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Recent Postings

The Plant Whisperer September 2021 #2

Rhodochiton atrosanguineus (Purple Bell Vine) family (Plantaginaceae)  is a real eye catcher that will flower from late spring through until autumn. This stunning flowering climber can grow up to 3 metres! 

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On a Chalk Hillside September 2021

This summer has been “mixed” weather-wise for us on our Chalk Hillside.  We had the hot dry early spring-time as during the first lockdown last year.  April into May we remembered the lessons from last year.

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My Wildlife Allotment September 2021

Butterflies have been plentiful in August, especially peacock butterflies and admirals. But there were also many large and small whites, some commas, small tortoiseshells, brimstones and painted ladies. Echinacea purpurea is always a favourite with butterflies ...

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The Plant Whisperer September 2021 #1

One of the aspects I really enjoy is planting combinations ! Plant associations and how plants visually work well together, complementing each other in terms of foliage and flower colour and structure. 

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On a Chalk Hillside August 2021

I was concerned that these Papaver Somniferum variations (which remind me of 1950 bathing caps) would not be good for polinators, but as you can see,  I needn't have worried

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My Wildlife Allotment August 2021

I love caterpillars and I am always on the lookout for new species I have not seen before on the allotment. A few weeks ago I found a chamomile shark caterpillar (Cucullia chamomillae) for the first time on my allotment, feeding on some Anthemis flowers. They like feeding on the centre of the flower which leaves a tell-tale hole ...

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Conservation Feature July 2021

Geranium x oxonianum ‘Fran’s Star’ is doing well in my garden this summer, full of flowers and with lots of lush leaves. It is a clump forming plant, but with long stems of small star-shaped pink flowers and mid-green leaves with brown markings.

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On a Chalk Hillside July 2021

 Before we could replant the top half of the subshrubs and bulbs border this winter, we had to remove the giant in the bed. Removing the Lavatera cachemiriana was such a big decision, and it was such a big plant.
Plus - how to side shoot tomato plants.

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My Wildlife Allotment July 2021

Damselflies have made an appearance, not only near the pond; occasionally I also find them in other areas of the allotment. Early mornings are good for photographing them as they are still cold from the night and reluctant to fly away.

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On a Chalk Hillside June 2021

Moving on this month to the part of the ‘L’ shaped bed that runs from the Gunnera manicata bed path to the decking steps above the groynes, and therefore directly above the tiny shade border I talked about two months ago.

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My Wildlife Allotment June 2021

One of the prettiest solitary bees in my opinion is the tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva) which I often see visiting the apple and cherry flowers. These bees build nests in the ground which consist of a tunnel with one or more nesting chambers at the end. The excavated soil is often piled up above ground and looks a bit like an ants nest with a hole in the middle.

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May 2021 Conservation Feature

Spring is a time for dividing plants and making new ones. That’s exactly what I’ve done this week with my Geranium ‘Pink Delight’.
I kept it in its pot last year so I could trial it in different parts of the garden. Eventually I decided it belonged at the base of an arching trellis where I have planted a climbing rose. It gets sun there most of the day, and because I keep the rose well watered, plenty of moisture too. 

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On a Chalk Hillside May 2021

Over the bank holiday weekend I had been crawling round various plants in the garden trying to get an “in-focus” shot in stiff easterly winds which have plagued us for most of April to show you this month’s star plants, when I got caught face down by my newish neighbours who asked if I was taking an art shot. 

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My Wildlife Allotment May 2021

It was completely unexpected. When I opened the curtains on Monday morning, the 12th of April, all was white outside and it was snowing heavily. The allotment looked like a winter wonderland. Not much gardening could be done but I could at least build a little snow rat who was enjoying the snow much more than I did. By mid-day the sun was so strong that most of the snow had disappeared and the winter wonderland of the morning seemed like a distant dream.

