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Looking ahead into 2013

Gay Nightingale shares information and ideas for your 2013 garden

Delightful Angels Perfume
Do you hold the view that a really good plant name helps sell plants?
Among pelargonium varieties The Vernon Geranium Nursery has new scented Angels Perfume. They say that this is very rare, as the beauty of an Angel variety is combined with the 'glorious aroma' of a scented variety. The lemon-scented foliage and the burgundy coloured flowers help form an attractive plant of 30cm height. A good choice for patio pots and glass houses - or to grow as a houseplant.

Some people call all zonal pelargonium 'geraniums'. They prefer to keep the botanical name of pelargonium for the Angel Flower types; others think of them all as geraniums. Another new variety, First Yellow Improved, might suit gardeners looking for something different. These new varieties can be found in the Vernon Geranium Nursery's 2013 catalogue, obtained by contacting

Seeds to sow for healthy greens
Vegetable and herb seeds that can still be sown this autumn include: 'Spinach Perpetual', sown September to October under glass. And Parsley 'Lisette' seedlings should overwinter in pots of free-draining compost under glass. If preferred, parsley can also be grown as a windowsill plant. Coriander Confetti will continue to provide leaves into winter. All these seeds are available from Thompson & Morgan.

Seeds of 'Winter Greens The Good Life Mixed' may be sown from late August to March under glass. This is one way to make use of containers, or the greenhouse border.

Edible Flowers
Thompson & Morgan also have a useful little booklet: Edible Flowers. Many flowers that we grow in our gardens are edible. There is also a useful check list of flowers to avoid on the back cover - one of the most interesting feature in the booklet, because these are the poisonous ones!

Under each flower heading, there is a paragraph on ways to serve flowers or how to use them in a multitude of ways, including in salads, soups, jams, jellies, preserves, flavourings, garnishes, traditional dishes, puddings, cakes, cookies, muffins, drinks, decorations. For example:

'Fuchsia The stunning colours and graceful shape of fuchsias make them ideal as a green or fruit salad garnish. They look very decorative if crystallised or inserted into jelly. The berries are also edible and useful for making jams....' The booklets are free from T&M. 0844 573 1818 or

Did you know that, according to legend, in order to be a good gardener it is necessary to have green fingers (English), a green thumb (American), the green hand i.e. La main verte (French)? So which do you have?

Time to plan ahead
Just a little reminder that it is time to order and plant bulbs. Every gardener has their favourites. My preference usually leans towards scented plants; whereas others go for bright colours. Top of my bulb list is 'Pheasant Eye' (Narcissus poeticus) - pure white perianth, red-rimmed small cup. 'Geranium' - a tazetta type, is similar, but with more evenly shaped white petals, around a bright orange-red cup. Both flower in April-May. 'Cheerfulness' - another richly fragrant narcissus, with cream/yellow double flowers, is often seen, but still lovely when in bloom in March/April.

The hardy Cyclamen coum will brighten dark days of winter with their crimson, pink or white flowers, whether grown in an unheated glasshouse, directly in the garden around shrubs, or in patio pots. The larger flowers of the popular miniature cyclamen (C.persicum) bring many a happy smile when grown on the kitchen windowsill indoors.