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'Songs from the Machair' by Colin Campbell

Image by Colin Campbell. Go to for more information about International Garden Photographer of the Year.

In the news....

Could you be harbouring the new Japanese knotweed in your garden? Have you just bought a modern-day giant hogweed at the garden centre? It might sound improbable but a report by plant conservation charity Plantlife says nearly 100 commonly-grown non-native garden plants could be thugs in disguise.

That oxygenating Canadian pondweed we've all got in the pond? Potentially as damaging as water fern and floating pennywort - both garden escapees and costing millions to extract from waterways.

Skunk cabbage, cotoneaster, crocosmia and holm oaks - all could be destructive on an epic scale, according to the report. Many have already jumped the garden fence and are playing havoc with native wildflowers. If you've got one in your garden, don't let it get away: Jeremy Torrance at BBC Nature has tips on keeping them in bounds.

Also revealed this week: the remarkable pictures taken by the country's best garden photographers which made the finals in the six categories of this year's International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. Winners revealed on 3rd May, with an exhibition at Kew shortly afterwards. A true feast for the eyes.

On TV and the web...

Kate Humble's trip around the aromatic world of spices, The Spice Trail, has been a real treat. This week, the last in the series, it was the beautiful tropical vines that produce vanilla, and saffron - perfectly possible to grow in your back garden, though you'll need to hand over most of your patch to gather enough to flavour your supper. Pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves were also on the menu during the series, though as Emma Cooper mentions in her blog, pepper is the only other possible for trying at home. If you've missed it - catch up here.

And not long to wait now... the new season's Gardeners' World begins this Friday, 11 March, surely the most-anticipated series ever. The nation's gardeners will be itching to see inside Monty Don's garden gate in Herefordshire for the first time: letting the viewers in was a condition of his return, he told the Radio Times and the Daily Mail this week, in between sharing some typically forthright opinions about Spencer sweetpeas that have set the horticultural industry and the messageboards seething. Not one to pull his punches, our Monty: this should be an interesting season.

Out and about...

Fans of The Land Girls will know all about their legendary dungaree-clad enthusiasm as they did their muddy bit for the war effort. But women were growing their own long before: Lady Eve Balfour, co-founder of the Soil Association was an early organic pioneer decades before the Second World War.

Land Ladies: Women and Farming in England, an exhibition at the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading University, looks at girls gone gardening from 1900 to 1945. As a taster, here's Anne Diamond's chat with assistant curator Ollie Douglas for BBC Radio Berkshire (1hr 16 mins in).

If you need reminding that spring has sprung (and with the sub-zero night-time temperatures, who doesn't) visit one of the many gardens celebrating their first flowers of the year. The intimate Courts Garden in Wiltshire has crocuses, daffodils and violets, and in Scotland there's a guided tour around Logan Botanic Garden in Dumfries and Galloway as the first flowers emerge from their winter sleep.

Count crocuses at the Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire for their Spring Colour Watch which started yesterday; and if you're quick, you can bag a place on the spring flower photography course tomorrow at Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland; practise your new-found skills in the lovely gardens afterwards.


  • Comment number 1.

    My kids and I are really excited about Monty's return. We use his great book The Complete Gardener to play a game called Spot the Dog. I turn the pages and they shout 'spot the dog' if they see Monty's Jack Russell or Labrador. It has been a fun way of getting them into gardening and they can't wait to see his garden on screen. Here's to dog-spotting, peat-free Friday nights!

  • Comment number 2.

    Great to see you back Monty - WE'VE MISSED YOU!! Great to see all the team back as well, loved the garden - think the great Geoffrey Hamiliton would certainly have approved, you definitely come from the same mould and are the only TV gardener to be able to fill the gap that he left and carry on his great gardening legend.


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