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.
The Chelsea Flower Show, for many the highlight of the gardening year, is taking place between 19 – 23 May and Nathan James Dodd has been looking at what the crowds flocking to the event will see this year.
Show Gardens are naturally at the core of the show, full of brilliant contemporary ideas, inspiring the ordinary gardener with fresh, sometimes outside of the box, ideas.
Fifteen show gardens feature the work of world class designers whose approaches are diverse but similarly stunning.
There's the naturalistic ambiance of the M&G garden full of soft elegant planting and beautiful trees surrounding a oak framed 'retreat'. The Beauty of Islam garden explores the relationship between humans and the earth, providing a relaxing and inspiring sanctuary.
Others include the Cloudy Bay garden that is planted to reflect the qualities and characteristics of their wine, the lush landscape of the Hidden Beauty of Kranji garden takes us to tropical Singapore.
Another represents the perfume heritage of Grasse with a deeply aromatic design while many people will be interested in Prince Harry's garden for his Lesotho based charity.
There are many other gardens to admire in the 'artisan' and 'fresh' categories, but they are only half the story. Whatever your particular interest as a gardener, there'll be something that will attract your attention.
Nurseries and specialist growers offer all kinds of plants. Carnivorous, succulent, scented or heritage; lilies, heucheras, ferns and peonies – whatever excites you, they'll be an exhibitor to visit, gain advice and replenish your shopping bag.
If that's not enough, there's the RHS Discovery zone in the Great Pavilion where you, and your children, can learn about plant science and education. This includes the positive power of plants, school gardening, and several environmental issues.
Of course, you'll need somewhere to rest and recuperate, and the various catering outlets manage to sell over 13,000 sandwiches and no less than 27,000 cakes during th show's duration.
For more information and to book tickets on the show, go to the show website. Doors open at 8.00am on the 19 May and close at 5.30pm on Saturday 23 May after the plant sell off.
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.