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Recent Comments

  • Still in flower on my way to work

    Posted by Phil Clayton, Features Editor, The Garden on 08 Dec 2009 at 11:15 AM
    Living some 30 minutes' walk from the offices of The Garden, I seldom drive to work, unless it is tipping with rain or I have an appointment after work. My walk takes me past the gardens of terraced houses and council flats, through parkland and into town, with various areas of municipal planting.


    At the beginning of December, I was amazed at what I saw of interest. One small front garden was filled with hardy fuchsias, all in bloom, and looking quite spectacular, while in another stood an 8ft-tall Brugmansia, a bit tattered but still resplendent with huge apricot-coloured trumpets. As you may have guessed, we have had no real frost as yet. A bit further, planted as a street tree, is a small Sorbus, possibly S. vilmorinii, dripping with pinkish-white berries glinting in the morning sun.


  • A good year for crab apples

    Posted by Heather Greig, Editor, Gardens to Visit/Events on 14 Oct 2009 at 10:36 AM

    Last year our crab apples mysteriously withered and turned black on the branches before having a chance to ripen. This year we have a bountiful crop. The small yellow fruits look glorious against a bright blue sky, and seem to shine out even on the dullest of days. The tree was in the garden when we moved here so I don't know what cultivar it is.



  • The sad nod to autumn

    Posted by Chris Young, Deputy Editor, The Garden on 03 Sep 2009 at 04:46 PM


    I have always thought of sunflowers as happy plants, their bright colours almost glowing in the sun and their statuesque frame personifying good health and seasonal growth. So, having just spent the past week or so in the Bergerac area of France, it was a bit of a shock to find ourselves surrounded by the sad, nodding and lifeless forms of the sunflower fields. In fact it was more than a shock - it was quite depressing. Row after row, field after field seemed to mimic the serried ranks of the surrounding vines, standing to tired attention.

  • Decanting my wine palm

    Posted by Phil Clayton, Features Editor, The Garden on 28 Aug 2009 at 11:05 AM

    Finding the right place for a choice plant in my garden is becoming increasingly tricky; in some cases I find myself losing sleep over the problem – I lie there, trying to imagine what a plant might look like in a certain spot in two or three years time. Plants I obtain can, in many cases, now expect to wait months if not years before I find the right position or come up with an excuse to get rid of something already in situ.



  • Fave gardens

    Posted by Sian Thomas, Assistant Events Editor on 03 Aug 2009 at 10:26 AM

    When the weekend weather is good, and when travelling, I love to visit gardens and historic houses. It’s difficult to nominate favourites, but there are two gardens that have particularly stayed in my mind.

    The first is Stowe Landscape Gardens in Buckinghamshire. Begun by Lord Cobham around 1711, this is a not a garden of flowerbeds, but a landscape full of hidden secrets. While its many meanings would have been obvious to 18th-century tourists, today’s visitors need the help of the guidebook to decode the symbolism. But that is part of the fun of a visit


  • I love buddleias

    Posted by Phil Clayton, Features Editor, The Garden on 13 Jul 2009 at 11:49 AM

    Peterborough, where I live, is one of those towns where buddleias seem to grow with especially wild abandon, springing up everywhere and becoming a troublesome weed – my neighbours currently have one growing from the wall of their house, 20ft up. However, I love them, especially now: before the first and largest flowerheads fade and look unsightly. A head count in my garden reveals I have eight at the moment. In the front there is an old Buddleja davidii seedling; nothing special, so every year I consider its removal. Then the butterflies arrive and my heart melts – it attracts more than any other buddleia I have, and is the only one on which I have seen hummingbird hawk moths. Is it the plant or the position?



  • ‘anorakku’ or アノラック

    Posted by Jon Ardle on 19 Jun 2009 at 05:09 PM

    Ok, I have to own up to being something of a horticultural anorak: I like odd, primitive and deeply unfashionable plants.

    Take horsetails (Equisetum), for example: I like the bolt-upright stripiness of some and the featheriness of others, but there's more to it. In terms of plant evolution they come somewhere above mosses (I also like some of these) and ferns (erm, yes), but the point is they have survived tens of millions of years on earth. And they're still here.

    I still get the odd letter about why I should despise all horsetails, from gardeners and allotment holders who only see them as pernicious weeds to be despised and eradicated, my only crime being to write a short feature, several years ago, pointing out some can make attractive, ornamental plants. I even said in the piece some were invasive so were best grown in pots.

    It's for a similar reason I love Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis): a coelacanth of the plant world, thought extinct for 20 million years then rediscovered less than 150 miles from Sydney, begging the thought what other floral living fossils are still out there waiting to be (re)discovered? How many more dawn redwoods, another example, which popped up in the 1940s?

    I can blame my background in biology (although back then it was more animals than plants) for my abiding interest in evolution and the so-called ‘tree of life', but I don't know why most flowering plants rather leave me cold compared to conifers, cycads and ferns (although orchids are a notable exception that proves the rule). But I fear my main horticultural passion is thought weird, dare I say anally retentive, even in ‘planty' circles: bonsai.

