As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.
The beauty of one particular Clematis has enchanted David Hall for many years, Clematis sieboldii or “Florida Bi-Colour” is his queen of the climbers and here he explains why it captivated him.
There are keen gardeners who like to cultivate many different variants of the same species, rose growers are an obvious example, but much as I love all clematis, there's only one that captured my imagination long ago and it is still the only one for me even now.
The much sought after Clematis sieboldii was introduced into Britain from Japan during the nineteenth century. It flowers continuously from late June right through to September with flowers which are up to 4in (10cm) across.
Beautiful white saucer-shaped sepals embrace double flowers which form a domed central boss. Magnificent violet-purple petal-like stamens marry the sepals and flowers together. Each petal also carries a contrasting central green stripe.
The flowers are borne singly in great clusters, bees love them and their star-like shape and striking colours make these unusual blossoms look like those of the more tender Passion Flower.
The dark green biternate leaves of Florida Bi-Colour are composed of nine leaflets and form the perfect sombre backdrop for such a bright and vivid bloom. The growth is slender, reaching up to 7-9 feet (2-3 metres), and generally considered deciduous, though it could be classified as semi-evergreen during a mild winter.
Growing well in a container, its best location is on a south or south-west facing wall with a trellis to give it support. When planting use loam, peat, and a little bone meal and plant at least 2in (5cm) above the top of the rootball at below soil level.
Clematis Florida Bi-Colour produces all its flowers on the current season's growth, so should be pruned hard every March.
In normal circumstances with warmer weather and Easter coming along soon, you should be stocking up on bedding plants to fill planters, borders and hanging baskets. However, even though the garden centre is currently closed, we are still trading online and, while you may be confined to home, there are plenty of garden jobs for you to tackle during April. David Coton has these suggestions.
Sustainability and a growing awareness of wildlife are two of the key gardening trends identified by the Royal Horticultural Society for 2020, with gardeners in a position where they can make a substantial impact regarding environmental issues.
Robert Hall explains how getting out into the garden can help us to exercise, get out into the open air, enjoy time with nature and to help keep our minds occupied during these overwhelming Covid-19 times.
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, sound advice and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2020.