The best gardening and plant tips for any situation
Lavender – Also known as 'Spike Lavender', Portugese lavender is native to the western mediterrean region and is Portugal's unofficial national flower.
Lily of the Valley – The sweet scented flower is Finland's national flower and can be widely seen throughout the country.
Mimosa – Since 1969, the Montenegro town of Herceg Novi, has organised a Mimosa Festival in the spring. Even when covered in snow, the coastal regions of Montenegro have a summery glow from the yellow flowers of its national plant.
Narcissus - Known as 'Grandalla' by the locals, narcissus is the national plant of Andorra. The two coloured crown of the flower represents the diarchy governing the tiny Pyrennean principality.
Poppy – Growing in fields and waste space, Belgian's national plant is now inextricably linked with remembering those killed in the war.
Buttercup – “Why do you build me up buttercup, baby, just to let me down?” - no matter how hard he tries, 'Buttercup' just isn't interested in him according to The Foundation's song of frustration 'Build Me Up, Buttercup'
Carnation – Don McLean's 1971 classic had people guessing as to the much of the lyrics of the American Pie but there's no mistaken the forlorn hopes of a teenage boy opining ''I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck with a pink carnation and a pickup truck.''
Daffodil – In 'Daffodil's Lament', Dolores O'Riordan sang "And the daffodils looked lovely today" but who or what was the Cranberries singer really referring to?
Morning Glory – Although made famous by Oasis who sang “What's the story morning glory?” on their album of the same name, the phrase appeared first in 1950s stage musical Bye Bye Birdie in the song 'Telephone Hour'.
Oleander - When Sarah Harmer sang "Oleander, Oleander, Will you bloom again this spring?" we all felt her pain for loving a toxic plant, didn't we?
Shakespeare's plays are rich in symbolism and flowers are used to deliver a cutting message in Hamlet, when Ophelia, driven insane, begins handing out flowers to those around her:
There's fennel for you and columbines.
There's rue for you; and here's some for me; we
may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. You must wear your
rue with a difference. There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.
The cast, in order of appearance:
Fennel – known for its beautiful showy display, the herb symbolises false flattery and foolishness
Columbine – more familiarly known as Aquilegia, these pretty perennials symbolise infidelity
Rue- the bitter-tasting plant symbolises regret
Daisy – the much-loved flower of our childhood symbolises innocence
Violet – represents modesty
Driving Miss Daisy, 1989.
Lavender Hill Mob 1951
Steel Magnolias 1989
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2011
More than 125 plants, herbs and trees are mentioned in the Bible. If you want to create your own Biblical garden, here are a few to get you started.
Acacia - Noah was instructed to build the Ark from Acacia wood “two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high”. It's strength and resistance to wear and tear make it a popular furniture choice today
Angelica - also known as Holy Plant, this tall, striking herb is associated with Archangel Raphael who is credited with discovering its healing properties.
Hyssop – the cleansing properties of the evergreen with blue flowers is mentioned in Psalms 51:7 “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean”.
Solomon’s Seal – this woodland plant is said to be named after the Biblical king and its root bears impressions that vaguely resemble a royal seal.
St John’s Wort – also known as the Star of Bethlehem because of its cluster of star-shaped flowers. It is traditionally harvested on St John's Day (24 June).
Gardens are as individual as the people who tend them. These dramatic plants will make a statement and might even encourage your emo teen to join you in the garden...
Leptinella Platts Black - Also known as 'Brass Buttons' these low perennials are perfect for path edges. Their feather foliage resembles a seething mass of snakes.
Aquilegia 'Black Bonnet' - A dramatically deep purple, they self seed readily and work perfectly in a cottage garden setting.
Antirrhinum - you may be wondering why we've included colourful Snapdragons in the list. Simple....the seed heads resemble skulls!
Eranthis - No self respecting goth garden would be seen dead without a deadly poisonous plant - these winter aconites hit the spot...
Lovage - Much loved by witches in love spells, it's 'proper' name even sounds like a spell...."Levisticum officinale!"
Aconites to brighten up a shady corner and show winter is nearly at a close
Snowdrops to look for honey bees foraging on their valuable nectar
Hellebores to bow down on one knee and wonder at their nodding flowers
Anemones to appreciate their simple beauty in ancient deciduous woods
English Bluebells to carpet your woodland with intensity and make you smile!
Aster Amellus ‘King George’
George V was King of the United Kingdom from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Aster Amellus ‘King George' was namedin 1914to mark his coronation. King George was the grandfather of Her Royal Highness Queen, Elizabeth II.
For a long period throughout summer and autumn, this sturdy, neat plant is smothered with large and showy, rich purple-blue flowerheads that have golden yellow centres.
