How to grow asparagus – and other garden projects to start this spring

I have sown Pictorial Meadows annual seed mixes (perennial mixes are also available) for many years, using them extensively to have massive floral impact with very little effort. My number one use has been to sow strips for client weddings. At the end of this month, a mixture is sown in the moat of the Tower of London and it is likely that some will bloom – just in time – for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on June 1.

This year, however, I am testing several mixes in my own garden, in many different situations. I will sow from mid March (with fleece) until the end of May. Pictorial Meadows mixes are designed to flower approximately six weeks after sowing and provide a succession of vibrant colors that can last well into December. Much research has been done (begun by Professor Nigel Dunnett and Professor James Hitchmough) to ensure that the mixes achieve excellent germination, establishment and continued flower power. Perhaps the hardest part is choosing which of the 13 blends you want.

We just had a fiber cable laid along the drive, so I now have a bare strip 200m long and half a meter wide. The drive borders a cornfield and has a snake of green grass in the middle, so maybe “drive” is too high-end a term for what is really a trail. But a succession of natural looking (if not all native) flowers will fit in and be good for wildlife. I will give all weeds a one time spot treatment with glyphosate so the flower seeds have no competition in what is not good soil. Then, after some basic seedbed preparation, I will sow the Classic mix at the end of next month.

The new rose meadow will look a bit bare this summer – my Rosa mutabilis cuttings won’t look spectacular for a few years – so I sow the Pastel Pictorial mix here in small clumps between the young permanent occupants – vine-like grasses meadows and herbaceous plants (as well as roses). I grew them mostly from cuttings and seeds, so the seeded mix will provide short-term economic success for 2022.

In my vegetable patch, or garden centre, I plan to sow two raised beds with Velvet, a good cutting mix. Zapping the color levels will keep me and the bugs happy and maybe deter a few potential pests. (Apologies to the RHS, but I’ll always use that term. My dad said, “Visitors are like fish: better throw them away after three days,” so the company’s new term for parasites, ” visitors to the garden”, does not work here. Will Pippa Greenwood deal with visitors and illnesses from now on?!).

In my “work garden” I will sow two large terracotta pots with the Dragonfly mix – and my current little new favorite space is also treated. Around a tree seat in my yard I planted Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ at wide spacings (about 30cm) in rows. Again, these are just small rooted cuttings now. But while the lavenders fill in, I plan to sow marshmallow mix in drills between the rows. Eventually, the lavender will be roughly shaped into separate plants, with white camassia, alliums and Pratia pedunculata (a fabulous trailing endless-flowering blue plant that self-seeds) to add color.

Elsewhere I liven up the base of a yew hedge with Aqua mix, an area under some medlar trees with Pixie, and elsewhere I try a mixture of perennials, but I will sow that in the fall.

Plant a windbreak