It took me a while to fall in love with geums. There are several species which are native to the UK, and seeing them as a garden plant played havoc with my brain as I contemplated whether I believed it to be a weed or not. However, having visited the RHS Greener Gardening Show a couple of years ago and buying a couple of Marmalade geums, I fell in love. And, with the abundance of flowers in the early summer along with this family’s wildlife benefits, I’ve been well and truly converte...Read more
In the autumn, gardens may be looking a little bit bare and unfriendly. If you’ve taken note over the growing months of where you have gaps, it is the ideal time to put in some new shrubs. These will bound into life when the warming spring months arrive, filling those border vacancies so that next year your garden looks even fuller and more vibrant than it has ever done. If you’re looking for a fantastic shrub which will not only bring flower but also a foliage change throughout the ...Read more
I always feel that some plants get a bad rep. Maybe it’s just me, by Erysimum doesn’t always seem that ‘cool’ when compared to the decadent blooms of lilies and roses, the structural delights of alliums and eryngiums or the beautiful foliage of ferns and heucheras. Like many plants, it’s not a specimen for all gardens and it certainly has more of a cottage garden appeal than a formal Italian or avant-garde urban chic design. But, whatever you may say about this plan...Read more
Many believe that, as the autumn rids the trees of leaves, the herbaceous borders of plants and signals the approach of winter, the garden fades out of existence. However, this is a time of great change in the garden and one which you can fill with glorious colour if you carefully selected specimens to add some vivacity to the bland tones of the colder months. And if you want an absolutely stunning shrub which will provide year round colour before unveiling luminous berries in the cold snap, the...Read more
In the summer months one of my favourite plants to enjoy is Stachys byzantina, otherwise known as ‘Lambs Ears’. This wonderful silver leafed plant is fantastic throughout the year for the border due to is highly touchable and furry leaves in the shape of, you’ve guessed it, lambs ears. However, as the summer sun reaches high into the sky you’ll find that this wonderful plant puts furry columns into the air with small pinkish flowers creating small rings of colour around the stems. This herbaceo...Read more
In my mind, not enough people appreciate the humble foxglove. This beautiful and native species to the Europe is an absolutely fantastic variety in the plant world, offering great flutes of flowers which will be loved by insects, especially bees. Their impressive height offers great architectural appeal for gardeners trying to create some drama in borders, and they will grow and flower in most settings as long as they are not too baked by the sun or sat in water. In my garden I used a lot of fox...Read more
Hellebore’s are one of my favourite plants for bringing that all important splash of colour through the winter months. Whilst early bulbs spring out of the earth with glints of vibrancy, it is hellebores that really offer gorgeous petals of winter hues. White, pink, green, or even dark black, hellebore’s come in a range of fantastic specimens ideal for any setting. And whilst most of the garden will be covered in winter tones of brown, hanging flowers of robust petals will bringing a...Read more
When it comes to Alliums I’m just a bit of a fan. There are too many individual and amazing varieties to talk of separately, but it’s my personal belief that every garden should have a least one group of Alliums to throw some springtime fireworks into the mix. Gladiator rises into the air by up to four foot, offering an explosion of purple flowers towering into the sky. Mount Everest softens borders with a small and tightly packed white flower stalk. Globemaster provides a beautiful ...Read more
A plant that I have loved for many years but not been able to get my hands on is the beautiful Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, otherwise known as Lilyturf. I’ve been completley enamoured by this wonderful specimen this winter, after buying two large plants at a the Suffolk Giant Plant and Shrub Sale and splitting them down into a large number of smaller indiviudals. At first look this brilliant plant, with its jet black foliage, looks like one of the many grass varieties a...Read more
When the word Marigold is mentioned, your mind very quickly either thinks of cheesy and old fashioned council flower beds, or getting to work scrubbing the kitchen. And whilst the latter is one of my worst phobia’s, the blousy french marigolds synonymous with hanging baskets, council estates, and tiredly designed council flowerbeds, fill me with dread. But the simple marigold, with is vast array of species, can be used to great effect in the garden and allotment, and I certainly wouldnR...Read more
This weather we’re having in the UK might be somewhat turbulent, but there’s no getting away from the fact that summer’s here – even if it doesn’t feel like it. At this of the year, many of the gardening jobs are actually done. Seeds have been sown, germinated and are ready to be planted out. Veggies are thriving away. It’s one of those times that after you’ve mown the lawn and dead-headed a few flowers, there’s actually time to sit back and relax.
