What’s flowering in the garden 7th April 2020 -BBC Radio #SowAlong #BBCRadioSowAlong

If you have been listening in to Gardens Hour on Wednesdays on BBC Radio Leicester, you’ll have heard our ‘ten minute tips’ recorded in Ben Jackson’s garden. I always come home and plant the same varieties in my windswept country garden. Ben’s plot is in a lovely sheltered walled garden in a village. His soil is beautifully free-draining, in a garden which must have been worked for 100 years. Mine is cold wet clay, created from farm land over the past 30 years. It’s an interesting contrast and I love to see how plants perform in both our gardens.

Here’s an update on plants, showing what they are looking like today.

We planted tulips for cut flowers on 29th October. These are Exotic Emperor, a new early-flowering tulip, a double form of the popular White Emperor. It has a long flowering period with delicately green flamed cream petals. Looks good for nearly six weeks.

We planted a ‘cut flower mix’ and mine included this lovely Tulip Flaming Purissima. This comes in a range of creams and pinks. Very pretty and reminiscent of the old fashioned flame tulips made famous in the Tulip-Fever era. Very long lasting, and weather resistant.

We planted bulbs ‘lasagna’ style in layers. Here’s my big Italian pot by my front door. This had snowdrops and dwarf iris in January, dwarf tete a tete daffodils in February, and now today has Hyacinth Blue Jacket, Exotic Emperor tulips and scented Geranium narcissi. When these are over, I’ll replant the pot with scented -leaved geraniums for summer.

In both our gardens we planted a range of daffodils to flower from February right through till the end of April. Here’s my pheasants eye narcissi planted under the cherry trees in the orchard. I’m so pleased with these, I’ll mass plant them in September for an even better display this time next year. I’ve gone round the garden making notes and taking photos to remind me where there are gaps and what changes I want to make. If I didn’t make notes, I’d forget by the time September arrives.

Talking about daffodils, we planted these Paperwhite narcissi on December 2nd. Some flowered at Christmas, but I held some pots back in the cold potting shed and brought them out a week apart so that I could have flowers for vases right through to the end of a March. Flowering times are dictated by amounts of daylight and heat. So plants can be manipulated to flower over a period of time.

We planted up our dahlias on 31st January. These were overwintered in a frost-free shed. I took 2″ cuttings in February and these have rooted in the propagator in 3″ pots at 18C. Above are the dahlias making really good growth in their seed trays, half filled with compost to start them off. They will stay in the greenhouse until the end of May.

We sowed our tomatoes on 28 February, and I pricked them out mid March. They are growing nicely just out of the propagator and on the greenhouse benches. I keep the greenhouse heated at 6C.

On 9th March we planted our tiny plug plants which cost about 60p each. We planted them individually in 3″ pots and put them on a sunny windowsill.

They have grown really well, and I’ve managed to take three lots of cuttings from the mother plants, which means lots of bedding plants for free. Taking cuttings makes them grow strong and bushy too, instead of tall and spindly.

We also planted up some impatiens plugs into 3″ pots. These are now in flower and I’m putting them into their summer containers to grow on. I didn’t pay for these plants. They were free samples from the grower, Ball Colgrave.

If you are listening in today, Wednesday 8th April, this is where I’m talking from because I’m isolating due to covid. I’ve got 100 cosmos seedlings in 3″ pots including a new variety Apricot Lemonade. I’m also growing calendula pot marigolds which are great for bees and butterflies. I’m growing the very pale lemon Snow Princess, and pretty calendula Orange Flash.

I’ve just planted my new potatoes, Charlotte and Lady Christl in two of the divided beds. They are planted 12″ (30cm) apart, 4″ (9cm) deep.

I’ve also planted my broad beans, De Monica which is a new variety specially bred for spring sowing. I’ve sown double rows, with plants and seeds 9″ (23cm) apart. Seeds were planted 2″ (5cm) deep.

And this is the view from the greenhouse and potting shed. Turn up the sound to hear the birdsong. There’s a bank of wild cherry trees on two sides of the garden.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of my greenhouse and garden. Hopefully the photos have jogged your memory about what we’ve been growing for our ‘ten minute tips.’ I’ll keep you posted on the progress of all these plants. I’m hoping the garden is going to be quite productive and very colourful this summer. That’s three uses of the word ‘hope,’ but under the circumstances, I think we all need some hope, don’t we.

