Sarah Shoesmith was awarded the Centenary Prize by the Royal Horticultural Society in 2003, and gained a Distinction in the Diploma in Garden Design from The English Gardening School. She is passionate about gardening for wildlife and growing food, and writes about gardening for magazines and other sites.
On balmy summer evenings, there’s nothing better than a night-scented plant to perfume the warm, still air. The flowers are usually pale so they remain visible at dusk, making them particularly valuable for those who are away from their gardens during the day.
The colour and fragrance of evening-scented flowers attract nocturnal pollinators which, in turn, attract bats. Wonderful for wildlife, and diverse in size and form, evening-scented plants suit a range of gardening styles and budgets. They can be grown in a small pot to sit on an outdoor table or doorstep, or used to fragrance the grandest of terraces.
Harvesting crops is a double-edged endeavour. While we have the wonderful sense of satisfaction that comes with growing our own fruit and vegetables, the very act of harvesting it can leave us with a gaping hole in our planting. This is when catch cropping comes into its own, because we can turn that gap into an opportunity to grow something else delicious to eat.
The best catch crops are either fast-maturing or winter hardy. Crops that mature quickly, such as kohlrabi, radish and salad leaves, provide us with a harvest within weeks. Winter hardy crops stay in the ground and help to bridge the hungry gap in spring before the next main crop in our rotation needs the space. Catch crops maximise yields while covering the soil and helping to suppress weeds.
If you’re itching to sow seeds in June and July, try beautiful biennials for colour next spring and summer. These wonderful plants complete their life cycle in two years. In the first they form roots and leaves, and in the second year they flower. It might seem like a long wait, but it’s worth every minute of it.