Buying cheap Christmas tree lights from an online auction site, rather from a trusted retailer such as GardenSite, might seem a good idea at the time but you will probably change your mind after reading a recent report from Which?
If you enjoy strolling through a bluebell wood over the Spring Bank Holiday, you may not be aware that this beautiful sight might soon disappear, Martyn Loach explains why we should all be aware of a foreign invader.
Bluebells are such an iconic spring plant throughout our woodlands that it would be unthinkable if they were no longer there to enjoy. But the fact is that they are under threat from a horticultural armada.
You may not be aware that there are two types of bluebell, the elegant English version and a hybrid Spanish invader. Once an invited guest into our gardens, the Spanish bluebell has now escaped its domestic confines and is now inter breeding with our native plant.
There are various differences between the two types. The English bluebell bends elegantly in the breeze and only flowers on one side. These flowers are much darker than the Spanish bluebell, they are scented and contain pollen that is cream coloured rather than greenish blue.
The problem is that when the varieties cross pollinate, it is the characteristics of the Spanish bluebell that dominate, and slowly but surely the delicate attributes of the native plant that we love so much will be subdued.
There are more bluebells in the dappled shade of British woodland than anywhere else in the world. It would be tragic if this wonderful sight were to disappear but eradicating the non-native bluebell is impractical.
However, you can do your bit by not encouraging their spread. Compost garden waste, don't dump it in the countryside and, the next time you visit a garden centre, buy some English bluebell seed that is readily available rather than the Spanish alternative.
You're spoilt for choice when looking for a bluebell wood to visit, wherever you are in the country they'll be one nearby, but don't forget that it is illegal to dig up the bulbs.
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, sound advice and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2020.
Sustainability and a growing awareness of wildlife are two of the key gardening trends identified by the Royal Horticultural Society for 2020, with gardeners in a position where they can make a substantial impact regarding environmental issues.
Gardening is such a popular activity with interest only increasing over recent years that the magazine rack in your local newsagent or supermarket is packed with publications offering inspiration and practical advice.
Although the days are short and the view from our Garden Centre is dull and overcast, David Coton suggests various jobs that can be done in the garden during the month of January.