Links : BBC radio Leicester Gardening – Sundays 1-2pm and Wednesdays 12.30 -1pm at the moment, subject to change due to covid. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_radio_leicester

DAB 104.9FM and at BBCSounds. Ask your smart speaker to tune in to BBC Radio Leicester.

Update: today’s programme starts at 2.36.23 on the timeline. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p087sjhn.

21 thoughts on “What’s flowering in the garden 7th April 2020 -BBC Radio #SowAlong #BBCRadioSowAlong

    • My polar bear snowdrop had just finished flowering. I think it might flower earlier next year, it might have been forced for selling. We are on to the white daffodils now and the tulips. But the heat means the tulips are going over quickly. We are having to water all the plant pots. After all that rain from October to March, I don’t feel like watering the pots! But they are all drying out. Enjoy your daffodils. The scent from the peasants eye narcissi is so gorgeous this evening. I’d forgotten how lovely they are.


  1. Tulip Exotic Emperor is divine. I love Tulip Flaming Purissima. I love your great Italian pot and the way you plant in it to always have fabulous flowers. I love daffodil pheasant eye and under the cherry blossoms they should be splendid. Very good idea to take photos and notes of the garden to make future changes. What a marvel of a vase of Daffodils Paperwhite and, as an expert gardener that you are, how you have manipulated them to have them in bloom now. Karen you are fantastic! Your dahlias look divine and surely the cuttings too. Tomatoes are great. Plug-in plants have grown a lot and you have also taken cuttings: more plants, I love them. Impatiens was tiny and has grown and is in bloom: I love it. Your greenhouse is full of plants: 100 cosmos, marigold marigolds, Snow Princess and Orange Flashs marigold: I love them. When adult plants are made and your garden flourishes it will be a paradise: I love it. Good, you planted potatoes and beans to have food. The video with the cherry blossoms and the birds singing in the background, I love it, it is a jewel of nature and you can enjoy it. Karen thank you very much for recording it and putting it on the blog. Thanks to him, today you have made me survive from home confinement since March 14, which will surely last the entire month of May. Fortunately I have a terrace and today the sun is shining and I have seen a bumblebee prowling the trees in search of flowers. And I have thought how lucky you are to be confined in your house with a garden: thank you very much for the magnificent photos of the wonderful flowers in your fabulous garden, they lift my spirits and make me smile. Karen thank you very much for the walk through your greenhouse and your garden has been transport me to your side and enjoy everything: I loved it. We need a lot of hope and you give it to us with your blogs full of divine flowers and your comments. I will listen to you on the radio on Wednesdays and Sundays to see if I understand something. Health, strength, encouragement, hope, positive thinking and a lot of love for all your family, Mr B and for you Karen. Keep you safe and secure. Much love. Take care. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx
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    • Thank you Margarita. Your summary of the photos is always a joy to read. I am so pleased you enjoy my garden. This phase is requiring a lot of patience. I am just trying to find joy in small things about me. Take care. Enjoy the bees. We have huge clouded yellow butterflies today and rather bedraggled peacock butterflies. Affectionate greetings , karen .ps. Today we hear we are advised to keep our cats indoors. Good luck to everyone trying to do that. It will be a nightmare trying to keep our cat Grace inside!

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      • I am glad Karen that you are happy that I enjoy your garden: how could I not enjoy your wonderful garden if it gives me encouragement, makes me smile and forget about home confinement when I see it. You have butterflies, I love them. I wish you all the best of luck with Grace to keep her inside and more than now the good weather is coming. Is it possible …? Good luck. Love for everyone. Take care. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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  2. Your flowers are so beautiful. Love the daffodils and tulips. How do you keep the critters like rabbits and moles from digging the bulbs out when they are first planted? I am not able to keep any of my bulbs in the ground, they keep getting dug up.

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    • We don’t have a problem here. I grow chilies which I dry and make into flakes. Each hole has some sprinkled in. It doesn’t harm the animals, but they don’t like the taste. In client gardens where there’s a problem, we plant the bulbs in pond baskets which have netting sides – usually for pond plants to grow out sideways. We then lift them after flowering and dry off the tulips so that we have a planting hole for summer bedding. We out chicken wire netting over the top in the autumn. Or we use metal grills. Thanks for reading. And for your kind comments.

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  3. Karen, I have enjoyed this post. and have added a link to my virtual notebook, so that I can link for the time I come to buy my bulbs. Is there a podcast or something similar of the programme? What time are you on?

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