Category: Spring



Primroses are spring heroes!

primrosesWe often think of daffodils heralding spring yet it is really the primrose that shows her pretty face first. From early February to late spring you will find primroses brightening up woodlands, banks and gardens, while polyanthus in their wide range of colours from white to crimson also bring a kaleidoscope of colour to our spring days.

Both primroses and polyanthus belong to the Primula family of which the primrose is a native to Great Britain. The name Primula derives from the Latin primus, which means ‘first’ and obviously alludes to Primulas being the first flowers of spring. Many believe there is no difference between the primrose and the polyanthus, when in fact the polyanthus is a marriage between the primrose and the cowslip.


If you did not manage to plant primroses or polyanthus during the autumn, you can buy them now in full bloom to bring instant colour to your beds and borders or to make cheerful pots and planters. These superb plants will withstand the most brutal of spring weather and are happy in either sun or shade with well-drained soil, their only requirement.

Brighten your Gardenprimroses

While our traditional primrose is that lovely delicate yellow, today you can find them in a whole range of colours. Blue is not the first colour you might think of and the first ‘blue’ (it was not a true blue, it was more a violet blue) primrose was raised by G.F. Wilson in his Wisley garden at the end of the 19th century and now there is a wonderful selection of blues including the vibrant Zebra Blue.

You can eat Primroses!

If you want to experiment with colours that are slightly different, grow your own from seed. From July, you can sow in an open tray outside in compost. Keep out of the rain but keep moist and plant out in October. Do you know you can eat primroses? Apparently the leaves taste a little like lettuce, so it is little wonder slugs and snails love them! Want to give your garden a little lift of colour this spring? Choose the primrose and polyanthus, they will certainly brighten your garden while we wait patiently for the warmer weather.


Roses are not just for Valentines Day

Roses are not just for Valentines Day

Roses are not just for Valentines Day ! Valentine’s Day is not the only reason February is a good month to talk about roses. The most loved, the most cherished, the most talked about and probably the most feared flower of the

roses are not just for valentines day

garden, roses mean something to anyone who has a garden.

Origin of the rose

The origin of the rose goes back thousands of years with the debate still raging. Most of the roses we see in our gardens today are Hybrid Teas, which originated from crossing the very popular Hybrid Perpetual in Victorian times. Briefly, the Hybrid Perpetual came into being with the first union between a rose in Europe and the during the early 1800’s. Up until then roses struggled to survive on our cold English soils.

The colours and varieties now available are simply amazing and how can you  the fragrant white petals of the ‘Seagull’ (a great scrambler!)not tempt you? Or the deep blood red blooms of the Hybrid Tea ‘Fragrant Cloud’? Contrary to popular belief roses are not difficult to grow although they do not like being disturbed. So choose your spot wise

roses are not just for Valentines Day

ly and preferably where they will get some sun.

How to Plant

Now is the ideal time for planting if the conditions are right. Your soil needs to be well drained and loamy if possible, as roses will struggle in heavy clay like soils. Prepare well by digging it over and working in a good manure along with a fine dressing of super phosphate. Finally, if the conditions are unsuitable to plant right now, keep your roses in a cool dark place in their original containers and ensure you keep the soil slightly moist until our winter days become a little kinder. So remember – roses are not just for Valentine’s day!

If you would like some help and advice please call into our Garden Design & Landscape Centre in Titchfield where our horticultural experts will be able to help you choose a special rose.

Be Ready for Spring

Be Ready for Spring

be ready for springBe ready for spring! It may still be cold outside so this is the perfect time to start planning your garden. We call this armchair gardening! Even if you are not sure what you want, from the comfort of your chair you can browse through catalogues and magazines for ideas. If you think this is too early – think again.

Special Talents

If you do not have a budget for a complete overhaul you can choose to have a garden plan drawn up professionally. A Garden Designer will be able to help you make the most of your garden. They really do have special talents together with experience and a know-how that the rest of us would love to have but don’t!

Garden Design Centre

If you are thinking of having your garden redesigned this year, why don’t you call into our Garden Design and Landscape Centre in Titchfield  – just off Junction 9 of the M27. So easy peasy to get to. We have 16 Show Gardens  to give you ideas and inspiration. Each garden has features that you can incorporate into any style of garden – whether you have a town, country or traditional garden.

Award Winning Designers

We try not to blow his trumpet too much but our resident Head Garden Designer Mike Hodges has won more awards than we care to mention. You will love his ideas! Anyway something to think about as the days become longer and lighter. And you will be pleased when you are ready for spring !



One of the most dramatic flowers of the early summer border is the lovely delphinium. While the rose has always been the ‘Queen of the Garden’, delphiniums quite rightly have the accolade of ‘Queen of the Border’. And that is an understatement!

 Buttercup Family

The delphinium belongs to the buttercup family.  From its wild ancestry, many hybrids have been cultivated for our gardens. Two varieties, the Elatum and Belladonna are the most popular.

Real Charmers

Theatrical in statue they make a stately impact with their showy spikes of colourful blooms and command a real presence in the back of our borders. While there are many colours such as white, pink and deep purple, it really is the blue varieties, ranging from the palest shade to the deepest royal blue that are the real charmers of this flower.


