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Posted on 1st April, 2023


IN THE GARDEN with Sara Cushing
For me, the proper start of Spring is when I see the crocus coming uparound The Green. Always the yellows first, then the purples. And thenthe daffodils around the trees come to life, and all planted by lovelypeople in this beautiful village. It really is the most uplifting sight!We always seems to geta 'False Spring' though.We go through a warm phase and then a coldsnap happens, so I'm not inclined to takeprotection off the greenhouse, or to unwrap anybanana plants just yet! I'm keeping all my seedswarm in the greenhouse with cloches and fleecestill. Just in case..and on that note, my Stocks havestarted coming up!I love walking into the greenhouse and findingsomething has germinated!! Stocks are a very underratedannual, and after planting a whole lot into a customer'sborder last year, I remembered how fab they are. Theyare drought tolerant and the scent that comes fromthese, especially with night varieties is quite powerful.Colours range from whites to deep purples so are perfectto fill in any spaces in summer borders!No summer border is ever complete without lavender,which is something I’ve been chatting about with acouple of my customers recently. Lavender is anessential for pollinating insects and there are somefabulous varieties of English now available. Though alllavenders originate from the Mediterranean, the Frenchare more temperamental, only withstandingtemperatures to approx -
2⁰c, whereas the English strains
can go to as low as -
12⁰C. With the unprecedented
temperatures we've had this year I’m not consideringanything other than properly hardy. During my research, Ialso found that French lavender is considered a noxious weed in Australia!https://downderry-nursery.co.uk/ are our amazing local lavender nursery who produce strongvarieties to suit our space and environment, and they came up trumps with the impact of flowercombined with the hardiness we need. Some of my favourite beautiful, alternative English varietiesfor you all to consider, should you be planting lavenders this year! (see next page).
Page 4
In the borders
 If, like me, you've run out of all available spaceindoors, then annual seeds can be sown in theborders towards the end of this month. This is where'Drift Planting' comes in. Obviously a still day is prettyessential, (learnt totally from experience and how notto do it), and a bit of forward thinking helps becauseideally, for example, the taller foxgloves and hollyhocks are to the back of the border, antirrhinumand poppies mid border, and calendula and the lower lying plants to the front to maximise impact.The idea is to create a natural-looking effect with annuals weaving in between perennials. It's one ofthe things I love doing most, because it creates a bit of random chaos in between structure.Otherwise, overgrown perennials can be lifted, split and replanted to fill in gaps, cornus (dogwood),cotinus (smokebush) and salix (willow) can be pruned and all half hardy and annual flower seeds canbe sown indoors, Geranium, cosmos, nasturtiums, begonia, lobelia, pretty much the summerdisplays are all good to go now.I've waited ages to do these, having bought the seeds two months ago!And wildflower mixes can be sown outdoors as well now. We'replanning a wildflower verge in one particular garden I manage, so I'mvery much looking forward to seeing how this will turn out in a coupleof months!Deadheading daffodils and feeding up for next year is essential toensure nutrients get back into the bulb and ensure a display for thefollowing Spring, and snowdrops can be lifted and split for replantingwhile they are still green.Now we can start feeding things! Rhododendron and azaleas benefit from feeding now on with agood ericaceous feed, especially.
In the Veg Patch
So all the potatoes that have been chitted so carefully inegg-boxes are ready to go out! Whether you put themin big pots or trenches they still need to be protectedfrom any late frosts we are still susceptible to for thenext month or so.Carrots and parsnips can go into a well-prepared bednow. This year we've gone for the smaller Chantennayas well as rainbow varieties. My choice of what to plantdepends on what will be eaten, and these look amazingon a plate!Spinach and brassica can be started now indoors, as canthe salads. The leafy crops have a good start if planted in March. Do not be too eager to plant thebeans just yet! It is still too cold and there is not enough daylight to produce anything other than aleggy seedling which will not be strong enough to give a decent crop.Keeping an eye on the weather and wishing you all a happy gardening month

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