Lead the Good Life Blog

How to grow Raspberries & Strawberries


Whilst it may not be quite the time of year for you to be thinking about planting strawberry and raspberry plants, now really is the time to do so! If planted now strawberry plants will give you 50% better yield next summer than if you plant them in the spring. And raspberry canes planted now will have time to get properly established before the cold weather sets in and they will thank you for it.

There are two types of raspberry plants; summer fruiting and autumn fruiting. For a long period of harvesting it’s best to plant a few of both or try our full-season collection. Summer fruiting varieties will need supporting with a fence, wall or framework, unless you try the new dwarf patio variety, Ruby Beauty. Autumn fruiting varieties will normally not need a support. Although they tolerate shade raspberry plants prefer a good sunny spot in the garden in fertile, well drained soil. It’s best to mix in some organic matter such as compost or manure.


As with raspberries there are a few different varieties of strawberries; alpine strawberries which produce lots of small sweet berries, summer fruiting strawberries which produce heavy flushes of larger fruits in early and midsummer, and ‘ever-bearing’ strawberries which produce smaller flushes of fruits from early summer to early autumn. We also have a full-season collection of strawberries to make life even easier for you. Strawberries are best planted in spring or autumn in a sunny and sheltered position in fertile soil (mix in lots of organic matter to get a really good yield!).

When you plant them make sure to plant the crown at soil level, plant them too deeply and they could rot, too high and they can dry out and die.
If you are lacking in space in your vegetable garden or even just have a balcony you can easily plant strawberries in hanging baskets and containers. This also helps to keep away slugs and snails! Just be sure to keep an eye on the compost to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
One important thing to think about when planting both these fruits is that you will need access to harvest them. This is especially important with strawberries as you could end up trampling your fruits (something that we have learnt the hard way).

How to Successfully Grow Bulbs

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If you haven’t done so already you’d better get planting your spring bulbs before the weather gets too cold. Bulbs can be planted in containers, borders or even amongst your lawn so there is no excuse not to plant some.

Different species will need different growing conditions but in general all bulbs need well drained soil that won’t get waterlogged in winter (this will cause your bulbs to rot). They also need to be planted growing tip upwards and at roughly 3 times their height in depth. If you aren’t sure which way round is the growing tip, simply plant them on their side (this is also handy for Fritillaria bulbs which rot very easily, planting them on their side prevents water entering them).

You may have heard of naturalised planting. This is where the bulbs are scattered across the planting area and planted where they land. This prevents planting bulbs in straight lines which look unnatural and strange in a border or amongst a lawn. If you do plant them in your lawn be careful walking on the ground straight afterwards as this can damage the bulb whilst the ground settles.


How to successfully grow bulbs

1. Whilst bulbs may be in stock in your local garden centre from mid summer onwards you can really wait until mid to late autumn to plant them. The longer in the ground the more time they have to rot. So October and even November is the perfect time to plant them. It’s not cold enough for the ground to be solid or for you to get frozen whilst planting them

2. In order to keep your bulbs coming back year after year you need to wait till their foliage completely die back before removing it or cutting it back. This foliage is gathering energy for the flower next year. So whilst you may want to cut it all off as it becomes unsightly, unless you want to buy and plant more bulbs next year it’s best to leave them be.

3 .Remember where you plant them! There’s nothing worse than doing weeding in the middle of summer and accidentally spearing a clump of bulbs. I’m sure we’ve all been there! In reality it is not easy to remember where you planted your bulbs, so a little bit of common sense comes into play. Use the plant labels (or plant sticks) to mark where you put them. Or even better you can use our bulb baskets to lift your bulbs out of the ground completely. You can even do this when the foliage is starting to die back and let them die back completely in the basket before storing them in a cool dry place in a breathable bag.

4. One of the main predators of bulbs is squirrels. Mice can also prove to be a nuisance. If this does happen place some chicken wire over the pot or area. Once the shoots start poking through it is safe to remove it.

We hope this will inspire you to get outside and plant some bulbs


Product Showcase : Green Velvet Lawn Seed

BannerThe Royal Barenbrug Grou is a hugely accomplished global seed company that has grown into the world’s largest grass seed producers. The family run business started in 1904, and over the years have developed their own breeding stations in various climates in both the northern and the southern hemisphere.

Barenbrug have been perfecting grass seeds for over 100 years, becoming a well-valued name you can truly believe in. Distributing more than 4,000 tonnes of grass all over the world; lawns, pastures, golf courses and football grounds are being sewn with barenbrugs grass seeds. Something they have specialised like no other company.

