March/April 2023 update


March/April 2023 update



Arlington Bluebell Walk and Beatons Wood


To mark that this year is the 50th Bluebell Walk, we have installed a large screen in the Bluebell Barn, with live images showing the garden birds busy feeding on the Bird Feeding Station*, which we set up in January. The link to the live feed is available to our Newsletter subscribers, so if you have not already subscribed you can do so here and get access to the link so you can watch the birds at your leisure 24 hours a day!

  still image from birdcam  

Sightings so far are: Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Nuthatch & Starling. If you can add to this list, please email me (or add a comment to the live feed) with the different birds you have seen including the date and time of sighting, so we can build up an accurate record.

The last time we saw kingfishers at the Lower Pond was 2020 when the Bluebell Walk could not open. Recently there have been sightings of them again and it was suggested that we provide two perches into the centre of the pond. This has now been done, as shown here,

  Image of kingfisher perch  

so we shall see if it encourages them to stay and make a nest in one of the holes that are on the steep side of the island.

While setting these perches up, I disturbed a mallard who flew onto the pond, then for a few seconds saw a yellow and green dome of huddled ducklings who quickly joined their mother as she calmly called them into the water. I was spellbound by what I was seeing and all I could think of was to quietly call my colleague to watch what was unfolding. I completely forgot to grab my phone to share with you what I imagine was the first time the 10 ducklings had left the safety of their nest, to swim alongside their mother. Sorry!

These are the only immature bluebells I saw as I walked round Beatons Wood, but there are several patches of wood anemones. By the time we open on the 11th April there should be a good smattering of bluebells throughout the wood.

  Image of immature bluebells
Image of small patch of wood anemones

Due to our unpredictable climate, once we are open I post every Tuesday and Friday on the Home Page of as to how the bluebells are responding to the weather conditions.


Now the wild daffodils are on the wane in the Millennium Avenue, the fritillaries are emerging so will be there for all to see during the early part of the Bluebell Walk.



Early this morning I wondered what was causing the outside light to keep coming on & off, then for the first time I can recall, I watched a hedgehog stopping every so often to eat a luscious slug, then when it moved on, the light came back on again! Wasn’t I lucky!


John McCutchan




Spring is now officially upon us, and foliage is growing seemingly before our very eyes. Bates Green Garden relies on ‘self-seeders’ for its naturalistic feel but these have to be carefully curated and so, this month, the Bates Green Team will be busy removing the undesirables altogether and transplanting any desirables to more appropriate places.

Last month we enjoyed the uplifting colour from early flowering shrubs such as Forsythia and Ribes. Forsythia, the Golden Bells, flowers very early in the year, giving us all a vibrant reminder that the days are lengthening, and that spring will come. I like to cut lots of the long, arching flowering stems from the shrub and bring them in for table decorations, this also helps to stimulate growth of new flowering stems for next year. Alternatively, once the flowers are fading, you can cut one third of the oldest stems at the base each year.

The same pruning principle can be applied to Ribes, the flowering currant. Not everyone appreciates their unique feline-related fragrance and I personally do not detect any blackcurrant! Their pendant flowers are valuable as a source of nectar for bees foraging early in the year. We grow Ribes sanguineum ‘Pokey’s Pink’ here at Bates Green. It has a soft gentle quality and good autumn colour too.

  Ribes Pokeys Pink by John Glover

Photo by John Glover

There is absolutely nothing quite like the fragrance of sweet peas. To me, they are the very essence of summer and one of the great pleasures of life is to gather your own posies regularly so that your house is filled with this very special scent. In order to do this, you must plant out your sweet peas this month. If you do not have your own seedlings, then they are available to purchase as young plants. Acclimatise them to the outside world for at least a week before planting to prevent much ongoing sulking.

  Sweet peas  


You will need to provide your plants with some kind of support on which to grow, a wigwam of bamboo stems preferably covered with a ‘netting’ of rough twine, a beautiful metal archway if you happen to have one or you can create an organic structure made from hazel stems. These ‘pea sticks’ can often be purchased from farm shops or similar, they are ideal as, being twiggy, the tendrils of the sweet pea obtain good purchase and quickly scramble up the stems.

Dig in plenty of organic matter, whatever you can get hold of, and put in 2 plants for every upright support stem. These will need to be checked and tied in with soft twine regularly as they will grow like the clappers providing you feed and water them regularly. At Bates Green Garden, the blue tits regularly forage our twine for their nests. We do not mind, we just replace.

You can grow sweet peas in a container, again with a support structure but do remember that they are hungry, thirsty plants and so their maintenance will be more onerous this way. Always worth it though.

My favourite cultivars are always chosen for their knockout scent. Lathyrus ‘Matucana’ is a modern grandiflora type with deep maroon and violet bicoloured petals. It is not going to give you long, exhibition type stems but has the best sweet pea fragrance of all. If you fancy your chances at your local flower show but still want to fill your rooms with fragrance, then I would recommend L. ‘Albutt Blue’. This semi-grandiflora is white with a beautiful blue edge and a truly terrific scent. It also bears long stems which are great for showing.

‘April Showers bring May Flowers’

This proverb is one we can all relate to, I interpret it as meaning that adversity is often followed by good fortune, the rain we hopefully receive this month will benefit our gardens and plots for the whole of the growing season ahead.


Emma Reece - Head Gardener



Arlington Bluebell Walk and Farm Trails -

Bates Green Garden -





This message was added on Monday 10th April 2023

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