In my recent interview with James Wong (on The Ledge episode 13) we talk about the power of Instagram to inspire people, and to change the horticultural landscape in terms of plants that go from zero to hero (Coleus is definitely about to get cool, people ...).
So I thought it would be useful to line up 10 of the many, many houseplant people I follow on Instagram - and you should too. I'm on Instagram as @j.l.perrone, and James Wong's there as @botanygeek, so why not come over and say hi?
I've missed many great folks off this list, I know, but tell me who you follow in the comments... Read More
Mammillarias dotted with flowers in all the luminous colours of a rack of neon pop socks in C&A, circa 1983; the old man cactus, Cephalocereus senilis, outdoing ZZ Top for the sheer luxuriance of its hairdo; the huge tree-like, branched saguaro cactus of the Sonoran Desert, used as a visual shorthand for "the wild west" in every cowboy movies, ever.
It's been satisfying, in the last five years or so, to see something that I love turn from a niche interest into a pervasive presence in every hip coffee shop and style magazine. "Ah, you finally got it - about time" I think to myself, smugly. But that is an unfair representation of the enduring symbolic power of the cactus: people have loved and revered these plants since before recorded human history, and will continue to do so once the current fad dies down. Read More
You want a houseplant that doesn't mind if you overwater it, needs absolutely no care and will look exactly the same six months in as the day you bought it? Let me introduce you to your new favourite, the marimo moss ball. Read More
I've been blogging about growing tomatoes since 2004, so I thought I'd revive my tomato growing advice that's existed in various guises over that time, update it and offer it to anyone who's sweating over the state of their tomatoes this spring. Read More
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