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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mauve salvia

Overwintering tender perennials – is it worth the bother?

So you succumbed to temptation and bought a lovely salvia just starting to flower in late July and now it is still looking great but frosts are threatening and you are wondering what you should do. Salvias are a bit of a task to keep going year on year, they mainly come from places like Mexico and Africa where winters are not as cold and wet as we get here, so a bit of forethought is needed. Some of the hardier cultivars such as ‘Amistad’ and ‘Phyllis Fancy’ you may be able to leave in the ground with the safeguard of...

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bulb lasagnes

Bulb lasagne – not everyone’s favourite dish

Planting spring bulbs? Just like boiling an egg, it looks easy on the face of it but has a sneaky timing aspect that can totally b**ger things up. Memories will eventually dim of my Inverewe chess board experience. I wanted to recreate that Highland garden’s striking black and white tulip bed. What a stunner – fab-u-lous x 10. However, my lack of attention to timing saw a random scattering of ‘White Prince’ tulips shoot up in late March, flower, die and collapse on top of some tiny ‘Queen of the Night’ shoots which struggled through in May to a luke warm reception...

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