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 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


Spring Cleaning Your Garden

After a week’s holiday I strutted around the garden on Sunday like a horticultural Victor Meldrew. Having said that, the cries of “I don’t BELIEEEEVE IT!” were generally ones of happiness rather than exasperation and despair. Pots of crocus (the sublime ‘Zwanenburg Bronze’) that I thought had come up blind were flowering at full throttle, showing their deep gold and bronze faces to the spring sunshine. Broad beans on the …Read More

Twenty good perennials to get you started

Twenty good perennials to get you started

Five tall ones for the back
Aruncus plumosus ‘Glasnevin’ (5 ft/1.5 m) Creamy white plumes of flowers June-July.
Delphinium ‘Magic Fountains’   (6 ft/1.8 m) Huge spikes with large florets in a selection of pinks, blues and white. June-August.
Helianthus annuus ‘Pacino’    (6 ft/1.8 m) Double golden yellow flowers July-September.
Ligularia clivorum ‘Desdemona’ (5 ft/1.5 m) Orange flower spikes, large purplish leaves. July—September.
Sidalcea  (6 ft/1.8 m) Deep pink/red mallow-like flowers. June—August.

Five of medium height
Anemone …Read More


Planting herbaceous perennials

Always prepare the ground intended for herbaceous perennials well in advance. You can, in theory, plant container-grown herbaceous subjects at any time of the year when the weather is suitable, but even so there are still two optimum periods – in early and mid-autumn (September to the middle of October), when the soil is still warm enough to help re-establishment, and in March to early April when the hardest weather …Read More

Herbaceous Perennials and Borders

Herbaceous Perennials and Borders – part 2

A true herbaceous border or bed is supposed only to contain herbaceous perennials, but a way round winter bareness is to plant strategically placed patches of spring bulbs throughout the area. These clumps can then be removed for the summer, and the spaces filled with summer bulbs (say gladioli), dahlias, or properly chosen bedding plants.
However, many plots just cannot afford the space for such a scheme, nor their owners the …Read More