The Growbags award their own Chelsea Golds

If Chelsea Flower Show didn’t exist, we would have to invent it – otherwise we wouldn’t have a ceiling for our artistic gardening ambition to hurl itself against.  Much of what you see there is near-impossible to re-create, misguided or just barking-mad – but witnessing the misguided or the barking-mad is actually quite exciting, like watching Diane Abbott calculate the Treasury Budget. You will already have had it ‘up to here’ about good and bad Chelsea gardens (in a nutshell, garden plants didn’t get big medals this year – I’m sure they will have a resurgence in the future), so...

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Heuchera ‘Brown Finch’

I am going for ‘subtle’ this week. If you want flamboyance, there is Chelsea! At this time of the year, almost every time I walk round the garden, something new is starting into flower, and naturally my attention is caught by the colour and exuberance of it all: roses, clematis, euphorbia, iris, paeonies … the list is endless. My subject today is not so noticeable, but it has a quiet, dependable presence, and our garden would be the poorer without it. Walk into most garden centres (not nurseries!) and you will be regaled with rows of different heucheras. All those...

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Will they check out if not hardened off?

I heard on the news that the English wine industry is at serious risk of losing 75% of its multi-million pound harvest this year because a -6 frost in the south of England in the last week of April destroyed the buds.  The ones above, snapped by Laura’s husband Tim, certainly took a direct hit. It was quite a sight to see acres of hillside vineyard lit by hundreds of burners that particular night in a desperate attempt to try and raise the temperature a degree or two and save the crop. That late deep frost damaged a lot of...

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Abutilon vitifolium ‘Veronica Tennant’

Thanks are due to Laura who gave me this beautiful shrub as a small cutting a few years ago. I was already growing A x suntense which has stunning deep bluey purple flowers, but its season is fleeting, whereas ‘Veronica Tennant’ is in bloom from late spring well into the summer. This is a strong growing, upright shrub, much hardier than people might think (quite untouched by the recent -2’ here). The dainty saucer shaped flowers are a good eight centimetres across and bees love them! Abutilon must have full sun, good drainage and a sheltered spot and given...

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