Well that was quite some arctic sting February had up its sleeve. But things are rapidly looking up; there’s definite promise in the air; the light has a different quality, the sun has a hint of warmth, our gardens are beckoning and – oh joy – the darkness falling that heralded tea-time a few weeks ago now murmurs "gin time…"
Cheerfulness Daffodils
Daffodils: Wordsworth’s host of golden daffodils does a disservice to the huge range of colour and form out there, bringing to mind sturdy trumpets of cheerful egg yolk yellow. Technically daffodils are narcissi, and there are more than 13,000 varieties on offer; we love the heavily scented dwarf Pipit and the aptly-named creamy, fluffily double Cheerfulness. Do investigate, and make a plant for planting them this autumn.
Prunus spinosa (blackthorn/sloe): Not to be confused with hawthorn, blackthorn is a nightclub bouncer of a hedge, repelling all but the bravest with its ferocious black spines. It’s a springtime beauty, the frothy white blossom appearing before the leaves (the key to differentiating from hawthorn). And an added bonus - come autumn, those dark purple sloes are ready for a marriage made in heaven with gin, vodka or whisky to warm the winter cockles.
Tulips: The cause celebre of the first global economic bubble, tulip mania reached its peak in the late 1630s, a single Semper Augustus bulb selling for enough to feed, clothe and house a whole Dutch family for half a lifetime. Luckily things have calmed down – and tulips in their many incarnations are affordable and add glorious spring colours to wherever you plant them in autumn. A lot better looking than Bitcoin.
Bare-root roses: there’s still time if you’re fairly quick off the mark…

Take a look at our availability list to see what you can buy now.

Bulbs ‘in the green: plant them now for heavenly drifts of colour come the moment. Bluebells, aconites and snowdrops do better planted ‘in the green’ than in autumn with the added advantage that it’s easy to see where you’re putting them.
Blackthorn and hawthorn hedges - by themselves, together or in a native hedge mix. These two plants are the backbpne of traditional hedges from Land's End to John O'Groats. Each, in its own way, keeps unwanteds out and desirables such as stock in. Pretty as a picture in spring too.
To mulch or not to mulch?

We plugged the merits of mulching recently but, as it is one of the most important things you can do to improve soil quality there is no harm in a reminder. Worms incorporate mulch into the soil over time enriching it and giving it better structure. And until they have finished their work, it acts as a weed suppressant and an organic moisture-retaining blanket. So, mulching is essential and here’s how to do it.

A monthly feature on interesting people who just love growing things...
Ex-Features Editor for Country Life, talented cook, fanatical foodie and arch forager, Melanie moved to Somerset 15 years ago and is now a freelance journalist and author. Her top tip for her ‘new’ garden came from art historian and landscape designer Sir Roy Strong, who advised leaving it for at least a year to see what was where. According to Melanie, it was ‘the best piece of advice anyone gave me as it was astonishing to see how much I had already’.
See the full interview here.
Every month our customer support team picks out a topic that has generated lots of questions from customers...
When should I start potting up/planting out dahlia tubers lifted in the autumn? Henry Pulling would have had the answer, as do we.

To get your plants moving early, pot them up now and keep in a frost-free glasshouse or on a sunny window sill.

Or you can plant them outside this month if you are in the South and Midlands (next month if you are further north. Just make sure they are covered with about 4" (10cms) of soil By the time they emerge, the risk of frost will have passed.
Divide Herbaceous Perennials

Time to be cruel to be kind; digging and dividing your summer-flowering herbaceous perennials is not only an excellent regime to boost their health and performance, but a clever way to increase the number of plants in your garden without spending a penny.

It’s easy to spot candidates in need of surgery; young growth around the edge of a clump and a centre that is dying out – or just a plant of which you’d love to see more or share with someone else.
Watch the video to see how to do it….and don’t forget to water well post-operatively and reinvigorate the soil where you replant with fertiliser and organic matter.


  • Cut back ornamental grasses before they start to grow
  • Feed your lawn with high nitrogen feed
  • Pot on potted plants
  • Plant hardy plants, including herbaceous perennials
  • Start sowing vegetable seeds
  • Chit potatoes
  • Crop rhubarb…if you have a glut make rhubarb gin
  • Ventilate greenhouses, tunnels and conservatories on warm days
  • Prune shrubs such as fuchsias and philadelphus
  • Prune roses – last chance!
  • Dig up and relocate plants   
How about an Ashridge voucher for your lovely mum? So much better than a jumper in inevitably the wrong colour or a bunch of flowers that wilts within days.

And for even more brownie points (bad pun – sorry!), surprise her with a plate of home-made deliciousness. Below is a recipe for the most delicious brownies ever…
  • 325g 70% Dark Chocolate (broken up into small pieces)
  • 250g Unsalted Butter
  • 4 Medium Eggs
  • 250g Caster Sugar
  • 100g Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
  1. Preheat oven to 180 oc
  2. Grease and line (with parchment paper) a 23cm square cake tin
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then take off the heat
  4. Add the chocolate pieces to the butter and stir in until melted and smooth
  5. Whisk the eggs and sugar together
  6. Add the chocolate and melted butter to the sugar and eggs...
Our blogs are written by garden designers and passionate gardeners (not mutually exclusive) making them well informed and opinionated... So if you want ideas that may be relevant to your garden have a look at this month's scribblings:

Sowing Chilli Seeds
Bulbs in the Green
Fruit Trees
Soft Fruit
Gift Vouchers
Garden Trees
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Grove Cross Barn, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7NJ

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