Bee on centaurea nigra

To walk along the Ridgeway is to share a route travelled for more than 5,000 years. Once a series of tracks over the chalk downs in southern central England, the ancient Ridgeway eventually became a National Trail in 1972.

The trail is 87 miles in length, travelling from Overton Hill, near Avebury in Wiltshire, to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. Ancient sites such as Avebury Stone Circle, the White Horse at Uffington and Waylands Smithy, a chieftain’s burial tomb, as well as numerous hill forts are found along the Ridgeway’s length.

The Uffington White Horse is a Bronze Age hill figure, cut up to a metre deep into the hill and filled with crushed white chalk. Along with other ancient remains...

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Close up of sloes, gin and sugar in a kilner jar

It all started with a malfunctioning clutch, a breakdown truck and a disused railway line. When my car was towed away out of sight, I decided to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine and walk home along the old railway line.

And that’s when I saw them – the blackthorn bushes either side of the track, dripping with sloes. Ripe and plump and ready to pick. A bumper harvest of blue-black, powdery drupes, just waiting there patiently, ready for their turn in the gin-bottling limelight.

The next day, I was back and ready for a spot of foraging. Rule number 1 for foraging: make sure you know what you are picking! Rule number 2 – leave behind enough for wildlife and...

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Chionodoxa

Yellow is the colour that brings optimism into early spring gardens. It’s the gardener’s cheer-upper after months of slate grey and mud-brown. But yellow is not the only colour for early spring!

In my last blog post, I looked at the yellow flowers that bloom in late winter / early spring and bring a ray of sunshine to drab winter gardens. But, even as I was writing it, I noticed that Yellow often comes hand-in-hand with its partner in crime, Blue. Daffodils look enchanting with a skirt of muscari. The watery sunlight colour of native primroses is enhanced by bright blue scillas.

Blue is the colour of the sea and sky. It is the colour of peace. It calms and...

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Yellow Tete-a-Tete Daffodils

After months of grey, damp winter, a splash of early yellow flowers brings a shot of spring into the garden.

Yellow sings of warmth and sunshine. It’s the colour of happiness and optimism. Here are 5 gorgeous, cheer-uppers for gardeners.

Daffodils

While daffodils are at their peak in April, Welsh people need their daffodils in full bloom for March 1st, St David’s Day, so it’s great that so many varieties are early flowerers. Plant daffodil bulbs in autumn for a glorious swathe of sunlight in spring.

One of the earliest daffodils to flower is Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’, growing to 40cm in height. It can flower as early as January in sheltered spots. February Gold is another early daffodil and...

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Elderberries on Sambucus tree

Misty mornings and the leaves are ochre and gold. There’s a nip in the air and the hedges are dripping with berries. Time for a spot of autumn foraging! Here are 4 vitamin-packed fruits to collect in autumn.

Elderberries

Elderberries ripen in late summer or early autumn. Pick the berries when they are fully ripe. You want them to look almost black, so if they are still green or burgundy, wait a little longer. Use a pair of scissors to snip the cluster of berries away.

Be certain you know what you are looking for as there are some poisonous lookalikes. If you need help to identify the elder tree, the Woodland Trust has some useful advice here.

Separate the...

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Dianthus for garden pots - from the Weatherstaff blog

Last spring, I decided it was time to give my little courtyard a make-over, by potting up three matching containers. My challenge was to choose plants which would provide interest all year round and continue to look good the following year. It was hard work restraining myself over the cold months but, eventually, in early spring, I allowed myself to indulge in my favourite pastime at the garden centre!

Buying plants earlier in the year means that the plants are small – and I did have to take some on faith that they were going to survive and grow more than the one flimsy leaf they came home with – but they are usually cheaper, so you can get a...

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Wheelbarrow of well-rotted manure for a spring time mulch

The spring bulbs are a picture. Early winter aconites and the valiant, little snowdrops are giving way to the first cheery daffodils, flashes of purple crocuses and creamy primroses, huddled low in their blanket of foliage.

A splash of sunshine on an early spring afternoon is enough to entice you out into the garden, pulling on the gardening gloves, on the look-out for an excuse to potter.

There are plenty of jobs to do. Winter-flowering shrubs can be pruned when they have finished flowering. The grasses can get a bit of tidying up too. Any deciduous grasses left to provide winter interest can be cut back in early spring, while dead foliage on evergreen grasses can be pulled away. The...

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Heuchera and uncinia rubra - container planting combinations

Window boxes, spilling over with summer colour, or containers lit up with seasonal bulbs – you can ring the changes by moving into the limelight pots of just-ready-to-bloom bulbs or plants at their peak of perfection.

Still, it’s good to have a collection of containers which look good all year round in the garden. If you don’t have the time – or money – to keep updating displays, or if you just want some good do-ers to form a reliable backdrop to those flowering divas, then an all-season pot is the one to go for… And with a bit of thought and preparation, it’s not difficult to choose plants which will provide long-lasting interest in the garden.

Step 1 Choose...

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Captivating tulips - spring garden plans from Weahterstaff

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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Spring bulbs and pick-me-up window box displays.

Tulips in a huge array of colours to complement any colour scheme. Crown imperials (Fritillaria imperialis), with spectacular Carmen Miranda headgear. Cheerful daffodils and chirpy violas. Here’s what I found flowering this week…

For more gardening ideas, click here to follow the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner on Pinterest.