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This Week’s Guest Blogger is Adrian Thorne, Gardener and Owner at Peerless Gardening

Adrian Thorne has recently finished the RHS Masters of Horticulture program and chose the views of professional gardeners on adapting to climate change as his final dissertation project. This blog a very cut-down version of his dissertation, but he just wanted to give people food-for-thought rather than the whole thing.

I’m fairly sure I once heard gardening described as the art of problem-solving, and I’d imagine that chimes a bell with many of us. We make do, adapt, alter, come at problems from different angles – whether doing the smallest job or the largest project. Climate change is going to require us all to adapt in a variety of ways if we are to continue the hobby we love and need. Now bear with me….I’m hoping this won’t be too depressing reading.

I’ve spent the last nine months asking professional gardeners for their views on adapting to climate change, and what happens in professional gardening often flows through into amateur gardening. We talk a lot about mitigating climate change, stopping emissions (think about electric tools and peat-free compost) but we don’t talk so much about adaptation to the changing climate (think about heavy rainfall, drainage, heat waves, droughts etc). The results have been really interesting – we are already seeing a lot of professional gardeners start to change plants for species that are more resilient to climate change, those plants that can take the temperature extremes and are perhaps a bit more resistant to new diseases.

It’s not just the plants that need to adapt – we need to be looking at adapting the hard landscaping of our gardens too. We may want to make sure paths can cope with heavy deluges of rain and don’t become an impassable bog, or consider shade areas for those hot times of the day, or the important topic of water management and rainwater harvesting.

Domestic rainwater harvesting could become a necessity for some gardens

The third area of gardening I want to encourage people to adapt is the gardener herself – we may have to think about what times we go out to work in the garden, about when professionals can work in our gardens, and what our expectations of our garden are.

Shade areas from hot sun will be important not just for plants but for the gardeners trying to work

Nearly all of these problems are surmountable, and I said at the start of this blog gardeners are very good at problem-solving. We do need to get ourselves time and space to think through the solutions and to get them in place early so we’re not caught napping. I’m hoping to continue this research to look more into how are gardens and gardeners are changing.

This Week’s Guest Blog is from The Glasshouse Project, a horticultural rehabilitation project, growing, nurturing and selling house plants from disused prison glasshouses in the UK



Provided by The Glasshouse project, a horticultural rehabilitation project growing, nurturing and selling house plants from disused prison glasshouses in the UK.  For more information or to order direct delivery of our very special house plants, visit http://www.theglasshouse.co.uk

Many of us are aware that poor mental health is a growing concern, but not many of us know that plants can help address some of the root causes and symptoms of mental health issues. A growing number of scientific studies find that nature not only benefits our physical health, but also that the presence of houseplants in our homes, schools, hospitals and places of work can bring improved psychological wellbeing1.


Stress is a common mental health challenge that can lead to anxiety and depression2. Studies show that when plants are introduced to our indoor environment, there are significant decreases in stress. Working and living in environments that include nature, people report up to 40% less anxiety, fatigue and hostility or anger, as well as a 15% spike in reported wellbeing3.

This year, RHS Chelsea Flower Show added an area of inspiring and beautiful house plant exhibits, which illustrates the growing trend for indoor gardening. We talk to so many gardeners who have beautiful gardens, but claim they are unable to grow indoor specimens! Caring for indoor plants does take a different approach – the number one killer of house plants is over-watering which even the most able outdoor gardener might struggle to comprehend. If you would like to enjoy the benefits of nature indoors, it will require a bit of care and attention, but don’t be daunted! Plants usually come with instructions but here are some easycare, hardy plants that just might improve your mental health and increase your air quality + they are all gorgeous!


The Zebra Plant (Calathea Concinna)

This beauty is a vibrant reminder of the natural rhythm of life as it follows a circadian rhythm, spreading its leaves to the sun and moving throughout the day to maximize light intake, resting at night. This will be the easiest pet you’ll ever have!

  • Place this plant in medium bright, indirect sunlight in a warm room
  • This plant doesn’t like to be too dry, so put your finger into the soil to test and water when the top inch of soil is dry, approximately once a week.


