The New Year

Next year, 2016, is a big one for me as I reach 50 years working in professional horticulture and 40 years giving advice to other gardeners on BBC Radio Nottingham.

I have worked with some really wonderful people over that time but the ones that stand out are those who guided me through the early years of my career and especially at Boots Pure Drug Company, as it was known then. George Reynolds, Albert Parks, John Frisby and especially Adrian Johnson. No you will never have heard of these people but they were true horticulturists, masters of so many skills and what an honour for me to have learned from them.

Coming up to date and the new  East Midlands Flower Show could not have come during a better year than 2016, when, at last, our area gets its own gardening show. This, to my delight, will also give me the chance to meet many more folks interested in this wonderful pursuit and also, perhaps, offer advice and skills just like those men did for me all those years ago.

The real excitement of gardening is in the fact that each year brings a totally new experience and different challenges for all involved. With all the added milestones going on over the months it is really going to be a bumper harvest for me, no matter what! Merry Christmas.

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The mild damp weather has certainly been a talking point over the last few weeks even though hyped up, as usual, by the media at times. Looking back through articles that I’ve written over many years there are a great number of references to mild weather at this time of years but from experience I can’t remember a tear like this

Yes, it has been very mild during the second half of December many times in the past but usually by now we have had a real cold spell that has, ‘seen of,’ so to speak, those plants which would otherwise keep going on and on. This year has been the exception and therefore we are finding that not just plants but birds and animals have been caught out. Hedgehogs are roaming about, a house martin flying around Attenborough Nature Reserve and spiders happily making cobwebs around the shed.

Back to the plant world and I myself have been quite delighted to see Hebe ‘Midsummer Beauty’ in full flower, a container of English lavender looking as good as it does in summer and to top it all my Pelargonium ‘Frank Headley’ still giving its all out there in the garden. We all have our own examples of unseasonal happenings in the garden and although we rabbit on about wanting some really cold weather, I myself am enjoying every minute of this winter – so far.Geranium 054

East Midlands Flower Show

Look out for more details  of our brand new East Midlands Flower Show being held next June 25th 26th in the beautiful surroundings of Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire. The East Midlands has some of the keenest gardeners in Britain so it is about time that we had our very own venue, open to all, of course.Newstead Abbey

Pensthorpe Natural Park

pensthorpe dec 2015 132pensthorpe dec 2015 141It’s very rarely we go to Norfolk without calling in at Pensthorpe and last Tuesday, during a break in the rain, provided the perfect opportunity. I always look in on the turtle doves, who seem quite happy not being in North Africa at present  and also on the red squirrels who were busy carrying sticks about and very active during these mild conditions.

On horticultural matters a visit to the herbaceous prairie as I call it, is a must at any time of the year but at present the old flower stalks and dry foliage is looking a real treat. This is a reminder of course that the herbaceous perennials, although stunning during the summer months are also very showy at this time of the year. The plantings at Pensthorpe are inspirational running down, as they do to a lovely lily laden pool. A full list of the plants is available.pensthorpe dec 2015 135