Far from bog-standard!?

Water makes a charming feature in almost any garden. But a fine setting will bring even greater beauty. If a well-planted bog comes up to the pond edge and reflects on the surface, that scene is perfected. Wetland plants have particular beauty. Visit Beth Chatto's gorgeous Water- -Garden in Essex, or the drifts of Asiatic primulas at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, and you'll see what I mean.

This year's winter was abnormally dry in many regions.?And now, just when growth should run at top speed, it's drier still. We're heading for a drought. For gardeners, that's a disappointment.

Welsh composer Ivor Novello was spot on with his song We'll Gather -Lilacs. They're surely the most romantic of spring flowers and, for that reason alone, they belong in everyone's garden.

Camellias are giving a wonderful show this year, but it will soon be over. After flowering has finished, give each shrub a vigorous shake to dislodge any dead blooms.

This is a good time to refresh compost if you grow camellias or azaleas in containers. Ericaceous compost loses acidity - especially when hard water is used.

Enjoy Chelsea Flower Show from your home

Chelsea Flower Show is next week. Tickets are almost sold out, but you can enjoy the show in comfort at home. You might even see more on television than when buffeted by the crowds. Chelsea is by far the world's most famous flower show. But other events over the coming months have qualities that the great London show lacks. The setting for Chelsea is superb, but some alternative venues are even prettier.

Now is the time to deal with winter jasmine.?Though spectacularly beautiful with cheerful yellow flowers from November to March, this shrub is ferociously invasive.

Among frost-tender crops, the tomato is king. Fancy alternatives such as melons or aubergines can be tricky, but tomatoes are a favourite because they're dependable.

This is a good weekend to sow pumpkin, gourd, courgette or marrow seeds directly outdoors.
And it's by no means too late to sow turnips, beetroot, runner beans, spinach or chard.

 

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