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There are far more than fifty shades of green here at Perfect Plants - but also out in the garden early in the year, even before the major growing season has taken off. And although we don't need any red carpets to be able to enjoy entertainment of a 'green' kind (we are talking film premieres here), sometimes it's good to have a timely reminder about how lucky we are here in the UK to have such a diverse choice of plants. Why is green so good?
It has been shown that 'green' is good for us. The biophilia hypothesis points towards the fact that humans possess an innate tendency to actively seek our and make connections with nature. What's more, even the colour has the ability to soothe the mind and calm the brain. A garden containing many different shades of green can be even more life-enhancing than one bursting with flower colour.
Our green and pleasant land is blessed with a favourable temperate climate due to the influences of the sea. Of course this means that the weather sometimes changes rapidly but summer and winter are constantly moderated by the prevailing south westerly winds and the close proximity of water. Yes, we can experience dry weather, but rarely a drought. We definitely experience flooding too, but don't get the extremes that many countries face, both on a seasonal basis or even as a permanent feature.
The soil down in the south east consists of limestone, chalk and sandstone and theres greensand ridge which runs to and from the East Sussex coast around the Weald which was once a dense forest. We might pay little attention to the soil beneath our feet but walkers enjoying tracks such as the Greensand Way which follows the greensand ridge across Surrey and Kent to the edges of Romney Marsh and down almost to the Kent coast will appreciate that its free-draining and therefore not quite so muddy as some of the routes that result on trampling on heavy clay. The greensand ridge gets its name from the green mineral glauconite and yes this really does look green when it is first exposed to the air.
Soil containing this rather special substance can include up to 30 different trace minerals including silica and magnesia and it gives a great boost to the health of plants having a high potash content and providing a source of potassium for the garden. This accounts for the fact that the area was historically selected for hundreds of plant nurseries. There are still a lot of fruit growers as the Garden of England is blessed with excellent growing conditions. It was Henry VIII who praised the quality of a particularly delicious bowl of juicy local cherries, contributing to the Garden of England title which included its fame for orchards and allotments together with scenery, village traditions and variety of wildlife.
So, remember to enjoy the early spring season as longer days shoot into view. You can always soak up the sight of more than fifty shade of green, It's also worth bearing in mind that March is often one of the dryest months of the entire year and this means that it is often a great month for drying up the winter wetness.
What's growing in and around the nurseries right now? Almost everything you can think of in terms of spring perennials. There are native wildflowers such as cowslips and primulas; alpines such as saxifrage, annuals including geranium, pelargonium, aubrieta and senetti; perennials, grasses, shrubs, trees and of course vegetables.
There's nothing dormant about this season, life is bursting forth with the vigour of a hungry lion. Bring it on!