I’m On Zoom

I’m on Zoom!

I’m pleased to announce I can now give my talks over Zoom.

As I have Zoom Pro you can have as many participants as you want. Also with Zoom Pro there is no time limit so I can finish my talk and if you want to continue with a business meeting or just a chat you can do that.

For a list of talk click here.

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Has Spring Sprung?

Hardy bulbs bursting through the cold soil in January is a sure sign that spring is on its way. Snowdrops or “Galanthus” its Latin name are amazing. Just as you think that nothing has survived the winter snowdrops appear!

The common snowdrop Galanthus nivalis can do no wrong but if you want something more unusual why don’t you go for a double flowered snowdrop. You could also visit the RHS and see the best 10 snowdrops!


The best time to buy snowdrops is just when the flowers have faded and they still have leaves. This is called buying snowdrops “In the Green” Plant them straight away in a shady part of the garden and wait till next spring!
And if you want to visit a garden famous for Snowdrops why don’t you visit Nymans in Sussex or Walsingham Abbey in Norfolk.


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In the South East of England it is dull, windless and damp! Two things I hate about this time of the year are:-  people burning leaves and leaf blowers!

Firstly burning leaves…..WHY? Leaves make great compost or leaf mould. If you are raking them into a pile to burn it takes just a little bit more effort to put them in a bin bag, make some holes in it and leave it for a year when you will end up with great leaf mould.

Burning leaves at this time of the year just adds to the pollution and the smell lingers in the damp still air. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bonfire as much as anyone else but if you must have one firstly check with you local authority or/and allotment association about any local rules. Secondly make sure your material is dry so will burn quickly and thirdly make sure the wind is blowing smoke away from residential areas.

Leaf Blowers. WHATS THE POINT? Why would you want to blow them away? Yes if you were blowing them into a pile to compost, great, but have you seen what a lot of people do? Blow them into the road! One gust of wind in the wrong direction will blow them all back.  Add to that the noise that comes from one! Unless you have a household one that hardly moves one leaf at a time!

Rant over!

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Sorry I’ve Been Away for so Long!

Finally I am back with the area I love! I’ve neglected my garden, my writing and my talks but now that I’m “retired” (sort of!) I hope I can concentrate on all the above! Last year the London Gardens Society took up all my spare time in-between working as an Information Governance Consultant!

So watch out for changes to the website, the first being an “Up-and-coming” section to the right of every page. If you have an event you want me to publish just get in contact.

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What To Do In Winter On A Rainy Day ?


With wind forecast and more wet weather predicted to continue well into the near future what can we do if it is too wet to go outside!?

  • Reflect on what you did during the summer. What you did well or badly, and how you can improve. Keep copious notes during the year.
  • Wash pots ready for when those plug plants arrive and you suddenly have to find 40 four inch clean pots!
  • Check your seed packets, see if they are still viable and put into a box in date of sowing order.
  • Browse your catalogues and order your seeds and plug plants.
  • Tidy the shed / greenhouse.
  • Stock up on potting compost.
  • Clean garden tools. Wipe down with an oily rag.
  • Check lawn mower blades. Buy new or have them sharpened.
  • Get petrol engines serviced

And finally:- If you have to work in the garden, use boards to walk on. Don’t cultivate the soil if it sticks to garden tools and who can honestly say they have done all the jobs above!

Happy Gardening

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And in the Papers this week:-

Sunday 9th August

I scan every paper I come across during the week for gardening or gardening related stories and some weeks like this one just gone has plenty and other weeks absolutely nothing! So this is what I spotted this week:-

At this time of the year you always get headlines such as “Man grows giant Squash” You know the type, but one that attracted my attention was “I’d never cook it! Woman displays 7ft long courgette in shed”  This newbie gardeners first go at growing a courgette which she left to grow to 7ft. So many people wanted to see the giant so she dried it and now displays it in the garden shed!

Another headline this week from Robert Crampton in the Times was “Mowing and other fast ways to a happy marriage” Apparently a new book Simple Secrets for Staying in Love mentions:- “When the husband is mowing the lawn on a hot day, for instance his missus should be minded to deliver her horticultural hero a glass of iced water”  I’d rather wait till the end of mowing and have a glass of chilled white wine delivered!

Avenues of trees raise risk from air pollution Scientists have said that Councils should chop down trees because of trapped pollution under their canopies that damage the health of pedestrians below! Yes we all know the benefits of trees absorbing toxins in the air but apparently this is almost cancelled out by the canopy effect! Scary stuff! You can read more by clicking the link above.

And final some good news! New satellite means better forecasts are on the way Good news indeed for us gardeners. Hopefully we will get earlier and more accurate warnings of extreme weather! Again, click on the link for more information.

Happy gardening this week!




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Judgement Day!

