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Bakker.com are delighted to welcome on board our new horticultural expert Gareth Richards. Gareth has had an interesting and varied career in horticulture having trained and completing, an honours degree in horticulture at Writtle College in 2004. Since then he has worked at a leading plant nursery, as a researcher for BBC Gardeners’ World, at a private garden in Provence – and he is currently working for the Royal Horticultural Society’s members magazine, The Garden. 

As you would expect, Gareth’s personal interests include gardening and he maintains his own large allotment plot growing a large range of fruits and vegetables. Gareth has kindly volunteered to write a weekly blog to keep us updated on his own gardening crusade and also keep us informed as to what is ‘hot’ in the gardening world.

Gareth will also be on hand to answer any burning questions you may have to help you with your gardening. Anything from caring for wildlife through to forcing bulbs. Click here to read the latest Q&A!

Gardening with expert Gareth Richards

Holly, but not as you know it

How are your balls? Box balls, that is. If, like many gardeners across the country, your box trees are looking a bit poorly then read on.

Over recent years, three new nasties have started attacking our most beloved of topiary plants. Two kinds of fungus (both known as ‘box blight’) and the box tree caterpillar have begun conspiring to pretty much seal the fate of a plant we’ve been growing in …Read More

Lawnmower man

Autumn’s colourful cloak diminishes with every chilly gust, sending blazing leaves swirling on the breeze, while down below, diamond lilies sparkle and spring bulbs begin their slow march to glory, sending out roots into the cold earth.
 

It may feel like the year is drawing to a close, but there’s still one or two really worthwhile jobs to be doing in the garden. Those autumn leaves make a wonderful addition to …Read More

Discovering the lost charms of diamond lilies

Standing tall, fresh and defiant amid the season’s death and decay, they thumb their noses at autumn’s dullness – exotic punks who remind us it’s not all doom and gloom. Nerines are my new favourite plant.

 

They’re kind of thing you see in catalogues or online gardening sites but never buy – but what a mistake! I guess they don’t exactly get off to a good start when you see the …Read More

Bat love

Poor old bats. No, I’m not talking about little old ladies who insist on going out shopping at lunchtime when you’re in a rush and paying for everything in the smallest change possible. They, quite frankly, can get lost. I’m talking pipistrelles, horseshoes, natterer’s and the other 14 different species of bat that we share our island with.

 

They (the furry sort) get a bad press. Being creatures of the night, …Read More

The Chickens and The Egg

Today was a milestone in my little world of allotment chicken keeping. We’ve gone full circle, my girls and I – from egg to egg.

 

Regular readers of this blog may remember that when Itchy, the last of my ex-battery hens, started looking a bit peaky back in the spring, it coincided with a very determined spell of broodiness from Marian, my gorgeous Black Rock. So, doing the maths (one about …Read More

Grow something different… 10 quirky bulbs to plant now

Why not try something fantastical and new this year? There are hundreds of weird and wonderful bulbs out there, from the mad-looking Sicilian honey garlic (whose bell flowers turn to rockets as they mature), to the pouting, sinister ‘Papilio’ amaryllis with its strange greenish flowers streaked in darkest maroon. Everyday yellow daffs and red tulips move aside!

1) Sicilian honey garlic  – related to the blue globe allium below, the weirdly-named …Read More

Are bulbs boring?

 

 

I’ve been gripped by bulb fever this autumn, buying packets of dwarf daffodils, tulips, iris etc as if they were going out of fashion. I’m determined that come springtime, I won’t regret being stingy back in the autumn – and end up buying pots of bulbs in flower at a much greater cost than purchasing dry bulbs in the autumn.

 

But there’s a problem with bulbs… there won’t be anything much …Read More

Springing into autumn

A warm summer’s evening might seem a weird time to be thinking about spring, but as anyone who’s been to any DIY store or garden centre recently will know, it’s bulb time again. Like mushrooms after the rain, racks of packets, covered in gaudy pictures, suddenly sprout on the shelves, and the soft thud of the Bakker.com bulb catalogue on the doormat heralds a change in the pace of the …Read More

The super fruits

They’re easy to grow, they’re incredibly good for you…. and yet hardly any of us grow them. When you think about the many other useful qualities of red, white and blackcurrants (such as the fact that they give enormous crops and they’re among the few fruit bushes to tolerate shade), this obscurity becomes all the more perplexing.

 

Certainly, if you do the maths, they are well worth growing. An established redcurrant …Read More

Clever ideas to light your garden at night

Warm summer evenings are what many gardeners live for. It’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labours. This thought struck me last night as I sat out with a glass of wine at as the sun set, lent back and was gently assaulted by the wayward branches of my tobacco plants. Their ivory-white blooms shone in the dusk, and their fragrance stopped me in my …Read More

It’s Bees’ Needs Week!

Our gardens are full of small miracles. The billions of tiny organisms in every teaspoon of soil that are the difference between a fertile tilth and sterile dust. The joyful, tumbling swifts and swallows that somehow fly here every summer from thousands of miles away in Africa. The wonderful feeling you get from smelling that first cut of the lawn on a warm day in spring, each time as good …Read More

The Marmite plant

Hydrangeas: love them or loathe them? Not always an easy question for me to answer. The very word conjures up images of fusty pom-poms of flowers in a dirty, granny-knicker pink. But recently I’ve begun to see one hydrangea in particular in a new light…

When I moved into my new house back last August, there were just two plants in the garden. One was an enormous dicentra (bleeding heart, now …Read More

The scent of summer

It’s a wet and windy night – big fat raindrops are lashing the steamy kitchen windows as the last of May’s delicate flowers are swung wildly to and fro in the looming dusk. No idyllic sunlit shots of the allotment for Instagram tonight.
It’s the kind of weather that makes me want comfort food. For me, when I need to make something from the cupboard and not set a foot outside, …Read More

How to tame a Robin - Birds - Bakker Holland

How to tame a robin in half an hour

Last weekend I realised a long-held dream: taming a genuinely wild creature to eat out of my hand. I’d like to say it was a carefully thought-out process, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ve always seen robins around on the allotment. I love them for their beady-eyed, inquisitive nature – looking at you as if bemused, cocking their heads to one side, as if to say “are you …Read More

Rhubard Picking - Bakker Spalding-w850

The Secret Life of… rhubarb

There’s more to good old-fashioned rhubarb than meets the eye. Firstly, it has a somewhat shady back story. Don’t ask about the relatives – it’s part of a plant family that you just wouldn’t mess with: the knotweeds – Polygonaceae – which includes fearsome plants like Japanese knotweed and the equally fearsome (though not nearly as invasive) gunnera (Gunnera manicata ) – which I once saw recommended in a catalogue …Read More

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What to do this week

Ah the joys of spring – seedlings bursting forth, bulbs flowering and a cacophony of birdsong – all of which for me tends to bring a mix of heady optimism and mild panic. It’s such a busy time of year –  I always wish April was twice as long! Where to start? Based on past experience (both successes and regrets), here’s my April ‘bucket list’:

Plant summer bulbs – …Read More

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Grow your own… cuppa?

 I’ve seen quite a few column inches devoted recently to growing your own tea. It’s a topic that’s naturally very appealing to our tea-loving, gardening-obsessed nation. Did you know that tea comes from a kind of camellia, not too different to those we grow in our gardens? Or that in the UK we drink 165 MILLION cups of tea every day?

It’s an attractive idea – step outside the …Read More

The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Spalding Plant & Bulb Company.