The Spring Garden – 10 must have plants for spring colour

So Spring is officially here, getting home from work to the light and warm makes everyone feel great and there is nothing better than sitting out in the garden with your cup of tea to just enjoy the colour that is starting to emerge at this time of year.

I have created a few gardens over the years and always to seek to add certain plants which I know are fairly low maintenance but will give the earliest colour.

My 5 recommended shrubs which give colour at this time of year would have to be;

  1. Photinia – this is a woody shrub which is evergreen, so will remain green all year round, but the new leaves when they emerge are this lovely bright red. I tend to leave this to its own devices generally although I do give it a good prune around August time and again in October else it would grow huge.Photinia
    2. Ceanothus – This is another woody evergreen shrub, but with gorgeous blue flowers which gets brighter as the weeks pass. You can buy slower or faster growing varieties but either way produce this lovely blue colour.ceanothus
  2. Forsythia – This time a yellow flower which is formed before the leaves emerge. The plant loses its leaves over winter so the bright yellow colour is the first sign of growth on this plant. Its a very easy plant to multiply, just cut a branch off and plant in in the ground alongside and it will form a whole new shrub which can then be planted.forsythia
  3. Ribes – A fantastic pink flower on another woody shrub. Its deciduous plant and again the pink flower appears before this years leaf growth.                                                                                 ribes
  4. Kerria Japonica – A bright yellow flower with heads that look like pompoms. This is a very pretty plant which is deciduous and again the flowers emerge before the leaves. Another easy plant to propagate, just cut a branch off and plant alongside and it will soon grow to create a whole new plant.                                                                                kerria Japonica

My 5 recommended flowers to give colour at this time of year are;

  1. Daffoldils – You can’t fail to love the earliest yellow blooms that pop up year after year. Pop in some bulbs one year and as long as you don’t disturb them they will grow year after year.                                                                                                                                          Daffodil
  2. Tulips – Similarly with tulips, once the bulbs have been planted they’ll keep growing every year with so many lovely colours to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.                                                                                                                                              tulips
  3. Primrose – you can pick primroses up for any garden centre or flower shop so cheaply at this time of the year, but the key to these coming back year after year is that they love the shade.                                                                                                                          
  4. Forget-me-not – These lovely delicate flowers are quite weed-like really they pop up suddenly and then spread everywhere. I let them flower with their beautiful blue colour and once they start getting a bit mildewy, I pull most of them up. This makes sure they don’t take over the entire area but still give lovely colour at this time of the year.                                                                                                                                         forgetmenot
  5. Bluebells and Fritilery – Easy to grow bulbs which if undisturbed will pop up every year, adding extra heads each year. The key to any bulbs is they don’t like being disturbed so I like to plant them at the base of a tree where I’m not going to dig the soil over .                                                                                                                                                                                                          SONY DSC                         FRITILLARIA MELEAGRIS 2

All of this colour will last for the next month or so before the summer flowering plants start to come into bloom.

Enjoy your spring garden

Sarah x

 

 

My 72 perennials have arrived!

Just in time for the Easter weekend and my special offer perennials have arrived, those of you who regularly follow my blog know that I am very impulsive over buying plants. When a Thompson and Morgan email hit my in box with a one day special, 72 perennials for £9.99 I couldn’t resist.

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So today they finally arrived, little plug plants a mere 2 or 3 cm tall with with great potential to be full grown flowering plants by the summer.

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All the plants are great for adding lots of summer colour, year on year, to attract insects particularly bees.

My first job was a quick trip to the garden centre to buy multipurpose compost as I ran out only yesterday! Not really looking forward to the prospects of a garden centre on a rainy Easter Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t actually too busy.

Back home and straight to the greenhouse to start potting on. I tend to use pots with 6 or 10 cells and at this stage put a couple of plugs in each cell. This is for 2 reasons, mainly because I run out of space if I have too many pots, but also it uses less compost at this stage and if the plants get too big before the summer, I can always divide them again before planting them out.

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Lovely rich multipurpose compost, put into the cells and watered well ready to receive the plugs.

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I use a dibber to make just the correct sized hole, which means the plug drops in beautifully without too much fuss.

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Once in, press the compost around the plug and onto the next, only 71 more to go…..

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An hour or so later all 72 are potted on, with labels added and another good watering done. Now just to check on them daily, watering when needed (every day) and hey presto by May 1/2 term we’ll be ready to plant them out in the garden.

I’ll let you know how I get on……

Sarah x

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Best Days out – Burford Garden Centre

Burford is a beautiful little Cotswold market town on the A40 between Gloucester and Oxford. It has gorgeous historic buildings and lots of little independent shops and cafes to visit. Just on the outskirts however is a hidden little gem of a garden centre. Well I say garden centre in the loosest terms as apart from the beautiful displays as you approach,

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it is a good while into your visit before you really see the plants for sale. Not a bad thing in my opinion as there are so many delightful finds which all compliment the plants.

The gorgeous gift and home wares are divided into sections as you move around the store.

Whether it is Art and Antiques & Collectibles;

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Or cosmetics and bath products

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All the items are displayed in such beautiful unique display cabinets. Each area is well defined with the best of products stocked.

Lots of the items are handcrafted by local crafts people and artists.

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The delicious candle section smells lovely and again stocks unusual and often unique products.

