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Contact me — 66 Comments

  1. Hey Alistair!

    I am glad to tell you that we’ve featured your blog on our website review for the best gardening blogs of 2017!

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    Thanks! have an awesome day 🙂

  2. Hi I have a 26. Foot by 3ft north facing border in Shetland I would like to reorganise the whole bit what plants would you advise

    • Hi Winnie
      I could rattle off names of shrubs and perennials which have a preference or can at least tolerate North facing positions. However, Shetland that is outside of my experience. best talk to the locals.

  3. I found your site when looking for advice on abutilons, and a really good site it is too. We have a tall red abutilon that may not survive the winter even although we have put it into our unheated greenhouse. I am going to try cuttings even although it is now late autumn.
    I read your comments about your abutilon dying back after a hard winter, this has happened to me too despite our Gulf Stream climate. A visitor told me this year that abutilons need to be very well staked as wind is often behind their downfall and that 3 stakes would not be excessive.


  4. Hello!

    I came across your blog and I find it really awesome. Being a blogger myself, I can feel the passion and the dedication that you possess. It takes a lot of talent and creativity to come up with such amazing articles.

    Having said this, I am happy to announce that for this year, you are being included for the Top 20 Gardening Blogs 2017: on our website.

    Our team has been on the hunt for the best blogs and we have decided to include you on the list. And to better promote your blog, we have created a badge that you can post on your blog:

    If this interests you, you can send me a message and I am more than willing to answer your queries.

    Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!


    Lisa Kok
    Junior Project Manager


  5. Hi,
    I live in Fife (central) and have purchased some clematis plants recently. I think they were just slowly dying in B&Q (clearance) and I decided to give them a new chance to survive. They are in a fairly good state , given that it is nearly December soon. I do not know if I can plant them into big pots now and leave them outside. Is it not too late? Shall I water them over the winter period?
    Kind regards,

    • Hi Stan, you can plant them at any time of the year as long as the earth is not frozen. Would really be better if you could plant them in the border. However planting in tubs should be fine. When you plant them make sure you bury it about three inches deeper than the current level which it currently is. Clematis prefer being planted deep. Water them in lightly after planting, take care not to over water throughout the Winter.

      • Thank you, Alistair, for your quick reply. I have got quite large terracotta planters for them, decent compost (I hope). Frosts here in Scotland are not bad when compared to some days of frost in Poland (the country I am originally from). However, the global warming has made winters very mild in Poland too, with few days of real frost. Once again thank you, Alistair.
        Kind regards, Stan

  6. I found your site when researching Golden King holly, great information! Some labels on this plant say it’s self fertilising, so do I definitely need a male to get berries? And how near does it have to be – I think they have one a couple of gardens over. Also, how quickly do they grow?
    Thanks, Sue

    • Hi Sue, many self-fertile plants are true to their word. Golden King fairs better with a male plant, like silver Queen. Best planted within your own garden area, doesn’t have to be right beside it.

  7. What a beautiful website about gardening. I live in Aberdeen and will be starting to plant this year as we have space for plants and flowers. I find loads of useful information that can help me here. I bought seeds of lavender , cosmos, nicotina, snap dragon, mask flower, sweat peas , lupin,lobelia,calendula, cerinthe, euphoria oblongata,Scabiosa, Zinnia’s. Im still wanting to add Ammi majus, sunflower, larkspur ,Eschscholzia ‘Ivory Castle’,Gypsophila ‘Covent Garden’. Looks like im too ambitious for a starting. Whats your suggestion?


    • Wow, you are enthusiastic, reminds me of how I was when I first started gardening many years ago. I can only say, carry on as you are doing and you will learn from your mistakes.

          • I have put them in fridge for cold stratifying. Will take them out end of this month and leave it in window sill for them to germinate. Im so anxious but counting on endless videos and blogs I watched to reap some success. Fingers crossed. Im still contemplating to buy few more seeds. I have vegetables to grow as well. So I will super busy in my garden along with two little daughters. Bring on summer.. My daffis and Tulips are showing their heads. I have never grown them in my life. Super excited.