In 2011, they treated Manchester City Football Club to a sneak preview of their breakthrough product – Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass (RPR). This creeping perennial ryegrass promises to be of great benefits for football, rugby and other sports surface applications. The product is now in in-field trials at seven sites across the UK, with conference attendees given an early opportunity to trial this unique Barenbrug-bred cultivar as part of the final stages of testing their commercial launch.

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The finest-quality seeds are used for golf greens all over, so that the ball will smoothly roll over the closely mowed grass. Also used at the Aintree Racecourse, tolerating very heavy wear. Barenbrug are devoted to satisfying client needs, ensuring customers can make their choice from a global range of grass seeds and varieties. This really is a grass seed to rely on.

Lead the Good Life are now launching the incredible ‘Velvet Green’ Lawn Seed. A collaboration between PlantWorks and Barenbrug; this is the first, and currently the only lawn seed to carry endorsement from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Suitable for creating new lawns, overseeding and repairing patches, this fantastic perennial ryegrass has a strong creeping habit that is quickly established and chosen for its natural toughness and vitality.

Velvet Green copes easily with everyday family use and holds in enough nutrients to keep it looking great for longer. The seed uses ‘rootgrow’ mycorrhizal fungi, which is a beneficial fungi that slowly builds up so that it can soak in nutrients from the soil. This increases water uptake, lessening the need for watering – an impressive environmental credential!

“The RHS has used Barenbrug seed and recognises the heritage of the company, both in terms of its seed breeding and research programmes, and its international achievements. We are delighted to collaborate in the launch of the first Green Velvet product for the UK retail market and look forward to developing the relationship to offer additional premium products to the market in the coming years.” - RHS’ Giant Tripp.

PlantWorks and Barenbrug believe that this is the seed to become the number one choice for gardeners, produced to the highest possible standards, it’s no wonder they received the RHS seal of approval.

This range includes the awesome All Rounder for everyday lawns, The Life Saver for quick repairs, The Shady One for use under trees and shady areas, The Action Hero, a hard wearing mixture for high traffic and wear, and the fine and luxury Perfectionist. So you’re sure to find the perfect lawn seed for your needs. Whether you want a beautiful show lawn or a tough lawn for sports and recreation, Green Velvet will never disappoint!

allrounder Tlifesavertheshadyoneactionherotheperfectionist

A Sense Of Place by Max Smith


We’ve stumbled upon some great inspiration this morning in the shape of a short film by filmmaker Max Smith. This is the first in a series of films that highlight the beauty of hidden wild habitats across Britain.

Today we see an intimate take on Argyll Forest Park, which we’re sure lots of you will enjoy.


September with Adam Woolcott


Autumn is an ideal time for planting and transplanting; the sun warms the soil and the ground is moist due to shorter days and autumn rains. If there’s a shrub you wish to move, roses you want to transplant or perennials that have been in the wrong place then lift and move them to new homes now. Dig a circle around the base of the plant at least 12” from the stem and dig underneath so as to keep as much soil around the roots as possible. Transplant to the new site (planting at the same depth) and water well.

September is a great month for planting pot-grown fruit such as apples, pears, cherries, plums, gooseberries, currants, and more. It’s also an ideal time to plant ornamental trees, shrubs and conifers.

In sunny gardens with well-drained soil, plant onion sets, shallots and garlic for an early crop next year; however, if your soil is heavy and moist then leave until next spring.

Start your bulb planting this month for spring and summer. The choice is huge: Daffodils, Crocus, Hyacinths, Dutch Iris, Alliums, Anemones, Cyclamen, Muscari, Scilla and Aconites to mention but a few.

Leave Tulip planting until early November. Plant bulbs in natural drifts in the lawn by scattering the bulbs over the grass and planting them where they land. Alternatively, plant in pots, hanging baskets, troughs or in beds and borders.


Cheap & Cheerful
September is a great time for creating plants for free. Collect ripe seed heads from plants such as Poppies, Delphiniums, Foxgloves, and Lupins when the heads are brown and dry.

Collect the seed by shaking the seed heads into envelopes, then sow and grow next spring. Check gravel paths and borders for young seedlings such as Alchemilla, Lavender, Persicaria, and Oenothera. Lift and pot these to create new plants for free. Take hardwood cuttings from shrubs such as Cornus, Willow, Lilac, Philadelphus and Deutzia. Cut lengths of stem from brown wood on your shrubs just above a leaf joint and then trim down from about 5” to just above the leaf joint. Cut the top at an angle and the bottom straight. Push into the edge of a pot containing gritty well drained compost. Leave somewhere bright and sheltered, water when dry and by this time next year you should have new young plants.


