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Top 20 gardening trends 2015


Top gardening trends for 2015 feature by Matthew Appleby, as seen in January 2015 in Amateur Gardening and Daily Telegraph
Big pots.
Bigger plants with longer-term impact are what most growers and garden centres are concentrating on. Thompson & Morgan’s Paul Hansord says in 2015 garden centre customers will be looking for bigger plants ”so they don’t have to do so much work”. This all ties in with the upsurge in sales of big (3 litre plus) planted containers and instant colour and the decline in sales of pack bedding, which is seen as hard work in the garden.
Shade sales
Climate change means too much sun for the kids. Fears of skin cancer are greater Down Under, meaning shade sails are almost obligatory in parks and gardens. The sails former useful shelters from rain too, so may prove to be multi-use in the UK, where they are becoming increasingly popular.
Grow for taste.
The ubiquitous James Wong’s Grow for Flavour book is published in March 2015. Sutton’s is launching a James Wong plant range including cucumelon, inca berry and indigo rose in 2015.
Making gardens simple.
The Horticultural Trades Association is running a marketing campaign called Love the Plot You’ve Got, aiming to demystify gardening. Two container trucks will travel round the UK showing gardeners how to transform their plots cheaply and easily, featuring portable plants, aiming to be doable even if the reluctant gardener lives in rented homes.

In the US, several states have legalised cannabis. In the UK, there is pressure from the Greens and pressure groups to make ‘weed’ legal. Global warming means you could grow dope in your back yard. US gardening books charts are filled with marijuana and mushroom guides. The UK is still hung up on how to grow unusual veg at unusual times of the year. No wonder no-one buys UK gardening books anymore. Go figure, as the Yanks would say. Spacey man, Far out. Zzz.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Yotam Ottolenghi have produced healthy eating books, after years of recession-induced dirty burger and comfort food trends. This marks the end of an era in which gardening fits in well – you can grow your own ultimate meat-free food (fruit and veg) to meet the meat-free fashion. Some 12 per cent of adults and 20 per cent of 16-24 year olds are now vegetarian says Mintel. The meat-free food market has grown from £543m in 2009 to a projected £657m in 2014. That Tom Parker Bowles has produced a book called Eating Meat probably proves that eating meat is out.

Hanging gardens.
If you’re short of space, use the ceiling. For instance, from Boskke, there are ‘sky planter’ cubes that are taking off because they fill rare empty spaces in small flats. Also for those tight on space, mini plants in goldfish bowls – cacti, succulents and asparagus ferns, often in terrarium glass containers, are trending. And Squire’s Garden Centres is also launching a range of indoor mini gardens combining cacti, orchids and succulents arranged in wooden frames that are designed for hanging on the wall.

International garden expos.
Remember Gateshead, Liverpool and the other garden expos in the 1980s? Expos are attracting more interest in countries where the concept of green cities means more than in Europe, because so many people live in flats. Qingdao in China is an example, where 1.68m tickets were sold. Perhaps it’s time for the UK to take heed, with more flats without gardens being built. Brit garden designers are certainly cashing in on their fame by designing at shows such as Singapore and Melbourne, the Chelseas of the east.
They were big at Chelsea 2014. David Hedges-Gower wants to be TV’s lawn guru and has written a book called Modern Lawn Care on the subject. It’s time to stop the wave of artificial grass and go back to greener, cooler, more versatile real grass.
Planting by colour.
Garden centres are increasingly selling plants by theme or colour, rather than by their name, laid out from A-Z. Themes could be shade-loving or suitable for dry gardens. Colour themes are more and more linked to fashion trends too.
Gardening by demographics.
Retailers are now marketing plants and products by looking at how rich the typical punter local to them is. Waitrose, Next Home & Garden and Blue Diamond are leaders at this. The AB1 gardening customer is better catered for these days as these savvy retailers develop their high-end horticulture offers and open new outlets.

Buying online.

Using your smart phone to check prices of products you like the look of in garden centres and then buying it online.

Plants: Sunflower, echeveria, hydrangea, nasturtiums and fuchsias. Some retro chic here and some promotion-led ideas.

Anniversaries include the Magna Carta (1215), Agincourt (1415), the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and the Women’s Institute (1915). Expect to see everything from show gardens to school gardens commemorating these.
More blow up Halloween and Christmas inflatables, and outdoor lights/signs etc for these events in people’s garden/stuck to their houses.
In 2014, poppies were the on-trend flower, because of the centenary of the start of the Great War. In 2015, it’s sunflowers – but no-one really knows why. Fleuroselect, the international Organisation for the Ornamental Plants Industry, decided its first annual marketing campaign to get behind a single plant should be for the sunflower – so that’s what’s going to happen.
Portable gardening. Pots and urban jungles. More people are living in homes without gardens -1.5 million fewer people than in 2007. More people are renting too – home ownership in London for instance is down from 61 per cent to 43 per cent in six years – , so are reluctant to maintain the landlord’s garden. Around the country the end of the recession means house-building is taking off, but postage stamp-sized gardens (or half tennis court-sized more accurately) are the norm. This means the only gardening options are planting in small spaces, planting in pots and gardening indoors. So, high impact big planted containers, hanging baskets and, indoors, hanging garden ‘sky planters’ and terrariums filled with cacti and asparagus ferns are in. Bedding takes up space and takes effort, so there’s less pack bedding being sold year-on-year.
Grow your own as a trend peaked years ago, but around the edges little plant breeding developments are always going on. Sweet potatoes are now more widely available as plug plants from garden centres and could be the next big thing in home grown veg for gardeners. Bonita, Evangeline and Murashi varieties are new. More interesting squash and pumpkins than butternuts will be on the market too.
Peat and pesticide use is up in 2014 and there’s no reason why that trend won’t carry on in 2015. Slug killer sales were at record levels, (up 50 per cent in 2014 according to industry analysts GfK) and that will carry over if the winter is mild and the pests over-winter, while peat use is up with six million cubic metres harvested in 2013 and 2014 after wet weather hit harvest in 2012, when just 1.5m cubic metres was dug up. New peaty composts from Bord na Mona and Thompson & Morgan were launched in 2014. A new square grow bag called the GroQube, from Sinclair, will be on the market in 2015, designed for deeper rooting tomatoes. It’s 50 per cent peat.
Different looking gardens at Chelsea Flower Show. There are signs people, including Crocus’ Peter Clay, are getting bored of drifts of grass. Crocus has built and grown for the best in show and a host of gold medal winners annually for 20 years. This year Crocus is building for Dan Pearson (Laurent Perrier garden) and Marcus Barnett (Daily Telegraph garden). Media campaigns to have more women designers at Chelsea. There’s been too few for too long, considering more than half of the UK’s garden designers (according to Society of Garden Design membership figures) are female. Most years only three or four (out of 15 or 16) make the show garden cut – and only one or two women’s gardens are on the ‘best’ side of the Chelsea show garden avenue in prime position.

Buy British. That old mantra is back, and is being pushed by the BBC and RHS, which wants to make the Chelsea floral marquee more media-friendly by grouping reluctant nurseries into ‘Best of British’ and ‘Floral Continents’ themed areas, which lend themselves to “stories and theatre”.

Informing gardeners. One grower told me people call the advice line to say their roses won’t grow. Turns out they’ve planted it upside down, with the roots sticking out of the soil. The Garden Industry Marketing Board (GIMB) says a lost post-Groundforce generation doesn’t know anything about gardening, so they need to be sold garden leisure products and outdoor lifestyle ideas rather than plants, which they will probably kill. GIMB will be touring city centres in a battle bus showing simple examples of easy-to-make leisure gardens.
I expect to see more gardens closing in bad weather. The follows the Kew cedar death court case of 2014, when Erena Wilson was killed by a falling branch. The coroner found no fault with Kew, and dismissed suggestions from tree experts that ‘summer branch drop’ was to blame. But expect more signs, closures and cordoned off areas after gardens were given a wake-up call by the publicity surrounding the case.
Arise Sir Alan. A prediction. Retiring Kingfisher boss Sir Ian Cheshire has been appointed to the honours advisory board. Alan Titchmarsh used to front Kingfisher-owned B&Q’s gardening campaigns.
Kew is following up its recent ‘drugs’ exhibition (actually intoxicating plants) with a spice show that could lead to spice growing, er, growing.
Lights. Garden centres now sell shed loads of solar lights. The trend this winter is LED pictures of snowy wintry scenes.
Remember meerkats? Lifesize realistic statues of the rodents still sell well for those who like to decorate their gardens with the creatures, rather than the traditional gnome, which is now so completely out of fashion it is only bought by ironic east London hipster types. New for 2015 are wild British birds from Vivid Arts – lifesize and bigger for garden display. Watch out for ospreys hanging out of your neighbours trees.

