Wednesdays at Clifton Nurseries

Clifton Nurseries, in Maida Vale, has a delightful summer programme of hands-on talks and workshops, kicking off on 30 April
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Clifton Nurseries in Maida Vale, W9
Summer talks and workshops start at Clifton Nurseries on 30 April. Call 020 7432 1871
Clifton Wednesdays is a delightful summer programme of after-hours activities at the lush Clifton Nurseries in Maida Vale (London's oldest garden centre, founded in 1851).

There will be hands-on talks and workshops on gardening, interior design, beauty and food, all hosted by experts. Subjects will include wine tasting, floral art, holistic wellbeing, and even a chilli festival.

Productive window boxes feature in the first event. Plant up your own container to grow herbs and vegetables, and then take it home. And see how Clifton's Daylesford organic chef harvests window boxes for a seasonal meal, creating spinach, watercress and sorrel soup; a vegetable salad with new potatoes and mimosa dressing (an infusion of garlic, lemon juice, tarragon and olive oil).

Tickets cost £15 (£10 for Friends of Clifton), which includes a box, plants, herbs and compost, and food demonstations and tastings (booking essential). Call 020 7432 1871, or email Clifton Nurseries, 5A Clifton Villas, W9.

Invaluable window-box tips from Guy Pullen, nursery manager:

Clifton Nurseries, Maida Vale, W9
Subjects will include wine tasting, floral art and even a chilli festival
* Make sure your box has drainage holes (some plastic boxes don't).
* Line your box with a Jeye cloth to stop compost dropping out. Add a thin layer of stones or gravel to aid drainage.
* Place compost halfway up the box. Put in the largest plants at the back, and then add more compost to support smaller plants, making sure all are at the same level.
* Compost level should be about 2cm from top of box when planted, to allow for settlement.
* Water until it appears from the drainage holes, and be sure to keep soil moist.
* Window boxes are heavy - make sure they are secure.
* Most edible plants need sun to thrive, but rocket, coriander and parsley will grow in partial shade.
* Herbs grow well together but avoid aggressive mint, which takes over everything.
* Don't fertilise herbs - it makes them fleshy and flavourless.
* Cut and use young shoots regularly to keep plants compact and productive.
* Grow tomatoes in a bigger container, to cut down watering and maximise yield.
* Parsley, rocket and coriander tend to "bolt" (flower and lose their flavour), so plant two or three pots per season.
* Freeze big bunches of herbs towards the end of the summer, as their oils wither away in the winter.

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