BRUNNERA ‘Little Jack’


This small leaved Brunnera is ideal for today’s small garden and containers. It was selected by Adrian Bloom from seedlings in his garden.

I trialed the plant prior to it being introduced it has US Plant Patent and EU Plant Breeders rights.

So now is the time to be busy with seed sowing of seed from your plant breeding projects, and pricking out those seedlings for trials later.

As you can see from the picture above new cultivars can be found from seedlings.

Keep records of what you sow and where its from. If you a making a new crossing check to see that there is not a similar one already in cultivation.

Get the camera ready to take photos to record your work.

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.


Well the weather has certainly changed this month with some high daytime temperature and dry weather, although frost is still possible and we have had a couple of

quite cold nights here in Norfolk temperatures down to 4°c.

Plants to look for in May





Apple Trees

Geranium pheum








Hardy annuals can still be sown now, can sow direct into borders to fill gaps.

Prick out those seedlings and pot on those pricked out earlier last month.

Look out  daily for slugs and snails check your local garden centre for best controls, an idea I have seen is to place an old roof tile on ground, snails go under here during daytime just turn over and pick them off each day.

Pot up plug plants, water in well but allow to dry a little between watering. Will need regular checking for watering.

Plant out bedding now, it’s arriving in bulk now at the garden centre. Just be aware that frost is still possible you may need to have some fleece at hand at short notice.

Time to plant up baskets and tubs.

I find that grasses such as Hakonechloa macra Aureola make really spectacular patio plants.

Remove old spring bedding to make way for summer.

Regular watering of containers is needed now, fortnightly feeding will improve flowering and quality.

Regular weeding whenever you can will keep weeds under control.

Plant out or pot up Cannas and Dahlia.

Divide up Primula now flowering is over.

Dead head tulips and Daffodils.

You can take cuttings softwood cuttings now.

Cut back sub-shrubs and tender shrubs such as  Fuchsia, Penstemon and Caryopteris.

You can trim evergreen hedges now, but beware of birds nesting you must not disturb.

Prune Pyrancantha by  shortening new growth.

Any new planting of trees and shrubs should not be allowed to dry out, loosen tree ties if needed.

Look out for Aphids and other pests, black spot on Roses, check with local garden centre for best controls.

If you grow Lilies pick off any Lilly beetle seen.

Look out for Vine Weevil damage, damage shows when plants start to wilt, on inspection roots will have been badly eaten

you may also see white c shaped larvae, apply a biological control, plants in containers are unlikely to recover.

Sedums and Geraniums can be badly affected.

Mow lawn regularly, mulch clippings or recycle, keep edges neat.

Apply summer fertilizer, follow instructions, slow release is best, do not apply in drought conditions, if  using feed and weed avoid getting onto ornamental plantings as it will cause damage.

If you have wild flowers in lawn and want to keep them then do not use feed and weed.

If you have a pond then keep water circulating,  clean filters as needed, you can divide and reduce any plants in pond possible to still plant up new bog gardens.

Iris Ensata is a good plant for bog garden and near ponds.

Remove blanket weed and skim off floating weeds such as duckweed.

Open greenhouse and increase ventilation on sunny days, extra shading like shade paint applied to outside may be needed.

Damp down the floor of the greenhouse on hot days this will control Red Spider mite.

Give plants space as they grow.

Check for pests like red spider mite, white fly, regularly, biological controls are available look online.

Pick off any dead leaves, keep floor and pathways free of plant debris this will assist with  pest and disease control.

In the vegetable garden continue weekly sowings of lettuce, radish, peas etc to get a continuity of crops

Earth up potatoes as they shoot through soil.

If you grow asparagus then you need to harvest at no more than 45cm max.

Harden off plant sowings like Tomatoes ready for planting.

Support peas as needed.

Harvest Rhubarb, but leave 2 thirds to grow on.

You may need to cover some plants to protect against bird damage , fleece is ideal.

Cover carrots to control carrot fly


At the end of the day on fine days get out the barbecue light up the heater and enjoy the garden.

Take time to relax in garden at some time each day.

The garden should be an extension of your house an extra room if you like.

PRIMULA ‘Tortoise shell’ (DACLAND)

Primula Tortoise Shell  unusual form of Primula (polyanthus type with double flowers from now until early summer, good for borders and containers.

