As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.
Container grown shrubs can be planted throughout most of the year. The choice is huge and, for Nathan James Dodd, Lavatera is a particular favourite.
Lavatera Olbia Rosea produces masses of flowers from July to September, or when finally cut down by the first severe frost. This plant was introduced into Britain from its native western Mediterranean homeland and is commonly known as the tree mallow.
It has a vigorous upright nature yet still retains a bushy habit, soft grey velvety foliage with lobed ovate leaves are the perfect complement to its giant four inch rose pink trumpet hibiscus shaped flowers.
All the flowers are produced from the axiles of the upper leaves on new growth sitting atop the leaves, which will remain evergreen providing the winter is relatively mild.
Choose a sunny site that is well drained with light sandy soil, though they will tolerate some shade if necessary. Lavatera is an ideal plant for covering up bare fence boards or the side of a shed as it will quickly reach six feet in height by four foot wide. Before planting water well and then remove the container and plant with some humus and a handful of bone meal.
Keep the plant well watered in its first year as the flower buds begin to swell. If required, prune it back in April to the young growths at the base of the old wood. This will produce vigorous new growth that will flower the same year.
Lavatera is also a plant that is suitable for cutting, whilst in full bud for house decoration. It offers true value for money and is a great favourite of mine. I would say no garden should be without such a pink delight.
This guide by Andy Taylor is all about battery powered lights, a very safe way to decorate your home with festive colour. With low running costs and bright LEDs, batteries may be the smart choice this Christmas.
There's a huge selection of Premier Christmas Lights, and it's no wonder why they are market leaders judging by the variety and innovation that's on offer. This is Andy Taylor's guide to their range of top quality lights and decorations.
In the past Christmas decorations were limited to streamers and fairy lights, but not any more as Robert Hall discovered when reviewing the huge range of novelty Christmas items that are brought to life by LEDs.
Christmas wreaths, swags and garlands might be thought a little old fashioned, but Robert Hall thinks that modern versions of these traditional decorations are a fabulous way to combine tradition with colourful contemporary themes.