Growbag Blog

Has it really been five years?

It’s the FIFTH ANNIVERSARY of the 3Growbags blog – WHAAAA!! Thank you so much for coming on this journey with us. As a little gift we’ve partnered with lovely Hayloft Plants, (another start-up gardening business set up by mums) to give you a chance of winning one of ten £10 Hayloft vouchers in a free Prize Draw (details at end).

We also decided this week to explore what makes each of our gardening clocks tick. Which are our favourite plants? Who inspired us to take up gardening ? And what do the 3Growbag sisters really think about each other? We’re about to spill the beans!

Elaine – the glamour puss


Where? A balmy courtyard garden in Eastbourne and a manoir in Normandy

Best thing about gardening? It’s the quiet, simple ‘process’ of gardening – the weeding, the potting-on, the pruning…..where I think the joy can be found. Someone who has a background in teaching A Level classics should loathe gardening with all its imprecisions and ‘woolly’ corners really, and yet I find it supremely calming to be surrounded by a muddle of summer cottage plants. Weird.

Single roses are just as enchanting to me, like this R. moyesii ‘Geranium’, and so beloved by the pollinators

Favourite group of plants? Sorry for being cliché-d, but it’s got to be roses. No other group of plants offers such variety of form and colour and perfume. From exquisite singles like R. moyesii ‘Geranium’….. to glorious full bloomed- beauties like R. ‘A Shropshire Lad’………, almost every one can find a place in my soppy, sentimental heart.

English rose ‘A Shropshire Lad’ – full of petals, perfume and perfection

Influenced by? Vita Sackville-West (who first inspired me to dare to garden) via Beth Chatto, Christopher Lloyd, Graham Stuart Thomas, to the books of Penelope Hobhouse. I doubt she’s has ever written a single unconsidered word about gardens and gardening

Greatest achievement of the3growbags?– That the three of us haven’t had a massive fall-out over widgets, I’d say! When technological learning curves the size of Oblivion at Alton Towers were threatening to derail the whole caboodle, it’s great that our collective hysteria has comprised helpless laughter much more often than tears or recrimination.

I’m so grateful for brilliant gardeners imparting their wisdom in wonderful books

Your sisters’ most irritating habits? Easy one. Remember I’m a teacher – I was born bossy. so every time they don’t do EXACTLY as I say, (and that, I’m sorry to report, is quite often) I have to remind them of the consequences in words of one syllable. If only they didn’t both have a seriously bossy streak of their own………

Laura – the boffin


Where? A sprawling garden in West Sussex with ancient wildflower meadow, veg production and a large glasshouse of exotic plants

Best thing about gardening? The chance to experiment and push the boundaries. As the only sister with a scientific background it’s the geographical provenance of plants that intrigues me and the challenge of recreating their habitats here in the UK. I find the interface between botany, ecology and horticulture endlessly fascinating.

Favourite group of plants? Whatever new genus I am exploring at that moment. I am drawn to subtropical rarities from Madeira and Chile, but also love the tough spiky beauty of Australasian and South African plants.One of my current faves are the tropical vireya rhododendrons.

Rhododendron Vireya ‘Kisses’
My lovely tropical rhododendron ‘Kisses’ – if only my sisters were this adventurous with their plant choices

Influenced by? Prince Charles, Piet Oudolf, Dan Pearson and recently I have become intrigued by the work of Nigel Dunnet of the Sheffield School of Gardening and his view that a garden should be a series of ecological explosions.

Professor Dunnett’s ‘steppes’ planting at the Barbican moves through sequential phases of plant explosions that mimic the natural succession seen in wild grasslands.

Greatest achievement of the3Growbags in the last 5 years? Getting my sisters to use correct gardening naming conventions… italics for scientific names, capitals for genus, lower case for species, inverted commas ‘ ‘ for cultivars – it’s really very simple for them to grasp but honestly it has taken the full five years…

What irritates you most about your two sisters? Well they’re both a bit taller than me which seems to translate somehow into them thinking they occupy a higher moral ground and with one older than me and the other one younger there’s quite a bit of ganging up ….

Caroline – the nutter


Where? Various locations around Scotland but now focusing on a new garden in Strathpeffer, a spa village in the Highlands

Best thing about gardening? Truthfully? When it’s over and I can stagger round with a large glass of red in the evening, marvelling at the plants that have survived snow, wind, sheep, deer and incompetent stewardship (mine) to achieve the miracle of flowering. Frankly we’ve won a marathon compared to my sisters’ sack races.

