Mad about the blooms

Karen Neville

flowers

Summer is on the horizon bringing with it warmer days, hopefully plenty of sun and the glorious sight and scent of roses blossoming and spreading their joy

Our most popular flower is rich in symbolism and history featuring in literature, music, heritage, as our national flower, in skin care products and as the emblem for many sports teams.

Classic and instantly recognisable, they are ideal for almost every style of garden, flowering abundantly from early summer in pastel shades of pink, peach, cream or snowy-white; vibrant yellow and gold; orange, crimson and red.

And as any gardener will tell you, there are a few essential rose rules to ensure ‘everything comes up roses’.

Round & About gardening expert Cathie Welch will tell you “It’s all in the pruning!” and advises “before you prune, know your rose type and sharpen your secateurs to avoid damage.”

She adds: “Make sure you cut correctly in the right place. Dead heading throughout the summer and winter pruning should all be cut to ideally pencil thickness growth to encourage more flowers. Cut out dead and weak growths as well as congested growth and don’t forget the suckers which come from the wild rootstock.”

Ramblers are in full bloom at this time of year and to ensure an attractive abundance in future, she says: “After flowering has finished prune out some of the flowered shoots and tie in the annoying long ones that you have wanted to cut off because these will produce next year’s flowers.”

And remember to dead head throughout the summer.

If you prefer to admire the beauty of roses and take in the rich fragrance from someone else’s handiwork there are plenty of gorgeous English gardens full of stately blooms.

There are more than a thousand Old English rose bushes to take in at Loseley Park, Guildford which can be seen at their best at this of year. Nearby at RHS Wisley, the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden boasts a contemporary design combining roses with evergreen shrubs, herbaceous plants, bulbs and clipped yews. Look out for some spectacular blooms into autumn.

Visit The Six Quarters at Gilbert White’s House in Selborne and be greeted by summer beds containing different species of old rose planted in among lavender, geraniums, dianthus, foxglove and columbine.

You’d expect the National Trust to offer up some of the best gardens to wander through and these don’t disappoint. There’s A Celebration of Roses at Polesden Lacey, June 8th to July 14th, where the walled gardens hold more than 35 varieties and over 100 rambling roses form tunnels of petals over the pergola leading to the central wishing well. Bright yellow blooms mix with more subtle pale pinks. The celebration offers the opportunity to learn more about the blooms, the garden’s history and the work that goes into maintaining it. View metal rose installations made by charity the Camelia Botnar Foundation which provides residential training and work experience to young people. The roses in the installation are for sale and can be collected after the celebration has finished.

The Rose Garden at Nymans in Sussex boasts more than 600 bushes – their heady scent carries a long way, notably on a warm summer’s day, mingling with the lavendar.

The more than 100 varieties blooming at Hinton Ampner near Alresford are sure to feature in the Festival of Flowers from June 8th to 30th which celebrates the art of flower arranging as part of Hinton in Bloom: Summer where you can wind your way through the walled garden to the parterre, look for the rose motifs and breathe in their scent throughout the month.

The walled gardens at Mottisfont near Romsey are home to a collection of pre-1900 shrub roses. This year, Mottisfont is marking 50 years since the collection was brought to the grounds to be enjoyed by all and how they are preparing for climate challenges of the future. The gardens are open until 8pm through to June 29th affording longer for you to appreciate them and on 7th, 14th and 21st you can enjoy live jazz, wine tastings and wine for sale from award-winning Hampshire vineyard Black Chalk.

Take in the scent of the contemporary Rose Garden with its viewing platform overlooking the roses as well as the garden beyond at Savill Garden and immerse yourself in the old fashioned scented French musk roses inter-planted with a wide range of shrubs and perennials.

The start of July brings the glorious Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, 2nd to 7th, where you can’t fail to be inspired by the beautiful show gardens and ‘get started’ gardens created by new designers with innovative ideas, beautiful plants and detailed landscaping.

Mad about the blooms

Liz Nicholls

flowers

Summer is on the horizon bringing with it warmer days, hopefully plenty of sun and the glorious sight and scent of roses blossoming & spreading their joy

Which country is one of the world’s largest suppliers of roses with 54% of its land filled with the fragrant flower? Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed Ecuador where the natural light provides the perfect year-round climate for them to thrive.

