[Warning: major plant geekage ahead] One of the best things to happen over the last year has been meeting people who love plants as much as I do; who get why it’s so exciting to discover a plant you’ve not seen before, to understand how it grows and why. Even better, I’ve met people who know far more than me about plants and, like a naughty school boy, I feel mischievous hanging out with the experts who introduce me to deep secrets of the plant world. Continue reading Plantaholics Anonymous
This blog post was originally titled “education = better vegetation” but the new rhyme is more appropriate. Last week I found out I passed my RHS Level 3 Certificate in Garden Planning, Construction and Planting with commendations. Continue reading The liberation of education
It’s year two for my allotment and the layout I created for it originally is really working. The beds have been easy to keep weed free with weed suppressant membrane and rotating crops is a doddle. Everything is planted in little rows in a simple structure, the paths have nice grass along them now. With each weekend it’s all starting to feel neater and a step closer to how I want it. Continue reading Allotment Month 17: dahlias, prairie and produce
Bright flowers of Tulips – sumptuous blobs of paint on an artist’s palette. Continue reading Tulip flux
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be wondering how on earth it’s April when you thought it was still January while looking at spent Daffodils unsure of how you missed them. Well, the signs are here – spring has sprung and it sprunged faster than ever here in London. It’s time to get outside and enjoy the season before it passes us all by. Continue reading Spring-a-ling-a-ling
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 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
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?
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
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
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
One of the joys of living in London, the forest city, is discovering one of its many parks for the first time. Today I walked into Kennington Park on the way to a garden design job. Continue reading Our lives are not our own – Kennington Park, London
Yamadori is the Japanese word for collecting wild trees to grow as bonsai. Today, while rustling through the wildflowers, I pushed aside a branch to discover a tiny triple stemmed Quercus robur sapling in a quiet corner of… my allotment, the other side of Croydon. Continue reading My latest victim
I grow our garden as much for wildlife as for design and plants. Wildlife adds many layers of enjoyment, interest and a dynamism to our home – like nothing else. Continue reading Our inner city wildlife sanctuary
This year I took on my allotment and I designated one bed for garden design experiments. Deeply inspired by Planting in a Post Wild World and then seeing that principle in action at Nigel Dunnet’s design in the Barbican I’m focussing on creating a plant community with drought tolerant plants and grasses. I’ve grown everything from seed or plugs as I do with all plants to fully understand them. So this year it’s (as expected I should add) looking quite bare… Continue reading Living on a prairie (part 1)
Our experimental garden is now in its third year with lots to fix but standing back and overall the atmosphere is coming together. Only two real issues so far this year: first one heavy rain shower in June that flattened all of the new growth on Salvias, Briza media and Allium sphaerocephalon – they didn’t recover. Second was too many Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’. It looks a bit gaudy but you know, I like a bit of ridiculousness in my life, so I have kept them in for this year anyway, using fewer next year. Onwards to late summer and autumn and new levels of OTTness. Continue reading Summer highlights in our garden
Michael Perry invited me and a group of other gardening bloggers to have a tour of the Thompson & Morgan trial field today. Continue reading Thompson & Morgan Trial Field Visit
In 2016 I put peat free compost to the ultimate test, I only used peat free compost for every single plant I grew. Was it a huge mistake? Continue reading Does peat free compost work?
The best thing I’ve added to our border this year (I think so far) is Nicotiana alata ‘Lime Green’ – it hasn’t even flowered yet, it’s the leaves. I had no idea the leaves would be so plump and large. In amongst all of the smaller leaved plants, they’ve added the necessary contrast in leaf form our border was missing. As they say, the best things in gardening happen by mistake. I’ve tried to capture this in this photo: Continue reading Form factor – our garden in June 2016
My friend Pete Langley took me to a secret location on the South Downs one sunny summer evening this week to see some of our wild native orchids. We’d been talking about it for a while and now, with the solstice around the corner, the timing was right. Top of the list was the rare fly orchid, Orchis insectifera. Continue reading Wild orchid hunting
This is my third year at the Chelsea Flower Show and it remains an emotional experience. Excitement, inspiration. Admiration for the designers. Threaded with regret for my wasted years of not focussing on garden design. Only counterbalanced by a tiny sparkle of hope from the RHS education programme that tells me it’s not too late. Continue reading 24 Things at the Chelsea Flower Show 2016
I’ll have more blog posts this week with my photos and thoughts from the Chelsea Flower Show 2016, but I wanted to quickly share my initial impressions from the show today – the trends that jumped out at me. Have I missed any? Please let me know in the comments below. Continue reading 7 Trends at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016
Either I’m inexplicably inept at gardening, or living in the big smoke is providing a world of gardening pain that you’ll only understand if you live within the M25. That said, I do love London gardening – it’s for the fearless few, the diehard who persevere against the odds for the reward of an inner city oasis. If you’re one of these Londoners on a gardening mission, how do these match your own experiences? Continue reading 11 Realities of Gardening in London
Tulips: the last two years I’ve tried growing some tulips and it went horribly wrong. Especially last year with a “bulb lasagne” with lots of leaves and only one flower. So I’m delighted to have got them flowering this year: Continue reading Tulips, planting out tomatoes early and seedlings
Brutalist, futurist. Despite the concrete, the Barbican exudes such atmosphere and style that you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into an alternative reality. This is a place where plants have been used to transform one of the worst looking buildings into something very special indeed. The Barbican is part Gardens of Babylon, part video game. Continue reading PHOTO GALLERY: Barbican Conservatory, London
In late 2013 I discovered Dahlias. As unbelievable as that might sound to gardeners who have grown up with them for decades, somehow I’d missed them throughout my life. I don’t think I’d even simply ‘not recognised them’, I’m fairly sure I had avoided them almost completely – perhaps a sign of how out of fashion they had become? Continue reading Dahlia experiment: cultivars put to the test!