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Production team | 16:36 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009

Toby BucklandThree days of sunshine and everything is bursting into bud. Even so, the magnolias have beaten the deciduous trees hands down. The Magnolia x soulangeana in my neighbour's garden - with its waxy goblets held aloft like pink candle flames - has been flowering for three weeks already, and even though it's still in bud it's a beauty to behold.

These spring-flowering trees do best on acidic soils richly forked through with compost and if you're thinking of planting one this weekend, there are two key things to remember. One - shelter is paramount. Never plant one in a windy spot or the spinnaker-like petals will be torn from the branches. Two - avoid frost-pockets, those places which lie low and collect the cold air in winter, as an unexpected late frost will quench those pink flames like flicking off a switch. Jo and I are planting some at Greenacre tonight. How well they grow, we'll have to see but I know they do well in gardens nearby.
We're also starting to shape our plant list for the rest of the garden and I hope you might help us out at the Plant Swap at GW Live. Here are some of the plants we're looking for:
For the perennial meadow we want a mix of alstroemerias, sedums, verbascums, astrantias, phlox, rudbeckias, hardy geraniums, echinaceas and campanulas.
For other parts of the garden we're looking for bearded irises, penstemons, buddleias, artemesia, dianthus, festucas, osteospermums, lily of the valley, foxgloves, hostas, lamiums, phlox and for the woodland garden all sorts of primulas, pulmonarias and solomons seal.
So if you can spare any cuttings or divisions in your garden, please bring 'em along!

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