Favourite group of plants? Acid-loving plants that romp away here like rhododendrons, azaleas and meconopsis all of which are pleasingly impossible for Elaine and Laura to grow (+ errrr…. any plant that fits into my hand luggage after trips to visit them).

So my blue poppies (meconopsis) don’t look quite as ethereal as they do here on Kevock’s Chelsea stand, but they do love to grow for me and simply won’t co-operate for Elaine and Laura 🙂

Influenced by? Ken Cox from Glendoick near Dundee whose books and talks are just dynamite (and ding-dong! by the way, if you can still say that about a chap). Definitely Osgood Mackenzie creator of Inverewe Garden on the opposite coast from me. He grew a shelter belt 40 years before beginning on the plants – that’s the sort of forward planning you need up here. And, of course, (whisper it) my sisters.

Greatest achievement of the3Growbags over the last five years? Getting Laura to buy a computer. She’s been writing all her blogs on a miniscule, clapped-out phone for five years (sigh).

This is a ‘must have’ here in Scotland. And Ken is not one to mince his words – a highly prized trait by the Growbags.

What irritates you most about your two sisters? You’d have to come round for an evening, a paragraph simply won’t cover it, but you know those show-off friends who can’t walk around a garden without name-checking every single plant…and in Latin?

So which Growbag would you identify with? We’d love to hear your thoughts about our eccentric sisterhood, or indeed about our first five years of bloghood…..

Readers on our first dayReaders last Saturday
We’re getting there. We’d love to welcome more readers so please spread the word!

Win a £10 voucher for Hayloft Plants to celebrate our fifth anniversary!

Hayloft Plants

Hayloft is synonymous with rare, exciting and high quality plants. Based in Worcestershire this team of dedicated and expert women have grown their business to become one of the UK’s principal suppliers of high quality garden plants. Have a look at their gorgeous website here:

Our draw

To celebrate our fifth anniversary we’ll be giving 10 lucky The3growbags subscribers a £10 voucher each to spend with Hayloft (thank you ‘the girls at Hayloft’!)

How to enter

Just email us at:

putting the word ‘Hayloft’ in the subject line, and send it to us by Noon on Friday 14 May. We’ll pick the winners at random and notify you by 7pm that day with a bespoke voucher code that can be used whenever you are ready to order. Remember…. this is only open to our email subscribers so if you want to take part – do subscribe here (it’s completely free) before you enter!

And that’s not ALL! We’re scrapping the cost of P&P on Louise Sims’ new book ‘A Plant for Each Week of the Year’, so this week, it’s only £7.99 delivered to your door. You can buy it here. Just click on the box to discover her latest Great Plant this Month

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

44 replies on “Has it really been five years?”

Congratulations on 5 years. I love the fun and obvious love between the three of you. Only sisters can be so rude to each other and get away with it. Keep on dishing out your individual advice and tips. Thank you.

Thank you Margaret. It’s so true isn’t it. You can be as rude as you like to your own siblings – but just let anyone else try! Families are endlessly fascinating aren’t they – your own and other people’s. Thank you so much for taking the time to send us that lovely comment XX

Thank you Torin and Carol! And thank you for re-tweeting us yesterday as well. We really can hardly believe that we have been doing this for five years – lots of work, but very enjoyable as well, and so lovely that lots of folk like what we’re about. We would love to build up our follower-numbers, but probably don’t spend enough time on that! Nigel and I are desperately hoping that we will finally get back to the house (and garden) in Normandy in early June, but heaven knows what it will look like by then – talk about the Lost Gardens of the Cotentin…………. All the best, Elaine

Congratulations! 5 years. Your blogs fall into my chaotic life like a balm. Always fun to read, always informative, always a challenge to try and live up to the standards you (all three) set. Without meaning to of course. I am sure I speak for many when we say a big thank you to the three of you for everything, much more than gardening help (which is pretty essential) that you offer and so reliably.

Thank you, Caroline! Elaine, here. You are always so supportive of our mad ramblings. I think of you often in your lovely garden in Normandy – especially at the moment, when we are so desperate to get over there and rescue our own beloved patch – we have our fingers crossed for early June. But I’m not inviting you over until we have at least machete-d our way to the back hedge………………..

