Seeing in the spring

In the run up to the Bath Festival, Jane Moore is savouring the spring colours, looking forward to her latest book being published and planning some summer border fillers. Jane is the head gardener at The Bath Priory Hotel, an award-winning gardening journalist and a regular speaker at gardening clubs and events.

Jane will be in conversation with nature writer Ruth Pavey at The Bath Festival on Friday 21 May at 10.30am at the Assembly Rooms. To book, click here or tel: 01225 463362.

It’s been a super spring – cold and dry, admittedly, but so sunny throughout April. My tulips and spring bulbs have absolutely loved it – even if the magnolias didn’t, but let’s not dwell on that. The tulips have been tall, straight and sturdy, their colours shining in the sunshine like satin and, because of the cold nights, their petals have stayed closed with the flowers keeping their goblet shape beautifully. I know the Dutch masters favoured overblown tulips dropping the petals elegantly on a wooden table, but I prefer mine in their first flush, elegant and full of promise.

As we surge into May, the tulips are starting to fade, and my thoughts are turning to what will follow them. They’re also turning to The Bath Festival, my first on stage, though by no means my first as an attendee. I’m so looking forward to discussing Deeper into the Wood with Ruth Pavey. Ruth is the author of the bestselling A Wood of One’s Own, which was published in 2017. Her new book is all about her little patch of woodland and the wildlife it contains, which resonates particularly as my own book, Planting for Wildlife, is published the same week. Ruth’s connection with her woodland and her efforts to conserve the trees, the creatures and the plants that make their home there make for an inspiring read. But she has also managed to people the book with characters, not least her own, and stuff it full of fascinating facts. An hour will be too short, as it so often is.

There’s nothing to beat the gentle task of seed sowing while I’m narrowing down my list of questions for Ruth down to a manageable level. There are always a few gaps in between plants in borders and those are the spots the weeds love to exploit. An easy fix – and one guaranteed to give plenty of colour – is to sow some quick growing annuals in the gaps. Many of these quick growing annuals are fantastic butterfly and bee plants too, pulling in summer butterflies such as spectacular Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and perhaps even Red Admirals too. Pot Marigold or Calendula and the beautifully named Love-in-a-Mist or Nigella are two of my favourites and you’ll find them dotted all over my gardens. They’re so forgiving too as you can simply sow straight into the ground or in bedding plant cells and then plant out once they’re big enough to look after themselves.

For more ideas on butterfly friendly plants, take a look at my book Planting for Butterflies.

Planting for Wildlife is published on 20 May 2021. Deeper into the Wood by Ruth Pavey is published on 27 May 2021.

Jane Moore will be in conversation with nature writer Ruth Pavey at The Bath Festival on Friday 21 May at 10.30am at the Assembly Rooms. To book, click here

More news