GINA PARKINSON almost misses the crocus, until she finds a solitary survivor. Also, the is shown round a hidden garden right in the centre of York.

THE early spring bulbs are over in the garden, snowdrops are heavy with seed pods and the miniature iris is fading fast. Our crocus have also finished, leaving clumps of thin, striped leaves dotted about the garden in sunny spots.

These plants are so fleeting that I had missed almost all of them, save one little fellow nestling at the very edge of a bed by a path. A beam of sunlight lit the purple petals, which opened out to reveal golden pollen, so attractive to insects stirred into action by a warm day.

At this busy time in the garden it is so important to take the occasional step back and simply enjoy what is happening. And there is plenty to see with daffodils splashing their colour about and herbaceous perennials beginning to pop through the earth. Deciduous shrubs begin to take on a haze of green and early blossom trees are dotted with blooms. This lovely delicate start to life goes so quickly, so take time out to enjoy it this Easter weekend.


Weekend catch-up

NOW is the time to lift and divide overgrown clumps of snowdrops. Just push a spade around them and ease the plants out of the ground; they usually come up fairly easily. Then break the bulbs apart and re-plant straight away.

Snowdrops dislike being disturbed but moving them now means they have plenty of time for their roots to settle and the bulbs to develop their embryo flowers over the next few weeks. Keep the foliage intact as it is needed to feed the bulbs, and water well after replanting.


Easter plant fair

FLOWER Power Fairs will hold an Easter Plant Fair at Newburgh Hall, Coxwold tomorrow. There will be stalls from specialist plant growers presenting a range of specimens including shrubs, climbers and perennials including shade loving ferns and hostas.

New to the Flower Power Fair family this year are York based Harlequin Cut Flowers with British cut flowers and John Plant a passionate grower who also coordinates the Yorkshire leaflet of the NGS Yellow Book. Garden accessories will also be on sale with bug hotels from Gardening With Wildlife and metal work supports, planters and garden statues from Alfresco.

Visitors will also be able to wander around the grounds of Newburgh Priory which will be filled with daffodils. The formal planting, woodland, lake, topiary, walled garden, ruins and water garden are set in 40 acres of parkland in this lovely part of the Yorkshire countryside. The fair is open from 11am to 4pm. Entry to the fair, gardens and grounds is £3 and there is plenty of nearby free parking. Refreshments will be available in the Rectory Kitchen and the house will also be open (separate charge). For more information visit


Open gardens...

Thursday, April 9

In aid of the National Gardens Scheme

Hotham Hall, Hotham, YO43 4UA, 15 miles west of Hull. Established gardens in a parkland setting with a Victorian pond, mixed borders and a lake with a bridge over to an island walk. There is also a children’s play area, garden games, Easter treasure hunt, Easter decoration making and light refreshments. Admission £5 adult, £2.50 child (activities and refreshments included in the price). Open 11am to 3pm.


A garden hidden in the heart of the city

THIS lovely ancient city of ours keeps her secrets safe behind closed doors and in the case of one I discovered earlier in the week, literally so.

High Petergate is home to cafés and pubs, a bookshop and jewellers, but there is also a lovely walled garden hidden behind an imposing Grade II- listed house which, since it has no brightly filled windows, one may walk past without a second glance.

Petergate House is the Presbytery for St Wilfrid’s Church on Duncombe Place and the garden fills a large space between the two buildings.

Eileen Sparks, a long-time member of the church and fundraiser, and Phillip Metcalfe, who took over the maintenance of the garden a year or so ago, gave me a tour. The garden certainly has a wow factor. Reached through the handsome hall of Petergate House, the back door opened out into a large grassed space with St Wilfrid’s Church at the far end. A path wound through the lawns to flower beds and turning round to view the house, I found a beautiful magnolia was about to burst into bud. Around its feet were hellebores and daffodils which will soon be joined by hostas.

Since starting work on the garden, Phillip and his business partner and wife, Anne, have recently added an arbour with a white-flowered wisteria and have begun planting climbers to cover the lovely brick walls that surround the garden. These include the rose Rambling Rector, nicely appropriate for this garden. They also held a charity bulb-planting session last autumn where people could plant daffodils in memory of their loved ones. These are now in flower in this sheltered south-facing garden.

Petergate House garden is very much a work in progress, with many plans for planting more year-round colour: hostas and ferns for the shady areas and delphiniums and dahlias for the sunnier spots and a herb parterre near the house.

Gazette & Herald:

The garden will be open to the public on Saturday, April 11 from noon to 4pm. There will be a small admission charge in aid of church funds and light refreshments will be served. There will be further openings this year on May 2, July 11 and October 3. The entrance is from Petergate House, High Petergate, York.

• If you have snowdrops to spare after dividing them (see weekend catch-up), then Phillip would love to have some for St Wilfrid’s garden. Take them along to the opening on April 11 and they will be given a new home.


Gardening TV and radio


6.05am, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. A new pond at Longmeadow.

7.35am, BBC2, The Beechgrove Garden. A visit to the Scottish Rock Garden Club Show.

8am, Vale Radio, Down to Earth. Willian Jenkyns celebrates the 20th anniversary of Helmsley Walled Garden the restoration of which began in 1994 before William officially opened it. Find the programme on 8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.

9am, BBC Radio York, Julia Lewis. Gardening news and features from around our region.

9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.

2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. The experts answer questions in Newcastle.


9.30pm, BBC2, Kew On A Plate. Winter in the vegetable garden brings brassicas, turnips and quince to Raymond Blanc’s kitchen.


3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. The team are in Lancashire where they advise gardeners from the Ribble Valley. With Eric Robson, Anne Swithinbank, Bunny Guinness and Bob Flowerdew.

8.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Monty Don tackles seasonal jobs at Longmeadow.