Aloe vera

Egyptian stone carvings depict Cleopatra using this in her skin rituals and Alexander the Great conquered the African island of Socotra in order to use its aloe to treat wounded soldiers.  This plant gives all the benefits that nature offers and requires very little in return.

  • Place in bright, indirect sunlight in a warm room.
  • Wipe the leaves with a wet cloth every month or so to clear dust for healthy sun absorption.
  • This plant likes it dry so water only when the top 2 inches of soil are dry to touch and ensure water drains, so roots don’t sit in water.


Monstera (Monstera deliciosa)

You’ll probably recognise this beauty as it sparked the latest interior jungle trend. It’s not just a pretty face though – NASA reports that the Monstera is one of the most effective plants for reducing air pollution.  Lucky for us, it’s also very easy to nurture.

  • Place in bright, indirect sunlight in a warm room.
  • Wipe the leaves with a wet cloth every month or so to clear dust for healthy sun absorption.
  • This plant doesn’t like to be over-watered, so err on the side of less.  Water only when the top 3 inches of soil are very dry to touch and ensure water drains, so roots don’t sit in water.
  • Mist weekly if you think of it as this plant loves a humid environment – perfect for a bathroom or kitchen!




1)    RHS: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=949

2)    Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/what-is-stress/

3) Marie Claire https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/health-fitness/houseplants-stress-reliever-stress-month-653559

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Mike Rogers an Allotmenteer, Armchair Gardener, Blogger and Sofa Flying Book Buff

On the windowsill

Back in the early spring I sowed some annual flower seeds in small pots to start at home before taking them to the allotment to harden off then plant out.

They included Cosmos ‘Sonata White’, a compact shorter variety, three of which were noticeably smaller than the others. I decided to keep these at home so replanted in a 5″/12.5 cm pot to grow and hopefully flower during the summer on the living-room windowsill.
I’m glad I did as they grew to around 8″/20 cm by early June when they started flowering, and have continued to do so right through to the end of September.
At any one time there have been at least a handful of flowers showing , and I was surprised to find they have a slight fragrance which I hadn’t realized before.

I also did the same with the smallest of the sunflowers ‘Musicbox’, a knee-high variety, I grew. It had only reached 6″/15 cm by early summer then went on to just over twice that height by late August when it finally flowered, much to my delight. The flower lasted a couple of weeks when three more buds appeared, two which I pinched out leaving one to flower in mid September.
Even without flowers this sunflower looked good, remaining compact and well proportioned although it did lose a few of the lower leaves.

I had great fun growing these plants on the windowsill, was really pleased that they did so well and I’ll be trying again next year.

I write regular posts on Flighty’s plot blog  https://flightplot.wordpress.com  about my allotment. I’m @Sofaflyer on Twitter and in the charity’s excellent ‘Cuttings’ book

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Amy Hitchcock who offers tailor-made foraging tours with Forth and Forage

I fell in love with my Kent coastal town years ago. That’s when I got majorly into exploring the stunning landscape of the Herne Bay downs, its flora, and the abundance of wild food.

When we think about foraging, blackberry stained hands might come to mind. The joy of juicy berries – sometimes tart, often sweet, can’t be ‘proper’ foraging I’ve been told. It shocks me that many discount blackberry picking – which for many are our first fond memories out in nature.

When I take locals out on a foraging tour, it’s simply the continuation of their journey. Every new plant identified – whether edible or toxic – is a step in understanding and respecting our local landscapes. Foraging throughout the year, you become connected to the seasons, come to appreciate the rain which nourishes and sun which ripens. Summer is a parade of fruits- cherries, raspberries, damsons. Cardamom, pepper and orange are some of the surprising autumn flavours available from seeds. Winter sees edible ‘weeds’ emerging when little else will. Spring is an explosion of garlic, tender greens and fragrant herbs. Each year is an adventure with more to discover.

Guiding locals on their foraging journey, experience doesn’t matter so much as a respect for nature. Litter picking, spreading ripe seeds and introducing native wild food plants to our own gardens are ways to give back for what we take.