Watch out Bexley the judges commeth!

Very colourful!

Very colourful!

All over Britain an army of judges are out and about judging for Britain in Bloom and other local area In Bloom judging. It’s that time of the year when gardens are looking good so as a judge we have been given our categories This year I am judging Alms-houses in East London and judging Bexley In Bloom.

Two days of hard work cover 20 properties, some with back and front gardens to be judged.

Sometimes we get to a garden and ask “why did they enter”? Others we just stand back and say “wow”! Let’s hope this year there will be lots of “wows”!

So watch out Bexley, we are on our way.


p.s. A longer article will appear later in the year about Britain in Bloom




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This weeks top 10 ……………….

Top Ten Gardening Tips for the week ahead……………..



  1. Time to buy your summer bedding plants.
  2. Apply a mulch to bare areas of earth to hold in moisture and suppress weeds.
  3. Apply a liquid feed to bulb foliage to give them a boost for next year.
  4. Sow radish and spring onions.
  5. If you have a glasshouse time to put on some shading.
  6. Feed houseplants weekly till the autumn.
  7. Pick off the dead flowers on rhododendrons and camellias.
  8. Cut the lawn at least weekly.
  9. Weeds are growing as fast as the grass. Keep under control.
  10. Chelsea done so plan your next garden show trip.

Have a great week and see you next week.


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Planting Lilies in Pots

This is the time of the year to plant Lilies in containers. Almost all Lilies grow well in containers, and a really good way to display them if you don’t have a garden. Choose your bulbs for the space you have available. If you have a lot of space you could choose the giant varieties or tight for space choose the dwarfer types!

Preparing the container:

Containers can be anything from plastic to earthenware pots. Planting Lilies in plastic pots means you can add them to a spare place in a border. Earthenware pots clearly are more permanent.

Clay pots need drainage so add an inch of crocks (broken pots) or shingle to the bottom of the pot. Plastic pots usually have enough drainage holes.


Planting density & depth:

Plant three to four smaller bulbs 2-3in diameter into 9-10in diameter containers. Allow 2in between bulbs and use only deep containers. Half fill the pot with a good compost. John Innes No3 being the best (in my opinion!) Lilies are hungry so always add a slow release fertilizer to the compost.

Planting Lillies

Finally fill up the container but leave an inch from the rim of the container to allow for enough water. Don’t forget to add a label.

Add label


Make sure the compost is moist at all times, but not wet. Feed with a high potassium liquid fertiliser such as tomato feed every fortnight during summer.

Lilies can be grown on in the same pot for years providing that they are well fed and watered.

In the south of England Lilies can be left outside in their pots.

After a few years though they will need re-potting. This can be done just after flowering in the autumn or in the spring but be careful to avoid knocking off the new shoots.


Lily Beetle is a major problem. Squash the beetles as soon as they are seen!

Lily Beetle close up




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50 Sheds of Grey!!

50 Sheds of Grey?

50 Sheds of Grey?

Well it is the week after Valentines Day and there has been a lot about “that” Film!!

The novel Fifty Shades Of Grey has seduced women – and baffled blokes. I’m sure the film will be exactly the same! Now a spoof, Fifty Sheds Of Grey, offers a treat for the men. The book has author Colin Grey recounting his love encounters at the bottom of the garden. Here are some extracts, but if you are sensitive person don’t read on…

We tried various positions – round the back, on the side, up against a wall… but in the end we came to the conclusion the bottom of the garden was the only place for a good shed.

We stood alone on the idyllic white beach. She shed her clothes. I shed my inhibitions. At that moment I knew it would always be about sheds.

 She stood before me, trembling and naked in my shed. “I’m yours for the night,” she gasped, “You can do whatever you want with me.” So I took her to Nando’s.

She knelt before me on the shed floor and tugged gently at first, then harder until finally it came. I moaned with pleasure. Now for the other boot.

 Ever since she read THAT book, I’ve had to buy all kinds of ropes, chains and shackles. She still manages to get into the shed, though.

“Put on this rubber suit and mask,” I instructed, calmly. “Mmmm, kinky!” she purred. “Yes,” I said, “You can’t be too careful with all that asbestos in the shed roof.”

 “Harder!” she cried, gripping the potting bench tightly. “Harder!” “Okay,” I said. “What’s the gross national product of Nicaragua?”

I lay back exhausted, gazing happily out of the shed window. Despite my concerns about my inexperience, my rhubarb had come up a treat.

If you want more you can buy the trilogy of 50 Sheds of Grey at your local bookshop or follow them on twitter: @50ShedsofGrey or on Facebook /50ShedsofGrey.

More “real”  gardening next week!

Join me on www.phoenixfm.com every Sunday 10 to 12 midday for all your gardening tips!




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