gardening

  • Give weeds a chance - how ragwort and other garden misfits could transform your flower beds

    It’s the kind of news that would make many eco-sceptics shiver: a garden full of weeds has been awarded a gold medal by the Royal Horticultural Society. Last week, the people of Derbyshire-based farm Sunart Fields were as surprised as many of the attendees of Tatton Flower Show when they were handed the gong for a border that brimmed with things people usually pull out of their flowerbeds; among them, the controversial ragwort – a yellow flower beloved by pollinators but feared by horse owners.

  • The 12 best UK gardens to visit this weekend and throughout August

    Most gardens are opening with a combination of booked tickets or tickets on the gate; you can find all gardens and relevant details at the National Garden Scheme. Gardens opening on August 7 and 8 Mansion Cottage, East Yorkshire

  • Six easy ways to restore a sun-scorched garden

    Warm summer days and high light levels can lead to lots of activity in our gardens. Some surges of growth can tip the balance and become problematic, so stay vigilant and try to maintain a harmonious balance. For example, aphids and pond weeds can suddenly take over and become a real headache further down the line unless we spend a few hours this weekend gently and consistently restoring the horticultural equilibrium. Bug alert

  • 30 things every novice gardener needs to know

    Last year, when friends learnt I was graduating from a balcony to a garden, their response was almost universal. “You must be so excited!” they gasped, kindly. Sometimes it was easier to grin along and agree rather than admit the truth: I was terrified. Soil! Cats! Self-seeded things! Lawns! Balcony gardening was something of a corset, but I’d made myself quite at home within its whalebones over the previous six years. I’d battled pigeons and squirrels, dealt with drainage and rain shadows, and

  • 20 plants that should come with a health warning

    A picture of a bamboo that had muscled its way through a living room wall and threatened to engulf the sofa grabbed my attention. That was just an initial flick through a copy of the recently published Invasive Bamboos by Brian Taylor, Jim Glaister and Max Wade (Packard, £35). But bamboos are not the only garden space invaders. Many other garden plants that are widely sold can become problematic. Some are attractive plants that were originally chosen to fulfil certain roles, but were subsequentl

  • 30 of the best shade-loving plants

    Most gardeners grow spring woodlanders aplenty, including hellebores, wood anemones and primroses. These delightful opportunists flower before the leafy overhead canopy unfurls, but enjoy the benign protective presence of shrubs and trees. Once the shade is cast, however, the question of what will thrive under those trees and shrubs becomes more complicated. Fortunately, if you use the right plants, there’s still plenty of scope for later shade lovers. These really come into their own on a hot s

  • The top 10 daisy varieties to suit every garden

    Ask a child to draw a flower and they will draw you a daisy: a central circular disk surrounded by a ring of petals. Daisies appear to be the simplest form of flower, but in fact they are a lot more complicated than they appear. The central disk is composed of hundreds of tiny flowers, all packed closely together, and these are surrounded by a ring of “ray florets”, elongated petals each with a tiny flower at its base. All of these flowers make them a boon for wildlife, with pollinators able to

  • How to protect plants in your garden during a heatwave

    July is all about making plants feel comfortable, whether they’re in the garden, greenhouse or pots; regular TLC will then lead to strong, healthy growth. Be sure to water your pots daily, keep fast-growing tomatoes well fed and prepare for the autumn harvest on fruit trees. Little and often is our mantra in the garden this month. Plants to look after in a heatwave Feed roses As we move through July, garden roses will be working hard but, as the summer heat takes its toll, they may need a little

  • How to protect plants in your garden this summer

    July is all about making plants feel comfortable, whether they’re in the garden, greenhouse or pots; regular TLC will then lead to strong, healthy growth. Be sure to water your pots daily, keep fast-growing tomatoes well fed and prepare for the autumn harvest on fruit trees. Little and often is our mantra in the garden this month. Plants to look after in a heatwave Feed roses As we move through July, garden roses will be working hard but, as the summer heat takes its toll, they may need a little

