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A quintessentially English experience

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Friday, 24th March 2017, 08:00

Now the Gold Cup is behind us the time will really start to fly by! April is a busy old month, but so much depends on the weather.

The garden centre is full of small plug plants in all sorts of enticing colours, and buying bedding plants as plugs is a very good way to do it. If they are very small they will need potting into slightly larger pots to grow on a bit before you think of putting them out. Don’t just plant them straight out in the garden, as they are used to a frost-free environment in the nursery and will need to be kept in a cold greenhouse or conservatory for another 3 or so weeks to acclimatise. This will also ensure they won’t be zapped by the frost, which still can come in April.

Plant ornamental grasses
This is also a good time to plant ornamental grasses in free-draining sandy soil, but if your soil doesn’t sound like this you can add plenty of grit to clay soils to improve the drainage. Alternatively, create a raised bed with bricks or sleepers to aid drainage.

Cascading hummocks of vividly striped bright yellow and green foliage
Some grasses look great in pots, like the Japanese Hakonachloa macra ‘Alboaurea’, which is an eye-catching small ornamental grass, forming cascading hummocks of vividly striped bright yellow and green foliage. The narrow leaves keep their colour throughout the season, although it loses its leaves in winter, and often when the plant is grown in full sun it develops a reddish tinge. However, I prefer it grown in shade to keep the yellowy-green colour.

A wood full of the beautiful nodding heads and scent of bluebells is a quintessentially English experience and they will be coming out this month. Unfortunately, they are under threat from the Spanish bluebell, which is grown in gardens as it was considered more decorative than its English cousin. How to tell them apart? Well, the English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) has scented flowers borne on one side of the stem, the anthers are cream-coloured and unequal and the flower spike is nodding.

Enjoy the fragrance of your own bluebell patch
The Spanish bluebell (H.hispanica) has unscented flowers borne on all sides of the stem. It has blue equal anthers and an upright flower spike. So, take care with what you plant – under no circumstances harvest any from the wild! Instead, source English bluebells from reputable retailers and you too could enjoy the fragrance of your own little bluebell patch.

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