Category Archives: Garden

Inspiring Gardens – Majorelle Gardens – Marrakech

Inspiring Gardens – Majorelle Gardens – Marrakech

I recently went on a yoga holiday to a gorgeous hotel called Tigmi just outside Marrakech in Morocco.

I had heard about the Majorelle Gardens from a colleague, who said they were well worth a visit, and I managed to find a fellow garden loving yogi on the holiday, so we went together.

The gardens were built by French artist Jacques Majorelle, but it fell into disrepair when he died in the 1960’s. The garden is also known as the Yves St Laurent gardens as he and his partner Pierre Berge bought the house and gardens in 1981 to save it becoming a hotel. They had it restored and expanded the plant collection. When he died in 2008 his ashes were scattered there, and there is a memorial to him in the gardens (bizarrely it was the scruffiest part of the garden!).

It’s very popular, and was quite crowded, even at 10.30am, but it was an absolute delight to wander round a garden with someone else who loves plants as much as I do!

I’ve subsequently bought Paradise Gardens by Monty Don from Amazon (on kindle because it was only £3.99, and the photos look great on my iPad!), and discovered it’s also in there.

You can click through to the website or buy the book to get a sense of the main features in the garden, I’ve chosen to focus on smaller details that caught my eye. Partly because there were too many people to get good photos of the main structures, and partly because I like close ups of plants!

I loved the coloured pots dotted around the garden. I don’t think it would work in the UK, but it looks gorgeous in the Moroccan light.

This was a citrus area. In a formal pattern, with masses of different citrus trees in pots.

I fell in love with these gorgeous cut out pots. Not sure of their function, but they looked pretty.

Loved the planted tortoise!

And I thought this plant looked spectacular on the top of the wall.

Naturally there was a lot of water, both fountains and still ponds (with fish).

And despite being December, there was still colour and lovely flowers. I would love to know how they get their nasturtiums looking so neat!

Gorgeous arches, floors and doors!

And finally…I think this was my favourite part – you weren’t allowed to walk in this bit – I think it was the garden of the house. It had a lovely calm sense to it, and felt the most like a regular garden.

Related posts: Inspiring Gardens – Nymans Rose Garden, Inspiring Gardens – Perch Hill

Pot Luck – Round 4

Pot Luck – Round 4

This is the fourth year of trying out different plant combinations in my many pots.

I’ve shifted over to having more perennials, but can’t resist beautiful annual bedding plants. I buy quite a few as tiny plug plants in early spring, and bring them on in the greenhouse. I also bought lots of packets of lobelia seeds (and some laurentia, but that is much harder to find) and sowed them in trays with small modules – multiple seeds to a module in February. It worked a treat, and is a very cheap way of getting the exact colours you want.

It’s getting towards the end of May, and I’ve taken photos of most of the pots as I’ve planted them up, and have added second photos when they are in full flower.

Osteospermum Sky & Ice, 2 x Alyssum Snow Cloth, 2 x Calibrachoa Starlight Pink, Ipomoea Black Tone, Lobelia Cambridge Blue

2 X Antirrhinum Night & Day, 2 x Bacopa Snowflake, 4 x Lobelia Crimson Fountain

Orange Wallflower, 2 x Bidens Bee Alive, Petunia Lime, Petunia Cascadia Indian Summer.

3 x Echinacea Pallida, 3 x Lobelia Sapphire, Osteospermum Sky & Ice, Verbena Aztec Purple (I think – it’s from a cutting and the labels got mixed up!).

3 x Fantasia Dark Red Bush Geranium, 3 x Decors Red Trailing Geranium

Stellar Pelargonium Westwood, Scented Leaves Pelargonium Pink Capricorn, Bacopa Snowflake.

Angel Pelargonium Charmay Marjorie, Calibrachoa Can-Can Black Cherry, Calibrachoa Starlight Pink, Lobelia Snowball.

Scented Leaves Pelargonium Ardwick Cinnamon, Calibrachoa Can-can Black Cherry, Diascia Diamond Dark Orange, Petunia Cascadia Indian Summer.

Rosebud Pelargonium Graingers Antique Rose. Gruffalo watering can courtesy of my daughter.

Salvia Nematoda Cardonna, 2 x verbena Aztec Silver Magic, 2 x Lobelia Sapphire, 1 x Laurentia Stargazer. First photo when planted in May, second photo 3rd week of June.

3 x Cupid Pink Dwarf Sweet Pea, 2 x Diascia Little Dancer (overwintered in the greenhouse, miraculously survived), 2 x Alyssum Snow Cloth, 3 x Lobelia Crimson Fountain.

Dahlia Honka Fragile

Osteospermum Sky & Ice, 3 x Geranium New Century White (bush), 3 x Geranium Blanche Roche (trailing)

Rudbeckia Irish Eyes x 4, Rudbeckia Rustic Dwarf, Rudbeckia Sahara.

Potentilla Nepalensis Ron Macbeath

Delphinium, Petunia Lime

Erisimum Rysi Copper, Bidens Bee Alice, Diascia Diamond Dark Orange x 2

3 x Antirrhinum Tom Thumb, Gypsophilia

Erysimum Bowles’s Mauve (one large, 1 small, which is a cutting from the large that I took last year), Aztec Silver Magic Verbena, Ipomoea Black Tone.

