I don’t think I have ever seen, or noticed, so many birds nesting.  It feels as though everywhere I look – and walk, and work – my little feathered friends are busy carrying twigs, moss and even little bits of fluffy Pampas grass into their little ‘secret’ spaces.  Some are already sitting on eggs. At one garden I look after, a Goldfinch is sitting on 6 eggs whilst being fed by her devoted partner. I have barricaded the area off so she can have as much privacy as possible but it’s still a treat to be able to watch her hardworking partner doing his Deliveroo duties with food for her.

So please be extra observant when working in your own garden.  I was all prepared to cut an unwanted viburnum back last week but after just watching it for a while, I noticed a wren going back and for with finishing touches for her new home. 

The mild winter has also meant that the bluebells are blooming early and the breathtaking blue carpets are already in evidence in many areas.  And tulips are also providing the most striking colour in gardens.  I think – much like my taste buds – my gardening preferences have changed a lot over the years.  I never used to have much time for tulips and thought they were a bit pretentious and short-lived but now I absolutely adore them – and all the fancy ones too.  They provide so much impact and are just not afraid to ‘be bold’.  Even the more subdued colours demand attention.   There are a huge range of colours, sizes, varieties and flowering times to choose from, ensuring that there are tulips suitable for everyone and every garden.  Planted in drifts, in grass or jam-packed into pots, they are just spectacular at this time of year and I am definitely converted.

I have also changed my mind about ornamental grasses, having always avoided incorporating them into gardens for years, and am now a big fan of the big bold Miscanthus varieties and Stipa gigantica.  Although I’m still not very fond of the smaller, tufty ornamental grasses like the Carex varieties.  But who knows, in another 10 years, I may have ‘made friends’ with those too.

One of this year’s ‘trends’, as predicted by the Royal Horticultural Society, is for growing purple vegetables.  Largely driven by the health benefits of veggies with a natural purple hue, they have become more and more popular with growers and gardeners.  The rise in popularity has resulted in breeders introducing purple varieties that are easier to grow than traditional ones and avoid the many previous drawbacks, such as non-fruiting and limited ‘purpleness’ after cooking. Gardeners and chefs can now indulge in purple carrots, cauliflowers, broccoli, tomatoes, peas, radishes, French beans and even lettuces.

Another ‘forecasted trend’ is the use of wildflower seeds moving away from a designated wildflower patch/meadow areas and being used in beds and borders.  Alexanders, meadowsweet and Welsh poppies are apparently top choices although I’m not sure about the success rate of Welsh poppies as they are notoriously difficult to establish where you want them to grow – preferring to choose their own spot.  

Even plants traditionally seen as ‘unwanted weeds’ or ‘common weeds’, such as Herb Robert and plantain are becoming popular in beds and borders, and dandelions are being tolerated and left in lawns as valuable bee food.  Thanks to the recent Chelsea Flower Show Gardens, cow parsley is also now a ‘desirable border plant’.  Let’s hope ground elder reaches those desirable dizzy heights, and I’ll be ‘bang on trend’ for once.