Rose ‘Queen Elizabeth’
Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch. She took the throne upon her father King George VI’s death in 1952, but it was two years later (aged 27) when she was crowned.
Originally created in 1954 in commemoration of her coronation, the Rose Queen Elizabeth is a reliable floribunda rose producing large, regal double blooms in vivid pink.
Rose ‘William and Catherine’
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is the Queen’s grandson and second in line to the throne. He married Catherine Middleton in 2011.
This soft creamy apricot at first, these roses fade to cream, then to whitewere named to celebrate the Royal Wedding.
Narcissus 'Georgie Boy'
The eldest child The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George was born 22 July 2013 and is third in line to the throne.
Named to celebrate his birth, this daffodil was offically presented at Chelsea 2014. This stunning flower has overlapping white perianth segments with a strong yellow corona that has a slight roll to the edge.
Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge was born 2 May 2015. As the second child of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, she is fourth in line to the throne.
Named to commemorate the birth of Princess Charlotte, these pretty, dahlia-like blooms are mauve/blue and have subtle pink/mauve margins.
Snowdrops, as they emerge from the ground, sometimes through snow, we feel Spring is on its way; their ability to multiply spreads their cheer.
Hellebores, the range of colours of the long lasting flowers brighten the garden whilst other plants are sleeping.
Primroses, native woodland flowers that delight with their pale flowers.
Crocuses, the blanket of colour ranging from whites to purple to shades of yellow, carpeting grassy areas, opening their petals on sunny days.
Violets, delicate perfume of these dainty plants found amongst hedgerows.
5 plants for a tropical look in a frosty garden
1. Fatsia Japonica- Large glossy hand shaped leaves provide evergreen drama, height, and structure.
2. Dryopteris felix-mas- Nothing is more tropical than the large feathery fronds of the male fern.
3. Hostas- with many sizes and colour variations to choose from, hostas provide dense luscious foliage. (Just keep an eye out for the slugs!)
4. Hellebores - The dense low-growing leaves provide cover when the ferns and hostas are hiding underground for winter and late winter to early spring flowers lift the spirits.
5. Fargesia murieliae, the umbrella bamboo. Slender arching canes provide height and tranquil movement. Ideal for an evergreen screen at the back of the tropical garden.
5 Plants in Greek Myths
Saffron crocus - A boy named Krokos was loved by the god Hermes. After boy's accidental death, Hermes transformed him into the saffron flower which red stems were described as his spilled blood. The flower is sacred to Hermes.
Anemone - Adonis was a youth loved by the goddess Aphrodite. When he was slain by a wild boar, Aphrodite created the red anemone from his blood. The flower is sacred to Aphrodite.
Ivy - the nymph Smilax was slighted by a boy called Krokos and transformed into ivy. The plant is sacred to Dionysos.
Rocket larkspur - Hyakinthos was a Spartan prince loved by the gods Apollo and Zephyr. One day when Apollo was playing quoits with the prince, jealous Zephyr caught up the disc with his windy breath and struck Hyakinthos in the head. As Hyakinthos lay dying, Apollo caused the larkspur to spring forth from his blood. The plant is sacred to Apollo.
Rock rose (Cistus villosus) - the Gorgon Medousa was seduced by Poseidon in a meadow of rock roses on the island of Kisthene. The island was named after this plant. The plant is sacred to Poseidon.
5 Plants for a border that only gets morning sun:
Helleborus 'Winter Moonbeam' - Fabulous marbled evergreen leaves and white flowers for 5 months.
Bergenia 'Overture' - Lovely structural contrast to 'Winter Moonbeam' with striking magenta flowers.
Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy' - Long, silkily sensuous deep claret leaves erupt into spikes of pink flowers.
Helleborus corsicus - A taller hellebore that provides a lovely evergreen background with lime green flowers February to May.
Pansy 'Beaconsfield' - A beautiful purple/lilac pansy to interplant throughout the border and if regularly dead-headed will flower for most of the year.
5 plants for pollinators
Stachys byzantina - a beautiful architectural perennial with silver woolly leaves and lovely purple flower spikes, particularly loved by wool carder bees.
Geranium machorrizum - a gorgeous deep pink ground covering geranium which flowers profusely, naturalising very easily which will be covered with worker bumbles
Geranium 'Rozanne' - flowers repeatedly throughout the summer, producing mounds of spectacular blue flowers visited by all pollinators and- in my garden - particularly solitary bees.
Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' - a beautiful shrubby perennial which covers itself with clear lemon single flowers beloved particularly by bees and hoverflies. 'Chelsea chop' it and the display will be extended through Autumn and even into November where the weather is kind.
Sedum Spectabile - a late flowering perennial whose flat-topped nectar-filled flower heads provide an easy pitstop for bees and butterflies, who may also shelter underneath when inclement weather demands it.
