These are just a few of the plants and flowers that I have grown in my garden or seen whilst out and about over the last year or so. You can see a larger version of each image and my comments by clicking on the photo.
Nothing compares to a fresh sunny spring morning when the warmth of the sun first hits your face and your garden emerges from its winter slumber!
This magnificent display of miniature Iris were on display at the RHS Early Spring Plant Fair 2016.
This deep red Magnolia is at the very top corner of my garden and when they start to open the flowers they look like amazing wacky candelabras.
This wonderful collection of Sempervivums were on show at the 2016 Early Spring Plant Fair in London. Sempervivums, or House Leeks as they are more commonly known, are so easy to grow. I am hoping to plant them in my newly landscaped front garden as they take little maintenance.
Whilst out for a walk in February, I came across this wonderful pink & red Camillia. These luscious glossy leaved evergreen shrubs produce masses of flowers from the depths of winter and well into spring.
Even the pond bursts into bloom. The Water Iris were very impressive – not only with the new variegated foliage, but also these lovely yellow flowers.
Nothing signals the arrival of spring more magnificently than a Magnolia in full bloom! Here I am on the first floor roof – the tree is actually in our neighbour’s garden, but she loves the tree so much that we actually built our house extension wall around it.
These Narcissi had been grow in a plastic pot and just plopped into a terracotta pot.I have planted loads of daffodils and tulips in plastic pots this year and it makes it easy to plant them where you want in borders and pots nearer to flowering time. It also stops them being dug up out of the ground by the pair of squirrels who live in our pine tree!
With the sun heating up the terrace, I wasted no time in sowing some seeds – you can see the California Poppies have already come through. They were a big hit of 2015 and flowered all summer long – and all from a packet of seeds that cost less than a pound!
I love tulips! These orange beauties came from B&Q in the sale whilst still in bud. Having left them after flowering to build up their strength for next year, I then dried them out and kept them in the shed before replanting them in November – they soon come up again – what a bargain!
A few old terracotta pots, Hyacinths, Bellis and some Polyanthus – gorgeous! Hyacinths are great in pots and remain in flower for much longer than indoors. These flowered for several weeks.
So much to enjoy in the garden as the garden really warms up. And with the summer season now lasting for so long, many flowers now flower well into the autumn.
This is one of my favourite parts of the garden and where we spend many a summer’s evening. At the very top point of the garden was this overgrown mound that I thought I just had to do something with. As I began digging, I soon discovered a path and some steps and incorporated them into my design. The chiminea originally came from a Homebase sale and the wooden toad stools you can see are from a National Trust shop. They are not just ornamental, as you can use them as stools to sit on too.
I love foxgloves and the new hybrids that are now available are real superstars. Foxgloves flower for weeks and if you deadhead them, you always get another flush. If you leave the flower spikes to go to seed, you will have new plants germinating around the garden for next year.
When the first Morning Glory flower opens, you just can’t believe it! How can a flower be so blue? I grow them from seed in pots on the windowsill and then plant them outside in the middle of May. They soon start racing up to the sky, covering a fence or scrambling through a tree.
This was the pond in mid June 2015, less than 4 months from its creation. I managed to source some mature aquatic plants from the Gumtree website, including the water lily that is actually over 10 years old. It went on to produce many beautiful large creamy white flowers in July and August.
The waterfall is actually precast and was only installed in May 2015. It was part of a complete waterfall cascade that I collected from a lady in Surrey who no longer wanted it. It came complete with moss and immediately looked as if it had been there forever.
This quick transformation took place over a weekend. I got a cheap garden bench, painted it ‘Seagrass’ from Cuprinol’s Shades range and put a couple of half planters on the wall that a friend had picked up for me from Golborne Road Market. You can also see a great little metal post box that just adds a nice bit of interest that I found in a junk shop. I planted the bed with red geraniums, white Nicotiana and some fabulous blue Agapanthus. Very patriotic!
