When I was a kid, Woolworths was my go-to place to buy houseplants: since that store's demise, IKEA has taken its place as a shop where I always end up leaving with at least one plant. As many garden centres stopped selling houseplants in the early '00s, IKEA became a trendsetter for indoor gardening - selling the classics, but also introducing us to new plants that will grow well in our modern homes.
I wanted to find out a bit more about how IKEA's plant sales work, and I managed to get Anna Liakh, Sales Responsible for Plants at IKEA Global, to help me out. Read More
March is #trypod month - a campaign from NPR in the US to encourage podcasters and podcast listeners to spread the word about their favourite listens - so I thought I'd point you in the direction of the gardening podcasts I love. Read More
First, they came for our courgettes. Now it's Iceberg, Cos, Romaine and Little Gem.
Welcome to the great lettuce shortage of 2017.
As Metro put it, If you're planning on nipping to the supermarket later don't be shocked if you're met with 28 Days Later-style empty and abandoned shelves."
Although I am unconvinced this situation is quite comparable to a post-apocalyptic scenario - it is caused by unseasonably cold weather in Spain, where the vast bulk of our salads are grown - it is a suitable moment to consider our food security, and how well prepared we are for future "curveballs" that affect food prices and availability.
This is something I've been banging on about for quite a while. Read More
The hows, whys, and whatnots of bokashi composting, explained ... including why you need to buy a roll of PTFE tape (and what is PTFE tape, anyway?). Read More
When I got the chance to try out a new gadget called PhytlSigns (see what they did there?) I wasn't sure what to expect. The catchline is "be a plant communication pioneer". I am not an early adopter of technology: I was still carrying around a brick of a mobile when everyone else was using iPhones. Read More
If you're a newbie (or would-be) forager, it's vital to start reading up about edible plants to find out how and where to forage safely. Here's a guide to some of my favourite books on the subject. Read More
Find out what I made of the first edition of new gardening magazine for your urban growers, Rakesprogress. Read More
On the final day of the school term I task myself with providing two homegrown bouquets - one for each of my children's teachers. They get tightly tied with twine and placed in a jam jar to be precariously toted on the walk to school and handed over with a smile and a hope that they aren't too disappointed it isn't wine. Read More
If I ever tell you I am going away for three weeks in June again, please confiscate my passport immediately. As I hugged huge trees in the temperate rainforest of the west coast of Canada (see above), back in my garden in the UK, whole empires of aphids rose and fell, tomato sideshoots sprawled and succumbed to blight, and roses melted in the rain. Read More
There's one plant that has been popping up on social media a lot recently: piercing blue flowers, hairy leaves, invasive tendencies ... sound familiar? But is it borage, forget-me-not or comfrey? Or, none of the above ... Read More
I have always loved Latin names for plants. I studied Latin GCSE, and whereas I struggled with French, I loved Latin (“Caecilius in horto est” – what’s not to like?), especially when it came to plant names. It was useful and descriptive, and – I admit it – made me feel clever. But not everyone feels the same. Read More
Jerusalem artichoke, evening primrose, creeping zinnia – there’s a long history of plants with common names that are more than a little off-beam. With that in mind I give you my new favourite edible plant… February orchid, welcome to the wonky plant names club... Read More
On a freezing cold day last week we headed for the National Trust property Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire: lots of farm animals and ride-on tractors for the children; a walled garden and a big glasshouse for me... Read More
Succulents have gone through a renaissance of late, in the garden at least: Pinterest is awash with pictures of containers, vertical walls and roofs full of them. But living in Bedfordshire, not California, my succulent kicks are largely satisfied inside (apart from Sempervivums, about which I'll write in another post)... Read More
Ages ago I wrote a post on reinventing the houseplant. I promised part two would list five of my favourite unkillable houseplants... at last, here it is. This is an edited-down version of a feature I wrote for the magazine Your Perfect Garden, available from all good newsagents now! Read More
There is something profoundly depressing about a poorly houseplant. A garden plant that's having an off period doesn't tend to draw the eye in the same way, as there's usually something else to camouflage it, but there's nowhere to hide from a yellowing, leggy spider plant or a parched palm... Read More