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25 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 19 April 2014

Cherrie McIlwaine presents the weekly programme for keen gardeners with the latest advice, news and visits to gardens large and small around the province.

  • Cherrie's Notes

    Pulsatilla, wood-anenome, tiny alpine tulips and primroses are just some of the subtle and lovely plants growing in Barbara Pilcher’s garden at the moment, reminding us all that spring is well and truly here.

    The Pulsatilla or Pasque Flower and the Helleborus Orientalis or Lenten Rose make further connections with this time of year, thanks to their symbolic associations with Easter, put down simply to the fact that this is when they flower.

    It’s impossible to say of course, but perhaps the sight of these lovely plants in bloom may have brought cheer to fasting pilgrims in austere times. I like to think so.

    It’s a case of less is more with many of these pretty spring plants, as they spread canopies of tiny flowers under trees not yet in full leaf, covering the bare earth with welcome foliage and flower.

    The wood anenomes and celandine do this really well, although the celandine can be a bit too enthusiastic so if you like the idea of drifts of gold under trees, watch where you plant them.

    There is nothing prettier to my mind though, than a buttery sprinkling of primroses growing through mossy grass in a hedgerow. A sight all too uncommon these days, sadly.

    Pulmonaria or “Lungwort”, to give it it’s common name, is easier to find, with it’s neat pear-shaped mottled leaves and rosettes of tiny blue or pink flowers and the striped forked-tongue foliage of Arum Italicum makes it a real favourite with floral artists.

    Barbara grows them all and more in her front garden where they sport themselves diminutively in the lea of the hedge which shelters them from sea breezes. It almost feels as if they are cocking a snook at the huge Eremurus spikes which tower above them, their thick stems spiralling waywardly towards the sky, waiting for summer.

    It’s all happening right now in Brian Croley’s bijou courtyard garden just outside Comber. And bijou is the word for the jewel-like blooms of the camellias which he grows to perfection.

    He might argue with the “p” word though, as he was telling us on the day of our visit, about three particular camellias which for the moment, refuse to flower.

    The others, all sixty seven or so of them, make up for the three miscreants and Brian has a camellia in flower almost all year round.

    First to flower for Brian is the lovely “Elizabeth Hawkins” which is bright red and early. “Midnight Serenade” boasts a darker red and a single flower while the blooms of “Leonard Messel” are big, pink and double.

    You can see some pictures of Brian’s camellias in the Gardeners’ Corner picture gallery alongside snaps from Barbara ‘s garden and more...

    Till next time, from all of us on the Gardeners’ Corner team, a very Happy Easter.



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    Gardeners' Corner

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