There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, tips and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2018.
Lavender is one of the plants featured on the BBC's Great British Garden Revival. Robert Hall from Gardensite was fascinated as Diarmuid Gavin celebrated its colour and fragrance as well as medicinal and culinary qualities.
Introduced by the Romans who used the plant for healing, lavender has been valued for centuries. The Tudors used it for cleansing, while the calming and relaxing effect of its scent was most important in Victorian times.
Today we would also plant lavender to attract wildlife especially birds, bees and butterflies.
There are over 400 varieties, but only a few of these are readily available as the public tend to demand those with dark purple flowers and a compact shape.
However colours range to pinks and even white, and by planting a mixture of varieties a mosaic can be created.
A long season, perhaps 12 – 15 weeks, can be achieved planting different cultivars. English and French flower first, then the hybrids. They also have varying uses, some are good for cooking, others more useful for perfumery.
Grown extensively up until the 1940s, particularly around Hitchin. its cultivation is currently being revived at Cadwell Farm which now receives 30,000 visitors a year who can go out into the fields to pick their own lavender.
Diarmuid also visited Hidcote Manor, so well known for growing lavender that there is a variety named after the gardens.
Here he demonstrated how easy it is to take cuttings, anytime between April and September.
Take a short length of stem that hasn't flowered, dust it with hormone rooting powder and plant in a mixture of gravel and compost in a terracotta pot. Water and cover with a plastic bag and after a couple of months it should have rooted.
Good drainage is essential when planting. A lavender lined gravel path looks superb and the plants release scent as you brush past them, but remember to line the holes or trench with gravel before planting the lavender 12 – 18ins apart above the level of the surrounding earth.
Lavender plants will last for about ten years, to keep them in shape snip just below the spikes after flowering. If the plant has become woody, you can cut back to the crown but only if you can see new shoots appearing.
Cultivars mentioned by Diarmuid included Hidcote with deep violet flowers and silvery foliage that's excellent for edging, the lower growing and lighter coloured Loddon Pink, and the long stemmed highly scented white Edelweiss.
Look out for these and many more unusual varieties if you want to sample lavender's fabulous qualities.
In order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our wildlife, there's a selection of habitats and boxes you can purchase that are specifically designed to attract various small animals and insects to your garden. Here we look at some of the products available which also make unusual and very engaging gifts.
With warmer weather and an early Easter, the garden centre is busy at the moment with customers stocking up on summer bedding plants - snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, verbena, phlox, petunia, As well as filling planters, hanging baskets and borders with colour that will last all summer, there are always plenty of jobs to do in the garden during April and David Coton has these suggestions.
Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the bee population over recent years. Intensive farming that demands the use of toxic chemicals, climate change and parasite infestation have all been put forward as potential causes, it's a worrying trend but one that we can all help to reverse.
As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.