New talks for 2018

Shady Characters!

Or, growing and using shade loving herbs

That shady corner in the garden is perfect for growing lots of herbs.

Herbs like coriander are better grown in the shade, as they hate dry soils and produce much softer tastier leaves…

In this new talk for 2018/19 Doug suggests a dozen herbs that are happier growing in the shade…


Winter thrillers

Scent, stems and stunning colour, a winter garden can have it all

Winter gardens filled with colour and scent really lift the spirits on even the coldest winters day, in this talk Doug reveals the secrets of creating a stunning winter garden.


Growing better tomatoes

“It is impossible to think a sad thought while eating a home grown tomato, warm from the sun”

Doug started his horticultural career growing tomatoes, and has travelled widely looking at tomato production techniques. This talk is the ultimate tomato growing masterclass reviewing the best varieties to try, outdoor and indoor cultivation along with ways to avoid pests, diseases and disorders.

One club who have booked this talk are running a tomato competition with each member getting a seedling to grow, with a prize for the heaviest ripe  tomato brought to their September meeting.


Monkey cups, hens n chicks, and fresh air

Doug’s cottage is filled with around 50 different houseplants, ranging from orchids, succulents and ferns through to more sinister flesh eating favourites.

In this talk Doug introduces a few of his favourites, telling their fascinating stories and sharing tips for success.


The Incidental Adventurer

Big Doug is now lesser Doug, having shed 11 stone in 11 months Doug has been asked to tell his story…

A key part of Doug’s weightless has been his trusty pair of walking boots, walking 1000 miles a year, Doug shares the stories and the plants and the views he has discovered on his journey…


Doug’s classic talks

 1. Flowers, foliage and Fat Rascals

Doug has been a regular visitor of the RHS Garden at Harlow Carr for over 20 years.

Doug is also an academic tutor in the RHS School of Horticulture, and regularly lectures at RHS Harlow Carr.

During this time Doug has seen this incredible garden develop into one of the finest gardens in the Britain.

Starting with an insight into the history of the garden, this talk then goes on to look at many of the stunning plants that make a visit to Harlow Carr magical.

(I think we all know where the Fat Rascals come from!)


 2. Flowers of verge and byway

Its a good excuse!

When clambering up a steep hillside, you can fall to your knees, explaining that you just need five minutes to photograph this wonderful wildflower…

And Doug spends a lot of time on his knees, camera in hand photographing the wildflowers of Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

I this fascinating talk Doug shares not just his stunning wildflower photographs but also tells their stories…


 3. The secret Gardens of the Lake District 

This gardening talk has come about as a result of Doug leading tours to the Lake District for 10 years with the Field Studies Council.

Great Gardens such as Levens Hall with its amazing ancient topiary are featured, along with a plethora of lesser-known gems.


4. Gardening in the future

A lighthearted, but informative review of the latest innovations and discoveries that are going to change the way we garden…

I was asked by Chris who runs Wheldrake Gardening Club if I had thought of giving a talk about where gardening is going. Chris was wanting a talk that was:

  • Lighthearted
  • Informative
  • Gives a round up of Research and Development
  • Looks at new and novel ways of controlling Pests and Diseases
  • Suggests new ideas from tree planting to digging

Here is what Hilary of Normanby Gardeners had to say about the talk…

“I just thought that I would let you know that we found the talk fascinating. One or two members had thought that it might be rather too scientific but pronounced it to be “brilliant” at the end of the evening. As usual the subject was very entertaining as well as informative. We would recommend it to other gardening clubs searching for a talk which a change from the usual subjects.”


5. Gardening on the edge

Gardening on the edge – Coastal Plants and Gardens” is the name of one of Doug’s Newest talks, which is suitable for general interest groups such as WIs and Ladies Luncheon Clubs, as well as Gardening Clubs.

Doug is currently reclaiming his garden after letting his house out for a few years, his new garden will have a strong coastal influence.

In this talk Doug visits some wonderful coastal gardens, considers plants to grow near the coast, and how to achieve that coastal look.


