Plant Now: Sea Holly


Sea holly (Eryngium planum) is a head turner, with its steely blue pincushion-like flower heads perched atop 80-120cm high stems. The blooms appear from around midsummer to late autumn and are long-lasting as a cut flower (fresh or dried), with fresh blooms lasting 10-12 days in the vase.

Eyrngiums are clump-forming perennials that thrive in full sun. They won’t tolerate any hint of waterlogging, so make sure your soil is free-draining. They’ll grow in most types of soil, including dry, sandy and poor soils, though plants may sprawl if the soil is overly fertile.

Look for plants at your local garden centre.

Image credits: Top image is by Richard Loader; middle image is via Whimsical Wonderland Weddings.

Plant Now: Iceland Poppies

Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) are short-lived perennials that are usually grown as annuals. They’re hardy plants that bloom in winter and early spring.

They’re stunningly beautiful up close, with their tissue-paper blooms and yellow stamens that surround a prominent central pistil. Both stalks and buds are covered in hairs, the stalk often arched over, with its bud pointing downwards. When the bud splits open, the stem straightens (though not always) and a beautiful bright or pale coloured flower is revealed. It’s amazing to watch, and equally amazing when you have a whole bed of these wonderful blooms.

Iceland poppies can be planted by seed or seedlings, though it may be a couple of months yet before you find the seedlings in the garden centres. Sow the seeds now ready for transplanting in a month or two.

Plant in a limed, free-draining soil in full sun. Water well to maintain growth. Iceland poppies are excellent cut flowers.

Photo credits, from top to bottom: Datura; Floret FlowersBlue Cloud Farm; Blue Cloud Farm; Bloom & Co.

Plant Now: Viburnum x burkwoodii


Viburnum x burkwoodii has richly fragrant, waxy, white spring flowers that open from pink buds. The flowers smell a little like vanilla ice cream, which is hands down my favourite.

In warmer areas it’s semi-evergreen in winter; in cooler areas it loses all its leaves. Either way, it’s a hardy plant that tolerates frosts. It can sometimes grow a little scraggly, but some of the named hybrids, like ‘Anne’ Russell’ (second from top), have a tidier shape.

The fully white viburnums are ideal for white gardens (obviously), like this Viburnum plicatum at Loseley House & Gardens (image second from bottom).

Viburnum x burkwoodii grows well in sun or light shade in well-drained soil. It’s not particularly fussy about soil type – acid or alkaline – which makes it easy to grow. Plants reach a height of 2-3m and its flowers are some of the most fragrant among all the viburnums.

Plant it by itself as a specimen tree or in amongst the borders as a foundation to smaller shrubs. This viburnum can also be grown as a hedge or espalier.

Autumn is a great time to plant viburnum, which are available from garden centres.

Image credits: The top image is from Style & the Bride. It features a spring bouquet by G Lily called ‘Shades of Pink’, with roses, genestra, veronica, viburnum and heather. The second image is from The Plant Store; the third image is from The Garden Show Online; the bottom image is from PhytoImages.

Plant Now: Verbascum


Verbascum phoeniceum is a tall-growing plant (to 90cm) that provides good height for the garden. You can see that in this Chelsea Flower Show garden with the purple flowers at the front. A perennial, it usually flowers in its second year, though some of the newer varieties will flower in their first year.

Hybrids are available in white, apricot, purple, soft lavender, peach and pink.

‘Southern Charm’ is a collection of beautiful soft colours from Kings Seeds. Sow seeds now and it will bloom for you in its first year. Verbascums prefer full sun.

How are your sunflowers doing?


I was too late planting my sunflowers this year, but next year I plan to be on time. I’ve written it in my diary. And I really want to plant something like this. Unfortunately, these images were taken overseas. We used to be able to get colours like this here, but I’m not sure they’re readily available any more.

The sunflower at the top is something like ‘Ms Mars’ or ‘Strawberry Blonde’ though the one shown here looks a little more purple.

The echinaceas in the bottom image look stunning too – though I don’t know what this variety is either.

I have purple flower envy right now.

Plant Now: Pansies


I truly love pansies. At least, I love the soft pink and deep purple pansies of this world. In pots or in the garden, they provide a modicum or mass of beautiful colour. Plant some up in small pots and hang them on gates and fences for a pretty display.

Sow seeds now for autumn and winter colour. Sow them in trays or pots for planting out when big enough.

Pansy ‘Ultima Purple Lace’, in the forth image from the top, has deep-purple velvety flowers with a fine silver lace edge. It’s a knock-out in the garden, ideal for beds or container growing, and even picking for small posies. Seeds are available from Egmont Seeds.

The second image is from Garten Zauber; the third image is from Jackson Pottery; the bottom image is from here.

Learn all you need to know about herbs


I’m offering my ONLINE HERB WORKSHOP again. And the good thing is, you can do it in your own time. There are no time pressures. No restraints. And you have total access to me throughout the course. You’ll learn:

  • Which herbs are best for stress, anxiety and sleep problems (and which don’t work at all)
  • How to make your own natural herbal beauty products, cleaning products and perfumes.
  • The effect of cooking with herbs – and what vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are lost during cooking.
  • How to grow, propagate, harvest and preserve your own herbs.
  • How to grow herbs for flowers


What people have said about the course:

Hi Jane!

I had to drop a line and tell you how much I love this magazine!  It’s the most beautiful and inspiring read I’ve had for a while! The content is very high standard and the recipes!…can’t wait to try those magnificent cakes! Thanks as well for the first module of the Herb Course – I’m just going through it again and revising now – so well written and referenced – what a great way to start learning – fabulous value!
– Poppy

I thoroughly enjoyed Module 4 and can see I will this one too. Thank you so much for making these available online.
– Bev

Module 6 is brilliant! Very informative and helpful – and the table of 25 Herbs to Propagate is just what I’ve been looking for. I’ve started planning a herb collection so this is so useful in terms of choosing what I’ll be planting. I also never thought of planting cumin or cardamom, but I will now, as I use those spices all the time! Keep up the great work, Jane – and thanks again!
– P

I’m really enjoying the modules. They’re really interesting and easy to read.
– Stef

There are six modules to this course, and one module is sent once a week. But you do not have to complete the module in a week. You can read it any time you like. If you don’t want to read it until next year, that’s fine!



Plant Now: Borage


Borage (Borago officinalis) seeds can still be sown for their small intense blue flowers. Bees go potty for the flowers, so keep it close to plants that need pollinating. Sow seeds directly in the ground, in sun or part shade.

Borage is great for the vase – a star on its own or for setting off the other flowers.

Image from Valdirose blog.

Christmas crown


Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you have a safe and happy holiday. Best wishes for a happy New Year! A Christmas crown from Walk in Love.

Table wreath


A beautiful table wreath for any occasion, though with its pinecones and berries it makes a gorgeous centrepiece for the Christmas table. From The Real Flower Company.