I’m not sure how it’s quite occurred, but my garden becomes rather flowerless during the summer. It’s vibrant green, yes, but the blooms of spring have faded away and I lack the plants to keep the orchestra of colour continuing throughout the hot months. I have some spotlight plants – a couple of gorgeous perennial geraniums (left), peonies and the tropical extravaganzas that are agapanthus – but they only offer a gem-like splash to an otherwise foliage driven background. Not that foliage is boring, but I do like flowers!
I suppose, part of the problem I’ve had is snails. Some of my favourite summer plants, including rudbekia’s and echinacea’s, are easily eaten when they’re seedlings, so it’s vital to ensure that they’re safeguarded against pests. Echinacea’s quite like well drained soil, and I found they work well in large pots, so my next attempt is to grow a variety of plants in containers and place them into borders, hiding the pots with ground cover plants. With so many plants that produce multiple flowers in bright hues, it’s a good idea to backdrop these plants with dense shrubbery. Shrubs that have already flowered for the year, such as cotinus and camellias, are particularly useful. And, if you really want to set plants off, planting lambs ears (stachys byzantina) at the base is a wonderful combination.
Other great plants for the summer, especially if you’re creating a cottage garden or developing herbaceous borders, are achilleas (right) and penstemons. These fantastic plants offer vibrant blooms in their dozens, allowing you to really bring that summer feeling to any patch. Again, setting plants off against a neutral background of carefully placed shrubs, whilst using coloured foliage plants, such as ajuga or ophiopogon, helps to make the entire plant really ‘pop‘ out of borders.
In my opinion, it’s never too late to rush to the garden centre and buy some goodies. With much of the summer still ahead, you can still get plants into the ground and develop your borders for the sunshine and barbecues ahead. And, if you want to plan for the future, avoiding annual bedding plants and opting for longer lasting perennials instead, will provide you with many seasons of relaxation for years to come.
Can you quite believe that Chelsea starts tomorrow? I mean, I know it’s May, but still! I suppose the late start to the year has started me off on the wrong foot rather and I can’t believe that the worlds biggest and best (in my opinion) flower show has already begun for those folk lucky enough to get a PR pass – or be in the royal family.
Due to the significance of Chelsea 2013 – its hundredth year, don’t you know – RHS have brought out their beautiful hardback ‘A Centenary Celebration‘ book. Its pages are crammed with info, gardens and historic photo’s to get you in the mood if you’re not able to get to Chelsea this year. Even if you do – it’s worth a read.
One of the lovely things about A Centenary Celebration is that is split into distinct historical eras for easy reading. We start off in 1827 before the Chelsea Flower Show even began and end up in 2013, so there’s actually over 100 years of history crammed into the pages. The RHS aren’t scant on pictures, and if you’re more of a flick-through-the-pages reader like me, it’s amazing to see the developing show and changing trends within the images themselves.
There are a lot of nice little touches with this book, one being that you’ll happen across a little section about Chelsea from a judge’s, garden designer’s or groundsman’s point of view. This offers some additional insight into the show and works well with the overall historical nature of the book. Meanwhile, if you’ve ever been trawling through computer files looking for your past Chelsea snaps, then you can just dive into this hardback instead because there’s inspiration everywhere you look. Whether it’s a nostalgic ‘aha, I remember that,’ or a ‘ooh, I haven’t seen that before‘, there’s inspiration to be had.
This really is a gem of a book, and it celebrates Chelsea with a welcome mix of nostalgia and inspiration. Whether you’re preparing to beat your way through the garden show masses this year or not, A Centenary Celebration offers a rich and informative read with plenty of images to capture the eye.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of RHS Chelsea Flower Show: A Centenary Celebration (9780711234512) then there’s a special offer price of £20.00 (inc UK p&p). All you’ve need to do is call Bookpoint on 01235 400400 and quote the code 46CFS.
In October 2004 I got a call from my vet-nurse colleague who said that a ginger kitten had been brought into the surgery. He’d been found bedraggled and wet by the side of the road, was only about two weeks old and would I nurse him back to health? How could I resist? I’d wanted a ginger tom for a while to beat the crap out of a mangy cross-eyed brute who’d been coming into my house and terrorising my other two cats – this little kitten was the answer.