How about the most expensive rose in the world? The David Austin Juliet Rose, named after Shakespeare’s tragic heroine, was developed over the course of 15 years at a cost of a whopping £2.3million. The delicate apricot coloured large headed blooms were first displayed at Chelsea Flower Show in 2006.

More rose facts: the oldest living one is 1,000 years old and can be found on the wall of the Cathedral of Hildesheim in Germany, all varieties of rose are edible and the earliest rose fossils have been discovered in Colorado dating back 35 million years.

The most popular flower is rich in symbolism and history featuring in literature, music, heritage, as our national flower, in skincare and as the emblem for many sports team. Classic and instantly recognisable, they are ideal for almost every style of garden, flowering abundantly from early summer in pastel shades of pink, peach, cream or snowy-white; vibrant yellow and gold; orange, crimson and red. As any gardener will tell you, there are a few rose rules to ensure ‘everything comes up roses’.

Round & About gardening guru Cathie Welch says: “It’s all in the pruning! Before you prune, know your rose type and sharpen your secateurs. Cut correctly in the right place, dead heading throughout summer. Winter pruning should be cut to ideally pencil thickness to encourage more flowers. Cut out dead, weak and congested growth and don’t forget the suckers which come from the wild rootstock.”

Ramblers are in full bloom at this time of year and to ensure an attractive abundance, she adds: “After flowering has finished prune out some of the flowered shoots and tie in the annoying long ones that you have wanted to cut off because these will produce next year’s flowers.”

If you prefer to admire the beauty of roses and take in the rich fragrance from someone else’s handiwork there are plenty of gorgeous English gardens full of stately blooms.

The Rose Garden at Cliveden, SL1 8NS, is a heavenly place to visit, tucked away in a grove of mature trees. The contrast of the natural setting with the formality of the rose garden and its riot of colour and fragrance makes it feel like a magical secret garden. Wander under climbing rose arches with every colour from palest lemon to vibrant oranges to velvety dark crimson. With more than 900 in the summer-long display you’re sure to find a favourite.

Visit Waddesdon Manor, HP18 0JH, this month for the sweet scent of the rose garden from the colourful blooms filling the stately setting. The beds in the aviary and parterre have been decorated with colour influenced by Victorian-inspired planting.

Putting the Garden to Bed

Round & About

flowers

Green-fingered Cathie Welch shares her tips on getting your garden ready for the colder months

I have always thought this was a strange saying as so much goes on during the winter months. Some plants die down but others are coming up as it’s their season. The animals, insects and birds all still need shelter and food.

Pruning

Many plants actually need their annual prune in the winter when they are dormant like roses, apples and pears and many other deciduous shrubs and trees. Think about piling up the prunings or making a ‘dead hedge’ instead of throwing them out or burning them.

Cutting back perennials

Many perennials have gone over and look dead at this time of the year and it is tempting to cut them all back for tidiness. Think carefully about each plant as the seed heads that look dead to you can look beautiful in the frost and can contain valuable food for birds. The base of perennials can actually be protected in the winter, particular those that are slightly tender like Penstemon and many Salvias. Perennials at the side of ponds are refuge for amphibians. If you really need to cut them back consider leaving piles so creatures can hide there. Many perennials are best left until the sap is rising in the Spring like Fuschias, Hydrangeas and Perovskia.

Tender Perennials

Some plants need winter protection as they don’t tolerate the freezing temperatures of recent years. Hardy Fuschias die back but tender ones will die. Dahlias and Cannas really can be put to bed in the garden by covering with a thick layer of straw mulch topped with compost.

Autumn Leaves

I find the thick acrid smoke of a bonfire particularly upsetting if leaves are the fuel. This is especially tedious when leaf blowers are used. Rake the leaves up into a pile for hedgehogs and other creatures to enjoy. Mulch over the top of them on flower beds as they will eventually rot down. Mow them up on a lawn for exceptional compost. Create a leaf mould pile but do not burn!

Meadows and hardy annuals

A lot of our native wild flowers need to have the seed stratified which means they need the cold winter in order to germinate in the Spring. Consider leaving the seeds in the ground rather than collecting them or re-distribute throughout the garden.

Biennials

Foxgloves, teasels and forget-me-nots need to go through vernalisation which is when the plant is in its first year. It needs the cold to stimulate flowering the following Spring.

