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Growbag Blog

What are our favourite plants right now?

‘I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers’. We might not all be as breathlessly excited as Anne of Green Gables on this one, but she had a point. There are some marvellous plant colours and shapes in our gardens right now. Here are some of our favourites…. I’m rather in…

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Great Plants this Month

Helichrysum petiolare AGM

liquorice plant As the temperature dropped close to zero last night, I am reminded that we don’t have long to enjoy the last few weeks of our tender summer plants in containers; they are of course at their peak right now, and I’ll be looking long and hard at the most successful combinations, maybe even…

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Gardening Tips

It’s tidy-up time! Growhow tips for late September

After all the intense events and emotions of the past couple of weeks, it’s good to get back to some quiet and reflective early Autumn tasks in the garden, like tidying perennials, planting hyacinths, collecting seeds and moving evergreens… Chop, chop! Are you one of those gardeners who likes everything neat and trim through the…

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‘The Queue’ – Laura describes her wait to see The Queen

I must have looked very I incongruous as I boarded the London-bound train from Horsham at 8.30 pm. The other travellers were mainly young people dressed for a Friday night out, and there was I in a thick coat, walking boots, and a wicker shoulder bag full of sandwiches and snacks looking for all the…

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Growbag Blog

Growbags on the road!

We’re doing something different this week. We thought we’d share last week’s trip to Scotland with you.   We have always loved giving talks together (as you can see from our feature pic) – though it can be hard to juggle things in order for us all to be in the same place at the same…

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Great Plants this Month

Miscanthus nepalensis

Himalayan fairy grass This morning there was a definite chill in the air. Summer has surely given way to autumn, and this is the time of year when the ornamental grasses come into their own. In the average sized garden, it’s a mistake to grow too many different ones together, as they then lose their individual impact; so autumn is the perfect season to visit a few…

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Scotland

Linn Botanical Garden, Helensburgh

Thank goodness for people like Matthew Young. If ever a garden needed a knight in shining armour to ride in and wrestle it back from the brink it is Linn Botanical Garden. The problem with great gardens is that unlike great paintings or books, they cannot be preserved for the nation without active management. If…

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Gardening Tips

Changing times and seasons – grow-how tips for September

Saddened by the death of our Queen but so thankful for her amazing life of duty, we can’t help remembering how much she loved flowers and gardens. King Charles III has clearly inherited that very special interest in horticulture. The seasons won’t stop even if an epic era has ended. So while we remember her,…

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Growbag Blog

What sort of hedge will you plant this autumn?

September is the month we should be planning and planting new hedges, but what do you want from a hedge? This week we’re going to explore some options for you and as usual we won’t agree – for me it’s got to be a wildlife magnet, Elaine will give you properly sensible ideas for practical…

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Plant list for a native hedge

Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna (and the very similar Midland hawthorn Crataegus laevigata). This species should form the backbone of your hedge. Smothered in blossom in May (another colloquial name for it) and berries in the autumn that last well into the winter. It’s grown from seed so has a delightful variation in leaf shape, berry colour…

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Great Plants this Month

Arbutus x andrachnoides AGM

hybrid strawberry tree​ I first saw this beautiful tree at Kew Gardens a very long time ago, but the impression made by its peeling cinnamon-brown bark was a lasting one, and when Rob and I were making important choices about trees for our new garden, it was one of the first to go on the list!…

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Gardening Tips

Getting busy with the bulbs – Growing tips for early September

August Bank Holiday, glorious school summer hols over for another year, and the soft days of early autumn ahead of us. In the garden, it’s harvest-time, but we can also get some very handy jobs done now. How about getting started on the bulb-planting? Or sowing some veg seeds and hardy annuals, and ordering bareroot…

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Growbag Blog

We’re making new plans for our gardens

Has your mind been ever so slightly blown by the weather this summer?  And more importantly, what it’s done to your garden!  Laura’s front garden, our feature photo, this week, is a point in question. Obviously there is a danger of being a little too ‘knee-jerk’ about drought (or flood). but the signs are there that we…

