GINA PAKINSON believes that one of the stand-out plants of April is the pulmonaria, a beautiful spring plant that will gently spread itself around over the years.

AFTER the gloom and rain of Good Friday, the weather could only improve. Easter Sunday dawned clear and bright and remained so for the rest of the day. So, despite entertaining family, a good bit of gardening was done in our west York patch.

Having visitors is a great incentive for lawn cutting and once it got to ten o’clock, I decided it wouldn’t be unneighbourly to get out the mower. The unwritten rule around here suggests that mid-morning is early enough for noisy garden jobs, especially on a Bank Holiday weekend, and not long after I started someone else took the cue.

A lot of time has been spent over the past few weeks in our garden clearing flower beds of winter debris, loosening the soil and spreading a thick layer of chipped bark. As well as being ornamental this layer of mulch helps to keep moisture in the soil, vital for our poor, sandy earth. The mulch eventually breaks down and merges with the soil, adding bulk and improving drainage.

It is important to weed the beds thoroughly and clear away dead flower stems and broken branches left from winter.

Then the chippings can be spread in a thick layer over all the bare earth and around shrubs and herbaceous perennials that are beginning to emerge. It is a job best done after a decent spell of rain, so the earth is damp rather than dry.

One of the stand-out plants of April is the pulmonaria, a beautiful spring plant that will gently spread itself around over the years. There are many varieties, many of which having the decorative foliage these plants are known for.

Clumps of Pulmonaria officinalis and rubra were already in this garden when we came, and another was added from our previous patch.

Pulmonaria officinalis is the spotted leafed cottage garden plant with blue and pink flowers that have been grown in gardens for hundreds of years. The name officinalis often indicates a plant grown in monastery gardens for medicinal purposes.

Although common, Pulmonaria officinalis is a lovely spring plant, reliable in all but the hottest of spots and combining well with other early spring plants such as wild primrose and violets. It will pop up in unexpected places but is not too invasive. Inappropriate self-seeded plants are easily dug up and replanted.

Pulomonaria are best in partial shade in soil that won’t dry out in summer. Plants in a hot spot may become mildewed in summer but if they are cut back and well watered new foliage will soon clump up and last until autumn.

A thick spring mulch will help to prevent this happening again but if it is a problem over a couple of years it may be best to consider moving the plant to a cooler spot.

A clump of red-flowered Pulmonaria rubra was divided here a couple of years ago, with one of the divisions put into a sunny spot under mature shrubs.

The poor plant has really not enjoyed its new home and even after the rain this match looks sad. So it was moved, in full flower, to a damper, shadier part of the garden last weekend. Not an ideal time but it looks happier already.

Open Gardens 


In aid of St Wilfrid’s Church Funds.

Petergate House, High Petergate, York. Hidden walled garden behind a Grade-II listed house in the centre of York. There are lawns, shrubs, spring bulbs, blossom trees and shrubs and a newly erected pergola. There is a good mix of established and recent planting including a number of new climbers that will eventually festoon the lovely walls. St Wilfrid's Church offers an interesting backdrop to the garden. Open noon to 4pm. Admission charge.

Sunday, April 12:

In aid of the National Gardens Scheme.

Clifton Castle, Ripon, HG4 4AB, two miles north of Masham. Gardens with river walks, wooded pleasure grounds, cascades, wild flower meadow, C19 walled kitchen garden and fine views. Open 2pm-5pm, admission £4.

Making the most of your garden

Gazette & Herald:
GARDEN TIPS: Vanessa Cook, who will co-host a talk 

NATIONAL Gardening Week runs from Monday to April 19. Taking part in the week will be Vanessa Cook, of Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens and Nurseries.

Vanessa will be joined by organic gardener and lecturer Tony Chalcraft on Friday, April 17 to answer questions and provide ideas and tips on how to make the most of your garden.

The event is free and will be held at Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens and Nurseries, Stewart Lane, Stillingfleet, YO19 6HP from 1pm to 5pm. Light refreshments will be served in the café. For more information phone 01904 728506 or visit 

National Gardening Week was launched by the Royal Horticultural Society four years ago to get encourage more people out into their gardens. Find more information at

Gardening TV and Radio

6am, BBC2, Great British Garden Revival. James Wong looks at the history of the lily.
8am, Vale Radio, Down to Earth. With Willian Jenkyns. Find the programme on
8am, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. 
8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.
8.30am, BBC2, The Beechgrove Garden. Pruning conifers.
9am, BBC Radio York, Steve Bailey. Gardening related news and features from around North Yorkshire.
9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.
2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Bunny Guinness, Anne Swithinbank and Bob Flowerdew answer questions in the Ribble Valley. The chairman is Eric Robson.

3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Chairman Eric Robson and panellists Christine Walkden, Pippa Greenwood and Chris Beardshaw advise gardeners from Warwickshire.
8.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. James Alexander-Sinclair visits the magnolia collection at Borde Hill Garden in West Sussex while Monty Don spruces up the borders at Longmeadow.