in between Christmas and New Year is something to be treasured. All of London is empty of people; either in their homes or having left the capital to visit family. The air now chill with winter. Continue reading Happy New Year from Littlebury Road
Future gardening is the phrase I use to describe my personal take on the world. Be forward thinking. Be big thinking. Looking at gardening and garden design with a serious eye to combine humans and nature in a way that suits both. Sustainable, enjoyable, beautiful, progressive. My future gardening journey to date has been organic in its perambulations, with many great gardeners helping and inspiring me. I have much to do in 2017 but at this time of year I like to pause and reflect on the moments from the recent past (small things and big things) that will no doubt influence my garden designs in future. It’s been a fun year, so below is a mini diary of 44 moments that meant a lot to me personally in 2016. Continue reading 44 Future gardening moments of 2016
It’s almost Christmas so I’m crazy busy wrapping up work, getting ready for the family arriving and trying to revise for my next RHS exams in February. There’s still time to squeeze in the odd few essential jobs in our small urban garden in central London though. Continue reading December: Hellebores, cat grass, sweet peas, ferns and shooting alliums
Last year I ordered a small Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ from an independent nursery off of eBay. In the summer it has a lovely single black rosette but that was it. I’d really like my Aeonium to branch. Continue reading How to make an Aeonium arboreum branch
Earlier in the year Lia Leendertz and Mark Diacono popped over to talk about and photograph our indoor plants for their new book My Tiny Indoor Garden. I loved the idea of houseplants being seen as a ‘garden’ because that’s really what they are. For years of renting in London they were the only garden I had. Having always been a little book worm, to have our houseplants – some with great personal meaning to me – featured in such a book feels very special indeed. Others featured include stunning cacti in the London shop called Prick, a porch of succulents to put other collections to shame, a perfect collection of plants owned by the current curator of RHS Wisley and some ruins enclosed within a tropical glasshouse. It’s all very inspirational and I keep going back to the twenty or so indoor gardens featured. The book is out now online and we’ve seen it in Waterstones and Foyles too.
Taking on an allotment for the first time is exciting and scary. I know because I’ve just done it – I’ve had my first allotment for a year and guess what, it was fine 🙂 Yours will be too. Below are some of my tips for allotment newbies to help speed you on your way to fruit and veg success! Continue reading 13 tips to help allotment newbies… by an allotment newbie!
We had a cold frosty day at the end of November – the coldest night in London for years – and every centimetre of my allotment was covered in dazzling bling. It was a reminder that our home garden really is small. We don’t have frost like this, nor the scale of a good solid garden the size of the allotment. It was a magical moment and a joy to see the beds and plants frozen like that. Continue reading Allotment propagation and storage – potting shed, polytunnel or greenhouse?
I used to be a foliage boy. I’ve changed (well, a bit). In the past I saw flowers as extravagant, expensive purchases that didn’t last for more than a couple of days. Now I grow my own – especially the flowers I like – my world is different. Bringing flowers into the house is fun and highlights the strength, colour and architecture of each flower – particularly the Dahlias I love. Fresh, they last for ages too. There’s something so precious about a flower in a little vase. Showing off each individual flower was my key discovery, rather than losing them in a large bunch. Focus on fewer stems is purer, bringing out the fragility and wonder. Here are some of our cut flowers from our garden and allotment this year. Continue reading Why I’ve fallen for cut flowers
On Saturday 26th November 2016 the SGD hosted a conference about the use of shrubs in gardens. I went along hoping to learn the names of some of the multi-stemmed specimen shrubs / small trees we often see in show gardens. Which I did, before the day turned into a rallying cry to designers to think again about shrubs and break free from the New Perennial Movement (which focuses primarily on the use of perennials and grasses). Continue reading Out of the shrubbery into the scrub
We all have them, a list of plants we dislike. Yet every now and then something happens that turns our opinion on its head. Could it be that for plants, hate is the first sign of love? Continue reading Have you ever changed your mind about a plant you hate?
This video is quite long but the presentation within it is important and well worth watching in full. It talks about the importance of a ‘green infrastructure’ within urban areas; cities, towns, even on bridges. Continue reading Designing for wildlife