How to have cheap romance in your garden

Nothing adds an air of intrigue and romance into your garden like climbing plants. Draping languorously with sensual tendrils and evocative scents. But they can be expensive….so here are our tips on when you can cut corners and grow your own, and, just as importantly, when you can’t Let’s start with the classics: sweet peas, clematis and wisteria. The pea family can be grown easily from seed. Elaine was patronising about my fledgling sweet peas last week – I already knew that I had let my ‘Cupani’ and ‘Painted Lady’ babies get a bit leggy without her parading the photographic...

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Ficaria verna ‘Brazen Hussy’

Syn:Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussy’ Lesser celandine ‘Brazen Hussy’ William Wordsworth wrote no less than three poems in celebration of our native, lesser celandine, so can you imagine the raptures if he had come across ‘Brazen Hussy’? Closely related to the buttercup, this tuberous rooted perennial takes me by surprise every year: one minute the earth is bare, the next it pops up as if by magic. Its polished, heart-shaped, bronze-black leaves form a ground-hugging mound from which the golden yellow flowers cheerfully shine out as if to declare that spring really is on the way (although this week it...

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Perking up plants in pots and other jobs: Grow-How tips for very early spring

I hope the weather has been kind enough to let you get into the garden a bit this February!  How about looking after your potted shrubs while you’re out there? Or the aconites? Or maybe sow some more seeds inside? Here are some thoughts about tasks to have a go at, at what’s normally a chilly time of year: TOP-DRESSING SHRUBS IN POTS If you have shrubs growing in pots, as I have, this is a good time to give them some TLC.  Using containers is such a good way of achieving flexibility with your plant-positioning as well as growing things...

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8 weeds to worry about, and what to do about them

So which weeds are the worst and what can you do to stop them? Each weed has its own fiendish strategy to insinuate itself and every garden has its own set of infiltrators, but luckily we three old campaigners are here to guide you through your defence options. 1. Bindweed. It’s those clever devils that invade underground with sinisterly brittle roots that can regenerate from a tiny chunk that worry me most, and bindweed is the chief offender. The old trick was to stick a bamboo cane beside it and once it had made enough leafy growth, paint it with Tumbleweed....

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