Pink Geranium, Scented Leaves Pelargonium Chocolate Peppermint, 2 x Lobelia Snowball

Lollipop Verbena, Aztec Silver Magic Verbena x 2, Trailing Lobelia x 2.

Dahlia Bishops Children, Ipomoea Black Tone x 2.

Dahlia Bishops Children, Petunia Cascadia Indian Summer

Zinnia Hot Mix x 2, Zinnia Giant Lime, Zinnia Mazurkia x 2

2 X Antirrhinum night & day, Petunia Pink Vein, Petunia Lime.

Geranium (don’t know what it is, it’s part of one in the border that I divided in Autumn).

Purple geranium, 2 x Pelargonium Attar of Roses, Petunia Royal Posy, Petunia Creme Brûlée.

Pelargonium Candyflower

Purple Geranium, Petunia Royal Posy, Petunia Creme Brûlée.

3 x Petunia Posy, Zaluzianskya (Night Phlox) Midnight Candy.

Two Hampton Court Flower Show purchases. Decorative Pelargonium Australian Mystery (from Fibrex Nurseries). Gorgeous kettle from Garden Brocante.

More from Hampton Court. Bucket from Garden Brocante. Scented leaf pelargonium Attar of Roses, Species hybrid pelargonium Ardens, Unique pelargonium Mystery. All from Fibrex

Update: A couple of pictures at the beginning of June, with the pots in place. The geraniums are all putting on a good show already:

And here is an old wheelbarrow planted up on 2nd July. Few of the plants looking a bit sickly because I left them out in pots the sun and it’s been scorchio!

Loads of plants in this one:

Pennisetum advena Rubrum, Liatris spicata, Lavandula elegans ice, dahlia (no name!), Verbena rigida (looking very poorly), Campanula, Salvia farinacea, 2 x Osteospermum, 2 x ivy, Ipomoea Black Tone x 2, loads of purple verbena and loads of mixed Petunia. And here it is at the beginning of August..

And another picture after I planted it up for Winter. I composted all of the almost dead petunias and verbena, and the dahlia and geraniums have gone in the greenhouse. I’m taking a risk and leaving everything else in over winter. Will see what happens. I’ve added lots of violas and pansies, a couple of hellebores, 4 cyclamen and a little lime green conifer. It’s a welcome splash of colour as you come in the front gate, and I can see it from the living room which is nice.

Related posts: Pot luck – round three, Pot Luck – round 2, Pot Luck

Growing Dahlias From Cuttings

Growing Dahlias From Cuttings

I totally love dahlias, and have always divided my dahlia tubers to get new plants, in fact I didn’t know there was any other way.

Recently, I stumbled across a website or two that talked about taking dahlia cuttings, so I thought I’d give it a go. I love this video. It’s quite long, but very detailed. This is a website which gives good instructions. And of course Sarah Raven has some good advice.

I have a big new cutting bed in my garden (twice the size of the previous one), so I need plenty of plants to fill it! I will also give some away, and we have a plant stall at the school summer fete, so I plan to give some to the stall to sell.

I dug up all of my dahlias this year, so I’m going to try and take a few cuttings from all of them. In particular Cafe au lait, Seniors hope and Labyrinth, which are my current favourites.

I also bought a pot luck selection of 5 tubers from The National Dahlia Collection which I’m taking cuttings from – will be interesting to see how they turn out. They’re currently labelled mystery 1, 2 etc.!

I had them in a cold greenhouse, and I brought them inside for a couple of weeks to warm them up, and then put them in some potting compost. A couple of tubers in a shallow layer of compost in trays. They are on a sunny south facing windowsill (hooray for my 1930’s house with deep windowsills).

I covered them with a plastic lid, and put them on a heated mat (mainly because it was January and pretty chilly). I only had one mat, so just kept rotating them round! I also made sure to keep them well watered, as I noticed that it definitely helped them sprout (some got dry and hadn’t sprouted, and then magically did a few days after I gave them a good water). I think it was mid January that I put them in the compost.

It only took a couple of weeks to get them to sprout (pics below are end of January), and I kept the plastic lids on until they got too big.

By mid February they were ready to start taking cuttings. The ones below were taken on 18th February, and in reality could have been taken earlier, but I was on holiday!

They are in a mix of potting compost and vermiculite, and I just cut them close to the tuber, and took off the lowest few leaves.

I actually cut off more leaves a couple of days later, put them on some capillary matting and on the heated mat. They look a bit more bald, but it should enable them to make roots quicker, as they won’t need to feed as many leaves.

These are what the tubers look like after I took the cuttings. You can see that there are loads more ready to come.

A few weeks later (12th March), and the cuttings are looking great. Only a few losses (Cafe au Lait is proving a bit tricky)

It’s really interesting to see how the tubers have sprouted loads of new shoots since I took the cuttings. In the second picture below you can see where I cut the first shoot, and how loads of new shoots have sprouted from the base.

