Garden centre or nursery? A country divided

Have you been buying plants in the last two weeks? Don’t feel guilty. Apparently we’ll spend £1.4bn by the end of the year (the British, not just you and me), but did you get them from a garden centre or an independent nursery? Look on any gardening forum – it’s contentious. Whether you go to Dobbies or Bill’s Specialist Plants is as defining as being a Brexiteer or a Remainer. It is bit of an intellectual snobbery thing. I took my sisters to a garden centre when they visited and they announced snootily, ‘We’ve been here 20 minutes and we...

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Clematis can be a fickle friend

Do you like Clematis? Of course you do!  EVERYONE likes Clematis!  Oh, and I do hope you are pronouncing it CLEM-atis (Ancient Greek, imaginatively, for ‘a climbing plant’), and not Clem-MATE-is, but however you say it, now is the time to get new clematis started. So many colours, shapes, sizes and flowering seasons, that even the smallest area can accommodate one in that trendy ‘vertical space’ so much in vogue these days. I grow a lovely blue alpina variety called ‘Frances Rivis’ whose whiskery whirligig seedheads are almost as pretty as its pendant violet blue and cream flowers in...

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New garden features – be careful what you wish for!

Like Mole burrowing up to the sunlight at the start of Wind in the Willows, the Easter weekend will see millions of us driven by Darwinian forces to tackle ‘THE GARDEN’. It’s preternatural. It’s what we do in between complaining that winter will never end and buying a gas barbecue because it’s tipped to be the hottest summer ev….er. I bet a lot of Growbag readers are preparing right now to create a border; put in an arch; construct decking etc . That was me last Easter when, despite driving sleet, I lifted turf and made a flower bed....

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Hellebores: a tale of lost innocence?

Did you know the latest fad (you know I like to be bang on trend) is to have freckles tattooed over your nose? I hated mine when I was young and now that they’ve morphed into the liver spots of advancing age, they’re the reason I try to keep my hat and shirt on (mostly). However, freckles are looking fabulous right here, right now…. inside a hellebore. I have a huge range from the glowing chartreuse green of tall Helleborus argutifolius to the dark sultry opalescence of the H.orientalis varieties. They are nothing short of a February miracle (just like Louise’s Great Plant this Month – and what a fabulous eye she has for planting combinations)....

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