Cool summer products for gardeners

Cacti, brights and a hint of vintage

Jacqueline Colley
Jacqueline Colley’s cactus and succulent print collection

There’s a host of outside influences on interior design this summer – and inside trends on garden furniture, blurring the lines between living spaces.

Anyway, forget all that ‘design talk’ and do what I’ve done – pick the stuff that appeals to you.

Here’s eight of the best products around capturing the mood this summer and all easily available on the internet.

Cactus cushion
Cactus cushion from PASX

Capture this year’s cactus mania with this far-from-prickly cushion from Pasx. Vibrantly coloured and embroidered, it measures 40 x 40cm, price £16, for details visit

Jacqueline Colley’s prints of cacti, succulents and toucans adorn UK-made products such as stationery and textiles. I love the cacti print shopper £45, cacti or succulent print tea towel £14, cacti or succulent notebook £4, Continue reading “Cool summer products for gardeners”

Smell of gardening success

My top scented plants and year-round pick of the best

Jasmine Clotted Cream – a heady scent

There is nothing quite like opening your back door and being hit by a wall of scent – that’s the beauty of growing strongly-scented plants where they’ll have maximum impact.

In my case, it’s jasmine Clotted Cream in a large container at the conservatory door – even better when the overpoweringly good tuberose flowers inside at the same time.

Climbing rose Claire Austin
Climbing rose Claire Austin

Scent is so often overlooked in gardens, yet it does so much to improve the mood and calm the mind. Herb, cottage and Mediterranean-style gardens are the obvious examples including fragrance, mainly from aromatic leaves and old varieties, such as lavender or roses.

I don’t really think about designing with scent, apart from the obvious – place fragrant plants near doorways, paths, sitting areas, etc, so you can smell them easily.

In my new, in-depth page (see link below), I’ve outlined the plants I use (or have grown in the past), then listed by season recommended varieties I’d like to grow by season. Fragrance is a powerful ally to have in the winter garden and the one most usually overlooked.

For more on this topic, please click this link to my new, in-depth page on scented plants for all seasons.


Beamish Museum’s Summer of Fun

Events for all ages run until August 31

From suffragette rallies, Home Guard drills and Victorian lessons to birds of prey, brass bands and country crafts, there’s a packed summer at Beamish Museum.

Exciting activities are taking place during the holidays, with something for visitors of all ages. Continue reading “Beamish Museum’s Summer of Fun”

Trio of pears from Lubera

Saxonia invasion

These Saxonia pears are available from Lubera and prove there’s more to this fruit than plain old Conference.

Pear Saxonia ‘Gerburg’

Pear Saxonia Gerburg
Pear Saxonia ‘Gerburg’
  • Harvest: Early October
  • Maturity: December; until February if stored cool
  • Fruit: Very large, (up to 300 g), belly-shaped, green-red at the harvest; red-yellow at maturity
  • Taste: Firm, juicy when mature with an intense flavour
  • Growth/health: Slightly susceptible to scab; strong, broad pyramidal growth
  • Final size for bushes: Height: 2.5-3.5m, crown diameter: 2-2.5m
  • Final size for espaliers: Height: 2.5-3.5m, length: up to 3.5m
  • Final size for semi-standards: Trunk height: 1.1-1.3 m, crown height: 3.5-4.5m, crown diameter: 3-4m

Continue reading “Trio of pears from Lubera”

WIN £54 Hydropod Cuttings propagator

‘Results are wonderful’ – BBC Gardeners’ World

Hydropod Cuttings propagator
WIN – Hydropod Cuttings propagator worth £54

Want to take cuttings? Increase your propagation success rate with this 20-unit Hydropod Cuttings Propagator, worth £54, as featured on Gardeners’ World – and you can win one in this week’s competition.

Made in England by Greenhouse Sensation, it’s perfect for softwood and hardwood cuttings including Fuchsias, Chrysanthemums, Pelargoniums, Hydrangeas, Begonias, Dahlias, honeysuckle and many more. Continue reading “WIN £54 Hydropod Cuttings propagator”

Alan Titchmarsh opens Greenfingers garden

New children’s hospice garden on the Isle of Wight

Greenfingers Garden
The Greenfingers Garden at Earl Mountbatten Hospice, Newport, Isle of Wight

Alan Titchmarsh officially opened a new therapeutic and recreational garden at Earl Mountbatten Hospice, Newport, Isle of Wight on July 18, recreating the Royal Bank of Canada’s 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden.

The project is part of the charity Greenfingers’ mission to provide magical gardens for children’s hospices – the latest one being its 51st. Continue reading “Alan Titchmarsh opens Greenfingers garden”

RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

Gardening inspiration in Cheshire

RHS Tatton
Sophie Chapman, eight, from Whirley Primary School , Macclesfield. Picture by Chris Bull

RHS Tatton, in Cheshire, opened its doors on July 20, with more than 25 gardens to inspire, including the new evolution-themed gardens and much-loved Back to Back Gardens.

There’s already good news for the North East, with Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries, based near Stanley, County Durham, winning another gold medal in a great year. See full medals results… Continue reading “RHS Tatton Park Flower Show”

Gardening jobs for July 16-17

Either rain or be sunny!

Canna – deadhead for more flowers

A few extra jobs that have reared their ugly heads this week:

Sweet pea Cupani
Sweet pea Cupani – one Vanessa must have missed

Vanessa volunteered – yes, stop the press – to deadhead and tie in the sweet peas. Keep this up and you’ll get lots more flowers. Don’t forget to deadhead roses, herbaceous perennials and tender plants like Canna and geraniums.

The weather’s been mostly dull and windy again but with hardly any significant rain, meaning the annoying job of having to water containers even though it permanently looks like it’s going to chuck it down. Give said containers a general-purpose feed but not if they’re bone dry. Continue reading “Gardening jobs for July 16-17”


8 best scented roses

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Climbing Claire Austin
Climbing Claire Austin

I’m going crazy over roses this year – probably because it’s been so wet, they are absolutely thriving here – and what’s a rose without scent?

Rose Desdemona
Rose Desdemona

My new Desdemona is flowering her socks off, as are the James Galway and Claire Austin climbers and the unknown rambler which has managed to crush its arch. Continue reading “8 best scented roses”

Back to the Fifties at Beamish


Beamish 50s
Teddy boys all dressed up for Beamish

The era of rock ‘n’ roll is being celebrated at Beamish this weekend, with live music, fairground rides and loads of entertainment at the Festival of the 50s.

Hop aboard the Daimler bus and be transported to the days of teddy boys, Pathé News and petticoats from Thursday, July 14 to Sunday, 17th.

Geraldine Straker, Remaking Beamish project officer (community participation), said: “The atmosphere makes this event. There’s a real festival feel with people getting dressed up, live music and dancing and families and friends just having a great day out. Continue reading “Back to the Fifties at Beamish”