Plants are amazing and a little knowledge can transform the way you think about ‘putting your garden to bed for the winter’

CGS Courses
Please ask for details as I am now meeting potential students for Spring Courses as well as bespoke workshops and volunteering. I can also come and teach you in your own garden and am happy to chat over a coffee at Ashdene. Consultancy gift vouchers available too. Visit my website or email:  [email protected]

A rose by any other name

Karen Neville

flowers

Rose Awareness Week celebrates the beauty and variety of the world’s most popular flower. This is the ideal time to enjoy their glory with beautiful blooms and sensuous scents in gardens near you

Shakespeare said “of all the flowers, me thinks a rose is best” and who can argue with the great English playwright. Roses are rooted in many aspects of life, from literature to history, but did you know:

• The oldest living rose is 1,000 years old, and lives on the wall of the Cathedral of Hildesheim in Germany.
• All varieties of rose are edible. Rose petals are often added to jellies and used as a flavouring in Chinese and Indian cuisine. Teas or cocktails are often infused with rose hips, a berry shaped fruit grown from roses packed with Vitamin C.
• There are around 150 species of roses across the world, with thousands of hybrids too! Cherries, apples, peaches, plums, pears, apricots and almonds are all relatives of the rose family.
• The most expensive rose is the Juliet Rose. It took 15 years and cost £2.3 million. Its colour resembles an apricot and it was first displayed in 2006 at Chelsea Flower Show.

One of summer’s great pleasures is to stroll through a rose garden, breathe in the sweet fragrance and gaze at the pastel colours of the blooms. Whether in a formal rose garden or throughout the grounds, these ones are well worth a visit.

Hampshire

More than 100 rose varieties bloom each summer at Hinton Ampner, Alresford, and the borders are designed so the most fragrant roses are planted close to the path you walk along. Take the rose trail that guides you to the different varieties planted by a former owner, and Hinton’s garden team.

Step into the garden at Mottisfont and be met with unsurpassed fragrance and colour from over 500 varieties of world-famous roses blooming in the walled garden.

Surrey

The rose garden at Nymans is teaming with delicate blooms and densely-petalled clusters. Make the most of the long summer evenings and experience the roses in a whole new light every Friday in June and July with summer lates at Nymans.

Take in the glorious views across the rolling Surrey Hills from Polesden Lacey near Dorking, framed by Edwardian rambling roses, shrub roses adorning the borders and climbing roses decorating the pergolas.

Started in 2007, the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden at RHS Wisley aims to inspire visitors with roses planted alongside companion plants.

The two summer beds at the Six Quarters at Gilbert White’s House, Selborne, are home to various species of old roses, all of which look their best this month, nestled among lavender, geraniums, columbines and foxgloves.

Planted with over 1,000 Old English rose bushes and framed by long, low, precisely clipped box hedges, the Rose Garden at Loseley Park, Guildford, is one of the finest examples in the country. Many visit just for the colour and scent of the roses, evoking summer at its best.

Oxfordshire

The three-day flower show this month, 23rd to 25th, at Blenheim Palace is the ideal time to enjoy the roses at their best in the sumptuous surroundings of the stately splendour in Woodstock. Take a stroll down Floral Street, tour the Grand Floral Pavilion, join the newly-created Insect Trail and generally wallow in all that showcases the best of British gardening.

The Mary Rose Garden at Waterperry Gardens near Wheatley is home to hybrid teas, floribunda, climbers and ground cover roses – a rose lover’s paradise. Visitors in June will find among the many varieties grown there are some which only flower once a year, amid many repeat flowerers.

As part of the National Garden Scheme, The Old Rectory, Farnborough, near Wantage OX12 8NX will be open on June 28th and August 9th. Visitors can admire the collection of old roses and abundantly planted borders while enjoying beautiful views and rare plants and wild flowers.

Wiltshire

There are around 2,000 roses throughout the garden at Abbey House Manor Gardens, Malmesbury, with climbers wandering their way through foxgloves and other flowers. Once part of a Benedictine Monastery, the gardens only open on selected dates during the summer months.

Berkshire

The rose arbor provides seating in an avenue of white and mauve alliums and white camtasisa at Rockwood Garden, Newbury where you can enjoy a tour with tea lead by the owners.

The 12 acre garden at Englefield House, Theale, descends from the hill above the historic house through woodland featuring mature native trees. Stone balustrades enclose the lower terrace with lawns, roses and mixed borders.