Amateurs – The RHS and BBC TV are holding a competition for an amateur to design a Chelsea Flower Show garden. More garden features about standard back yards rather than remarkable gardens that you can visit.
Plants: Hydrangea. New breeding is leading the category, as seen at Chelsea with the plant of the year Miss Saori, which was a bit blousy for some. That was a Japanese-bred Dutch-grown variety. But UK growers are using biomass boilers, which attract Government subsidies, to grow their own. Deep Purple is another that will be high profile in 2015. Echeveria was a relatively little-known genus outside the cactus and succulent collectors’ world, but has undergone a renaissance and have now hit the mainstream. Echeverias are frost tender evergreen, rosette shaped succulents which are found in an enormous range of striking colours, with the leaves ranging from pastel to purple. Old fashioned blooms such as carnations are heading for a comeback, driven by the revival in homegrown cut flower growing. Nasturtiums and fuchsias are back too.

Hedging. A boring part of the garden that grower Hillier wants to reinvigorate. Why have a fence when you can have a hedge, ask Hillier MD Andy McIndoe? Fences blew down in their thousands in winter 2014. Amongst their other attributes, hedges don’t usually blow down.

Garden Media Guild awards blog

Garden Media Guild awards gossip.

1. Back to the Savoy a one-off I hear. Landscape Show’s Jeremy Storey Walker is taking over for 2015.
2. Better organisation and award winners this year. But one or two stinkers. As ever, for many categories it’s down to who judges and whether they know much about their area, rather than the entries.
3. Lady Cobham made a speech in her role as Visit England chair. She is better known as the person in the cab when David Mellor called the cabbie a sweaty, stupid little etc. Much discussion on the mysterious appeal of DM.
4. James Alexander Sinclair’s speech which was lovely and light-hearted with lots of references to his associates’ lederhosen. Last year there was a story in Dr Hessayon’s speech. No stories this year from the stage.
5. Petra Hoyer Millar is standing down as GMG judge’s chair with successor appointed in Jan.

6. Miranda Hart wasn’t there (nor was Monty Don, Titchmarsh, Christine Walkden, Seabrook, Tom Hart Dyke or Marc Rosenberg -who sent me a pic of all his awards on his bog wall next to his Red Arrows calendar – to name a random few) but Chas out of Chas and Dave was. He’s planning a TV gardening allotment show. But who isn’t? Most other TV gardeners were there, hoping that their episode of Great British Gardens Revival had won. James Wong and R de Thame’s show was winner. Carol Klein got on stage to help celebrate.

6. One prominent TV gardener’s book was was re-written for them after submission but was still awful, I’m told.
7. Goodie bag was a bit sparse. I liked Gordon Castle cider, Joe’s garden gloves, Yorkshire tea, Burgon & Ball dibber.
8. A new Piet Oudolf garden has an ‘exclusive’ for one garden mag, I’m told by an outraged hack.

9. Wednesday shift from Thurs for awards meant Telegraph weren’t there because it’s Sat gardening supplement’s press day.

9.5 I’ve been trying to write book reviews in the style of the book reviews you get outside gardening magazines. My first review, rather than listing the book’s contents and saying how much I liked it (as all gardening book reviews do), set the book in context then criticized elements of it for being repetitive, woolly, derivative etc. For the second review, the books ed asked me to talk the book up, which I did. The author emailed me to say thanks.

10. Anyway, highlights of 2014: doing a triathlon, winning GMG news award for this, doing Grasmere guides race, writing a load of big stories, Allotment Planner doing well, writing gardening book two (out with Frances Lincoln in spring 2016) and,bkNEWS-STORY-OF-THE-YEAR-WINNERS (1)rosen er, well there’s still nearly a month to go.

Chelsea Flower Show blog


Word at Chelsea -are the much-vaunted influx of new designers any different to the old?

opmmmmThere’s two features about imported trees bringing in pests and diseases. And about 102 show features featuring imported trees. Hopefully becomes an issue this year when Defra minister turns up.
The RHS is not issuing steel toe-capped boots this year. Also on fashion…
Top celebs: Twiggy, Lily Cole, Georgie May Jagger, Lizzy Jagger, Jerry Hall, Erin O’Connor, Sir Paul Smith. All fashion types. Supporting Gucci, House of Fraser and M&S. Helen Mirren and Ringo Starr get some attention usually. Ian Gillan, Sandie Shaw and Matt Johnson from music (as well as Ringo). Designer Hugo Bugg’s cousin Jake Bugg is not coming. The best act playing is The Barron Knights (really). In the tent, everyone is… sheltering from the rain. Tim Penrose has three stands, for Bowden Hostas, Rickards Ferns and PW Bamboo aiming for first CFS triple gold. Some not given space could be unhappy. Chelsea security say designers are rudest about not being let in. “Everyone hates me”, he adds. There’s a new £2.5m drainage system, roads and kerbs being tested by the deluges in the run up to Chelsea, Royal Hospital head garden Ron tells me. There were loads of puddles/floods when I was there. TV coverage. MA to BBC.  Can you give me Countdown to Chelsea details (started on BBC1 on 12 May)? BBC: Chelsea coverage starts on 18 May. MA: What about Countdown to Chelsea? BBC: No answer. The BBC has 147 press officers.

Expect big patrons appearance and not just the Queen at the forces/WW1 gardens. A Help for Heroes patron is garden hater…Jeremy Clarkson. Someone said they’ve seen Prince Andrew lurking too.


1. Cleve West– odds on
Luciano Guibbelei – 2/1
Telegraph 5/2
Andrew Wilson 3/1
Hugo Bugg 9/2
Matt Childs 5/1
Adam Frost 8/1
Rowe 9/1
Rich Brothers 10/1
Keightley 10/1
Stoke 10/1

Rest 12/1
Titchmarsh-not being judged

2. Chelsea themes:
Young designers v old designers. The show has several under-30 designers. Better-known names aren’t there. Chelsea lack well-known designers. Are they off doing overseas shows? Ex RHS show bosses Sweet and Bennett are working on/looking at involvement in overseas shows.
Hillier 150th anniversary
Italian designers. Imported trees and pest and disease. Oak processionary moth garden. A garden hanging from a tree.
Titchmarsh not presenting after 30 years. Will Monty Don interview him at AT’s hastily arranged Britain in Bloom garden (ordered plants six months after everyone else)? Will AT’s (unjudged) garden be any good? Will Jon Wheatley’s In Bloom garden, planned well before the Rhs got AT on board, get as much attention as deserved?
Tour de France/Tour de Yorkshire and yellow flowers.
Nurseries getting dropped by RHS and high price tickets.
Gucci garden and better economy at CFS.
Touts. Titchmarsh effect.
Plants six weeks ahead so new plants at the show.
Plant of the year-previous winner T&M not given a marquee stand.
New show director after 28 years.

3. Squirrels are bad says survey.

4. Looking forward to Tony Smith‘s freestyle turf sculpture competition at Hampton Court.

5. Worst CFS celeb. Kirstie Allsopp.

6. Lust garden at Hampton court

7. Nude gardening

8. Article of the week. Alys’ stylealys

A great article in the Express on vintage fashion and Alys. And the hard sell on garden centre retail from AF.

9.  Garden ornaments: rabbits are the new meerkats, which were the new gnomes. rab

10. Does right wing garden press use more ‘out there’ garden writers than left wing press? You’d have thought it would be the other way round.

11. I felt flattered by May ‘s RHS The Garden article on CFS plant of the year’s benefit to the trade.

12. I was amazed the piece on Titch reaction to being dropped by BBC for Chelsea made all the papers because I thought that had been done months ago.

13. This is still the best CFS piece so far. National media not very interested in issues or gardening.

14. Wisley has some letters mown into the grass along the lines of gardening is wonderful etc. A bit like the old Britain in Bloom ‘Welcome to Keswick’ apart from rebranded as ‘turf tattoos’.

15. Sorry I missed former Garden Design Journal editor Jackie Bennett’s course on garden writing at City Lit last week. “We will look at common mistakes and discuss the differences between different styles of writing to help participants attain a professional standard of garden writing.”

14. thinkingardens supper next Sunday
The burning question debated…
Are gardens unnatural?
Seems an easy question to me.

15. Tuesday 27th May – ‘How to eat from your garden’, with Tom Aikens and Pinterest
55 million people use Pinterest every month to discover, organize and do things that inspire them.

As summer approaches, there’s been a rise in people planning what they’re going to grow in their garden, and how they’ll cook with it.
This class will make you a master of local sourcing, and help you to guide readers to make the most of their gardens in the next few months.

On the night, you’ll learn how make three signature dishes created by Tom plus have the opportunity to cook your very own dish.

Tom will demonstrate how to use homegrown vegetables and herbs in these dishes, so if you’re a budding Alan Titchmarsh, we encourage you to bring along herbs and/or cherry tomatoes from your garden.


Here are Food Tank’s 18 summer “must reads” for your tablet or bookshelf:

Agri-culture: Reconnecting People, Land and Nature
by Jules Pretty
This book takes an in-depth look at the issues enveloped in the agriculture and food systems. Pretty emphasizes changing behaviors and reforming policies in order for an agricultural revolution to take place. He draws on stories of successful agricultural transformation in both developing and industrialized countries, calling on the next agricultural revolution.

Cooperative Farming: Frameworks for Farming Together
by Faith Gilbert
Gilbert designed this 54-page guidebook through interviews with 42 start-up and established collaborative farm projects across North America. She gathered input from 18 professionals and advisors, and 50 publications in cooperative development, farm business, finance, land access and more. This book highlights processes that make collaborations effective and function in order to provide mutual satisfaction and benefits.