I’m really thrilled about how easy it is to create loads of new dahlias from a single tuber. I’ve also been reading about keeping small tubers of favourite dahlias in 4 inch pots so you can take cuttings from the same tuber each year (which would allow me to leave the rest in the ground), so I think I will try that too. Not sure how they will overwinter in pots, but I will cross that bridge next Winter!

Homemade Booze from the garden


I went to the River Cottage festival this August bank holiday, and as well as it being a gloriously hot weekend, I went to a great wild cocktail workshop with the fantastic John Wright.

I came home full of enthusiasm for homemade booze, and have been experimenting ever since.

As well as inspiration from John’s book ‘Booze’, I’m a huge fan of Pinterest, and find many recipes in there. I tend to save them in my Recipes from the garden or Scented geranium recipes or my Cocktails folders.

I thought it was time to share a few of my successes. Some are made with lovely natural ingredients from my garden, and others purely from shop bought ingredients. This post focussed on the ones from the garden, and I will write other posts about the man made ones!

First up is a rhubarb and rose geranium vodka. I used this recipe from The Telegraph, and added a little pink food colouring to make it this gorgeous light pink colour (otherwise it’s a bit green). I also used rose scented pelargonium because rhubarb and rose are good together, but you could use any scented pelargonium leaves I guess. I think they were Grey Lady Plymouth pelargoniums. The Telegraph recommend mixing with champagne or prosecco, and I may well do that at Christmas.

Next up is rose scented gin, which I made by mixing gin, sugar and Attar of roses pelargonium leaves. This is my favourite rose scented pelargonium. I just had this as a gin and tonic, and it was delicious. But I’d like a stronger rose taste so next time I’m going to add more leaves and let it steep for more than a couple of weeks. Crushing the leaves probably also helps. Again I added a (teeny) bit of food colouring (less than to the vodka) to give a slightly better colour.

For both of these I let them steep (best to do it in a jar as it’s easier to get the bits out afterwards) and then strained and decanted into bottles after a few weeks. I strain mine twice. Once through a sieve lined with kitchen roll (I use a piece of that brand called Blitz and it’s lovely and thick) and once through kitchen roll as I’m decanting it into the bottle (I line my funnel with kitchen roll – you need to lift it from time to time as it creates an air lock).

I have also made some pelargonium scented simple syrups for use in cocktails. The simple syrup was made by heating 50% water and 50% sugar together. Then you mix in the leaves and leave it to soak for a while. Then strain.

And finally I’ve made some rose pelargonium sugar. By simply layering sugar and leaves for a while.

Recipes for the syrup and sugar can be found here.

Tea Pot – grow your own tea

Tea Pot – grow your own tea

I’ve blogged quite a bit about the various pots in my garden, but thought I’d do a post all of its own for my special ‘Tea Pot’.

I’m a complete tea addict, and drink gallons of green tea every day.

Inspired by a visit a while ago to Sarah Raven’s fabulous garden at Perch Hill, where I tried some of her herbal tisanes, I thought I would give it a go myself. They taste good, and don’t have any caffeine.

She has written a good article for the Telegraph here, and there is a nice video on her website here

I decided to grow the ones she ranks as the best. I’d be interested to hear other recommendations. So I’ve gone for Perlagonium Attar of Roses, (which really does smell like Turkish Delight), Black peppermint, Moroccan mint, Orange mint and Lemon Verbena. The Perlagonium and Verbena are from Sarah Raven and the mints from the very lovely people at Pepper Pot Herbs. Who have the most incredible selection of herbs. Way more than anyone else I’ve seen. I’m also going to add in lemon basil and lime basil, but I’m growing them from seed, which I got from Nicky’s Nursery.

I bought a nice big pot from Priory Farm Nursery, which I filled with compost and some polystyrene (to make it a bit lighter!

Here it is just planted up in early May 2017.

This is the pot on the 3rd June. I moved the perlagonium to the front as the mints had got so tall!

So far I’ve tried the perlagonium, which smells and tastes amazing, and the lemon verbena, which is also really delicious. You need to leave them to brew for about 5 minutes, and they were both lovely mild, fresh favours. I used 4 leaves in a small teapot. Add more leaves if you want it stronger.  Pictures below. Perlagonium at the top, lemon verbena the bottom two.

Next to try the mints…

Wheelbarrow Fairy Garden

Wheelbarrow Fairy Garden

My daughter and I share an obsession with fairy gardens. Actually she is obsessed with faries, and I’m obsessed with gardens.

We did some serious Pinterest gazing for ideas before embarking on our first garden, which was in a shallow pot.

I then saw some wheelbarrow fairy gardens, and realise I had one knocking around that had a wheel that I couldn’t fix.  So here is the new and improved fairy garden.

The fairy is a solar light and lights up at night.

The plants are mostly succulents with a few pansies for colour. There is also Corsican mint, which will spread and give ground cover.

We’re not done yet.  We’re going to make a fairy house out of a bird box, and Holly wants to make a swing. We also need more stones to make more of a path.

Updates soon…

Pot luck – round three

Pot luck – round three

I was pretty happy with my pots last year (see post ‘Pot Luck – round 2).  But I’m trying to cut down the work the garden requires, so this year I’m trying more perennials in pots.

I couldn’t resist some of my favourite annual plug plants, but I’m gradually introducing perennials.

