The Magic of Mushrooms

I have a strange relationship with fungi. Well, actually it’s not that strange, I’m terrified of it. I wasn’t always; it mainly came after talking to some scientists at a Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. They had been searching for ways to deal with the very serious problem of dry rot and had infected a…

Potentilla Nepalensis ‘Miss Willmott’

Nick Stanley, holder of the Ellen Willmott National Plant Collection, has a theory about the plants named for her. Nick suggests that anything named ‘Ellen Willmott’ was named by a close friend; anything called ‘Miss Willmott’ was more formal; an honour from someone who admired her but was, perhaps, a little more ‘awed’. Of course…

Foxgloves at Warley Place

Most people will tell you to see Warley in March. It’s true that Ellen Willmott directed most of her efforts at creating a daffodil explosion of yellows, creams, whites and oranges for March, and they still glow in the early spring sunshine. A few will suggest going earlier, in February, when the place is a…

Saffron Basics

With a bit of luck my last post sold you on the joys of growing saffron. Now for the nitty-gritty. I can’t pretend this is a crop for a very small garden, though you might try growing it in a lawn or a regular bed like any other crocus. If you do, please be warned:…

The Joy of Saffron

What could be more of an event than saffron? Punishingly pricey to buy in the shops, it never gets cheap. The vaguely affordable stuff only gets to be so because it’s bottom-end quality but it’s one of the easiest events a gardener can have. Just because the saffron that appears in the shops is from…

Event: The First Asparagus of Spring

The original point of this blog – before the craziness that is coronavirus – was to discuss ‘event’ vegetables: low-yield, high maintenance veg that provided just one or two ‘events’ in the gardener’s life. High-flyers that made just one or two memorable meals that would remain in the imagination long after they had faded on…

Coronoveg project: Testing Seeds for Viability

Yeah, we’ve all got ’em: those packets of seeds we got ages ago and meant to sow but somehow they got stuck at the back of a drawer and, well, the sow-by date is 2016 but… I’m very much of the ‘stick it in the ground and see if it will go’ school of thought…

Coronoveg: Spring onions

Another one for everyone today (unless you hate onions, of course…) These versatile little veg are salad staples but are great in all manner of cuisines, and they’re really handy to jazz up plain stuff or use if you’ve run out of actual onions (which take much longer to grow). They are easy to grow…

Coronoveg: Seedlings – from babies to toddlers…

My friend Sue has asked a couple of eminently sensible questions, which are worth answering in a bit more detail. Firstly she is wondering: “When to remove the propagator lid, I have a memory of waiting till they have two leaves.” Two leaves is good – though be wary of the two leaves that first…

Coronoveg: Don’t peak too soon with the Three Sisters.

These last few days have been sunny and warm. I understand the clocks go forward on Sunday. I, for one, have been on the allotment for the past few days. But that doesn’t mean we should be sowing every seed in the back of the garden shed. Even if we don’t get actual frost yet,…