A good compact cultivar, clusters of wide open pale-blue flowers, above small dark green leaves that are variously blotched and spotted silver.

Good for shade and semi shade, front of border plant will flower from late February, March and into April.

You can also use in containers for early interest and the spotted foliage will provide ongoing interest until the next winter.

Likes rich fertile soil that does not dry out.

HT 30cm SP 45cm

March is well here now, and officially spring has started, its started very windy and wet, with storm force winds and then some frost at night, some of us have even had snow.

I see many plants starting to shoot, front of my house Roses are budding up and producing leaves, Geraniums are just starting to appear.

One early flowering group of plants  that will be coming into bud and flower now are the Pulmonarias.

There are quite a few different forms of Pulmonaria with varying degrees of silver spotting on leaves, some are almost completely silver or grey in colour.

So they are ideal subjects for a plant breeding project, plant a group of different varieties together, with different flower colours and foliage, from the seed collected you may get some interesting hybrids.

Of course you can actually make some crossings yourself, keeping notes and photos of your plant breeding.

Pulmonaria Opal is such a plant that was selected out and protected, the name OCUPOL is the protected name, it has a USA Plant Patent.

So it if you have a plant breeding project underway and are looking for advice, assistance in developing your new plant commercially then I can be of service, more information is available on my website.

When the UK leaves the European Union then for Plant Breeders Rights most likely we will need to protect plants in UK and also EU, I can prepare documentation for either territory and for the EU you will need a procedural representative, I have a contact in the Netherlands who can assist me with that, so I’m able to offer UK Plant Breeders and ongoing services for trials and Plant Protection in the UK and also the EU.

Its a good time to visit the first plant fairs of the season looking for new, unusual and interesting plants, can also find items that you can use for plant breeding.

They are also good for plants generally items that you will not find at the larger garden centre. 


Will March be full of spring cheer of will winter return for another bite!!

Well it looks like its come in like a lion, with strong winds most days although we have had some night frosts.

Finish clearing the last of leaves and winter debris.

Still time to finish cutting back and trimming grasses.

If you have overwinter Fuchsia, prune back to one or two buds on each shoot.

Pruning early flowering Clematis once their flowers have finished and summer flowering Clematis before growth starts.

Prune bush and climbing roses, add some fertilizer to base, look for specialist rose fertilizer.

Plant new roses either bare-root or container, do not though plant where you have had roses before.

Trips to your local retail nursery or garden centre will find many plants starting to arrive for planting, still too early for spring bedding though, don’t be tempted to plant outside yet!

You can sow and plant hardy annuals.

Good time to plant snowdrops in the green brighten up garden next year.

You can start planning the new beds you prepared last month.

Time to revitalise established plants in containers, remove top 5cm of compost and replace with new add some all season slow release fertiliser.

Containers will need regular watering now.

If you have Dahlia tubers you can start them now,  place in pots or trays and cover only the tubers with compost, water, keep frost free, you can take cuttings from the new shoots if you need more plants.

Spring flowered bedding you can give regular feeding now, this will help to produce a good display during the season,

For a good display of spring bulbs next year you can remove spent flowers and seed heads, leave leaves for now.

Keep an eye now for slugs and snails use your usual method.

Lift and divide and perennials that you want to revitalise, move or create more plants.

You can take basal cuttings of perennials that are showing new growth.

Seed sowing is well underway now, look for some new varieties to try.

Cut back Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) grown for coloured stems in winter.

Don’t prune spring flowering shrubs yet wait until flowering is finished other wise you will lose flowers.

Deciduous climbers will be budding up and starting into growth, so you can prune out dead stems and generally tidy up.

Where possible start regular hoeing of weed seedling as you see them it will help later in the season to keep on top of them now.

Now is a good time to lay new turf, work from planks, do not walk over it for several weeks, you will need to water it during dry periods, first cut should be on the highest setting.

Established lawns can be cut now if needed and weather allows, don’t mow if frosty or if frost is forecast. The first cut of the season should be light, keep blades 1cm above usual height.

Good time to get blades sharpened and mower serviced if you did not get it done last month.

