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Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 14:10 UK
Get garden tips from Colin Evans
By Colin Evans
BBC Berkshire

Daffodils
Colin's early daffodils have been in full flower for three weeks

The Magnolias have done their best to give us a wonderful show of colour over the last two weeks.

But as with so many years the spring easterly winds have not been too kind to us.

Apart from causing ever changing conditions on a daily basis, the easterly winds have cut short the life of Magnolia blossom.

It is a pity as the colour they bring reminds us that winter is over and spring is here.

I have three Magnolias in my garden and the Solangiana type has refused to flower at all and the other two, being Stellata varieties, have been in full flower for only a week before the petals started to fall to the ground.

It's a bit disappointing in a way because these wonderful trees only show us their true glory for such a short time each year.

As I look into my garden, the early miniature daffodils which have been in full flower for three weeks now are beginning to die back but the other taller varieties are still in full flower being followed now by the tulips which have been keeping tight shut for as long as they can.

Mauves, reds and mixed yellows are now making the raised island beds look quite exotic.

If it were not for this nasty easterly wind, I might believe that spring had really arrived and we could kiss goodbye one of the worst winters for gardeners in many years.

Colin Evans
Hear Colin on BBC Radio Berkshire on Wednesdays and Sundays

PLANT OF THE WEEK:

Hydrangea Paniculata "Vanilla Fraise" is an extra special variety as it has a stunning appearance with a garden performance to match. Its blooms emerge pure white then turn to a raspberry pink as the season goes on.

It will grow in most soils and does not mind a north facing position due to its extreme hardiness.

TOPICAL TIPS:

1. Globe Artichokes are becoming popular, not only because you can cook and eat the round seed pod but the plant makes a fantastic addition to a mixed border.

The huge olive green leaves create a dense plant which will add contrast to borders, and better still, if you are into flower arranging then the leaves are fantastic in huge vases indoors.

Get a packet of seeds from the garden centre and sow in shallow drills now, cover over, firm and water in and when the seeds germinate give them a little protection.

If you prefer grown plants then sow a single seed into a pot of compost and then plant into its growing position once the new plant has six or more leaves.

2. Sweet Peas can be sown straight into the ground, or if you prefer, into pots of compost and just left until the seeds germinate.

Place small canes to ensure the plants grow upwards or better still place trellis or wires on a wall or fence.

Sweet Peas sown with runner beans will help to attract pollinating insects to your runners so you not only get a better crop but an amazing wall of colour and perfume from the vegetable patch.

3. Plant summer flowering bulbs, especially lilies, in containers of compost by planting them three times their own depth.

If you want them in open borders then the same planting depth applies. Keep the bulbs well fed and watered once they appear and make sure taller varieties are staked with a cane so they stand upright on windy days.

Happy Gardening

Email Colin with your gardening question here




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