Garden Titbits
Gardening calendar: sow tomatoes and chit potatoes
The top ten gardening tasks to keep you busy in the week ahead
Thorny problems: how can I make 'blind' daffodils flower?
This week our gardening expert advises on when best to cut a hedge with nesting birds
Earthy or sweet: a guide to picking the best beetroot for you
For a sweet tooth or an earthy delight, James Wong has the variety for you
Beetroot: roasting vs juicing
Top tips from James Wong on growing beetroots for different eating experiences
Thorny problems: should I returf my lawn?
Our gardening expert solves your green problems. This week - when to prune a beech hedge
Gardening calendar: sow chillies and recycle hyacinths
Top ten gardening tasks to keep you busy in the week ahead
Friend or foe: spotting the new garden pests
A guide to catching the invasive alien insects that could cause damage to your garden
RHS reveal the top ten garden pests
Ants, snails and beetles all enter the list, but which pest is the number one problem for gardeners?
Thorny problems: what roses should I grow for flower arranging?
This week our gardening agony aunt advises on rubber plants and compost bins
Gardening calendar: pick a posy and sow savory
Top ten gardening tasks to keep you busy in the week ahead
Edible dahlias: a return to Aztec roots
Dahlias are known for their vivid blooms, but would you eat them?
How to get healthy soil for happy plants
Natural biological controls are a gardener's new best friend
Killer disease cripples aquilegia collection
A new disease is causing devastation to aquilegias, make sure you know the symptoms
Best of British - Valentine's Day flowers
Choose home grown flowers to ensure true love blooms
Greenhouse guide: 13 incredibly useful tips
A greenhouse opens new gardening horizons - to choose one and use it effectively, here are green guru John Walker's 13 top tips on setting up
Gardening calendar: prune shrubs and sow herbs
Your gardening guide for the week ahead
Thorny problems: how can I soften a brick wall with plants?
Our gardening expert Helen Yemm solves your gardening problems from keeping rabbits at bay to choosing roses
Valentine's Day: flowers to match your loved one's personality
A rose does not fit all. Choose a more personal bouquet with our Valentine's Day guide.
Wildflower guru: the woman who knows meadows
Meet one of the pioneers of wildflower gardening, Pam Lewis
How to choose a compost
The RHS share their ten top tips for picking compost
Garden bargains to be found at antique fairs
All sorts of garden curiosities from gazebos to bird boxes can be found at antique markets
Boost bird populations with nest boxes and feed
This National Bird Box week encourage birds into your garden with the conservation practices used at Vine House Farm
Wildflower guru: the woman who knows meadows
Meet one of the pioneers of wildflower gardening, Pam Lewis
The irresistible allure of a garden train
The romantic allure of a steam train is so irresistible to some that they have turned their back gardens over to miniature railways.
Deep down, every man wants a giant train set
John Caudwell, the founder of Phones4u, is building a narrow-gauge railway around his Jacobean country house. But wouldn't we all, if we could?
How to sow an annual meadow quickly and easily
Annual meadows are a low maintenance style of gardening. Here's how to plant your own
Garden Bridge: why we should be brave
It takes guts to build something extraordinary - have we lost the courage to dream?
Garden birds: four things to do this winter to help them
The best ways to feed and care for birds in winter
When is it time to refresh a garden?
Keeping borders under control and casting out lost plant causes is easier said than done
Natural Christmas tree decorations from the garden
How to use dried leaves and seedheads to decorate your tree
Christmas flowers: how to decorate your home
Combine foliage with colour to bring cheer to gloomy winter days, says Bunny Guinness
How to make a floral Christmas centrepiece
Sarah Raven shows how to make one flower arrangement work for the table and a festive party
How to make a Christmas wreath for your front door
Harvest berries, leaves and seedheads from the garden to make a Christmas wreath
Creating a garden that's terrific for turtles
Chelsea champion Phillip Johnson creates a garden fit for a lively family - and a few local reptiles
Amazing topiary: in pictures
From topiary cars to crowns: be inspired by the feats man can achieve with a hedge and shears.
