GARDENING TALK

When it’s cold and wet and I’m stuck indoors with a few minutes to spare I sit by the fire and sometimes daydream about my first trips to the West Country. When I was a child every year I travelled down to Devon, with my parents, to holiday on a working farm with one of my… read more > >

In her book ‘Country Notes’, penned in 1939, famous gardener and writer Victoria Sackville West wrote that her garden had behaved in an extraordinary way in the previous year; that of 1938. In January, for instance, blue primroses were in full flower, in very early March all her primroses were flowering in earnest and by… read more > >

Most people simply can’t abide January. It is too stationary, not enough is happening and everyone is usually broke after Christmas. I, on the other hand, have always rather liked this month of severe frosts, damaging winds, steady freezing rain or even deep snow. Perhaps it’s because it is the formal start of a new… read more > >

Having spent the morning at the fabulous Endsleigh Gardens Nursery, choosing some wonderful plants for my new winter garden, we set off to do some final Christmas  shopping in Tavistock but not before we had eaten a filling and warming lunch, on what turned out to be a really miserable day. The road from Tavistock… read more > >

If like me you you live in the country Christmas is a time when neighbours drop in or sometimes a group of carol singers comes knocking on the door. It is always great to be able to offer some refreshment and so this delicious recipe is ideal as an unusual alternative to mince pies for hungry cold carol singers or… read more > >

Hellebores are definitely in my top ten list of favourite plants so imagine the thrill of walking round Rosemoor, the RHS in North Devon, and enjoying a positive feast of these superb and highly versatile plants. With their rich clusters of variable blooms these early heralds of spring add a huge range of colour and… read more > >

Last year one of our neighbours stopped in the lane, on her ATV, for a quick chat. “Do you want some holly? I’m just going across the fields to cut some.” “No thanks very much, but we prefer to pick it a bit nearer to Christmas.” “So do I normally but the birds are stripping the berries… read more > >

Gosh I’m so cross with myself. I had three huge pots of gorgeous aromatic basil in the greenhouse and I kept meaning to pick bunches of it to dry or to chop and freeze ready for soups and spaghetti dishes. Of course like an idiot I kept leaving that particular task because there were always more… read more > >

Finally I have to face it – no more excuses. It is time to do an autumn clear up in the garden. Now normally I really enjoy doing this; there is something very satisfying about burning all the old runner beans stems, fallen leaves and hedge cuttings. But not this year, everything is so wet, soggy… read more > >

I popped over to my neighbour’s farm today to see her collie dog pups and, after much debating on which pup she would keep for herself, she invited me to help myself from a large basket of apples sitting in her cool dark cellar. The basket was positively brimming with a plethora of apples in… read more > >

I have just filled my house with old fashioned sweet peas and the scent is nearly overwhelming. I have so many to spare because every year I grow masses of the Spencer sweet peas in a variety of containers behind the stables, where it is sunny and away from sharp winds off Dartmoor. Also cultivating… read more > >

How I love June. The hedgerows in the lanes are bursting with pale dog roses and the timeless sweet honeysuckle that seems to wind its way round the tough hawthorn, gorse and sloe branches before bursting its scented blossoms to the forefront of every vista; even competing with the moor. I am really quite sad… read more > >

Gardeners have always loved English willow baskets. They are perfect for collecting cut flowers, vegetables and fruit crops, make ideal Christmas presents, are essential for holding logs by the fire and are a wonderful countryside decoration for special rooms in the home. For the latter use you can stuff them with pot plants in the winter, potted primrose or miniature daffodils in… read more > >

Do you like to think that you are a real country gardener. Perhaps because you’ve battled with the elements for so long and waged annual war on garden pests, pigeons, rabbits, moles and thieving squirrels and yet still find that nothing can curb your enthusiasm. Do you constantly seek out new plant varieties, add new bits an already too… read more > >

There is nothing like the flavour of home grown fresh herbs straight from the garden and they are particually ideal for this is a wonderful seasonal dish for outdoor lunch parties. Try to use wild or at least organic salmon if you want to enjoy the full flavour of this rich fish and to complement the… read more > >

Very often when people think of traditional cottage gardens they don’t realise that these gardens were made and tended by the exact people that you will see in this video which conjures up images of an idealised rural landscape on a hot summer’s day.Not so much about gardening, much more about the cottage gardeners who grew things to… read more > >

Of all the places that can really inspire gardeners old and new it must be Sissinghurst Castle, in Kent. This eclectic garden, which was created by the eccentric Vita Sackville West, is a real mixture of ingenious planting and tried and tested gardening principles. The castle itself was little more than an derelict pile when… read more > >

It all started late last winter when heavy snow meant that we shelled out more on wild bird food than normal. Each day I cleared the garden table just outside my office and fairly buried it in mixed grain and nuts. Naturally it attracted all sorts of winged visitors from noisy, quarrelsome crows and splendid nuthatches… read more > >

If you are just picking the first of the season’s spinach that maybe you have grown under cover why not consider using them to make this delicious spinach souffle. Although it seems like sacrilege not to just show the tender young leaves to the pan and then smother them in butter and ground black pepper it makes a welcome change to use them in… read more > >

Finally the snowdrops are really coming into their own having shed their winter caution; they are now brave enough to show off their splendid white and green frocks. Everywhere there are great clusters of them in gardens, tucked under roadside hedges and sprawling through woodland. But what I really love is to see them growing… read more > >