The best-laid schemes

Last month included an important date in the diary of a Scot and, aside from the excuse to tuck into a plate of haggis, Burns Night also had me thinking on some of our national bard’s most well-remembered words: ‘The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley.’ Robert Burns It’s that time of … More The best-laid schemes

Acid test

The Cambridge dictionary describes an acid test as ‘the true test of the value of something’. Well, that may be particularly true when it comes to assessing the pH levels in a garden. This simple test is one of the easiest things you can do to tailor your choice of planting to the conditions in … More Acid test

Time to propagate

One of the things I love to do most in the garden is grow new plants. Whether it’s from seeds or cuttings, there’s something wonderful about going from a tray of soil to a collection of fully grown plants. I sew a lot in my raised beds, but I’ve been short of somewhere warm so … More Time to propagate

A cold spell

There are few things more predictable in the world of gardening than the ‘unexpected’ cold spell. Shoots are appearing everywhere, the green growth of young bulbs is thrusting upwards, life is returning and, although it may seem rather early, the warm days continue until you finally accept it – spring must be coming. You let … More A cold spell

Little surprises

In winter the garden is far from the heady days of burgeoning cut flowers and luscious crops, but there are still pleasures to be had. One of my favourite cut flowers is at its best in winter; the Hellebore brings an early flash of colour, each flowerhead like a jewel amongst the brown leaves and … More Little surprises


Already! Underneath last year’s growth, yesterday, I found the unexpected – shoots! Thick and waxy and with the deep enticing hue of a Malbec, the first tentative hint of my beloved peonies has already appeared. This takes us to the question of ‘cutting back’. Removing dead wood and old growth from borders is a task … More Shoots