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
It’s been a year since I was given my 125 sq metre allotment and what a wonderful, soulful, reflective, fun, heartening year it has been! It’s been a hell of a lot of hard work which, while not converting into an equal output of produce, has satisfied my need to grow-our-own tenfold. Continue reading Allotment month 12: proof is in the potatoes
One thing I remember from my childhood greenhouse and large cactus collection was how heavily I used to water them. I’d let them dry out but more often than not I used to soak them in buckets of water, breaking all the rules of cactus growing. Continue reading Accelerating succulent and cacti growth
My mum and I share the same birthday, bonfire night. We love it, so Chris and I drove up to Yorkshire to enjoy it with my family. On the way home we had to stop in Birmingham and woke to a sunny winter morning shining light on one of the most creative, greenest and modern art packed city centres we’ve seen for a while. Continue reading Library of Birmingham’s rooftop secret garden and futuristic municipal design
We were really taken with plantswoman Diana Ross’ stunning garden around the corner in Clapham when we visited on the NGS in September. We’ve stayed in touch since and I popped back last week to see the beautiful autumn colours. Filled with Miscanthus and Calamagrostis, Melianthus, Sambucus, a mature Clerodendron, an eye catching purple vine and a lot more. I’ll let the pictures do the talking in the below gallery (click to enlarge). Continue reading Autumn colour in Diana Ross’ garden
The Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew has rarely looked as good as it does now. It has been one of my favourite places in the world since I was a child. Visiting every year of my life. Continue reading Cacti in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, Kew
Down the side of our Victorian maisonette is a narrow alley way. It’s where I started our garden so I know its seasonal patterns well. The side wall is pretty much south facing so gets blasted with full sun in the summer. The alley is only 1.5 m wide at one end and 2m wide at the other. The six foot boundary fence creating full shade on the other side. This creates two opposing conditions packed tightly next to each other, something very common in urban gardens. Continue reading Having fun with shade and sun
This week Apple reopened its flagship London store on Regent Street after months of renovations to reveal the focal point as none other than indoor pot plants on a gargantuan scale. An indoor avenue of twelve Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’. Continue reading Apple iTree: the botanical trend reaches new heights with Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’
Something about Autumn and Spring make them feel much the same thing. Soil is damp and warm again, leading to a sudden burst of growth from weeds. This surge of energy – seen too in the wanted plants – is what helps many fruit and veg ripen and hardy veg seeds to germinate now ahead of a spring crop. Continue reading Allotment Month 11: jobs for Autumn
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
I’ve been planting bulbs today, are there many things more satisfying? I really love this time of year (but then I love every time of year!) Our garden has reached the peak, jumped off the edge and is now sailing toward winter with its colourful sails at full mast. Continue reading Into Autumn – colour, bulbs, robins and changes
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
Time is a wonderful gift, it changes things. None are more aware of this than gardeners. Continue reading Beauty of life in all its stages (4 Macauley Road, Clapham NGS)
It is a year since we overhauled our garden – after two years of experimenting – and as the rest of the country recedes into autumnal shades I am glad our garden shines its brightest in September. Continue reading Longing for Littlebury
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