This tiny ball of ginger fluff was soon mewing all night and keeping me awake as I fed him every two hours on weaning milk. Both his little voice and bright blue eyes were piercing, and he followed me everywhere I went, without fail. I’d run to the loo during a commercial break and he’d just about making it halfway up the stairs before I was on my way down again. He slept on my pillow and lived under my jumper for the best part of a month.
My little ginger tom spent several weeks with rather politically-incorrect names. He had the shakes a bit – we later found out he had a condition known as cerebellar hypoplasia (CH) – and was called Parky and Ozzie -aka – Mr Osborne. He also looked like a tiny gremlin, and earned himself the name of Gizmo. Eventually, however, he became Tobias, Toby or Tobes.
Over the past 10 years, poor little Tobes has been rather manky. His CH meant that he fell over, dropped off and tumbled down a lot of things, breaking whiskers and many teeth in the process. He developed urinary tract disease, had a blocked bladder four times, had a heart murmur, went bald on the tip of his tail, got a flea allergy, development arthritis in his back legs, suffered from occasional fitting and decided that peeing and pooping outdoors was not for him. Nor did he have the capability of going in a litter tray because of his wobbles. So, for almost a decade, I’ve lived with towels covering my kitchen floor.
Despite that, Tobes always snuggled, came on holidays with me, journeyed on the train back home for Christmas, buried himself under my duvet, and purred in my ear when I was feeling ill. He even managed to pull a softer side out of Mimi, my tabby with the most horrible of temperaments, and got her to lick his ears on occasion. Meanwhile, despite my fantasy series never originally having cats in it, Toby wormed his way into the pages there too, and will forever be the lolling ginger and white tom in Roberta’s Ridgewood house.
Yesterday, another blocked bladder and a lot of pain finally meant that poor ‘ol Tobes had to pass on. It’s a sad day here, and the place feels empty without the sounds of him tumbling around the kitchen, banging into things and taking hours to eat just one kibble. Life is an experience, and so too, is death. And, no doubt, poor little well loved Toby will have etched his way into my writing in some form or another. But, for now, my little hermitage is slightly bereft at the loss of a brave little moggy who soldiered on despite extremely poor odds. RIP Tobes.
The gardening year has a vast multitude of gardening shows to visit, and whether you’re visiting a local nursery with some show gardens or are enjoying the horticultural wonder that is Chelsea, you’re more than likely to get a few ideas. That is, until you get home and realise
‘Oh, this plant doesn’t really grow in the same soil as that one‘,
‘These two plants flower at completely different times of years. How come in the Chelsea garden they were both in bloom?‘
The thing is; when it comes to flower shows, much of what you see is a falsity. Plants have been pampered and preened, planted at the last minute and often grown in unnatural environments so that they’re in bloom at the right time.
Having said that, 2013 seems to be shaping up to be a home-grown flower show in our own gardens. My foxgloves are WAY behind schedule, as are my alliums, but my red and orange geums are plastering every area of garden with colour. I have wisteria and forsythia flowers out as the ajuga reptans and Welsh poppies throw up their buds. These perennial Welsh poppies are an absolute delight. They grow quickly so that even seeds that are scattered after the first flowers in May are capable of producing their own buds a few months later. They don’t die over the winter so you can actually plan out a bed with a degree of certainty as to where plants will be the following year. Though…this may be thrown into slight disarray by these poppies’ other benefit; their manic reproducing!
If you look at your own garden, you’ll probably realise that a lot of things are out of sync this year. Early flowering plants are dashing to catch up with themselves, causing them to burst into life at the same time as those plants more ordinarily in bloom at this time of year. It’s nice, for a change, to see that the British flower show façade is in our own backyards. Now, with summer almost certainly gone (there’s no need to sniff out the cynic in me), we can get on with the growing and slug squashing season….whilst drawing on this year’s shows for inspiration, of course!
Okay, so the meteorologists can never seem to make up their minds so we’re never quite sure what kind of summer we’ve had. The winter has been long, the spring has been late, but though the cold’s been rattling at my bones there’s one thing that’s been all too obvious, and that’s the lack of rain.
