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Force rhubarb

Force rhubarb for a sweet treat from the veg garden just when you need it most. Fruit can be thin on the ground at this time of year: the stored apples are almost finished and there's a long wait till the first berries appear in May. So tender, sweet forced rhubarb comes as a welcome early spring delicacy.

Choose an early variety such as 'Stockbridge Arrow', and only force plants which are at least three years old and mature enough to cope. Rhubarb need...

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FEBRUARY – HTA PLANT OF THE MOMENT CAMELLIAS FOR EARLY COLOUR

Few hardy shrubs signal the end of winter better than camellias, highly valued for their stunning floral displays and fresh, glossy, evergreen foliage. With dozens of varieties available you’ll be spoilt for choice, so pick from camellias in shades of pink, red, white and cream.

Their ultimate size, habit and rate of growth vary immensely too, so consider how much space the camellia will need as it grows. Whether you’d like something that stays small and...

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It’s snowdrop festival time

It’s snowdrop festival time so join your nearest galanthophiles and enjoy some of the season’s most exquisitely beautiful flowers up close on one of the many Snowdrop Days happening around the country.

Among the most famous are the fabulous collection at Colesbourne Park in Gloucestershire, begun in Victorian times and still evolving today: there are now an astonishing 250 different varieties to see. Hodsock Priory in Nottinghamshire boasts a half-mile wa...

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The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday this year

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday this year with a floral archway and an exhibition of photographs of the Queen’s 51 visits to the show since 1949.

The archway is inspired by a painting in the Royal Collection of a similar arch decorated for Queen Victoria’s visit to Reigate in Surrey. It will be one of the first things the Queen sees when she arrives at the show the day before it opens on May 24.

Also featuring...

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Use cloches to protect overwintering crops

Use cloches to protect overwintering crops as the weather turns colder. Even really hardy veg like broad beans, spring cabbage and chard get battered around the edges when it gets seriously windy, cold and wet – so although they’ll survive, your harvest will be unappetisingly shredded. More vulnerable seedlings, like hardy peas and winter salads, can be downright beaten and you risk losing your crop to stem rots or wind damage.

To prevent winter gal...

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Add lime your soil if it’s a little too acidic

Add lime your soil if it’s a little too acidic to help keep your crops healthy and avoid disease. You can find out how acidic your soil is using an inexpensive soil testing kit – available from our garden centre here in Swarkestone. Your soil can change from year to year, so test regularly.

Acidic soil is a particular problem as brassicas hate it and sulk, or worse, develop clubroot. So if your soil’s pH is less than 7, tip the balance back in fav...

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Put your Christmas tree to good use!

Put your Christmas tree to good use instead of taking it down to the tip this year. Most of the six million real trees bought in this country each year end up in landfill – but we’re missing a trick. There are dozens of ways you can turn your real Christmas tree into gardening treasure instead - here are a few of our favourites!

Use the needles for mulch – acid-loving plants like blueberries and rhododendrons love them as they lower the soil’s pH whil...

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Sow exhibition onions

Sow exhibition onions now to give them the longest possible growing season and maximise their chances of reaching whopper size in time to clean up at the local horticultural show this autumn.

Growing giant onions is right alongside super-sized pumpkins and unfeasibly long carrots as gardening challenges that are impossible to resist. You’ll find all you need for your prizewinning campaign at our garden centre here in Swarkestone, from module trays and...

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What to do in the garden in January

It may be chilly outside – but that’s all the more reason to wrap up warm and enjoy a bright, crisp winter’s day in the garden. Here are some of the jobs you can be getting on with:

General tasks:
Protect vulnerable plants with cloches or double layers of horticultural fleece
Mow the lawn as long as the ground isn’t waterlogged – with this year’s mild winter it will still be growing

Ornamenta...

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JANUARY – HTA PLANT OF THE MOMENT - CREATE A WINTER WONDERLAND

Add the wow factor to your winter garden with striking plants that look their best right now. Whether you’d like to fill your borders with hardy shrubs covered with fragrant flowers, clad a fence or archway with colour, or plant a small flowering tree to create a focal point, you’ll find a great range of seasonal stunners in garden centres this month.

While a coating of frost or snow creates temporary magical moments, unifying our gardens with its icy fro...

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