Let's honour the unsung horticultural heroes who help Britain grow
Vote for those who dig in and lend a hand in the Gardening Against the Odds awards
How to look after herbaceous borders
The RHS shares top tips on revitalising your borders this autumn, from improving the soil to moving plants
Polytunnel tips: a plan for winter
As summer turns to autumn, go under cover to extend your growing season
Polytunnel tips: a plan for winter
As summer turns to autumn, go under cover to extend your growing season
Shed of the Year 2014 - the winners in pictures
An innovative eco-shed with an allotment on its roof has won the Shed of the Year competition
Watch: World record mistletoe-kissing attempt
Shoppers in London's Borough Market enjoyed a record-breaking 1,000 kisses to try and generate enough energy to switch on the Christmas lights
National Trust makes traditional Christmas garland
Watch the team at stately home Cotehele making an elaborate Christmas swag using flowers from the garden
Glamorous gardens: Jardin Marjorelle
Madison Cox explains why he has chosen to feature Jardin Majorelle in his new book, The Gardener's Garden
UK pensioner unwittingly grows a five-foot-tall cannabis plant
Patricia Hewitson from Exmouth grew a mystery weed in her garden for months before finding out it was a cannabis plant
Shed of the Year 2014: allotment roof shed wins title
Amazing Spaces presenter George Clarke uncovers some of the UK's weirdest and wackiest sheds competing for the title of Shed of the Year
Urban jungle: how to grow fresh produce in city confines
New York City-based urban farm company Gotham Greens explain their green-fingered business
How to cut back herbs
90-second gardener: It's time to give your perennials herbs a haircut, says Sarah Raven
How to thin fruit trees
90-second gardener: Sarah Raven shows you how to thin your fruit trees
How to prune clematis
Our 90-second gardener Sarah Raven shows how to give your clematis a trim
How to pinch out annuals
Our 90-second gardener Sarah Raven shares her tips on pinching out flowering annual plants
How to train tomatoes
Our 90-second gardener Sarah Raven shows you how to tie your tomato plants to canes
How to take and pot up lavender cuttings
Our 90-second gardener Sarah Raven demonstrates how to propagate lavender
How to take and plant lavender cuttings
Our 90-second gardener Sarah Raven demonstrates how to propagate lavender
How to plant summer flower containers
Our 90 second gardener Sarah Raven shows you how to plant containers of pelargoniums
How to hide a swimming pool
This may look like a grassy lawn, a place for kicking a ball or enjoying a barbecue maybe - but this outdoor space has hidden depths
How to plant out courgettes
Our 90-second gardener Sarah Raven shows you how to get your courgette crop started
Chelsea Flower Show 2014: Telegraph garden wins gold
The Telegraph's contemporary Italian garden is awarded a gold medal in this year's Chelsea Flower Show
Flowers and celebrities in full bloom at Chelsea Flower Show
Stars including Twiggy, Jerry Hall and Jennifer Saunders are among those enjoying the Chelsea Flower show, with Monty Don hailing The Telegraph garden as "very beautiful"
Chelsea Flower Show 2014: Putting the finishing touches to the Telegraph garden
The finishing touches are applied to the Telegraph garden, as the team prepare for the opening of the 2014 Chelsea Flower Show
Alan Titchmarsh: Designing at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014 is a different pressure to presenting
Celebrating his 50th year in horticulture, Alan Titchmarsh has joined forces with the designer Kate Gould to create garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Chelsea 2015: three cheers for Prince Harry
It's business as usual at Chelsea, with a field of experienced designers jostling for gold
Chelsea Flower Show 2015: designs for the show gardens
Take a look at the designs for the stunning gardens at this year's Chelsea Flower Show
What do we know about the Chelsea Flower Show 2015 so far?
All the latest news about dates, tickets and gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Prince Harry's charity announces garden for Chelsea Flower Show
African charity Sentebale, co-founded by Prince Harry, will be exhibiting a garden at next year's Chelsea Flower Show
How to grow your own tea
Sarah Raven sips from a new world of flavour with easy-to-grow, delicious and healthy herbs
Chelsea Flower Show 2014: the blooms that stole the show
Flowers in all their glorious shades and hues are the real stars at Chelsea, says Francine Raymond
Chelsea Flower Show 2014: a floral feast for all the senses
Press day at Chelsea was a scorcher both in terms of the weather and the exhibitors
Chelsea Flower Show 2014: Final flourish
Crowds of garden enthusiasts braved the rain to attend the final day of the Chelsea Flower Show, which was rounded off with a plant sale
Alan Titchmarsh: meeting the Queen at the Chelsea Flower Show
For 50 years, I've had the honour of creating garden spaces that draw all kinds of visitors, from home, abroad and even the Royal family
Britain's best gardens to see irises
Irises were everywhere at the Chelsea Flower Show 2014. Here are some of the top places to see the flowers at their best
A blooming good Chelsea Flower Show
A year after its centenary, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show opened the door on an exciting new era, with plenty of fresh faces and a big win for champagne house Laurent-Perrier
Love blooms in Telegraph Chelsea garden as man proposes
Visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon may have spotted a rather romantic sight in the Telegraph garden
Best plants at the Chelsea Flower Show 2014
From pale pink poppies to stunning new roses: our pick of the best plants (and planting) on display at the Chelsea Flower Show
Confessions of a Chelsea Flower Show virgin
Harry de Quetteville dishes the dirt on what it's like to be a first-timer at the Chelsea Flower Show
Weird and wonderful Chelsea Flower Show
From shell dinosaurs to floral stockings: the strangest sights at the Chelsea Flower Show 2014
Meet Bojo, the Chelsea Flower Show's crocheted gorilla
Don't bother with the plants at the Chelsea Flower Show: there's many more weird and wonderful things to be found, says Harry Wallop
Best of Chelsea Flower Show 2014
From a Viking invasion to Benedict Cumberbatch fever: the highlights of this year's Chelsea Flower Show
Hautie Culture: Flowers and fashion
As Gucci scoops a silver medal at Chelsea Flower Show, we dig into the fertile relationship between fashion and gardening
Hugo Bugg, the hot new property who is Chelsea's youngest gold medal winner for 20 years
