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  • Turning up the heat. It's the hottest September since 1911!

    Turning up the heat in the garden. Coping with climate change

    Heat... how wonderful that most of us are able to continue wearing summer clothes. It’s officially the hottest September since 1911. An Indian summer is a great thing for most of us and for our gardens. Or is it? What do these unusually warm spells mean for our plants? Do plants like the heat or will they wilt and lose the will to live? Generally the warm weather has a positive impact because annuals keep flowering and everything continues to grow. But there are some late-performing plants that would be much happier with cool and damp conditions. In fact the weather in the UK can have a gradual effect on many of our familiar plants. Some think that the traditional green and pleasant land will not fit the description for many more years.
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  • Where can I go today? Here's 12 garden suggestions


    Visit a garden in August. That's where you can go today!

    Where can you go today? Did you know that 2016 is Visit England’s Year of the English Garden? August is in full swing and there’s a garden open every day of the week. Come rain or shine, there’s always something to see. From gardens that swing open their gates as part of the ever popular National Gardens Scheme (NGS), through to charity event openings. Then of course there's the RHS, historic houses and National Trust gardens too. Having a day out has never been such fun! Here's some suggestions for places you can go today, tomorrow and for the rest of the summer!
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  • Spring into the March garden

    Is it spring?

    When does the elusive season of spring actually start? Has it happened yet, in this first week of March? The answer is both yes and no. Continue reading

  • Blooming sensations in winter. Are the flowers early?

    What’s blooming in your garden?

    There’s no doubt that winter in the south east has been mild up until now. Like it or loathe it, there’s not a lot that we can do to control the weather. But what effect does this have on your garden? There have been many reports of early blooms appearing in the damp but warm air. Many attribute their welcome but unexpected delight to the effects of climate change. In fact in some places it is estimated that flowers are out six months early! Some roses, for example haven’t stopped blooming since last summer. Continue reading

  • How can I love my late summer garden?

    It’s late August already. Can you believe it? We wait all year for summer and it seems to be over in a flash. But actually, August in the garden can be a strange month so perhaps we should celebrate it drawing to an end. There’s an air of neglect and wistfulness because schools are closed; people are away on holiday; streets and shops in local towns and villages can be quieter… and many plants are showing a bit of middle-aged wilt. The exuberance of early season has gone. But in its place comes some wonderful treats: Hydrangea; Perovskia; Helenium; Rudbeckia and many more.
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  • Fifty Shades of Green

    There are far more than fifty shades of green here at Perfect Plants - but also out in the garden, even before the major growing season has taken off. And although we don’t need any red carpets to be able to enjoy entertainment of a 'green' kind (we are talking film premieres here), sometimes it’s good to have a timely reminder about how lucky we are here in the UK to have such a diverse choice of plants.

    Green roof shedPhoto of Robin (1)

    We are blessed with a favourable temperate climate due to the influences of the sea. Of course this means that the weather sometimes changes rapidly but summer and winter are constantly moderated by the prevailing south westerly winds and the close proximity of water. The soil down here in the south east consists of limestone, chalk and sandstone and there’s greensand ridge which runs to and from the East Sussex coast around the Weald which was once a dense forest.

    We might pay little attention to the soil beneath our feet but walkers enjoying tracks such as the Greensand Way which follows the Greensand Ridge across Surrey and Kent to the edges of Romney Marsh and down almost to the Kent coast will appreciate that it’s free-draining and therefore not quite so  muddy as some of the routes that trample on heavy clay. The greensand ridge gets its name from the green mineral glauconite – and yes this really does look green. <!--more-->  Soil containing this rather special substance can include up to 30 different trace minerals including silica and magnesia and it gives a great boost to the health of plants – having a high potash content and providing a source of potassium for the garden.

    This accounts for the fact that the area was historically selected for hundreds of plant nurseries such as our own. There are still a lot of fruit growers – as the Garden of England is blessed with excellent growing conditions. It was Henry VIII who praised the quality of a particularly delicious bowl of juicy local cherries, contributing to the Garden of England title which included its fame for orchards and allotments together with scenery, village traditions and variety of wildlife.

    So enjoy the season as spring shoots into view and soak up the sight of more than fifty shade of green – bearing in mind that March is generally expected to be one of the dryest months of the entire year and there’s absolutely no excuse for not venturing outside.

    What’s growing in and around the nurseries right now? Almost everything you can think of, from native wildflowers such as cowslips and primulas; alpines such as saxifrage, annuals including geranium, pelargonium, aubrieta and senetti; perennials, grasses, shrubs, trees and of course vegetables. There’s nothing dormant about this season, life is bursting forth with the vigour of a hungry lion. 
    PrimulaLady in Red fern

  • Fireworks in the garden - all autumn and through into winter!

    Love autumn? Here are some reasons why you should

    Worried that these short days won't bring you any joy? Fear not - there are fireworks to be found in the garden all winter long provided you keep looking for them. Who can possibly have missed the spectacular show that our beautiful trees are giving at the moment?

    Here at Perfect Plants we are charmed by the surrounding gently falling golden wafers and crimson gowns of glory that are dancing in gusts of wind that can sometimes take your breath away. Yes, it is the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ as so aptly described by Keats, but the changing colour of foliage is so much more exciting.

    Amazing Acers

    Stars of the outdoors are undoubtedly Acers in their resplendent attire. They include the aptly named Acer ‘Autumn Blaze’ and Acer rubrum which shine like beacons amongst a backdrop of autumn browns and evergreens. Did you know that an acid moist soil and a sunny spot for Acers will ensure the very best autumn colour?


    If we lived across the Atlantic we would term the practice of admiring trees ‘leaf peeping’, but although we can’t claim to rival New England in the fall, there are some trees and shrubs that should be sought out without delay. Amelanchier is one such large shrub.  Also known as the Juneberry or Snowy Mespilus, it gives one of the very best autumn shows with a fantastic fiery display which will stop you in your tracks. It also produces small autumn berries which are edible and can be used in jams or as an alternative to sloe gin.


    Then there’s the stately tree Liquidambar with its acer-like leaves. They turn the most vibrant shades of orange, crimson and purple in autumn as the green chlorophyll is broken down to reveal the underlying pigments. It’s anthocyanin, carotene and Xanthophyll that give autumn leaves their fireworks.

    Beautiful berries

    If you can bear to tear your eyes from the trees there are beautiful berries too. Cotoneaster might be associated by some with the ’horizontalis’ variety which tends to romp away if left unchecked. But there are other, more upright forms. They include frigidus ‘Cornubia’ which bears clusters of berries so huge that they weigh down the branches of the shrub. Our native spindle has also given rise to a few selections of stunners. They include Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’ which not only has spectacular autumn leaf colour but masses of fruit too.

    If you want to visit woods in order to take advantage of the autumn fireworks, try the Woodland Trust website: www.visitwoods.org.uk to find a wood near you. Type in your postcode to see what’s around. You can check out the ’10 of the best woods for autumn colour’.


    Can you name the trees and shrubs below?

    Email your answers to: info@perfectplants.co.uk. The person with the greatest number of correct species (in no particular order) will win a mystery prize. All entries to be received by 15 November 2014.

    Don't forget to give us your name and address.

    amelanchier autumn Cercis Forest Pansy Juglans black Liquidambar Nandina domestica Nyssa sylvatica Parrotia persica

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