Autumnal Upkeep

Once the leaves begin to fall, clear them from your lawn and treat your grass to an autumn lawn feed- this will create healthy root growth and will help to control the moss.

Bring in house plants that have been outside for the summer and reduce watering and feeding as the days shorten.

Remember though, its only September, so keep dead-heading, watering and continuing to love you garden.

Short Film : how to make a terrarium

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As it’s Friday we’ve been looking for a great little DIY project to keep us entertained over the weekend. Luckily we’ve stumbled upon a fantastic video tutorial which has been put together by photographer Randall Garcia which we’re sure lots of you will enjoy.

This how to video features Martie Kilmer in her Portland Oregon studio as she explains how to create your very own Terrarium in six easy steps.

You can see more work from Martie over on the Space Design website.



At the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show with Adam Woolcott

It’s an amazing week here at the Hampton Court Palace flower show- incredible gardens, horticultural wonders and stands selling everything from bronze frogs to wooden houses on legs!  The highlight for myself and partner John, however, was winning the Silver-Gilt medal for our garden inspired by the NSPCC.


Recent dark and disturbing headlines have made this Summer a busy one for the NSPCC, but I feel that our garden represents the hope and consistency of the work this great organization provides.

Our garden celebrates the 130 year birthday of the NSPCC, demonstrating that through tumultuous change, war and turmoil, the organization stands strong as a bulwark against child abuse.

The garden moves from the Victorian era to the 1920s, then from the ’70s through to the modern day. The plants and paving change in line with the eras; as do the toys. All the toys featured in the garden were chosen by children whose lives have been positively impacted by the NSPCC.

One of the most touching aspects of the space were the 130 jam jars dotted around the garden containing messages of hope for the future written by children.


It’s easy to become saddened and depressed in this modern world, but our NSPCC garden shows that while those that provide incredible hope and fortitude are around, the compassionate, righteous and truly humane side of humanity will continue to shine through.

To find out more about the NSPCC and to offer your support, visit their website-


Till next time,


Our Favourite Blooms, Gardens & Oddities at BBC Gardeners’ World 2014

20 of our Favourite Blooms, Gardens and Oddities

This being our first time at BBC Gardeners’ World, we found surprises around every corner. From award winning gardens honouring the heroes of WWI to ceramic zombie ornaments, here is our collection of the bizarre and beautiful from this years’ show.

Show Gardens

‘Paint the Town…with Living Colour’

‘Paint the Town…with Living Colour’

Designed by David Blakemore, this space featured as part of the event’s Beautiful Borders exhibit, which attempted to demonstrate how beautiful gardens can be achieved even in the smallest of spaces. All designs followed the ‘Birmingham’ theme, with this entry exploring the vibrancy of the city through colour.

‘Calm & Chaos’

‘Calm & Chaos’
Amidst the hustle and bustle of purchase laden shoppers, this border garden provided brief respite. The sleeper columns are representative of the Birmingham city skyline, with the surrounding foliage and blooms in place to remind us that where there is chaos, there is calm. By Faye Ellard and Nathan Proud.

‘Twenty-One Senses’

‘Twenty-One Senses’
Designers Yvonne Mathews and Andrew Richards sought out to portray the diverse range of senses we all use in every day life and it is safe to say that they delivered. This sensory garden is tied together by the central corolla, the five points of which represent the five main senses.

‘In Flanders Fields’

‘In Flanders Fields’
Memorial WWI gardens were a widespread trend throughout the show, with this primarily textile artwork, by the craft group Creative Moments, drawing in crowds with its vibrant poppy spread. The space utilised upcycled textile materials and promoted the therapeutic benefits of knitting and felt making.


‘Camera Obscura: Images of an Artist’s Retreat’

‘Camera Obscura: Images of an Artist’s Retreat’
Designed by Aidan Tagg

A quaint little garden full of whimsy- the modern geodome teamed alongside the artist’s easel made for a very creative space full of flair. A truly unique offering.


Designed by Tony Smith, this space  is inspired by everyone’s favourite legume, the versatile Cocoa bean. Furniture carved out of giant cocoa pods accompanied a bubbling chocolate fountain in what is truly a novel idea.

‘The World Vision Garden- Grow Hope’

‘The World Vision Garden- Grow Hope’
Designed by John Warland and sponsored by the charity World Vision, this space commemorates the 30 year anniversay since the Ethiopian Famine. The saplings represent the 10 million trees planted by the charity in Ethiopia to help recovery against the effects of deforestation.