Later in the month you can apply a spring fertilizer that is high in nitrogen this will help the lawn recover from winter.

Any bare patches, fork over and loosen soil then apply some fresh grass seed, keep watered, may have to protect from birds.

Neaten edges with a turf iron, it  will make lawn borders look a lot better. Work from a board if it’s wet.

You can still scarify where needed, good to get the moss and other debris out of the thatch of the lawn.

Herbicides can be applied to get control of perennial weeds.

For ponds you can start feeding fish now, give a little but often.

Check, repair or replace pumps and filters.

Clean any waterfalls any gulley’s or streams.

Tidy up plants in bog garden add new plants if required.

Remove any leaves and other debris that has collected over the winter.

In the veg garden you can start chitting early potatoes for planting later in month, plant shallots, onions and garlic.

Dig in some green manure or compost to improve soil.

Prepare seed beds for planting and you can start sowing , carrots, radishes and lettuce under cloches for early crops.

Continue to plant fruit trees and raspberry canes, autumn fruiting canes should be cut back to ground to encourage new canes to develop. Summer fruiting cut back to top of supports to a bud.

In the greenhouse you can start sowing winter greens.

Sow tomatoes in a heated greenhouse.

Start sowing bedding plants ready planting after the last frost.

Repot house plants and orchids before they start active growth.

Carry out repairs to pathways.

Carry out repairs to fencing, paint and treat where needed.

Clean algae and slime from patio and fences several products are available that will assist with this, just ensure that it is safe for plants and pets.

When planting in garden consider using a mycorrhizal fungi product like Rootgrow™ it helps with plant establishing.

Take time to walk round garden each day, as plants will be starting into growth and new things will be appearing every few days.

Good time to look at the garden furniture and clean where needed.

Get out the patio heaters and chimineas you might be able to sit out on some days, I know locally we have had a weekend where temperatures were above 20°c and in the evening you can light up the chiminea and dream of the longer days to come.

British Summer time starts on Sunday 31st 01.00AM. –  Hurray!


gooderham image_new


February is here and already the days are noticeably longer, and until this week colder, now it looks like windy and wet weather are on the way.

In my garden this delightful shrubs is in full Bloom. It is fragrant and mine planted in a sheltered patio area gives off a nice fragrance as you walk past.

This is a delightful upright evergreen shrub, providing colour at what can be a dull time of the year.

Easy to grow really in any fertile soil, sheltered area is best, does not like to be transplanted so give careful thought to where you plant it.

Can be grown in containers.

Good for borders

Slow growing very little pruning is required.

HT 200cm Spread 150cm

Hardy throughout UK – RHS H4.

During this month check through all the seed you have collected for any Plant Breeding Projects you are working on or have planned.

During bad weather check through catalogues and online to see what new plants are being introduced this year.

Helps when making comparisons with plant breeding plans you may have.

For developing your new plant breeding selection or new plant discovery I can offer full trialling and new plant development service more details available on my website.

Also pictures can be taken, recorded and stored if needed.

Full Plant Protection applications processed in UK, EU, and other world territories.

Mother stock build up, Plant propagation and virus testing available.

With UK leaving the EU, a Procedural Representative will be needed for making PBR Applications in Europe, I have access to a company in Europe so can easily assist in making those PBR Applications, including sending plants to testing stations which going forward will not be in the UK.



February fill dyke black or white!

February can be a month of heavy rain and some winters snow, the phrase refers to ditches being filled with water or snow!

Plants to look for in February



Camellia Elegans

Prunus x subhirtella Autumnalis Rosea – Rosebud Cherry

Crocus sieberi Violet Queen

Jasminum nudiflorum – Winter Jasmine

Snowdrops and Crocus will be up now and most likely in flower.

Carry on clearing branches and twigs from any recent storms, good idea to check fences and property borders for damage.

Trimming and tidying of perennials and grasses can continue while weather allows, trim dead leaves off Hellebores shows up flowers better.

Trim shrubs that have finished flowering.

