Garden centre or nursery? A country divided

Have you been buying plants in the last two weeks? Don’t feel guilty. Apparently we’ll spend £1.4bn by the end of the year (the British, not just you and me), but did you get them from a garden centre or an independent nursery? Look on any gardening forum – it’s contentious. Whether you go to Dobbies or Bill’s Specialist Plants is as defining as being a Brexiteer or a Remoaner. It is bit of an intellectual snobbery thing. I took my sisters to a garden centre when they visited and they announced snootily, ‘We’ve been here 20 minutes and we...

Continue reading

Viola labradorica: Syn Viola riviniana – Purpurea Group

APRIL: Viola labradorica Syn Viola riviniana – Purpurea Group. Writing these twice monthly pieces, I am always learning something new, and this time I had to look up the exact whereabouts of Labrador. So now I know, and furthermore I understand why this little plant is so resilient, as it also native to Greenland. For me it stands out from other violas on account of its unusual heart shaped, purple flushed foliage which complement the flowers so perfectly. It is an undemanding plant and will seed itself about gently; a little too gently for me, as I could do...

Continue reading

Coronilla valentina subsp.glauca ‘Citrina’

APRIL: Coronilla valentina subsp.glauca ‘Citrina’. Sorry about the rather long title, but names mean everything in the plant world and in this instance ‘Citrina’ is the vital word because without it, you will get a plant which (in my opinion) bears rather unappealing chrome yellow flowers. Coronilla valentina is a member of the pea family, a small evergreen (approx. 80cms), but it can reach well over a metre particularly if planted against a sunny wall. It is a gem (10 out of 10 says Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers!) and is definitely one of my ‘desert island disc’ plants....

Continue reading

Clematis can be a fickle friend

Do you like Clematis? Of course you do!  EVERYONE likes Clematis!  Oh, and I do hope you are pronouncing it CLEM-atis (Ancient Greek, imaginatively, for ‘a climbing plant’), and not Clem-MATE-is, but however you say it, now is the time to get new clematis started. So many colours, shapes, sizes and flowering seasons, that even the smallest area can accommodate one in that trendy ‘vertical space’ so much in vogue these days. I grow a lovely blue alpina variety called Frances Rivis whose whiskery whirligig seedheads are almost as pretty as its pendant violet blue and cream flowers in...

Continue reading