Chelsea Flower Show 2014: Hugo Bugg, a 27-year-old former school head boy, publishes picture on Twitter of his Royal Horticultural Society medal
Hugo Bugg, the hot new property who is Chelsea's youngest gold medal winner
Chelsea Flower Show 2014: Hugo Bugg, a 27-year-old former school head boy, publishes picture on Twitter of his Royal Horticultural Society medal
Vietnamese New Year: in pictures
Jacky Hobbs travelled from North to South Vietnam to witness the flower preparations for Tet
In pictures: early spring flowers to make the heart sing
A stunning crocus lawn has sprung up at Kew Gardens and snowdrops, cyclamen and aconites are providing gorgeous displays elsewhere
Incredible drawings from the RHS London Botanical Art Show
A preview of beautiful art by some of the world's most renowned botanical artists
Stunning garden and wildlife shots from photographer of the year competition
The incredible winning photographs from this year's International Garden Photographer of the Year competition
Faded Glory: beautiful photos of historic gardens
Rachel Warne's exhibition at the Garden Museum finds charm in old gardens left to nature
Gardens of Cornwall
The gardens of Cornwall are set against some of Europe's most striking scenery. Here, we pick the most inspiring
Amazing sheds: clever ideas for your favourite garden room
Sally Coulthard's new book, Shed Decor, is full of clever tips to transform your garden shed into an enviable living space
Stunning snowdrops: in pictures
The snowdrop season is upon us, take a look at these wonderful varieties
Alternative Valentine's Day gift ideas
From chocolate flower pots to love seats, there's more to offer your gardening Valentine than flowers
Beautiful winning gardens from the SGD awards: in pics
The winning gardens in the Society of Garden Designers' annual competition have been unveiled
The gardens of Wolf Hall
See if you can recognise the gardens used in the filming of Wolf Hall, the hit BBC series set in the court of Henry VIII
Potting shed paradise: the garden in winter
Ideas for storing tools, fruit and seed revealed in pictures by Jonathan Buckley
Stunning potting sheds in winter
Photographer Jonathan Buckley shows us the interiors of potting sheds that will makers gardeners go green with envy
How to choose the right tree to grow
A tree can be your living legacy so choose and plant with care, says Bunny Guinness
The best bird feeders, houses and boxes
With the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch fast approaching you may want to invest in one of these brilliant bird products and entice the flock into your garden.
The best conservatories: in pictures
A look at 10 stunningly designed conservatories, glasshouses and extensions.
In pictures: stems and bark in frost and cold
Garden photographer Jonathan Buckley has taken a magical series of pictures of trees and plants up-close in winter
The best shrubs for winter scent
Plant these shrubs and your garden will be filled with beautiful fragrance, even in winter
Gardens in fashion: the best new botanical prints
Tropical botanical prints are set to be a trend for spring this year
Gardens to visit
Three outstanding open gardens with stunning early spring flowers
Simply stylish: The Beth Chatto Gardens
The garden and nursery offer a masterclass in elegant garden design
Hole Park: an undiscovered garden
Between Sissinghurst and Great Dixter lies Hole Park where beautiful spring bulbs cover 15 acres
Gardens of Cornwall
The gardens of Cornwall are set against some of Europe's most striking scenery. Here, we pick the most inspiring
Confessions of a garden tour guide
Noel Kingsbury lets us in on the secrets of what makes a succesful horticultural holiday
The best snowdrop events in 2015
A round up of snowdrop festivals and days out around the UK.
Green getaways: a guide to the best garden holidays
Try a horticultural holiday and find fresh inspiration for the home plot
Tudor gardens bloom once more
Sandra Lawrence discovers how Henry VIII's jousting grounds became abundant kitchen gardens at Hampton Court
Chelsea 2015: three cheers for Prince Harry
It's business as usual at Chelsea, with a field of experienced designers jostling for gold
Miami's must-see gardens
Tim Richardson hobnobs with the rich and famous Miami's Tropical Botanic Gardens, before escaping to an improbably green car park
Amazing sub-tropical plants of Tresco Abbey Gardens: in pictures
The hot and dry climate on the Isles of Scilly means that Tresco Abbey Gardens are in full bloom even in January
Tresco, a magical sub-tropical garden in the Scillies
Helen Yemm marvels at the diversity on display as she joins the flower count at Tresco Abbey Garden on the Isles of Scilly
How to volunteer in a garden
Giving up your free time to work in a team can be relaxing, educational and rewarding
'My new Garden Bridge will be a floating paradise for Londoners'
Thomas Heatherwick, the leading British designer, talks exclusively about his new plans for London's Garden Bridge - complete with flowers, trees and 1,000 cubic metres of soil
The best gardens to visit in January 2015
The best gardens to visit in the aftermath of Christmas
Britain's best conservatories to visit in winter
Too cold to go outside? Spend a day in one of Britain's beautiful glasshouses instead
Garden Bridge: a blot on the landscape?
The vision of a Garden Bridge for London is more controversial than it first appears
Stunning winter landscape photography
These images have been selected from entries to the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition
Britain's best conservatories to visit in winter
Too cold to go outside? Spend a day in one of Britain's beautiful glasshouses instead
Quiz: can you identify this garden in winter?
Everyone can recognise a famous garden in summer, but what about when it is blanketed in snow?
Outdoor seating ideas from the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
The gardens at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year are full of inspiring ideas for eating and relaxing al fresco
Grow easy vegetables for gardening bliss
Cultivating edible produce at home needn't be a struggle, as a garden at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show reveals. You just have to know what to plant
Australian garden wins best in show at Hampton Court Palace
An Australian garden has triumphed at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, just a year after another Down Under-themed garden won at Chelsea
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show: fewer medals, more verve
Going for gold makes garden design dull. Why not have a break from constant competition?
