Gardening advice: all the sites you need

What to plant, when to plant it, and where to order it from: Sally Brampton rounds up all the sites you need to plan your garden displays and vegetable beds

Between them, these ten sites contain all the advice you need on what to plant when and where. Once your online wish list is complete, all you need do is hit ‘checkout’ and resist the temptation to order more.

Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

The queen of information. Whenever you need to know where and when to plant anything, and the best method of planting it, make this your first stop. There’s a page for finding the right plant for a particular place in your garden, whether it’s a sunny site or dry shade; advice on everything from pruning to propagating; and a plant finder if you’re trying to track down a particularly elusive or rare specimen. Visit The RHS. Twitter: @The_RHS.


A fabulous resource for gardeners, offering everything from sound advice on planting to designing your own garden (with a handy list for itemising all your plants and a wish list for plants you want to add). It has designer gardens to inspire you, the best garden resources, and more. This is gardening passion at its best. Visit Shoot. Twitter: @ShootGardening.

Fennel and Fern 

This is just plain gorgeous to look at and is an encyclopaedia of organic advice and information about flowers, fruit and vegetables. It is particularly good for novice gardeners, with step-by-step advice. It is also a forum for the best gardening blogs from all over the world and has a community channel for members to post photographs and exchange ideas. Properly inspirational. Visit Fennel and Fern. Twitter: @fennelandfern.

Common Farm Flowers

Not as common as the name suggests; in fact, very far from it. This has a great combination of inspiration (breathtakingly pretty bouquets and posies, which you can order online) and practical advice. Go to the blog for everything from planting trees, dealing with slugs and snails and making marmalade. It’s warm and funny too. Visit Common Farm Flowers. Twitter: @TheFlowerFarmer.


This is one of the best sites for ordering plants online. It supplies plants to many RHS gold-winning garden designers but is also a mine of practical information. Every plant you might be thinking of buying shows up, with a list of advice about how big it grows and what microclimate, position and soil it prefers. It really helps you avoid making mistakes. There are also blogs and diaries written by top garden designers and experts. Visit Crocus. Twitter: @CrocusCoUk.

Sarah Raven

This is excellent on colour advice (Sarah is the author of The Bold and Brilliant Garden) and a gorgeous catalogue of plants, vegetables and everything associated. If you have an allotment, it’s not only the advice, seeds and tools that will woo you: search out The Garden Cookbook, a collection of inspiring recipes and a must-have for any enthusiastic gardener wanting to make the most of their produce. Impossible to resist. Visit Sarah Raven.


The late Michael Loftus was a serious plantsman and his memory lives on through his website, offering fantastically healthy and unusual plants, specialising in irises, day lilies and geraniums. The team at the Suffolk nursery continue to offer a border advice service, which is perfect for novice gardeners in need of inspiration and guidance. Their blog is an inspiration. Visit Woottens.

David Austin

Austin is the master of the modern English rose and a Chelsea gold medal winner. He breeds his own varieties, which are wonderful repeat flowerers in marvellous colours with the character and fragrance of Old Garden Roses. The World Federation of Rose Societies recently named Austin’s rose, Graham Thomas, “the world’s favourite rose” and the website stocks 900 varieties including climbers and cut roses. Who would buy their roses anywhere else? Visit David Austin Roses.

Hayloft Plants

This site was started at a kitchen table in 1993, and now boasts a great mail order form, organised by colour or characteristics such as sunny border or dry shade. The Haylofters are specialists in penstemons, tender plants (such as gazanias) and choice perennials, with every colour under the sun. Look out for terrific special offers. Visit Hayloft Plants.

Garden Organic

For more than 50 years, this charitable organisation has dedicated itself to researching and promoting organic horticulture. The website offers expert advice and information on environmentally friendly gardening and encourages visitors to adopt uncommon British vegetables that are in danger of extinction. Its unique Heritage Seed Library is particularly fascinating and offers a collection of rare plant and vegetable seeds that can be made available to members. Visit Garden Organic.

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