This plant was selected and bred by Daphne Lloyd and Norman Draper of the UK.

It was brought to me for trials a few years ago from their plant breeding and selection.


Now is the time to be busy with seed sowing of seed from your plant breeding projects, 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.

It look like spring may finally be here with temperature forecast to rise although still having rain.

Most trees and shrubs are now budding up, looks like frost has passed for now.


Will April be full of April showers or drought!

Hardy annuals can be sown now, can sow direct into borders to fill gaps.

Many hardy perennials can still be sown now, sow into plugs or small pots.

Instant colour can be provide by planting Primula and Viola, look for cornuta types.

Look out for slugs and snails on new Hosta shoots, check your local garden centre for best controls

Pot up plug plants, water in well but allow to dry a little between watering

Put bedding plants outside during daytime on fine days, but bring them in at night this harden them up plants will get a better start.

Regular watering of containers is needed now, feed also will help get things underway.

Too early for summer bedding, but you can plant up tubs and baskets if you have a frost free area.

Regular weeding should be carried out whenever you can will keep them under control, perennials infested with spear/couch grass

can be divided and weeds removed.

Divide those clumps of perennials like Hosta’s, Hemerocallis, this will invigorate and improve plants, every three years or so.

For cut flowers you can plant up Delphiniums and annuals.

Prune Lavenders to new shoots.

Deadhead Pansies, Viola and Primula.

Clean up winter bedding that has not survived remove self-seeded forget-me-nots so they do not take over other plants.

Look out for Vine Weevil damage, damage shows when plants start to wilt, on inspection roots will have been badly eaten

you may also see white c shaped larvae, apply a biological control, plants in containers are unlikely to recover.

Sedums and Geraniums can be badly affected.

Look for slugs and snails check online for best control methods or ask at local garden centre

Evergreens in cooler areas you can still move evergreen shrubs but it is getting late now and watering could be difficult as season progresses.

Much roses with organic matter.

Cut back Salix and Cornus.

Remove frost damaged shoots from evergreens.

Take cuttings of your favourite conifers.

If you have newly planted trees you will need to put on guards to protect against rabbit damage.

Mow lawn regularly now, keep to an even height throughout season.

Apply a spring fertilizer, can include moss killer if needed but care is needed with application as pollution of ground water can

Occur if used incorrectly.

Alternatively rake or scarify lawn to remove moss.

If you see a lot of starling on your lawn then you may have leatherjackets – Crane fly larvae, look for controls on line, biological control

is the only control available to amateur gardener.

If you have a pond start using water filters now, fish will be starting to be active don’t overfeed.

Continue tidying marginal and bog plants.

In the greenhouse prick out seedlings, space out plants, check watering every few days.

The greenhouse will need venting each day now when weather is warm, you may need light shading on bright days.

R=Temperatures can droop at night you may still need the greenhouse heater or other protection.

On warm days damp down greenhouse floor helps to control red spider mite.

House plants can begin feeding now, check watering every few days.

Wipe clean shiny leaved plants with damp cloth.

In the veg garden winter sown broad beans and peas will be in active growth now, peas will need support, twiggy sticks are ideal.

Keep on top of weeding whenever conditions allow.

Plant potatoes now.

Continue sowing vegetable seeds now for succession of  crops.

Any seed for march can still be sown in April.

Sow, Beetroot, leaks, carrots, lettuce, cabbage etc.

Under glass sow, cucumbers, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers.

In sheltered areas make fist sowing of French beans.

Sweet corn can be sown now use a peat pot so you can plant direct in garden later.

Strawberries and Raspberries will be starting to grow now, feed with a tomato feed, not a high nitrogen feed.

Time to get out the barbecue and garden furniture ready to enjoy the long summer days.

Take time to walk round garden each day  – enjoy.

HELICHRYSUM ‘Ruby Cluster’

March is well here now, and officially spring has started, but last week you would not have guessed with heavy snowfall and temperatures below freezing during the day.

But that has gone now and today the temperature is 9°c and raining!

I see many plants starting to grow, Delphiniums, Primula, Lonicera is coming into bud, and Crocus still in flower seems unaffected by the cold weather and snow.


