Magnolias for Easter

Magnolias are the most beautiful of all flowering trees. They also have the largest flowers of any hardy trees. Although there are species that bloom throughout summer we tend to plant the spring-flowering kinds. By far the most popular is the pink and white M. x soulangeana (below). It is a good choice for most…

Super spuds

Whether you think potatoes should be planted on Good Friday or, as in Ireland, St Patrick’s Day, it is time to get potatoes in the ground. Few of us have enough room to grow all the potatoes we need. They take up a lot of room and they are also a lot of work –…

Daffodil envy

There can be few gardens that do not contain at least a few daffodils – they must be our favourite flowers. And no wonder; they are long-lived and provide the first real splash of colour in spring. When I started this new garden it contained nothing but grass – not a tree, shrub or flower…

Camellias for Mothers’ Day

Despite the date moving, it being tied to Easter, Mothers’ Day always seems like the start of spring. Traditionally linked with picking bunches of primroses and daffodils, it is inextricably linked with flowers. In the 70s, when I worked at Nag’s Hall, the ubiquitous pot chrysanth was a popular gift choice and cinerarias were cheap…

Primroses

With gentler weather we have all been getting out and about more and any walk in the countryside will be enlivened by jewel-like clusters of primrose flowers under hedges. Primroses (Primula vulgaris) is one of our earliest wild flowers – the name means ‘first rose’ from ‘prime’. The pale yellow flowers are delicately scented and…

Anemones in spring

As the snowdrops start to fade (and this is the time to divide and replant them) the spring anemones begin to appear. In my new garden I have made sure to add some because they are easy to please and bring such delicate colour to the garden. Anyone who has walked through local woods in…

Longing for lilies

Lilies have come a long way since the start of my gardening career. The first I bought were Lilium regale, along with other Trumpet hybrids such as ‘Pink Perfection’. This was because I was planting in my parents’ garden at the foot of the Downs and the soil was awful, white, chalky clay and I…

Sowing starts now

After a bitterly cold week we are all desperate to plant something. Even if the soil does thaw over the next few days, it is will horribly wet so it is best to keep off it and definitely should not be sowing anything quite yet. It is horribly frustrating but it pays to wait till…

Snowdrops

They are as inevitable as taxes and shrinking sizes of chocolate bars: articles about snowdrops in February! Although there is some debate about whether the common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is native or not, there is little doubt that it is one of the commonest plants in our gardens. The reasons are obvious: it is hardy,…

Pruning winter stems

It is still a bit early for many gardening activities. The ground is wet and frost is keeping us off the grass and borders. But there are still a few useful jobs we can do. While it is still a bit early to prune roses and we shouldn’t go round the garden snipping for the…