Don’t Cook the Planet: Deliciously Saving the Planet One Meal at a Time
by Emily Abrams
An 18 year old activist from Massachusetts, Abrams new cookbook features 70 recipes shared by celebrity and all-star chefs including, actor, producer and eco-activist Chevy Chase, MasterChef judge and acclaimed chef, Graham Elliot, and Stephanie Izard, Top Chef Star and executive chef at Girl & the Goat. This cookbook offers recipes and tips on how to minimize your carbon footprint. Abrams hope to impact her generation through this cookbook featuring positive food choices.

Eating Wildly
by Ava Chin
Follow Chin in this touching and informative memoir as she forages for food in New York City. Chin is an “urban forager” on the quest for eating better, eating healthier, and more sustainably, regardless of location. She takes the reader on an emotional journey- finding solace in parks and backyards where she connects with rare and delicious edible plants. Her experiences in nature enliven taste buds and stir emotions.

Fields of Hope and Power
by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe
Fields of Hope and Power is a chapter from the upcoming Navdanya book on agroecological movements, living democracy, and the limits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and industrial agriculture. This chapter takes an in-depth look at food scarcity and how agriculture and climate affect this issue. The Lappes investigate how the farmers at Navdanya have contributed to setting up the largest direct marketing fair trade organic network in India.

Foods for Health: Choose and Use the Very Best Foods for Your Family and Our Planet
by Barton Seaver and P.K Newby
Seaver and Newby have created a science-based guide to healthy eating for the whole family which features tips, food pairings, and sample menus. The authors take the reader on a culinary tour of 148 foods which have high nutritional value and the least environmental impact. This book teaches readers how to prepare healthy food and meals while making the best choice for their body and the planet.

Food Systems Failure: The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture
by Christopher Rosin, Paul Stock, and Hugh Campbell
The authors provide a critical assessment of the global food system during heightened food crisis and feeding a growing population. This book explores contraindications in policy and practice that hinder solutions to the food crisis. Case studies expose neoliberal policies involved with the production end of the food system which provides insight to the current challenges for feeding the world. Rosin, Stock, and Campbell provide alternative strategies to create a more just and moral food system.

Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity
by Lester R. Brown
Brown exposes the planet’s volatile food system with eroding soils, rising temperatures, and countries competing for land and water resources. He writes, “food is the new oil.” Political up rise and food scarcity are concerning issues, which Brown addresses and presents solutions to.

Grabbing Power: The New Struggles for Land, Food and Democracy in Northern Honduras
by Tanya M. Kerssen
This book explores the history of agribusiness and land conflicts in Northern Honduras. In the Aguan Valley, Honduran peasants battle large palm oil producers and fight for democratization of land, food, and political power. Kerssen shows how peasants in crime and drug laden communities are leading a strong and inspiring movement, with no signs of backing down.

In the Garden: A Botanically Illustrated Gardening Book
by Sandra Lynn McPeake
Great for the coffee or kitchen table, this book includes basic growing information and detailed images of vegetable growth cycles from seedlings to the inside of veggies. McPeake provides gardening tips, supplies growers will need, and how to keep a gardening journal. Learn to share and grow with this illustrated guide.

Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America
by Douglas Gayeton
A guide to more than 200 agriculture terms explained by experts in the field and complemented by stunning visuals, this book explores rebuilding local food movements. Gayeton traveled the U.S. taking photos and learning from today’s top sustainability practitioners to create this reference book.

Savor: Mindful Eating for Life
by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung
This book will make you stop and think about your eating habits and patterns. Buddhist monk, Hanh, and nutritional expert, Dr. Cheung discuss how to become more aware and mindful of our bodies, drawing special attention to how we eat. This book explores the physical, emotional, psychological, and environmental factors which control our weight.

Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity
by Barbara Burlingame and Sandro Dernini
This publication, by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), investigates the link between sustainable diets and biodiversity. It addresses the relationship between agriculture, health, environment, and food industries- indicating the most sustainable diets have low environmental impacts. This text can be used as a reference for policy, research, and action.

Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide
by Juliana Birnbaum and Louis Fox
This book is a collection of profiles, interviews, and essays which feature 60 innovative community based projects around the globe in diverse climates. Birnbaum and Fox visited communities all around the world looking for ecological design systems. From urban gardeners to native seed-saving collectives to ecovillage developments the common thread that weaves these thriving communities together is permaculture systems.

The Arcadia Mobile Market Seasonal Cookbook
by JuJu Harris
This cookbook incorporates Women Infants and Children (WIC) staples along with seasonal produce to create easy and delicious recipes. Harris, Arcadia Culinary Educator and Mobile Market Outreach Coordinator, wanted to create healthy and nutritious recipes around WIC provisions. What started out as a simple compilation of recipes has turned into a successful business venture, Harris plans to offer a Spanish version later this year.

The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock
by Tony Weis
Weis discusses the “meatification” of human diets and the adverse impact it has on the earth and human health. Weis believes the conversion of grain and oilseed into meat is inefficient in a world striving to provide a basic diet to those chronically hungry. He explains why the growth and industrialization of livestock production is a central part of industrial capitalist agriculture.

The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food
by Dan Barber (Coming Soon!)
This book explores Barber’s vision for a new future of American eating. After a decade of research on farming communities throughout the world, Barber concludes America’s food needs a radical transformation to ensure the future of our health, food, and land. From his restaurant’s kitchen to farmers’ fields, Barber’s experiences lead him to propose a “third plate”- a new pattern of eating rooted in cooking with and celebrating the whole farm.

We the Eaters
by Ellen Gustafson (Coming Soon!)
Gustafson explores how eaters and consumers can transform the global food system by changing what is on their dinner plates. The book investigates the global industrial food system using the classic American dinner as a template and provides actionable solutions to start ripple effects of change. The book’s manifesto is: If we change dinner, we change the world

Allotment planner, pinterest and twitter gardening, garden books, nude gardeners

ma signing skinny

1. A couple of people have asked for this to return. Here’s my latest Allotment Planner review.
“Hit google for better tips, it cold have been so much more, but seems to be a vanity publishing exercise.”
better is John Harrison @allotmentjohn **** The Allotment Planner by @mattapple1 | Huge thanks to @allotmentjohn for the review | allotment-garden.org/store/books/bo… pic.twitter.com/23zsk385rH

2. Anyway the book has reprinted and is selling v well thanks. Particularly in comparison to the market. Latest Bookseller mag shows:
Gardening book sales were £5.6m in 2013, down five per cent on 2012 and 62 per cent on 2003, when sales topped £14.5m.
Volume (-18 per cent) and value (-16 per cent) sales dropped in the first quarter of 2014.
Dr Hessayon is doing best with his sales doubling to 35,000 in Q1 2014 compared to 17,000 in Q1 2013. He retired last year, saying  to me Google was influencing where gardeners got their tips.

3. Was at Harrogate Flower Show recently. The latest Dalesman lists top 75 Yorkshire icons. Alan Titchmarsh, who apparently had £500 in the envelope he donated to Perennial earlier this year, says his life has been ‘enriched’ by Alan Bennett, who is no.7. Yorkshire pudding is no.1. I’d have Geoffrey Boycott higher, though I’m glad Peter Sutcliffe didn’t make the cut. Fountains Abbey, N. Yorks Moors, Brontes, Dales, York Minster, Wensleydale cheese, Whitby Abbey and Yorks tea make up top 10. Spoke to Titch at recent Waitrose press launch about religion, Chelsea and novels. Asked him if people asked him gardening questions at his book signings. He said no and his novels sold very well thanks.

4. Benny from BBC3’s Invasion of the Job Snatchers has been retweblogmeespgardiner11 March 14 IoH YHoY Wisley (63)eting me. IOFTS is a great show and features Stewarts Gardenlands in Christchurch. Employers take on disadvantaged unemployed youth and try and train them up. The youth were staying in Greg Howe’s house in Southbourne near my in-laws. Talking of young people, I was at YoungHort event at Wisley recently, trying to avoid trying to be a cool old person (some did this by swearing at the kids for effect) trying to impress the kids, who would probably admit they aren’t generally that cool. Pictured above is my, Dennis Espley and Jim Gardiner at young hort of the year heats at Wisley doing a quiz.  We were second.

5. Garden book seller Mike Park has done his last RHS show. Saw him at the RHS awards recently where I sat with Brum council and John Sales. Also went to RHS Cardiff Flower Show. AFT won best in show. I couldn’t really find any RHS staff to talk to. At Harrogate ex RHS shows guy Bob Sweet was judging. He’s doing overseas shows.

6. Robert Downey jr likes Petersham Nurseries. Tim Booth from James once came into my parents’ shop. Who is your more famous customer? Joan Collins goes to Chelsea Gardener, for example.

7. Some stories that helped hort. Allotments. Being sold off.
Also fence  shortage, British cut flowers that aren’t.times

Also, gardens closing cos of bad weather more often. Cos this was in The Times which is gated, yr people who only know what’s going on via twitter didn’t see this.