With this in mind, I’d like to share my top tips for the sustainable forager:

  • Only forage a plant where it is truly abundant. Forage small amounts from multiple plants.
  • Research the plant and its value to wildlife
  • Leave a wild space in your garden
  • Plant native species in your garden
  • Share your love and knowledge with others! The more people care about our wild places, the easier it is to protect them.

To join a foraging adventure in Kent, check out http://www.facebook.com/forthandforage or forthandforagekent on instagram

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Derrick Spencer, the “Edible Gardener” at Wynyard Hall, Stockton-on-Tees

Hi, my name is Derrick and I currently work for Wynyard Hall, located in the beautiful North East of England. I am the ‘edible gardener’, planning and maintaining the fruit and vegetable garden. The garden will supply the new restaurant at Wynyard Hall, called The Glasshouse, offering a ‘plot to plate’ dining experience. There are views of the garden from the restaurant, so diners can see exactly where the produce is coming from!
My journey into gardening would have been far from a safe bet for anyone who knew me when I was younger. I grew up in suburban Leicester, with little or no interaction with gardens; I didn’t even like eating vegetables until my late teens! Something must have clicked, as I started to cook from scratch, using fresh ingredients. I enjoyed looking up recipes and rising to the challenge of using ‘strange’ ingredients such as fennel, or the ugly one, celeriac! Of course, they not strange, but they were to me!
During my early twenties, whilst studying, I developed a strong interest in the environment and climate change. I had no idea what my future career would be, but I had a strong inkling that I would explore this avenue and try to make a difference somehow. I decided that whilst on a gap year it would be great to volunteer on environmentally friendly farms, as a cheap way to travel and learn new skills. I was so impressed by the farms and gardens I visited! Whilst helping I was able to learn about environmentally friendly ways of farming, as well as witnessing the results. The produce was amazing and tasted great! I knew that once I finished my travels I would look for work on a farm and try to make a career out of it.
Since then, I have worked on some large organic vegetable farms, as well as therapeutic farms and gardens, whilst providing gardening workshops for vulnerable adults.

Now I am at Wynyard Hall and I am really enjoying growing produce for a restaurant, whilst also welcoming visitors to the garden. This is a great opportunity for me to showcase a beautiful veg garden, local and seasonal produce, all whilst using environmentally friendly techniques. I try to avoid disturbing the soil with digging and rotovating by layering compost or well-rotted farm yard manure on the surface of the soil. This helps to promote the ‘soil food web’, a network of fungi and micro-organisms, which enable a ‘living soil’ with access to plenty of nutrients for the plants I want to grow.
I grow lots of flowers amongst the vegetables to promote biodiversity in the garden. There are lots of beneficial insects attracted to the flowers which can help to keep pests under control, as well as attracting bees who will do lots of pollinating in the garden! Bird boxes, insect and hedgehog hotels, or a pond, are other great ways to make the garden look nice and help to attract beneficial birds, insects, mammals and amphibians to the garden. Rather than using insecticides, I can use very fine nets which will keep things like the cabbage white moths off the brassicas. I also follow a crop rotation, meaning that the crops I grow will be in different parts of the garden year on year. For example, legumes (peas and beans) have the benefit of fixing nitrogen, so I would follow them with brassicas who would appreciate a larger quantity of nitrogen. Moving the crop families around will also help to prevent the build up of diseases and pests attracted to each crop family.
One day I would like to have laying hens on-site. Not only would we enjoy the fresh eggs, but their straw bedding with added chicken poo (brown gold!), would be a great addition to my compost heaps for the veg garden, as it is very high in nitrogen! This would help to keep the fertility of the garden ‘in house’.
Although gardening has been a great job for me, it would also be a great hobby which can be really healthy and rewarding, as well as contributing to helping the environment. One of the things I love about gardening is that almost everyone can relate to it somehow. We all have a flower, fruit or vegetable that we really enjoy. If we try to grow it ourselves it only magnifies how much we love it! Choosing the variety, watching it grow, and then eventually eating it, or putting it in a vase! As I grow produce for a restaurant, I have the luxury of selecting varieties of fruits and vegetables for their amazing taste rather than yield; such as a Nantes carrot, a Black Cherry tomato or a Cerbiatta lettuce. I would recommend that when growing produce for yourself, search out the ‘heirloom’ or ‘traditional’ varieties that are identified to have the best taste, as it makes your work in the garden so much more worth it!


