The gardener’s year really accelerates in April and the long Easter weekend is perfectly timed for getting ahead with gardening jobs (or desperately catching up).
If your garden is new to you or you need quick results there are some shrubs which, if planted now, will give surprisingly satisfying results even in the year of planting. The Mallows, Lavatera olbia, is an obvious candidate being a fast-growing ‘tree’ mallow with a succession of pinky-mauve flowers from late June to autumn.
The Spanish Broom, Spartium junceum, has rush-like stems and quite large, scented pea flowers, which are a bright, but not aggressive, yellow. If hard-pruned in spring, it will flower from July. If unpruned, flowering starts in June but ends earlier, and the shrub will get leggy and need a stake. Another notable broom is Cytisus multiflorus – the Portugal Broom, which presents its innumerable, small white flowers along stiff wands that claim attention.
Ceanothus are quick off the mark. The earlier flowering types are evergreen, and this is the ideal time to get them established. The best have clear blue flowers; I recommend ‘Puget Blue’, which is May flowered and ‘Skylark’ at its best in June. The summer-flowering ceanothus are deciduous and the flowers are a more dusty blue.
Happy Gardening, Giles Derry
Dates for your diary
Saturday 6 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, a cherry cake or Bakewell Tart (recipes provided) and walnut cookies (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.
Sunday 12 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 12 May.
Tuesday 21 May 7.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. A spoonful of herbs. Linda Warren will talk about the fascinating herbs we can grow and use in the kitchen and home. Parsley and mint are fine but there are so many more to try, grow and use. Come and find out more. Guests and non-members (both £2) are always welcome.
Saturday 22 June. Trip to West Dean Gardens, Chichester. Join our trip to West Dean Gardens – a gem of a garden with a theme of education and demonstration. Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain have transformed it over the last 27 years with walled gardens, greenhouse, vegetable gardens, virtuoso trained fruit trees and a 100-metre pergola to covet. Their recent coffee table book, At West Dean: The Creation of an Exemplary Garden, tells all and is an inspiration. A coach will collect us from the village hall at 8.30am and return by around 5.00pm. All for £20. Contact Michael Pocock.