This is the first of my monthly blogs, suggesting things to watch out for in the garden and places to visit.

After a long, cold, wet winter and spring, many leaves and flowers have been slow to emerge. However, patience is one of a gardener’s important traits. We should never be too hasty to remove a plant because we think it is dead.

In the garden

For example, a whole raised bed of tulips planted too late the previous year (resulting in them being ‘blind’) might easily have ended in the compost bin. However, left in-situ and overplanted during the summer with Nicotiana sylvestris and Verbena bonariensis, they have rewarded me this year with a fabulous display.

Two other plants are redeeming themselves. I very nearly scalped a trailing Muelenbeckia complexa following a hard frost, but left to its own devices it has burst forth providing me with longer delicate fronds than I would have had if I had been too keen with the secateurs.

Sadly, following the severe heat and drought of summer ’22, having thought that several branches of a Physocarpus opulifolius Dart’s Gold were dead, I duly lopped them. I needn’t have, as another example in the garden which was left alone sent forth a fresh display of leaves and maintained its elegant shape.

Continuing the theme of re-birth, this is an important time of the year to find ‘free’ seedlings – the careful work of germination having been done by nature itself. Tour your garden and look at the base of plants such as hellebores and you may be delighted to find a little nursery. Carefully pot up the seedlings and nurture them until they are large enough to plant out in a suitable spot, where they will thrive and bulk up a group of plants.

Tiny Hellebores

Two other good places to look are at the base of plants in plant pots, or amongst gravel pathways or paving. Here miscellaneous seeds may have germinated. I am thus providing my brother in Shropshire with a copse full of Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris), descended from the fine example growing beyond my garden fence. I am also nurturing a collection of Acers found among the pebbles beneath the one growing in my lawn.

The sunflowers which towered above my fence last year were all seedlings, found sheltering under a plant where the seed head from the previous year had fed the birds. I have already found some new seedlings ready for this year’s display. Happy hunting!

Sunflower seedlings

Places to visit

Coton Manor, Bucks.
The bluebell wood will be open to visitors from Tuesday, 25th April.

I first visited Coton Manor over 20 years ago and fell in love with the beautiful Chaenomeles Nivalis trained along the courtyard wall. I duly planted one in my own garden and this year it has put on its best display yet. Perhaps it likes the extra moisture we have had this winter? It makes an excellent cut flower, beautiful to see up close.

Chaenomeles Nivalis