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2014: the gardens
Take a first peek at the glorious gardens at this year's Hampton Court Flower Show
My space: Jeni Cairns, artist and garden designer
Jeni Cairns, who has designed a garden for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, shows us her studio
Hedgehogs at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
Britain's favourite mammal the hedgehog has a royal invitation to next week's palace garden show, says Kate Bradbury
Hampton Court Flower Show 2014: gorgeous gardens to inspire you
The 29 gardens at the Hampton Court Flower Show, which opens next Tuesday, offer a wealth of creativity, says Annie Gatti
Hampton Court Flower Show 2014: how to get there
The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2014 runs from July 8 to 13. Here's how to get to the showground
Hampton Court Flower Show 2013: celebrity henhouses auction
Henhouses designed by celebrities from Kate Humble to Sophie Conrad are on display at the Hampton Court Flower Show this week.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2013: the gardens in pics
Vibrant and thought-provoking gardens on display at this year's Hampton Court Flower Show.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2013: 'I've never liked the concept gardens'
Helen Yemm has always dismissed the concept gardens at Hampton Court - but this year, she was pleasantly surprised by the imaginative offerings.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2013: gold medal winners
Best in show and other gold medal winners at this year's Hampton Court Flower Show.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2013: highlights to look out for
From a tropical butterfly display to literature-inspired gardens: highlights at this year's Hampton Court Flower Show.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2013: 20 best garden products for sale
Harriot Lane Fox picks a top crop of gardening gear for sale at the Hampton Court Flower Show next week.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2013: how to get there
The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2012 runs from July 9 to 14. Here's how to get to the showground.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2013: inspirational celebrity planters
Eight gardening celebrities have teamed up with Ecover UK to design these colourful planters for the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show this month.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2012: The gardens in pictures
A look at the efforts in the Show Gardens, World of Gardens, Low Cost High Impact Gardens and Conceptual Gardens categories at Hampton Court Flower Show 2012.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2012: The Summer Gardens
The Summer Garden category at Hampton Court Flower Show 2012.
Hampton Court Flower Show 2012: Meet the designers
Whether inspired by austerity, exotic lands or the July 7 bombings, Hampton Court Flower Show 2012 designers are creating gardens to provoke and enthral.
Farewell but not for long!
Hello all It's been some time since we last updated this blog but it was for a good reason. We have pooled all the best of BBC gardening into one new blog! The BBC Gardening Blog launched at the beginning of October 2010. We hope you'll be as pleased as us to know that our regular bloggers will include Alys Fowler from Gardeners' World, Jim McColl from the Beechgrove Garden, and Bob Flowerdew from Gardeners' Question Time. The time has come to bid farewell to the Gardeners' World blog. Why not head on over to the new gardening blog? We hope to see you there! Saima
January 2010
As a new gardening year arrives along with the most snow we've seen for 30 years, I've begun to realize that the challenges of being Greenacre's new garden manager are more than simply juggling camera crews and compost.As with all gardens in this weather, Greenacre has been very quiet, in fact there are more fox tracks than human tracks in the snow - though it's nice to be reminded of the life in the garden when all of the plants are hidden by a huge frozen blanket. I am beginning to associate Greenacre with snow as when we started here (11 months ago) it snowed for the first 10 days! Here's hoping it starts to clear soon so we can get back out there working the ground ready for the coming seasons! There's always work to be done here - even in these conditions: cleaning around the greenhouses; tidying the shed; checking over the condition of all the tools as well as, crucially, knocking the snow from laden branches of trees, hedges and other plants. At Greenacre the Chusan palm looked a lot happier once he had been unloaded of snow! Badly affected plants are usually evergreens such as conifers; especially those grown for their column-like shape such as Irish yew, but most plants appreciate having heavy snow shaken off. This is, of course, our first full winter at Greenacre and we are still getting to know our new home and neighbours. We have a resident fox who digs his way in under the fence and in the warmer months spends his nights sitting in different plants (particular favourites were the cosmos and the dahlias); there is also a badger sett not far away and of course the rooks, who most nights circle over the garden when the sun begins to set. Gardeners' World will be back on the 5th March. In the meantime, I'll be busy with the new polytunnel, propagating as many plants as possible from seed to stock the beds and borders here at Greenacre. From fruit and vegetables to perennials and bedding plants hopefully we'll have room for them all!
Decisions, decisions
Decisions, decisions. At the moment I'm in rather a quandary. I'm contemplating digging up half of my now nicely matured garden and turning it over to a few choice edibles. By choice I mean ones that are right there when you need them, outside the back door that you can pick and as eat fresh as you like. I'm thinking herbs, salads, dwarf beans, carrots, perpetual spinach, tomatoes and then maybe use the fences for some climbing peas and the like. Possibly some fruit in containers such as blueberries and strawberries? So what's the dilemma you may ask? Well I've spent the last seven years pretty much sticking to my master plan and getting this garden looking good. The problem is that the allotment is great for larger crops, but I can't just nip up there for a handful of herbs and salads on an evening can I? It's ten bloomin' miles away. To make my 'new initiative' productive and practical, I know I have to lose many of my much loved plants. There's no real space and I can't pussy foot around in between them, sowing seed here and there. The soil's great, the garden is south facing, but can I bring myself to actually do it? I know gardens never sit still. I have the winter to decide. I have the fear. Watch this space and I'll let you know once I know!
