Archive for 12/03/2014


Plant Heritage

The Garden Library at RHS Garden Wisley is hosting a rare opportunity to see original botanical artworks on loan from the Cyclamen Society. The twenty five portraits on display feature in the recently published Genus Cyclamen: Science, Cultivation, Art and Culture  edited by Brian Mathew which also has on its cover this digital image of a 17th C  engraving from Naawkeurige beschryving der aardgewassen by Abraham Munting (1696)

Cyclamen print © Martin Denney

As part of my work as a volunteer in the library I was given this wonderful tome of c. 600 pages and asked to provide a couple of descriptive lines on each of the paintings which would be used as a crib sheet for visitors to the exhibition.


In so few words there was little point in describing the plants so beautifully depicted in the paintings, but an explanation of the species epithet for each of the plants seemed a…

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Guest article by Elizabeth Grey

Mothering Sunday is fast approaching, this year falling on 30th March. If your mum or granny is a keen gardener, there’s plenty of scope to get her a much more interesting present than the typical flowers, chocolates, perfume or smellies, and a gardening related gift is something that can be treasured for years to come.

Even if your mother has a shed bursting with much-loved gardening tools and there’s not room for another cutting in her garden, there are still a wide selection of thoughtful green-fingered gifts which she will be delighted to unwrap.

For the gardener who likes to read

Mr_McGregor' McGregor’s Garden at Hill Top Farm, Cumbria

If your mum enjoys curling up with a book or magazine, consider treating her to a horticultural read so she can carry on immersing herself in her passion even when it’s not possible to be out in the garden.

Beatrix Potter’s books are some of the most charming children’s books ever written, and if you have fond memories of reading Peter Rabbit with your mum as a child, Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s Gardeners Life might be an ideal gift. Beautifully illustrated, the book explores the link between Potter’s Lake District gardens and her work.

Slugs are the bane of gardeners’ lives, so this book about 50 Ways to Kill a Slug is a good fit for a gardener who enjoys a humorous look at dealing with one of their least favourite molluscs.

A gardening magazine subscription provides your mum with a year round source of inspiration and the chance to discover what’s going on in some of the country’s most interesting gardens. Subscriptions can come with added bonuses, for instance, if you subscribe to The Garden magazine you get membership of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and all the benefits which that brings.

For the gardener who likes to explore

chelsea physic gardenChelsea Physic Garden. Photo credit: Karen V Bryan

The UK is very lucky to have so many beautiful and unusual gardens, and taking your mum to visit one of these can create treasured memories as well as being an enjoyable day out. Many gardens also put on special child-friendly fun and learning days, which can be a wonderful day out for three generations – perhaps you could surprise your mum afterwards with a framed photo showing her introducing her grandchildren to her favourite hobby.

In London, the Chelsea Physic Garden in home to over 5,000 plants, many of which have a medicinal purpose, that flourish in the Garden’s mild microclimate. It’s a refreshing retreat from the capital’s hustle and bustle, and hosts regular family days throughout the year.

The Trebah Garden in Cornwall is rated in the top eighty garden globally, and is somewhere that no keen horticulturalist should miss out on visiting. Some highlights include the water garden, which in late spring is carpeted with Arum lilies; the hydrangea valley, which covers two acres of riverside garden with unusually vivid flowers; and its own secluded private beach, complete with complimentary buckets and spades.

For the gardener who likes bees

beePhoto credit: Andreas.

The worldwide decline in bee numbers is cause for concern as they pollinate about a third of all food crops, while 90% of all wild plants need insect pollination to survive. As a result, many gardeners are trying to make their gardens havens for bees in order to reduce this trend.

If your mum is one of these gardeners, a bee box would be an appreciated and thoughtful gift. The boxes, which are often attractive features in their own right, give shelter to solitary bees like the Red Mason and Leaf Cutter.

Bees love traditional British garden plants like roses, lavender, hollyhocks and edible herbs. So if your mum has space in her garden, one of these plants is a good gift. Pots of edible herbs are a particularly good choice if your mum also enjoys cooking, or is gardening is a small space.

For the gardener who likes to entertain

Photo credit: Kew on Flickr

There’s little more enjoyable than inviting friends over to take afternoon tea outdoors or spending a warm night relaxing in your garden with wine, food and good company. If your mum loves to host garden get-togethers there are plenty of entertaining accessories that make lovely gifts. Prices on these start at pocket-money levels, and there’s often a selection of matching goodies, so it’s easy to buy a set of gifts from all the family.

Solar powered garden lights have quickly become a must-have garden accessory, and fairy lights create a particularly special atmosphere when they’re interlaced around a trellis panel. For anyone sitting outside after dark, citronella candles are an essential accessory to repel bugs. Ones that come in brightly coloured buckets make a feature out of a necessity.

If you really want to splash out on a mother’s day gift, a garden swing seat adds a touch of luxury and style to any garden and is always popular with guests. Wooden swing seats are suitable to be outside in all weathers, so your mum can turn the seat into a permanent focal point, or even hang the seat from a plant-covered pergola.

Thanks to Elizabeth for some great ideas – you can follow Elizabeth on Twitter

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