          • Wow, you seem so organised, we also have two daughters. If any of my blog posts give a little inspiration please get in touch directly from the post. Alistair

  8. Hi, I just came across your blog when searching about Tropaeolum Speciosum and you have an amazing garden. And had amazing gardens too. I am hoping to tap into your expertise as I am a novice gardener. I want to grow the Scottish Flame onto the front wall of an old scottish cottage in Leith, Edinburgh.The house sits right smack onto the pavement so the climber will have to grow from a planter. The house faces south east and the top half of the house gets sun – when there is sun! I can see from your site and others that the Flame only grows if it likes you – I like that! And I also like that it is originally from Chile. I am from Singapore so I am always on the look out for exotic origins! My question is how deep a planter would I need and growing it froma rhizome would be better than getting one already potted?
    Many thanks and your blog is now a fave bookmark. Many thanks

    • Once Tropaeolum takes a hold in your garden it finds its own way ending up looking good wherever it appears.
      In a tub, I did have one grow along with a clematis not sure if I planted it there or not. Good luck. I rcall answering this message before, suspect a bit of a glitch.

  9. We moved in to our Aberdeen house, on 2nd November last year. One of the features that attracted us to the property was the garden, particularly at the back. The previous occupant was obviously a very keen gardener but unfortunately she developed dementia and had to go into care. Laterally the grounds were being cared for by contractors. We have been married for over 40 years but we have never had responsibility for such a variety of flowers, plants and shrubs – not to mention the greenhouse. I was wondering whether you could help us identify what we’ve got if I forwarded you photos of the garden. On the other hand perhaps you could direct us to someone else who might be able to help. We have been doing quite a bit of work to the house – e.g. a project to upgrade the wiring has turned into a complete rewiring so I am faced with lots of redecoration etc. Up to now the garden has not received much attention.
    I’ve never been a blogger so I don’t know where to go from here in that regard.
    Thank you for reading my plea for help.

  10. Hi Alistair i have a large cherry tree in my garden and the previous owners had planted about 6 shrubs underneath.Do you think if i tried to remove them it would make the tree unstable.

    • Hi Anne
      Hard to judge without seeing it. Cherry trees aren’t that deep-rooted. However, if I were in the situation where I didn’t want the shrubs I would take the chance.

  11. Alistair, we live in Aberdeenshire and have a beautiful blank slate of garden. The kids play football so up to now we have not planted anything. However I put up hanging baskets last year and they survived the balls.? We were thinking of plants shrubs on a north side of fence. Do you have any recommendations of plants that will look beautiful and green all year and withstand footballs.

    • Hi Rebecca, so your border faces North making it a pretty shady border. Its not going to look beautiful all year round. You need to get a structure going with shrubs.
      Camellia Donation
      Holly Silver Queen
      Skimmia Kew green
      Viburnum Tinus Eve Price
      Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’
      Some of the above shrubs require acidic soil If rhododendrons grow well in nearby gardens you should be fine.
      Perennial plants for the front of the border
      Erythronium Pagoda
      Lily of the valley
      Leave space for Begonia bedding plants for the Summer

  12. Thank you for all these great suggestions. I will look into all of these and see what we like the best. We have two beautiful rhododendron in the front garden but saying that I did treat the soil before planting. Thanks again!

  13. Hi Alistair, What would you recommend as an annual feed for the soil? I’m not new to gardening but have always struggled with this.
    Just recently found your site and finding it very informative.
    Kind Regards, Miriam.

    • Hi Miriam, overfeeding can be more harmful than not feeding at all. In Autumn always let the plants die back fully before cutting away whats left. In early Spring I feed with blood, fish and bonemeal. I continue to feed only the annual plants for the rest of the season with a liquid feed, good results with Richard Jackson flower power.

  14. hi Alistair,
    I live in Aberdeen and our north facing front garden annuals are very slow in growing even though they get 3-4 hours sunlight. Does any feeding will help?

  15. I wanted to let you know that I was successful to get 5 lavender seedlings. These are very small now and very slow in growing.fingers crossed.

  16. Yes I planted calendula in mid April and other annuals just now. But what I see is there very slow growin. I’m using liquid seaweed . Will that be ok?

  17. Hi we have just had a wall and planters built but have no idea what to plant. We stay in north Aberdeenshire. I could post photos and sizes if required. Thank you

  18. I have just received a free camellia with an order, but it just says ‘red camellia’ so I don’t know whether it is one that is likely to thrive in Aberdeenshire. The leaves are about 2″ long but the plant is only about a foot high, so that could be because it’s still small. Would you be able to tell its type just from that meagre information?

    • Williamsii do best in Aberdeen area, others have been known to survive. Impossible to tell which variety. Could you possibly pot it up using ericaceous compost, place it outdoors in a position that doesn’t get sun all day (best without morning sun) Come November place it in a greenhouse or cool bright area indoors.

  19. alistair,your courtyard garden is beautiful.You certainly have a magic touch.What compost and feed do you use for your plants?We have really sandy soil,water just runs off it.its very poor.What could i feed it that would enrich it.Not manure because my little dog is attracted to that!.

