Pura Vida

Green baselisk lizards, Costa Rica

For the past few weeks 15minutesofgreen.com has been on hold while I have been experiencing the ‘pure life’ (Pura Vida) in Costa Rica. This incredible land between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean has a unique geography, rich in its variety of habitat. I travelled between humid tropical rainforests, jungle-fringed beaches and cool misty cloud forests, all teeming with spectacular wildlife. Costa…

Find out more

April wonderland

The heavy-blossomed pear tree shouts the promise of a fruitful autumn harvest

Oh what a difference a month makes. Back in the UK, after inspiring green travels far afield, a walkabout in the garden reveals it has been blooming busy in my absence. On first inspection, yellow predominates. The last of the daffodils are waving their nearly spent trumpets, clumps of wild primrose (Primula vulgaris) are holding their  faces aloft with gentle but confident beauty, and the Forsythia…

Find out more

Lupin experiment

Overwinter success with lifted lupins

Last autumn I collected a few lupin seeds from the desiccated pods of the plants in my perennial border. I stored the seeds in envelopes (protected from mice in a tin) in the shed, where they stayed cool and dry over winter. Come sowing time, I googled what to do with the lupin seeds, but came up with conflicting advice….

Find out more

Watch the birdie

Female robin, starting the nest building process

Nest box update Monday mornings are always a struggle for me, but as I brewed the first of several mugs of tea this morning I spotted movement in the ivy opposite the kitchen window. What a joy to know that robins have returned to our recently cleared nest box! At present, the female is busy toing and froing with leaves and moss;…

Find out more

Final winter tasks

February snowdrops

It’s the last day of February and the final day of winter (well, meteorologically at least). So, I’ve been busy in the garden completing all those final winter tasks. And the good news is, none of them took more than 15 minutes! Winter fruit tree care First, I completed my winter fruit tree care plan. Having applied a fruit tree…

Find out more

Empty nest boxes

Robin nest box nestled in ivy

If you haven’t done so already, you need to get a shift on and clear out your nest boxes. Early autumn is actually the best time, but it’s one of those jobs that can get forgotten. If you leave it too late you’ll miss out on the simple pleasure of watching birds coming and going as they build their nests…

Find out more

Chit chat

The right kind of chit: short, knobbly, green sprouts

Do you chit your seed potatoes before planting? Most amateur gardeners and allotment holders do – mine have currently taken over a window sill in an unheated bedroom – but most commercial potato growers don’t bother. So why chit? Seed potatoes with no visible shoots will start to chit from the ‘eyes’ when exposed to light and warmth. Any frost-free…

Find out more

Lily of the valley at Glynn Valley

The view from Glynn Valley crematorium remembrance gardens

This weekend involved some rather spur-of-the-moment planting at Glynn Valley Crematorium in Cornwall. Not my usual gardening hangout! On a sunny day (which it was), there are wonderful views from the top of the remembrance gardens down across a large pond into the wooded valley beyond. My dad’s ashes are buried here, in a tranquil haven under a hawthorn tree….

Find out more

Fruit tree winter wash

Apple tree in winter bud

Winter is the time I give my fruit trees some TLC, although like most jobs in my garden I’m a bit late in implementing my ‘fruit tree care plan’. This comprises: A winter wash A winter prune A winter feed This week I implemented Step 1, a fruit tree wash designed to control overwintering pests, in particular the eggs, larvae and nymphs of…

Find out more

The Big Garden Birdwatch

Blue tits - Big Garden Birdwatch

Did you take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend? If you did, and you’ve submitted your results, then you can proudly claim to have taken part in the biggest annual ‘citizen science’ event in the UK and the world’s largest wildlife survey. Around half a million people now take part every year, and last year over 7 million birds were counted….

Find out more

Seedy decisions

Vegetable seed packets

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to choose and buy your vegetable seeds for the year ahead (flowers too, of course, but I’m focusing on the veggies today). For me, that means dusting down the old biscuit tin in the shed containing the seed packets from last year and checking the sow-by dates, taking stock of what…

Find out more

The value of leaves

winter pile of beech leaves

Over the past couple of days, blustery winds (reaching speeds of over 100 mph in some places) have wreaked havoc, bringing down roof tiles, power lines and trees. Those same winds have also made a lot more leaves available to gardeners around the country. Even the beech hedge in my front garden, which always hangs on to its crispy curled…

Find out more