Greys Court near Henley is full of wonderful sights and scents as the roses come into bloom throughout June. The rose garden traces the history of the rose from the early damask varieties to the modern hybrid perennials.

Through June, August and September, the Rose Garden at Basildon Park is planted with old roses, replicating Lady Iliffe’s original design. Look out for two of the gardeners’ favourite roses: Rosa mundi and Rosa ‘Compte de Chambord’, which is also known as ‘Madame Boll’ or ‘Madame Knorr’.

Take in the scent of the contemporary rose garden at Savill Garden, Windsor, with its viewing platform overlooking the roses and the garden beyond and wander beside borders planted with old fashioned scented French musk roses.

Celebrate all things floral at the Royal Windsor Flower Show on Saturday, 10th June. Led by the show’s Honorary President, Alan Titchmarsh who will welcome a host of special guests and performances, with plant growers, garden designers, artisan producers and top-notch chefs on hand to demonstrate and share their knowledge.

Buckinghamshire

Cliveden’s rose garden features over 900 repeat flowering roses in shades of red, orange and yellow. Reinstated in 2014 based on a 1950s design by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, you can enjoy them in bloom from late May until September.

Visitors to Waddesdon this month will be able to enjoy the sweet scent of the rose garden as the colourful blooms fill the stately setting. The beds in the Aviary and Parterre are awash with colour influenced by Victorian-inspired planting.

In addition to the stately splendour of Cliveden and Waddesdon, several gardens are opening as part of the National Garden Scheme this month. Overstroud Cottage Garden in The Dell, Frith Hill, Great Missenden, HP16 9QE, is opening its gates on Sunday, 4th June for visitors to admire the rambling roses and their ‘lookalike’ peonies among others. With a plant stall too you may even be able to pick up some specimens for your garden!

Maidenhead Open Gardens will feature about 20 gardens on June 24th and 25th with gardens large and small on display showcasing their blooms. Meet the keen gardeners and pick up some tips as you discover more about the hidden gems in the area. Earlier in the month, on 11th, visit the garden at St Timothee, Darlings Lane, Pinkneys Green, SL6 6PA and take in the sights and scents of the two-acre garden at this 1930s house where, in addition to the rose terrace, a box parterrre, ornamental grasses and wildlife pond add to the delight.

Valentine’s tablescapes from AB Event Hire

Round & About

flowers

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about a romantic meal for two, it’s about spending time with those we love, from our family to our best friends. It’s the perfect time to create a tablescape filled with love for your partner, family, best friends or for a Galentines brunch!

You don’t need to get your cupid’s arrow in a knot, styling a romantic table doesn’t need to be expensive and can be created using handmade decoration, hiring items, and using what you have at home.

Here are our top 14 tips for styling a dreamy tablescape for the 14th February

1 – Start with thinking of a theme. Having a theme can add instant fun or a luxurious element to the tablescape plus it helps with the décor decisions & keeping to a budget and helps keeps the table look cohesive.


2 – Create a vision board on Pinterest, it allows you to keep all your ideas in one place.


3 – There are endless romantic themes like, a classic red & hearts, or soft baby pink & pastels, a fun ‘Love Heart Be Mine’, an XOX with your Galentine’s or a Be Mine theme with someone you love.


4 – Linen always adds a luxurious feel to a table, but you don’t need to necessarily buy it! This can be hired for a fraction of the price. If you don’t want a full tablecloth, you could always use a runner down the centre of the table. This will add texture, a pop of colour without covering the whole table.


5 – Fold your napkins into hearts, you could add a little chocolate love heart on the napkin too!


6 – Do you have enough seats for everyone or chairs that match? You can hire extra chairs & benches. Have a matching set to give your table the extra wow factor. You could hang a little heart to the back of them. This is a great way to bring your theme into all areas of your Valentines tablescape.


7 – Love notes, on each place setting write a little note to your guest about something you love about them.


8 – Have a creative afternoon and make heart fan decorations for your special meal, these could be hung from windows, on the back of chairs or scattered on the table – check out our social media pages for full instructions.


9 – A special table is all about layers, use charger plates to give an instant luxurious feel to each setting. They can add textures and colours without overpowering the setting. These can be hired, there is no need to buy them!


10 – For a special table setting, use crystal glasses, and gold cutlery, something you might not have at home, these can be hired and even given back dirty!