  • The top 20 dahlias to bring a pop of colour to your garden

    The dahlia is about to take centre stage in our borders and it will grab the limelight until the first frost brings the curtain down – and these days that could mean November. No other flower will carry you through from summer into late autumn with as much pizzazz and vibrance. Among the categories, there are spiky cactus dahlias, which explode in the border like firecrackers, and prim and proper ball dahlias with comely ruffs of petals. There are gentle water lily types, impressions from a Mone

  • Hampton Garden Festival review: 'as richly planted as ever, but understated in ambition'

    At the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival this week there has been sunshine and showers (more of the latter, it’s true), men in crisp new panamas, ladies in swishy flowery dresses, Pimms and champagne – even fish and chips, if you want it. And given the outdoor nature of the event, it was also largely maskless (even in the marquees). So – everything back to normal? Nearly. But not quite. As might have been expected, there is a slightly muted feel to this year’s show. The show gardens are a

  • The best lawnmowers and everything you need to know before you buy

    A garden is far more than just a patch of grass. The lawn is a British institution, the first mention of which dates back to 1260, notes gardening writer and historian Tim Richardson. We can safely assume that a perfectly manicured lawn has been the halcyon dream of gardeners for more than 750 years. So, how can you achieve it? A lawn deserves the same careful care as a beloved flowerbed. “Even gardeners and lawn obsessives are prone to forgetting that grass is a plant that needs caring for in t

  • Selfridges has reinvented the garden centre – and Boomers will hate it

    Tending to an overwatered begonia during lockdown may have helped prevent many from quietly going spare in their overcrowded flatshares. A flowering of interest in houseplants has created a new generation of home jungle enthusiasts, with the #plantsofinstagram hashtag notching up posts in the millions. Now, as we emerge from lockdown, things are really blooming outdoors, too. Gardening is officially so cool among Millennials and Gen Z-ers, it can’t be long before John Innes signs up Alexa Chung

  • Hampton Court Flower Show 2021: how to buy tickets, live talk schedule and the best plants to buy

    The RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival has always leant towards take-away ideas but this year’s outing, which opens this week, has turbo-charged that concept. It makes sense that when live garden shows tentatively returned this year there would be a focus on pragmatic designs, expertise and ideas – after all, an estimated three million people took up gardening in the UK during the pandemic, as we reinvented tired spaces, started veg patches and eked out any possible areas to start growing.

  • How to keep cut flowers alive: six clever gardening tips

    The truth is cut flowers don't last forever, but garden expert Sarah Raven has some simple tricks for keeping them fresh and maximising their life span so you can enjoy them for longer. 1. Sear your stems

  • The best new plants to look out for at Hampton Court Palace Festival

    The RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival is one of the most popular events of the gardening year. Summer’s finally here, the setting on Long Water is sublime and the atmosphere is upbeat yet relaxed, just like the music on the bandstand. However, this year will be a little different because uncertainty over Covid has been a nightmare for exhibitors when it comes to planning. You can’t pull plants out of a top hat – unless you’re a member of the Magic Circle. Matters haven’t been helped by th

  • 'To build the garden of the future I had to rip up the rule book'

    “In January 2020, Australia was on fire, the UK was under water and climate change was at the front of everyone’s minds,” says Royal Horticultural Society ambassador and nurseryman Jamie Butterworth. “Covid-19 intervened and has dominated the news, but pretty much every month since has broken [climate change] records. The question is, what can we, as gardeners, do about it?” In response to an increasingly urgent situation, the RHS, together with Butterworth, decided to build the RHS Garden for a

  • The 12 best gardens to visit this weekend and throughout July

    Every weekend in July, nearly 300 gardens are opening for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) in England and Wales - so there is sure to be one close by wherever you are. The British weather might not be reliable but there are plenty of places to visit come rain or shine. Most gardens are opening with a combination of booked tickets or pay on the gate; for further details on all of the gardens listed here and many others, visit the website. Gardens opening on Saturday July 3 and Sunday July 4 Seend