Best things about Saturdays?

1 The ping on my phone announcing the arrival of the 3growbags blog! Start the day with a smile on my face!
2 Monday to Friday teetotal. Saturday ?!!

Thankyou sisters, and not forgetting Louise!

Hello Grace, what a happy picture your message conjures up, and how nice that our blog is ranked up there with your weekend tipple – we’re thrilled!
All the very bes, Laura

Five years of interesting, entertaining, information and encouragement. And above all it feels like reading a letter from friends. My garden is a bit of a jumble sale! Rescued plants from garden centres and old gardens before they get built on. Trees planted by birds. Seeds from walks in lockdown. But I love it’s exuberance as they find their place and stretch out and make me smile. It would never win any prizes but my grandson is happy with his dinosaur jungle( in spite of there being too many stegosauruses!) Thank you.

Hello Susan,
You sound very much like a girl after my own heart – I LOVE rescuing plants from the reject bin at plant centres, it gives me huge satisfaction to nurture them back to their full potential. Abandoned gardens too, for the memory those plants always carry with them.
It sounds like you are instilling the next generation with your love of plants too, I bet your garden will create lovely memories for your grandson- it’s what it’s all about really isn’t it? Best wishes Laura

This has always been so much more than a gardening blog. Never fails to make me smile and frequently to laugh out loud. Here’s to sisterhood and gardening.

Betsy thank you so much, Caroline here, so I know your sisters mean just as much to you, and that you have just as much banter with yours! Yes indeed – sisterhood and gardening – Im sure we’ll be raising a glass to them together soon! XXX

Congratulations on your ‘growing’ success.
Always a bright and inspirational start to my weekend !

Aw Carole – thank you so much! Caroline here. It’s lovely to hear from you and hope to see you SOOOON! XX

A great start to the weekend! Congratulations on your five years of fun and informative blogging…here’s to the next five years.Long may you last, bringing cheer to us gardeners.

Thank you so much, Irene! Elaine here. The stalwart support of people like you are the very reason we HAVE kept going. That and the golden opportunity to tease Caroline about her gardening capabilities, of course… Yes, we 3growbags certainly intend to keep going for a bit longer at least, and see where it takes us. Have a great gardening summer!

Congratulations on 5 years! I’ve been following you for a couple of years and your fun and educational blog is a lovely start to the weekend – a source of inspiration and enjoyment. Thank you!

Mary thank you, Caroline here so I really can’t take any credit for the educational aspect of our blog, but thank you so much for taking the time to send us that lovely comment XX

Thank you for your wonderful blog – I love it! I read it while eating breakfast on a Saturday morning and it’s a lovely start to the day. I often copy notes into my calendar as a recurring appointment to remind me what I need to do in future years. Thank you – here’s to the next 5 years (and more)! ?? Linda x

Linda thank you so much, Caroline here, so I particularly enjoyed your glass of wine emoji! XXX

Congratulations on the 5 years you three. I’m only a recent Growbags fan but love this issue giving an insight to you all. I wish my siblings were as ‘kind’ as you are with each other … love the banter and your straightforward ideas, chat and directives. Agree and confirm with the other replies that your blog is a nice way to start the weekend. Cheeers

Scott, we were so thrilled to get your comment. We wondered if it was a bit indulgent to talk about ourselves, so thank you for being so complimentary. Really I think its the positivity of people who join our blog that gives it its character, so our thanks to you too! XX

Congratulations on 5 years. My highlight of a Saturday morning is reading uour blog. I found Laura whilst visiting an ngs garden in West Sussex. I am now wondering if indeed it was Laura’s garden. You had the most incredible plant stand with all sorts of plants with delicious names I have never heard of. My latest foray into seed sowing has been a bit of a disaster my plant snap app says I have nurtered some very nice dock leaves! That will teach me to sow free seeds! I hope to see youvagain Laura if only I could remember where you are but I know it is not far from me as I live on the east/west Sussex border. Keep up the good work. Sarah x?