8. Men top garden jobs weed, mow, dig, weedkiller. Women-chose plants, water, dead head, plant, trim (Hozelock survey)

9. I did a triathlon recently where I bumped into Guardian’s Kate Carter, who I last saw at a Leuchuza press event in Soho. It was the Womble triathlon in Wimbledon  I asked KC if she was writing about it, which always makes editors run a mile cos they think you’re ‘pitching.’ I nearly drowned swimming 14 lengths of Kings College pool.  But I caught up a few later. KC beat me.

10. Talking of Soho and Wimbledon, there was a fruit fly launch there recently. The Grocer says they will stop strawberries being available at Wimbledon. They won’t.

11. QVC has sold its 500,000th Flower Power pack.

12. Peter Seabrook is going to have a 50th year in industry bash. I went to his 30th Sun party, which had some famous  guests such as Rebecca Brooks. Don’t know if she’ll be at the 50th. Seab reminds me of Richie Benaud.

13. Latest RHS ambassador is the charmless Nick Knowles. A list is doing the rounds of who the RHS might pick next and includes unlikely figures such as Edna Everage, Lily Savage etc. Do you have any amusing additions?

14. Apparently there was a C4 TV show called Fruity Stories in 1996 featuring David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd, the ex Cumberland cricketer.

15. LSL Property Press Awards 2014
The winners of the LSL Property Press Awards 2014 have been announced as follows:

Garden Writer of the Year
Winner: Bunny Guinness, The Sunday Telegraph, Life
Silver: Pattie Barron, Freelance Journalist
Bronze: Caroline Donald, The Sunday Times

16. I was at the Edible Garden Show recently doing a Q&A on stage sandwiched between James Wong (who said he was glad it wasn’t interviewing him at an event recently which I’ll take in a Paxman way) and Christine Walkden. Among guests I roped in were Craig Sams. Big Allotment Challenge people turned up to watch. Also saw Green and Black/Carbon Gold founder CS at Gardening Against the Odds at Syon Park recently. He’s doing QVC. Christopher Woodward from Garden Museum told me at the event my swimming times were very slow.

17. Martyn Cox in Mail mentions 24/11/83 on TOTP when he saw The Smiths with their gladioli. Good reference.

18. Beth Chatto says her fave flower is a snowdrop

19. Kew is cutting costs by making 125 back office, scientific and other staff redundant. One way to cut staff is by using a new IT system. It’s the Agresso system, we use at Haymarket. It’s not very good IMHO.

20. BBC types are turning up in the oddest places in the north after Beeb’s move to Salford. Saw the One Show’s Alex Riley who has moved to West Kirby. Also saw Kevin Pietersen with Jess from Hearsay and their kid on Wimbledon Common.

21. At my kids school, the school allotment has now been incorporated into thewim school curriculum and enriches the children’s learning environment. We made some raised beds on the open day. Maybe I should do a kids’ garden book, now I know all about publishing.

22. Big Allotment Challenge. Who is producer and what is venue for this please? Are presenters the same as series one? Why don’t production co/current venue know there is a second series?
We can’t confirm a second series…
I can tell you the venue, producers and presenters are the same

There is second series despite falling figures for series one. Maybe my predictions and promotions didn’t help.

23. Part of Grubby Gardeners Nude garden day is (pictured here with a giant nipple) skinnyjeansgardeners . “We collaborate and create awesomeness with our homies from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Suffolk based farmer Jimmy Doherty and Thompson & Morgan to name but a few.”


24. I’ve sent a £30 cheque to a Thinkinggardens ‘supper’ address for an event just before Chelsea in Soho. I’d been invited but found out it was because someone said I wanted to go. Also going to Fera – Simon Rogan’s new resto at Claridges. Note to self. Must clean shoes (for Fera not the other thing).

25. Is gardening religious? # unpublished

It’s Easter and gardeners are in horticulture heaven. A long spring weekend to get the garden sorted stretches ahead.
Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar.
So can gardening and religion marry during this upcoming weekend?
Alan Titchmarsh has revealed that his Christian faith is the reason he gardens.
“I often use the word missionary in terms of missionary zeal trying to convert people who garden to realise they’re at the sharp end of conservation and landscape management and caring fro the environment. It’s not just sowing and weeding. It’s about that dreadful word sustainability.
“It is a passion of mine. It’s given me so much stimulation and solace. Look what you can do, not just for you. For me it’s a personal thing. Yes, I have a faith but it’s not something I ram down people’s throats. What it does for me is it keeps me in touch with reality and gardening is reality. My garden is the real world where things flower and are beautiful. There’s all the doom and gloom on the news and it’s of our own making but it’s not necessarily real life. I look out of the window and see an oak still growing and that’s the real world.
“I’m not a Pollyanna. I’m as realistic as the next man but the ethos of gardening is the purity of purpose.
“To create a garden for me is the most satisfying of pursuits. Spiritually it’s the best thing going. Education, health and law and order the three things the Government goes on about but letting off steam open spaces defers anger and has a positive impact on law and order.”
Horticultural consultant and lay preacher John Adlam says the oldest profession is not what you think it is. The oldest profession is gardening – Adam was a gardener. He adds that Easter is all about a new start, new beginnings and resurrection.
The Bible helps religious gardeners feel good about their hobby.
“Easter is time for seed sowing. A seed is put into the ground before it will germinate and become a delightful bloom (John 12-24). Jesus died to cancel the sin of mankind and it was His resurrection that gave Him the power to do that. Jesus is now bringing new life, colour and joy to people, only because He died and rose again.”
Garden centre inspector Roger Crookes adds to the theme. He says: “We are helping folks to fulfil two of the first ‘commandments’ that appears in Genesis – long before the famous 10 commandments appeared. That is: to look after the planet, and to look after the garden/cultivate the soil.
“Man has always had an affinity with plants and gardening and cultivation. So many of the stories and Parables of the Bible involve plants) – no other creature has developed that skill. We are helping people to be ‘fully human’ by encouraging them to grow plants.”
Green shoots of recovery –post flood, post recession, post winter – are in the air at this time of the year.
What’s more, the Easter Egg hunt has a Biblical reference too: “Seek and you will find.” (Matthew 7 – 7).

26. Book review (*unpublished).

Dr DG Hessayon
The New Vegetable & Herb Expert
£8.99 Expert Books

Dr Hessayon has written his last book, an updated edition of his 6.1 million-selling Veg & Herb guide. At 86, the author of more than 50 gardening ‘Expert’ guides, is retiring.
He has sold 54m gardening books. More than two-thirds of people who own a gardening book own an ‘Expert’.
Many garden centres now only stock Hessayon’s books (other than remainders).
While this final book holds few surprises, Hessayon’s impact on garden writing will live on.
He has played the media pretty well over the last 55 years.
The Essex-based former PBI chief scientist doesn’t really give interviews and appears quite reclusive.
He’s the (Lake District guide author) Alfred Wainwright of gardening books, with his year’s of low public profile, idiosyncratic old-fashioned book design, and a career of curmudgeonly, single-minded determination to cover a subject comprehensively.
Hessayon said on his retirement that Google information meant garden books sales were lower than they once had been. If you want to know something, you look it up on the internet. This has fundamentally changed the whole non-fiction publishing industry, not just gardening books.
For instance, secondhand monographs of a single plant genus, once a mainstay of the market, now even have little secondhand value, and new editions are much less often published.
What is published has to have something you can’t Google – or it doesn’t sell.
Another telling tale was the reaction to news stories of Hessayon’s retirement late in 2013. It was in a speech at the Garden Media Guild awards Hessayon hinted he had written his last guide. Several famous garden writers tweeted that Hessayon’s speech was not exactly what was reported in the newspapers. What this shows is famous garden writers were too busy thinking about their next tweet to ask Hessayon a bit more about whether he was hanging up his pen. And that shows how garden writing has changed since Hessayon’s debut in 1959 – millions of words of instant uninformed reaction rather than solid, boring old research is what gets most attention these days.

Here are Food Tank’s 16 spring “must reads” for your bookshelf (in alphabetical order).

Allotment Planner by Matthew Appleby. Revolutionary guide to post-allotment gardening.

Blessing the Hand that Feeds Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us About Food, Community, and Our Place on Earthby Vicki Robin
Bestselling author Vicki Robin pledges to eat only food sourced from within a ten-mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Washington for a whole month. This challenging diet is eye opening in more ways than she originally thought, exposing society’s dependence on high sugar and high fat foods and revealing major faults in the food industry. But this is a story of hope—Robin discovers a new sense of community as she befriends neighboring farmers and receives support in her personal challenge.

Browsing Nature’s Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs by Wendy Brown and Eric Brown
This is the story of one American suburban family’s quest to close the gap between what they can provide for their family and what a family actually needs to survive. Wendy and Eric Brown spend a year integrating foraged, wild foods into their family’s everyday meals. It’s an inspiring read on self-reliance and one family’s determination to find true harmony with nature.