You might think, rain? but we’ve had LOADS! In fact, here in London, we really haven’t. I’ll agree…there’s been some very wet days where a lot of rain has fallen in a relatively short space of time. But, certainly in my garden, dig beneath the surface of the soil, and the moisture has quickly drained away. Three days of sun, and my plants are already starting to look rather parched and I’m expecting to put the hose system on tonight to give them some welcome relief to their thirst.
There’s no doubt, that a hot summer is on everyone’s wishlist and we’ll all be very happy sitting out on our porches, verandas and lounging around in garden log cabins (if you have one of the latter, I expect an invite). But what of our plants?
If you’re looking for inspiration, then my Four Ways to Protect Plants from Drought is worth having a quick read. Watering in the evening is the most economical way to water, whilst watering long, hard and infrequently encourages deep roots for prolonged plant health. Changing your plants, too, can help, and using silvery leaved varieties helps to create a drought resistant garden. Mulching heavily around plants can lock moisture into the ground so that you don’t have to water so frequently, whilst ensuring that seeds are planted in-situ, instead of being transplanted, can help with establishing young plants quickly and ensuring that less watering’s required.
Of course, we’re not yet into the summer, and who’s to say that we won’t have yet another complete washout? But, with the hot days of spring arriving, taking the time to ready your garden for drought now, will provide dividends in the coming months is blissful days arrive. And, by watering, mulching and protecting your garden now, all that awaits on hot summer days is a glass of Pimms and a lounge chair on the patio.
If the past winter has taught me anything, it’s that there’s an essential need for evergreen’s in the garden. I’m mostly a herbaceous plant man, but this has the distinct disadvantage in that during the winter, when everything’s died back, I’m left with little other than a brown and barren looking flowerbed. Conversely, in a few of my client’s gardens, there’s green throughout the year because they’ve chosen to avoid flowers and embrace foliage, allowing their little retreat to have signs of life no matter the weather.
Evergreen’s can be important for structure, in addition to providing year-round colour, so if you’re heading out to get a few new plants, here’s some ideas for great plants to get.
Though I’m not a huge fan of the Mexican orange blossom, it’s hard not to see it’s advantages. Choisya’s come in a range of varieties, offering golden and dark green hues to the garden. Clusters of small white flowers can appear throughout the year depending on the variety you have, and if you’re not a fan of the blooms – like me – you can simply keep the shrubs pruned back.
This great little plant forms a carpet of brownish purplish foliage that’s perfect for growing towards the front of a border. Throughout most of the year, it’s the foliage that offers added interest and colour to the surroundings, and it’s ideal for covering large patches of barren ground during the winter. An added delight is the eruption of flower spikes in the spring, each of which is covered with vibrant blue flowers.
Euonymous comes in a vast array of varieties, both in leaf colour and growing structure. From dark green shrubby bushes, to variegated ground creepers, eunoymous can be great additions to the garden. Using variegated species can help bring light to shadier patches of your garden, whilst using shrub forms offers the chance to create a great backdrop for seasonal plants to grow against.
4. Aucuba japonica
If you’re looking for the perfect plant to grow up the side of your playhouse, then aucuba japonica is ideal. This beautiful variegated and evergreen shrub grows in a huge range of conditions, making it ideal for any garden. It’s extremely reliable for its colour, offers large shiny green leaves that are splattered with golden specks and will become covered in bright red seed pods for added interest.
I’m a huge fan of heucheras for so many reasons; they’re diversity for sun and shade, their beautiful flower spikes, their range of foliage colours, their versatility for pots and borders, and their ability to offer added colour throughout the winter months. Whilst they won’t look as vibrant as they do throughout the growing seasons, heacheras are fantastic in the winter for breaking up the ground, especially in a herbaceous border. They’ll grow around the year without very little maintenance, making them an ideal plant to provide ease and colour to the garden.
You know how it is; you go to the nursery, throw a few plants in the trolley, get to the till and somehow you’ve spent £100. I can never work out how a few plants and a bag of soil always manage to deepen the credit card debt, but somehow they do. Instant gardening – that’s having your garden look beautiful for not a lot of work – is always going to be expensive. But, if you’re a ‘proper‘ gardener, there are a few ways to keep it cheap-ish.
If you’ve ever actually looked in your shed, you’ll probably discover there’s a few rusty tools laying in one corner. As your green fingers develop there’s a growing urge to rush out and buy every horticultural tool possible. But, here’s a little secret, you really don’t need them.
