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Mixed herbs and salad growing in flowerpots - you can grow salads in any container, provided it's big enough
'The Yellow Book' this year includes this tiny 3m-square garden in Tantallon Road, Balham, south London

Emma Townshend: The Yellow Book is the best guide to the UK's hidden gardens - and a secret directory of the finest home-made teas

I am terribly motivated by cake. It's a known feature of my character. And I don't think I'm alone. I'm pretty sure my grandma stands firmly with me on the issue. One of the reasons I know this is that when I was about six, on a sunny summer afternoon we'd pull a copy of The Yellow Book from her kitchen drawer and choose a garden to visit from its smeary, newsprinty list, making sure we selected one with "home-made teas". Almost no point in bothering, otherwise.

Season's greetings: Anna Pavord takes us on a loved-up tour of her reinvigorated garden

The point about spring is that it takes you by surprise. It's the basis of all enduring love affairs. You have the security of knowing roughly how the plot will play out, combined with the intriguing differences of each encounter. You think you know how it's going to be, but then it sweeps you off your feet all over again. I'm totally in love with the garden once more. The worse the winter, the better the arrival of spring. That is certainly true, and down here in the West Country we've had a humdinger of a winter. Hideous in every respect. I only walked up the bank twice in three months – once to look at the damage caused by a fallen tree, once to see if some special snowdrops had come up. They hadn't.

Weekend Work: Time to treat paths with weedkiller

WHAT TO DO

Emma Townshend's 12-step programme to transforming your garden while staying solvent

Addicted to spending a fortune in garden centres over the Bank Holiday? Read our gardening expert's money saving tips...

Gardening therapy has huge potential for cost savings in the NHS and can speed up recovery time

How green fingers can help with the blues: On the eve of National Gardening Week, patients should take up their trowel - and save the NHS a fortune

Gardening is not just a good source of exercise, but can also help improve recovery time, mobility and mental health

Weekend work: Time to cut back acacia

WHAT TO DO

What they lack in form and substance, clematis make up for in brilliant, bountiful flowers

Choose your favourite variety and get planting, says Anna Pavord

Emma Townshend: British Gardens in Time - oh, BBC, what do you think you're doing?

The mother of all arguments is about to divide gardeners up and down the nation

Gardening: It's time to start sowing spinach, broccoli and cabbage

Last month, vegetable gardeners may have been able to get their broad beans in, as well as their onion sets. This month you could be sowing beetroot, carrots, chard, parsnips, peas, radish, spinach and spring onions. If the soil is workable and not too wet, all these can be sown direct into the ground outside. Under cover you might sow borlotti beans, French beans and runner beans, celeriac, courgettes, cucumber, leeks, pumpkins and squash of various kinds, sweetcorn and tomatoes as well as a wide range of salad crops.

Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden opens for National Gardens Scheme

Gardens to visit this weekend include the Wildlife Garden at the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, which opens for the National Gardens Scheme today (12-5pm); admission by donation. Set up in 1995, the garden is made up of different habitats representing deciduous woodland, heathland, meadow and ponds.

Emma Townshend: Magnolias can block out the sun - thank goodness for smaller varieties

My friend Kat and I are standing outside Helen's house, looking at her magnolia. It's Magnolia stellata, its elegant long stems covered with white buds, reaching out to the path and the party wall. "It's lovely, but it makes me feel sad," I say to Kat, because Helen planted the magnolia in memory of her brother, who died in terrible circumstances.

All tooled up: The essential equipment needed for gardening hasn't changed for centuries

A good thing too, says our green-fingered correspondent

Weekend work: Time to spray apple and pear trees

WHAT TO DO

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