Yes, they are quite quite beautiful and yes they have their downside. They are very demanding and need much care and attention so do not take lightly if you want to grow them. Best grown in a group, they prefer a sunny site although they sulk if it is too hot, and so will tolerate dappled shade. You will also need to protect them from strong winds. Also, they will flatly refuse to grow in clay soils as they crave moist loamy conditions. See how difficult they are?

Want sun, but not too hot. Want sun but not too dry. Want shade but not too much. And that is not all. They are also fervent feeders.  In late spring top dress with manure and as soon as they begin to grow, feed them with a liquid fertiliser once week. If the leaves are pale and yellow you are not feeding them enough. They will need supporting as the blooms are very top heavy.

Beer and Jam Jars

Once they are they about a foot high, stake them. Then there are the slugs and snails! You need to protect them as soon as their heads pop above ground level. If you do not like using slug pellets place cinders from your fire around the stems or a jam jar filled with beer. Despite the tender stalks of delphiniums, they prefer beer.

Demanding? Most definitely! Beautifully breathtaking? Most definitely! Worth every minute spent on raising them? Most definitely!

Do call us on 01489 779998 or visit our Garden Design & Landscape Centre for advice.

Tulip Mania

Tulip Mania

Garden Party

What do we know about tulip mania? Read on. We know when the first wave of daffodils is swiftly followed by the colourful hues of the tulip that spring is here. There are so many varieties with the Garden Hybrid group being the most popular.  These range in height from 9 inches (23cm) to 30 inches (75cm). And include Garden Party (pink edged white), Queen of Sheba (Orange & Red) or La Tulipe Noire (purple/black). It is important to plant your tulip bulbs at least 8inches deep otherwise your local squirrel might get to them! So if indeed your tulips do not make an appearance this spring you’ll know why!

Ottoman empire

Despite the fact we often believe the tulip originated from Holland this is far from the case and their history is as colourful as they are! It was during the Ottoman Empire in the 1500’s that the tulip was cultivated for the Sultan.  There were strict laws forbidding the sale of tulips outside the capital city. A Curator fled to the Netherlands to escape religious persecution and took with him a great collection of tulip seeds. He planted them in the Leiden Botanical Gardens that tulips became linked with the country. Today the Dutch export 1.2 billion bulbs annually.

Tulip Mania

Also, four hundred ago this month saw what was called ‘Tulip Mania’ on Dutch soil when the price of tulips reached manic heights to suddenly collapse. This episode is generally known as the first ‘economic bubble’ as many investors suffered from the fall in stock and as a consequence Dutch commerce took a tumble affecting both the English and German markets. A colourful history indeed!

Blossom Time in Hampshire

Blossom Time in Hampshire

It is apple and cherry blossom time in Hampshire! And all over the UK. From early April to mid May our countryside and gardens are awash with trees covered in pink or white blossoms. Or white bloblossom treesssom tinged with pink. The flowering or ornamental cherries are the most popular. While the hawthorn is one of the earliest blossoming trees and serves well as a specimen tree in the middle of a lawn.

Ornamental Blossom Trees

Depending on the variety some blossom trees have scented white flowers such as Crataegus monogyna. ‘Paul’s Scarlett’ has dark pink almost red blossom.The ornamental cherry trees bloom well before we see blossom from the fruit bearing trees. If you want to plant a blossom tree be sure to check how large it grows. Some are not really suitable for small gardens.


Flowering Cherry Trees

One of the flowering cherry trees such as Prunus ‘Accolade’, which bears pale pink semi double flowers is suitable and very pretty. Apple and cherry blossom time is not here for long. So enjoy while you can, before the blossom litters our lawns and streets with cascades of pink and white confetti!  Like some advice on what to plant? Pop into our Garden Design & Landscape Centre in Titchfield. We stock a great range of plants, shrubs and trees. Or check out local gardens to visit where you can enjoy blossom time in Hampshire.


Plants for Shades of Green in Springtime

Plants for Shades of Green in Springtime

Plants for shades of green in Springtime. We don’t often think of the colour green in springtime and now that our gardeplants for shades of green in springtimens are bursting into colour, it is easy to overlook the colour green. Some of the lovely shades of green that grace our borders early in the spring we take for granted because. This is quite simply because it’s all around us throughout the four seasons.

Vibrant Green of the euphorbia

So is it little wonder that green plants barely get a mention?  Green is the very colour of life and these plants deserve some attention. Take the early flowering Euphorbia polychrome for instance. The vibrant lime green of this plant is stunning and somehow stands out even more when planted amongst the sky-blue flowers of the delicate forget-me-not.plants for shades of green in springtime

Euphorbia polychroma, which grows about 46cm (18 inches) high, bears rather insignificant flowers that are often described as sulphur yellow. In reality, they appear as just another shade of very light lime green. Euphorbia’s common name is spurge or milkwort on account on a pure white sap that leaks from its stems if broken.  The bright lime green foliage tends to fade once summer arrives and often turn to tinges of bronze in the autumn. This front of the border perennial flowers throughout April and May and is a great, yet unassuming harbinger of spring.