11 – Remember to think about the height of the centrepiece, your guests need to be able to see each other, without a great big candelabra blocking their view! Use odd numbers of items, it creates a much more pleasing effect on the eye.


12 – No romantic table would be complete without flowers, you could go with traditional roses, pretty gipsofila that you can buy in the supermarket or even used little potted plants. Incorporate all the winter foliage and pretty winter flowers into your table set up. You can create a table runner, then add in elements like mini bows, chocolate hearts or even packets of love hearts!


13 – Fruit is a fantastic way to add a pop of colour to your tablescape, scatter strawberries or grapes around your décor or onto your plates. You could fill glass containers with fruit!


14 – At AB Event Hire we are conscious about the environment & stay away from one-use plastic throw-away items. Instead of buying new tableware, hire it in at a fraction of the price. Not only does it help reduce waste, but we can wash it up for you too! Use matching plates, cutlery, and glasses to create an instant cohesive feel to the tablescape.

For more information about how to hire items & tips on creating Valentine tablescapes, head over to our social media pages @ab_event_hire or our website AB Event Hire.

AB Event Hire is a family run wedding, event & catering equipment company. We are based in Woking and can supply you with all the items you might need to create a perfect celebration. Please get in touch with us, we would love to hear from you! Our telephone number is 01276 856440 and the office email is [email protected].

Respect your elders! Five recipes

Liz Nicholls

flowers

August is the zenith of elderflower season, with this floral yet tropical flavoured plant gracing many a hedgerow in this gorgeous part of the world.

The plant is known for its white flowers which sprawl out of the stem and will begin to flourish from May lasting through to August, when it then begins to develop purple elderberries.

The fresh, floral, and slightly tropical taste makes the flower a great base for many recipes. The taste is often compared to a more floral version of pear or lychee.

Most commonly, elderflower is found in cordial drinks, but the versatile ingredient has far more to offer…

How to spot elderflower

Elderflower’s most recognisable element is its sprawling white flowers which look like a burst of small creamy petals. The tree itself will be small in size, often just a shrub. It is plentiful throughout the UK and often grows in woods, hedges or even in parks or on big streets. However, before you even spot the flower, you may be able to smell it! Elderflower has a distinctive aroma which many liken to ‘the smell of summer’ – it should smell floral and creamy. If the flowers have a brown colour or smell musty, it’s best to leave that plant. Lastly, be sure you’re not confusing elderflower with other similar looking plants like Pyracantha or Cow Parsley. If possible, take a photo of elderflower with you so you can compare. Remember that elderflowers grow from woody, leafy branches, have 5 rounded petals and yellow anthers.

How to prepare your elderflower

If you can, try to pick your elderflower in fair weather. The blooms will be packed with pollen and it’s this which gives the plant its signature taste. Poor weather can mean that the pollen has been washed or blown away, resulting in a less flavourful return. It’s also worth avoiding any elderflowers from beside road or railway lines as these can be tainted with fumes, instead try to wander farther afield for your crop. This is important as when you come to prepare your flowers, you shouldn’t wash them, as this will remove the aforementioned pollen.

Instead, pick off any bugs then trim the blossoms into a container ensuring you gather any pollen that falls away. Discard the stems. It’s best to use elderflower right away, but if you do need to store it, place your flowers in a paper bag and keep in a cool, dry place.

Recipe ideas

Champagne

Elderflower Champagne is the perfect, elegant use for these flowers. To make a batch of your own you’ll need sugar, lemons, and some white wine vinegar.

A simple recipe can be found from River Cottage requiring only basic equipment and some appropriate bottles of choice, just make sure these have a cork or stopper to create that fizz!

This recipe requires a little patience as you’ll need to wait at least a week before your batch is ready. If you plan on storing your champagne, you may need to pop the lid occasionally to release excess pressure from building up.

Once ready, the drink makes a perfect garden party tipple, ideal for sharing with friends!

Fritters

This recipe is much simpler than it sounds. All you need is flour, baking powder, icing sugar and sparkling water. Simply mix the first three ingredients together then add your sparkling water. Aim for a thick texture that is still a little runny. Once ready, dip in your elderflower heads then add to a pan of hot, but not smoking, oil. The fritters should turn golden brown and be ready to remove in under a minute. Once ready, remove and leave to dry on kitchen paper, then dust in icing sugar or serve with a drizzle of honey. For a more adventurous taste, swap out the sparkling water for beer or ginger beer for a different twist.

