Willows: Infuriating fad or firm favourites?

‘Very pretty’, ‘beautiful’, ‘lovely’, all totally over-the-top hyperboles used by Laura and Elaine  in our video to describe a few dun-coloured stems in Laura’s garden. Really? Willows and dogwoods seem to be the ‘in’ thing for horticultural types to be excited about in winter. I don’t understand why they get so enthused by these featureless spikes just because they’re green or red. Graffiti is colourful but generally not popular. I can only imagine gardening contractors sold the idea of dogwoods to cash-strapped councils as a way to keep roundabouts looking tidy for six months of the year (nine in Scotland) and the fad has spread...

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January: less hygge, more hedgecutters

I went over to Laura’s last weekend anticipating an omni-gossip interspersed with bowls of soup and cups of tea, but was summarily appointed to the dreary duty of pulling manky  little leaves off dismal-looking auriculas. Laura does go in for this type of dainty treasure – fascinating in their own way, but more self-regarding than Donald Trump in full …….trump.  I imagine Auricula as the kind of insufferable little girl at school who always had the shiniest shoes and boasted about the nicest holidays, but was frankly too much of a princess to have friends. Now a truly classy plant – and one...

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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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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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