The first signs of spring are beginning to show. Carpeting the ground, is a mosaic of spring flowering bulbs, primroses, cowslips and hellebores, interspersed between the fresh basal growth of the herbaceous perennials which will provide changing interest throughout the rest of the year.

It’s a great time to be in the garden and to stand and admire the emerging beauty while looking forward to what it will become once the weather begins to warm.

In the Kitchen and Cutting Garden, most of the visible plant growth is undercover in the glasshouses and cold frames.

There are anemones and Narcissus starting to flower and cells full of newly germinated seedlings to furnish the vegetable and flower beds for harvesting later in the year.

Pots of herbs, which have been overwintered are being given an extra bit of protection to help them bulk up and guarantee they are ready for late spring. The tomato plants sown in February are already a foot tall and the seed potatoes are nearly finished ‘chitting’ with the first earlies almost ready for planting out. In the ground, as well as the young shoots of garlic, chives and loveage, rhubarb sticks are pushing their way upwards. One variety called ‘Timperley Early’ will be ready to start harvesting soon this month and when it is, we’ll pick the stems with a firm tug rather than cutting them, to help stimulate new growth at the base of the plant and strengthen the plants for next year

In the greenhouses, Camellias continue to flower but as they fade, those that we planted outside in the gardens are starting to flourish. It won’t be long until the indoor peaches, apricots, nectarines and gages start to blossom and now that the heating is on in the end vinery, there will soon be signs of life, sprouting from the Muscat of Alexandra grape vines.

March is definitely the time for sowing and growing. We’ve been potting on thousands of plug plants into peat free compost sowing to grow on for our summer pot displays. Between February and April we’ve been making extra sowings of the hardy annuals that were sown in autumn. Seed grown perennials can be sown now too, especially those which are likely to flower in their first year like Agastache, Erigeron and Verbena bonariensis.  For half-hardy annuals we’ll wait until the middle of the month when the light levels are better and the nights are less cold, some of Sophie’s favourites are straw flowers, sunflowers, statice and Chinese asters.

Now that the weather is warming the spring bulbs are flowering profusely and are being regularly cut for use in the house and the restaurants. Excitingly the Icelandic poppies are starting to bloom too! After top-dressing our perennial pots with a fresh layer of our home made compost to help pep them up for the new season ahead, we’ll soon be planting bulbs for our summer displays. This year gladioli, Lillies Galtonia (summer hyacinths) and lots of different Dahlias will help us add splashes of colour to toe pots and cutting beds to enjoy later in the year. 

Image credit: all images by Mick Brown

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