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Great Plants this Month

Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’

cone flower ‘Henry Eilers’ These drought-dry days, it is with some trepidation that I wander out into the garden. It is in some respects a sorry sight, but I am heartened by the tenacity of certain survivors. They are not just surviving, some of them look quite unaffected by the lack of rain, and my subject today is just…

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Gardening Tips

Get to grips with your evergreens – Grow how tips for August

Our blazing August continues in the south. Many of us are now finding that we are having to make tough decisions about what to water with cans, and what will just have to be sacrificed – at least for this year.   But even in extreme weather, there are jobs to be done like trimming evergreen…

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Tried and tested drought-tolerant plants

Shrubs Buddleia – their flowering period may be a bit truncated but they seem happy to give it a go Callistemon, bottle brush, a bit of a marmite shrub due to its spiky foliage, but definitely a heat lover. Caryopteris – welcome pale blue flowers at the end of the summer Cistus – should be…

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Growbag Blog

Here’s to the survivors!

There have been some extremes of weather in many necks of many woods this summer, have there not!  Two of the3Growbags have been dealing with weeks of drought and heat.  Caroline has contended with something altogether WETTER in her Highland realm but given the steep topography of her garden we still let her contribute to this…

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Great Plants this Month

Clematis ‘Huldine’ AGM

Clematis ‘Huldine’ has been around for a while; it was raised in France in the 1900s and then apparently was given to William Robinson at Gravetye Manor, where Ernest Markham was head gardener for a time. Hardy, robust and strong growing (it can attain 4 metres), it’s a good choice to grow through a small…

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Gardening Tips

Get the secateurs out! Grow-how tips for August

Once we reach August, I always feel like the year is speeding up – the summer is rushing by too fast!  We need more time to appreciate the lazy, hazy, crazy days! But while we are trying to find moments to appreciate high summer, there are also some jobs that need doing like pruning rambler roses…

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Growbag Blog

Hurray for hydrangeas! – eight of our favourites

It really is HIGH SUMMER now, and dozens of the early summer shrubs – philadelphus, weigela, deutzia, rubus , etc. etc. have done their thing already. So this week we 3Growbags are discussing one of the few shrub species that will fill the garden with gorgeous colour and form in July and August.  Hydrangeas, of course!…

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Great Plants this Month

Sidalcea ‘Elsie Heugh’ AGM

Prairie mallow ‘Elsie Heugh’ – A cool customer this one, and that’s quite something to be able to say after the week we’ve had! Yet how often have I read that sidalceas prefer moist but well drained soil in full sun – surely this is wishful thinking for most of us? As gardeners we just do what we can, and I put its fresh and happy demeanour down to a good layer…

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Gardening Tips

Feeling the heat – Grow-how tips for July

Wow – we’ve certainly had some hot weather this week! We got into the habit of getting out into the garden early, working till lunchtime and then scuttling inside to escape the heat during the afternoons. I expect you’ve been doing some sun-dodging too, though I have heard from Caroline that raincoats are still required…

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Growbag Blog

How should Caroline tackle her sloping garden?

A flat garden, like having straight hair, would be a blessing according to Caroline. What do you think? If you feel that you too could create a Sissinghurst or Dixter if only your garden wasn’t at a 45 degree angle or plagued by episodes of mounds and dips, you’re about to be inspired. You’ll realise that…

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Great Plants this Month

Abutilon x milleri AGM

Miller abutilon We are now in full blown summer, and anything grows! Abutilons have a habit of grabbing your attention because the flowers are so exotic and so copiously produced; some of them also have the ability to flower well into October and even November.  You may not be familiar with the many different colours they come in; from pure white through pale mauve, bluey purple, pink, peachy, to many shades…

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Gardening Tips

Jump into July ! – Grow-how tips

July and the garden can let rip! Flowers and foliage and vegetables are busting out all over the place, and if we’ve been diligent about considering wildlife in our plant-choices and care, our gardens are full of all sorts of pollinating insects to help birds, frogs, hedgehogs etc. too. But there are still jobs to…

