Peter’s Gardening Tips for April 2016

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What a contrast this Spring is to last year. We were desperate for the rain and it was warm!

Spring appears to be delayed or on hold, I am still pruning wisterias, apple trees and roses. The ground is cold and very wet;  Storm Katie left a trail of destruction here in Southern England. You can’t fight the weather, you just have to work with it, as all the growers across the country have to.

This cool wet Spring means the daffodils or narcissus are looking absolutely fabulous and lasting. This month I want to celebrate these stunning bulbs which really light up a garden, hedgerow, grassland or woodland putting a smile on your face.

Last week I was lucky enough to be at the RHS London Spring Plant extravaganza and the display put on by the Scamp family from Falmouth, Cornwall was breathtakingly gorgeous. Ron Scamp started collecting Daffodils as a hobby 40 years ago, the whole collection extends to over 2,500 varieties and species,


The family continue to collect and rescue old historical varieties which are being bulked up in numbers. I personally love a lot of the old varieties, they tend to be more simple and far less complicated. Ron continues to breed and introduce new varieties of daffodils and narcissus especially trying for more compact, shorter varieties with a scent, – especially trying to find a successor to Tete a Tete, which I personally dislike, but it sells in its millions! The flowers don’t last long and there is no scent!

Here are some of my favourites and they all smell fabulous! Don’t take my word for it – order for this Autumn!

Actaea, Avalanche, Cantabile, Chat, Curlew, Eland, Flycatcher, Intrigue, Odoratus, Pacific Coast, Pipit, Pueblo, Quail, Sailboat, Silver Chimes, Sir Winston Churchill, Sweet Blanche, Trellisk, Tresamble, Verdin, Yellow Cheerfulness, – just a few!

So make an effort to bend down and have a sniff, take a closer look too – they just make you feel happy! These photos I took lying on my tummy!


If you are near Cardiff visit the RHS Show at Bute Park 15-17thApril and see Ron Scamps Daffodils and Narcissus. Enjoy!

Gardening Quotes

No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth,
No culture comparable to that of the garden – Thomas Jefferson.

The love of gardening is a seed,
Once sown that never dies! – Gertrude Jekyll.

In the spring, at the end of the day
You should smell like dirt! – Margret Attwood.

When you hear a Cuckoo shout,‘Tis time to plant your tatties out!


Frost forecast this week end early Saturday and Sunday mornings 16th– 17th April !!

Fleece, cover or bring indoors tender plants, seedlings. Sadly this will not be good for Magnolias and Camellias.

As the soil is still cold and wet refrain from seed sowing and planting, apart from the toughest vegetables until it warms up – you will only waste your time energy, money! Wait.

Please leave your gardening questions for me to answer this weekend. I was kept very busy last Monday at RHS Wisley answering gardening questions on the Gardening Advice desk!

Happy Gardening and visit lots of gardens open and plant shows.

Kind regards


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Peter Mills

I love everything to do with natural history, wildlife, biodiversity and of course horticulture - basically the big outdoors. I grew up with very good teachers namely my parents and my French grandfather who was a superb grower of vegetables. At Hadlow College I studied a three year OND in Horticulture. I had a market stall selling plants. Went onto wholesaling house plants to florists and garden centres across southern England. In 1986 I joined Clandon Park Garden Centre as manager. Whilst there I started my career as a gardening radio presenter with the BBC Southern Counties Radio. This continued for 15 years, building up valuable contacts with the RHS Wisley, live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows etc. Since 1998 I have been self-employed, working as a Head Gardener and in private gardens . Through the RHS Advisory Department at Wisley I advise on horticultural problems in members gardens, including pest & disease problems, lawn-care advice, pruning of wisterias, fruit trees, roses, wildlife gardening, growing fruit & vegetables, creating wildflower meadows, identifying plants and control of pernicious weeds. Autumn 2016 finds me at the Autumn Flower Show 6-8 of September at RHS Wisley and Taste of Autumn Sunday 23rd of October. Sunday 11th of September I am cycling from London to Brighton for Perennial ( Gardeners Benevolent Fund) who helped me when I broke my leg badly in 2014. Had the plate removed in February this year. My Just Giving page is Perennial is a Fabulous Charity who help anyone working in horticulture. I didn't think I would need their help at the age of 52! They were brilliant and helped us as a family. It's my turn to repay their help and others too! John Ambrose and I have raised over £ 2000.00 thank you all. I am an extremely lucky guy who loves what I do and the trade called Horticulture!

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17th Apr 2016
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Hi Peter ... I bought some reduced price Pink Fur Apple seed potatoes and they not only have short green leaf shoots but a lot of white long shoots/roots too ... is it ok to plant them like they are or should I break off the long white shoots? Many thanks 🙂

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