Gosh, today (Wednesday) is May 1.  As April felt more like February, I genuinely have very little idea where we are on the calendar.   At the garden centre last week, I had to resist great temptation to buy a lot of the young veggie plants that were looking particularly enticing.  You could of course, ‘buy now and keep safe’ in a greenhouse or even on a windowsill at home – or under a fleece outdoors. But please remember, no matter how tempting these lovely young healthy plants look, there is still the risk of Jack Frost sweeping through with his icy scythe!  It’s a little like Russian Roulette – you could ‘get away with it’ and could be picking crops ‘enviously early’ – or you could end up having to replace the lot.  As they say – the ‘only’ sensible place to gamble is with a trowel and a packet of seeds – or maybe tender young veggie plants.

If it’s a ‘dead cert’ that you are after, then visit Abergavenny Garden Centre on a weekend and enjoy any of the beverages from The Dugout, a pop-up horse-box coffee-bar.  Their hot chocolate is the best I have ever tasted – and let’s face it, it is still ‘hot-chocolate-weather’.

Less traditional drinks that I have been researching lately include a Cherry Blossom Syrup recipe, as I have a ‘rescued’ Japanese flowering cherry tree (Prunus ‘Kanzan’) that is currently laden with blossom. 

The syrup can be used in all sorts ways from a cordial to flavouring gin, and using in cakes and biscuits - and apparently is ‘bloomin lovely’ when drizzled on porridge or over pancakes. 

You will need 30 g (1.5 compressed cups full) of cherry blossoms, 60 ml (4 tbsp) boiling water – or enough to cover the blossoms and 40 g soft brown sugar.

Place the blossoms in a mug or heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 2-4 hours. Immediately the water hits the blossoms their almond scent is released. Don’t be tempted to leave for longer than 4 hours as it will go bitter. Strain the liquid off and place in a small pan with the sugar. Heat over a low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar and then store in a sterilised bottle or jar for use in any number of recipes.

In the beds and borders, the cold weather certainly isn’t deterring weeds, and I am bringing copious amounts of Shepherd’s Purse home for my chickens, who love them.  It’s the best reason to ‘bring your work home’. 

I have just taken over another garden, which had previously been managed by a girl who trained at Kew Gardens.  It is an absolute pleasure to be following in her boot-steps and to be learning and benefitting from some of her methods.  One of the most noticeable ‘hacks’ is to mulch the borders deeply with organic compost.  The plants are thriving and the weeds are at an absolute minimum – and very easy to pull out when they do make it above the mulch. She has also trained my client well, and ensured the tool shed is well stocked with everything that you would need in a garden, including numerous types of good-quality tying twine – all in a basket along with an old pair of secateurs to cut it with.  And before you think it may be a bit OCD or OTT, it’s actually proving cost-effective for the client as it saves me ages rummaging through the truck, hoping I have whatever I need with me.  And trust me, a happy gardener is a hard-working gardener.