Monthly Archives: February 2022

First flowers in bloom this year

11 February 2022

We’re just beginning to see a few flowers coming out at the gardens – we post photos of them every year, as although it’s the same two or three things that flower early, we’re still very happy to see them as they herald the beginning of the end of winter.


The Sarcoccus confusa – Sweet box – in the bed nearest the memorial, is just full of flower, and has a lovely strong perfume when the sun or wind catches it..


The winter aconites have been showing a little yellow for a couple of weeks now, but they’re really beginning to open up whenever there’s enough light and/or sunshine. And they’re spreading! The great gardener Christopher Lloyd often regretted that he couldn’t establish them in his wonderful garden at Great Dixter. It’s nice to know that even the best gardeners rely on a bit of luck – I spend enough time worrying about the plants that haven’t thrived in these gardens as well as I’d hoped, but I’ll draw comfort from the way these come back cheerfully early every year.

This one looks particularly good next to the copper-leaved bugle, which will come into its own in a couple of months. And the large clump of cultivated poppy next to it came from a passer-by last year, who was sad that someone had pulled a mature poppy out and left it lying on the ground; she said she had some seed from a similar plant at home, so she went off immediately to fetch it. This is the first of several clumps that’ll delight us in the summer.

And of course there are snowdops!

There are several clumps around the garden, including some under the flowering cherry tree in the corner, by the Bowls Club and the car park. These are growing ruond the buddleia in the middle of the bed the preschool children look after.

Britain in Bloom is boosting its green credentials

03 February 2022

Every year, usually around July, we take part in the nationwide community gardening competition that is Britain in Bloom, as part of Leighton-Linslade’s entry. The judging criteria have always included an element of sustainability, but that’s been really strengthened for this year’s competition.

It was very heartening to read about these changes in the latest issue of the RHS’s monthly magazine The Garden (February 2022, p. 87, “Boosting Bloom’s green credentials”). They’ve been introduced “to place more emphasis on sustainable gardening and supporting biodiversity”.

“The new judging criteria will build on the environmental work that Bloom groups already do, by encouraging entrants to minimise their impact on local environments and to make a positive difference. Groups will be encouraged to use appropriate plant selections for year-round impact, use ecological gardening methods and promote biodiversity across their work. ” […]

“Incorporating sustainable gardening practices into their projects will attract top marks, including eliminating the use of peat for propagating and raising plants, minimising water use and reducing reliance on mains water. ” […]

“Prioritising perennials and pollinator-friendly plants, and those that are less susceptible to pests and diseases, will be a key focus. Groups will be asked to carefully consider the use and provenance of annual bedding, where use in displays.”

This is great, coming from the main professional body in the UK! These are exactly the principles that have guided South Beds Friends of the Earth all the years we’ve worked here in the Linslade Garden of Remembrance, so it’s very encouraging to find that they’re becoming more and more mainstream. We’ve noticed that over the seven years we’ve been looking after the gardens, we’ve gradually had to explain less and less about what we do and why, and that lately we’ve had a number of people tell us that they weren’t sure about it when we started out, but now they love it. Endorsement from the RHS is the icing on the cake.

As it happens, we’ve begun planning what we’ll be doing this year; just for a start, I’m hoping that the provenance of our annual bedding will be ‘seeds planted into our own compost mix, by children from the local preschool’ – their enthusiasm is a real encouragement, whatever we do!