March 22, 2016

Listen up those of you who complain about snails.

This is a Brazilian snail or, to be more accurate, it is an African snail whose ancestors were exported to Brazil for food and have since spread around the country.

It can grow up to weigh over half a kilo and you would not want it Sambaing on your seedlings.

Or, indeed, doing the Bossa Nova amongst your broccoli.
To stretch the point a bit we could also include limbo in the lettuce,
Foxtrotting in the fennel or Salsaing in the salsify.

Waltzing in the weeds, however, would be perfectly acceptable.

February 18, 2016

The emergence of Primula denticulata is a visual spectacle.

Even before the primordial shoots have got a head of steam and made significant progress, the compact mass of flowers begins to awaken.

An early opportunist to attract the attention of any passing pollinators. With time the compact mass of tiny flowers emerges as a ball shaped pom-pom sat atop a stout stem.

2016-02-10 09.49.20 copyThese Asiatic, very hardy Primula’s are known as drumstick Primula. Grow in moisture retentive soil with a healthy dose of home-made compost or leaf mould. To propagate them, ripened seed germinates easily to give you countless potential offspring.

February 15, 2016

Seedaholic syndrome

My addiction to seed sowing has surfaced again, it is a primeval urge. In the last month alone, I have sown fifty varieties of seed, all but one is thriving. It started as an audit of my seed packets in January. Have I really got over five hundred?

I need to get sowing.

The thrill of watching the little green shoots emerging never fades. The power to bring a plant to life from what starts as an inanimate speck is for me, one of the greatest pleasures in life.

New challenges this year, chick peas, mimulus, gerbera ……..

February 12, 2016

Two bottles of Essential Vodka (so essential),

two cans of Fosters, two mini bottles of Smirnoff, one ripped and wormy Cheesy Wotsits bag, a coffee cup half filled with ice and a Caramel Dairy Milk wrapper.  Just some of the trash encountered in the six minutes it took to walk home.

Last year I found about 40 cans of Carlsberg all chucked into the ditch by the hedge.

You wonder sometimes. Just what kind of person keeps coming back to the same cow parsley edged country lane with its bucolic views of cattle under oaks and then dumps their crap?

January 23, 2016

This is a tree that looks and feels as it it is made of plastic.

I first thought it was a disguised mobile telephone mast but there were a couple of giveaway signs.

Firstly that is was in a garden in Rio de Janeiro that had been designed and planted by the great Brazilian landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx.

Secondly that there was a pant label attached to the tree – Calycophyllum spruceanum. It sheds its bark once a year: the new bark is pale green that then darkens in the sun to this deep and delightful brown.

Wish I did.

January 21, 2016

Having just turned the last page of Norwegian Wood (Maclehose Press, £20)

by Lars Matting. I shall never look at a piece of kindling in quite the same way.

This is the bestselling Scandi book that’s done for wood chopping what Paul and Mary have done for baking. Perhaps because he’s a novelist, though probably because he is a Norwegian, Mytting finds poetry in timber density, art in wood stacks and magic in axes and the best way to sharpen and wield them.

Right then, I’m off to the wood shed to admire my wondrous wall of kiln dried logs.

December 4, 2015

Late Autumn has proved to be quite a trying time as a self employed gardener.

The cold I can cope with, however the rain has driven me to despair; even the soil has taken on the appearance of uncooked Christmas pudding. It has not been a particular productive time, my bulb planting is way behind, and I have not even started any deciduous tree and shrub pruning.

There is one thing that I still can get on with, and that is plant photography. I have never looked in detail at the seed head of Gunnera manicata before, I have now .

December 2, 2015

“Real gardening”. What exactly does that mean?

It is usually used as a sort of jeer. “Oh, that’s not REAL gardening”. This is usually directed at designers or pundits who, apparently, know nothing because their hands are not sufficiently muddy.

It is a bit ridiculous really. We are all concerned with making our gardens both productive and beautiful. There is no right or wrong, no must or must not – it is supposed to be an enjoyable bit of free expression. Do whatever you want, it’s your garden – but don’t tell other people that they are not good enough to garden.

October 19, 2015

As much as I enjoy creating, tending and watching borders throughout the year,

I am particularly taken with Autumn. Plant material disintegrates, seed heads form, pigments start to fail, and berries become visually dominant. This is an incredibly vibrant and exciting time of the year.

For October I recommend removing all plants from your gardens that have outgrown their space and visual impact. What is the point of keeping plants that bore you? Gardens should be inspirational places of beauty and wonderment, whether that is flower, stem,seed,leaf or berry – or when this butterfly recently rested on Rudbeckia Herbstonne.

October 14, 2015

The Wildlife Gardening Forum are celebrating

their 10th anniversary on November 17th with a conference at the Natural History Museum, (with discussion on plans to bulldoze their 20 year old wildlife garden!) There will be guest speakers like Chris Baines and James Alexander-Sinclair, on how judging at RHS shows has reflected wildlife in the last 10 years. Find out more here.

The Wildlife Gardening Forum have also just launched their Facebook page; you can ask questions about what you have found in your garden including photos, share ideas for attracting wildlife in your garden and lots more.