10 plants to set light to August borders.

August can be a tricky month in the garden – a real injection is usually needed between the prettiness of June and July flowers, and the mellow quality of September asters and fawn grasses. What we need is HOT COLOUR and spadefuls of it to cheer us up as another summer starts to slip away. Let’s ditch subtlety (easy for me or indeed Caroline; Laura not so much …) and go for right-between-the-eyes zing to brighten the borders. Here are four of my favourites for doing just that: 1. Anthemis tinctoria – This wonderful daisy grows happily even in poor...

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Best scents of summer

Which plants have the most evocative scents of summer? At the risk of being called an introverted snob again (Caroline thinks I don’t read what she puts out about me on Twitter) gardening is so much more interesting when you explore the biology behind it. Flowers produce scent to lure pollinators to their nectar. So I have concluded that moths must have a much poorer sense of smell than butterflies as flowers that are adapted to pollination by crepuscular insects (those that come out at dawn and dusk Caroline) have the strongest scent of all. Take Brugmansia, the angels...

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10 Summer Stalwarts

It’s that time of the year when you need to rely on a core backbone of plants to burst onto the scene and provide volume and colour through the hottest months. Here in the south east where each summer seems to be warmer and drier than the last (sorry Caroline but it was your choice to live in Scotland….) we canny gardeners have had evolve our midsummer plant choices to include some newer drought tolerant introductions. 1. Veronicastrum. If you have an open airy spot you really can’t beat these North American prairie plants that build systematically through early summer and...

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Trending now: a tropical garden make-over

Whether it’s our warming planet or the welcome introduction of new cultures to our society, interest in creating a ‘tropical’ or hot weather garden is definitely ‘in’.  As you would expect I’m way ahead of my sisters here, having spent 10 years on a project in Madeira, so let me share some tips…. First, create the right microclimate. Tall boundary plants will enclose your space, trap the humidity and set the backdrop. You could invest in some Trachycarpus fortunei palms but they are pricey so why not try large pots of the magnificently structural tree dahlia Dahlia imperialis. Growing to over eight foot...

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