What began as a cracking summer in the greenhouse fizzled out, as summers so often do, just as the kids broke up for the holidays. The days they had spent sitting in classrooms gazing out at blue skies and parched earth were swapped for sitting in their bedrooms looking out at the rain. The chillies […]
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Provide landing pads for insect pollinators and predators and your garden will be first stop for their services. Storm Aileen has scooted through, the land is a sodden sponge, and I’m out photographing red admirals in a dry crack between September’s relentless downpours. A whole troupe of Vanessa atalanta seems to have blown in with Aileen: seven, […]
I can’t think of another glasshouse plant that suffered from such perverse name changes as this, one of the oldest of all our houseplants now known as the Jade plant. A tender succulent from Natal in South Africa this became popular way before the Victorian era. Probably because it’s remarkably tough and undemanding as a […]
Autumn is the season of lawn maintenance and this is what you do. Rake out the ‘thatch’ or dead grass and moss that has accumulated over the mowing season using a wire rake, powered lawn rake or scarifier that can be rented from the tool hire shop. To save money, you could hire one and […]
In the early 1970s I worked at a Research Station. Whilst there I carried out micropropagation by cutting the growing tips ( or meristems) from plants and transferring the tiny specks into a growing medium in a glass flask. A prime ingredient was coconut milk and I put the strong state of my gnashers down […]
As late as 2020, gardeners could just walk into a shop and buy neonicotinoids over the counter. A century on, we’re still paying the price. Zilla pressed the canister to her ear. ‘They’re barely buzzing – and it’s so hot again. You sure they’re OK?’ Inside the porous container, she could just make out the […]
It’s time to go low-mow to help feed our ailing pollinators, says Jean Vernon Lawns form the heart of most gardens, sometimes taking up half or more of the garden space. Generally the garden lawn has long been a leisure space, somewhere for the children to play and run, a space for the dog to […]
It is time for me to start thinking about sowing winter herbs for the glasshouse. Parsley has slowly crept into my life in a big way. It used to be a herb I shunned – a white parsley sauce has a sort of bland, milky, mildly green flavour that I have never got on with. […]
Figs really are the most curious of glasshouse fruits. These are very ancient crops developed from the wild form in western Asia where these were pollinated by a tiny Chalcid wasp that evolved to depend on the fig and vice versa. The way these wasps interact with the flowers, which are tiny and hidden inside […]
Before you go on holiday, it’s important to make arrangements for someone to look after your houseplants – ideally, someone who’s keen on gardening. If the draining board in your kitchen is not in shade, or you have a venetian blind to protect them from scorching sunshine (we live in hope!), group all your houseplants […]
I’ve just written an eco-friendly gardening book, The Living Jigsaw, and I got the chance to take part in the red-button Springwatch and was interviewed by a delightful man called Brett Westwood. I felt I already knew Brett. One of his books, Tweet of the Day, sits on my bedside table because in my youth […]
Jean Vernon turns the dilemma of ‘weeds’ on its head. The simple answer is to change your attitude to plants that you call ‘weeds’ and unless they are competing with your plants for food and water, or really taking over, learn to live with them. Most of the plants we regard as weeds are in […]