This Week’s Guest Blogger is Cassandra Rosas who has recently started a plant nursery at her home and works for Porch.com

How to Design a Plant Nursery at Home that Thrives

Plants provide us with something beautiful to look at, delicious food, and a unique way to lower stress levels. Even if you don’t consider yourself to have a “green thumb,” it’s easy to design and nourish your own plant nursery at home. From a rooftop garden to some backyard agriculture, you can enjoy the many benefits that plants provide without ever having to leave your house. In this guide, you’ll discover some information and helpful tips to design a plant nursery at home to enjoy for years to come.

What is a Plant Nursery?

A plant nursery is where plants are grown from seed and cultivated and harvested once they reach a certain age. When designing one at home, the same general rules apply in terms of caring for and nurturing your plants. Even if you don’t have a large backyard, you can easily design your nursery with some simple tips. Large commercial nurseries grow plants for landscaping and decoration and sell them to vendors and retail stores. For a home nursery, you can cultivate various plants based on your region and climate, your ability to care for different plants, and how much room you have available. Even a rooftop garden can be a fantastic home nursery.

Types of Nurseries

There are several different types of nurseries, and the one you choose depends on the kind of plants you want to grow and the plant’s purpose. Here are some examples of plant nurseries to help you decide which one is best for you:

Fruit plant nursery. Grow and enjoy your own delicious fruits with a fruit plant nursery. Fruit needs lots of sunshine and warm temperatures to grow. You may need to learn about which types of fruit require other plants for them to produce a harvest. From citrus fruits like lemons and oranges to delicious cherries and apples, fruit typically grows on trees, shrubs, or vines.

Vegetable nursery. Try your hand at organic gardening with a vegetable nursery. You don’t need as much space to grow a vegetable nursery since most veggies grow low to the ground or underground, with a few exceptions. Make sure that you protect your vegetables from winter’s frost to keep them alive during the colder months of the year.
Ornamental plant nursery. Ornamental plants can be anything from flowers to succulents. Explore a range of ornamental plants that will thrive in your particular growing zone or plant hardiness zone to determine which ones are best for you. An ornamental plant nursery does well in a greenhouse, or you can even start a small one inside your home.

Medicinal and aromatic plant nursery. From healing herbs to delicious homegrown spices, a medicinal and aromatic plant nursery is an excellent choice if you enjoy cooking. Grow everything from basil to rosemary in your nursery, and you’ll never have to shop for these items again. You can also dry your herbs and spices to create homemade potpourri or a beautiful dried bouquet.

Forest plant nursery. If you want to contribute to the environment and have a lot of outdoor space, a forest plant nursery is a good choice. These plant nurseries tend to contain oak, pine, elm, and other trees that can be re-planted to help restore the forests. Some people grow pine trees on their property to sell during the holidays as Christmas trees, too.

How Much Space is Needed and Adjustments Required

It’s essential to make sure that you have plenty of room if you’re planning to design a plant nursery at home. Here is some information about the amount of space you’ll need and any adjustments that might be required before you start gardening:
Backyard. Measure the size of your yard and draw out how much space you plan to allocate for your plant nursery. Vegetables, ornamental plants, and herbs tend to take up less space than larger species like fruit or woodland trees. You’ll also need to check the soil to make sure that it’s fertile. Test the pH level of your soil and add some topsoil and fertilizer if necessary. It’s also a good idea to till the ground before you plant your seeds, so they have a healthy environment to grow their roots. Ensure you practice sustainable and eco-friendly pest control and growing methods to keep the plants and the environment safe.
Rooftop. If you live in an apartment or condo, a rooftop garden is a fun way to grow various plants. After you get permission from your landlord, fill several containers with soil and seeds, or add them to a raised garden bed, this way would make it easier to move your garden if you ever decide to go to a new home. You don’t need as much space if you grow this type of plant nursery. However, vining plants are best since they don’t spread vertically, saving you valuable rooftop real estate. Your roof will get a lot of full sun, so make sure that your plants get adequate shade and plenty of water to keep them happy and healthy.

