Here comes the sun (and I say, it’s all right)

What is it that is so inherently cheerful about a sunflower? This one bears no resemblance to either of the varieties I ordered from Sarah Raven last spring. It should be killing me with its sinister ring of dark bronze juxtaposed with bright yellow. It has an uncanny likeness to Sauron's glaring eye. And yet…

Two Lavenders

Most of the plants in my grandmother's Derbyshire garden seemed exhausted and almost visibly panting in the relentless sunshine and heat that has been blazing down these past weeks. But two plants were noticeably enjoying themselves in this most un-English climate: English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and its unrelated Mediterranean friend, cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus). Covered…

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…