  • The easy way to grow fruit and vegetables in sacks

    Summer is upon us and the garden, finally, becomes a place of refuge, warmth and burgeoning plants. If statistics are to be believed, the green-fingered army of gardeners has expanded dramatically since lockdown struck – at least one heart-warming development of this past year. But with great aspiration comes tribulation and for many who seek a new plant-filled life, one thing above all else presents a problem: space. Whether your precious patch is a balcony, tiny courtyard or postage-stamp pati

  • 5 easy garden jobs to do right now

    Sweet peas, roses and fresh vegetables herald the start of a glorious summer in our gardens. Keep on top of watering and feeding plants in pots as well as tying in rampant growth of annuals and climbers. It’s also time to enjoy the bounty that our gardens start to offer. Pick flowers for your home and harvest young, tender vegetables on a regular basis to keep them producing. Easy garden jobs to do now Dust your houseplants

  • Gardening in July: what to plant and tidy in your garden this month

    The July garden: verdant, green, filled with vegetables and fruit from the allotment (or greenhouse). It's never been more tempting to sit back and enjoy the spoils of our hard work in spring, but, as you'll find out, there is plenty to do in the garden this month. Things to do in your garden in July Thyme to work Remember that the more you use your herbs, the more young, bushy growth they will produce and the more tempting they will be to harvest. A virtuous circle. Many herbs make very pretty

  • Gardening in July 2021: what to plant and tidy in your garden this month

    The July garden: verdant, green, filled with vegetables and fruit from the allotment (or greenhouse). It's never been more tempting to sit back and enjoy the spoils of our hard work in spring, but, as you'll find out, there is plenty to do in the garden this month. Things to do in your garden in July Thyme to work Remember that the more you use your herbs, the more young, bushy growth they will produce and the more tempting they will be to harvest. A virtuous circle. Many herbs make very pretty

  • Why is peat a concern for the environment - and what alternatives can gardeners use?

    You can't scroll through Instagram these days without seeing a new plant mum or dad - beaming with pride as each day their beloved green things grow. However, what few gardeners seem to appreciate is that most commercially available plants are still grown in peat-based compost, despite the fact that the mining of peat is now widely condemned as unsustainable, environment-wrecking and carbon-emitting. Like coal or oil, peat is effectively a finite resource. It does regenerate, but only forms at a

  • The best royal gardens to visit this summer (and the Queen's favourite)

    You don’t need an invitation from The Queen to get a close-up view of these royal gardens. From the beautifully designed Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace to the 100-acre garden at Hillsborough Castle with a “hidden” lake, a ferny glen and a pinetum, there's plenty to see and do this summer, for families of all ages. Here, we count eight of the best royal gardens to visit (or picnic at) in the warmer months. You never know, you might even spot her Majesty. Buckingham Palace, London ⇢ Open for

  • The simple colour scheme that will transform any garden into a peaceful oasis

    It all started, for me, as a passion for growing plants successfully. Then came learning how to manage their height and bulk, so that they didn’t all fall over and swamp each other. Next came the need to learn to plant for every season and a love of evergreens. Last but by no means least came an appreciation of flower and leaf colour and texture, along with other important fancy visual stuff, a process that is ongoing, of course. A significant light-bulb moment on this gardening adventure came f

  • Four easy ways to make the most of your garden this month

    The summer is a good time to look at your garden with a critical eye and decide whether the design really suits all your needs. When walking around new clients’ gardens the same problems crop up repeatedly. These include a lack of cohesion of the various different areas and areas lacking definition. This comes about because most owners approach the design in a piecemeal fashion. Get an accurate survey done of your garden, then place some tracing paper over it and, using a pencil and a good soft