I potted up a lot at the beginning of May, so they are the first photos,  and I am gradually adding in second photos to show what they look like when they are in full bloom.

Lollipop verbena (perennial) under planted with verbena Aztec magic silver (annual).

Wine crate planted with summer jasmine and honeysuckle (to climb the fence) with lavender and aubretia (all perennials).

Cherry tree and fairy rose, both under planted with aubretia (perennial) lobelia (annual). I’m hoping the aubretia will tumble down the sides of the pots over time. But for now I’ve added lobelia that will do it in one season!

Osteopermum (3d violet ice), verbena Aztec magic (silver), surfinia (rose vein). All annuals. First photo early May, second is end of June. I think they look amazing together.

Petunia (phantom), bidens (golden eye), calibrachoa (can can coral reef) (all annuals). First photo early May, second end of  June. Looks particularly good because the petunia in the pot next to it is a very similar colour.

Euphorbia x martini (perennial) , underplanted with helichrysum (golden) (annual).

Petunia (tumbelina Susanna), verbena Aztec magic (white), verbena Aztec (coral). All annuals.

Petunia (cascadia Indian summer), Calibrachoa (can can double dark yellow), verbena Aztec (coral). All annuals.

Scabiosa (blue jean). Perennial. Except it’s not. It’s achillea summer berries!

Coreopsis (golden joy). Perennial.

Osteopermum (serenity blue eyed beauty), Diascia (little dancer), verbena Aztec magic (plum). All annuals.

Perennial wallflower (planted last year), under planted with 3 annuals –  Scaevola (blue print), verbena Aztec (violet wink), calibrachoa (cabaret deep blue).

Tanacetum coccineum (Robinsons red). Perennial.

Sweet pea Cupid pink (annual).

Salvia superba (snow hills). Perennial.

Gaillardia snappy. Perennial.

Gazania daybreak tiger stripe mixed. I think this is a perennial but people grow it as an annual.

Potentilla nepalensis (Mcbeath). Perennial.
That’s not actually all of them. But they are all new for this year.

Look out for an update in June/July!

Tulip Love

Tulip Love

I thought it was about time to make my flower cutting patch work a little harder. So last autumn I planted masses of tulip bulbs and some wallflowers in the raised bed. I leave my dahlias in place all year, so just planted around them.

I got bulbs (specific varieties I liked the look of) and wallflowers (plug plants) from Sarah Raven and more bulbs (some mixed collections) from Thompson & Morgan.

I have to say, I’ve been totally thrilled with the outcome. I’ve had at least 10 gorgeous bunches of tulips. In completely different colours to ones that you can buy in the shops. I never realised I loved tulips so much. And I’ve had loads of comments when I posted pictures on Facebook.

The tulips have flowered at different times, so it’s been pretty constantly in flower for about a month, in fact I’ve given some away as I’ve had so many in bloom at times. Definitely pay attention to flowering times when choosing bulbs so you don’t get too many at once.

This is the cutting bed fairly early in spring. I had a net over them over winter so the cats/foxes/squirrels didn’t interfere. Once  they started to bloom I removed it.

And here are some of the bunches of tulips. I love them so much!

Favourites include Mistress Grey, Bruine Wimpel, and Brown Sugar.

The wallflowers haven’t been so good. I think I wouldn’t grownthem for cutting again, but they do look great interplanted with tulips for admiring in a pot.

Interested to see what happens next year. Im going to leave them in situ and plant my annuals in the gaps whilst the leaves for back.

Sweet and Spicy Plum Chutney

Sweet and Spicy Plum Chutney

With 3kg of Victoria plums from my little plum tree, I thought I’d turn some of them into chutney.

The recipe is from here and it’s a Nigel Slater one. I translated it into metric and omitted the mustard seeds (2tsp if you want to add them) as I didn’t have any.

750g plums

350g onions

Handful of raisins

350g light muscovado sugar

1/2 tsp dried crushed chilli

1 tsp salt

300ml cider vinegar

Cinnamon stick

Destone and quarter plums, roughly chop onions

Chuck it all in a big pan

Give it a stir

and simmer until it’s nice and thick. When you run your spoon across the bottom of the pan it should stay separated. That’s when you know it’s ready.

As it comes towards the end keep stirring as it sticks to the bottom and burns really easily (apparently!).

It’s got quite a nice chilli kick, so if you’re not keen on chilli, maybe just go for a 1/4 tsp of chilli flakes.

In terms of quantity it made one 8oz and two 4oz jars.

If I do it again I might go for red onions and sweat them down for 15 mins before adding the rest as they are still quite crunchy.

Other recipes I’ve seen include ginger (fresh or ground), ground coriander and/or cumin, so they might be worth exploring too as the cinnamon stick didn’t impart masses of flavour. Red wine vinegar would give it a different colour and flavour. And of course the plums you use will alter the flavour and colour (Victorias are quite light – this would be lovely with a nice dark plum).

Productive Small Fruit and Vegetable Garden

Productive Small Fruit and Vegetable Garden

You really don’t need an allotment or a large garden to have a lovely supply of fruit and veg throughout the year.