‘Colour in Contrast’

‘Colour in Contrast’
Designed by Charlie Bloom, this beautiful space did not fail to deliver in the contrasting colour department. Featuring bright citrus hues alongside vibrant blue plants, this garden really stood out from the rest.

‘The Tailored Garden’

Left side of ‘The Tailored Garden’

‘The Tailored Garden’
Designed by Margaret Dobbs and Jane Feehan, this border garden celebrates those that worked in Birmingham’s tailoring industry. The garden utilizes each bit of space that is given with an abundant array of foliage and flowers.

‘The Blues’

The Blues’ Designed by Juliet Douglas and Soo Spector
With football fever in the air, a garden celebrating Birmingham City Football Club came as no surprise! The woven sphere served as an eye-catching centre piece in a space dominated with blue and white blooms, Birmingham City FC’s team colours.

Birmingham City Council Display for the RHS Floral Marquee

By far our favourite spectacle was the huge display put together by Birmingham City Council.

The impressive garden followed the commemorative WWI garden trend and strove to capture the trepidation of warfare. The outside portion of the display featured depictions of wartime transport adorned with foliage, including a steam engine and a pair of Sopwith Camel style fighter planes.

Perhaps the most engaging feature of the display was the central walkway cutting through the mid-section of the piece. Visitors walked through a sobering representation of a WWI era trench tunnel.

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The Best of the Rest

Some of the most vivid displays could be seen in the RHS Floral Marquee. From tropical plants to bounteous collections of the most beautiful blooms, here is a small collection of our favourite offerings.

The wonderful display above demonstrates what could be achieved with a healthy dose of Incredibloom!

Disclaimer- LTGL does not suggest that your blooms will be this bountiful just through use of Incredibloom, although it wouldn’t hurt!


Lilium ‘Orange Tycoon’

Trumpet plants were another prominent trend throughout the show, with exhibitors pulling out all the stops with exotic offerings.


Nepenthes Alata ‘Tropical Pitcher Plant’

Sarracenia Oreophila ‘The Green Trumpet’

We leave you with an image of our favourite exhibitor- the one that kept us hydrated with plenty of Champagne and Pimms!


15 top tips to get the most out of your garden

Generation of women gardeners

Is your garden in need of some TLC? Are you in a gardening and growing rut? Don’t worry help is here! These top tricks and handy hints from three-time Chelsea award winner Adam Woolcott, will get you set for summer and beyond.

Adam’s top tips for making the most of your garden:

1. Be prepared to put the time in. Gardens aren’t made by sitting in the shade. Do bits little and often

2. Keep on top of weeds and hoe them off as they come up.

3. Look out for pests and pick them off when you see them or treat if necessary.

4. Keep on top of watering especially pots near to the house as they don’t get as much water as you think, even when it rains. Keep shrubs watered especially camellias and rhododendrons to ensure they flower well next year.

5. Use bedding plants for instant colour and feed every week with tomato feed. Plant in groups of the same colour for bigger impact.

6. Dead head regularly to encourage longer flowering.

7. Start a compost heap; it’s great for your beds and borders. It might take a year or two to rot down but it is worth it. It will provide a mulch to keep down the weeds, it will keep in the moisture and it will feed your plants.

8. Take cuttings, collect seed, swap with friends and neighbours. Plants for free.

9. If you want to buy new plants and are not sure what to choose have look around your neighbours’ gardens to see what grows well in your area. Plant in groups of threes or fives as they look better on the eye.

10. Try something new and experiment with different plants. If a plant isn’t happy then just move it in the autumn. Don’t panic it’s actually quite hard to kill plants unless you don’t water them or water them too much.

11. Feed your borders. Shrubs and trees need feeding just as much as hanging baskets. A few handfuls of granular fertiliser sprinkled on your flower beds can really make a difference.

12. Feed and weed your Lawn regularly and keep it cut every week. Invest in some edging sheers. It’s amazing how just keeping the edges of the lawn trimmed can sharpen up your whole garden.

13. Encourage wildlife by adding water features, bird feeders, insect hotels (piles of old logs which make fabulous habitats for beneficial bugs) and by growing plants that butterflies and bees love such as Buddleias and Sedums.

15. Plant up a hanging basket if you haven’t planted yours up yet try one of our ‘Easy Fill’ hanging baskets for the best basket you’ve ever had. Make the neighbours jealous!

16. Take time to sit and enjoy your garden, after all that’s why we do it!

Do you have any gardening questions for Adam? Tweet us and include the hashtag #AskAdam.