Fussy violet can be worth effort to keep happy

It’s not surprising that African violets (Saintpaulia) are so popular; their lovely blooms and attractive foliage can provide year-round interest.

COVER-UP: There is always at least one variety of ivy for every site and situation.

Join the ivy league

Christmas is but a spit and a cough away and while many people have an affinity with the culinary delights of the festive period, I have always had an affinity with plants, particularly ivy, which I think gets a bit of a raw deal whatever the time of year.

The leaves of the monkey puzzle tree.

Roadside puzzle

Towards the end of the last century, some local authorities thought it would be a brilliant idea to plant Chile pines on the embankments alongside major roads.

TOUGH CUSTOMER: Portuguese laurel has a lot to offer.

Laurel and hardy

There is laurel and then there is laurel; in this case, the ferociously hardy Portuguese form (Prunus lusitanica) which was once immensely popular, but now, like so many of those dark evergreens beloved of the Victorians, has fallen from favour.

Whens the best time to plant fruit trees and bushes?

Q&A: When’s the best time to plant fruit trees?

Q: When’s the best time to plant fruit trees and bushes?

POT LOOK: Some herbs are small and compact and will grow happily in a container.

Herbal remedies

Herbs are often taken for granted, but whether they come fresh from the garden or dried from the supermarket shelves, they are an important part of our lives.

CAPTION: ON GUARD: The old flower heads of Mophead hydrangeas help protect new growth.

Hydrangeas have power to brighten winter

It’s December next week; we’ve had frost, we’ve had snow and, no doubt, there will be plenty more of both came from.

FROZEN ASSET: Keep off the grass when ice is about.

Keep off the grass, unless it’s really wet

Most lawns are looking a little bit worse for wear, particularly those that were heavily used and abused throughout the spring and summer.

Gardens to visit

Regular openings: Gardens to visit this season

Cannon Hall, Cawthorne, Barnsley. Weekdays and Sundays, 10.30am-4pm; Saturday, 10.30am-3pm. 01226 790270,

BASKET CASE: Plant shrubs and winter-hardy plants in pots, troughs - and baskets.

Let there be light

Winter is creeping ever closer, but hopefully, it will be as balmy as the last – relatively warm, wet and windy and devoid of the snow and ice which in recent years have hammered certain parts of Yorkshire.

Can I grow it?

Q&A: What is it? What is it? Can I grow it?

Three queries in one week, all concerning this plant now showing off in hedgerows and even a few gardens.

COLD COMFORT: Wrap up cordylines before winter really sets in.

Winter is coming

The first frosts have been and gone, but many plants were hardy enough to survive the fall in temperature.


From fork to plate

Winter should not mean the end of gardening for the year. There is always plenty to do – if you’re prepared to accept the challenge. If you can provide a little shelter using a cold frame or plastic greenhouse it’s worth sowing seeds of broad beans to provide strong plants that can be planted out next spring.

AUTUMN GLORY: Nasturtiums are a very versatile option for most spots in the garden.

Hats off to the season’s plucky survivors

November, it seems, is now a month when many plants are still hanging on, still holding leaves, still flaunting flowers and being not quite ready to die or go into hibernation.

Q&A: Caring for roses

Q&A: Is it too late to plant roses?

Q: Have we left it too late to plant roses? My dad says no, but our neighbour says yes and to leave it until spring.

Nick Coulter planting up his plot six weeks after the site opened.. Picture Tony Johnson

Fresh air, veg and banter at new Leeds allotment space

Gardeners are overjoyed that a Leeds allotments is open for business after a six-year wait – and want people to take advantage of its “beautiful spot”.

CAPTION: SEEING RED: Poppies are still blooming.

Gardening: Fallen offerings

The Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire in 2014 left a lasting impression. Yellow was the colour and cycling was the name of the game. Two years later, some parts of the county are still remembering what was an epic occasion – only in a very different way.

FALL GUYS: Leaves come in all shapes and sizes - and they all decay at different rates.

Rake’s progress

For the past few weeks, the air has been filled with falling leaves as autumn gets into its stride. And many of those leaves have landed to block drains, clog gutters and coat patios and roads. The leaves of mountain ash are considered to be among the worst for getting where they are not wanted, but they rate low in the pecking order when it comes to pointing the finger and cursing the villains of what the Americans call “fall”.

PRETTY IN PINK: Populus candicans Aurora.

A dawning realisation of roaming roots

A century ago, no-one had seen or heard of Populus candicans ‘Aurora’. Then, in the 1920s, it appeared on the scene and now it is a common sight in many gardens.

SEEING RED: The waxy berries of Viburnum opulus.

Ruby waxed

This is Viburnum opulus, seen occasionally in gardens where it more often than not forms part of a mixed hedge. Occasionally, if may be grown as a specimen shrub but it can be unreliable, even downright sulky, so there are definitely grounds for giving it a wide berth if you want something consistently floriferous.

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