My garden isn’t large, but I have shoehorned in fruit and veg plants all over the place. Usually in containers.

Here are some examples:

Cherry tree in a container gave me loads of lovely fruit this year. This picture below is just some of it. It’s a Stella cherry in case you were interested, and will not get massive.

Rhubarb in containers. Had them for a couple of years, and got a good crop this year. Behind them is asparagus. I have three crowns in this tub. It’s past asparagus season so I’ve let them grow out.

Raspberries in containers. Two summer fruiting, one Autumn (on the right) and one black raspberry which I planted in the middle tub just this year. Will see how I get on with two plants in one tub.

Apple tree in a 3/4 barrel. Not a good year for apples this year. This is a ‘family tree’ and has 3 types of Apple grafted onto one rootstock.

Potatoes in sacks. Just about ready to be harvested.

Plum/damson tree. Again a family tree with two types grafted onto the same rootstock. Going to be a good crop this year, after having none last year! One of the few trees I have planted in the ground.

Strawberries in grow bags on an old table. They grow brilliantly this way.

Difficult to spot them, but the pots at the front and back of the picture are blueberry plants. Really easy to look after and heavy cropping. This tub is mostly full of blueberries from my first picking this year. And there are loads left on.

Tomatoes in grow bags. Do you like my tripod frame?!

And of course a raised bed. I have two, but one is for cut flowers. I have beetroot, courgettes (2 plants) and beans (cobra, purple, roquencourt and borlotti) in here. I get loads of beans and courgettes.

None of this is much hassle, and I get to go foraging every summer evening when I come home.

Great gifts from the garden today (30th July 2016)

Lovely collection of goodies after my 2 week holiday at the end of August.

Raspberry Ice cream


My daughter is a complete sucker for raspberry ice cream. So as raspberries are in season at the moment, I promised to make her some.
It was actually difficult to find a raspberry ice cream recipe online that wasn’t made with coconut. But I found a deliciously Ella recipe for black raspberry ice cream (find it here). I roughly translated it into UK weights and measures, and used an ice cream maker (which you don’t have to). She adapted it from a recipe here.

400g raspberries

300ml double cream

150ml semi skimmed milk

1tsp vanilla bean paste

3 large egg yolks (I used 4 medium ones)

130g sugar

60g cream cheese

Heat the raspberries till the juice spills and then mush them. Let them cool.

Mix the sugar and egg yolks together. Mine was quite thick and sugary still.

Heat the milk, cream and vanilla until it just boils. Add a bit to the sugar/yolk mix to loosen it. Then gradually whisk the sugar/yolk mix into the milk/cream mix.

Gently heat, whilst stiring until it’s thick and coats the back of a cream. It is very very sweet. Don’t worry as it will be balanced out by the raspberries.

Add in the raspberries and cream cheese.

And stir together until the cream cheese melts.

Let it cool and then freeze in an ice cream machine or freeze and stir every 20 mins until frozen.

Ta da…

It really is delicious. Not too sweet and not too tart. Yum! Maybe my daughter won’t get any!

And I reckon would be amazing with dark chocolate chips in it or made with some Chambord (black raspberry liqueur).

And here it is with chocolate orange meringues (see my recipe here) made from the left over egg whites and fresh fruit from the garden. Deeeelicious!

Inspiring Gardens – Nymans Rose Garden

Inspiring Gardens – Nymans Rose Garden

It’s been a while since I shared pictures of a garden that inspires me. But I took so many pictures of Nymans rose garden today that I felt I had to share.

July is the perfect time to visit as they are all in full bloom, and it looks magnificent, despite no doubt being battered by the recent heavy rain.

So no commentary. Just lots of pictures of beautiful roses.

And these aren’t in the rose garden, but are pretty gorgeous anyway.

Related Posts: Inspiring Gardens – Perch Hill, Inspiring Gardens – Majorelle Gardens – Marrakech

The Cutting Patch – Little Vases of Loveliness

The Cutting Patch – Little Vases of Loveliness

I love growing flowers in my garden, both to make the garden look lovely, and to cut and bring into the house.

In fact I even turned one of my raised beds into a cutting patch, to keep me going with a supply of flowers for the whole summer.

This is when it was just planted up (7th May). Copper rings round the dahlias to protect them. Dahlias stay in there all winter. I lose a few each year, but usually only a couple. And I’m too lazy to take them out each year.

This is what it looks like right now (mid June – netted at the moment to keep the cats/foxes off). Stocks flowering already.

This year I’ve planted:

Dahlias, cosmos, zinnias, nigella, cornflowers, stocks, and one solitary marigold!

This is what it looked like in high summer last year (post a picking session, so looking a bit bare – but that’s kind of the point – they are not grown to look make the garden look pretty)

And here are some little vases of loveliness from last year…

I’ve also got loads of sweet peas growing elsewhere in the garden, which give an endless supply of sweet smelling flowers.

And even though The cutting patch isn’t ready yet, the garden is already providing some little pots of gorgeousness:

Can’t wait for these peonies to burst into life. They are a mix of Pillow Talk and Sarah Bernhardt.

2016 update – mid June

This was taken in the car. I picked some flowers to take to a friend in a jar. Car cup holders are great places to transport little pots of flowery loveliness.

