4 Terrific Tulips for a Pale Backdrop

Tulip Black Hero
Tulip Pink Charm
Tulip Recreado
Tulip Ronaldo
Tulip Black HeroTulip Pink CharmTulip RecreadoTulip Ronaldo

Tulips look wonderful weaving through borders or massed in pots, but they can also amazing against a contrasting background.  My own house is off-white weatherboarding with pea green windows and doors, so dark colours are the order of the day here. I’ve mixed all the bulbs together for a random effect and the different heights will allow all the blooms to  strut their stuff.

  1. Black Hero – maroon black double late, flowering May, 60cm tall
  2. China Pink – sugary pink lily-flowered, flowering April-May, 35-40cm tall
  3. Recreado – deep purple single late,  flowering April-May, 45cm tall
  4. Ronaldo – deep maroon purple triumph type, flowering April-May – 40cm tall

The Lasting Charm of Eryngium pandanifolium

Eryngium-pandanifolium against a blue sky

Eryngium-pandanifolium in October

If you have the space for this very large plant – common name Giant Sea Holly – it really is a 5-star architectural presence in the garden at the end of the year. At Great Dixter they grow (and sell) the cultivar ‘Physic Purple’ that originated at the Chelsea Physic Garden.  I photographed it at the Plant Fair beginning of October and again at the Christmas Fair at the end of November and it was still looking superb. Its companions may have died back but it is still standing proud.

Photo taken at the Christmas Fair

Photo taken at the Christmas Fair

Now all I need is a Beret and a Bike

onions drying on newspaper in a mess


I finally got around to cleaning the loose skins off the onions and making them into a plait. Rather than trying to plait them in the traditional manner  using their dried stems, I make a loop of  thick string and then twist the stems around this – it’s much easier.

onions neatly tied

and after.

How I Spent a Soggy Sunday

mealy bugs on citrus tree leavesAs I sat eating my morning muesli I looked at my lovely lime tree overwintering on the kitchen windowsill and realised it was not looking quite as lovely as it might.  Close examination revealed that it was infested with scale insects, plus a touch of spider mite.  There was nothing for it – armed with a bottle of methylated spirits and lots of cotton wool buds, I began the laborious task of cleaning them off every leaf  and stem.  As each branch was completed I draped a piece over string on it (the last thing I wanted to do was lose track of what I had and hadn’t done).  Even so, it took the best part of three hours.  Thank goodness for Radio Four’s Listen Again.citrus tree in conservatory

Keith Wiley Interview

hole-and-corner-magazineThe latest issue of the wondrous Hole & Corner magazine is hot of the press and in amongst many absorbing and inspiring features – and some of the finest photography you will see anywhere – I have contributed an in depth interview with Keith Wiley, the groundbreaking (in every sense of the word) gardener.  Hole & Corner is much more than a magazine, it is a work of art and previous issues are already collectors’ items. I feel enormously privileged to be a contributor. It is published twice yearly and this issue would make a perfect Christmas present for those ‘tricky to please’ people on your gift list. www.holeandcornermagazine.com