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In the news...

Bluebell season is a highlight of any gardener's year: those heavenly few weeks when spring reaches an azure-blue climax and welcomes in early summer.

bluebell

Except this year the bluebells are already here, over two weeks early in places such as Gloucestershire, Cornwall and Devon. You can see the full picture on the National Trust's Bluebell Watch map: add your own sightings via Twitter.

Bluebells and other wildflowers should benefit from plans to create a 'Bee Road', a corridor of wildflowers allowing bees and other pollinators to travel around more easily. The first will stretch across Yorkshire, but eventually the plan is for a flowery motorway stretching the length and breadth of England and Wales.

And there was a sneak peek behind the gates of the Olympic Park – under wraps since work started, apart from occasional tantalising glimpses. But 250 acres of new parklands, including a £5 million garden half a mile long from designer Sarah Price, is taking shape, and it doesn't get more large-scale than this.

Elsewhere on the web...
It was like a bath in pure sunshine: Monty Don's epic summer holiday in the best of Italy's gardens began last night with a whistle-stop tour of four Roman masterpieces. Those Italians don't half know how to make a garden: fountains, loggias, grand staircases cascading water.... and that was just the Villa Farnese. Personally I can't wait for the delights of Ninfa and the magical Isola Bella – both still to come.

Villa Farnese

The magnificent Villa Farnese

Alternatively, of course, there's Arabella Sock's wickedly irreverent take on the subject in which Monty explores... well... let's say other aspects of Italian culture.

Kids and gardening go together like chocolate and eggs, so this Easter holidays we've got loads of ideas to get you outside with the littlies. Keep an eye on this very blog over the next fortnight for garden writer Lia Leendertz choosing child-friendly gardens to visit, wildlife presenter Philippa Forrester on a bug safari, garden blogger Deb sharing her secrets for getting kids outdoors and garden writer Dominic Murphy on setting up school gardening clubs.

In the meantime there's the Springwatch Easter Special to look forward to and some spectacular photographs from their Flickr group to enjoy. Happy Easter!

Out and about...
Fabulous gardens and oodles of chocolate – what more could you ask? Yes – it's Easter weekend, that time of year when our very favourite things come together in a synchronicity that could only have been invented in heaven.

You're spoilt for choice on gardens to go hunt Easter eggs in. Barnsdale Gardens (Rutland), Audley End (Essex) and Trentham (Staffordshire) are just a few of the lovely gardens offering chocolate in return for a stroll round the gardens thinly disguised (for child-occupation purposes) as a search for clues.

For something a bit different, hunt down mini-monks hunt at Lindisfarne Priory, on Holy Island in Northumberland; or forage for wild garlic as well as Easter eggs at Newark Park in Gloucestershire (you can take the garlic home with you, too: try using it to spice up home-made mayonnaise. Yum.).

For those who have given up chocolate for Lent, there are equally delicious treats on offer: it's National Cherry Week at Batsford Arboretum, home to 102 species of Japanese cherry now in full flower; and Brogdale Farm in Kent is holding their keenly anticipated annual Blossom Weekend this weekend. With apples, pears, cherries and plums in pink-and-white bloom across 160 acres of orchards, it should be absolutely spectacular.

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