Towards the end of the month ideal time to prune hybrid Tea roses and floribunda, cut away any dead or diseased stems. Make cuts at 45° angle.

If you have winter bedding, deadheading and removing dead leaves will prolong flowering and keep plants looking good.

You can divide perennials now those that have overgrown their allotted space and those you want to move, such as Geraniums.

Prepare beds for new planting such as roses, but remember do not plant Roses in the same area as previously planted.

Improve beds where you have poor drainage by digging in gravel and organic material now is the time for soil improvement when weather conditions allow.

Weeding of borders can also be carried out as these will continue to grow.

Plant Lilly bulbs in pots for summer flowers.

Plant bareroot hedges, like Beech, blackthorn, hazel etc. Soak roots for at least an hour before planting.

Can also plant container grown.

February is also the month to prune buddleia, Spiraea japonica, tamarisk and hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata).

If you have plants in containers then these will need still to be checked for watering, keep them raised to aid drainage.

Dahlias and Cannas stored check for drying out and any disease, remove those that have rotted.

Good time to look through catalogues and order seed.

Last chance to take hardwood cuttings of ornamental shrubs like Cornus, Ribes, Salix.

Cut back ornamental vines.

For lawns you can lay turf and repair lawn where required but avoid wet or freezing weather.

Remove any twigs and branches.

If the lawn needs mowing cut to maximum height to give a tidy up, edging the lawn will give a nice neat finish.

Good time to get mower serviced, check tools and sharpen where needed.

Late summer and autumn flowering Clematis can be cut back to lowest pair of strong buds.

You can trim winter flowering Heathers as flowers fade to keep bushy habit.

Last chance this month for pruning apple and pear trees.

Time to cut back autumn flowering Raspberries and black currents to encourage new canes.

Not a lot to do with the pond if you have one keep from freezing completely.

Clean out waterfalls streams, remove any branches and debris.

For veg garden finish any deep digging.

You can cover some of garden with polythene or cloches to warm up soil for early sowings.

Early sowings under cloches can be made of Carrots, Lettuce, Radishes, Salad Onions and Summer Cabbages.

Plant shallots now, plant quite deep to prevent birds pulling out them out.

Start chitting seed potatoes if you did not do last month.

Jerusalem Artichokes can be planted now, relative of sunflower, very tough will survive in the poorest of soils.

If growing peppers and tomatoes from seed you can start these now in a heated greenhouse, take about 3 weeks to germinate.

Look at storing more water for watering your plants during dry months by installing more water butts.

Mulching is also worth considering best for next month.

If you have alpine plants then some gravel round crown helps with drainage.

Enjoy the Garden, get out there as much as you can during this month, spring is well underway.

SARCOCOCCA hookeriana Var Humilis

SARCOCOCCA hookeriana Var Humilis
Sweet Box
Highly scented flowers from December onwards, ideal to plant near front or back door, I used to have a group near my front door, from December until February it was a scent you could smell as soon as you walked up the path or opened the door.
Evergreen winter flowering shrub, quite slow growing, tough plants, dark green leathery leaves, small highly scented white flowers, followed by black or red berries (not edible) in the summer, they quite often persist until the winter, prefers full to partial shade, good humus moderately fertile moist soil that does not dry out in summer. Needs little pruning, if any needed prune lightly after flowering. Fertilize early spring.
Height 100cm Spread 100cm. Fully hardy in the UK.

It would be slow to hybridise varieties of Sarcococca!
January is an ideal time to look through seed catalogues looking at what new plants are available before you plan on any crossing or plant breeding programmes.
Check through the seed you have collected, see if any plant breeding projects spring to mind.
For developing your new plant breeding selection or new plant discovery I can offer full trialling and new plant development service more details available on my website.
Also pictures can be taken, recorded and stored if needed.
Full Plant Protection applications processed in UK, EU, and other world territories.
Mother stock build up, Plant propagation and virus testing available.


So we start the new year with periods of cold then mild weather. Although we have had some rain it’s quite dry here in Norfolk as I write, the forecast is for windy and cooler conditions, then relatively mild again with cloud but not a lot of rain. Towards the end of the month it may turn colder..
There is still work to be carried out in the garden when conditions allow.

