Although spring is just around the corner, a snap of cold weather can remind us that winter is still here.
The strong winds and rain so far this month has left some of my potted trees and shrubs looking the worst for ware as well as breaking to pieces some of my best terra cotta pots.
A host of golden daffodils
Still, the daffodils look wonderful and this year's snowdrops have been some of the best I can remember, and, as for the flowering prunus, the pink blooms have been sight to behold.
We now have to keep our fingers crossed and hope the cold winds will not ruin the newly emerging magnolia and camellia flowers that are every where in the gardens at present.
Those lucky trees and shrubs which are protected in hollows and among other trees will escape but, sadly, the exposed trees and shrubs will not do so well.
Nature, though, is a past master at overcoming these meteorological obstacles and will show us all in a matter of months that all is not lost when the magnolias and camellias make vast bursts of green growth and fill our gardens with the lush backdrop associated with late spring and early summer.
Make a splash in your garden
If you want to make a real splash in your garden this year then why not try one of my favourites. Verbascum has to be the ultimate border flower for great splashes of colour.
This hardy herbaceous plant is usually best at the rear of the border because it will make rapid growth and become quite a giant needing a bit of support in the form of strong cans. However, the plant breeders have been busy and have bred some new
Verbascum Pixie Blue and Verbascum Pixie Apricot are a new variety which are a bundle of energy. They will reveal their highly perfumed petals in mid summer and are generally slug resistant.
The great advantage with the Pixie types is they prefer poor dry soil in either sun or shade, so whatever the summer throws at us weather-wise, these hardy plants will still reward you. The plants can be grown from seed but I prefer to buy them as potted plants or plugs.
If your rockery looks a bit tatty and needs some new planting then why not add a few new plants. Most rockery plants fail because the soil becomes water logged so dig in plenty of gravel or sharp sand before planting to assist drainage. There are lots of plant species to choose but I recommend including the following.
Aubritia Kitte and any variety of campanula. Both these ground cover plants will make rapid growth and cascade over the rocks like little waterfalls. Daphne Kosanii has a mounded compact growth habit with a light blue foliage and flowers where as Daphne Sericea has a low but more upright growing habit.
Veronica Peduncularis Georgia Blue is very compact and ground hugging. Don't hesitate, buy them all and plant them as soon as you can.
The fuchsia's bright...
Prune back the old dead wood on hardy fuchsias, taking care not to damage newly emerging foliage. Keep the plants sheltered and feed with a granular fertilizer and if any look a bit pot bound then replant up in a larger pot with some fresh compost taking care not to disturb the roots too much.
Heather will have just about got to the end of flowering now so if the flowers are fading then simply give them a haircut with a pair of pruning shears and remove the off cuts to let air and light get to the tops of the plants. Mound up a little compost or leaf mould around the bases and feed with a general granular fertilizer.
It won't be long before the first leaflets are available with details of the many gardens open to the public this year.
One especially to put into you diary is Frogmore House and garden, opened by gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen in aid of The Thames Valley And Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust.
This garden is in Windsor Home Park and visitors will also be able to visit The Royal Mausoleum without charge.
The date is Wednesday 16 May. Opening times are 10am to 5.30pm 16th May 2007. Entry is £4 for adults, and accompanied children under 16yrs free.
Contact: 01628 822 711 or visit:
I will be there that day to answer your gardening questions in person.