Agapanthus are real stars in any garden and they will always give their all. They are great in containers too, just make sure to give them a liquid feed regularly to help them keep their strength up!
This is a great combination, Cosmos and Verbena bonariensis. Cosmos is a hardy annual that is so easy to grow. I combined the white variety Purity with a dark pink cosmos mix. By the end of the summer, the Cosmos and Verbena were well over 5 feet tall and flowered until the end of November!
These metal containers are actually old water tanks I found on ebay. They look great and, being metal, water evaporation is less. The sunflowers looked great in them.
‘Is it still summer?’ I have never known it so mild! It’s always a bit warmer than the rest of the UK here in London, but with temperatures regularly in the high teens, the garden didn’t know if it was coming or going! The autumn colours were spectacular and a trip to RHS Wisley in Surrey for the Apple Festival was a great way to enjoy the autumn season.
So many old varieties of apples! And we got to taste them before buying. It’s got me thinking about where I could put a couple of apple trees in the garden. I might have to plant them in a large planter – there are plenty of varieties that are quite happy in a big pot.
Autumn is no better celebrated than by the wonderful and dazzling Chrysanthemum. This group were from some plants I had bought at the Hampton Court Flower Show in July. The colour combination was fabulous.
I am pleased with this group of plants and shrubs that was really established by the October when I took this picture. The yellow Rudibeckia had been flowering for weeks and continued until the end of November. I love the soft texture of the Verbascum leaves that are almost as attractive as the large yellow flower spikes they produce throughout the summer.
What a great autumn border! This is in the walled garden at Osterley House in West London. The orange Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) looks fabulous with the green Kale and red Amaranthus. And this was in November!
I never miss a trip to Columbia Road Flower Market in East London to get my autumn bedding (it’s amazing 12 months of the year!). The plants are such good value and at incredible wholesale prices!
This combination of heathers and winter flowering pansies added colour to the garden throughout autumn and well into winter.
I planted loads of sunflowers that were still in full bloom well into autumn. Deep red, orange, yellow – I chose multi headed varieties to give lots of individual flowers.
So many plants were still producing flowers in the mild autumn weather. This Cobaea was a big hit, scrambling up on old tree at the top of the garden.
'Rip City' is one of the most popular of the dark purple Dahlias and I think you can see why! I have bought lots of this particular variety online and will be starting them off under cover in March. Can’t wait to see them all over the garden!
I planted some Nasturtium seeds in the summer and they came into their own in October. What a late season bonus!
There is so much to enjoy in the garden during the winter months. Here are just a few of my favourite winter delights.
The bright red stems of this wonderful vegetable make a real statement as the garden moves into autumn.
So many plants were still blooming in December, including this wonderful David Austin Rose 'The Alnwick Rose', which took centre stage at our Christmas lunch.
This is the beautiful Passion Flower 'Lavender Lady' that was still flowering near to the house on Christmas Day.
A few magical foggy mornings on December meant that the dew was heavy, which beautifully illuminated the cobwebs on my Monkey Puzzle tree.
I cam across this wonderful Black Kale whilst out walking. It looks great and, apparently, tastes even better after the first frost. I am growing some in 2016.
Wow! I think the gnome must have jumped off this toadstool when it saw me coming!
Whilst out in Richmond Park in January, I came across this wonderful Witch Hazel tree in full flower. These trees not only look wonderful on a dull winter day, but also have the most wonderful scent.
Hellebores are wonderful plants for winter colour and interest. I have them planted in between my smaller rhododendrons in semi-shade. There are now lots of exciting shades in pink and purple available at garden centres and from specialist nurseries. I intend to plant more of them for amazing colour next winter.
It’s always a surprise when a crocus emerges and you are lucky enough to see some thing so vibrant and uplifting!
What a beauty! This wonderful plant provides a rare nectar source for bees and insects in late winter and early spring. Long-lasting, bell-shaped, light green flowers with a deep purple edging appear from January to April.