Polite Warning: Things in the garden are starting to move!  With the little bit of sunshine and warmth we have had recently, gardens have finally stretched, yawned and ‘got growing’.  And in my experience, as they have some catching up to do, they will be growing with enthusiasm and vigour.

The ground is still very soggy in places, so do be careful when working in beds and borders not to compact the soil too much – and when mowing, stay out of the boggy bits until the ground dries up.

People are heading to the garden centres now like bees heading to blossom, and if you are looking for any bespoke wooden items, then pop and say Hello to Nathan, who will be at the Secret Garden at Mamhilad, Pontypool this weekend (20/21st).  Or you can give him a call on 07968770454. Nathan is making some wooden crates for a friend’s daughter’s festival-esque wedding and it’s great to find someone that can ‘make something just from a screenshot or sketch’.

It’s a tricky time in the garden with gardener’s everywhere wondering about the possibility of any more damaging frosts.  Dad would never plant out any tender veg or bedding plants until the end of May but I suspect as the seasons alter, for a lot of gardeners that will soon become ‘the end of April’.  As tempting as it might be, don’t be in too much of a rush, as replacing it all can be a costly act of enthusiasm.  And don’t think asking someone at the garden centre. ‘Are we going to have any more frosts?’ will exonerate you of responsibility either – if they had that prophetic ability they wouldn’t be working in a garden centre, and probably wouldn’t be working at all.

I was thrilled to see that Abergavenny Garden Centre had Tree Spinach available in 9cm pots, as the ‘Glitter Spinach’ has become a firm favourite of mine.  The glittery pink underside of the leaves make it a fabulous talking point - and present for most gardeners. And it tastes good too. 

Talking of favourites – Monty Don shared his passion for Ammi (visnaga and majus) last week.  Commonly known as Bishop’s Weed, I love it too but sadly so do my rabbits and I refuse to grow it just for them.  It is a beautiful plant, like a more delicate cow parsley and likes plenty of water – which is useful in the current climate – but Monty didn’t mention that it can be toxic to dogs, cats and even horses.  Like a lot of things in nature, it is a curious plant, as in India it is used as a medicinal herb for the treatment of vitiligo and psoriasis – and the root is chewed to give protection from strong sunlight.  The seed can even be used as a popular condiment - but the sap is at best an irritant (wear gloves) and at worse, like many popular garden plants, can prove toxic to pets if ingested.  The secret is not to let pets eat plants – it will save you a lot of anxiety.

Bearing that in mind, Ammi has some fabulous attributes including attracting all sorts of pollinators and is beautiful in both fresh and floral displays – and is especially popular for bridal (not bridle) work.  Ammi majus is also known as ‘false Queen Anne’s lace’ and often confused with the ‘real’ Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) as they look almost identical and are members of the same family – the carrot family!

As the old saying goes, ‘The bigger the family, the crazier it gets.’