1st weekend in July…

5th July – this is what the patch looks like today. Quite a change from 2 months ago when it was planted out! Cornflowers, calendula and stocks going strong. Zinnias, cosmos, chrysthanthemums (the annual kind) and dahlias all about to burst into life.

Vases for the 1st weekend in August. I’m now cutting flowers once or twice a week, and making plans to put in loads of tulip bulbs so I get cut flowers from March to November!

Pot Luck – round 2

Pot Luck – round 2

So last years pot experiment wasn’t overly successful. Mostly not enough in each pot, and not enough thought gone into it.

So I’m trying again this year. It’s a bit of a faff planting out lots of pots each year (and I have a lot of pots!), so I’m going more for perennials with a bit of annual flower interest. I’ve also taken all of my tulips out of the pots and put them in the flower bed. I’m trying to cut down the amount to do in the garden so I can spend more time just enjoying it.

These were planted out the 2nd weekend in May, and I will post updates later in the year.

Alyssum and the only chrysthanthemum which made it through the winter (froggy I think)

A lavender standard, alyssum and Aubrieta Kittie Blue

4 scented carnations edged with lobelia

A mixture of purple pansy, helichrysum gold, lobelia, calibrachoa can can coral reef,  bidens aurea. Colours inspired by a bouquet from bloom and wild that I sent to my sister! I already quite like this one.

Climbing rose with alyssum planted for a bit of trailing interest at the bottom

Salvia with trailing verbena

Helichrysum gold and two verbenas

Standard rose (cheap from Tesco)!with two helichrysum (silver?), lobelia and verbena

A bunch of the pots together. Looking nice already I think.

Perpetual wallflower (erysimum) with verbena and alyssum. You can’t see it from this photo, but the verbena at the front is the most amazing light silvery mauve, and looks amazing at dusk. It’s Aztec silver magic. And I love it.


Standard lavender (from ikea!) with alyssum. Tagetes (various, 3 in a pot) and helichrysum in front.

Three rudbeckia (summerina collection from Thompson & Morgan) – perennial rudbeckias.

With purple plant from Homebase behind (can’t remember the name!)

Scabiosa ( with wallflower behind)

And here is one I’ve done at the beginning of June

A petunia (no name – cheap one from the market) with chocolate cosmos choca mocha (perennial cosmos that smells of chocolate). Also popped a rudbeckia that I had grown from seed in there. Can’t remember what it is as the label had faded, time will tell!
June update (10th June, so about 4 weeks after they were planted up).

Some already looking quite pretty..

Stocks – could maybe have squashed a few more in. Maybe 5 rather than 3. They smell great though. And I put some in the cutting patch so I can have them in the house.

Chrysanthemum froggy looking a bit slug eaten! But the alyssum looks pretty.

I love these verbena, but they are quite unpredictable. You can’t tell if they are going to grow up or sideways!  Looks nice with the wallflower though, which looks like it’s going to continue to flower for a while.   It also looks great next to the scabiosa (just in the edge of the picture on the left) as its a very similar colour. I wonder what they would look like in a big pot together. Maybe one for next year.

Still liking this one. Waiting for the pansy and the calibrachoa to flower again.

Like the lobelia around the edge. It’s such a tough little bedding plant, and comes in lots of lovely colours. This is going to look amazing soon when the dianthus flower. I cut off lots of the early buds to try and get them to flower, and it looks like it has worked.

This is definitely a success. The bees love the salvia, and I love how it looks with verbena at the bottom.

Also love how this is looking. Nice mix of white verbena and lobelia with the silver helichrysum at the base of the standard rose. Just waiting for some more roses to appear.

Here are some before and afters. Photos on the right taken first weekend in July.

The Great Marigold Experiment

The Great Marigold Experiment

I love marigolds, and I’m constantly buying seeds for different types to test out in the garden.  Actually, I just love growing things from seed, it’s not restricted to Marigolds! 

I find them exceptionally easy to grow from seed, and they are incredibly prolific – flowering all through summer. And they self seed like crazy. I have a whole load of plants in front of my raised bed where they self seeded from last year.

I grow them at the edges of my raised beds, and they do a great job of attracting black fly and keeping it off the other plants.

Apparently, Marigold is the name applied to two different plants (I just looked that up Here!), I like both and grow them together. I thought I would share a few of my favourites here.

Of course there is the traditional English or Pot Marigold (calendula official is). Which is tall and gives large flower heads. This bunch has a mixture of the usual yellow ones and some lovely varieties called Sunset Buff (my favourite pot marigold) and Indian Prince.  These are tall enough to put in a normal tall vase. 

And then there is the French variety (Tagates), which tend to produce smaller, bushier plants, and flowers with shorter stems. I put them in small bases, in fact I often use Morrocan tea glasses or mini milk bottles.

This is French honeycomb

And French ‘naughty marietta’ (great name!), with sunset buff in there too. There is also a red one in there that is from a mixed seed packet called marigold pots of gold.

And French vanilla cream – which is very yellow!

Finally I have an African marigold called Kees orange. Also a Tagates, but is taller than the French variety. What a gorgeous colour. It could become my new favourite marigold.