It's time to get a polytunnel
Although the show is off-air for the winter it's business as usual here. I'm still going up to Greenacre every week marking out the new gardens and getting new plants going for next year. My autumn-sown broad beans are looking good and I potted up the spares that weren't planted out into buckets for forcing in the greenhouse which should give us crops by early May. Truth is though, we don't have enough space in there for everything so I've decided it's time to get a polytunnel. I know that they look like simple structures to put up, at least compared to a greenhouse but believe me they're not. Ned, the location manager at Greenacre didn't believe it, but he does now! There are so many parts - each similar but not interchangeable and really confusing instructions. My only advice is get help, and expect to need it for some time. Anyway, after much dismantling, adjusting, swearing and general fiddling about our tunnel is up. The big advantage of a tunnel over a greenhouse is that size is cheap to buy. Once the cost of the hoops and doors have been covered, you can go as large as you like for very little more. And let's face it, who has ever had a greenhouse or polytunnel that isn't brim-full in its first season? There are a few extras worth putting your hand in your pocket for when buying. Thick polythene with good insulation qualities and a four-year guarantee for starters. Ours is 180 microns thick and what's called 'luminescent' so looks opaque from the outside but the light that passes through bounces around making for better growth. Other extras include double doors at both ends - essential to allow air to blow through the tunnel to cool the insides in summer and stop fungal spores settling on plants in winter. Insulation tape to keep the plastic clear of the metal hoops (without it the heat causes the cover to crack) is a must and (a personal preference for me) an anti-drip coating on the plastic so condensation doesn't fall down the back of your neck while potting up plants. At Greenacre, we're using it for all our cuttings and to house tender pots through winter but I've got big plans for spring, starting off all our summer bedding and annual veg in it. If you're thinking of getting one now, I say go for it. It'll bring spring to your plot six weeks early, guarantee crops of salads right through winter and make growing tender veg like peppers, aubergines and toms a breeze. Just make sure you get an extra pair of hands or two to help you put it up!
Bloggy hell
I can hardly believe that on my birthday I was harvesting Mexican ground cherries. This wonderful warm autumn brought all sorts of surprise extra harvests. Chillies got a chance to turn properly red, seed collecting has been heaven and I have had plenty of autumn lettuces, far beyond their usual quality. But I know that the minute my birthday comes, the temperature will drop. Many lettuces will make it through to December before botrytis or frost gets them as will the hardier stuff such as oriental mustards, Swiss chard, kales and cabbages. However, as they soldier on their flavour will become more intense as the days become colder. By February many of the oriental mustards, such as Giant Red Mustard, becomes so hot that they blow your head off if you eat them raw. At this point it's best to flash cook them; 60 seconds in boiling water or swirl them round a wok of hot oil, just enough to wilt them. Then off the heat as the chemicals that make them hot quickly become bitter if cooked for too long. Drizzle on some groundnut oil and a little soy, perhaps add a little friendly garlic, some toasted sesame seeds, a handful of noodles and you have lunch! Anyhow, I shouldn't be thinking about noodles as I have a small mountain of ground cherries to de-husk and do something with. These are cousins to the larger more common and slightly more sour-tasting tomatillos which definitely need to be cooked. Ground cherries are good enough to eat raw, but their delicious pineapple taste is almost better in a pie or crumble. You can tell when a ground cherry is ripe because the inside is a lovely pale golden orange and the husks are papery. If the inside is still green it will be very sour. I've been experimenting making clafoutis, which is a kind of egg-cooked custard dish where you can use any fruit you like. It's basically eggs, sugar, milk and a little flour. You line the dish with whatever fruit, in my case ground cherries, and pour over the batter and bake in a hot oven for about 20mins. When it puffs up take it out, pour on a little more sugar and place under the grill. You're aiming for a soufflé consistency which is kind of eggy, so if that's not your thing, stick to crumbles. I have to say I was entirely neglectful of the ground cherries. I planted them out towards the end of May and did little all summer other than bemoan the fact that I had misunderstood what ground cherries were, thinking they were just a synonym of tomatillos. They're not, they are a different species, tomatillos are Physalis ixocarpa and Mexican Ground Cherry is Physalis prunosa. They have furrier leaves and smaller fruit, and I think they probably like slightly warmer weather - not that I didn't get a good harvest, they just seem very small.
Design made easy
My Design Made Easy programme went out on Friday. It was a compilation of my Gardeners' World strand helping Mark and Suzanne redesign and build their already mature garden by breaking it down into manageable pieces and ending up with something that is ultimately greater than the sum of its parts.That's what I think good design is all about. It was interesting to see all of my visits put together into a single programme. It certainly had a makeover feel to it, but as it was executed over a five month period, it was a realistic and achievable thing to do. And it certainly wasn't all about throwing money into a project for a quick solution. I think that a gardens success is down to knowing where you're heading and making sure it works for whoever ultimately lives with it and maintains it. Call it planning, call it looking ahead, call it design, call it practicality, call it whatever you want, but without it I know that creating a garden can become frustrating. I've always been passionate about design and tried to get across that this planning stage is so important in gardening in order to avoid wasted effort and expense, which in turn can lead to a sense of failure. Playing around with ideas on paper is free, but as soon as you start to buy materials and plants it starts to get a little more serious. I hope that I showed how simple and accessible this process can be whether you're thinking of designing a garden from scratch or simply tweaking one you already have.