Plants to look for in January

Chimonanthus praecox ‘Wintersweet’
Eranthus hyemalis ‘Winter Aconite’
Helleborus in variety, orientalis types give a good range of colours and give good opportunities for hybridising.
Iris unguicularis
Mahonia X media ‘Winter Sun’
Ophiopogon planiscapus – good foliage colour

If you have planted autumn bedding you will still need to keep all baskets and tubs watered and checked each day but reduce amount of watering keeping them moist and not wet.
Plant lily bulbs.
Continue to trim back and tidy garden, clearing weeds, digging over borders ready for mulching in spring. Add bark and gravel to heavy clay soils to improve drainage.
Regular weeding and hoeing whenever you can will keep weeds under control they will continue to grow during periods of mild weather.
Tidy and remove any fallen leaves from borders add them to your compost heap.
Check tubers and bulbs of plants, such as Dahlia, Canna and bulbs that you have stored for signs of rot and dampness, remove any that are rotting, but also if they are too dry they will not be any good.
Pruning Evergreens are best left now until the spring.
Cut back ornamental vines, Ivy, Virginia creeper.
Prune Wisteria by cutting back side shoots, avoid cutting off flower buds.
Prune Apple and Pear trees – avoid periods of very cold frosty weather. Leave Cherries and Plums until the spring to reduce risk of bacterial diseases.
Its still ok to move/plant deciduous plants unless soil is waterlogged or frozen.
Most likely you will not need to mow lawn but it’s best not to let it get too long. If it needs a cut don’t cut in frosty conditions and not too short.
Don’t walk across the lawn in frosty weather, or you will leave brown marks where you have walked when frost thaws out.
Keep clearing leaves off lawns as they will block light, hold in moisture increasing risk of disease, moss and algae.
If you have a pond, put some net across to stop herons stealing your fish.
Good time to clean filters, skim leaves off pond surface and rake leaves and debris out of pond.
Drain down any pumps.
Break ice on the pond by holding a saucepan of hot water on it until it melts through.
Trim back marginal plants.
Check water levels and top up if needed.
If you need replacement pumps, filters etc now may be a good time to look for sales and discounted stock.
In the Greenhouse, finish cleaning.
Brush any snow off greenhouses and polytunnels.
Hippeastrum bulbs, maybe you had one as a Christmas present, now is the time to start them off.
For vegetables harvest any parsnips and leeks.
If you grow peas, put a cloche over the area you will use to sow in, do this a few weeks before to let soil warm up.
If you grow potatoes you can start growing in containers under cover for a very early crop, you will need to fleece up containers during frosty weather if your greenhouse is unheated.
If you have Brassicas remove any yellow leaves as they harbour pests and diseases.
Rhubarb can be forced, place a bin or bucket over the crown, this will force young tender pink stems in a few weeks.
Repair any fences and sheds if they are damaged during periods of windy weather.
Keep patio areas clean of algae and moss.
Patio heaters and chimineas may still be needed for those bright clear nights! It’s a good idea to get your gas patio heater checked by a registered heating engineer once a year.
Good time for planning any new hard landscape projects to carry out over winter.
Build a compost heap for leaves and grass clippings.
When weather allows, not water logged or frozen, digging over soil will expose pest larvae to birds and improve soil structure, do this for all vacant vegetable garden soil in readiness for next year. Add plenty of organic compost from your own compost if you have it
Put out food and water for birds during cold periods, but keep area clean and clean feeders regularly to reduce risk of spreading virus and diseases amongst birds. Cleaning up feed debris will help keep vermin under control.
If you must have a bonfire remember to check that you do not have a hibernating hedgehog inside! – they need gardeners help right now as populations are decreasing.
Clean tools and drain any petrol out of any power tools you will not use over the winter.
During these dark days, its is a good idea to get out those seed and plant catalogues and start planning for next year.
Check through the seed you have collected, see if any plant breeding projects spring to mind.

Enjoy the garden, Happy New Year to you all.