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Bluebells, tulips and the Malvern Show


by James Alexander-Sinclair

The whole world seems to be teeming with life at the moment: the birdsong is delightful, the snails are on the march and the plants are growing at phenomenal speed.


Bluebell woodThe whole world seems to be teeming with life at the moment: the birdsong is delightful, the snails are on the march (in spite of my discovering at least three huge hibernation areas during the winter) and the plants are growing at phenomenal speed.

Looking at my garden this morning, however, I realised that we're a bit short of colour at this time of year. I know that within a few weeks the place will be alive with flower but right now it's a little flat.

I didn't plant enough tulips last year. Right now we have the spectacular Tulipa 'Paul Scheerer', T. 'Jackpot' and a few T. 'White Triumphator'. Apart from that there is the lovely early flowering Geranium 'Bill Wallis' and a very pretty pink cow parsley (Chaerophyllum hirsutum 'Roseum') but it's not really enough.

However, I draw enormous comfort from the fact that just next to us is a staggering bluebell wood. The shrill green young beech leaves, the sun ducking through the branches and a shimmering sheet of blue: it really doesn't get much better than that.

By the way, we had a visitor to the garden this week: a stoat. It climbed over the roof of the barn and disappeared into a convenient hole in the bargeboard (presumably on a search for birds' nests). The only other time I have seen one it was wearing a turtleneck sweater and holding a pistol in the E.H. Shepard illustrations for The Wind in the Willows. Stoats, according to Ratty "are not to be trusted".

This week is the first big event of the garden show calendar: the Malvern Spring Gardening Show. Gardens, nurseries, shopping, local food and the magnificence of the Malvern Hills. It's the prettiest showground in the country. I have a vested interest in that I'm working there for most of the week, running the spectacularly wonderful theatre. On Thursday I'm with the twinkling Chris Beardshaw, on Friday with earthy Monty Don and on Saturday and Sunday with gingery Joe Swift. If you're looking for somewhere to go this coming weekend (10-11 May) please come along and say 'hello'.

I'm already looking forward to after the show, because I know that my garden will have completely changed. One of the best things about going away is coming home again.



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Gardeners' World Web User 12/05/2008 at 19:21

Can someone please remind me of the anti slug spray used by the Hosta loving lady on Gardeners' World 9th May Malvern Show edition? It involved 2 bulbs of garlic but can't remember what else.

Gardeners' World Web User 13/05/2008 at 11:35

Hi Jo, here is Una Dunnett's Garlic Wash recipe for Hostas:

Crush two bulbs of garlic, then steam or boil them in two pints of water for three-four minutes until blanched. Strain the mixture and make it back up to two pints, then leave to cool. When it's ready to use, mix one tablespoon of the mixture into a gallon (3.8 litres) of water and sprinkle teh solution on to hosta leaves in late afternoon (in dry weather). Good luck! Kate

Gardeners' World Web User 15/05/2008 at 11:24

Hi, I like the sound of your slug repellant - does it work on other plants too or is there something specifically in the hostas that combines with the garlic solution to make it work? Thanks.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/05/2008 at 19:15

I have inherited a honeysuckle which has been trained up a wall. However, it has now reached the height I want it & I need to trim it - does it matter what time of year I do this? I am a complete gardening novice - do I just snip off the growing tips of the bits which are too long??

Gardeners' World Web User 17/05/2008 at 17:54

I want to put plants into gaps in a retaining wall, will any rockery alpines be ok? If not could somebody please list a few of the common ones that will please, I have 2 at the moment they are lewisias.

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