Autumn is truly here
November already! I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering where the summer went. I think that late burst of heat fooled me into thinking we'd rewound the clock back to July. But Halloween arrived this weekend and with it, the first autumn storm that stripped the leaves from the trees so there's no denying that autumn is truly here. In my garden in Devon the dahlias and zinnia are starting to look bedraggled but the nerines, which I planted as bulbs back in March are still holding strong. They're Cadillac-pink when they open, about 18in tall and brilliant planted on top of raised beds or next to a warm wall where the drainage is good. N. bowdenii is the hardiest but the larger 'Zeal Giant' has been a revelation. It's usually grown in a greenhouse but I thought I'd take a chance with it outdoors, in the gravelly sun-soaked border next to my greenhouse. Since September, it's been in flower with larger, taller trumpets than the species, up to 60cm high. I love the colour - a stronger cerise-pink which really glows even amongst the serious competition of tangerine coloured zinnia and the raspberry cactus dahlia 'Matilda Huston'. The key to keeping them through the winter is to keep the bulbs on the dry side, so my plan is to cover the died-down clump with a heavy glass cloche to shed the rain and ensure these floral fireworks make a return next autumn.
Tonight's finale and more to come
Hi All On tonight's action packed finale Toby will be clearing out the summer bedding, transplanting wallflowers and potting up plants for winter. Earlier this year we visited Dean Peckett at RHS Harlow Carr who had planted a fantastic display of tulips and, despite the rainy day, the wonderful varieties cannot fail to inspire you to get planting your own! Hugh Macalister has a particular passion for the native Rowan or Mountain Ash and, last autumn, we went to see him at Ness Botanics where he showed us the wealth of berry colours available in this wonderful tree. Alys will be joined by Colin Crosbie from the RHS and they'll both be giving the low down on the latest tree and shrub planting techniques and Joe will be demonstrating the best methods for sharpening your garden tools. We'll also be revealing the winner of this year's BBC Gardener of the Year. Now even though the main run of Gardeners' World comes to an end tonight we have some exciting shows coming your way over the coming months. Two to watch out for are Women in Gardening, due to air on 27th November and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, due to be aired on 4th December. Women in Gardening with Carol Klein will be looking back at those special women who defied convention in order to follow their passion for horticulture. Her journey includes interviews with some of our most influential gardening figures of the past 50 years including: Beth Chatto, garden writer and designer, Marina Christopher, pioneering nursery woman, Mary Spiller, the first female presenter on Gardeners' World and Inga Grimsby, who was the first woman to be appointed head of the Royal Horticultural Society between 2006 and 2009. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen tells the story of seven disparate gentlemen, brought together for the first time in 1804 above a bookshop in Piccadilly to form a society dedicated to the one and only thing they all agreed on - a love of horticulture. They were all extreme personalities; a domineering aristocrat, a womanising MP and an accused fraudster to name but a few. As individuals they were far more likely to fall out than collaborate but their love of gardening was so strong that together, against all the odds, they formed a society which was to become the most celebrated in the gardening world - The Royal Horticultural Society. That's all from me for this run, enjoy your winter gardening.
Winter prep
Hi All On tonight's show Toby will be continuing the winter garden preparations at Greenacre and making an underground subterranean vegetable store. He will also be forward planning and creating an ad hoc winter screen for the apricot he planted last week - this is to protect the flowers from frost when it starts to flower in February/March next year.Joe will be providing tips on how to protect tender tropical plants over the winter and we'll be visiting Carol at Glebe Cottage where she'll be showing off the autumnal glow from the foliage of trees and shrubs. Tonight we'll also be showing a clip of the late pumpkin growing enthusiast, Ralph Upton. Ralph had been growing pumpkins for 45 years and had perfected his gourd and squash growing skills into an art form. He was once nick-named The Pumpkin King - a title that I'm sure you'll agree he truly deserved. We'll be visiting a couple who have transformed their Devonshire plot into a grass and restio plantation and we'll be heading to Audley End in Essex for some more traditional tips on fruit and veg storage over the winter. If you'd like a full list of all the techniques and plants featured on tonight's show, please visit our episode guide and if you're looking to start the winter prep in your garden this weekend, here are several tasks that will help you get ahead of yourself for the fast approaching winter months: Clean greenhouse glass to make sure as much light gets in as possible for all overwintering plants. Shorten long growth on any shrubs which might be blasted by autumn/winter gales (shrub roses are the usual victims). Give the lawn a final cut, not too short, then clean and drain the lawnmower before putting it away. Buy all the materials that you are likely to need for winter protection tasks (fleece, wire, vine eyes, pegs etc.) and keep them on standby. Move doubtfully hardy plants, in pots, near to a frost-free greenhouse, porch or light windowsill so that they can be brought in as soon as frost is forecast. Check that all greenhouse supplementary heating is in working order before you have to use it. Invest in a max/min thermometer if you don't have one already. That's all for now, enjoy your gardening weekend.
