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Flake district ...
9:30am Saturday 14th April 2012 in Gardening
With the snowdrops passing over, GINA PARKINSON finds that the snowflakes are now moving in.
THE snowdrops that gladdened our hearts in January and February have finished, but their place has been taken in our garden by a few clumps of snowflakes.
Botanically named Leucojum vernum, snowflake is a bulbous plant and is like a tall snowdrop with a green spot on the outside of each of its white petals and on the outside of each white petal.
Ours grow in a sunny spot with white bergenia and rich pink winterflowering heather, but it is a tolerant plant that will also do well in shady moist soil. Its relative Leucojum aestivum is similar, but flowers a little later in April and May, while the much smaller Leucojum autumnale needs full sun and well-drained, sandy soil where it will flower in September.
The white bergenia that Leucojum arches over is a beautiful plant, relative to the pink variety seen everywhere at this time of year. Bergenia ‘Silberlicht’ seems a little less vigorous with smaller leaves and shorter flower stems topped with lovely faintly pink tinged white flowers.
Bergenia is a great plant to grow under shrubs and trees, where it will thrive in partial shade, covering the ground with a rapid spread of large leaves that give rise to the common name Elephant’s Ear. In autumn the foliage is tinged with red and will remain on the plant through the winter.
IT’S NOT too late to divide snowdrops, although this needs to be done sooner rather than later.
Snowdrops hate their roots to be disturbed, so by dividing overcrowded clumps now when they are still in the green and replanting straight away, the roots have time to recover and grow before everything slows down at the end of the summer.
Ease the snowdrops up from the earth and gently tease the bulbs apart, leaving as much root intact as is possible. Plant the bulbs into their new flowering position immediately and water in well.
Leaves need to be left to die back naturally; they are needed to feed the bulb within which next year’s flower will already be developing.
In the veg patch
We spent Easter weekend digging over the beds earmarked for this year’s potatoes and planted a few rows of earlies. This year we have chosen Blue Danube, an early maincrop variety which should be ready to harvest in mid July.
We seem to have missed getting a batch of early seed potatoes and have ended up with this early main-crop and two late main-crops. Note to self: read the labels properly next year.
The potato beds are in a sunny spot, different to the shaded area they grew in last year. The sandy soil has been weeded and manured, and the rows protected by a layer of shrubby stems in the hope the foxes won’t go digging in this nice earth we have prepared for them. Once the potatoes come through, the twigs can be removed to allow the shoots to be earthed up.
FLOWER Power fairs will hold a Spring Fair tomorrow at Sutton Park in Sutton-on-the-Forest. Nurseries at the fair include sweet peas from David Matthewman and a wide selection of herbaceous perennials from DK Plants from Staffordshire. Sutton Park Spring fair is open from 11am- 4pm and admission is £3 which includes entry to the award-winning gardens.
BUNNY Guinness will give an illustrated talk entitled Transforming Your Garden on Tuesday in the Conference Hall at Askham Bryan College, YO23 3FR. Organised by Askham Bryan College Gardening Club, the talk will begin at 7.30pm and will include tips and ideas on how to change an existing garden or how to start from scratch.
Bunny is a chartered landscape architect and in her 30-year career has become well known for her Chelsea Flower Show gardens, six of which have won gold medals. She has also worked on reclamation sites, inner city housing estates, sheltered housing schemes and private gardens as well as being a gardening writer and a regular Gardeners’ Question Time panellist.
Tickets at the door are free to Askham Bryan College Gardening Club and £7.50 for non-members.
In aid of the British Red Cross
Swinton Castle, Masham, HG4 4NS. Extensive grounds with woodland walks around lakes and a spring garden filled with daffodils, azaleas and rhododendrons. The grounds of Swinton Park will also be open. Open 2pm to 5pm, admission £3.
In aid of the National Gardens Scheme
Clifton Castle, Ripon HG4 4AB, two miles north of Masham. Large garden with fine views, river walks, wooded pleasure grounds with follies and bridges, cascades, wild flower meadow and C19 walled kitchen garden. Open 2pm to 5pm, Admission £3.50.
Parcevall Hall Gardens, Skyreholme, BD23 6DE, off the B6265 Pateley Bridge to Grassington road. 24 acres peacefully nestling in Wharfedale sheltered by mixed woodland. Areas include a terrace garden, rose and rock gardens, fish ponds, mixed borders, spring bulbs, tender shrubs and an old apple orchard for picnics. Open 10am to 6pm, admission £6.
Shandy Hall Gardens, Coxwold,YO61 4AD, seven miles from Easingwold. Two walled gardens with one acre of unusual perennials interplanted with tulips and old roses and a further acre developed from an old quarry. This has been planted with trees, shrubs, bulbs and flowers to encourage wildlife including over 170 recorded species of moths. This is an evening opening from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, admission £3 adult, £1 child.
Gardening TV and radio
8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.
9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.
2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. The horticultural discussion comes from Beckminster Methodist Church in Wolverhampton where chairman Eric Robson and panel members Pippa Greenwood, Bob Flowerdew and Chris Beardshaw answer gardening queries. Meanwhile Matthew Wilson advises on making a child friendly garden.
3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. The team visit Rugeley in Staffordshire.
8.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Manure looks at plants for shade and the benefits of using manure for growing vegetables and there is a visit to an Essex garden filled with lilies.