Peonies pile on the pleasure of early summer

What a gladsome thing a peony is!  Peonies are the ‘over-the-tops’ of late spring and early summer from the buxom ‘officinalis’ beauties so often seen in cottage gardens to the glamorous ‘suffruticosa’ tree peonies with their sumptuous blooms. About 12 years ago, I fell for one of these in a garden-centre; it’s called Handaijin (very dully translated as ‘Minister of Flowers’  – hang on, that’s quite a good idea for the next time we have a Cabinet Reshuffle”…) , it is now six feet tall, with the most beautiful grey/pink leaves preceding lots of frankly unbelievable dinner-plate sized flowers of bright reddish-purple.  (I see

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Euphorbias: the Dave or Boris dilemma

Summer’s arrived and it’s hard to believe that two weeks ago we were battling through driving snow in Scotland. It’s been grisly and if I was wondering quite why I was lifting turf to create a new shady bed  in nose-drippingly awful temperatures last month, the new plants were even more distraught. They spent the next four weeks  literally horizontal, fighting for their lives – all apart from the plucky Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Robbiae’ – which remained stalwartly unbowed throughout it all. What fabulous plants euphorbias are, and a bigger selection of them than there is of gin – and that’s saying something these

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We’re slugging it out with garden pests

Middle sister Laura kicks off:   So, we know sowing seeds immeasurably improves your sense of well-being but we now need to consider the dark forces that can descend as you sleep and rob you of all this self satisfaction in a few strategic rasps their radulas.I am referring of course to slugs.There are many bizarre substances said to deter them: eggshell  coffee grounds, beer traps, wool ..(and no doubt the eye of newt and toe of frog) They are said to be averse to copper so I have tried surrounding particularly sensitive shoots such as emerging clematis with copper rings.

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