I've just returned from GLEE, the annual garden trade event in Birmingham. It's the show where the industry launch their new products for the coming season and there's always lots to see and learn. The biggest story is that our two largest companies have both announced their own versions of shake and grow flower meadows.
These beautiful easy grow annual meadows were one of the stars of the Olympic Park this summer and you can buy versions of the seed from companies like De Jager. Scotts and Westland have added some growing medium and controlled release fertiliser to the seeds, so literally next spring you can just shake and grow your own floral carpet.
Part of the pleasure of Glee is catching up with my gardening colleagues like The Sun's Peter Seabrook who told me of their ambitious plans to mark the centenary of the Chelsea Flower Show next May. On Monday night, the industry also celebrated the 'Greatest Awards' which are given to the best garden centres. Amongst the winners was Loch Lomond Garden Centre who beat off very strong competition to take top award in their category for their café. I'm so pleased and it was much deserved in my opinion. I ate there recently and had an absolutely superb lunch…my only regret was that I didn't have any room left for their mouth-watering cakes!
In my garden this week the greenhouse tomatoes are still cropping really well but the dahlias have really come into their own, especially Roxy (pictured) which is a long flowering compact variety which doesn't need staking so it's perfect for patio pots. I've included it in my best plants section for my Container Gardening book which, at long last,I've just finished writing. Watch out for the book on QVC early next spring!