A Knock At The Door

Early one evening a few years ago, there was a knock at the front door. A smartly dressed lady was standing on the doorstep. “I hope you don’t mind,” she said. “But I often pass your garden and you are obviously a plantsman. Can you tell me what the shrub is with the pink leaves?” The […]

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Not a crocus

Just now I have two little bulbs in flower that look like a crocus. And they’re not colchicums either. They are sternbergias. The genus sternbergia contains eight species, all found around the Mediterranean or in central and southwest Asia. The flowers are generally yellow (S. candida has white flowers) and most flower in the autumn […]

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Yellow daisies, short and tall

It was  the late Christopher Lloyd who penned the phrase “knee deep in daisies.” He was referring to late summer in the garden when members of the daisy family seem to predominate in the borders. But there a couple of yellow daisies that are flowering now, and will continue to do so for a few […]

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An Uncomplicated Rose

The far end of my garden is green. A green climber against a green fence. In January, a yellow flowered witch hazel stands out against the green background, and in June, pink flowers show up amongst the foliage. When the pink starts to appear, I know it’s summer. The flowers belong to Rosa ‘Complicata.’ It’s an […]

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Many Happy Returns

How many times have you planted tulips for a spring display, only to see the odd leaf (if you’re lucky) in the second year? Wouldn’t it be nice to get a repeat performance from them? Although the flowers are smaller than the highly bred ones, specie tulips will do just that – they are genetically […]

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Currant-ly Flowering

The currant family, or Ribes to give them their botanical name, consists of about 150 species of plants from the northern hemisphere. It includes several cultivated types of fruit – blackcurrants, white currants, redcurrants and gooseberries, as well as hybrids between these. There are also several grown purely for ornamental purposes, known as flowering currants (although […]

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Iris reticulata

Iris reticulata has a reputation for being ‘tricky’, with flowers the first year and only leaves in following years. An acquaintance did an unofficial on-line survey of gardeners the length and breadth of Britain, and found no pattern between those who grew them successfully and those who struggled with them. So what is the secret […]

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Early bulbs

Say ‘early bulbs’ and snowdrops come to mind. But there are others that flower in January to bring flashes of colour to the garden in January. Last year I saw a very effective mix at Oxford Botanic Garden of snowdrops with winter aconites, eranthis hyemalis. And like snowdrops, these like a shady position in moist soil. But […]

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