Sorbet

Sorbet is a simple and versatile way to use your elderflowers. Bring two parts water and one parts sugar to a boil, add in your ingredients, simmer, cool for at least an hour, leave to infuse, strain, then pour into containers to freeze.

The best thing about creating sorbet is that you can experiment with flavours. Some great options to add to your elderflower include lemon, gin, strawberry, or rhubarb. A perfect cooling dessert for summer that’s easy to make, store and enjoy. Top with fresh fruit, biscuits, or add to sparkling wine for a simple, yet elegant, cocktail.

Tea

One effortless way to use your elderflower is to make tea. All you need for this is your elderflower cuttings, a cup and something to strain the liquid. Once you’ve trimmed your elderflowers, hang them upside down in a light, airy place to allow the flowers to dry out. Once done, keep your elderflower in a tin and store for when you want to make a cup. To make the tea, all you need to do is add elderflowers to boiling water and allow it to infuse. After a few minutes, strain the liquid into a cup of your choice. Alternatively, if you have a tea strainer, simply put your elderflowers cuttings inside and cover with hot water.

Cake

Last but not least, elderflower has always been a firm favourite with bakers, giving cakes a sweet but subtle twist. Royal fans may remember that Harry and Meghan opted for a lemon and elderflower cake at their wedding, adorned with fresh flowers. There’s a wealth of options if you’re looking to use elderflower in baking from adding into the mix, creating an elderflower syrup, or mixing it into a buttercream filling or topping. When it comes to the perfect flavour pairings, lemon is often the most popular choice, but pistachio, raspberries, or blueberries also make great combinations. For the perfect summer showstopper, try drizzling your cake with icing and topping with edible flowers.

“Elderflower can be a wonderfully diverse ingredient, while its flavour is distinctive, it’s sweet and floral nature means it pairs well with a wealth of other flavours,” says Kate Cartwright of Burleigh Pottery.

“Luckily in the UK, elder trees are abundant, meaning it’s highly likely you’ll be able to forage some elderflower for yourself. Just look out for the bursts of white flowers which should be blooming anytime now. When done responsibly, foraging is a great way to take advantage of the wonderful wild plants and ingredients we have in our country. Using local ingredients allows us to be more sustainable and cooking with wildflowers such as elderflower embraces and celebrates the ingredients we have all around us.”

A final word

It’s important to be responsible when foraging and there are some basic principles you should follow:

• Don’t take more than you need.

• Be careful not to trample or damage plants.

• Leave lots behind.

• Be sure you have identified the plant before consuming.

• Seek permission on private land.

• Elderflower mildly toxic when raw. Cooking destroys the toxic chemicals.

Book a plant clinic appointment

Round & About

flowers

Plant or garden dilemma? Grab a free Gardeners’ Question Time Plant Clinic slot with garden guru & Miracle-Gro this week.

999: WHAT’S YOUR PLANT EMERGENCY? From black spot to drooping leaves, now you can self-refer your plant for a live diagnosis at the Miracle-Gro Plant Clinic

Being a plant parent isn’t always easy! Despite our best efforts, our plants aren’t always in their best shape, and there’s always lots to learn about how to care for them – but now Miracle-Gro (www.lovethegarden.com) is offering free virtual Plant Clinic appointments with gardening guru Kate Turner to help bring your plants back to life.

Kate has years of gardening knowledge at her (green) fingertips, with experience on ITV’s Love Your Garden, BBC’s Garden Rescue, as a horticultural tutor at The Therapy Garden and as head gardener at Charterhouse School in Godalming.

Each day of the Plant Clinic will have its own plant-specialism to suit whatever questions you may have.

Plant Parenthood, Monday 29th March:

Whether it’s your first-time gardening and you’re not sure where to start, or you’re going to grow your fruit and veg crop from seed this year, Kate can answer all your questions and give you lots of tips.

Nutritious Growing, Tuesday 30th March:

The second day of the plant clinic is dedicated to all of your grow-your-own needs. Kate will be able to give advice on the best ways to grow your own fruit and veg and diagnose problems that you might have encountered. If your tomatoes caught blight last year or your courgettes didn’t flower, make sure they thrive this year by booking in with Kate.

