Why our gardens will be SO much better in 2017!

Several hard frosts in a row have put paid to any meaningful outdoor gardening activities so it is time instead to lay down some ground rules for 2017. This year I will not buy any new plant that has already given up on me a maximum of three times – in this bracket I can already put Clematis armandii  (four attempts so far) and  Romneya coulteri, the tree poppy (possibly five attempts….) both gorgeous creatures that seem to run rampant in other people’s gardens but fail to get out of the starting blocks in mine. I will put a thick mulch on all...

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Erysimum ‘Parrish’s’

DECEMBER: Erysimum ‘Parrish’s’. December can be short on flowers. Early bulbs, sweet scented winter flowering shrubs, and most hellebores come into their own from January onwards; but for this time of the year, my subject today is in a class of its own. I can honestly say that there is hardly a month when it is not in flower, and don’t imagine it is nestled against a south facing sheltered wall, nor is it in a pot tucked well up against the house. Our garden is cold and it flourishes in an open bed, admittedly very well drained. Erysimum...

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What should Santa put in a gardener’s stocking?

Indoor bulbs don’t turn everyone on (and I’m thinking of Elaine here, who’s quite snooty about them), but personally charting the progress of my ‘paperwhite’ narcissus bulbs provides a little cheery anticipation during these dark days in Scotland. What though should we be buying for Christmas? When we three were together recently we discussed what we might get our gardening friends for Christmas. As you can tell from our video, some of our suggestions felt heavily influenced not only by a rather boozy dinner, but by the prospect of hibernation, although as Louise points out in her Great Plants this Month section – some plants are still going great...

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When keeping a diary can be dangerous

Do you keep a gardening diary?  You really, really should.  I recently found myself in France without mine, having unaccountably left it behind in England, and it was positively scary.  What was the name of that unusual buddleia I had planted?  Where was I going to move those monardas to? Which willow was it that Helen Dillon said could and should be stooled to three feet each winter?  I couldn’t remember but I knew I had it all written down in my precious little book. Even Louise with her encyclopaedic plant knowledge had to refer to her diary for the...

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