I am on the hunt for a pumpkin
My garden is too small for pumpkins, or put another way, they've fallen off the most desirable vegetables to eat list. I went for everything but reasoning that the best spot for pumpkins would be the loss of globe artichokes, cucumbers, Mexican ground cherries, parsnips, kales, sprouting broccolis . . . I think you begin to get the picture. I do love pumpkins and winter squash and now that I am A PROUD OWNER of an allotment they will dutifully be back on the menu (mainly Crown Prince and Uchi Kuri squash), but this year I hankered after greens more. Still I married an American and last year I ambitiously took on Thanksgiving for far too many people (and the list seems to have grown). This means I must find a pumpkin and a good tasty one at that. The latter is really important as I used a very large pumpkin last year and it was so watery that it took two days to strain to the required consistency for pie (I use the recipe from Sophie Grigson 'Eat your Greens'). I might take a controversial route this year and not make pumpkin pie. Partly because although it's good, I don't think it has anything on a good tarte tatin or for that matter a great chocolate tart. No, pumpkin pie is fun and a good excuse for too much whipped cream but the recipe that has stolen my heart this month can be found here. It stole my heart for two reasons: the writing and the wonderful varied recipes... I love this blog and have to admit that I have spent too many hours lost in this tale. I've brought you in near to the beginning of this story with a suitably (if loosely) garden related entry to wet your appetite. If you are easily won over by fantastic photography, butter dripping recipes and a great yarn of love story block out - it is truly all consuming. As for the actual recipe, well it is perfect with a good strong coffee, better still I've found on the allotment between bouts of digging out couch grass (I made it with winter squash first time round). I would dispute that this is a recipe for bread; it's a cake (a cake that is equally as good with some chocolate chips thrown in). It's very easy to make (hence why it's going into this years thanksgiving menu). If it gets a little stale, cook it like toast and slather butter on it. You can also substitute the hazelnuts for walnuts particularly if you're lucky enough to have fresh ones that the squirrels haven't stolen. Oh for those that came here looking for gardening... Most pumpkins and squashes will need to be brought in farily soon, you don't want them to become frosted. You want to leave them on for as long as possible so that the skins can harden naturally. You can tell when the skin is ready as you won't be able to leave an impression with your thumb nail. Cut the fruit with a piece of stem attached either side to the stalk. You do this because it is very easy to damage the stalk and rot set in quickly. Many winter squash and some pumpkins do better for a period of curing. You need to bring them into a warm (20-25 °C) room for two weeks to concentrate the sugars and then store them somewhere cool (7-10 °C), dry and airy. The smaller witner squash such as Uchi Kuri or Hunter will store for three months or more.
A Fruitful Autumn
On tonight's show Toby will be recommending his top five soft fruits to plant and, for branches laden with fruit next summer, now is the perfect time to start planting. During late autumn and on into the winter you can also buy and plant fruit trees and bushes bare root which is a cheaper option. Toby will also be planting a blackcurrant bush, making it the first addition to the fruit garden at Greenacre. Carol will be sharing her berry bonanza in the garden and hedgerows at Glebe Cottage and Alys will be planting a winter extravaganza in a pot that will thrive throughout the winter months. For Alys's full recipe, as well as detailed information about growing blackcurrants, a plant list, and all the techniques featured on tonight's show, please visit our episode guide. We'll also be meeting the fifth and final finalist for BBC Gardener of the Year 2009 and you will be able to vote for your favourite when the phone lines open at 9pm tonight. If you'd like to watch extended versions of clips of your favourite finalist and their garden, and would like full details of how to vote, please visit our Gardener of the Year pages. Finally, this weekend why not start preparing for the winter months before the first frost sets in. Here are a few gardening jobs that we'd recommend: Start collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould. If you can wait a couple of years then store them in a compost bin and they will rot down slowly. For speedier leaf mould, shred them first and then store the leaves in perforated black plastic bags. Empty out summer pots of tender bedding and put the spent plants on the compost heap. There's still time to plant spring bulbs and the recent rainfall will have softened the ground enough for the perfect planting conditions. Finish harvesting tender vegetables before the first frosts arrive. That's all for now, enjoy your gardening weekend.
RHS Autumn Harvest Show
I have to tell you that I'm currently feeling a little nervous. In spring I made a rash decision and decided that I was going to 'grow to show' for a bit of fun and chose to enter some veggies into the RHS Autumn Harvest show in London.Looking back it was a rather crazy idea and unfortunately for me that time has come round far sooner than expected! The show starts next Tuesday.....HELP ME!!! As long as my mentor, the legendary vegetable ninja Charlie Macey thinks mine aren't too embarrassingly bad I shall be showing my onions, dwarf French beans and stump carrots. They have been lovingly tended in my garden all summer long. Over the summer I visited a few vegetable shows and now know just how stiff the competition is. As well as being great characters my competitors are only what can be termed as obsessive perfectionists. Most of them haven't had a summer holiday for years as they wouldn't leave their plants for more than a day. However I can now see how one can get hooked on this life as there is something magical and beautiful about perfect vegetables - not that I can say I've grown any yet, but I have certainly seen some. It's all being filmed as part of my one hour special which will be aired next year I believe, so please wish me luck - I can assure you I'm going to need every single ounce of it!
A touch of the orient and autumn grasses
On tonight's show Toby is busy bringing colour to the woodland garden at Greenacre, while Alys is looking at bringing colour and spice indoors this winter, by planting up amaryllis bulbs and chop suey greens. You can find details of the techniques and the inspirational gardens visited, featured in this week's episode guide.Meanwhile fresh from Carol's latest plant review at Glebe Cottage here's a list of some of the top autumn grasses: Anemanthele lessoniana Hakonechloa macra 'Japanese forest grass' Miscanthus sinensis 'Chinese silver grass' Miscanthus sinensis 'Flamingo' Miscanthus sinensis 'Malepartus' Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea 'Transparent' Molinia caerulea subsp. caerulea 'Edith Dudszus' Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Redhead' Tonight we'll be revealing the fourth finalist for BBC Gardener of the Year. Next week, after the final finalist is revealed you'll all be able to start voting for your favourite gardener. That's all for now, enjoy your gardening weekend.
