Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi – I want a magnolia

How can anyone not love a Magnolia? Their lavish flowers declare in their classy way that spring has really arrived in all its finery. People like Caroline might assume these celestial-looking beauties are all the same but it’s NOT TRUE and you must be careful to choose wisely. Most are deciduous (lose their leaves in winter), and bear their blossom before the leaves emerge, which lets you fully appreciate the satisfying form of the flowers. Magnolia soulangeana is the one commonly seen in suburban gardens – though, having been bewitched in the garden-centre, many people clearly failed to realise how

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Going potty at the Plant Fair

So I took C and E to the Spring Plant Fair at RHS Wisley on Sunday, on the promise they’d behave themselves. Wisley is very much my stamping ground and I didn’t want any embarrassing incidents which might compromise my regular Sunday morning visits to this fantastic garden, (which I am now illustrating in a separate column ‘Grow To Wisley’ do have a look). The first challenge was to get them up in time, given the clocks had changed and C had been out on the tiles the night before at what she euphemistically called a ‘school reunion’. The next challenge

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Sod it – where are those seeds?

Outside the garden is still being battered by the return of ‘the beast’ but the days are lengthening and we can all indulge ourselves in a bit of remedial therapy by getting some new plants on the go. Seeds of many northern hemisphere plants are best sown in autumn so the winter rain and cold can trigger a natural breaking of dormancy when longer days and warmth arrives, but annuals and plants from warmer climes should generally be sown in spring. So in my case it’s time to track down all those packets of seeds I’ve been hoarding over the

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