Serendipity

Sometimes a plant arrives in the garden in just the right place. While the vast majority of unplanned arrivals are weeds, just occasionally something unexpectedly pops up that warrants inclusion, something we hadn’t bargained for, but which is just right. There is a local park at the bottom of my road. Originally a small Victorian […]

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Little Black Number

How many plants have black flowers? Not many. On closer examination, many that are claimed to have black flowers actually have blooms that are dark red or deep purple. One such plant is iris chrysographes In late May, stems up to two and a half feet tall suddenly race up between the grey-green foliage of […]

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Cherry and Lilac

Spring is all about bulbs. Snowdrops, crocus, narcissus, hyacinths, tulips – there are bulbs everywhere you look, responding to the warmth and moisture of spring. But many small woodland perennials are putting on an early display as well, making the most of the light available before the tree canopy takes over. Omphalodes cappadocica is a […]

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Getting it wrong

While some plants pine away and die in our gardens, others become a pestilential weed. They either have roots that run, sending up new growth anywhere there is space or among precious neighbours, or are prolific self-seeders. Or worse still, both. Plants that are intent on world domination, starting with your back yard. I have […]

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Unimproved

As I get older, I find I am increasingly drawn to simpler flowers. There are exceptions – I still adore the magnificent old double red peony, Paeonia officinalis ‘Rubra Plena’ and admire the passion flower clematis, Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’. But the simplicity of Paeonia emodi and Clematis koreana are now more my style of plants. Highly bred hellebore flowers with picotee edging or […]

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Getting Physic-al

Whether you believe in climate change or not, the autumns here in the UK are staying milder for longer. Growing up in a Devon coastal resort, I remember we often had our first frosts early in November, but even living inland now, it can be a month later before the thermometer drops below zero overnight. […]

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Sumptuous and Hardy

It’s autumn, and to keep the colour going, the gardener turns to plants of doubtful hardiness. Annuals struggle on, desperate to set seed before the frosts kill them off, dahlias flaunt in the borders before midnight chimes, while chrsyanthemums dash in, arriving at the last minute before the curtain falls on another gardening year. But […]

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