Acers and Azaleas
There's something so lovely about the scent and feel of the soil at this time of year. It's noticeably warmer than the crisp autumn air - no wonder newly planted trees are so keen to root now. After planting 'Osakazuki' in the new woodland garden at Greenacre I feel as though I have what Oprah Winfrey might call 'some closure'. Years ago, I sowed a tray of seeds collected from the maple with the most fiery autumn colour of all; Acer 'Osakazuki'. After a winter out in the cold they sprouted and the following year I potted up the one with the best colour for turning into a bonsai. I even made my own shallow pot drilling holes in the base of a terracotta drip tray, collected moss to cover the roots to create a Japanese woodland floor-look and spent the next five years pruning, training and preening. But no matter how much I mollycoddled, the tips of the leaves always turned an ugly brown. What could possibly be going wrong? I watered with collected rain and misted regularly - I did everything by the book. After the tree gave up the ghost I interviewed a bonsai grower who said that all acers were brilliant for bonsai. When I told him how difficult my 'Osakazuki' seedling was he said "yes - all acers except that one"! Both the newly planted Azaleas and Acers will produce fiery autumn tints at Greenacre. The foliage colour alone will look wonderful but tumbling amongst late season flowers it will look magnificent. So, to keep with the Oriental theme, Japanese anemones will fill out the soil around their roots. To do this I'll need quite a few, but they are the easiest plant to propagate. We don't even need to take cuttings. The pots of plants brought up from Berryfields have rooted into the soil in our nursery beds and the roots if left undisturbed will sprout into new plants in the spring. Brilliant!
My first week filming in the garden, and my first production blog! Claire Johnson, or Dr. Claire as she is affectionately known, is on a course this week, and so I have been parachuted in to fill her rather large wellies. I normally work on the shows, having researched RHS Chelsea, Hampton Court and Tatton for the last two years, and the VT inserts. While it's quite daunting and exciting to work on such a high profile and prestigious show as the Chelsea Flower Show, it is also daunting and exciting to work on the main Gardeners' World programme. Daunting because of its history and pedigree, and exciting because it's the grand-daddy of all gardening television.One of the best things about working on the show this week is that we will be planting one of my favourite genus of flowering bulbs; the ornamental onion or Allium. What superb group they are, giving us such fantastic colour and form from May through to June. Who could imagine Chelsea week without the striking purple globes of Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' or the fireworks of A. shubertii. Planting alliums in the Prairie border this week at Greenacre, however, required a more modest, almost shy species; Allium cernuum. While it is readily available, it is not as well known as others in its genus, but it is worth growing for its loose nodding umbels of pinky purple flowers. Its native to the North America and grows well in most soils and aspects, and will naturalise when it finds a spot it likes. With its relaxed manner, it will fit nicely into the prairie border, flowering into July. Toby will be planting it alongside Nectaroscordum siculum, which flowers slightly earlier. Closely related to Alliums, Nectaroscordum also have an open head of subtle creamy pink flowers that hang gracefully when open. Toby will be planting them in drifts, following the specific planting theme of the border, for some June interest. For some spring colour and to provide some early Bee grub, Toby will be planting a succession of Alliums in the Bee Border also; A. 'Purple Sensation': appear in summer, showing off rounded heads full of deep violet flowers. These alliums are perfect for a sunny border. It is best to remove the immature seed-heads as the seedlings tend to have paler flowers. (AGM) A. schubertii: real stunner with round flower-heads measuring 30cm (1ft) wide, which resemble the starburst of a firework. The stems that pop out of the inner globe are thought to aid propagation by propelling the seed-heads. Allium cristophii: blockbuster with large purple heads measuring 20cm (8in) wide. These make superb cut flowers and have an almost metallic sheen on the stout stems, which reach knee height. Best placed in the spaces between border perennials to disguise its dying foliage. (AGM). A. sphaerocephalon: small, 2.5cm (1in) wide, pink to reddish-brown drumstick on long wiry stems. The flowers are densely packed and remain in bloom for many weeks. Tonight's programme will also see Joe bringing back some mad colour combinations inspired by Trentham Gardens. Carol enthuses about the gorgeous Rudbeckias and Asters currently filling her Devon garden with colour. And we have a look at contestant number 3 in our Gardener of the year competition. We even have 2 seasonal culinary suggestions to add a little sweetness to your weekend! Growing tips Site and soil preferences Alliums add impact to early summer borders and can be dried for winter decoration. They come in a wonderful range of colours including purple, buttercup yellow, pinks, white and shades of cornflower blue. Alliums are extremely easy to grow, invariably needing a place in full sun right at the front of a border. In the wild, alliums often grow in poor, stony ground and they don't need pampering in the garden. Average soil is fine, but it must be free-draining. Alliums in pots Even gardeners with tiny gardens can grow alliums in containers. Always use a reasonably deep container, especially for larger varieties. Plant at three times the depth of the bulb in well-drained compost (this also applies when planting in the open ground). The container plants will need repotting into fresh compost every year, but you don't need to do any more than this. They shouldn't require extra feeding, either, as long as their foliage is left to die back naturally. This enables them to build up energy for the following year. Like some other bulbs, they're naturally long-lived and survive for years if left undisturbed. With large drumstick alliums, the dying foliage can be disguised behind a few pots of bushy annuals or a clipped box for a more formal look.
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