Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Cordyline death...everywhere

This weekend I made my regular trip to Chelmsford to guest on the Ken Crowther Gardening Programme on BBC Essex. Ken was on holiday, so it was up to me to give all the gardening advice. It was a busy two hours with lots of calls, texts and e-mails.
The over-riding question was on cordylines - all suffering from the winter cold. It looks like cordylines have been one of the biggest casualties of the cold snap - we had numerous calls on this one, all wanting to know what to do to save them. I gave a talk last night at the Middlesex Hardy Plant Society and again cordylines were a hot (or freezing cold) topic of conversation. Well, if you're worried about your cabbage palms, here's some advice.

The vast majority of other questions on Ken's programme were to do with grow your own - both fruit and veg - so it looks like this is still a big gardening subject for 2011 - despite what some industry experts are saying.
We had questions on what to do with seed potatoes (to chit or not to chit that IS the question), growing sweetcorn, blueberries, scab on apples, what to do with too many leeks (eat them?), planting soft fruit, splitting and moving rhubarb, getting the best from raspberries and starting a new veg garden in a small space, among others.
Another new gardener thought her whole garden was 'dead', but it was just that she wasn't used to brown being the predominant garden colour in winter. And, like my last stint on the show, what to do to get the best from orchids - obviously either the most popular houseplant or one that causes more angst than any other - was worrying the county.
So, gardening is alive and kicking in the minds of gardeners - even if all their garden plants are dead!

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Garden Press Event 2011

It's always good to start the gardening year with a class event - especially after the miserable winter - and yesterday was the Garden Press Event at the RHS Horticultural Halls in London. This is open to all members of the gardening press and a great chance to catch up with a large number of gardening sundry suppliers and nurseries. It's always a goodie - and this year was better than ever - IMHO.

I travelled down to London with Nigel Colborn & Philippa Pearson and like the keenies we are, arrived before the doors officially opened, so had to sneak in the side door - desperate for the loo and a coffee. Luckily, there were bacon butties on offer and I managed to sneak away several Danish pastries to keep me going on the fuel/food front. All very necessary, since I later missed lunch - time just flew and it was too late to eat when I realised what the time was. And, as it turned out, later I downed a couple of glasses of champagne on the Hillier stand, which went straight to my head.

The event was meant to end at 4.30pm, but I was still there at 5.15pm - although it's not that easy talking to people as they dismantle their stand around you. Even getting there early, missing lunch and staying late didn't give me enough time to see everyone I wanted to - in fact, I probably only saw a quarter of the stands.

Someone did ask me whether I thought it would be the last event, because in future we could do virtual shows via webcams. I certainly hope not (even being a virtual kind of guy), since it's the face-to-face interaction that makes all the difference and the only way to winkle out those little gems of information.

But it was great to see who I did, catch up with friends and colleagues and find out loads of gossip. Apologies to the 75% of people I didn't see. I must stop talking so much and get a pair of skates or a skateboard for next year's event!