AS FEATURED IN THE EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES
“Have you got any Petunias?”
The first request for summer bedding is, to the garden centre worker, like the first cuckoo of spring.
This year’s unseasonably warm weather had us being asked while it was still officially winter, and I already had my shorts on before March was out (apologies for any trauma caused to witnesses to my skinny pins).
At our Newbourne nursery we take pride in often not being the first. The early supermarket specimens have usually been forced in heated glasshouses, which does them no good at all when they come face to face with the British climate, especially when nights can still be cold. Once you’ve trained your eye, it is easy to spot the sickly pallor and floppy habit (not unlike a tech-addicted teenager).
Plants spurred on by nothing more than quality compost and slow-release fertiliser have vibrant, verdant, bushy growth, which should lead to bigger, healthier plants and more flower power (and less chucking failed purchases on to the compost heap).
The Easter weekend is seen as the start of the gardening season, although I’m sure most of you will have already been tempted out to give borders and beds a freshen up.
We will be open throughout as the Easter Sunday trading laws don’t affect us, despite the nursery covering two acres. The rules are based on the size of your indoor shop and we have a ‘mere’ 1,500 square foot of greenhouse open to the public, which is only now beginning to fill up with the first of those Petunias and other patio and vegetable plants everyone has been so impatient to get their hands on.
The rest is outdoors, including half-an-acre dedicated to cottage garden plants and other interesting perennials – and it still doesn’t feel like enough space for all the different varieties we’re growing! This is an exciting time of year when plants are racing into growth and something new pops into flower every week. Plant now and after a few weeks of watering in you will be able to enjoy a whole spring and summer of colour for little effort.
On a smaller scale, patio plants are perfect for creative types because you can play around with different combinations in your pots and baskets. Have some fun: harmonious hues, fiery oranges, reds and yellows, or maybe daring hot pinks with whites – the choices are almost limitless!
Gardening advice by Catherine McMillan
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