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Beauty & Easter; LIFESTYLE Gardening; Blooms bring spring delight.

Byline: with Adrienne Wild

WHY settle for a chocolate egg at Easter when you can grow cosmos flowers that smell just as intensely and sweetly?

The velvety-bronze blooms of the cosmos atrosanguineus "chocamocha" appear from June to September and look good with grasses and blue perovskia. This compact variety is just 30cm tall so doesn't need staking and is ideal for growing in a pot or sunny border in well-drained fertile soil.

It is frost-sensitive, so best to cover it with deep mulch or lift the tubers in autumn and overwinter indoors.

There is a huge range of hellebores that flower at this time of year. Known as lenten roses, helleborus x hybridus are easy to grow and relatively care-free plants that thrive in dappled shade providing that you avoid poor, dry, peaty soils and waterlogged conditions.

They can be grown in pots and superstitious old gardeners often put one or two by their back doors to ward off evil spirits and repel flies. If needed, cut back old foliage for a better view of the flowers.

Another aptly named plant is the beautiful Easter lily, lilium longiflorum. It has enormous trumpet-shaped white flowers that symbolise purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life.

Find them a sunny, well-drained spot near a path or seating area so you can enjoy their heady perfume at close quarters. Plant the bulbs in grit-lined holes 15cm deep and 30-45cm apart then over soil with a living mulch of shallow-rooted annuals or perennials, like violas or primroses.

Pasqueflower is a must for gritty chalky soils that contain gravel or rocky material. It has heavy and drooping cup-shaped flowers that emerge at this time of year.

Our native pasqueflowers are lavender-coloured but there are cultivated varieties like bright red rubra, worth growing especially in pots where they can be admired.

Another shrub with an Easter theme is cercis siliquastrum, known as the Judas tree as Judas Iscariot is said to have hanged himself from one.

Its heart-shaped leaves and peashaped flowers followed by flattened purplish pods means it is also known as the love tree. It is ideal for welldrained soils and gravel gardens.

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TRUMPET: Serene Easter lily

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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2017
Words:363
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