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Tuesday, 4 October 2011


I was reading today that M&S (they don't miss a trick do they?) are the first to start marketing a new super-broccoli  called Beneforte. It apparently contains a high quantity of glucoraphine ( found in other broccoli varieties but at lower levels) which helps reduce the risks of bowel and prostrate cancer as well as preventing heart attacks and strokes. 

It's interesting to see that a large number of the big supermarkets are taking a huge interest in these superfoods as well as kick-starting a trend for marketing some of the older 'Heritage' fruit and vegetables. Tesco I believe are selling Heritage cultivars of amber and yellow carrots. (Daucus carota) so look out for more of our old Heritage varieties coming onto the marketplace. This seems to be a growing trend and one that gives us as consumers, more choice. Which can't be a bad thing can it?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Oh it's been a lovely afternoon, with a bit of late summer sun and to the garden-I-will-go. Those asters have been bugging me. Don't ask me how (they weren't there last year)  but they came up in the very front of a raised border so look very awkward towering above the otherwise rather lovely foliage plants in that bed. Such a shame too. It's a gorgeous violet thrumming with bees, but it's a wrong ' un where it is.Plants can do that you know. It might be you just inadvertently moved a plant and took a handful of roots with another one as you did so and then eh viola! A lovely plant in the wrong place.

I know I tell everybody not to move plants that are in full flower because they are at their weakest, so unable to take my own advice I dug the whole plant up, all 3ft tall and wide of it and moved it. There hypocrite that I am, but it bugged the life out of me that it was looming in the wrong company.

Lashings of water and a bit or organic compost and it will be fine by morning.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Britains's Gardens Swoon in Mini Heatwave!

These beautiful hot sunny days are absolute bliss aren't they? If only England could have a summer that was reliable like this five months a year. Still,  summers very decidedly here, so let's enjoy while we can.

But whilst our spirits soar and our level of optimism improves when the sun warms our cheeks, your garden plants don't feel the same way.  They get hot, dry and wilt.  Many of you will have wished that you knew how to help your garden cope with these hot spells as you dash about with the hose morn till night to quench the inexhaustible demands for water.

First off you could buy my book, 'Drought Tolerant Plants which goes all the way in detailing how you can sit back with a glass of wine on a summer's evening instead of running about like a trainee fireman to satisfy your plants' demands for water.

Available on Amazon

However, if you don't have it yet, damage limitation is the key.

1. Water early in the morning and late at night when the soil will hold on to water more effectively.

2. Add some swell gel to extra compost and top dress your pots with it; better that you mix the compost and granules together to fill the pot at the start of the year, but we are where we are, so a top-dressing is better than none. This will reduce your watering time to a couple of times a week instead of every day.

3.Replace some of your traditional plants with some gorgeous drought tolerant plants that can withstand arid conditions. Or aim for a drought proof border entirely, so at least that is one bed you won't have to fret about. 


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Wild Primroses

I am reminded today ( by an enquiry from a gentleman in Norfolk) of the sweet simplicity of our native Wild Primroses.

I know I have written them up in my book 'Fragrant Plant's (now in book shops March 2011) and the low-maintenance, easy-going nature of this semi-evergreen perennial with clusters of sweetly scented pale yellow faces make this an endearing and enduring favourite.

Wild primrose (Primula vulgaris)

Another fond favourite is 'ye olde' cowslip, (Primula vernis) which as a child I remember growing alongside cowpats along the riverbanks in Sussex.

Primula vernis

Both are easy to grow from seed too; though you can buy many wild flower plantlets online or at specialist nurseries. Plant in sun or partial shade in rich, moist soil.They are excellent  beneath trees, shrubs or hedges or littering grassy banks with their sunny disposition. Divide every three years after flowering. Deadhead regularly to prolong flowering. 

Spring has Sprung at last. Hurrah!

Lucy x

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


I want to talk to you about garlic. 

It's all very well growing herbs and veg, which as a gardener I am supposed to do with consummate ease.  But as well as being a gardener, I love to cook. If the produce I use is rubbish, then the end result is likely to be pretty poor too. (Move over Gordon - I know the process minutely from seed to gob and I can tell you what works and what doesn't.)

There is no doubt that the fat, succulent elephant and French garlic is a far superior animal than say, the small rounded hard garlic heads we are flogged by British supermarkets. The reason they flog us this nonsense is that it stores longer than larger cloved garlic so is economically more viable.

Elephant garlic has huge cloves, the size of a wrestler's knuckle and is milder, sweeter, more flavoursome (and in my not-so- humble opinion) far superior herb than the 'hard-necked' stuff.

You are going to have to go further than Sainsbury's, 'Tesco metro' or 'Happy Shopper' to find it. The local deli, farmer's markets etc will provide  sublime hedonism where the large food 'sheds' stumble; you will pay more, but boy is it worth it.

One of our favourite dishes we cook in our family is whole roasted chicken liberally studded with  garlic.  Use the hard-necked English varieties you will find the flavour is sharp, peppery and a bit astringent. Use large cloved garlic and OH WHAT BLISS. Sticky, caramel, soft sweet cloves that slip gently from the skin.

Take my word for it.

And whilst I'm on a rant, is anybody else fed up with supermarket fruit and veg that is tasteless, under-ripe and hard as bullets?  I bought three avocados that took at least a week to ripen even though I prodded them overnight to test their ripeness. EVERY night they remained a hard as marble. Suddenly I woke up one morning and the buggers were soft enough to use. Yippee. EXCEPT. When I cut them open the flesh was brown. Right up there with pears. There is only a nano-second in a pear's life when it is honeyed perfection.

INSIST when you next go to the supermarket that you will not put up with this cold-stored, tasteless, invariably overpriced garbage. You vote with your pennies. Old haddocky though it may be, even the busiest of us can report inferior merchanise to a store manager. Five minutes complaint from one in thirty of us and we shall see the quality of our fresh produce elevated to something approaching edible.  

There. I'm done.

Thursday, 6 January 2011


I was thrilled to learn that my latest book BORDER FLOWERS waas shortlisted for reference book of the year 2010.

All that hard work recognised at last .....

Sowing sweetpeas

Hi and Happy New Year to all budding gardeners.

I just wanted to let you know I have some new gardening tips for you on Youtube. 

Check them out: they're to the point, jargon-free and by watching them (they are only short so it won't take you much time) you'll exactly how to get the job done quickly and easily.  There are tips on sowing sweet peas, pruning wisteria, clipping box, cuttings and division etc. I'll add more as the year goes on.