Lady’s Mantle

Alchemilla or Lady’s Mantle is a gracious old-fashioned emerald green perennial that, again, comes into its own early in the year. Its serrated leaves provide the base for its sprays of tiny pale green flowers. Again, it is a front of the border plant and is very popular for flower arranging. One of its most delightful features occurs after a rainfall. Sparkling in the sunlight like diamonds, tiny droplets of water are caught on the leaves in perfect form. A truly wonderful sight.

Astrantia -one of our oldest garden flowers

My third choice of the early green perennials is the Astrantia, which is another ‘wort’. Grown in this country from about the 16th century, its common name is masterwort and is one of our oldest of garden flowers.  Unlike the Euphorbia polychroma and Lady’s Mantle, Astrantia will happily flower most of the summer if you deadhead the delicate green-white rosette like flowers. One of its lesser-known interesting features is the fact, beetles, not bees, pollinate it. Well, there you have it and next time you look out on to your colourful borders spare a thought for the plants that are the colour of life. Green. Then think of plants for shades of green in springtime.






May is the perfect month for woodland walks where you can witness the breathtaking displays of rhododendrons and azaleas. And, where, if you are lucky, you might just catch the haunting call of the cuckoo.

Interestingly enough, both the cuckoo and the rhododendron have similar reputations. Both are capable of fascinating us. Yet, at times can be an irritant, as they both share the characteristic of being intruders.

Cascading Blooms

Some horticulturists bemoan the presence of woodland rhododendrons because they soak up the goodness in the soil and often rapidly encroach on surrounding areas. However they do create stunning displays of white, lilac, pink and red flowers. It is a wonderful sight when you come across a mass of cascading flowers on your woodland walks. Some varieties will reach heights of over twenty feet and the colours are striking when little else is in bloom.

The rhododendron is not always the most popular shrub to plant in our gardens because it can become too big. Also the soil conditions need to be right. They will only survive in acid soils – the same as camellias. It is recommended to plant them in large pots where their growth can be kept under control.

Woodland Walks in Hampshire


However, here in Hampshire, there is no better place to witness these beautiful spring shrubs and azaleas in all their glory, than in the woodland gardens of Exbury Gardens in the New Forest. It is a world famous collection, which really is a breathtaking sight and not to be missed.

Springtime Blues

Springtime Blues

Do you love springtime blues?  Ceanothus with its dense clusters of blue flowers it is one of the very few blue flowering spring shrubs. While there are also summer flowering deciduous varieties, it is the evergreen spring flowering types that make such a wonderful spectacle early in our growing year.  Ceanothus has rather pretty common names too, being either called California Lilac or Blue Blossom.

Shades of Blue

Although hardy, the Ceanothus requires the right conditions to settle in and survive.  This includes planting it when the weather begins to turn milder. In its native land of California there are over 60 available speciespringtime bluess. these range from ground hugging varieties to ones that will grow into small trees. And in all shades of blue from the palest hue to a almost deep violet.

Light snipping

Choose your variety carefully and bear in mind the size of your garden as once happily established they grow rather rapidly. This is particularly important as Ceanothus do not care to be pruned back hard and will only tolerate a light snipping here and there. For ground cover select Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repens and for a medium shrub ‘Concha’ or ‘Puget Blue’.  While Ceanothus ‘Cascade’ will grow into a small tree after about 10 years.

Sunny Aspect

Also, be mindful of where you plant Ceanothus as they will not survive in an exposed site and really need a southerly aspect. If you can plant against a sunny wall they will thrive very happily in rather dry arid conditions. In the first year of planting you will need to ensure the roots do not dry out too much. Afterwards you are advised to leave your Ceanothus well alone. In fact once established they seem to thrive better if you seriously neglect them! Springtime blues ? We doubt it!

springtime blues

Colourful Camellias

Colourful Camellias


colourful camillias

Colourful Camellias are one of the most popular spring shrubs in our gardens. This is not surprising as it is a shrub that blooms early in the spring and gives our gardens early splashes of stunning colours in pink and red, or

in cream and white when there is very little else flowering. It has come a long way since the Victorian times when it was a pampered plant grown only in Orangeries or glasshouses. The single or double blooms are often intricately delicate layers of petals.

Golden Rules

There are just a few golden rules to follow, otherwise they are really quite simple to grow and little trouble. They grow particularly well in urban or courtyard gardens and do not mind air pollution or lack of sun. However, they will not tolerate draughts or strong winds, so plant them against a west or north west wall. It is also unwise to plant them facing east as the early sun can easily damage the flower buds if there has been a frost.

In Pots

If you can find a sheltered position you can grow your colourful Camellias in pots too, which makes it easier if you do not have the right soil conditions. They will only thrive in acid or neutral soil. Now is a good time to plant them, digging in plenty of organic matter such as leaf mould.  They need little pruning and if it is necessary make sure you do this straight after flowering. Their roots grow fairly close to the surface so keep them well watered, but not water logged. If we get a prolonged dry spell, try to use rainwater rather than tap, as it contains too much calcium.