Colour – symphony or screech?

When my sisters said that they were going to come over to France for a couple of days, I jumped at the chance to show them what I had been up to in my rather rampageous Normandy garden.  In the event, they found out why this part of Europe is so green – the rainstorms verged on the biblical and the howling gales made Caroline feel she was back at home in Scotland.. In the four minutes or so that it wasn’t actually pelting, we wandered about discussing the fairly fundamental question of which plants look good together and...

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Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Erika’

One of the great pleasures towards the end of a holiday is to anticipate my first stroll around the garden upon our return. A week’s absence allows us to look at it all with fresh eyes, to enjoy the subtle changes, to notice the first flowers on an old favourite reappearing. This week Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Erika’ stands out for me; partly because much of the rest of the garden is in ‘green’ mode, waiting for the late summer flowers to start in earnest. But ‘Erika’ is more than just colour, it adds elegance and structure to the whole border,...

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh – it sounds impressive and given the complexity of its funding masters (and its structure – RBGE actually comprises four gardens in Scotland), the Edinburgh garden does a jolly good job of fulfilling expectations. Fact: it’s big – 70 acres. You can spend a good afternoon getting round it – and it’s completely free to go in! You’ll enjoy the walk from the city centre – 30 minutes or so will do it, handy since there isn’t a car park  – but it’s fairly easy to get onto a meter on one of the...

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Dahlias: too dire to dare?

Still not sure about dahlias…..they were originally brought into the country as a food source, their tubers to be cooked as a culinary root vegetable and there are still times when I feel this might be their finest use. James Wong has an interesting recipe for dahlia fritters but the thought of grating the Bishop of Llandaff with some onions and frying him up in a pan is akin to the discovery that spit roast guinea pigs are a barbecue delicacy in Peru. So what is the problem with dahlias as a garden plant? Is it their awkward outline...

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