    The fact I can happily spend an entire day wiring every branch and twig of an unsuspecting bush in the knowledge that in four or five years time it may, if I'm lucky, come to resemble a full-sized tree I even find strange myself. As is the fact that a display of bonsai at a flower show can, still, stop me dead in my tracks and almost move me to tears. Which I guess makes me an anorak with Japanese leanings. Because I love their gardens too.



  • Future Gardens – opening

    Posted by Chris Young, Deputy Editor, The Garden on 08 Jun 2009 at 04:33 PM

    I visited the new Future Gardens ‘show' last week. I say show, as I'm not quite sure what it is - an exhibition? Demonstration gardens? Design inspiration? Installation art? Designer showcase? However you define it, there is no getting away from the fact that this is a great addition to the summer-garden-visiting line-up.

    Some of the gardens are beautiful, some shocking; some will take time to grow, others give instant gratification now. This isn't about perfect plants or high horticulture, but it is about what gardens can be and how you might want to think differently about yours. It is also, thankfully, about letting ‘show' gardens settle into the ground and grow from now until 4 October. Watching how they change will be particularly exciting.



  • Giving growing my own a go

    Posted by Michelle Housden, Editorial Assistant, The Garden on 15 May 2009 at 05:06 PM

    Last summer, I grew tomatoes for the first time, in the run-down little glasshouse we inherited from the previous owners of our house. I have marvelled at exotic plants in my Mum and Dad’s garden for years, and more recently I have helped out in their nursery. In the last five years or so I have really become enthusiastic about the garden and gardening, but for the first time I now have my own garden, and fruit and vegetable growing is a totally new world to me.

    The garden was on the list of must-haves when we were looking to step onto the property ladder, although this was pretty hard to find with our limited budget. 2008 was a very busy year, what with planning my wedding, and starting this new job, as well as trying to do-up the new house, which was desperately in need of some love and attention (and a lot of elbow grease). So the garden was going to have to wait. Simple. We needed a functioning bathroom and kitchen first!

    But it wasn’t that simple – I got twitchy, and decided the glasshouse would be a good place to begin. A few panes of glass needed replacing (although some damaged ones have had to remain for now), and there was an awful lot of rubbish, but after a hard morning’s work, the glasshouse was clear, I had made beds down either side, and I later planted my tomato and capsicum seedlings, and a cucumber plant (I was lucky to have my grandad’s assistance with the plants). Being in the glasshouse or doing a bit of weeding was an escape from the noise of sanders and the smell of paint, and the crops were delicious – I was amazed at how easy it was to get such great rewards.

    In anticipation of more freshly grown crops this year, and hoping to save some money, my husband and I set about creating a raised vegetable bed last weekend. My family of farmers are great hoarders, and I do not like to spend unnecessarily, so we rummaged through all sorts of treasure (or junk) tucked away around the yard, and in barns – there was bound to be something we could construct the bed with. We found some old planks, and cut them to size before squashing them into the cars to get them home. We scrounged some topsoil and well-rotted farmyard manure to fill the bed, and four or five trips later, and pleased with our progress, we were finished.

    I have now planted an assortment of vegetable seeds in the bed, including purple radish, black carrots, and beetroot ‘Bolthardy’, an old favourite my grandad has grown for years. What will grow is yet to be seen. I found some old hanging baskets, which were lying around unused and neglected at the farm, so now I have baskets of strawberries (‘Cambridge Favourite’) and tomatoes as well. 

    The tomatoes and peppers in the glasshouse are in now too, and I have the next few months to see how my crops fare. No doubt there will be lessons to learn, but hopefully also successes to spur this little venture on. I can’t wait to try my first crops, and look forward to using some ‘proper’ veg in the kitchen. A tomato I am trying for the first time this year is called TOMAZING™ – I shall have to wait and see if any of my crops are amazing.


  • We’re going up, up, up

    Posted by Jeremy Kirk, Sub Editor, The Garden on 01 May 2009 at 01:11 PM

    The Garden, as some of you may know, is produced in Peterborough. And not wishing to show my ignorance through inexpert horticultural musings, nor put you to sleep with a discourse on misplaced commas, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate our local football team, Peterborough United (“The Posh”), for achieving back-to-back promotions. From League Two to the Championship in two years is an excellent result and many of the team’s followers in the city now think their ambition to become a Premiership club in three to five years is within their reach. Success must be hereditary, for the Manager who has guided the team to promotion two years running is Darren Ferguson, son of the rather better-known Sir Alex...

    My wife and I have been given tickets to the final game tomorrow at home vs Swindon, which should have quite a party atmosphere. Maybe I should wear a sprig of my Ceanothus ‘A.T.Johnson’ to the match; it is just coming out now and the nearest I can find to Posh’s official colour blue.