Category Archives: Garden

Inspiring Gardens – Majorelle Gardens – Marrakech

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!