I also have a French red cherry, but no flowers on that today.  Will post some pictures soon.

Which is your favourite?

Hand Painted Herb Labels

Hand Painted Herb Labels

I can never find herb labels that are pretty and where the range covers all of the herbs I have. So I did a search on Pinterest, and found this idea for painting pebbles.  (Here).

The paint is Decoart Patio Paint, and the cheapest place I found was BG Payne Crafts, which is in Lancashire, but they do mail order. The paint is waterproof and non toxic. There are loads of colours and they stock a really good range. It was difficult to choose which ones I wanted, and I forgot to order a green one, but it was easy to mix a green as I had bought blue and yellow.

I have pebbles in my garden, so I chose the smallest, flattest ones. If you don’t have any, then garden centres always do.

I just did random patterns, and then painted the names over the top. I used cheap kids brushes from Wilkos. I love these as they are only £1.00, and each one is a different size/shape.

It was really easy, and a fun afternoon in the sun in the garden. My 5 year daughter also did a load of stones. Not sure what she is going to do with hers, will probably find them randomly in the garden!

So here they are, we’ve brought them inside to dry thoroughly for a few days, and I will post a photo of them in situ soon.


Here they are in place!

I think Chives and Apple Mint are my favourites. Which is yours?

Pot Luck

Pot Luck

This year I’ve potted up loads of (too many?!) lovely terracotta pots with an array of plants some of which I’ve grown from seed.

The chrysanthemums are from Sarah Raven, the verbenas I got as tiny plugs from Hayes Garden World and grew on in the greenhouse. The alyssum I bought in a pack from a local plant sale. The dahlias are from a range of places. All bought as tubers and grown on in the greenhouse. Most other things I’ve grown from seed.

I thought it would be interesting to do a before and after series of photos – just after they are planted, and when in full bloom. If nothing else it will help remind me what I’ve planted and what looks the best.  These were all planted mid-late May 2015.

So here goes:

Pot 1 – The white pot – dahlia fleur, cosmos purity, two black eye susan, alyssum white, phlox, erigeron

Pot 2 – red and orange pot – African marigold Kees orange, rudbeckia rustic dwarf, grazania tiger stripes

Pot 3 – red and orange – rudbeckia rustic dwarf, French marigold red cherry, grazania tiger stripes

Pot 4 – mini strawberries – red and white wild strawberries

Pot 5 – phlox

Pot 6 – yellow pot – yellow violas. I think my Mum gave me these last year, and they are very cheery and flowering away in May!

Pot 7 – the mix  – coreopsis, Erigeron, dwarf cosmos, antirrhinum royal bride.  This was a bit of a left over experimental pot!

Pot 8 – my favourite ever flower – dahlia cafe au lait. Love it so much that I have one in the cutting bed and this one in a pot.

Pot 9 – purple and white – aubrietia kittie blue (looking a bit worse for wear), Erigeron (hopefully will cover the bald patch!)

Pot 10 & 11- pink – verbena Aztec magic pink

Pot 12 – purple pot – alyssum white, Aztec verbena purple, pansy rose, chrysthanthemum sheer purple

Pot 13 – orange and white – alyssum white, verbena Aztec magic white, laurentia, chrysthanthemum orange Louise

Pot 14 – red and white – verbena Aztec magic white, laurentia, alyssum white, chrysthanthemum John Riley

Pot 15 – pink, green and white – chrysanthemum froggy, verbena Aztec magic pink, alyssum white

Pot 16 – lilac and green – chrysthanthemum anastasia green, verbena Aztec magic silver

Pot 17 – dahlia Vancouver

Pot 18 – purple and white – chrysanthemum Porto purple, verbena Aztec magic silver, alyssum white, phlox

Raised beds 2015


This year I’ve given over one of my raised beds to become a cutting patch, whilst the other one is for veg.

Here is the cutting patch one, mostly planted out mid May:

  I’ve built a cage of canes for the plants to grow through, and have planted Dahlias, cosmos, cornflower, zinnias. With a variety of marigolds and nasturtiums at the front.

The dahlias all have copper bands round them, and the blue dots you can see are slug pellets. Last year the little blighters massacred my dahlias😈 This year it’s a war I’m determined to win!

The veg bed is bigger and has a yellow courgette, a range of broccoli, some beans and  cucamelon growing up the tripod. I’ve also sown some beetroot and a couple of butternut squash seeds. And again a range of marigolds and nasturtium around the edge.

This is what they look like today (bank holiday Monday). Will add some update photos in a couple of weeks.

Update 14th June – I’ve already had some cosmos and callendula flowers, and everything is coming along a treat.

I put some covers over the beetroot seedlings to give extra protection from the cat, and one of the butternut squash seeds that I sowed in May has just popped up.

June update. End of June, so about 6 weeks after planting out.

  You can’t see it as I just picked them, but Cosmos, calendula and cornflowers all beginning to flower. . As are sweetpeas (growing elsewhere in the garden). Marigold Sunset Buff is going great guns. One Dahlia just popped out its first flower and some of the others are not far behind. Zinnias are still growing taller, and a couple have given one flower. If they don’t increase much in height I will put them in front of the cornflowers next year as the cornflowers are huge!

