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Another year, another plant to nurture, another seed to sow, another Latin name to learn (I'll test you): here's to a fantastic year for gardening, which we all know can be an antidote to life's stresses and strains, and so much more than just an end result. Uncertainty lies ahead, but at least we can try to do our very best for nature, and lose ourselves in special green places, whether that be gardens, allotments, local parks or community initiatives (details below of a new gardening project at Withington Community Hospital).

I think I've surpassed myself this year with the amount of stock I've managed to squeeze into the garden centre, and there's more to come: we've ramped up production of 2litre peat free perennials, which are growing strongly on our mini nursery; I really do need a bigger space. I really, really, really NEED a bigger space - way too much time is spent moving things around, a bit like a giant version of the sliding puzzle.

Very best wishes,


Ground cover for shade

Before deciduous trees create their canopies, early-flowering ground cover plants make the most of the available light, flowering and setting seed, before receding, and sometimes disappearing completely in summer. Others flower a little later and relish more shady conditions, and are usually found on the edges of woodland. These plants work well in the absence of trees: most of us have walls and fences that create shade at some point during the day, though they will also be fine at the front of a border in early spring, when there's more moisture available, or around evergreen and under deciduous shrubs.

We have the following in stock now:

Anemone nemorosa
Our native anemone, which spreads via rhizomes and seed, to create magical drifts of small, starry white flowers. In nature, it is an indicator of ancient woodland.

Allium ursinum
Wild garlic: pretty, edible, and it even grows in a fair bit of shade. Forage in the comfort of your own garden. I enjoyed reading Alan Carter's blog post, which details growing and eating wild garlic.
Erythronium 'Pagoda'
Buttery-yellow reflexed flowers, with decorative mottled, shiny leaves; just lovely. If you're not a fan of yellow flowers (lots of people say they aren't, but I don't believe them) we also have E. californicum 'White Beauty'.
Primula vulgaris
Ahhh, the common primrose, with delicate looking pale yellow flowers, which start in February. Thrives in more moist conditions, though also grows quite happily in the cracks in my garden path.

Synthris missurica var. 'Stellata'
I love its common name of Mountain Kittentails, and would probably buy it for that reason alone. Synthris has gorgeous violet-blue flowers and evergreen kidney-shaped foliage.

Gallium odoratum
We sell lots of sweet woodruff, as it will grow almost anywhere, even dry shade. I reckon it's almost indestructible. Its lance shaped leaves, arranged in whorls, form a mat, dotted with small white flowers in late spring. The leaves are hay-scented when dry - the clue is in the specific epithet (second name) - and can be used for pot-pourri.

Pulmonaria 'Opal' and 'Blue Ensign'
I know lungwort is common, but so what? 'Opal' has pale lilac-blue flowers, whereas the flowers of P. 'Blue Ensign' are deep blue. Both have silver spotted leaves, which really come into their own after flowering, and they persist until late winter. Spring wouldn't be the same without pulmonarias!

Hyacinthoides non-scripta
The English bluebell, which flowers from April. Scented and spectacular en masse, more dainty, and much less of a thug than the Spanish bluebell. My parents didn't garden, but as kids we walked the greyhounds with my dad through the bluebell wood in Mount Sion, Radcliffe; a tiny piece of nature next to the polluted River Irwell.

It would be foolish not to plant a hardy geranium, or three, or five - never odd numbers - many of which do so well in partly shaded areas: G. phaeum, G. sylvaticum, and  G. nodosum all fit the bill, in addition to ferns, which will thrive in more moist and shady spots. I often hear people say 'oh, I've got a geranium', but there are many, many species and cultivars, which differ in terms of flower colour, flower power, habit, and optimum growing conditions, whether that be soil or aspect.

Below: Synthris missurica (photo credit Edulis), Gallium odoratum and Allium ursinum in my garden, Pulmonaria 'Opal', and Pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign' at Bud last year.

What's New?

Or in this case, who? We have a new colleague, another Anne, who'll be working some weekends, and running workshops a bit later on. Anne is a qualified horticulturalist, and has lots of hands-on experience: she was a self-employed garden designer before working for the RHS, and currently teaches the RHS Level 2 qualification at Ordsall Hall.

Willow-weaving workshops with Hulme-based Cherry Chung; I'll let you know once we've finalised the dates.

Pottery workshops with Lindy AKA Blackdog Pottery - you might remember her 'Face' pots, which we sold last year.

Ceramic houseplant pots, made in Germany: lots of different styles, colours and sizes available. We've also expanded our range of Italian terracotta pots, and saucers - affordable, available in many different sizes, and more environmentally friendly than plastic pots.

Bags of manure, from the suppliers of our wonderful peat free compost, in addition to Soil Association certified Organic seed-sowing and multi-purpose compost made from reclaimed peat.


We need 2litre pots, for potting up bare root perennials and bulbs. They must be:
2litre capacity, black, round, free from stickers/labels, in good condition, and clean. Sorry, I can't accept pots that I'm unable to reuse at Bud - please do not donate pots unless they fit the above description.

According to trade magazine Horticulture Week, a nationwide pot recycling scheme is being launched this spring: " centres can join to recycle pots and many of the plant-carrying trays for reprocessing into other products". I doubt that Bud will be able to join the scheme, due to limited space (I really, really, really need more) and time, but at least you'll be able to take your pots somewhere; I'll find out which local garden centres are participating.

You may have seen, and/or heard about the new taupe plant pots, which can be recycled with other plastic waste, as they no longer contain black pigment. In terms of plastic, Manchester City Council currently only collects bottles - and my tweets to Richard Leese, Andy Burnham and the Executive Member for Environment and Skills have got me nowhere. We need a campaign.

Community Garden Project

If you live in south Manchester, love gardening, and have some free time, you might be interested in helping Liz, who is transforming a neglected garden at Withington Community Hospital, for the benefit of patients and visitors. I've visited several times, and can confirm that she is doing a remarkable job, though help is very much needed.

ACTION DAY FRIDAY 29th MARCH 2019 from 10am. Refreshments provided.
Buccleuch Lodge, Elizabeth Slinger Road, west Didsbury, M20 2XA. Park on Withington Community Hospital Site.

Liz describes the garden and its purpose: "The garden serves many parts of the community: those who come as short-term residential patients in the Intermediate Care Unit, and of course all their friends and family who visit; and also all those who come to the Day Hospital for out-patient assessment or treatment; as well as all the staff who work here. Staff and residents enjoy seeing the garden develop, and it provides encouragement for those who are practising or assessing their mobility. And the volunteers all seem to have fun!

Our beautiful pergola is now up, and we have sweetly-scented flowering plants growing up the posts, which will make it a wonderfully fragrant walk from late spring onwards. The ducks are due to come and nest here soon - we’d love to get the pond lined and planted up ready for them, before they lay their eggs.
Do you have skills with bricklaying? One of our raised beds needs some repair, and the other needs to have a couple of courses removed to lower it to a more accessible level. Or do you feel you could help with shovelling out the top layer of sour soil from the vegetable bed? This is the time to start growing vegetables, with residents being able to access this bed from a wheelchair or from a sitting position. This could be the start of a community vegetable project…"

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Bud Garden Centre · Omer Drive · Burnage · Manchester, Greater Manchester M19 2JN · United Kingdom

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