First tulips from my cutting garden

I admit that when I write 'cutting garden', it sounds much grander than the reality: a single raised bed of about 150 x 150cm constructed of wooden boards that the builders brought down from our rotting roof last year. I didn't know what (if anything) these ancient roof boards had been treated with, so the…

Thalia: grace, muse, goddess

Depending on which Wikipedia entry you read, Thalia was a Greek goddess of comedy and idyllic poetry, one of the nine muses, and/or one of the three Graces responsible for rich banquets and festivity. The name 'Thalia' is Greek for abundance; perhaps Narcissus 'Thalia' was thus called because of the abundance of flowering heads on…

‘Some Flowers’ of my own

With Vita Sackville-West's 'Some Flowers' still fresh in my mind, I have chosen some favourite flowers of my own to describe. These aren't going to be painters' flowers, for I know nothing about painting, nor are they necessarily the best flowers of their kind for the garden, though I can recommend them to any gardener…

Book review: Some Flowers by Vita Sackville-West

'This short book is personal, and therefore very arbitrary,' begins Vita Sackville-West in the foreword to her book of essays on twenty-five of her favourite flowers. And at first glance down the contents page, the flowers she has chosen do appear to be haphazardly selected, heavily weighted as they are, for no reason that is…

The Way We Used To Garden: a conversation with a 96-year-old gardener

My grandmother Cynthia was born in 1921, and has lived within a couple of miles of the same South Derbyshire village for her entire life. She has always been an enthusiastic gardener and continues to tend to her perennials and vegetables to this day, despite losing most of her eyesight to macular degeneration about twenty…