Tulip Mania!

Colourful tulips - from Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner blog

Though tulips are as quintessentially Dutch as windmills and clogs, they are actually an Eastern flower, growing wild along a narrow belt, stretching from Ankara in Turkey to the mountain ranges of Pamir-Alai and Tien Shan in Central Asia. The word tulip itself is derived from the Turkish and Persian names for turban, named for the resemblance between the flower’s petals and the turban’s overlapping folds of material.

A prized flower in Turkey, the tulip later became a symbol of the Ottoman Empire, with a period during the early 18th century – noted for its prosperity and relative peace – being labelled the Tulip Era. The classic tulip motif, with elongated petals, often featured in Ottoman art.

A hundred or...

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Finding the Perfect Plant – Drought Tolerant Plants

Geranium Rozanne - from the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner

Some plants are particularly versatile and unfussy, making themselves at home and seeming to thrive wherever they come to rest. Most plants however have a preference for a particular set of growing conditions or cannot cope if the temperature gets too high or the water supply too low. Keen gardeners may relish the challenge of coaxing a particular favourite plant to prosper, but if you don’t have the time to lovingly cosset your choice specimens, getting the plants in the right place to start with is the way to go.

Plants for Dry Conditions

If you garden in hot, dry conditions, it’s worth seeking out plants which will thrive in this situation. With climate change giving us unpredictable weather patterns,...

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A Crescendo of Crocuses

Spring Crocuses - from the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner

What’s the collective noun for a group of crocuses? A cluster, a crowd, a colony? A swathe, a dazzle, a drift?

On a bright, chill-nipped, late-February afternoon in Cannizaro Park, the word which comes to mind is crescendo – the pale buds, pushing up in clumps through the crumpled dead leaves and winter mud-brown soil, gradually increasing in number and intensity of colour, spilling across the grassy borders, unfurling to reveal orange stamen and deep purple petals, peaking at the very moment I reach the park gates!

Cannizaro Park is a 34-acre Grade II* listed English Heritage garden, to the south of Wimbledon Common. A private garden for 300 years, it was acquired by Wimbledon Borough Council, now London Borough...

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Daffadowndilly

Daffodils Weatherstaff Plant Profile

“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares, and takes the winds of March with beauty.”

William Shakespeare

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, She wore her greenest gown; She turned to the south wind And curtsied up and down. She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbour: “Winter is dead.”

Daffodowndilly – AA Milne

The daffodil is the national flower of Wales. On March 1st – St David’s Day – we dressed up in Welsh National Costume, complete with frilly apron and tall black hat, and pinned on a daffodil. By the end of the day, it was a sorry, droopy little thing, but, still, I always preferred a real daffodil, with its fresh,...

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The Sociable Little Campanula

Eschscholzia mexicana and Geranium landscaping design software

When we first began planting up our garden, my parents dug up from their own garden and donated fast ground-covering plants, like pretty blue campanula, to help cover some of the wilder areas at the top of the garden. These did the trick nicely, romping off to cover up the bare soil and could be cut back whenever we found a choicer specimen to replace it with.

We soon found though that the cheery, bell-shaped flowers seemed to get on remarkably well with whatever we chose to partner it with. It is just the perfect purple-blue to set against yellow, orange and pink, as well as making a great partner for silver and dusky or darker shades of purple. And,...

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Forest Bells

Bluebell woods garden plans software

The ancient bluebell woods in April and May are a quintessential feature of the British landscape. Dappled sunshine. The fresh spring green of the returning leaf canopy. A purple haze, colour-washing the woodland floor.

We were delighted to discover wild bluebells springing up in our hedgerow when we moved to our new home. The elegant, lavender-blue flowers are narrowly tubular, their petal tips recurving like the hat of a fairy elf. Sweetly scented, they are carried on one side of the flowering stem only, weighting the slender stem down so that it arches at the top.

It is the slight and stately stem The blossom’s silvery blue The buds hid like a sapphire gem In sheaths of emerald hue

‘Tis these...

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Easter Parade

Tulipa 'Prinses Irene' Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner garden software

The glorious sunshine of the past few days has beckoned me out into the garden. It’s always a little sad to see the cheery daffodils going over. Like the earlier snowdrops, I watch for them with eager anticipation but they are over too swiftly. This time, though, even as I pinch off the dying flowers, I’m distracted by signs of growth all around me.

Everything happens so fast at this time of year – blink and you miss it. A few days ago, the view from one kitchen window was dominated by a magnificent Magnolia stellata, swathed in white flowers and looking as though someone had tied white ribbons to every branch. In the opposite direction, our Amelanchier canadensis was...

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Dog’s Tooth Violets

Dog's Tooth Violets Garden Design Software Blog

The morning’s forecast predicted rain but I raced the east-flying rain clouds and flew out into the garden for a spot of tidying up.

Just outside our back door, there’s a welcoming, little border, with pride of place taken by a Fuji Cherry. In a few weeks time, its twisting branches will carry a dazzling display of blush-white flowers, but for the moment, the buds are tightly furled and clinging to the bare branches.

At its feet, the Daphne odora is valiantly breaking into blossom. It’s only frost hardy and the last two winters have taken their toll. Some of the glossy, cream-margined leaves have been blackened by frost and others have given up the fight and lie, carpeting the...

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Heralds of Spring

Snowdrop - Galanthus nivalis Gardening Software Blog

December’s snow and ice have given way to rain and mud here in the Forest of Dean and, while I’ll be more than happy to dig out the toboggans again if the weather turns Arctic once more, for the meantime I’ve been seduced into thinking that maybe spring is just around the corner.

A prowl around the garden and – yes, the first white bulbs are appearing amongst the green shoots along the hedgerow. The snowdrops – harbingers of spring – are well on their way.

From late January, gardens all around the country start welcoming visitors keen to take advantage of that brief time of year when the ground is carpeted with a blanket of snowdrops.

Family days out...

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Chocolate Sloe Liqueurs

Bottles of Sloe Gin Blog Gardening Software

I’m reliably informed that sloe gin tastes better and better the longer you leave it, but that’s a theory I’ve not had the patience to test!

The sloes we picked last October had been infusing the gin with their gorgeous berry flavours for three months when the serious business of bottling-for-Christmas began. The eclectic assortment of bottles looked beautiful – lined up with their home-made labels and colourful twirls of ribbon – and I was all set to become the family’s favourite person this festive season. But what to do with all those gloriously alcoholic sloes?

Inspiration lay with the pretty petit four cases I’d once bought from Lakeland Limited in a fit of domestic goddessness. Here’s the recipe for...

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