Winter warmer one-pot wonders

This is for all you allotment-holders out there.  Aren’t you feeling a little bit smug that you still have your rainbow chard, some slightly caterpillar-munched cabbages, the ever-prolific kale and cavelo nero and a hopeful little row of leeks?  You might still have some gnarly parsnips and swede too? I have Stephen to thank for…

Mouth-wateringly fruity roses

I love many plants, but it is roses who have stolen my heart.  Tulips have the same colour-range and silken or satin textures; peonies have the blowsy opulence; dahlias have the drama.  Roses have all of this, plus dementingly delicious scent.  There is nothing like burying your nose in a sun-warmed rose and breathing in…

Key plants in the bright border

If you read my earlier post, The Big Bang: the making of a bright border, these are the key plants that make up the display. First there are the tulips: ‘Couleur Cardinal’, ‘Antraciet’, ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Purple Flame’. They are accompanied by Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ and Geum ‘Hilltop Beacon’ and new spikes of hemerocallis and crocosmia. Then there’s…

The Big Bang: the making of a bright border

When we moved to our new garden, I had a vision.  We had a long stretch of post-and-rail fence which I decided would become my bright border. Here is what I saw in my mind: Firework explosions of colour, of plush textures that added sparkle and drama. Orange and gold tulips and bright green euphorbia…

Guilt-free pick-and-mix

If you want a bit of child-like glee in your life, grow a few annual flowers from seed.  They germinate and bulk up quickly, and will give you a wild profusion of flowers within a matter of weeks: a March sowing will be flowering from June, and will carry on until the first frosts.  These…

Delectable dahlias

Pictured above (clockwise, or scroll through) are: Top row: Penhill Dark Monarch, Burlesca,Totally Tangerine (middle), Isabel, Purple Bottom row: Waltzing Matilda, Blue Bayou (picture credits: Sarah Raven), Purple Dream, American Dawn (with Purple Dream in the background). Dahlias are quite possibly the most rewarding plant to grow for the novice gardener.  They might need some initial cossetting,…

Lichen and Moss

I’m quite partial to a spot of lichen or moss. Especially in January. It’s partly because there aren’t many flowers to distract me. And partly because if I’m walking through woodland, most of the colours are rich browns, with the leaf-litter and tree-trunks, and then all of a sudden, you spot a twig in the…

The first snowdrops

Yesterday I cut my first little bunch of snowdrops. I had a poorly child at home with me, so she got a hot chocolate and a jar of snowdrops. They were closed when I brought them indoors, and as promised, took about ten minutes to open. Their honey scent is delicious. Snowdrops are brilliant for…

Marmalade

There’s not much to do in the way of gardening, but Stephen’s making sourdough and our year’s supply of marmalade. Unlike jam, where all you have to do is weigh your fruit, add an equal weight of sugar, and maybe a strip of lemon peel, marmalade is a two-day process. Yesterday he peeled off the…