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Growbag Blog

10 favourite perennials for July colour

How much colour can you cope with in your summer perennial beds? Do you want dependable blocks of primary colours, something a bit more subtle, or total bling (yes you’ve guessed – Caroline). This week we’re running through some of the plants that give each of us that colour-fix in July with a few tips…

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Great Plants this Month

Modiolastrum lateritium

false mallow syn. Malvastrum lateritium In 1987, when I attended a course in garden design at the Chelsea Physic Garden, James Compton was the head gardener, and in the same year he published a book called ‘Success with Unusual Plants’. I love this book: it’s full of interesting and unfamiliar plants, amongst which is Modiolastrum…

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Gardening Tips

Summer’s off and running – Grow-how gardening tips for June

Flaming June, and it’s National Afternoon Tea Week, so let’s celebrate both this weekend! We’ll have a delicious cuppa and a scone with friends and family in a flowery corner of the garden…..aaaahhh….   But hang on. There are some jobs that we need to do first. We want to keep the display going right on…

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Growbag Blog

10 things that make a perfect day in the garden

For all of us, a perfect day in the garden will be the sum of many little tasks, revelations and modest triumphs that together make our collective hobby so satisfying. But with such contrasting tastes and locations (and, in Caroline’s case, skill levels …) what really constitutes a perfect day in the garden for us…

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Great Plants this Month

Rosa ‘Comte de Chambord’

Also known as rose ‘Madame Boll’ I’m sure we’d all agree that the month of June is synonymous with roses. So many to choose from, but in our garden at least, seriously few places left to grow new ones; so a few years ago we did our research and even went to the Royal National Rose Society Gardens, near St Alban’s, to help us make our choice. (Sadly, the gardens went into administration in 2017…

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Gardening Tips

Jobs for Jubilee weekend! Growhow tips for early June

The great Platinum Jubilee is here at last! I’ve the added excitement/stress of opening the garden for the National Garden Scheme this weekend as well, so it’s going to be…….busy round here. If you think you need a break from four days of partying under the bunting, here are a few ideas for gardening tasks…

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Growbag Blog

Chelsea Flower Show brings out the worst and best in the Growbags

Jurassic waterfalls, a garden made of random non-essential walls and the top prize going controversially to a reproduction of a piece of scruffy British countryside – it must be Chelsea Flower Show and we absolutely loved it! The party atmosphere on this final Saturday of Chelsea is an annual ‘must’ for us. All other priorities….husbands,…

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Great Plants this Month

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ PBR

I have to confess that I was never a big fan of geums until I came across ‘Totally Tangerine’ growing in a friend’s garden. That year I visited her a few times during the spring and summer and each time I went I was more and more impressed by it: it was always in flower, upright, taller than most (80-90 cms), healthy, and just glowed! This beautiful orange cultivar is sterile, which means…

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Gardening Tips

Pinching a good idea – Grow-how tips for May

It’s nearly Chelsea Flower Show time – woo hoo! There’s more than a frisson of horticultural excitement in the air: what will the big stories be this year? We 3Growbags will all be there together on the final day (brace yourselves everyone!), so we’ll be chatting about it all in our blog on Sunday rather…

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Growbag Blog

Which poppy is right for your garden?

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘poppy’? Is it the beautiful swathes of red field poppies (Papaver rhoeas) that germinated in the churned-up battlegrounds of Flanders and became such a symbol of remembrance and hope?  Or perhaps it’s the powder-puff flowers of opium poppies (Papaver somniferum) with their wonderful seedheads so beloved of…

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Great Plants this Month

Xanthoceras sorbifolium AGM

Shinyleaf yellowhorn, Chinese flowering chestnut What wouldn’t I do for The3Growbags? Last week we had scaffolding against the house and normally I wouldn’t be seen anywhere near a ladder above six feet, let alone stand on six-metre-high scaffolding, but one morning I glanced up and there was the captivating sight of Xanthoceras sorbifolium in full flower. And it was spectacular! I realised that here was an opportunity that rarely occurs. So I crawled out of our…