Friday 29th April 2022

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These Tulips are putting the zing into spring

A fine day for it, and Friday Group are ready for action. We’re all delighted at the news that the recent Garden House opening for the National Gardens Scheme was so successful; over £2,000 was raised for charity. Marvellous.

The hot news is that work on the landscaping for the new Dry Garden is really and truly underway.


The lawn has gone. Turves are neatly stacked and will rot down into compost, and piles of topsoil are heading to pastures new. Or to make new pastures. A new edging wall has been built –

And the heavy plant is in place, awaiting further activity

It’s all very exciting

Lots for Friday Group to crack on with, but first….it’s the

Plant Ident.

Anthriscus sylvestris

The fabulous frothiness of Cow Parsley (or Queen Anne’s Lace) is now evident along roadside verges and at the edges of woodland and fields. Beautiful to behold at this time of year, it’s so rampant that it is not generally grown in gardens intentionally. It produces such quantities of seed that it is regarded as a nuisance and a weed, rather than something to be cultivated. However, it is a lovely feature of the British countryside at this time of year, and something to be celebrated.

A pretty form of Anthriscus sylvestris exists called ‘Ravenswing’. The foliage is lacy and dark purple, and contrasts well with the creamy-white flowers. This form is desirable and garden-worthy!

Plectranthus argentatus

A tender perennial which is invaluable for use in containers from late spring onward. It’s a stunning plant with soft, silvery stems and foliage and produces small, tubular blue-white flower spikes in the summer. Like most tender perennials, it can easily be propagated from cuttings. Full sun.


A wonderful bedding plant from which cuttings can be taken to increase stock. This one will spread and trail, ideal for a pot or basket – or it can be used as an edging plant in a border. Partial – full sun. Keep this (and the two below) well watered and feed regularly for optimum pizzazz.


This tender perennial has a bright white, daisy-like flower. A great choice for hanging baskets or pots, where it will provide the filler/spiller element in a planting scheme. Take cuttings! Full sun.

Trailing Verbena

Another fantastic annual bedding plant which produces masses of flowers over a long period. Ideal in pots. Full sun, but will enjoy a little afternoon shade if possible.

Topic for the week

Taking cuttings from tender perennials

Now is a good time to start tackling this job, as many of them will require cutting back in order to keep them bushy. This will create a lot of plant material which can be turned into cuttings – or ‘free plants’, as we like to call them.

Using sharp snips, cut back neatly to just above a leaf joint; do this all over the plant to form a compact dome shape. Remove all dead, twiggy material as well. (See the Salvia plant, above.)

To root the cuttings, take a non-flowering piece of stem and cut just below a leaf joint. Remove the lower leaves and plant around the edge of an FP7 in a potting mix of compost and perlite. Up to 5 cuttings can be placed in the pot. Place on a heated mat or in a heated propagator on a windowsill or in a greenhouse. Alternatively, put a plastic cover over the pot (e.g. the top half of a bottle or a plastic bag). This will encourage rooting. Leave for a couple of weeks, and hey presto!

Jobs for the week

Pot up the plants which have been removed from the area which is going to be the Dry Garden. Use the available topsoil. Some of the plants will need tidying up and cutting back to prevent legginess.

Remove spent Tulips from pots

The gardening year continues, and although the Tulips have been upstanding and outstanding, many of them are now over. Some varieties are particularly beautiful in the last stages of their performance.

T. ‘Exotic Emperor’ marks its grand finale with a flourish

They need to be deadheaded and turned out of their pots. Leave the foliage on the bulbs, which can then be planted deep in garden borders. Alternatively, dry and store them in a cool, dark environment until next year.

Plant out Sweet Peas, please

…on your hands and knees

These are going in the little sitting area near the Cathedral Greenhouse. Imagine the scent in the summer as you sit there sipping your morning coffee

Pull out Spanish Bluebells

Much coarser than the native English Bluebell, Spanish Bluebells have strap-like leaves and their bells grow all around the stem. They are invasive, and spread like crazy.

English bluebells, on the other hand, have slender leaves and only have bells on one side of the stem, which is what gives them their delicate, drooping habit. See below –

First, hunt down your Sp. Bluebells

Then pull/dig them out – ideally taking the wretched bulb too.

They are dastardly things to shift. Tenacity, brute force and determination are essential.

But slow and steady wins the race!

Stop for cake

It’s the law

Cut back tender perennials – and make cuttings

Best to collect all your cuttings in a moist plastic bag to prevent them from drying out. Like so –

Prick out seedlings in greenhouse

It’s a production line at this time of year. Dianthus ‘Chianti’ needs pricking out, as do the Mina lobata seedlings and, and, and…

Check on the Pelargoniums

Tidy them up; remove dead, diseased, dying material; feed; water.

Check. Check. Check.


Pot on young plants taken from the coldframes

Such as the Verbascums

All ready to start!

Now, what about these two? Are they potting on? Or just playing up?

It looks as if they’re about to make mud-castles.

Someone had better keep an eye on them

Everything in the garden’s lovely. And there’s more to look forward to

Happiness is being in the garden