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  • Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb - Laurent Trenga, Taste of Wisley

    Posted by Sara Draycott on 26 Mar 2014 at 10:13 AM


    I don’t remember rhubarb featuring in the Trenga potager when I was growing up in France. It was not until I moved to England that I discovered this amazing vegetable-come-fruit and I vividly remember my first rhubarb crumble – served with this strange thing called custard! It wasn’t much to look at, but the first mouthful was something of a ‘food moment’ for me – one of those experiences where, suddenly, you have discovered a new world of flavour. Read More...

  • Look! Pretty flowers! It must be a blog post all about pretty flowers...

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 25 Mar 2014 at 07:53 PM

    See what I did there?  That's right, I lured you in with a pretty picture of flowers when really what I want to talk about is MULCH!  But, you know, it doesn't look that pretty - or sound particularly attractive - hence the subterfuge.

    However as unappealing as it may sound, mulch is quite simply the most important element of a successful family garden


  • Bees buzzing over pear blossom at Wisley: Orchard Blog March 2014 - with Jim Arbury

    Posted by Sara Draycott on 23 Mar 2014 at 09:29 PM

    Spring is definitely upon us. After the late spring of last year I am surprised by this year’s early spring. I should be though with a mild winter and warm early spring weather it is inevitable. The first pear cultivars were flowering last week and are now in full bloom. These are early flowering pears such as 'Brockworth Park', 'Beurre Precoce' and 'Crawford'.



  • Colourful new fragrant antirrhinums

    Posted by Graham Rice on 20 Mar 2014 at 04:38 PM

    Antirinca Antirrhinums are both colourful and fragrant.Most gardeners enjoy antirrhinums but the familiar traditional types have been joined by a number of colourful and interesting new varieties, such as the Antirinca Series (above, click to enlarge). At once it’s clear that they’re different.

    Upright in growth and reaching about 30-40cm, the rich, dark green foliage is tightly packed on the stems and is the ideal background to show off the flowers – which are unique. We’ve seen antirrhinums with flared flowers before, but nothing as colourful and striking as these. And one thing that’s often forgotten is that bees, familiar with the traditional snapdragon flower, find it very difficult to pollinate these flared flowers and the result is that each individual flower lasts much longer before fading and so significantly extending the display.

    Each flower is in fact bicoloured, with a patch of dark contrasting colour in the throat. There are four colours in the series: Bronze Apricot (above centre, click to enlarge) has apricot-and-peach flowers with deep orange centres; Peachy has pink and pale apricot flowers; Rose (above left) has pale pink flowers with a deep pink centre; Yellow Maroon (above right) has yellow flowers with contrasting red centres. In addition to the lovely colouring they’re all scented.

    These are ideal plants for sunny containers, nip off the individual flowers as they fade and when each spike is over cut it off just above the leaves to encourage more to develop. These plants are raised from cuttings so there will be no annoying off-types.

    You can order plants of Antirrhinum ‘Antirinca’ from Dobies (order by 11 April), from Suttons (order by 11 April) and from Thompson and Morgan (order by 31 March) and you well also find them in good garden centres.


  • Butterflies and newts awake, pond snails laying eggs

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 18 Mar 2014 at 03:22 PM

    The warm weather just lately has encouraged a huge amount of wildlife activity. Species of all types are suddenly visible and active and, in some cases, they are being seen in larger numbers than at the height of last summer. Last Sunday, the 16th, I saw more butterflies in one day than all of last year put together. Some of them, the Peacocks (Inachis io) in particular, had overwintered on the rafters in our garage and we left the door open so they could get out. After warming themselves in the sun for 15 minutes or so, they flew off in search of the flowers holding their first meal of the year. I also saw the beautiful Comma (Polygonia c-album) and yellow Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni).


  • Tidying up Euphorbias on the Trials Field at Wisley with Ian Tocher

    Posted by Sara Draycott on 17 Mar 2014 at 03:41 PM

    Hi, I’m Ian, a horticulturist in Wisley’s Trials Department. Recently, with the help of garden volunteer Dennis, I’ve been tidying up the euphorbia trial in readiness for our Euphorbia Study Day on 26 March.


  • Christmas trees: the makeover

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 13 Mar 2014 at 04:03 PM


    Three years ago I bought a potted Christmas tree.  It had a price tag that made me audibly suck in air and quickly calculate how many bottles of wine could be purchased for the same amount (a perfectly reasonable exchange rate mechanism to my mind).  However, it was Christmas, and I really wanted the tree, so I bought it anyway


  • Agastache ‘Arcado Pink’: New from Plants of Distinction

    Posted by Graham Rice on 10 Mar 2014 at 12:35 PM
    Agastache 'Arcado Pink' flowers in its first year from a spring sowing. Image ©FleuroselectIn recent years, more and more agastaches have appeared in catalogues and many of them are very good plants - but few seem have really taken off and become widely popular. Perhaps this one will prove to be the exception.

    This is a first year flowering perennial - if seed is sown early in spring it will flower from summer into autumn – and, as can be seen in the picture (above, click to enlarge), it’s extraordinarily productive. The following year it will start to come into flower earlier.

    The spikes of vivid purple-pink flowers open over a long season above fresh green aromatic foliage and are unusually attractive to butterflies, bees and many other beneficial insects. Plants reach about 2ft/60cm and branch well from the base to create a mass of flowers. They’re good for cutting, too; cut when the spikes are about half open and be sure to add flower food to the water. They should last about ten days.

    ‘Arcado Pink’ is best in full sun and in a site that where the soil is fairly well drained. Good drainage will help ensure that plants overwinter well and start into growth early to begin a long summer and autumn display. Agastache ‘Arcado Pink’ has been awarded Fleuroselect Approved Novelty Status.

    You can order seed of Agastache ‘Arcado Pink’ from Plants of Distinction.



  • Topping up

    Posted by Helen Bostock Plantsforbugs on 03 Mar 2014 at 05:18 PM



  • February gardening… in March

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 03 Mar 2014 at 03:00 PM

    Pesky February - it's only gone and finished already, which makes my blog posts for that month a rather unimpressive... one.  In my defence I really have done gardening - even some with the kids - I just never quite got round to mentioning it here.

    Thankfully, I have some evidence to back me up.