How ambitious are your garden plans?

Our gardens are like empty stages at this time of winter, poised, ready to be shaped by your plans for the coming year. Regrettably my two sisters often show a lack of ambition in this respect: Caroline’s prepping for spring will likely stretch as far as flicking through the ‘Crocus’ catalogue and ordering their ‘yellow collection’. Elaine will still be scrubbing the names off old plant labels and making lists. What they both should be doing is rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck into some new high leverage infrastructure tasks. I’m a great believer in taking on a...

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Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

It’s not all about snowdrops and winter aconites in February. I just couldn’t let the month go by without giving these little beauties a mention.  Classic yes, and I do wish I’d planted more of them last autumn; it takes four months from planting to flower, you can’t ask for more than that. And what good value: fifty bulbs for less than the cost of two coffees and croissants! Through January you will be waiting and watching for the spiky narrow spears of foliage, then one day in February the flowers suddenly appear, they seem to arrive from nowhere: intensely...

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Feeding Early Bees and Prepping Veg Beds – Growhow Tips for February

Are your fingers itching, as mine are, to get going in the garden? While we are waiting for the busy-ness of March to begin, how about helping the early insects, beautifying garden trees or preparing the veg beds for the coming season……. Catering for Critters Unexpectedly mild winter weather in the south has been worryingly confusing birds and insects who are waking up before their customary food-sources are available, so we as gardeners ought to be aware of how we can help out these early-stirrers. It sounds odd, but bees are apparently more likely to starve in a mild...

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Tricks to formalise your garden

We’ve all been told that’s it’s in the winter months that you appreciate the structure of your garden, but as I have had to remind E and C on numerous occasions over the years, (generally in the aftermath of boozy parties) taking things to excess is rarely a good idea for those of us in the mainstream of life. If you have several acres and a team of precision gardeners on hand then yes you can go for an unadulterated grand design, such as at the entrance to the glasshouse at Wisley, by garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith and our...

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