A PACK of flower or vegetable seeds is a great way to get everyone involved in some gardening. The simple pack holds all the emotions, which can be shared with people of all ages and the trick is for beginners to keep to those that are easy to grow while the more experienced know what they want to try next.
We do not want much but for ideal gardening conditions we should like more light and heat and we do need enough rain otherwise plants will dry out. So ‘April Showers’ sounds just right as it infers light intermittent rain. A sharp frost, heavy rain and wind will destroy soft young growth on even established plants but you can protect your seedlings or sowings by placing fleece over them, which is a lightweight fabric and a real boon to all gardeners and did not exist until relatively recently.
There is nothing quite like the power of having flowers around the garden and, for the quick fix, it is hard to beat the annual summer plants which are available from now on. It is a little early to go full belt into planting because of the cold or, worse still, some frost but you can make a start in a small way if you have a light frost free area such as a tunnel, sun room, glasshouse or spare window sills will do.
The plants that give you flowers at this time of year without any hardship are shrubs and it is hard to beat the old reliable types such as Camellia, winter heather, Forsythia, Magnolia, Mahonia and Viburnum. I would suggest that you consider including a few in your garden depending on available space but do not forget you can, with pruning, have many more than at first imagined In my grandfather’s garden there was Forsythia next to a Magnolia stellata all contained happily for over 20 years in a space 1m x 2’ (3’ x 6’).
Outside the box of well known plants we have new kids on the block and not so new where there are new variations of the original type. These plants are worth looking out for and I will describe some in the space left. If you like cherry blossom check out the miniature ones called Prunus incisa that mature at around 2m (6’) but can be kept much lower. Go for the varieties ‘Oshidori’, ‘Lotte’ or ‘Kojou-No-Mai’ or the earlier flowering Prunus tomentosa. It is hard to beat the popular Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ with its lily-of-the-valley flowers and bright poinsettia red emerging new leaves but an exciting addition would be Pieris ‘Passion’ with deep pink and white bicolour flowers. Daphne would be high on the desirable list and they were almost impossible to obtain due to difficulties in propagating them but that has been overcome and they are available frequently and their scent is outstanding, especially in varieties Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’ and the well known ‘Jacqueline Postill’.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Sowing of outdoor vegetables has begun in earnest and many people cover the area with fleece which will let water through, keep the soil warmer, protect from frost, and cats or dogs who might be attracted to the fresh soft soil! Strawberries are worth planting soon as they can give a reasonable crop within months of planting and twice as much the following year. Plant onion sets and you can harvest good sized onions in late June. If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future article.