6. The Drunken Gardener

This talk looks at the role that many of our garden plants have in the creation of some of the worlds finest drinks…

Taking inspiration from nettle beer, through to more exotic beverages such as pulque this talk takes an amusing and sideways look at plants, gardens and favourite tipples.

This talk is ideal for Christmas Meetings, and of course, to liven up an AGM!


7. Wicked Plants

This is a talk looking at plants that hurt, mame and kill, in some rather ingenious ways…

Just when you thought it was safe to go out into the garden.

Something a little bit different…


8. 10 Ways to a better Garden

This has become established as Doug’s most popular gardening talk, (indeed if Doug was a chef, this would be his signature dish) and has been enjoyed by over 200 groups in the last few years. Gaining inspiration from some of the finest gardens in the world, this talk temps you to consider 10 easy ways to create your very own dream garden.

The talk concludes with a flurry of slides showing some of Doug’s favourite plants, reminding us just why we love gardening so much…


9. The way we were…

This is fast becoming one of Doug’s most popular gardening talks, and builds on Doug’s passion of collecting and reading old gardening magazines, brochures and books.

So how did we garden over 60 years ago and just how much have things changed from the humble shed, to the flower show and of course the very latest products and devices to make gardening easy?

Using the catalogues and gardening magazines of yesteryear as inspiration Doug ponders on adverts for lightweight concrete greenhouses, and why only pipe smoking men seemed to be used in adverts!


10. A touch of Cornish

Six years in the making this talk provides a whistle stop tour of some of the finest gardens to be found in Cornwall; where frost is rare and the gardens are exceptional.

This is a land of giant Echiums and tree ferns, Camellias and Rhododendrons, Eden, Heligan and a host of smaller unknown gardens.

Oh yes, and the national museum of lawn mowers!


11. Gardening for the winter solstice

Even when the days are at their shortest our gardens can still fill us with joy!  Indeed it has been said that if our gardens don’t fill our hearts with joy every day of the year then we have got it all wrong!

In this talk for the winter season Doug considers a range of plants that are at their best on the shortest day of the year.


12. Why plants talk to insects & why pumpkins can’t fly?

In this fun gardening talk Doug takes a sideways look at the science of gardening…

  • Why do some plants talk to insects?
  • Do trees sweat
  • Can plants kill each other
  • Can plants talk to each other, and if so what do they say?
  • How your plants talk to you – if you are listening
  • And of course, why pumpkins can’t fly?


13. 10 NEW must have plants.

As Doug works with some of the largest plant producers in the UK, he gets to see many new plants before they are launched.

He also travels widely in the UK and visits many of the leading gardens, which are crammed with fantastic plants.

Doug has selected just 10 of these plants, which he considers to be worthy of a place in every garden.


14. The Joy of Worms!

At the heart of organic growing is compost.

In this humorous, illustrated, look at organic growing, we delve into the amazing world of vermicomposting, worm bins, compost piles and much, much, more!

Discover how to compost TNT, how to dispose of 20 000 dead turkeys, (honest) and how to produce all your own liquid feed!

This talk had been retired, but after a gardening club asked for it twice as they enjoyed it so much the first time it was brought out of retirement!


15. Grow your own                                                

30% of the UK population have decided to try growing their own vegetables in 2013.

Sales of vegetable seeds are now greater than those of flowers.

Find out why Grow Your Own has become so incredibly popular and why more and more people are taking up vegetable gardening.

From the construction of the first raised beds, through to the planting with unusual and rare vegetables, this talk looks at the easy way to taste and flavour.

Growing your own does not need to take time and effort indeed all you need is one square foot of ground.


16. How to poison pests and love the planet

One of the joys of growing our own fruit and vegetables, apart from the superior flavour, colour and texture, is knowing that they are 100% natural.

But what happens when it all goes wrong and the greenfly come marching in?

Before you reach for the spray book this entertaining talk and discover how to use nature to defeat even the most stubborn foes.

