Halloween horrors

The end of October,  and the shops are full of skeletons and pumpkins as Halloween approaches. Don’t think that the horticultural world can’t join in the spooky fun though; there are plenty of botanical nightmares out there worthy of The Little Shop of Horrors. The carnivorous plants hold a special fascination –  monkey cups (Nepenthes), cobra plants (Darlingtonia), Venus fly-traps  (Dionaea) and the like. These lure innocent insects to their doom with their gaudy shapes and colours and scents. Horrified but intrigued, we watch as the fly buzzes nonchalantly towards mortal danger, like a young woman in a skimpy nightie walking through...

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Eriobotrya japonica AGM

Time for a tree – and what a year it’s been for our Eriobotrya (or if you prefer it’s common name, loquat).  Most often, after an average summer, we will be rewarded with a few late flowers: they are a little insignificant to look at, but beautifully fragrant, and there is no greater delight than to walk past and be caught unawares by this delicious scent. But this year, the tree has been smothered in creamy white flowers and I have never seen it look (or smell!) so good. The edible fruits, even after a summer like this one, almost...

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Grow-How Tips for October

The lovely autumn leaves are starting to flutter and fall, and it’s no longer possible to ignore the shortening of the days now – our wonderful summer has come to an end at last, and we gardeners must think about winter-protection, as well as planning for next year, even while we are savouring the gorgeous colours and scents of autumn. CUTTING BACK The usual time for pruning shrubs like Lavatera, Buddleia and bush roses is early spring, and I will still be doing that during March next year.  But these plants can become big leggy bushes by the end of...

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Grow-buys: A bang-on handbag

I didn’t actually buy my best October thing in October – I bought this fantastic handbag at Chelsea Flower Show FOUR MONTHS AGO, but it looks as good in October as it did in May despite being my constant companion (it’s coped better than my husband in this respect). Picture the scene if you will. I was being supervised by my sister Laura as we trawled the trade stands on the final day at Chelsea looking for something with legacy to give big sister Elaine’s new grandson, Stanley, born just hours earlier – (pretty sure a Peter Rabbit eggcup...

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