London has some of the best glasshouses in the world and some of the most interesting secret smaller ones, here’s my pick of a number worth visiting on a rainy day.
If not outside, the place I feel most at home is in a glasshouse. That smell of warm compost and seedlings in spring, the patter of rain on the roof during summer showers, the protected exotics safe in winter – childhood memories that stay with me. Is there anything more peaceful than the bright, otherworldly space bubble of a glasshouse? Like a time machine, you can in one moment imagine standing next to Charles Darwin and in another imagine being on the surface of Mars in a bio dome. Glasshouses are (strangely) rather rare things, so visiting one is always well worth the trip for the experience. Below are some of my favourites in London. Continue reading 8 Glasshouses to visit in London and why
Chris and I have been huge fans of the National Garden Scheme (NGS) charity for a long time. You can read about some of the NGS gardens we’ve visited in my articles here. If you don’t know much about it, basically avid gardeners open their gardens for a small donation to the charity. Those donations get distributed through the NGS to care charities like Hospice UK and Alzheimers UK. You can read more and find gardens near you on the NGS website or by downloading their app. Continue reading NGS September Open Day – #DahliaFest
Yesterday I was contacted by a chap called Alan Bridger offering ‘surplus succulents’ to sell at our open day on Sunday to raise some more money. Today when Alan and his wife dropped them off I was gobsmacked. Continue reading Motherload of incredible succulents on sale at our open day this Sunday
It’s been three years since I first set eyes on a dinner plate Dahlia at the National Dahlia Society Annual Show 2014. They kinda look like the worst hats you could ever choose to wear… although saying that, I think I’d look rather fetching wearing one. Might try it… Continue reading National Dahlia Society Annual Show 2017 at RHS Wisley
Forget the fancy house plants you keep spotting on Instagram. You know the ones, stylish Pilea, funky Peperomias, velvety Echeverias… Yeah, those ones. I love them too but let’s spare a thought for the house plants of old, so overused in books, catalogues and by shops that people have turned a blind eye to them. Continue reading My 6 easy care comfort house plants you thought were boring but are in fact fabulous!
Chris pointed out this week that the best sunsets happen at this time of year, something I’d never appreciated – I thought beautiful sunsets were weather dependent. Since he said it I’ve noticed how right he is. The angle of the sun bouncing off the underside of clouds. It’s enough to drag your eyes up to the heavens. Continue reading Smudging seasons
No one else but me had set foot on my allotment since I’d owned it – I’ve just never really thought anyone would be bothered to come and it’s also a horticultural nightmare with old junk and weeds galore. However, driven by a surplus of Dahlias people have been, and it’s been great. Continue reading Dahlia swap!
The popcorn plants on my allotment are (later than normal) finally flowering and I thought I’d share some photos of the flowers. I’m betting most people have never seen popcorn flowers! Continue reading Have you ever seen popcorn flowers?
After August’s overcast skies, in time for bank holiday weekend the sun is back for summer round two. This ‘mid-summer’ meh-weather seems to be a recurring theme in recent years. We’re tricked into thinking it’s autumn but actually we’ve still got months to go. We’re not the only ones, plants slow down in this period, I even spotted a Ginko turning yellow. Continue reading Pot’s Growing On? Summer part two
We’re particularly spoilt for exciting gardens in South London with a lean toward the exotic as the more tender plants thrive in our inner city microclimate. We’ve visited Clive Pankhurst’s garden a couple of times now on the NGS and were treated to a private tour this week. It is incredible. Continue reading Exciting exotics at 24 Grove Park, Camberwell open on the NGS
One of my coolest finds in London has to be the discovery of Shanks Pony Nursery in Vauxhall run by a chap called Andy (on Twitter) and his partner Julien. I was first made aware of Andy a year or so ago when I spotted a Brugmansia planted in a community bed in the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens park. Tweeting out about this unusual street bedding, people soon linked the Brugmansia to the culprit. Continue reading Shanks Pony Nursery in Vauxhall
With work, gardening, friends and family, my life can quickly be filled with wonderful things but it often means the seemingly less important pastimes get reduced. How can I explain to my loved ones that I need to spend time on my allotment or revising over seeing them… again? It never goes down particularly well and I feel so guilty about it that more often than not it’s horticulture that I drop first. Continue reading Make time for what you love
You know that moment in sci-fi films when the warp drive or mega lazer is powering up? That “vvvvvvoooooooo” noise before the “ZEWWW” as it fires. Yeah, that bit. That’s the equivalent of what the Dahlia leaves are before the explosion of flowers. They grow and grow and then ALACAPOW there are balls of floof all over the shop. That’s the point my Dahlia patch is hitting on the allotment. And with twenty odd cultivars this year, if my Dahlia patch were a warp drive, South London would be inching closer toward Birmingham right now. Continue reading Allotment month 21: release the Dahlias! Black tomatoes, Zinnias, Brassicas and Pumpkins
It’s usually around this time of year, just as our good ship The Garden puts its rockets into nitro that problems start to crop up in the engines. Last year I spotted a beautiful moth in our garden and soon learnt that this beaut is a terror, Cydalima perspectalis, the box tree moth. Sometimes bad things come in good packages. Continue reading Box tree caterpillar plague in Clapham, London
I had planned to write a more detailed article about Malibu’s national parks and wildlife. However, I can’t do it justice and instead I’ve shared below a gallery of some of what we saw in early July during California’s mid-summer dry season. Earlier in the year, the plants would be lusher. The exquisite, subtle colouring of the plants has stayed with me and I recommend people to spend some time examining the photos. As many of our garden plants in the UK come from North America, the Californian national parks felt as though someone had designed and planted them. It’s a very special landscape that has stayed on my mind since we were there. All a real surprise as I’d thought of Malibu only for surfers and celebrities. Continue reading Photo gallery: Malibu’s unexpectedly exquisite wild flowers
Opening our garden to the public to raise money for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) was both an honour and a total mind-blitz to the senses. After all these years blogging about the NGS, it’s funny to add the ‘NGS’ tag to our own garden. It’s even funnier and lovely seeing other people’s photos of the garden after being the only person to photograph it over the last four years. Continue reading Our first NGS open day: a weather miracle, cake and allotment cut flowers
A quick reminder that we are opening our garden and flat, 2 Littlebury Road in Clapham, this Sunday afternoon (23 July)! It may be small but it’s packed to the brim with unusual and weird plants that I’ve grown from seed or collected over the years. I’m hoping it will give ideas to other renters and owners of small flats and balconies in London – you really CAN grow A LOT of beautiful things in tiny spaces.