Chicken Poop for the Soul: Backyard Adventures by Teri Metcalf
Chicken Poop for the Soul is a how-to-guide on raising backyard chickens. This book was written by author, Metcalf, and her husband, after several years of observing their own chicken’s behavior. And whether you’re raising your own eggs or chicken meat, this is a book that explores how humans connect with the animals they raise.

Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet by Sarah Elton
This is an investigative book about very real threats to the food system. Elton explores the world to tell the stories of people who are deeply invested in food—and sustainability. She travels from the mountains of southern France to vacant plots in Detroit, telling hopeful stories while also recommending a plan to get the food system back on track.

Diversifying Food and Diets: Improving Agricultural Biodiversity to Improve Nutrition and Health by Jessica Fanzo, Danny Hunter, Teresa Borelli, and Frederico Mattei
This book, published by Bioversity International, is a reminder of the infinite variety of food species which exist, but are often under-utilized or forgotten. The authors highlight the importance of agricultural biodiversity and diversifying diets for improved health and nutritional value. This is a good guide for food policy makers and farmers alike, helping identify best practices, gaps in research and investment, and opportunities in preserving biodiversity.

Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson
Robinson wonderfully blends history and cooking instructions into a book that reveals the nutritional history of fruits and vegetables. According to Robinson, the most nutrient-dense option is to “eat on the wild side,” and she explains how to choose fruits and vegetables that most resemble their wild ancestors.

Food: an Atlas by Darin Jensen and Molly Roy
This atlas is a collection of maps that examine food across broad geographical locations, scales, and issues. The editors use infographics, poster art, cartography, and other creative platforms to illuminate complicated issues and create a deeper understanding for readers.

Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution by Jennifer Cockrall-King
The future of farming exists in cities, according to Cockrall-King. This book explores what people in cities all over the world are doing to successfully deal with hunger and poverty, taking food security into their own hands.

The Grazing Revolution: A Radical Plan to Save the Earth by Allan Savory
In this TED book, Savory explains the causes of “desertification” and presents a solution that’s radical yet simple—through livestock management. Using his personal story of discovery, Savory chronicles the process of wasteland to robust ecosystem, putting to rest some common misconceptions.

Growing A Garden City by Jeremy Smith
Fifteen people—and a class of first graders—give first-hand accounts of how farms, gardens, and local food are changing their lives. The book also has a “how-it-works” section on community gardens, student farms, farm work therapy, and more than 80 full color photographs of diverse local food in different communities.

The Farm as Ecosystem by Jerry Brunetti
Brunetti, a natural product formulator and farm consultant, shares his knowledge of farm dynamics including the geology, biology, and diversity of life on the farm. This book is filled with stories and science, but also real world advice.

The History of Aquaculture by Colin Nash
The fastest growing segment of agriculture- aquaculture, was unheard of until recently, and includes cultivating plants and fish for food. This book traces the history of fish farming from its ancient roots to its more modern uses today.

The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business by Christopher Leonard
Leonard, a former agribusiness reporter, critically assesses the meat industry through the practices of Tyson Foods, showing how the company has eliminated free market competition. And the story details how factory farming has changed small-town life for the worse in Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and other states across the U.S.

The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet by Kristin Ohlson
Eighty percent of the carbon from the world’s soil has been lost, according to Ohlson. She makes a passionate case for “our great green hope,” a way to heal the land, sequester carbon, and potentially reverse global warming.

Grow This! A Garden Expert’s Guide to Choosing the Best Vegetables, Flowers, and Seeds So You’re Never Disappointed Again by Derek Fell
All gardeners want to maximize their yields, providing more return on their time and money, and this book provide experts advice on the top performing plants for your garden. Fell has planted hundreds of varieties and guided the best of the best in gardening. This book is based on his first hand experience with the winners and losers of gardening.

1,000 Days Project by Roger Thurow COMING SOON!
Thurow’s next book is a story of the first 1,000 days of pregnancy and the importance of good nutrition and health care from the beginning of the mother’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. This time period is crucial to development, preventing malnutrition, and preventing lifelong negative impacts on the child.

Also in case you missed it, please check out our previous book lists: 13 Books on the Food System that could Save the Environment, 13 Books about Food for Summer Reading, 15 Books For Future Foodies, and Food for Thought: Food Tank’s Fall Reading List.

Top 10 Gardening Ideas Trending on Pinterest
1. Vertical Gardens
The Trend: Take your plant and herb gardens to the next level with these creative ideas for both indoors and out.
The Board: Vertical Gardens
The Pinner: Urban Gardens
2. Italian-Theme Gardens
italian garden

Why We Love It: Planting an Italian-themed garden filled with tomatoes, zucchini, basil, and oregano means you have all the ingredients for veggie lasagna at the ready!
The Board: Italian Garden
The Pinner: Karlie Salimbene
3. Urban Gardens
balcony gardener
Photo: Courtesy of The Balcony Gardener
Why We Love It: For those trying to infuse some country garden feel into city spaces, this board is full of inspiring ideas for small spaces
What: How Does Your Urban Garden Grow?
The Pinner: My Life Runs on Food
4. Indoor Gardens

indoor gardening
Photo: Modern Sprout via Urban Gardens
Why We Love It: Why not bring the beauty of nature inside?
The Board: Indoor Gardens
The Pinner: Urban Gardens

5. Edible Gardens
edible gardens
Photo: Lisa Hubbard

Why We Love It: Growing your own produce is an investment in your overall well-being, health and happiness.
The Board: Vegetable Garden Bloggers and Writers United

6. Recycled Gardens
asparagus recipes
Photo: via TheMicroGardener.com

Why We Love It: What’s better than using recycled materials and plants from friends to build your next garden?
The Board: Reduce/Reuse/Recycle in the Garden
The Pinner: Sow and So

7. Container Gardens
container gardening
Photo: Courtesy Crate & Barrel
Why We Love It: These beautiful container plantings are perfect for your deck, entryway, or yard.
The Board: Container Gardening
The Pinner: Crate & Barrel

Plus: 5 Stunning Botanical Gardens to Add to Your Bucket List »

8. Schoolyard Gardens
kid gardening

Why We Love It: This board is a treasure trove of gardening ideas for your kids.
The Board: Edible Schoolyards
The Pinner: Edutopia

9. Tropical Gardens

Photo: Lisa Hubbard

Why We Love It: Who needs a vacation when you can transform your garden into a tropical oasis?
The Board: Garden – Tropical
The Pinner: Pam Designs 3D

10. Succulent Gardens
Photo: Debra Lee Baldwin

Why We Love It: The options are endless for these easy-care plants: Place them in some Mason jars inside for a crafty centerpiece, or create an elaborate outdoor succulent garden.
What: Succulent Garden Situation
The Pinner: Alison Wright

Allotment People, Boy George, BookPeople, inner chimp

1. The

 BookPeople allot

, a leading online book retailer, are  running a special ‘Love Your Home and Garden’ category on their website to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and my book ‘The Allotment Planner’ is featured.

2. The Allotment Planner book is having a reprint and I’m working on a successor. So thanks to everyone who has bought it. I’m continuing my guerilla campaign to sign copies I find in shops.  Waterstones and Wisley are best. Foyles was ‘out of stock.’

3. Chas out of Chas and Dave wroteKitchen Garden Mar 14photo an allotment book. This is true.

4. Kitchen Gardener mag and English Garden reviewed the book. KG said it was essential for any allotment holder. Gardening isn’t known for its in-depth reviews, books or otherwise. Thinkinggardens, Anne Wareham’s forum for critical thinking on gardens had a ‘supper club” recently to discuss their views. I don’t ‘think’ I’d be a helpful ‘supper’ discussion person. You’d know what I mean if you’d met me.

I also appeared in Gardeners World mag recently (see above).gw

5. One of my favourite garden designers, Tony Smith, is exhibiting ‘abstracted landscape pictures created with sand spray paint and lacquer’. He says: “A bit weird really, quite disturbing!! This is my 3rd exhibition and it seems to be gaining momentum.” Boy George is another exhibitor. It’s at Trinity Buoy Wharf, 13 February.

6. Got stuck into a row about British-sourced flowers. Reported on Interflora and RHS’s ultimate love bouquet (£195). Interflora said half was British, then removed Union Jack ‘icons’ and said the flowers might not be. My extensive researches (30+calls etc),  showed they wouldn’t be. Reported on it and included Louise Curley, who is bringing out the Cut Flower Patch . Telegraph kindly followed it up, as did Independent.

7. Signs of spring appear early across UK after mild winter. I thought that’s a good story when I read it in the Times.

Then…I realised it was a PR piece that comes out every year (apart from last year when it was cold)
The Guardian – 4 days ago
The Woodland Trust’s network of nature watchers recorded snowdrops appearing as early as December, and have spotted budburst on elder …
Mild winter leads to early surge in signs of spring as flowers and butterflies flourish
WalesOnline – 4 days ago
UK weather: mild spell causes birds to break into song and flowers to bloom
Telegraph.co.uk – 4 days ago

8. Went to School Food Partnership launch at Charlton Manor Primary school the other day. Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins invited me. Levi Roots and Raymond Blanc were there. Also Ray’s son and his partner Casualty’s Charlotte Salt. RB said make omlettes and Levi said smoothies. Chris Collins old agent Jez is now a famous foodie.

