With a bit of Easter sunshine, your garden should really get moving and the pressure is on you to also get moving (just to keep up). The terrific dawn chorus might provoke you to rise early and make the best of the lengthening days in the garden. Chieveley seems to provide a great many suitable habitats for nesting birds, all keen to make their presence known.
April is the month of the daffodil. Although the maincrop of daffodils does not reach its peak till later in the month, some varieties bless you with a sea of yellow much earlier, with plenty to pick. If you want to be inspired by special and well-grown narcissi, visit our flower show on 7 April; we have some amazingly good growers!
Blossom time is upon us: the spring flowers of cherries, plums, peaches, pears, almonds and apples are all around. The clouds of pink and white flowers transform our gardens, hedgerows and public spaces. If you are a new gardener, do consider a flowering cherry (Prunus) for your garden. A tree anchors you and your garden; it says that you are staying - a very grown-up thing to do. Flowering cherries do make perfect beginners' trees and seem to thrive on our soil. Seek advice on the variety; a knowledgeable gardener will steer you through the pinks and whites, the singles and doubles and the right size for your garden. The team at Penwood Nursery drips knowledge and common sense!
Apart from enjoying bulbs and blossom, there is work to do. Vegetable growers and greenhouse owners alike should be busy with seed-sowing. In the garden, the soil is warming but is still damp, so seeds will germinate readily and grow without a setback. The classic vegetable garden is the perfect expression of the well-ordered mind: neat rows, evenly spaced to ensure that crop plants get their fair share of sun, space and soil. The busy greenhouse is often the reverse: there are never enough shelves, pots or seed trays. No grower can bear to dispose of the extra seeds that germinate and the offshoots that root. It is worse for the impatient grower who has sown and rooted (too) early and they struggle to cope with the young plants as they rapidly grow too large. Perhaps we should all be more generous with our surplus seedlings, cuttings and divisions.
Happy Gardening, Giles Derry
Dates for your diary
Saturday 7 April. Spring Flower Show at 2.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. This is our first show of the year, so why not have a go? There are classes for bulbs and other flowers, domestic produce such as marmalade, lemon drizzle cake (recipe provided) and flapjacks (yummy) as well as handicrafts. Or simply drop in to see the hall transformed by the colour and scents of spring flowers; a breath of fresh air after such a dark wet winter.
Saturday 28 April. Coach outing to Exbury Gardens Join our trip to Exbury Gardens near Beaulieu. Exbury is a Rothschild mansion, with 200 acres of woodland gardens stuffed with fine specimen trees and shrubs. It is predominantly a spring garden with camellias and magnolias as well as the famous rhododendrons. A coach will collect us from the village hall at 8.30am and return by around 5.00pm. All for £20. Contact Michael Pocock.
Tuesday 8 May. 7.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Paul Cumbleton will talk about and show ‘Tips, tricks and technology'. Whether you are a beginner or experienced gardener there is always something to learn. Do join us; guests are welcome (£2).
Sunday 13 May. The Plant and Produce Sale returns to Chieveley House this spring. It is a gem of an event in a gem of a garden, and the sun (usually) shines. You can enjoy a glass of wine before departing with bags full of plants, cakes and jams. So, my annual plea - please pot up any spare seedlings, divisions, rooted cuttings or other spare plants, keep them safe, grow them on, make them look impressive and generally be generous so we can sell them to raise money. Contact me via the MyChieveley website to arrange collection or delivery for the sale on Sunday 13 May.
For more details on shows, events and gardening tips see Chieveley Gardening Club. or phone 248716.