Showstoppers, Wednesday 31st March:

Some plants are just for show, so get yours looking their absolute best this season. The Plant Clinic is open for anything from how to grow stunning roses and ornamental flowers, to bold, beautiful houseplants that need a little bit of help. Kate can guide you to enjoy your own flower show.

GP (General Plant) Surgery, Thursday 1st April:

If your needs don’t fit within one of the above, or you’re just looking for general gardening advice, then book a GP appointment with Kate for a check-up.

Plant Clinic bookings are now open for one person and their plant-patient to discuss their growing grievances with plant doctor and gardening expert, Kate Turner. With 20-minute Plant Clinic appointments on offer over the four-day period, which can be booked here.

To find out more, visit www.lovethegarden.com/plantclinic


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Spring has sprung so let’s celebrate!

Liz Nicholls

flowers

Bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining: spring is here!

We’ve teamed up with Wiltshire creative company eatsleepdoodle who are celebrating our springtime burst of wonderful wildlife waiting to be spotted. From butterflies to badgers, wild garlic to woodpeckers, there are so many things to look out for!

Butterfly watch

What wildlife can you spot this time of year? Well, we’ve been in touch with Butterfly Conservation, and they have kindly given us a picture guide as to what butterflies and moths you can expect to see in April and May.

Some have even appeared early this year! You’ll see on Butterfly Conservation’s Instagram account, that an Orange-tip (anthocharis cardamines) was spotted in Kent at the beginning of March!

Orange-tip butterfly photograph by Tim Bates and Joanne Fegan

A common butterfly to see all across Britain, according to the Butterfly Conservation’s research, is the Common Blue (part of the Blues family and similar to the Adonis Blue!). They enjoy sunny, sheltered areas, and some of the most common places to find a Common Blue include grass and woodland clearings, road verges and coastal dunes. The male butterflies are the most colourful; bright with a beautiful light blue upper-wing; whereas the females are more muted and usually have larger areas of brown.

Another common butterfly in Britain is the Peacock. The underside of their wings is camouflaged to be hidden amongst leaves, but their upper-wing has beautiful bright colours, which help confuse and startle any predators. They can be found across the British Isles and are most often found in gardens!

Also keep an eye out for the Large White, the winner of the 2020 Big Butterfly Count, these lovely butterflies enjoy a variety of habitats, but can usually be seen in gardens and allotments.

Common Blue

Peacock

Large White

Butterfly Conservation

Butterfly Conservation is a wonderful organisation, aiming to recover threatened species of moths and butterflies, increase numbers of widespread species, promote international conservation actions, and inspire people to understand and take part in conservation.

Last year’s Big Butterfly Count saw the ‘lowest numbers recorded in 11 years’. The average number of butterflies logged by Butterfly Conservation in 2020 was down by 34% in comparison to 2019. However, last year a record number of people contributed to the count, ‘it seems that, in a very dark and challenging year, the opportunity for getting out into nature and helping as citizen scientists were very welcome to people who were able to participate in the Count this year. Butterfly Conservation is thrilled the event was enjoyed by so many people.’

More information on how to get involved with and contribute to Butterfly Conservation’s work can be found on their website here.

Other wildlife

It’s not just butterflies that Spring brings, soon we’ll see new life popping up everywhere! Badger cubs begin to emerge, mallard ducklings start their adventures and frogspawn can be spotted in ponds across the UK. The dawn chorus will get louder and more persistent as the fledglings take flight and more birds are looking to mate.

Spring birds are ready to be found in gardens and woodland across the UK. Cuckoos are calling, woodpeckers are hard at work (carving a nest hole in a tree trunk!) and blue tits can frequently be seen hopping around the garden in search of snacks.

Woodpecker – photo by Strong Fish

Blue Tit – photo by dfkt

The RSPB have a great article about common garden birds to look out for here – this can also help identify the birds you are seeing in your garden in the coming Spring months.

As well as birds and butterflies, other small wildlife venture out in the Spring, like hedgehogs! Did you know that hedgehogs roam an average of one mile each night looking for food? That’s a long way on little legs! Waking up from their hibernation, hedgehogs love gardens as they provide the perfect habitat.

How can you help wildlife?

