AS FEATURED IN THE EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES
“Ooh!” excitedly exclaimed the lady, as she made a sudden lunge for the Campanulas. I flinched. The pleasure of plant shopping is the leisurely pace it is conducted at – our plant centre might be only a mile from the A12 but the setting couldn’t be much more rural. Fast moving customers are an alarming anomaly. (Although groups of women can get a little raucous as they call their friends’ attention to the latest treasure they’ve found.)
“That’s what’s coming up in my garden! What is it!?”
We often help customers identify mystery plants from photos and cuttings, but many manage it through such chance sightings on the nursery.
Late spring is a joyous time. Every day another plant pops its head up above the soil. The shrubs that have been lurking in the background suddenly burst into bloom: there’s no doubting whether we have any rock rose Cistus, Ceanothus (Californian Lilac) or Spiraea in stock once their flowers are out.
Turn your back for five minutes and spires of bud suddenly shoot up from non-descript ground-hugging leaves, revealing them to be foxgloves, Verbascums, Alliums or sweet rockets, ready to give a glorious show.
Seasons are a contentious issue, with some people following the meteorological calendar and others the astronomical. But the watershed moment for the East Anglian gardener is early May, when all risk of frost should have passed, and if it hasn’t, a strongly worded letter of complaint is in order to whoever is responsible for such matters.
This year has certainly taken us to the wire. But right on time, May 1st was a beautiful sunny day and the long-range forecast showed no more cold nights on the horizon – the starting gun has been fired.
We couldn’t wait at Katie’s Garden, the thousands of assorted perennials and lavenders that had been growing in our unheated glasshouses since autumn – from Salvias to Lupins, Heucheras to Geraniums and much more besides – came outside in April to make way for the Surfinias, Senetti, and other summer bedding our unstoppable potters keep producing.
The greenhouses also gave our hanging basket guru, Angela, a headstart, and it is now some weeks since she disappeared behind a proliferation of suspended floral displays of her own creation, emerging only occasionally for food, drink and fresh supplies of Lobelia.
Whatever you’re looking for, come and find something to make you go “ooh!” this month at Katie’s Garden Plant Centre!
Gardening advice by Catherine McMillan
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