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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 07:00 UK time, Saturday, 2 April 2011

In the news...
After the gloom of last year's disastrous fall in garden bird numbers you'd be forgiven for being a tad apprehensive about the results of this year's Big Garden Birdwatch.

goldcrest

In fact, it's good news all round, with goldcrests, long-tailed tits and coal tits significantly up in numbers - confounding predictions these tiny birds would suffer in this winter's freeze.

The RSPB says the surprising results are down to an exceptionally good breeding season in 2010, boosting numbers enough for populations to survive a second hard winter.

Did you get taken in? This year's green-fingered April Fools included the defection of Alys Fowler to a Stateside version of Gardeners' World; and a monster in the lake at Stourhead. Funny how monsters in Wiltshire bear an uncanny resemblance to Scottish ones...

And I thought there was some April foolery involved in rumours that the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra played Mozart to an audience of 100 plants and bulbs at Cadogan Hall in London – until I realised it happened a week ago.

There's a serious point (well, sort of): they were apparently testing whether sonic vibrations such as music, or the human voice, really does affect the growth of plants.

Elsewhere on the web...
Viewers in Scotland will be looking forward to a new season at Beechgrove Garden on Monday; this week they're assessing the damage after another blisteringly cold winter and celebrating spring at the lovely gardens at Inverewe, on the west coast, and the snowdrop-laden Cambo Estate in Fife.

Chickens are continuing their gradual takeover of the nation's gardens: last week Gardeners' Question Time, this week Ryan's bathroom and city back yards in Natalie Haynes's highly entertaining Radio 4 programme Attila the Hen.

There were chickens called Spiderman and Batman, feral chickens living on a roundabout in the middle of the A143 in Suffolk, and - more ominously – a chicken-vandalised former veg garden. Now that's going too far.

This week's best read: garden writer Noel Kingsbury in a thought-provoking defence of modern F1 vegetable strains over increasingly-popular heritage varieties: time we stopped being romantic about food production, he argues.

And unmissable listen of the week has be Elegies from a Suburban Garden on BBC Radio 4: a paean to a gardener's romanticism if there ever was one.

Out and about...
Gardening mums everywhere can take it easy tomorrow and treat themselves to a cuppa and a cake – preferably in the tearooms of some gorgeous garden. And there's plenty of Mothering Sunday pampering to be had.

A slap-up lunch is on offer at RHS Hyde Hall in Essex, Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire, and the queen of them all, Sissinghurst Castle in Kent (where there's a free bunch of daffs at the gate for mums, too).

Scrumptious cream teas can be had alongside the spring flowers at Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland, one of several gardens offering free entry for mums on Mother's Day; and at the Savill Garden in Windsor Park – also free for mums - you can really feel like a Queen with carriage rides around the gardens.

This year's show season opens with a bang this week: the much-anticipated RHS Cardiff Flower Show starts on Friday and promises a weekend of daffodil-sprinkled delights. There are show gardens, a giant daffodil, spring flowers galore and a record 75 flower-filled wheelbarrows made by schoolchildren from around the region, the winner picked by public vote. 

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Not only small birds, many insects are coming out of hibernation in better shape. My winter sown 'Aquadulce' broad beans are be-jewelled with seven spot ladybirds and the RHS magazines runs an article called 'Butterflies bouncing back'.
    "It is thought that cold weather helped reduce the incidence of disease and viral attacks on caterpillars allowing more to hibernate successfully".

  • Comment number 2.

    Please tell me why you have back to Monty and why is Carol still on the show I know the beeb is old and boring but it dosent have to make gardening that way too Toby was like a breath of fresh air and was doing a great job now I have nothing to look forward to on a Friday evening please go back the Toby and team with out Carol and Rachel get young people back into the garden ( and us Older guys too) give us ideas isperation too

  • Comment number 3.

    A pink and white candy striped rose has appeared out of the jungle that formerly was my garden ...... I have never seen a rose like this, please can anyone out there tell me what variety it is? I will try and post a picture somewhere on this site.

    Cheers! Steve

 

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