Feeding the birds and going green indoors – Christmas GrowHow Tips

Ooh, it’s nearly here now! But before we lose ourselves utterly in the chaos and magic of Christmas, let’s get a few jobs done like feeding the birds, tending to the houseplants, and sowing some alpines…… Don’t forget the birds! Everyone getting excited about the delicious food and drink we are going to consume over the next three weeks? But while you’re swigging back the dry sherry and munching Quality Street chocs, please remember to feed our precious birds. Having a range of different feeders is a good way of attracting lots of songbirds with their favourite snacks. All...

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Game-changing garden gifts

What could you give a gardener for Christmas that would truly revolutionise their gardening experience? – a razor hoe, that’s what. Honestly, I can divide my life into two distinct phases, pre-razor hoe and post-razor hoe, it’s that good. And no, I am not getting a backhander from Burgon and Ball, apparently their razor hoe has a cult following based purely on its innate merit. It’s silky-smooth, Japanese, carbon-steel angled blade (you can tell I’ve become a fervent convert can’t you?) can be pulled just under the surface to shear off annual weeds and when you hit a dandelion...

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Salix alba var. vitellina ‘Britzensis’

Willows are a diverse lot, but if it’s shout-out-loud winter colour you’re after, then look no further than my subject today – it simply cannot be ignored in the December garden.  Known also as the scarlet willow or the coral bark willow, the young stems are nearer orange than red, and they create a fiery glow right through until the end of March at which point the colour is at its most intense. It is by then looking so spectacular that it can be difficult to reach for the pruning saw: but prune it you must, unless you have...

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Quiz answers

Question 1. It’s called the gin and tonic plant! If you brush against its foliage it emits the fragrance of a delicious G & T. Chin chin! 2. Plant identification A. Helleborus foetidus. Grows best in thin chalky soils and I snapped this striking specimen last December, obviously loving life in car park of the Weald and Downland Living Museum at the foot of the South Downs at Singleton, West Sussex. The naturalistic planting schemes around the new gateway building are just one reason to visit this fascinating outdoor museum of historical buildings and I can thoroughly recommend their...

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