All money raised will go to care charities via the National Garden Scheme (the NGS). It costs £3.50 to come in and we are selling cakes, teas, coffees, cold drinks and prosecco to help raise more money. Our fabulous and talented friend Rosanna Falconer has been an absolute trooper in helping us with the cakes – and she’s an amazing cook so do come and try some.
Please pop down for a bit, and please help spread the word by telling people! The more people who come, the more we will all raise (at the moment I’m worried no one will turn up!)
Personally, I cannot wait to meet fellow gardeners to talk about plants, gardening and everything bright and bloomy! Or we can just talk about Brexit… just kidding. Hopefully see you on Sunday.
Jack and Chris xx
Monty Don always says it’s important to pick only what you’re about to eat to reduce the time between plot and plate. James Wong often tweets and writes in the Guardian about the way sugars in vegetables quickly turn to starch – often in surprisingly short spaces of time. Continue reading Allotment month 20: it’s in the flavour – new potatoes, carrots, Florence fennel, beetroot and more
California is a magical place, Chris and I love it. One minute you can be in the oven of a 43C desert, a few hours later atop a snow covered mountain among giant trees. While it’s the wild areas that I love, the gardens are fascinating for the differences to those found in the UK. They seem to either be tropical or arid, extravagant or minimalist with very little in between. Oh, actually there is weird – weird is in between. It’s in a garden in Los Angeles that we first saw hummingbirds for the first time; one of those euphoric moments that last a lifetime. Below is a gallery of some of the Californian gardens we’ve visited during our trips from 2012 – 2017. Continue reading 56 Photos of Californian Gardens: from Facebook and Google to Hollywood via Alcatraz
Sorry for the lack of updates about our garden recently, I’ve been so busy opening my garden design studio it’s been hard to keep up. Also, with our open day but two weeks away today, all focus is now on making that a good day for everyone in order to raise lots of money for the care charities the National Open Garden Sheme support. Continue reading Pot’s Growing On? High summer in Clapham
Chris and I have just come back from a trip to LA, Vegas and Malibu visiting for a wedding. Once you enter the kingdom of plants, the world you see through green-tinged glasses changes radically and this latest trip to the states felt like stepping into an alternate universe due in part to the choice of plants used in urban plantings and people’s front gardens. In this post I’m going to document some of my observations from the streets of California. Continue reading From the streets of California
I can be my own worst enemy sometimes, in fact, a lot of the time. I can be so focussed that I become blinkered. At times like this it takes those around me to bring me back down to earth and point me back in the right direction. Continue reading Solstice in the city – Clapham Common
A selection of photos from my perambulations over the last few months. Continue reading Come into my world
An upfront confession: I’ve never seen nor heard of any of Derek Jarman’s films. A film director before my time. I first heard of him after reading about his home, Prospect Cottage, found in Dungeness on the south coast, a couple of years ago. Quickly I became obsessed with the garden and our friend David gave me Jarman’s book about it as a gift. While short, it’s one of my favourite gardening books – or any book. Continue reading At the end of the earth, plants – Prospect Cottage, Dungeness
Who knows how the laws of the universe work. Across the entire site my allotment is on I’ve never seen any foxgloves at all. Last summer I chose to leave a tiny weed in the middle of my brassica bed, who knows why. Continue reading Allotment Month 18: a visitor, weedageddon, cutflowers, vegetables and perennial produce
One of my bugbears around Chelsea time are the naysayers proclaiming the gardens are unrealistic and impossible to recreate at home. You know what I always say to that? Poppycock! (Incidentally, what is a ‘poppycock’ or am I best not asking?) Continue reading 15 sensational plant combinations you can try at home from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017
The Chelsea Flower Show is nuts. People on stilts dressed only in flowers, cactus jackets, astro turf lions, stands of rare plants grown to utter perfection by collectors and nurseries, every millimetre of gardens designed and fussed over, landscaping built in a week to be knocked down a week later, flowers arranged into hats… Continue reading 23 things at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017
There are some garden designers we see at RHS shows regularly. James Basson is one that came on my radar in 2015 with his naturalistic, authentic style that really stood out from the gloss of the rest of the show. Like a fine wine, at first I was unsure if I liked the style but I have grown to truly love it. Continue reading James Basson’s road to ‘best in show’ at Chelsea Flower Show 2017
It’s hard to take in the brain blitz that is the Chelsea Flower Show in one day – particularly when you keep bumping into Joanna Lumley and Mary Berry – so I’ll reserve full thoughts for later blog posts. Please check back in the week for design and plant picks. For now, I thought I’d quickly share some highlights from the press day today. Continue reading RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017 – Press Day Highlights
May? Mayhem more like. So much is going on this month I feel like Dorothy whizzing around in a plant filled whirlwind. Different gardens I designed in winter are coming to fruition now, Chelsea’s next week and our open day is somehow only 8 weeks away! Continue reading Pot’s Growing On in May: getting ready for a show-stopping summer!