    • Hi Anne The borders just get a good mulch with Garden compost in late Autumn, then in early Spring, I feed with blood fish and bonemeal. For the tubs and baskets, I use a garden compost with a John Innes mix through it. I give them a liquid feed once a fortnight.

  20. I have a laurel hedge that looks a but sick (yellow) it is about 20-30 years old. But several plants have fied. While trying to treat it late this summer I spotted a beetle on a leaf. Checked the internet and I think I have vine weevil It would explain the dead plants. Need some local advice on treatment or how to replace hedge and not get same problem. Any local experts available for professional advice that I could engage? I treated with nemotodes, but quite late in the season.

    • The very dry season could result in yellowing of the leaves. It would take a very serious infestation to kill off mature plants so quickly. If it is vine weevil then you will see severe notches in the leaves.

  21. Hi there, 

    This is one of the best gardening blog I’ve ever seen. Great collaborations!

    I was just wondering if you accept guest posts for your garden-related content? We love all things gardening and can talk about it like there’s no tomorrow 🙂 

    Looking forward to your response!

    All the best, 


  22. Hi There, I hope this query ends up in the right place as I’m new to your site. I garden in Kirriemuir and have recently made myself raised beds. One is for strawberries and i grew some in the raised bed this year. My query is, when is the best time to dig up my plants and replant them through a black polypropylene woven membrane? Many thanks,

  23. Hi Alastair, I couldn’t comment on your viburnum post so I’m sending it here.

    You’ve changed the colour of your blog again. I love the new look. I’m a bit vague about the different types of Viburnum. You say this one is lightly scented. My favourite that has heavenly scent could be V. burkwoodii? Your blog is like a virtual garden, doesn’t need water but does need maintenance. (lol)

    • Hi Sue
      Thanks for dropping by. We also have burkwoodii and yes it is highly scented. I will take a break from blog posting for the next four weeks or so, have a great Christmas. Alistair
      If I can be a nuisance, could you let me know what the problem was when trying to leave a comment on the post as I would like to remedy whatever it is? At my side, if I go to the bottom of the post there is a box enter your comment here, if it is clicked it gives option to leave e-mail, / name / website

  24. I live in Durham and have a North facing conservatory. Could you possibly recommend any easy care plants I could put in there please?

    Thanks a lot.


    • Hello Ed, North facing conservatory is excellent in Spring and Summer. Plants in Winter, you would be best to have a temperature of no lower than 10c.
      Streptocarpus, Ficus, Orchid phalinopsis type, Peace Lily,African violet

  25. Am extremely new to gardening but have a lovely plot both front and back. Would love to open garden up to those who are more isolated and vulnerable in nearby community but need to start small
    And get garden ready and more experience first. Eventually leading to a community type project for vulnerable families.
    Anyhoo…where oh where do I start this March / April

    Many thanks for advice

    • Ruth, you have me stumped. My gardening experience evolved over many years with simple trial and error. Its impossible to go through the process without making mistakes. If you are in the position to employ a gardener for a short time this may help to get you on your desired road to success. If anyone else can be of more help to Ruth please add your comments.

      • Ruth, some years ago down in England, I was trying to find someone who might want to utilise my elderly Mother’s vegetable garden, once she became too infirm to garden it for herself. I contacted the local Branch of Age Concern and Salvation Army, and through them I found a sprightly gentleman of advancing years who loved gardening but had been forced by his circumstances to move into a supported living situation and had to give up his own garden. He was over-the-moon to be able grow his vegetables again – there was a lengthy waiting list for allottments locally, Although a stranger to myself and my Mother, he was well known to the local support services (and so effectively came with references) and there were no problems at all.

  26. Hi Alistair,

    I am getting in touch from the picture desk at The Times newspaper.

    We are doing a piece where one of our gardens writers goes through his favourite orange plants/flowers. He is planning to mention Kniphofia ‘ember glow’ and I saw you have some lovely pictures of it on your website:

    Is there any chance we could use your images to illustrate the piece? We would be sure to credit you.

    My email is –

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Many thanks,


    • Hi Bumblebee, there seems to be no way for me to contact They come through to my comments page in the form of pings. Should I report it to google, and how did you find this out. Thanks Alistair

  27. Greetings! We are thinking of moving to Gourdon, 30 miles south of Aberdeen. I have childhood memories of fuchsia heges around there. I suspect that would be fuchsia magellanica. Am I getting my wires crossed or does magellanica thrive there?

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