Grape expectations


Muscari azureum Every year, I like to grow some new plants. Sometimes they're a disappointment but every season a few varieties delight me so much that they make it to my 'must grow every year' list.

One plant has just made that list! A stunning grape hyacinth, Muscari azureum, which isn't a new plant, it's been around for decades and has been given the Award of Garden Merit, but I've not grown it before.

The best-known grape hyacinth, Muscari armenaicum, is a bit of an invasive thug, almost a weed, but this variety is a delight, with the prettiest powder-blue flowers, and I'm assured it won't rampage everywhere.

My picture doesn't do it justice but eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed it on the bench during recent QVC shows. When the blooms eventually fade, I'll pinch off the stems and start feeding it with Flower Power once a week to build up the bulbs for an even better display next year.

Talking of bulbs, there's a useful tip in this week's Amateur Gardening magazine. Dwarf iris reticulata is a beautiful spring-flowering bulb, but it seems to be a one hit wonder, never blooming again in following seasons. Christine Skelmersdale at Broadleigh Bulbs has discovered that if you grow these little scented gems in a shady part of the garden, under deciduous shrubs and trees (and feed after flowering) they can bloom just as well the following year. That's a great tip that I'll certainly try.

Finally, if you like lilies, don't miss the Today's Special Value offer coming up on Tuesday. It's a cracker!

Happy gardening


  1. Susan March 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    Quick question about your lawn products – I wonder if any of them treat the brown dead patches of grass from where our lovely doggies kindly do their business??! Never manage to hear your whole shows so you may have talked about this before. Many thanks.

  2. Eileen Leech June 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm -  Reply

    I have planted some Oleanders in my garden and one is looking worse for wear will I just leave it to grow or what should I do. I have noticed that there are new shoots coming out of the top of the plant but the rest of the leaves are brown

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