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On a Chalk Hillside April 2021

Because the Golden Hop (Humulus lupulus 'Aureus') is so rampant, I planted shade-loving winter plants directly beside it - a  dusky pink Helleborus orientalis seedling and a Harts Tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium)

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My Wildlife Allotment April 2021

Anemone blanda opens its pretty flowers in the sunshine and has spread in several areas now. I have to be careful where I walk as it seems to favour the edges of the paths. I have left some patches of lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) in the raspberry bed and adjacent areas as I like the bright yellow flowers ...

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March 2021 Conservation Feature

My latest Lockdown Project is to re-vamp an old bed on my allotment. This was almost the first section I worked and planted up when I took on the plot. It was meant to be an herbaceous bed in a sea of vegetables. It’s where I planted out my first Conservation Scheme plants

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On a Chalk Hillside March 2021

I planted the Irish primrose Primula vulgaris ‘Carrigdale’ in my border – it flowers for a lot of the year – last year one of the clumps in a pot was in flower by the end of January though the clumps in the border waited a few weeks to flower

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My Wildlife Allotment March 2021

I've mainly seen large buff-tailed bumblebee queens (Bombus terrestris), making a bee-line for my crocus flowers. Once woken up by warm temperatures the queens have to find nectar quickly or they will starve. It was also warm enough for honeybees ...

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February 2021 Conservation Feature

A plant name mystery has been discovered in the Conservation Scheme database. In January Cathy Rollinson posted on the Conservation Scheme Facebook page that the plant we list as Persicaria runcinata Needham’s form is probably really Persicaria sinuata. She found this after reading the description on the website of Growild Nursery, which now lists it as Persicaria sinuata EN. So which is it? 

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On a Chalk Hillside February 2021

The first snowdrop garden I ever visited was Hodsock Priory on the borders between Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire during the 1990’s.  They especially open round half term to allow people to walk through the formal gardens and down to the woodland where there is massed planting of Galanthus nivalis under beech trees:-

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My Wildlife Allotment Febuary 2021

The early flowers such as the winter aconites, snowdrops and Cyclamen coum were completely unfazed by the snow and looked like nothing had happened after the snow had melted away. It is amazing that such delicate-looking flowers are so tough ...

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January 2021 Conservation Feature

I was reminded lately that even in winter, our plants have something to offer. There is often a subtle beauty to them that is not obvious in high summer.

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On a Chalk Hillside January 2021

During the second lockdown, as I said last month, lots of the autumn colour in the garden was more noticeable from berries hips and seedheads than from leaves

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My Wildlife Allotment January 2021

I really like this time of year as it gives me time to plan and think.  One of my new ideas is to plant a hop (Humulus lupulus) as I really like the look and smell of the fruit and hope I can use it for making tea. I had a few more magical early mornings with frozen water droplets covering every grass and seed head ...

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Planting for winter colour, (Cyclamen coum)

The seed heads that coil on the stems to the surface of the ground are fascinating to study close up.  Cyclamen produce their seed freely,  increasing by self sown seed.

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On a Chalk Hillside December 2020

When we talk about autumn colour, it seems to me to either be talking about spectacular leaf colour on trees; or late flowering plants such as herbaceous perenials that feature in Piet Oudolf’s prairie planting schemes, or tender perennials such as dahlias, cannas etc.  

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My Wildlife Allotment December 2020

Easily over-looked are the dainty flowers of Borago pygmaea which I grew from seed obtained from the HPS seed distribution scheme. I have two plants which seem to be quite happy and have flowered for the first time this year. Hopefully the plants will thrive and delight me with flowers year after year.

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November 2020 Conservation Feature

This autumn I’m discovering a new Conservation Scheme plant – not one that is new to the scheme, but new to me. It has actually been in the scheme since 2010, introduced from the Hertfordshire group. 

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On a Chalk Hillside November 2020

I started the three articles on gardening in lockdown showing you  the shoots of Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ just coming through in the first week of lockdown, so I shall finish by showing you it in beautiful flower on 23 July as we were coming to terms with “the new normal”

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