One early flowering plant that will be coming into bud and flowering towards the end of the month is Helichrysum Ruby Cluster, grey foliage woody stemmed plant with dark red flowers, its is a plant that likes free draining soil the plant is quite hardy but dislikes winter wet.

This Helichrysum is available in other varieties and colours, Pink Sapphire, Amber Cluster, Emberglow, they are all from UK Plant Breeder – Chris Bowyer based in the North midlands.

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.


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

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.

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.

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

Check, repair or replace pumps and filters.

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

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.

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.

GALANTHUS – Snowdrops sign of spring

February is here and already the days are noticeably longer.

Snowdrops are up and out in my garden a sign of spring amongst the recent snow.

This can be quite a cold month wet or snow, and as I write the weather forecast for the coming week is for cold weather with frost at night and maybe some snow.

You can start Dahlia tubers now in a light warm place, maybe you have a new cultivar to try out, you can find further advice about how to develop you plant breeding lines on my website.


Sow those perennials this month, the cold weather will help stratify seed.


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!

Snowdrops and Crocus will be up now.

Carry on clearing branches and twigs from 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


January can be a bleak month, still shortage of daylight and as I write we have just had some very wet days.

Thinking of New Plants and breeding now is the time to start sowing perennials, the cold weather will help stratify seed aiding germination as the days get longer and temperature start to rise.

Helleborus will soon be flowering, I have seen some in flower already, look for some interesting colours, double flowers for new cultivars or hybrids.


Helleborus niger crosses are more commercially viable, Helleborus Orientalis produce more mixed hybrids

If you have breeding lines and are thinking of how you can develop them further I can assist you with any trialling that is needed.

Further advice can be found on my website.


Happy New Year!

With recent storms there may be branches and leaves to clear from the garden, these can be trimmed up and burnt, composted or taken to local recycle centre.

Carry on trimming back perennials and tidying garden beds.

Can still take root cuttings and seed sowing of perennials, shrubs etc can be carried out now, either in greenhouse or outside. You may need to protect seed trays from vermin. Cover with wire netting is ideal.

Plant lily bulbs and check Dahlia and Canna tubers for drying out and mould, remove any that are rotting.

Outdoor pots and baskets overwintered may need some water, can dry out surprisingly quickly during windy weather

During freezing weather winter bedding such as Viola, wallflowers can lift slightly from soil, go round beds and firm gently back in.

If growing sweet peas you can sow them now indoors, pinch out tops when 5cm high

In the veg patch you can cover some bare soil with clear polythene or cloches to warn soil ready for early sowing in March.

Remove any weeds that appear.

Still time to plant Garlic, I received some bulbs this week and will plant as soon as frost has lifted.

When lawn is not frozen or waterlogged cut lawn edges to improve appearance of garden, you may also need to give lawn a light trim once if month is mild.

Remove any leaves and debris remaining. Aerate the lawn to improve any wet areas.

Remember don’t walk over the lawn during frosty weather.

Remove any leaves from pond, melt a hole in ice with hot saucepan, check water levels, take advantage of any sales on for aquatic plants and pumps filters etc.

Move any shrubs, tress and plant new ones.

Cut back ornamental vines

Good time to do any landscaping

Pressure wash pathways to prevent algae, clean drains, check pipes, taps for damage from frost lag or drain if needed.

Hippeastrum bulbs need to be brought into active growth by watering and feeding, looking for flowering in late winter to early spring.

Check and clean gutting and down pipes, clean down pipe filters.

Now is good time to take some time to look at your garden and consider new projects, plants to add, things to change.


Now is the time to think of log fires and presents round the tree.

But there is still time to think of gardening and plants.

Now is the time to look through the seed and plant catalogues for new and interesting plants and plan for new plantings next year.

From seed of course you can get new and interesting plants and also think of interesting crossings and plant breeding projects for the new season.


Remember if you are thinking about plant breeding projects I can provide a full plant development service

If you have a new plant and want further advice, my contact details and further advice can be found on my website.


Most leaves are now down from trees good time to clear either compost or take to local recycle centre

Trimming of deciduous trees and shrubs can be carried out now but avoid doing during very frosty weather.