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There is a clothing section stocking brands such as Joules, Hunter, and other well known brands along with the more unusual such as these Christys top hatsimg_6843

There is a section selling vintage china, a perfect place for a rummage through all the different colours and patterns to find just the pieces for you. Everything is so beautifully well displayed you can easily find just the perfect thing.

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Finally getting to plants..again so well displayed there is so much inspiration to be gained at every corner. One of my favourite indoor plants is the orchid, here they have a large orchid section and I have never seen them displayed quite like this before.

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Whether its ferns, pots, baskets, house plants there is something for everyone.
img_6840img_6828img_6829And eventually getting outside to the array of colour and variety again you can’t fail to be impressed with how everything is so well displayed.

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Exhausted you will want to visit their award winning cafe for hot meals, snacks or cakes.

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Of course there were many more departments selling lots more individual items, I think I’ve probably only touched the surface here, so I would thoroughly recommend a visit so you can see for yourself just how unusual this hidden gem is….

Garden Bargain – Act fast- today only

“How do you get your garden so colourful” I get asked this on a fairly regular basis during the summer months.

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The answer of course is that I plant lots of flowering plants which attract all the bees and insects which in turn go on to pollinate more and so the cycle goes on. One of the easiest ways of starting this is by using perennials which flower each year, die off over winter and come back healthier and stronger the following year. After a while you have lots of lovely colour from plants which largely speaking look after themselves.

I was so pleased to receive an email this morning from one of my favourite website suppliers Thompson and Morgan promoting a 24hr offer.

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thompson and morgan email

I thought I would share this offer with you as it is the perfect was to get your perennial flowers started.

The offer is 72 plug plants (only tiny when they arrive) of varying types of perennial. There are 6 of each type that will be fully flowering by the summer.

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The offer works out at 14p per plant, which by the time they are fully grown in the garden center they would be typically £2.50 per plant.

perennial offer description

Ordered now the plug plants won’t be delivered until around April time, which is perfect as when you receive them of course there is some work to do.

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Its not as easy as receiving your plants, planting them and hey presto, you will have to pot them on. I put them into module trays filled with compost, both of which can be purchased cheaply from shops such as Wilkinsons and put them in the greenhouse.

module trays

If you don’t have a greenhouse, a sunny windowsill will work just as well.

If you water them regularly, they will be ready to plant out in May. I tend to use the May 1/2 term holiday for planting all my summer colour, that way I know the risk of frost has passed.

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And hey presto, a lovely flowery garden for the summer, and summers to come……

 

Time to start potatoes for a summer harvest

Who doesn’t love the taste of new potatoes, warm out of the pan, dripping with melted butter?

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Credit: bbcgoodfood.com

There is no doubt that homegrown ones are so much tastier than any shop bought ones and they are so simple to grow and really don’t need that much space.

If you want to guarantee a crop to eat during the summer months, you need to get started now.potato plantcredit: pinterest

I buy my seed potatoes from our local garden centre, I like to buy quality as that will ensure we get a good crop.

EarlyPotatoes

I like to buy first earlys, these are potatoes that can be planted out in March and will be ready to pick by July/Aug

Potato Guide

When you get them home, the first thing you need to do is ‘chit’ the potatoes, what that means is you encourage the potatoes to form sprouting roots. I lay the potatoes on a tray on a sunny windowsill in our utility room.

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They will sit here for the next 4 or 5 weeks until nice healthy shoots appear.

I look forward to getting onto the next stage…………

 

 

Want a colourful garden this summer? – plan now, seeds, plugs or trays of bedding plants 

It’s that time of year again, if we are going to have lots of colour in the garden this summer we need to make plans.

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In my garden, I have shrubs which provide structure and greenery all your round. Some of them also flower at different times in the season. I also have perennials which come up every year without too much maintenance, they provide lots of lovely colour and some of those have a long flowering season, all throughout the summer.

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But I also have some areas of the garden which just need an injection of colour. This I provide with bedding plants (annuals) Bedding plants are very tender and do not survive frost so are grown and replaced each year. Bedding plants have the big advantage they provide lots of colour and can be placed wherever there is a gap.

I tend to fill pots with bedding which I can move around the garden to the gaps as well as planting others within the border.

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At this time of year we need to make a decision how we are going to get our bedding plants, there are 3 options.

From seed – a pack of seeds costs around £1 and can be sewn in a propagator at this time of year on a windowsill in the house. They will germinate producing lots of seedlings which will need to be pricked out into trays as soon as they get big enough.

From plug plants – you order them now and they will be grown by the merchants until they get big enough to be sent out, normally the end of March

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They still need potting on but the growth success rate is much greater. Each plug plant cost between about 20p to 50p although if you buy in bulk it does bring the price down. This year I would like to grow some Cosmos,

I can get 60 large plugs for £16.99 delivered w/c 14th March

Or ready grown plants which are available in packs of 6 or so available in the garden centres ready to plant out after May. Typically a pack of 6 bedding plants costs £4.99

Of course although they may be pricey all the hard work is done for you and all that is left is to plant these exactly where you would like them to grow anytime after the last risk of frost, normally around middle of the May.

My personal choice is plug plants and I have just placed my order. I look forward to lots of colour in my garden all through the summer….