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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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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An unlikely aster

Even before the botanists started splitting clumps out of the aster family, aster linosyris seemed an unlikely member. Known as the Goldilocks Aster, this rare British native (which also grows in much of Europe as well as Asia Minor) has small, bright yellow flowers on stems anything up to a couple of feet tall. But […]

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It’s a lobelia, Jim, but not as we know it

Lobelia – a blue annual used in hanging baskets. There are also some perennial ones that often don’t survive the winter due to a combination of cold and wet conditions. This includes the variety ‘Queen Victoria’ with purple leaves and scarlet flowers that both gardeners and snails find irresistible. Then there’s another member of the […]

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Is it or isn’t it?

Being a plantsman, I am always on the look-out for interesting and unusual plants. A couple of years ago, I visited a small nursery about forty miles from home – the sort of place that is immaculate with well cared-for plants, the sort of nursery you instinctively trust. Among the plants on sale were some […]

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