Gardens provide them with plenty of food and potential nesting sites. Hedgehogs like to eat creepy crawlies, however, during dry periods these can become sparse. You can create a small home and supplement food for hedgehogs in your garden. A shallow dish of water will benefit them hugely and even meat-based dog or cat food can be left out for them. Springwatch suggests that logs, leaves, twigs and natural garden compost make an ideal home for these small creatures (and bumblebees too), if you keep a pile in your garden – visitors may start to appear!

Hedgehog photo by Alicja Gancarz

Another way you can encourage wildlife at home is by letting your lawn grow and trying to establish a flower-rich lawn. This is a great way to encourage bees. Something as simple as leaving a strip of long grass or planting wildflower seeds or nectar plants can help bees, and butterflies too! Recently, we’ve noticed a lot more places such as churchyards and village greens-leaving large sections of grass or lawns uncut as a safe place for bees and other small wildlife.

Don’t forget that if you see a bee struggling, you can gently pick it up (we recommend using a piece of paper!) and give them a few small drops of water with sugar or honey – this should give them a boost! Another great idea is a bee house – this is a collection of small (usually wooden) tubes that bees can use to lay their eggs in.

Plants & flowers

Spring sees a whole new world of colour from gorgeous plants and flowers! The start of Spring is when we see beautiful blossom and daffodils begin to flower, both of which create an instant atmosphere as they open up quickly in the sun.

Whilst these bold blooms begin the month of March, towards April we begin to see the bright hues of bluebells and smell the strong aroma of wild garlic (yum!). Head to any wooded area for your bluebell fix. Bluebells fill the forest floor with a cool blue tone, an added pop of colour to the regular muted tones. Did you know that over half of the world’s population of the iconic bluebells are grown in the UK? Bees love them and we have ants to thank for helping spreading their seeds!

Wild garlic is not only charming but delicious as well! Spending most of the time as a bulb underground, wild garlic then emerges with gorgeous white flowers that explode onto the green leaves during April and May with an amazing firework-like flower. It is the perfect plant for pollinating insects such as butterflies and hoverflies. You can also make your own pesto with wild garlic – scrumptious!!

What are you most looking forward to this spring? We’re excited to see some brighter days ahead and being able to take in the magical spring delights. And we’ll be making full use of our pond life tablecloth and tote bag and butterfly collection to keep track of what wildlife we can spot this year! With bird seed, butterfly references and a pesto recipe at hand, off we go into another enchanting springtime!

Win a Pond Life Tablecloth

We’ve teamed up with Wiltshire’s eatsleepdoodle to encourage you to notice the wildlife all around you and give you the chance to win a Pond Life Colour and Learn tablecloth. To enter to win, all you have to do is follow eatsleepdoodle on social media and tag eatsleepdoodle & Round & About in your wildlife pics on Instagram before Easter Monday (5th April). We can’t wait to see your creations!

Usual Round & About competition T&C’s apply.

So get outdoors and enjoy the nature around you this Spring!


Tell us your local stories here

Wisley garden

Karen Neville

flowers

Make the most of the longer evenings thanks to some highlights this month at RHS Garden Wisley in Woking

Various events “after hours” at RHS Wisley should have you enjoying summer to its fullest. Quad Cinema will screen three films from 11th – 13th July including Mamma Mia, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Greatest Showman.

On Wednesday, 17th July, join Surrey Bat Group for an evening walk, and on 24th July pet owners can bring their dogs for walkies. On 26th visitors can enjoy and evening stroll and some live music in the garden until 9pm. There will also be an open-air theatre performance of The Wind in the Willows on Sunday, 28th, at 5.30pm.

Fuchsias are the focus of the Glasshouse display at RHS Garden Wisley from 6th July to 18th August, with a colourful display from Wisley’s fuchsia collection. The Glasshouse Gallery hosts the Carnivorous Plant Society for its show between 20th and 21st July with talks, advice, sales and a special presentation each day at 11an and 3pm entitled The Natural History of Carnivorous Plants.

Jazz in the Garden will take place each Saturday afternoon, 1-4pm at RHS Garden Wisley, when Chi Jazz entertain Wisley visitors from the Butterfly Pavillion. RHS Garden Wisley invites you to help celebrate 50 years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar with some fun family adventures in the Garden. They will also explore lifecycles and help children understand where their food comes from and how it grows.

Info

RHS Wisley, GU23 6QB; call 01483224234, email [email protected] or visit their website