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

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Haircuts for herbs

By last weekend my nice little hummocks of herbs were looking decidedly overgrown and shaggy. The thyme, which flowered beautifully in late spring, suddenly looked splayed and tired like someone who’s had too much to drink at a party. The sage had plans for world domination – in just over two years it had grown from barely six inches across to almost four feet wide!
Sage and thyme, along with other …Read More

2-Heaps-after

What rot!

As leaves fall, remnants of Halloween pumpkins rot steadily by the roadsides and mushrooms burst forth under almost every tree, my thoughts turn to death and decay. It’s not a bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder, honest; it’s something magical and weirdly satisfying – the alchemy of compost making.
But how on earth do you turn your manky old bean stems, lawn clippings and swept-up leaves into sweet-smelling crumbly compost like the …Read More

war-on-slugs

The War On Slugs – Part 1

Slugs, the one thing all gardeners can agree on. The bêtes noires of borders from Brighton to Birmingham? Right? Well, no, actually…
Here in the UK we have around 30 native species of slug, of which only four are pests. Who’d have thought these slimy critters came in so much variety? Some such as the almost-pretty leopard slug don’t eat live plants at all, instead preferring to eat other slugs and …Read More

Tayberry Superfood / Superfoods

Grow Your Own…………. Superfoods

Years ago, working on a programme about superfoods for BBC Gardeners’ World, I was shocked to learn just how deeply our notion of which foods are best for us is shaped by the food industry, rather than scientists. Blackberries, for example are hugely good for us, packed full of vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre – yet we routinely overlook them for blueberries, which have been more heavily marketed.
Whatever the rights …Read More

rudbeckia

The Chelsea Chop

“Oh so you’ve done the Chelsea Chop have you?” – accompanied by a knowing nod of approval and a slight air of smugness. It’s one of those gardening rites of passage, a little piece of jargon that makes those in the know feel just a little wiser than the rest.
It’s nothing to do with illicit substances or even anything vaguely highfalutin’ – merely a seasonal shearing of some of May’s …Read More

Herbs

Herbs are the icing on the gardener’s cake. They’re that ‘little extra something’ that you don’t really need, but yet… they’re one of the types of plant that almost everyone tries to grow. After all, what would roast lamb be without mint sauce made from leaves that were growing in the garden not two hours ago? What would roast pork be without sage and onion lending their subtle depths of …Read More

Dwarf-Cherry

To Pot Or Not To Pot?

“Can I grow it in a pot?” is possibly the gardening question I get asked most frequently of all. As gardens get ever-smaller and people get ever more keen to do a bit of grow-your-own, patio plots become ever more popular.

There are plenty of reasons why growing vegetables and fruit in pots makes sense. Not only can you fit more in to a tiny space, but growing in pots …Read More

Orvill

Chooks – Part 1

When people ask me what’s the secret of successful gardening, I often reply ‘think of your garden like a pet’. Just as you’d take your dog on a daily walk, rather than on just one 30 mile walk a month, so a garden benefits from regular attention. All too often, the people I see struggling with gardens or allotments are those who do a huge marathon one weekend, exhaust themselves …Read More