Customer Service 0344 481 1001 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


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 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

Chandelier in situ

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

1 Honey bee on lavender at The Green Backyard

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

Climbing hydrangea

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

Let parsley flower and it attracts many insects

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


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


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


Quick and dirty tips: grow your own oranges and lemons

I’m just back from a wonderful gardening holiday in the south of France, one of the highlights of which was a Lemon Festival in Menton, just next to the Italian border. It’s a delightful setting – steep terraces of lemon and olive groves tumble down towards the turquoise sea, and the streets of the town are lined with orange trees and palms. In winter, it’s the warmest place in the …Read More


Back to the fuchsia

Human beings are fickle creatures. Imagine if someone introduced a new bedding plant that gave unique, colourful flowers, bloomed for months on end and even grew well in the shade – it would set the gardening world alight.

And yet the trusty old fuchsia, which does all of these things, has steadily fallen from favour through no fault of its own. We’ve just taken it for granted and been distracted by …Read More

Chickens - My Girls - Bakker Spalding

New chooks on the block

The memorial service was short – just a couple of dozen well-wishers and a brief eulogy from a local Archbishop. RIP Battina the ex-battery hen. Joking aside, I was really quite surprised how attached I’d grown to ‘Batty’ as she was called for short. For creatures without much brain, chickens have rather a lot of character. Batty was queen bee of my trio of hens that were rescued from the dog …Read More

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