Basic Tools
Here are some essential tools you’ll need before you get started designing and cultivating your plant nursery:
A quality pair of sharp pruning shears
Durable gardening gloves
Stakes to help support your plants as they grow and get strong
Healthy soil and fertilizer or compost to nourish your plants
Ground cover like netting or burlap to protect the earth and keep it warm
Small trays and pots to start your seeds in
A shovel, trowel, garden rake, and tiller to move dirt easily
A high-quality garden hose and/or a sprinkler system
Soil thermometer to check the temperature of the dirt
Fencing or protective netting to keep large animals out of your nursery

Propagation Techniques

The term propagation refers to the creation of new plants from existing ones. There are two main types of propagation techniques: sexual and asexual. Sexual propagation uses the plant’s floral parts and requires the union of the pollen and the egg of the plants. This union gathers the genes from both plants together to create a new individual plant. With asexual propagation, you can simply take a cutting of the plant and place it in water until roots begin to form. Other methods of asexual propagation include grafting and budding. Some species of plants require sexual propagation to grow, while others don’t. Research your plants carefully to determine which method will work for your nursery.

Planning your nursery

Once you’re ready to start your nursery, it’s time to do a bit of advanced planning. First, determine exactly where you want to grow your nursery and make sure that the soil is ready to receive seeds. You may want to draw the layout on paper to give you a better idea of where things will go and how everything will look. Make sure you have everything on your primary tool and accessories checklist, and then you can begin the work of gardening.
Choose what to grow. The most important part of planning your nursery is choosing what you want to grow. Look at your plant hardiness zone and pick out plants based on the climate and the location of your nursery, as well as the size. Research a variety of species to determine which ones will be the easiest to cultivate based on the maintenance that they require.

Planting the plants

Now it’s time to plant your seeds and watch your beautiful new plant nursery flourish. Here are some tips to help you grow plants from seeds and propagate your plants through cuttings.
Growing plants from seeds (how to sow): Different plants may need different conditions to grow from seed, but there are some basics you can follow to ensure success. Start your seeds indoors and place them in a seed tray or a variety of small cups or bowls. Use a seed starting mix to help encourage your seeds to grow faster and sprout roots. Moisten the seeds before you mix them so that they get just the right amount of water. Monitor the temperature and make sure that it’s within the appropriate range based on your specific seeds. Cover everything with a clear plastic lid and place them under a grow light until they’re ready to be relocated to the ground. Keep in mind that it can take six to eight weeks or longer for your seeds to start growing, so patience is key.
Propagation by cuttings: Once your plants grow to a healthy full size, you can propagate them via cuttings. Start with a cutting of about four to six inches long and cut them just where the leaf meets the stem using a sharp knife or pair of scissors. Remove any flowers and excess leaves, then place your cutting in a soil mix in a small container. You can dip the cutting in a plant growth hormone to encourage faster growth. Water your soil till damp, and then cover everything with a clear plastic bag to hold the heat and moisture in. Once the plant is large and strong, you can move it to a larger pot or add it to your garden.
Keep these tips in mind if you’re ready to design your own plant nursery at home. From an organic vegetable garden to ornamental flowers and shrubs, the possibilities are endless. With the right techniques and plenty of room, you’ll be able to grow and cultivate a beautiful nursery for many years to come.
Originally posted on http://www.porch.com

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Camilla Grayley, a Garden Designer who runs her own business

Autumn Seed Sowing and Flower Garden Planning

Some of the most popular gardening items this year have been bags of compost and packets of seed, with more time at home there has been a chance to grow your own and enjoy seeing the fruits of your labour. While vegetable seeds were top of the list there are plenty of flowers that are easy to grow too, particularly annuals. Ideal for filling in gaps in the borders while waiting for the garden to mature, to experiment with new colour combinations and particularly for growing a few bunches of cut flowers.