9. At recent GCA conference garden centre owner Mike Burks said he was using my garden trends piece in his talks.  I’m heartened by Telegraph 2014 popular flowers and kale pieces (both part of my 10 trends) that followed.

10. Giles Coren’s wife Esther piece on going vegan for a week in recent Times mag. She thinks it’s a ‘lifestyle choice’ based on the ubiquitous Leon’s book on vegetarianism (which isn’t veganism) and two other books which are ‘coffee table’ (all cookbooks are now). She doesn’t mention that people actually go vegan for moral and health reasons at all in the four pages she gets given.

11. Stephen Anderton has the same birthdate as Nathan Lane (3.2.56)

12. Wisley gets sent 700 butterflies a week from Stratford Butterfly Farm. Up to 3,000 visitors a day to the butterflies, now in sixth year. They last a fortnight.

13. Spotted: Clive Nichols at Marylebone station. Kevin Pietersen and wife Jessica on Wimbledon Common playing football with their kid.

14. Titchmarsh at Perennial launch with envelope. He casted it around saying he was donating to the charity. Wouldn’t say how much.

15. Mr Bloom is back on kids tv. I asked BBC for an interview and press info. They said they weren’t actively promoting the show and didn’t send any info. Wonder how you’d feel if you’d made the show? The BBC has 147 press officers. Also The Patch (new name for Great Allotment Challenge). After much calling of BBC prs, they aren’t looking after it any more.

16. Recent Daily Mail piece – I’m Chelsea’s biggest fan says Monty Don.
Not according to this 2000 piece.

17. Garden centre food in newspaper. Many are Garden Retail award winners.

18. AT GCA conference consultant Roger Crookes said read Jean Giono’s the man who planted trees. Bradley Wiggins, Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy’s psychiatrist ‘inner chimp’ shrink Dr Steve Peters was at GCA. The chimp is the bit in your brain that makes you do mad stuff and sound off (I think). SP is a world veteran’s 100m and 400 champ. He said Bellamy and Ronnie O’sullivan have been hijacked by the emotional side of the brain.

BBC debut, Allotment Planner, badgers

A review of popular Xmas gift Allotment Planner in English Garden.

garden mag

1. I’m making my BBC debut on 24.1 in ‘over the fence’. It’s a column in BBC Gardeners World mag.
2. Needaproperty.com surveyed the most unwanted biography book present from xmas. Fergie and Morrissey were near the top. Fergie sold 800k. I don’t believe this. If you like Man U u would want the Fergie book, same with Moz.

3. Back from Oz. Visited spectacular destination Eden Gardens in North Ryde where the gardens manager Jesse Novotny is ex homeless and was on Chelsea Flower Show Oz team, FlowerPower in Warriewood which is like a GB garden centre and New Leaf Nursery, which I loved. Animals (for sale) roamed. Old cars were the plant features. Mostly edibles and all explained and useful.  Recycled pets.  If anyone wants a tour guide…

4. Producer of much talked about Benefits St is Kevin Hull, who produced Allotment Wars last year, which I talked to him about.

5. Carbon Gold’s Amy Zienkiewicz got my book Allotment Planner for Christmas, as did quite a few other people I’ve heard from. Richard Jackson says its ‘superb’ on Amazon. Though not as many as saw me on…

6. Show Me the Telly. On ITV. Our team lost to Chris Tarrant, Michelle Collins and Arlene Phillips.

7. Spotted: Monty Don at Balthazar resto Covent Garden, close to his old jewellery business.

8. Wondered where the Kew stolen lily story came from. It was on the Scotland Yard news wire.

9. B&Q has a new PR company. http://www.goodrelations.co.uk/
took over B&Q PR from http://www.z-pr.com/ on Monday.

10. Defra media reception 15.1 with Owen Paterson.
The gossip: Where was the Daily Telegraph?
Mail has a new enviro guy Ben Spencer. The Guardian had about five people there. Paterson said he’d carry on getting badgers shot until the bitter end. The Taste of Cumbria stall was giving out Herdwick. You’re not a vegetarian? They asked. Yes, I said, but I am Cumbrian. Talked to Ryan Blackburn, ex Cottage in the Wood, who is opening The Stamp House in Ambleside.

11. Delayed tree risk register and pollinator strategy consultation launching this month.

12. Mainstream papers told me the only do floods and fracking at the mo. Obvs Guardian etc does climate change too. Apparently 60pc of people don’t mind windfarms.

13. The word from the hardbitten hacks was that Tory Defra ministers don’t care much for science and prefer to listen to the odd farmer rather than their own scientists.

14. Defra came up with £30m to fill a CAP tree planting funding gap for next couple of years. But no-one knew where this cash had come from. It was from Rural Development Programme Funding apparently.

15. RHS and BBC talking peat on Friday.

15.5 The late Simon Hoggart once turned up at the Defra press event. No-one that interesting there this time, not even Countryfile’s Tom Heap, or Mail on Sunday’s Val Elliott.

16. The Telegraph didn’t even run Monty Don quitting twitter as news. The Sun did however. But Telegraph still managed a page feature out of it. Eve the Farmers Guardian did it.

17. Thesefishvchr are gardening trends for 2014.

18. Bryher Scudamore had a feature in the Mail recently on POW father. She was Eden Project press at one point.

19. Garden centres January: Do find Xmas bargains, furry reindeer in corners, staff moving product
about, meal deals, old people, pre-schoolers.  Off to GCA conference next week. And BPOA.

20. See last Amateur Gardening for my news feature on rx to Chelsea post Titchmarsh.

Garden Media Guild awards gossip round-up

photoallot1. I had a lovely time at GMG’s on 27 November. Thanks Westland for the invitation.

2. It was nice to catch up with some old faces.

3. It was great they made an effort to please the vegetarians. Celeb guests including Raymond Blanc and Linda Barker enjoyed his sweet potato terrine and carrot and butterbean baklava.

4. I’m glad my colleague Sarah Cosgrove won the trade journalist of the year award.

5. I caught up with Dr Hessayon, Alan Titchmarsh, Carol Klein and Diarmuid Gavin.

6. Monty Don’s French won best TV – but he didn’t show. Tim Rumball they should give the trophy to someone else then. Titchmarsh and Hessayon had a bit of a pop at lazy garden hacks. Quite liked Titchmarsh’s ‘I have a dream’ Martin Luther King (really) speech.

7. I’m setting up a fringe Garden Media Guild after seeing the success of other media events such as the Edinburgh Fringe and (inspirational book award winner) Tim Richardson’s Chelsea Fringe. I’m offering £250 to anyone who will join (conditions apply*)

8. The Keira watering can in the goodie bag looks like a shepee. Best freebie was probably the Cadbury’s fingers. Neudorff orchid revitaliser was also good.


9. I saw Titch kiss Diarmuid on the forehead. Joe Swift mainly talked to Titch’s wife. Linda Barker was promoting some kitchen company.

10. Marc Rosenberg did not enter news story of the year because he “can’t afford a new suit to collect the award in”. Blogger Sara Venn has laughably complained to the GMG about his “Take a Break”-style reporting of her blog having a pop at Gardener’s World. You’d have thought she would have appreciated the hits AG’s story has brought. A tweeter called Emma Bond had a pop at my Guardian piece , which I don’t think was intellectual enough for her, and for Anne Wareham. I’d explain that the Guardian magazine is aimed at a general mass non-gardening audience, while their works are aimed at… each other.

11. Saw BBC sports editor David Bond on the train to GMGs. He’s sold his house in Teddington and is looking for a four-bedder. Also saw this wiggy guy, who said his name was Alan, on tube on way to GMGs.


12. Matthew Wilson was presenter and presented himself with the journalist of the year award for his FT pieces. His editor once tried to recruit my ex-colleague to write about expensive garden products. My ex-colleague was working for a building mag at the time so passed the request onto me, because I write about garden products. They said to me she had made no such offer.

13. Email received during GMGs saying Nick Davies has left Solus. Call from MA to ND last week: “I hear you’ve left Solus.” ND: “There are a lot of vicious rumours. I am absolutely staying.”

14. Stefan Buczacki got lifetime achievement at GMGs. He said he had never been afraid to stir things up. In his speech he thanked a load of people. Did he stir anything up? No.

15. Maybe Frances Lincoln will enter my book The Allotment Planner for next year. Hessayon said no-one sells reference books much anymore cos its all on Google. The first two prize winners were…reference books.

16. Ended up having a curry with Stephen Bennett on his last day at the RHS. Then went back home…to the drawing board.

*must have written a story I like to be eligible to join

Garden Media Guild awards, Allotment Planner: all the hassle of a garden but not at your home

Ahead of the Garden Media Guild awards on 27 November…


1. In the Guardian with Allotment Planner. In The Sun next week.
Also Cambridge News and BBC Radio Humberside etc. On the radio Doug Stewart was talking about his favourite rose. Mine is Rosa ‘Helmut Schmidt’.
Comedian Dominic Maxwell: “allotments:  all the hassle of a garden, but it’s not at your home.”
Latest celeb book buyer: QVC gardener Richard Jackson.