Picked this bundle of goodies this evening.

Grow Your Own – Planting the plot


Earlier in the year I decided to convert the flower bed closest to the house into a vegetable patch. The soil wasn’t very good so I decided raised beds were the answer. I got them from Harrod Horticultural. They seemed to be the best price around.

They were pretty easy to build and I filled them with a mixture of top soil (best and cheapest place I found for this was my local garden centre, who delivered two big builders bags), manure and compost about a month ago. They are partly on soil and partly on paving slab. I put a layer of cardboard underneath them to suppress weeds.

They’ve been covered in black plastic. Largely to keep the cats off, but today was the day for planting!

I also put a layer of copper tape around each one to try and defeat the slugs and snails. Fingers crossed it works.


I’ve been growing lots of seedlings indoors since February/March, and some stuff I will direct sow.

I’ve blogged previously about the great ornamental veg garden course I went on at Sarah Raven’s Perch Hill, and I found more inspiration yesterday at the Chelsea Flower Show. There was a fab potager garden on the Marston & Langinger trade stand.


I’ve learnt that I really like the mix of flowers, fruit and veg all planted together. Which means my planting plan

which I designed before going on the Sarah Raven course, had to be revised. Well completely thrown out the window!

I’ve never really grown vegetables before, so I’m going to blog about what I am growing, and how I get on.

The beds are 1.2m wide and one is 1.8m long and 45cm deep. The other is 2.4m long and 30cm deep.

I found this seed and measuring spacer from Burgon and Ball really helpful. I used it to create channels for sowing the seeds (on its side, pressed into the soil), and it has a guide to spacing which is a handy reminder. As well as measurements in both imperial and metric.


This is what I have planted in them. Some as seedlings (grown myself from seed) and some as seeds.

Smaller bed:


– chard (lucullus)
– spinach (Bordeaux)
– rocket (runway and wild)
– mustard (red giant and red frills)
– beetroot (burpees golden, bolthardy and chioggia)
– carrots (Nantes, little finger and chantenay)
– pac choi
– sorrel (red veined)
– lettuce (little gem, merveille de quatre saison, Descartes, Seurat and reine de glace)

The idea is to have lots of cut and come again veg to use in salads. I’ve tried to pick ones that look as good as they taste.


I’ve also added lots of flowers around the edge. Including different types of marigold, viola heartsease, nasturtiums and dahlias (at the back). Both for aesthetic reasons and to attract pollinating insects. They’re all edible flowers too.

For bed two I planted:



– sweetcorn (luscious, popcorn fiesta and minipop)
– butternut squash (just one plant)
– courgette (black beauty and soleil)
– broccoli (cardinal, summer purple, red arrow, Rudolph, autumn)
– Brussel sprout (rubine)

Again I’ve put lots of flowers around the edge. Same as the other bed, but with some rudbeckia thrown in for good measure.


And I built a cage to hold netting out of bamboo and some clever little rubber gizmos that I bought at Chelsea Flower Show. This is mostly to keep the cats off the bed whilst everything settles in.

Really looking forward to seeing how things get on.

Update 1: only a week later and some of the seeds are already sprouting little seedlings.


The copper tape seems to be working really well at keeping the slugs and snails away. But the netting hasn’t kept out my naughty cat, who had already been in and knocked a few things around. I have now lengthened it in an attempt to stop her getting in. Fingers crossed!

Update 2: only two weeks on, and lots of signs of life




Pac choi and little gem lettuce really coming on

Update 3.

Been away for two weeks at the end of June. I think the weather has been hot. I gave it a really good water and left it to it and the plot has gone crazy!! Here are some before and after photos. Just two weeks apart.

Before (mid June):





After (end of June):



I actually can hardly believe it!!

And here is what I picked.

From left to right:
Mustard red frills and giant red, lettuce merveille de quatre saisons, rocket, lettuce reine de glace, pac choi
Plus some (strangely shaped) beetroot

Not bad for 6 weeks after planting!

Inspiring Gardens – Perch Hill


Earlier this week I spent a lovely indulgent day on an ornamental vegetable garden course at Sarah Raven’s Perch Hill. See here for details.

I’ve just installed two raised beds in my garden.

They are right outside my back door and can be seen from the house, so I wanted some inspiration for how to make them as productive and pretty as possible. The course at Perch Hill seemed perfect.

I’m going to share a little about the course, and lots of photos of Sarah’s lovely garden. The course was mid April. Most of the tulips had gone over, but the garden still looked fantastic.

The day was an absolute delight, starting off with tea and homemade biscuits in the greenhouse.


There were probably about 30 people on the course. Just one man!
The training room was nice and light

And frankly I could move into the loos with all those books!


The course itself was really useful. Key things I learnt included:
– Plant cut and come again veg so you don’t get gaps in your beds
– plant veg and flowers together
– when picking cut and come again pick ‘in the round’ (round the outside) to minimise impact
– how to make climbing frames for veg from willow and hazel
– plant artichokes, dahlias and alliums in one bed
– chop down artichokes to get them to repeat and give more lovely heads

And so much more!

But enough of my waffle. How about some lovely pictures of Perch Hill in April?…














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