Many flowers need sowing in autumn, some under glass whether this is in a greenhouse, cold frame or on a window sill and some can be directly sown into the ground. California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are happy to be sown outside, the bright orange varieties such as Orange King are more familar but some of my favourites are the cream varieties such as Ivory Cream or the Thai Silk series. Probably because I enjoy mixing them with a vaseful of cornflowers, Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’ and oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) and the bees will thank you too. For a colour palette of deep rich reds Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’ and poppy varieties Papaver somniferum ‘Black Single’ and ‘Dark Plum’ will add that sumptuous velvet quality to the garden.

One flower that never seems to go out of favour are sweet peas, whether because they come in such an array of colours there are bound to be a colour to suit every garden or just a chance to inhale their heady scent. Sweet peas can either be sown now and kept under glass or sown directly into the ground in spring in any colour from the frothy pink of Lathyrus odoratus ‘Gwendoline’ or the pale blue of Noel Sutton. A firm favourite is Matucana with its bicolour flowers in magenta and purple, I tend to buy a packet every year. Often mixed in with a deep red like Midnight or some of the new varieties such as Nimbus, a delicate shade of lilac and white where the colours seem to merge into each other like ink drops. While waiting for spring to come around, to be able to start sowing more seeds the dark winter nights are perfect for perusing the seed catalogues and planning.


This Weeks Guest Blogger is Soham Kacker, a Horticulturist and Member of the Young Propagators Society

A Passion for Propagation

I’ve always found there to be an element of wonder and curiosity in sowing seeds and waiting for them to germinate; or taking a cutting and watching it seem to shrivel before it unexpectedly bursts into new growth; or grafting two stems together to observe them slowly fuse together. The ability of plants to regenerate, renew and reproduce is placed front and centre in the techniques of propagation – which seem to lie firmly in the overlap between art and science.

Seeds from tropical trees I propagated while working at the city forest

From the first time I began growing things, I became fascinated with the minute details of these techniques – and how each plant needed a slightly different approach informed by an understanding of its preferences, natural habits and characteristics. I started with the basics: softwood cuttings of houseplants like coleus; growing annual flowers and salad greens from seeds; dividing bunches of daylilies in my garden… Gradually, the more I read, practiced and spoke to more experienced growers, I learnt more complex techniques – air layering the citrus trees in my yard; grafting mulberry saplings (my favourite fruit as a child) in early spring; and germinating many species of tropical trees from seeds which each needed unique care.

Tropical tree seeds (Cassia fistula) a few weeks after germination

In high school, I sought out opportunities where I could broaden my skills and knowledge while practicing on many different plants. I volunteered in the nursery at my local city forest helping to grow native trees and shrubs for habitat-restoration efforts, and apprenticed at the Auroville Botanical Gardens in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu where I learned how to grow collections of exotic plants. My love for propagation only grew (pun intended?) and with each new experience – be it a success or failure – I acquired a deeper understanding and appreciation of the plants I worked with.

Calculating seed viability by tests on damp paper towels

The wonderful thing about propagation is that there’s something in it for everyone. Whether you are a beginner or someone with years of experience, there is always room for more experimentation and growth. The Young Propagators Society was founded to unite people who are similarly interested – so that they could discuss, interact and learn from each other. The steadily growing self-published zine (distributed both in paper form and online) combines tips and tricks, interviews, articles and art – all with the common background of propagation. The recently launched YPS website allows members to share and communicate more directly, and aims to promote a global and inter-generational flow of scientific knowledge and horticultural skill. I have been able to ask other growers about the methods they use, the materials they employ, and the results they observe – and I have gained much from these exchanges. The YPS has also encouraged me to share my experiences with a passionate and nurturing community, and has ensured that we – as gardeners – continue to grow.

Nursery beds at the nursery at the Auroville Botanical Gardens

You can look up the YPS website here: https://www.youngpropsoc.com

Instagram: @youngpropagatorssociety.

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Georgie Newbery an Artisan Florist and Flower Farmer

Here at Common Farm Flowers in Somerset, our ethos is clear: look after the invertebrates, and the rest of the food chain will look after itself. It may look as though we grow flowers to make a living… Well, we do! But we choose to make a living growing flowers because that way, so long as we grow flowers with an eye to the invertebrates who will profit from the flowers we sow, then our whole environment will be enriched.

