At this time of the year and throughout the early spring, gardens start to come alive with the tantalising colours of beautiful camellias.

I’ve got a small collection in large containers along the north-facing back wall of the house. They are renowned winter flowers but last year, a new one came on the market, Camellia 1001 Summer Nights Jasmine. This handsome evergreen is a breeding breakthrough from China. Unlike most camellias, which flower in spring, this extraordinary new variety is at its best in the middle of summer. The ruffled, rosette blooms are borne continuously from mid-June through to October, bringing an exotic feel to the garden. It is a neat and compact shrub, making it ideal for planting in patio containers and thrives well in sun or part shade, making it a useful shrub for providing year-round interest and colour in the garden.

Their height and spread are about 250 cm. I could not resist adding one to my collection. Imagine my surprise though this week to see a single flower pop its head out well ahead of its scheduled summer blooming. Let’s hope it flowers again later in the year.

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We seem to have been having some better weather recently, which has meant it has been possible to get out in the garden. I’ve spent some of this week tidying up lots of debris that has accumulated over the winter. It is quite amazing now to start to see all the bulbs starting to come through, it won’t be long before there is a blaze of colour out there again. I’ve got quite a few hydrangeas that were in containers but are now in the ground and now is quite a good time to go out and prune them. The dead flowers do give some interest over the winter and some say, they protect the new growth from frost. You should be able to see quite clearly the stems that need attention.

Trim them down and this will give way to new growth in the next few weeks. You need to cut each flower stem back to a healthy pair of new buds and wait for the plants to dazzle again this summer.

Next weekend sees a welcome return of Bates Green in Arlington opening for the National Garden Scheme. It is a two-acre tranquil space with a woodland garden created around a majestic oak tree along with courtyard gardens and seasonal container displays. Pre-booking is essential for Sunday, Feburary 20 from 10.30am to 4pm. Refreshments and light lunches will be available too. Why not log on to and bag yourself a ticket?

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