The first big gardening weekend of the year gets underway with Monty dividing perennials and giving plenty of tips for how we can kick-start the garden for the season ahead.
As millions of bedding plants are poised for planting in our pots and borders, Joe Swift visits a major grower to find out how they are produced and what drives the demand.
Rachel is at a garden centre to find the top plant trends this Easter, and we travel to Devon to get some expert advice on looking after orchids from specialist grower Sara Rittershausen.
1. Snake’s head fritillary
The Snake’s head fritillary is such an exotic looking flower, it’s hard to believe that it grows wild in damp grassland and meadows prone to flooding. Its chequered, nodding bells are like no other, and their graceful habit only adds to their appeal. There is some debate, however, as to whether it actually is a British native as it has been grown as a garden plant since Tudor times. It wasn’t until 1736 that it was recorded as growing in the wild, which suggests it is more likely to be a garden escape.
If you fancy growing some in your garden, it’s important to provide the right conditions. It’s one of the few bulbs that relish wet conditions over the winter, so if you garden on clay, they should do very well. A sunny or partially shaded position is best. There’s a chance your local garden centre will have some on sale in pots or you could plant them as bulbs in the autumn. The bulbs are poisonous, so make sure you wash your hands afterwards.
2. Lifting & dividing perennials
Dividing perennials regularly will ensure healthy, vigorous plants that will continue to perform year after year. It also offers the opportunity to multiply your plants.
3. Grow your own potatoes
Potatoes are hugely versatile and are a staple ingredient of many meals in one form or another – boiled, mashed, chipped or baked. Potatoes are classified as being either earlies or maincrops. Early varieties are ready to harvest much sooner than maincrops and are what we call ‘new potatoes’. Maincrop varieties are in the ground a lot longer, they have a better yield and produce larger potatoes.
4. How to grow orchids
Many orchids are relatively easy to grow, and given the right care will give a long-lasting flower display.
5. Lawn care
At this time of year, the lawn is actively growing and requires feeding, moss-killing, weeding and regular mowing. Spring is also a suitable time to over-seed sparse areas.