Hello Sarah, Laura here and I am intrigued to hear that we may have actually met in person but your description of the treasure trove of plants for sale at a NGS sounds much more like you bumped into Louise, the3growbags columnist, and dear friend. Louise takes her eclectic plant stall around various NGS Open Gardens and donates the proceeds to our local hospice. I do sometimes help her on the stand, and have done this at Cuckfield Manor for the St Catherine’s Plant Fair, so maybe this is where we met? Anyway, very best wishes and so glad you now follow us! Laura

Angela thank you so much. Caroline here. I don’t think any of our gardens could match yours and our photography certainly can’t, so your encouragement and support means a lot. Sending you very best wishes and hope we’ll meet one day! XX

Congratulations on your FIVE years! So fun to read your sisterly banter and gardening adventures, though not much applies to gardening in Calgary, Alberta and I think Elaine and Laura are too hard on poor Caroline!! 🙂 So glad you are promoting pollinators!

Thank you very much Polly, Caroline here – yes climatically Calgary is at a whole new level – I’m not sure any of us could contemplate your challenges! And you’re right Elaine and Laura and horribly cruel to me but their grasp of technology is only slightly better than an amoeba’s so they have also have to grovel a bit which is gratifying. I hope you and Robin are happy and well XXXX

Thank you for your wit, wisdom and gardening know how. I have been a regular follower since visiting Laura’s garden, when that was possible. Love learning about new plants and different conditions you three have to contend with. Compulsory reading on Saturday mornings Congratulations to all three and Louise!

Hello Elizabeth, Laura here and your message brought back happy memories of those halcyon days when we could open our gardens in the summer and invite lovely folk like you to share our passion for garden plants. I hope you managed to visit Louises garden too, at the other end of the village- it’s a plantswoman’s paradise! Best wishes Laura

Still trying to grow a crambe cordifolia like your one in Straffpeffer which I fell in love with- now in Cornwall! Love the blog and the scottish so so cold and much loved element- and really looking forward to the new garden when I am next?! up

Frances, Caroline here, how lovely to hear from you. Yes that crambe is still going great guns despite the best efforts of the slugs. How marvellous to be in Cornwall. If I didnt live in Scotland that’s where I would most like to be I think and if your garden in Bristol was anything to go by, yours will be looking fan-tas-tic by now! Fern Britton who wrote the foreword to our veg book also gardens in Cornwall, I think she’d make a great buddy if she was close-by! All the very best to you both, XXXXX

Your collective wit and wisdom coupled with a builders brew on a Saturday morning is definitely the way to start the day .
Im only sorry that I’ve been signed up for a mere 6 months , definitely a 3growbags virgin.
Happy gardening xxx

Thank you so much Jacky – Caroline here, it’s lovely to hear that you’re enjoying our posts. I hope you stick with us for another five years! XX

Only 1375 followers, that doesn’t seem right. I got my great nephew’s wife to sign up, now who else can I share your wit and wisdom with? Ah yes, my college WhatsApp group, a few Laura and Elaine types in there but like me, mainly of the Caroline ilk. Happy 5th birthday.

Helen, Caroline here, that’s so good of you to recruit subscribers for us! You are a total darling! We actually have around 1780 (highly prized) subscribers now – I simply recorded the number of views on a single day. Yes I like to think I represent the majority of UK gardeners – stock up on plants in the spring, random purchases through the summer and wine all year! Wishing you all the very best Helen, and thank you for your support XXXX

Well done on your five year anniversary of your blog and thanks for the tips and entertainment it brings. I too have two sisters (and a brother) which is a blessing but they can be infuriating when they think they know best!

Linda you have exactly the same configuration as us. We also have a brother (our parents very efficiently had a baby every two years until they had Caroline after which they came to an abrupt stop). It sounds as if you have exactly the same problems with siblings, and this is where ‘eye-rolling’ can come in so handy don’t you think? Thank you so much for your congratulations, we’re sending our very best wishes to you too XX

Saturday morning, coffee on, see what the Growbags have to say. Perfect start to the gardening weekend. 5 years of fun reading – and also have learned a lot too. Love the photos which really brings everything to life – and as Caroline is my neighbour we share the same ‘growing pains’. Here’s to the next 5 ladies xx

And the very best sort of neighbour Liz! Caroline here, I’m very excited to think we may one day retire and just garden across the field from one another all day long! Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. No doubt we’ll be raising a glass to the next five years together soon! XXX

Wow! I didn’t realise you’ve been blogging for 5 years. Congrats! I “only” joined in March 2020, just after the start of lockdown 1. But your entertaining sisterly gibes paired with your sound gardening advice and the lovely photos have helped me through this last year. Thank you so much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.