And having been invited to write a post for The Gardening with Disabilities Trust I wonder if I can encourage you to do the same.

Whether you garden a large space or a small pot, you can always sow a seed with the environment in mind and there are lots of ways you can do it.

1 make sure the compost you use is peat free: peat based composts are created using peat cut from fast disappearing peat bogs which, undisturbed, act as huge carbon sequestering sinks. There are lots of alternatives to using peat based composts. Always ask for peat free when visiting the garden centre or ordering online as the more the customers ask the more suppliers will know that the demand is there for peat free compost.

2 make sure that the flowers you sow are bee and pollinator friendly and haven’t been dipped in herbicide or fungicide. You can usually tell seed which has been treated with poison because it’ll will be an unnatural colour – a strange green, or unnatural looking yellow. It should say on the seed packet when seed has been treated. Always check. Equally varieties which are advertised as ‘pollen free,’ or ‘hayfever friendly,’ will be no good for your environment. They may not make you sneeze, but they will not give anything to your local invertebrate population who may go hungry as a result.

3 sow varieties which are easy for your flying friends to feed from, so flat face flowers, not so heavy with petals that only those air born creatures with incredibly long proboscis can access the pollen or nectar. A flat faced flower, with easy landing stages (petals,) and wide areas of pollen for collecting will please your flying friends no end, as well as pleasing you. You could choose an easy mix of repeat flowering annuals to sow in a pot or a bed, and both your vases and your invertebrates will be full.

Five faves: Ammi majus for lace
Cosmos for a daisy shape
Chinese forget me not – the bees LOVE them
Sweet peas for scent
And last but not least nigella because the birds too will be happy if you let them set seed for the birds to eat as the seed scatters.

Georgie Newbery is a flower farmer and florist based between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset. Join her online or at the farm for one of her popular workshops, or follow her on youtube for lots more gardening tips and tricks.


This Week’s Guest Blogger is Gary Webb, Head Gardener and Garden Blogger with Gardening Ways

As a gardener, I count myself lucky to have worked in some stunningly beautiful locations throughout my career. There has been a good deal of heavy and physical labour I can assure you, but there has also been many times when my gardening activity would simply fall in the areas of mental stimulation or mindful observation.

Throughout my gardening life though, I’m drawn to recall that whilst many of my most enjoyable moments have been in the midst of serious graft and team effort, there have also been countless happy moments spent gardening in complete isolation. Even in some of my biggest gardening venues, there have been moments when it has been just me, immersed in designed landscape and charmed by the sounds of wildlife.

When I stop and think therefore about the importance of gardens and gardening to me personally, I can easily split the whole into two parts. Firstly, has been the value of all those moments shared with some very special people, be it in the working environment, whilst visiting gardens for recreation, or whilst at home enjoying a memory making time with my family.

Secondly, and amounting to significantly more time than the first, is the importance of those many moments spent working alone with my thoughts. Those moments, even if I didn’t realise it at the time were vitally important in providing a balance, and have provided opportunity to soothe my soul yes, to consider and form strategies yes; but most often they have simply given time to be at peace and to study how exquisitely amazing the many elements of a garden can be.

All things considered then, whilst I’ve become accustomed to the physical aspects of tending gardens, I have learnt that it is equally, if not more important to consider the wellbeing benefits that gardens can provide. The value to me therefore of engaging with a garden hasn’t always come from the doing, but often from simply observing it, from mulling it over and talking about it, from seeing how wildlife interacts with it, and from opening my mind to the real values of the garden and its connectivity with the world around.

If I can therefore offer a morsel of advice for anyone, it would be to make sure you get into a garden, any garden, regularly, and that you pause there to consider the elements that are around you. Close your eyes for a while and allow your senses time to tune into the environment. Try if you can to make time to ‘be in the moment’ as people say. You can do this in a public park or garden, where no maintenance issues exist for you, in a show garden, from a balcony or in a favourite part of your own garden.

All that matters I guess, is that you make time to be there, to immerse yourself to a degree that you’re happy with, and you simply enjoy the garden both for itself, and for yourself.

Gary Webb is the Author of Gardening Ways