I don’t drive, and people often ask me how I carry all my tools about if I’m a jobbing gardener. Well, the answer’s easy; in my backpack. Unless you’re doing major work in the garden, such as lopping down trees, you can get by with the bare essentials. Obviously, a mowers pretty essential if you’ve got a lawn, but as for big tools that promise to make even the hardest jobs easy? Naa, not so essential. I sharp pair of secateurs, a strong pruning saw, a hand trowel, and a sturdy spade and fork are really all you need. Y0u can bolster your tools with nifty little gadgets, such as electric pruners or telescope handled tree loppers, but if you ain’t got the money, then a few tools will go a long way.
I always find that if I buy a plant from a nursery, I shove it in somewhere and then it subsequently dies, I’m not too bothered. However, if something I’ve sown has a leaf which begins to discolour in the slightest, I’m all over it.
Nurturing plants from seeds is cool…you’re basically growing a new life, albeit it a green plant one. There’s something about seeing your seedlings grow and thrive which really humbles me and brings me back down to earth. Plus, being able to say to friends, ‘oh yes, that beautiful shrub that you’re just dying to have….I grew that myself from a teeny seed,’ give a swelling of pride. I grew these heucheras from seed and I LOVE them!
Avoid Bedding Plants
I’m a little biased here because I hate bedding plants, which means I’m always thinking up good reasons not to use them. One, is that they’re so expensive. Okay, the tray of begonia plugs is less than a fiver, but remember; they’ll only last a season and then you’ll have to buy more next year. Buying perennials is actually far cheaper in the long run because these plants mature and grow over the years, instead of dying at the sign of the first frost like so many bedding plants. In addition, once they’ve thriving, you can easily take cuttings or split plants = MORE plant and FREE plants.
Beg, Borrow and Steal
Well, not so much of the stealing, but you know….you don’t even have to buy plants if you have no money. The pretty amazing thing about plants is that you can propagate them. Cut off a human arm and it’s just a gory and bloody stump of flesh. Cut off a plant’s stem, leaf or root and it’ll grow a new plant! Awesome! Some plants are easier than others, but if you don’t try, you won’t know. If you’re at a friends house, just ask to take a little cutting or two and hey presto, you can populate your own garden for free!
You don’t need those £5.99 plant markers just because they come with a free weather-proof pen. You really don’t. You can use lollipop sticks, painted stones or anything else found laying around the garden. The word here is; RECYCLE. There’s a lot you can do with old products. Carpet makes an ideal compost bin lid and can be used beneath mulch as a weed suppressant. An old tyre sunk into the earth and lined with plastic makes the ideal base shape for a little pond, and will be cheaper than buying a new mould. Old bricks are ideal for creating paths and all manner of various objects make interesting planting containers. Being unique and customise, and you’ll ensure that you have a garden like no one else!
There’s been a lot in the news about the decline of bees over the past few years, and the support for saving these insects has soared. After all, without these vital pollinators, human beings are pretty much stuffed when it comes to the whole producing-enough-food-to-survive lark. But, whilst bees are deteriorating in numbers, so too are butterflies. Last weekend, when the weather finally warmed, there were a lot of butterflies about, resting on fence panels and trying to warm their wings in the sun. But, despite a plethora of spring bulb flowers, food for butterflies was seemingly scarce.
If you were miserable in 2012 because of the wet summer, then just spare a thought for butterflies. The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme revealed that 52 of the 56 species studied, that’s 93%, saw population declines last year, with a lack of mates, shelter and food causing huge drops in numbers. You can’t do a lot of help some species, such as the high brown fritillary and black hairstreak, because they’re very unlikely customers to your garden. However, for a few more of the common garden varieties, you can offer some butterfly feeders as well as growing nectar rich plants.
I already offer bird food around the year, offering local feathered friends an easy place to come and grab some grub when they’re hungry. I grow nectar rich plants for bees, and try to ensure to there’s always something in flower. So, why not offer butterflies something too?
For anyone who’s visited a butterfly house, it’s common to see rotting fruit left out. Why? Because it’s oh such a boozy delight for butterflies to lick up. There’s no reason you can’t do this in your own back garden to offer something extra for passing insects to enjoy. If you’re worried about caterpillars – fear not. The vast majority of Britain’s butterfly’s lay their eggs on wildflowers and not your beloved plant specimens.