Recipes for herbal cures are given, along with tips on how to encourage beneficial insects to visit the garden.


17. Superheroes – The Plant Hunters

For years Doug has been fascinated by the lives of a group of real-life gardening heroes.

People who braved hardship, evil warlords, cannibals and travelled the world searching for rare and unusual plants, which changed both our gardens and gardening for ever.

This gardening talk is dedicated to them and tells their story.


18. Great Gardens

A whistle stop tour looking at some of the great gardens telling the stories behind them, including, Great Dixter, Kew, Wisley, Sissinghurst, Keukenhof, The Lost Gardens of Helligan, The Eden Project, Longwood Gardens and as they say many more….


19. The Holly, the Ivy, and other Christmas stories

A great favourite for that Christmas meeting, where a short amusing talk is in order, before a buffet or similar. Some clubs have booked this with a short Quiz for a fun and festive evening.

Doug invites you to learn about the folklore and tales behind the plants and traditions that make Christmas special.


20. The Greatest Show on Earth

This talk, which is popular with Gardening clubs, and Ladies Luncheon Clubs alike, has been fully revised for 2014.  Chelsea is the most famous flower show in the world, but what goes on behind the scenes, what does it take to create a winning garden, and how good a judge would you be?


21. Tips n Tricks and other Secrets from the Potting Shed

Over the years listeners to The Great Outdoors, the programme Doug has presented for some 18 years on BBC Radio Humberside have shared their tips and tricks to make gardening easier.

  • Some are ingenious.
  • Most will save time and money.
  • Some however are just plain bizarre!


22. My Garden, or the 25 year makeover!

“Why do you never talk about your own garden?” Is a question often asked at Gardening Clubs, so here it is, warts and all.

Doug’s Garden.

This talk covers the moment the builders moved off site, to the process of designing the garden, the plants that Doug has grown, along with the tales of triumph and disaster along the way.

New for 2014 after renting his house out for 4 years, prior to moving back to his old garden Doug discovers 10 foot high lawn weeds, brambles, and a garden gone wild.


23. The Gardens of The National Trust

Hidcote was the first National Trust Garden, now some of our most famous and loved gardens come under the care of the National Trust, including Sissinghurst, Biddulph Grange, Coleton Fishacre and many more!


24. The 10 Golden rules of successful Greenhouse Gardening  

In this talk Doug draws on his professional glasshouse growing background to discuss the 10 golden rules for successful greenhouse growing.


25. Container Gardening

Can anything compare to a perfect hanging basket in full flower, or a patio filled with scent and colour.

In this  talk Doug considers…

  • How to choose the right container
  • Perfect plants for pots
  • Creating spring, summer and autumn colour
  • How to create a container kitchen garden

Create the perfect POTio for 2018


26. Snuffles and tweets                                    

In this new talk Doug considers how to create a garden that is both attractive and friendly to wildlife.

Snuffling hedgehogs, warty toads and wild birds all need to be attracted into the garden.

Let Doug show you how.


27. Perfect plants for problem places

Perfect Plants for Problem Places started life as a Masterclass on the gardening programme Doug co presents on BBC Radio Humberside. The title is self explanatory, with a wide range of perfect plants for even the most difficult sites being considered.


28. Gardening on the other side of the Pond

This talk offers an amusing insight into Americans and their passion for plants and gardening.

Gardens featured include Harvard Universities’ Arnold Arboretum, Niagara Falls Botanical Gardens, and the justly World Famous Longwood Gardens, which was described to Doug as “how God would garden if he had the money!”

Relax and enjoy a tour some of the best gardens in the North Eastern United States, learning about the plants, and gardens of the area.


29. The Fruits of your labours

In this talk Doug looks at the techniques involved in growing fruit in a Northern garden.


30. Edible Flowers

In this talk Doug considers the wide range of flowers that can be grown and used to garnish our summer salads, add fragrance and flavour to jams and jellies and of course to make dinner party guests gasp with astonishment.