Continue trimming back perennials clearing weeds from beds

Root cuttings can be taken now and seed of alpines sown

Raise pots on the patio for winter to aid drainage bring in tender plants if not done so already

Clean leaves from lawn you may need to cut also as it will continue to grow if temps are above 5°c but do not cut as short as in summer months

Re-cut lawn edges look for wet areas and carry out aeration where needed

Do not though work on your lawn in frosty weather

Dig over the veg patch and work in some manure or soil improver

You can plant Rhubarb, Raspberries, Blackberries, other currents and strawberries now

Still time to plant garlic

Inside you can herbs and grow on the windowsill

Hardy salads can sown undercover.

If you have a pond net it to keep away herons, remove fallen leaves and debris from pond regular

Good time to remove any pumps and filters and clean ready for new season

Pressure wash paths and patios to prevent algae and mould building up

Clean and sharpen tools

Don’t keep too much fuel for your petrol tools over winter as it will not keep

Finally Happy Christmas

Time of fogs and frost

This time of the year I like the colour of the leaves on the trees, working in the garden can be rewarding doing plant breeding, clearing leaves and pruning deciduous shrubs, trimming back perennials and collecting those final seeds.

In the garden there are still jobs to do, continue with leaf clearing, consider composting in your garden if you have the space.

A simple compost area can be created using wire netting and posts the cheaper ones are the ones used as tree stakes.

It’s time to sow Broad Beans and peas, look for Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia ideal for winter sowing and Pea Meteor Dwarf ideal for winter or early sowing.

Both will need some protection from birds when germinating and also cover during periods of severe weather.

Bring in tender plants to protect from frost

Raise up pots on your patio to aid drainage in winter

You will still need to cut grass during mild weather, it will continue to grow in temperatures above 5°c but do not cut it too short and not during frosty weather too late now for herbicides though

Plant tulip bulbs for spring display

Plant colourful containers to brighten dull winter days, use a combination of Viola, Pansy, miniature cyclamen, Carex, Ivy and Cupressus

Some of my favourite Viola are the Viola Bonnie Lassies™  – from Scottish Viola Breeder  – Hugh Boyd

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VIOLA  Bonnie Lassies ™ ‘Isabella’

Geranium Rozanne – RHS Plant of the Centenary

Here you will find all the information you need for one of the most versatile garden plants and other plants that associate well with Rozanne.

 In my own garden spring is well underway, with many perennials and grasses making active growth, not too late for a frost though.


A favourite Primula to look out for now is, Primula veris Katy McSparron.

A plant I trialed at Bressingham a few years back, it has double flowers.

From UK Primula breeder Geoff Nicole

Now’s the time to prick out seedlings, finish pruning summer flowering shrubs and mowing the lawn.

Look out for Must Have Perennials™, I regularly work for them and their breeders.

Must Have Perennial™ varieties are tested at the famous Bressingham Gardens, as well as other secure trial sites worldwide.

Must Have Perennials™ varieties come to us from people around the world, ranging from professional plant breeders and breeding companies to eagle-eyed amateur gardeners. Many varieties have been recognized by independent organizations for their outstanding qualities.

Also Geranium Rozanne® – this an excellent Geranium that flowers from June to first frost, Rozanne has a website also follow on twitter® and Facebook®.

Paul Gooderham carried out the trialing and first propagation of Rozanne®, he also worked on the plant breeders rights and patents worldwide.

As we move into winter some plants for winter interest include

Cornus sanguinea


Mahonia xmedia Winter Sun

Sarcocca hookeriana

 A good place to see plants for winter interest is at Bressingham Gardens Norfolk.

Plant Breeding And Development

Well March has gone and thoughts turn to watching the seeds germinate of last year’s selections.

Look out for some new plants next month.

If you are a plant breeder then you might be interested in a BBC News article about the international illegal collection of seed as a breeder or collector you might be collecting yourself or buying in seed to use in your breeding and selection programmes, you need to be aware of this illegal trade and the Nagoya Protocol or you could find all your hard work is for nothing.

I can offer a full plant breeding and development service fully compliant with international regulations.

Our Trial Garden at Bressingham is coming into growth, contact me for rates and terms to include your plants.

In the garden it’s time to finish cleaning and tidying, grass cutting is now under way. Contact me for any garden services you need regularly working in the Watton area – Norfolk.

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