Stipa gigantea

What to plant in a windy spot

Unfortunately my sisters view windy sites in a garden as a problem rather than an opportunity – if only they had studied proper subjects at school such as geography and biology, (instead of in Elaine’s case, Classics, and in Caroline’s, boys) they would know that in other regions of the world there are plants that will not just ‘cope’ with wind but will revel in it. In recent years us enlightened gardeners have turned to the North American prairies and the Russian steppes for inspiration. Here, there are plants with adaptations to searing heat in summer, bitter cold in...

Continue reading

Lepechinia hastata – pakaha

Plants grown in containers are really starting to come into their own in the heat of summer, and there is one in particular which I would hate to be without.  Belonging to the same family as salvias (lamiaceae), my subject today certainly does bear close resemblance to many of the sages and I am often asked, ‘which salvia is that?’ when friends see it in flower. The tall spikes of purple-magenta, tubular flowers are borne in summer and autumn, and are held aloft on stout square stems which are a beguiling dark burgundy-grey in colour; the combination with its...

Continue reading

High summer’s here! – Grow-How tips for late July

As we move into high summer, most of the country’s gardens, pots and window-boxes are burgeoning with flowers, fruit and veg, proving that no matter how weird and frightening this year has been so far for us all, our gardens will just keep on giving, with a bit of love and encouragement from us.  So let’s get on with tasks like seed-collection, looking after the tomato crop and potting on young plants……………….. Seed-collection I know I’m always nagging you to take the dead flowers off your plants (makes the remaining flowers look better, encourages the plant to make more flowers,...

Continue reading
Echinacea pallida

10 stonking colour combinations

We’re talking about which plants look great together this week so obviously I’m going first. Laura is only interested the provenance, the botany, the rarity value and the drama of single specimens. Interesting (she yawned) but the horticultural equivalent of self-indulgent navel-gazing as far as I’m concerned, and I have grave suspicion that Caroline’s idea of plant combinations is how many different colours of Busy Lizzie she can get in her supermarket trolley. Now I, their big sister, have always been about the legendary ‘bigger picture’ – i.e. I don’t care so much about how ‘choice’ a plant is,...

Continue reading