Social climbers or rampant pests?

There are two ways you can achieve a last hurrah in your garden from late summer climbers: perennials or annuals. In the wild climbers rely on the support of other plants to reach up to the light so are naturally gregarious creatures, happy to mix in with whatever plant populations already exist in your garden providing they are getting a leg up in life. I don’t have much time for annual climbers, ipomoea, thunbergia and the like;  they require too much cosseting and then only produce something rather weak and spindly that is starting to go yellow at the base...

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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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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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The Growbags’ War of the Roses

I don’t really like roses ….. only kidding, I know that to even murmur any sort of criticism against this national gardening treasure is a treasonable offence tantamount to suggesting that the queen isn’t quite pulling her weight nowadays or that Adele is just a teensy bit overweight. But there are roses and then there are roses and I think I am allowed to have a preference for one sort over another, whilst still acknowledging that overall they are, like Holly Willoughby, a bountiful gift sent down from heaven to adorn our lives. I personally don’t think you can...

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