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A national celebration

The pulsatilla, also known as Wind flower, Easter flower, prairie crocus and meadow anemones
The pulsatilla, also known as Wind flower, Easter flower, prairie crocus and meadow anemones

National Gardening Week was launched four years ago by the Royal Horticultural Society. Since then it has grown into the country’s biggest celebration of gardening.

Thousands of people, garden charities, retailers, culture and heritage organisations and groups all get involved.

This Friday, April 17, is National Open Gardens Day, when gardens all over the UK are opening their doors for free to encourage the nation to enjoy visiting gardens and gaining inspiration. This includes the RHS gardens, of which our nearest is Hyde Hall in Essex, which is well worth a visit.

Unfortunately, although there are some wonderful gardens open throughout most of the country, it seems that our area is not well represented. This does not mean you cannot get involved, though. Check out the web page for more details: http://nationalgardeningweek.org.uk

Manea School of Gardening has been involved in National Gardening Week in previous years, but we will not be doing so this year. We are visiting gardens in Hampshire on a residential trip with our students.

After visiting RHS Wisley on Monday, the venue for Tuesday was Sir Harold Hillier Gardens & Arboretum. This is world renowned for its autumn colour and, having been there in October, I can understand why. I am sure it will be just as fantastic in April, though.

Today, Wednesday, we will be at Exbury Gardens. A spectacular 200 acres site, world-famous for the Rothschild collection of rhododendrons, azalea, camellias, as well as countless rare trees and shrubs.

Hopefully we have timed it right to see many of these at their best! A tour by the Head Gardener will make sure we will get the best out of our visit.

Tomorrow’s treat is Denmans, the garden of the influential garden designer, author and presenter, John Brookes MBE. This promises to be a real treat, as we have booked an hour with the man himself.

He has won numerous awards for his designs including four golds at Chelsea, so I am sure he will be a real inspiration to all of us.

Gardens are one of the greatest things about the UK. Valuable, beautiful and important – providing us with places for enjoyment, relaxation and education. We may not have many world famous gardens here in the Fens, but we have some well worth a visit. A couple of gardens in Wisbech – both relatively small (2 acres and 4 acres) but no less worthy – and both offer some stunning specimen trees, herbaceous borders, water features, one boasting a maze, the other an orangery.

Peckover House and Elgoods Brewery both situated on North Brink, Wisbech. Check them out – you will not be disappointed.

Finally, my plant for this week, as it is looking so good at the moment, has to be the Pasque flower, Pulsatilla (pictured), referring to Easter, or Passover, which is when it blooms. This genus of herbaceous perennials are native to meadows and prairies across North America, Europe and Asia.

With its attractive finely dissected leaves, showy bell-shaped flowers, followed by fluffy old-man’s-beard-type seed heads, these are also known as Wind flowers, Easter flowers, prairie crocus and meadow anemones.

- Manea School of Gardening (RHS Approved Centre)

RHS courses taught at all levels. Applications now being taken for September.

Now open for plant sales (including bulbs) on Saturdays.

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