5 plants to grow in pots and keep near the kitchen in order to make a refreshing tisane with:
1. Chamomile - a good one at bedtime as this drink induces sleep and calm.
2. Peppermint - a refreshing drink, good for digestion and to stimulate the appetite.
3. Lemon verbena - a sweet and sour drink which can ease asthma and aid with joint pains.
4. Ginger - great for easing nausea in pregnancy, and also for aiding flu like illnesses.
5.Lavender - great for aiding restlessness, anxieties and stomach upsets.
Go on give them a try - I prefer them to normal tea now!
My 5 plant choices:
ROSES - beautiful scent and reminds me when we were young how we used to try and make perfume from the petals.
PINKS - They are old fashioned, full of scent and remind me of my grandmother.
LAVENDER - Highly scented and useful also for making lavender bags which help you sleep.
SWEET PEAS - A firm favourite with many and lovely for bowls and bowls of cut flowers throughout their season.
NICOTIANA - Makes a walk in the garden especially in the evening a great pleasure with their lovely scent.
5 chocolate scented plants
Chocolate Vine (Akebia Quinata)
This vigorous vine is perennial. Beautiful chocolate scented flowers. Can also be
grown in pots. Will be smothered in unusual flowers in full sun to partial shade.
Chocolate Daisy (Berlandiera lyrata)
Good for bees, chocolate scent carried on the breeze The petite flowers may
not be as attention-grabbing as some other members of the aster family , but no
others have such a rich chocolaty fragrance. .A hardy Yellow wildflowers.
Chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)
Smothered with amazing deep brown or chocolate colored flowers that emit a
smell of rich chocolate. This perennial grows up to 70cm tall in the full sun to
partial shade position. It enjoys a rich, moist soil. You can expect a chocolate
scent to be the strongest in the early evening after a warm summer day. It is a
drought-tolerant plant and easy to grow.
Black salsify ( Scorzonera hispanica)
grown for the root but strong chocolate scent in the morning. The surprise is
dandelion-like large yellow blooms.
Chocolate mint. ( Mentha x piperita)
Grow chocolate mint in a container as it can be invasive to add a hint of minty
chocolate scent to your garden and food. Plant in partial sun or shade, rain and
warmth help release the smell of chocolate.
5 plants for the medieval herb garden
Sweet myrtle (Myrtus communis)
Betony (Stachys officinalis)
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
5 plants for Bronte fans.
Snowdrop. For Charlotte Bronte who was reported to look like a snowdrop in her wedding dress in 1845.
Heather. For Emily and her love of wild and windy walks on the moors.
Bluebell. For Anne Bronte and her lovely poem. The Bluebells. : When bluebells seemed like fairy gifts. A prize among the flowers.
Bells of Ireland. For Patrick Bronte. A sturdy and well-defined plant but known to be quite prickly and difficult to handle!
Dogwood -Mid-winter fire. For Branwell Bronte for his hot temper, red hair and unfortunate fire in bed.
5 Plants from Growing Up in Cornwall
I was born and grew up in Cornwall, surrounded by beautiful cultivated and wild plants. This is a selection of plants that takes me back there in an instant.
Montbretia - With their orange plumes and green fronds Montbretia would be easy to see moving in swathes across moors, clay trails and clifftops. Often tagged as invasive now, in the 1970s they were a staple in local gardens.
Sea Thrift - Scattered along cliff edges and coastal paths, Thrift has always seemed delicate from a distance but up close is a hardy, dense plant ideally built to survive harsh Cornish coastal weather. It would also be seen in many families' rockeries which were particularly fashionable in gardens in my childhood.
Broom - The smell of Broom plants dotted in masses across clay trails, moors or wasteland sticks with me. As a youngster I remember the sense of distrust as to whether bushes were going to be spiny Gorse or the kinder Broom! I must have run around Gorse many times when playing out and learnt this the hard way. Now I love the more cultivated orange colours of Broom, but the yellow is the original wild shrub I first think of.
Primroses - a delicate looking, simple yellow wildflower seen in every hedgerow in every lane, though not in gardens. Around Eastertime, we used to go out to an area where the hedges were covered in the pale yellow stems to pick a small bunch each to take on my annual visit to my grandparents in Sheffield. Watching out of the car windows driving the 300miles north, we'd look for the final view of a primrose on the motorway embankments. At that point, less than halfway, we understood the local value of the carefully wrapped bunches of what to us was a common wildflower.
Hydrangea - the biggest, boldest flower, the most common cultivated garden hedge. This plant was - still is - everywhere, in gardens of townhouses, estatehouses or lone properties. Entirely dependent on the local soil the blooms could be white, blue or purple but mostly combinations of these. I remember being surprised to discover that this cultivated planted wasn't so popular outside of Cornwall.