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RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014: plants

by Rhiannon James

City gardeners have done well in the The Great Pavilion this year with Birmingham City Council’s garden commemorating the start of the First World War winning the President’s Award and receiving a visit from the Queen. If you’re keen to keep the side up, we’ve picked the best of the small garden-friendly plants at Chelsea which should attract more than a few admiring glances.


RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014: the gardens

by Rhiannon James

In a year when Chelsea has seen an unprecedented influx of new, young designers, it’s a bit of a surprise that the Show is so grown-up. There are no twitter-operated panels, no tower blocks of vegetables and there are certainly no flying pods in a daring shade of hot pink. Instead, the gardens are pleasant, polished and restrained. 2014 it seems is the year of the nice young(ish) men.


Painting with plants

by Abigail Willis

As an award-winning botanical artist, Rosemary Lindsay is used to working up close and personal with plants and she brings the same forensic attention to detail to her garden in Herne Hill. At 150 x 40 feet it’s a bigger canvas than her watercolours but one that equally reflects her design flair and affinity with plants.


City Planters: West Ham Park Nursery

by Abigail Willis

The merry month of May is a busy one for nurserymen and Paul Harwood is no exception. As the supervisor of West Ham Park Nursery, Paul is responsible for producing the bedding plants used in the gardens and parks run by the City of London Corporation and several Royal Parks.


Small garden design secrets from Joe Swift

by Rhiannon James

While Carol has her cottage garden and Monty has his manor grounds, Joe Swift is a city gardener through and through. His own garden in the east of the capital is a classic London plot with all the essentials: raised beds, built-in seating, and timber deck. His design company specialises in city spaces and given the chance to create a garden at Chelsea in 2012, he went for an “urban oasis feel”. He has written three books on urban gardening and to celebrate the reissue of the second, now called Joe’s Small Garden Handbook, he has shared his top tips on creating a stunning green sanctuary in the city.

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Growing from seed: sowing kit

by Drucilla James

Scoops, sporks, sprakes, swoes and wrotters – gardening has a language all of its own when it comes to describing the tools of the trade. Here are some suggested seed-sowing tools, from dibbers to twine dollies, to make the growing easier this spring.

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The High Line: New York

by Drucilla James

People frequently make reference to the New York High Line and the possibility of replicating it in other cities. But what is the High Line really like? Annik La Farge’s book ‘On the High Line’ is a sumptuously illustrated walk through the park, interwoven with reflections, philosophical, scientific and aesthetic, which illuminate the history, nature and purpose of this unique public space.

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William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain: the Gardens

by Abigail Willis

The inventor of the English Landscape Garden, William Kent, still influences designers today. Tom Stuart-Smith, for example, describes Kent’s garden at Rousham as his ideal-’magical, hauntingly beautiful and deeply intellectual’. The V&A’s William Kent, Designing Georgian Britain exhibition, which opened last week, is a timely reminder of his many talents and marks the latest in a round of cultural events celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession.

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Hepaticas:hidden treasures


The tiny, exquisite hepatica is seldom seen and yet it must be the ideal plant for the city garden, balcony or container in spring. John Massey Victoria Medal of Honour holder and award-winning specialist from Ashwood Nurseries tells us the secrets of how to make the most of these marvellous, yet little known, treasures.

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Growing under glass: plants go undercover

by Drucilla James

Growing plants under glass protects them from weather, be it gale, ice, drought or deluge, and provides the ideal microclimate to start them off well and extend their growing season, as well as generating some extra garden space. From tiny cubes to garden houses, here is our selection of the best for small gardens.