2. Also in The Sun.  And on his Radio Two show, Chris Evans has been saying how ill-advised Monty was to get into his Twitter argument about badgers. (Monty Don left twitter after supporting badger cull and tweeters campaigning to BBC to get shot of him. Beeb says Mont’s done nothing wrong btw).
3. A blogger called Sarah Venn decided to have a ramble about Gardener’s World not being wholly to her taste. Nothing new there. Everyone is gardening has a view on GW. Amateur Gardening picked up on Venn’s piece. Venn and blogger pals got upset and tried to get the AG writer fired via Facebook and an open letter. Venn upset that her blog was used without ‘authorisation’. She could have altered/taken down the blog if contacted. Monty Don responded to Venn’s post. The bloggers think AG ignored Don’s justification of his show. Actually, Don’s equally rambly, earnest reply would have made a much better story.

ag facebk

3. Garden Media Guild awards
Martyn Cox used to do his own comedy GMG awards. Sadly no longer.
Here’s my winners:
News-Perennial winner Marc Rosenberg says he has not entered. I can’t tell who the judges of this category are from the list on GMG website. Winner: Monty to blame for spring bedding crisis is best, but no-one knows who wrote that.
Blog-could be anyone. Organisers (well the PR company working for them) say entries are up 92 per cent. I’ll go for last year’s winner.
Garden writer of the year: Could be anyone. I’ll go Monty Don.
Mag of the year: Amateur Gardening for its stance on bloggers.
Lifetime achievement: My choice Richard Jackson, but he won’t be there, so someone else.
Trade hack: Usually low entries. Surely HW’s turn.
Book: The Yellow Book. Gardening in Pyjamas. The Octopus’s Garden pic book by Ringo Starr. Richard Jackson (top seller of the year-Container Gardening) and Ken Cox haven’t entered, or would be my winners. I hope Alys wins.
Tv: Monty’s Italian.
Highlight will be Dr Hessayon’s speech, announcing his retirement.
Best PR-the PR company Pr’ing the event, which PR’d how it’s chief PR is giving out one of the unsponsored awards.

4. Made raspberry jam the other day with youngest boy and last autumn raspberries. Burnt pan. Jam cost me £89.99 for new set of pans.


5. Look out for big stories on poppies, allotments in the next week.

6. Kingsbury on Prm. Raising awareness of the issue – amazing how many people not aware even a couple of months after I did it nationally on 16 September.

7. This is the new stuff on PRM.

8. Garden Centre Group plant buyer Nicky Roeber tells me he knows Leo Sayer’s ex wife, who used to work with in a Kensington winebar. Leo was in Syon Park garden centre the other day. Did it make him feel like dancing? No, I’m told.

9. Which boyband is involved in Garden Re-leaf?

10. Saw two red squirrels in the Lakes last month on consecutive days, which indicates a revival. My brother keeps one at his Lake District home, in a cage. He feeds ‘Rusty’ Topic bars and takes it for walks on a lead. Meanwhile, reds are surviving squirrel poxvirus in Formby.

11. Graham Spencer is on the 5-2 diet.
12. The Oregon Department of Agriculture has restricted the use of two insecticides to help protect pollinators, including honeybees. Beginning in 2014, Oregon will require a state-specific label on dinotefuran and imidacloprid products sold in the state that prohibits their application on linden, basswood or Tilia species.
13. PR of the week
Is this the thin end of the wedge?
New Brussels directive prevents Japan, South Africa and Brazil from competing in the Olympics of cheese

Organisers of this week’s World Cheese Awards at the NEC Birmingham have appealed to the Food Standards Agency to help overturn an EU ruling that prevents Japan, South Africa and several countries from South America, including Brazil, importing samples of cheese for judging.

A recent change to EU legislation over concerns about animal health rules and the safe handling of milk means that a number of countries have been denied permission by DEFRA, which is following the strict letter of the law of the EU directive, to enter the world’s largest international cheese competition. However, in an unprecedented display of support, each of these countries will be sending representatives to adjudicate at the awards, which attracts almost 3,000 cheeses annually from all over the world and 260 experts from more than 20 different countries.

14. Monty Don has replaced Titch on BBC’s Chelsea coverage but hasn’t said anything about it yet. But he did write about Chelsea in the Observer 2000 when he was presenting  for C4, “three TV programme simultaneously”. He wrote about the gardens: “I heard someone making glib, snap judgements to their clip-boarded companions. It was me. All power corrupts, but telly corrupts absolutely.”
He also complains no-one knows what is going on, that his earpiece hurts, and that he can’t remember what to say, or read the autocue: “No one told me, but I was supposed to memorise chunks of the script and read the rest off the autocue. I need half a dozen goes to memorise someone’s name, let alone their words.”
He praises the nurserymen: “The stands under cover are manned by people who have modestly, and with unbelievable labour and dedication, grown all the incredibly beautiful plants that you see.”
“The flowers? The gardens? All the plants and inspiration? The new kit unveiled and all the experts to chat to? I was only at Chelsea for six long days, so couldn’t possibly have time for any of that.”

15. A piece in the Evening Standard mag on her three worst hangovers the other day. The writer said she got v drunk in 1995 aged 18 and pulled a footballer who turned out to be just a lad on remand. I knew her in 1989 when she was 16. In 1995 she was 22. Definitely.

16. I was looking through my old cuttings the other day after an office move (from Hammersmith to Teddington Studios). I worked out that my national paper stories were: 10 per cent Titchmarsh, 8 pc Don, 5 pc Diarmuid, 3 pc Hessayon, 7pc allotments, 12 pc Chelsea Flower Show, 4 pc other RHS, 1 pc Kew, 3 pc NZ, 1 pc cricket, 4pc peat and pesticides, 7 pc trees, 2 pc parks, 3 pc Jamie, 15 pc other.

Allotment Planner controversy, Dimmock Horlicks, Bake Off, Titchmarsh


1. My book Allotment Planner is splitting opinion. One Book People (where it’s £4.99 as a limited promo so get in quick) reviewer called it ‘rubbish’. Some RHS person bought Wisley curator Colin Crosbie one as a joke, I suspect. But HTA’s Raoul Curtis-Machin likes it – and paid full price from Wisley. As do some allotment bloggers but not others. The issue is, the book isn’t a guide to grow your own veg with step by step pics, like nearly all other books in the area. It’s about new things to do on your plot. Maybe gardening just doesn’t get news, because it so rarely produces any, apart from what I do. Rarely has a gardening book been so divisive, or indeed over-hyped.

2. The book is featured on two pages of The Guardian Saturday magazine (23 November). I’ll be on Radio Humberside on 24 November at 9.15am with Blair Jacobs/Doug Stewart. Catch up on www.bbc.co.uk/radiohumberside. I quite like this radio stuff. In Cambridge News on 24 November Colin Hambidge. “Above all, Matthew conveys the message that having an allotment can actually be fun, as well as hard work, creating a sense of community with fellow-allotmenteers and promoting a feeling of well-being. This is a book which says we don’t have to do everything ‘by the book’, but can be as individual as we wish.”

3. Jaguar were gonna do a Chelsea Flower Show garden but dropped out.

4. Recent media: Gardening Bake off Great Allotment Challenge was in Sunday Times then all the other papers the next day. I thought it was best to be quoted to promote the book, Allotment Planner. And I was -very extensively with a very kind credit for the book, that fits in with the show very well.

A Telegraph guy called Tom Rowley called me to talk about my Titchmarsh leaving BBC Chelsea coverage, picked up by the nationals after BBC/RHS evasiveness.  Sadly, he wasn’t able to use my name in the article, though he fitted in Bunny Guinness (‘I’ve never heard of Sophie Raworth‘). Raworth visited BG’s garden at Chelsea a couple of years ago on press day and is on telly nearly every day. Also Sue Biggs and Diarmuid Gavin (‘Alan’s wonderful’). Little did Tom realise, he wouldn’t have been writing the news feature at all if my news piece hadn’t been one of mine they picked up that was on the front page that week.

Similarly, the inevitable, inimitable Michael Leapman piece appeared in the Telegraph a few days after my piece on Allotment Bake Off, that was also in all the papers. He revealed he once did a bit of work for Bake Off producers on a Giles Coren show, but they didn’t like it much. Other than that, rehashed.


5. Jack Shamash is 77 in royal biogs on Amazon. Hope his wife Carol will put my book on allaboutyou.com

6. Poinsettia and energy crisis.  Spectator picked up on. Wonder if they need a gardening column after Ursula Buchan’s retirement?

7. Chelsea World War One news.

8. Invites flooding in from Garden Media Guild awards next week. Sadly I non transferable. Expect a big  announcement from a garden media figure.

9. Chelsea Titchmarsh Waitrose news.

10. Loch Ness Otters.

11. After some requests, I’ve found out that garden centres can get Allotment Planner from Baker & Taylor, who are distributors to that sector, but you might have to ask for it. Allotment Planner has officially had more publicity than any gardening book ever, apart from Monty Don’s.

12. I met this dwarf called Peter the
other day. He’s a baker and he was
telling me all about baking flatbreads.
It was fascinating.

I love the pitta patter of tiny Pete.