If you’re keen on trying something new this year, then the Woodland Trust have got a couple of easy butterfly feeding guides. The basics are to offer slightly rotten slivers of fruit on a flat dish somewhere in your garden. It’s probably best to situate this somewhere where you can actually see the butterflies coming in to feed, whilst keeping it in the open so that the insects can see danger. You can easily make your own nectar solution by simply boiling 1/2 cup of sugar in 2 cups of water. Wait until the sugar’s dissolved, allow the mixture to cool and then use a sponge to soak up all of the liquid. Then simply place the sponge on your butterfly feeder – aka a flat dish with fruit – and allow the eager long tongues of butterflies to arrive.
With the late start to spring, many butterflies coming out of hibernation might be having a problem finding food, so I’m going to try offering food as a priority. I’ll let you know how I get on!
This week I’ve got a guest post written by freelancer Steve Nelson. Steve enjoys spending time in the outdoors, gardening and cooking in his spare time. The weather’s finally starting to warm up, and so if you’re in the mood for some shopping, then he’s got some great gardening ideas.
With the spring season under way and warmer months ahead, now is a wonderful time for gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts. Of course, every year spring gardening brings on a number of activities and purchases. From researching the best new flowers and plants to put into your garden, to purchasing basic essentials such as a new pair of hedge trimmers from mysmartbuy.com or some new gloves for rugged yard work, there are always things that need to be done.
However, what can truly make spring gardening enjoyable and unique this year is to add a few accessories and new features to your garden. This keeps things interesting year in and year out and gives you ways of improving your garden that go beyond simply keeping the plants fresh and healthy. Here are 5 specific items and accessories you might want to purchase for your garden this season.
1. Stepping Stones
Stepping stones can make your garden more accessible and enjoyable in a matter of minutes. Of course, you’ll need a strategic path or area prepared to lay down stones, but having a stone path through, around, or alongside your garden completely changes its atmosphere for the better. This invites people to spend time in your garden and gives you a better way of moving through it.
2. Birdbaths & Bird Feeders
Inviting birds into your garden is a wonderful way to improve its atmosphere. Of course, too many birds could be a problem, but a single birdbath and/or bird feeder can be a very nice addition. Plus, birds provide natural pest control for your garden, which saves you from having to use harmful chemicals on the environment.
Statues and garden figurines are very popular, and can often be purchased at normal gardening centres. Too many of these statues can become a bit tacky, but one or two tasteful statues can serve as elegant and interesting decorations within your garden. This can also be a great talking point when visitors see your garden.
Just as these other items provide your garden with a more active and inviting atmosphere, furniture provides you and your family and visitors with actual places to spend time in the garden. Whether it’s something as simple as a single bench, or something a bit more involved such as an outdoor dining table or a gazebo, furniture can completely change the functionality of your garden.
Finally, you might also consider making your garden a bit more unique by installing lighting to use at night. Of course, the best gardens maintain a natural feel, but having a few lights strategically placed to allow you to spend time outside at night can be a wonderful touch.
I don’t know about you, but the start of this veggie growing year has begun rather late. I had too much going on in November to get broad beans or overwintering onions in, so the allotment has been completely sparse of any harvests at all. An above freezing day in February got my sowing juices going and I put some broad beans in which, when placed upon the windowsill, quickly germinated and shot towards the sky. This year I made the positive step of actually acclimatising the seedlings fairly on so, yes, whilst they’ve got leggy, they’re not as bad as usual. The small sweet peas that I put in around the same time have also been hardened off – to the extent that they were snowed on and survived – so they’ve now been planted out along the fencing.
With the warm weather finally arriving this past weekend, the first broad beans are in, 120 potatoes have been planted and two rows of parsnips are now sown in the increasingly warming beds. The potatoes range vastly, but I’m glad to have got some charlottes (my favourite) and pink fur apples (a great rot-resistant or so I’ve found potato) in. Luckily, a huge delivery of wood clippings has allowed us to finally get rid of the grass paths completely and mulch the entire plot. Not only should this reduce mowing times, but it’ll also ensure that there are less avenues for those belligerent couch grass roots to invade our beds and pull precious time away from growing. Last year was a hell-of-a-year for veggies, with slugs and the wet weather resulting in minimal harvests all round. 2013? This year just has to better!