13. Christmas gardeners presents wants and not wants. I did a big survey.
mag sub
RHS/Nat Trust membership
Chicken/beehive/micropig-livestock generally
Olive or tree fern

Not want:
Indoor water feature
Comedy gardening sweatshirt
Comedy gardening anything
Expensive GYO kit
Crochet pot hanger
Bag compost

14. Wisley is getting a new play cafe

15. Hillier Garden Centre in Eastbourne has hosted TV presenter and gardening expert Charlie Dimmock to help Horlicks launch its new look hot drink.


Centre manager Glyn Webster said: “Charlie’s appearance really helped kick start the festive season at Hillier, as visitors were able to sample Horlicks’ malty, indulgent taste whilst finding out Charlie’s winter gardening tips.”

16. The Country Landowners Association today said that unless Warfarin-based baits are re-approved for use in the UK, grey squirrels will threaten the health and productivity of our woodland. What horseshit.

17. Scottish die hard allotment battlers.

18. From a correspondent: “In my opinion not as bad as ‘guest editor’ The Prince of Wales twice using the adjective ‘phosphorous’ where he means the noun ‘phosphorus’ in this week’s edition of Country Life. I have pointed this out to the mag’s real editor. So much for a Cambridge education!”
19. Allotment Planner.  My mum says it ‘looks nice.’ Allotment bloggers haven’t got beyond the index and pics. They think it’s a straight guide. Probably not clear via cover/title that it’s an alternative guide, and not about when to plant carrots with step-by-step pics-that has been done a lot.

20. From a correspondent: “Forgive me for being pedantic, but I cannot help thinking that the illustration of sweet peas in a jug on page 146 of the book is of unscented perennial Lathyrus latifolius rather than the scented annual Lathyrus odoratus.”

21. I plan to reveal where I got my inspiration for Allotment Planner from soon- six months camping on the allotment while homeless.

22. Food tank edibles of the future: Amaranth, Bunya Nut, Cowpea, Enset, Filder Pointed Cabbage, Formby Asparagus, Hinkelhatz Pepper, Kumara, Lifou Island Yam, Målselvnepe Turnip, Mungbean, Okra, Papalo, Perinaldo Artichokes, Rourou (Taro Leaves).

23. I was at the All Party Hort Group reception in Parliament on Monday. Jim Carter from Downton Abbey called group chair Baroness Fookes an ‘herbaceous border’ which is nicer than what Alan Clark used to call her. Boyd Douglas Davies said he will talk about garden centres being like ships at the HTA event on 21 November at Young Plants in Stratford, that I’m also at. Glynn Davies used to be in a band in the 1970s. Alistair McGowan is voicing the Garden ReLeaf quiz 2014.  Lord de Mauley talked about PRM wins and peat use reduction, which didn’t quite chime with the reality. I talked to a parks guy who said parks campaigns are good because everyone likes parks. Except Margaret Thatcher. At Garden Centre Group, apparently Nicky Roeber knows Leo Sayer. Also spoke to Kevin Bradshaw and Tim Clapp. Ended up in effing Esher after falling asleep on train.

24. I met a publisher and talked about a cricket book idea the other day…and I went to Wembley to see England-Chile.

Chelsea Flower Show 2014 launch gossip. Allotment Planner hits top 40.

1. Went to RHS Wisley on 9 Nov which I’m pleased to say lived up to billing as the finest gardening bookshop in the world.

My bookbook desk, Allotment Planner, released on 7 Nov, two days earlier, had
already sold out on the ‘recommended’ and ‘new releases’ shelves.
There were just three left on the back a-z section, between Terry Walton
and Andi Cleverley’s many allotment tomes.
I know the shop staff probably wanted to hold back the last remaining copies before
new stocks arrive next week to replenish the dwindling initial order
(even at 50 books now acknowledged as rather conservative by Wisley’s
book buyer).
But I thought I owe it to my public -and potential fans- to let them
know Allotment Planner can change their lives. After all, no fewer
than eight (yes 8) amazon buyers have given it five stars, and many
bloggers have kind of praised the book, mostly for it’s handy size and durable
covers. (Oh, and it’s been featured in all the best garden mags (two pages in Grow Your Own mag December) and
gardening pages of national papers.)
Anyway, I took two of the last three copies, leaving a solitary tome
next to fight it out alongside at least a dozen Cleves and Lias. The
lucky pair found themselves in pride of place (replacing a very
dispensable looking Monty Don DVD set and a couple of Chris Young tomes) at the front of the book


As a finishing touch, I signed them both with a ‘best
wishes’ and placed a ‘newly released and highly recommended‘ placard beneath.
I had to do this subversively, as I know the book buyers were a little
embarrassed about under-ordering, but the dual pull of my signature
and the lofty position the book had returned to, should help the charity’s coffers, and feed my kids this Christmas.

2. Radio Essex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex listeners heard me on 10 November (click link if you missed it!). Thanks to Bradleys and Andy Garland for setting this up. Kent was 8.30am and Surrey 10.20am.

3. Ken Crowther: “Yes and we gave it a good talking up in the prog on bbc essex during the 11 o’clock segment. with Tom Cole.
Will next review on WorldRadioGardening.com . Going to give to Andrew Tokely at T&M and go from there.”

4. I’ve always wanted to be a top 40 artist and Allotment Planner has sneaked in at Amazon top 40-almost making it to top 40 were…

5. The Rich brothers (CFS exhibitors in 2014), voted 43rd joint sexiest in Wales just behind horse-faced rugby player Sam Warburton. Top was Leigh Halfpenny, another rugby player.

6. Message from Wisley. ‘I picked a call for you from Nigel Eaton at RHS Wisley. It was regarding the book by Mary Berry you wanted signed at the Christmas launch. He has the signed copy but wants to know where he should send them to.’ This follows my failed effort to beat the Bezza hoards and get a signed copy for my Mum a week ago (she had to have a wobbly forged signature ‘She writes like an old lady too!’.)  Thanks Nigel! You’re a star.chefs

7. At Chelsea Flower Show launch at M&G this week…

8. Charlotte Rowe (pictured) told me she was Red Ken’s PR at the GLA for years.


9. Stephen Bennett did the deal for four more years CFS sponsorship from M&G. He’s leaving RHS imminently, sadly.

10. Nicki Chapman was filming for BBC. Caught her yawning during speeches. Where was Titch, Swift, Sturgeon, Klein? They are the media types who will make most out of the show after all. CKlein was on cover of latest Amateur Gardening. I thought she was a Garden News regular.

11. RHS PR Laura Tibbs’ baby is due on 30.12.  She was eating macaroons faster than I was stuffing them in my pockets.

12. M&G gave out dinky bottles of what I thought was shower gel. It was water.

13. The even was well attended but no national hacks present. They were last year when Titch talked.

14. Steve Bradley said the blank pages were the best parts of Allotment Planner. Charlotte Rowe asked if it was self-published.  Chris Young praised my PR campaign.

15. World War One was everywhere in the launch, and young people. But Italian design and Cleve West will be the stars of the show for experts.

16. RHS boss Sue Biggs keen to talk up new BBC contract. But as BBC outside broadcast unit is in disarray, there could be some changes to show coverage. Rosemary Edwards from BBC was at the launch.

17. Hillier is to launch two books for 150th at CFS. One is the manual updated and one is by Jean Hillier on the history.

18. I asked Hugo Bugg is he was related to Jake Bugg (the singer). He said Bugg isn’t a real Bugg. I suggested getting JB to open HB’s garden with a badge on saying ‘I’m not Hugo’s brother’. HB backed away.

19. Crocus film showed Belgian stock ready for CFS. This is impeccably sourced surely plant imports will come up in 2014 with biosecurity high on agenda.

20. Book dealer Mike Park is set to show at RHS Westminster for the last time in 2014.

21. I’ve found out why Titch etc weren’t at the launch. BBC has parted company with him. I asked his agent about whether AT was doing CFS a few months ago. She claimed AT ‘hadn’t been asked yet’. The BBC say Waitrose conflict of interest was ‘nothing to do with it’. Joe Swift had similar issues in 2012 with Homebase but survived.

22. Industry concern of lack of hort training (Raworth, Don) in the BBC CFS cockpit. BBC refused to comment.

23. I see Standard picked up on WW1 Chelsea theme.

24. Birmingham’s CFS garden has a 1.7m trench being dug into concrete. Some concern if RHS find out will need a drilling licence etc.

25. Judging was an issue raised by Ian Hodgson at RHS press conf. Sue Biggs sidestepped. But there are changes afoot apparently.

26. Peter Seabrook brought up a lack of commercial hort people in RHS young hort videos. He was told to send a list of candidates to RHS.

27. Historic Houses Association event
Spotted Richard Carew Pole, Nico Bacon, wearing same red socks as RHS event the day before, Lord Palmer, Sir Benjamin Slade playing noisily with his phone as HHA top man Richard Compton spoke, Rose and David Cholmondeley from Houghton Hall chatting to Simon Thurley from Eng Heritage-some envy of the government endowment for EH from heritage house owners. Lord Montague of Beaulieu got lifetime achievement.