• Do's and Don't s for your February garden

    • The celebrity Dahlia Cafe au Lait is sure to be a favourite this summer

      Do start off dahlia cuttings: If you want to take cuttings it's time to get your tubers sprouting! Start them off as soon as you receive them by placing them in large pots or deep trays with a generous helping of a general purpose compost. Partly fill your container to half cover the tuber and water (without allowing the water inside the tuber). When the shoots are around 8cm use a sharp knife to cut them away from the crown just above where they join the tuber. Trim off any growth under the top pair of leaves, dip in hormone rooting powder then pot up using John Innes No.2.  As the stems develop, pinch out any growth from the middle of the cutting to help create a bushy plant. Harden off before planting out around May.  Do keep an eye out for slugs and snails that will feast on your young plants.

    • Do care for your soil: Healthy soil is the key to all good growing so take some time to enrich yours before the spring gets started. Dig in plenty of well-rotted farmyard manure or leaf mould and, if your soil tends to be heavy, add some sharp sand or grit.
    • Don't cut back perennials: It's still too early to cut back the old growth from perennial plants. Leave the old growth to protect the new emerging shoots until early spring.
    • Do move shrubs: If you have any shrubs in the wrong place, now is the time to move them while they're still dormant.
    • Do deal with pests: Look out for any pests that have been hibernating and destroy them before they have a change to breed and cause havoc.
    • Don't use old compost: Old compost is a favourite hiding place for vine weevil larvae that destroy plants by munching on their roots. Clean post with jays fluid to ensure there are no germs left behind and fill with fresh compost.
    • Do remove weeds: Emerging weeds can be pulled up as they start to appear to prevent them from sowing seeds and becoming an invasive problem over the summer months.
  • Our top 10 plants and bulbs for bees and pollinators

    As we've all seen in the news bees are under threat from a loss of habitat and certain pesticides. We can help to reverse their decline by planting their favourite plants in our gardens. According to a study by Sussex University the best plants can attract up to 100 times as many insects as the worst ones. Choose carefully and you can have a fragrant and colourful garden full of the busy buzzing of our all important bees.

    1, 2 & 3) Lavender, achillea and dahlias, such as the happy single, collarette and bishop varieties, are attractive to bumble bees because of their open, flat and easily accessible flowers.

    4) Pulmonaria are particularly popular with the wonderfully named hairy-footed flower bee.

    5) Buddleja is also, rather tellingly, known as the butterfly bush, is a magnet for butterflies because of its sucrose rich nectar.

    6 & 7) Lupins and penstemon have tubular flowers that are a favourite feeding place for the long tongued bumble bee.

    8) Campanula are a fabulous complement for your spring bulbs providing an early source of food for pollinators.

    9) Bees and butterflies can enjoy the lovely helenium for an extended period as they flower all summer. Their seed heads are also very attractive for birds in winter so don't clear them out too quickly.

    10) Globe Thistles (echinops) complement your lavender, penstemon and buddleja to provide a late summer feast.

    While you're busy making your garden pollinator friendly remember there are plenty of plants that act as deterrents to these industrious creatures. Rhododendrons, azaleas, trumpet flower "Angels Trumpet", oleanders, yellow jessamine, mountain laurel, heliconia, bog rosemary and amaryllis (grow these fantastic flowers inside only) have been found to be toxic for bees. Consider planting them some way away from your new found bee magnets.

    Achillea Terracotta

    Pulmonaria Blue Ensign

    Buddleja Empire Blue

    Lupin The Chateline
  • Top 5 hints and tips for April in the garden

    • Prepare the soil for the growing season ahead by digging in plenty of well rotted manure or compost. You can also add a general fertiliser like blood, fish and bone.

     

    • Tidy and cut back any old dead foliage from perennial plants to encourage new growth.

     

    • Lift and divide any large clumps of perennial plants to improve their vigour and continue to plant new perennials and summer flowering bulbs.

     

    • Carry a small note pad with you when out visiting gardens or shows to keep notes of the bulbs and plants you like. Write down the names as well as the colours and heights of your favourites.

     

    • Buy the Yellow Book 2015 (National Garden Scheme) and find a huge variety of creative gardens tended by ordinary people to visit for inspiration for your own garden.
  • Planting Agapanthus

    9th February 2014
    Agapanthus Black Buddhist Agapanthus Black Buddhist

    Agapanthus (African Lily) are not just good looking flowers they bring a little of the exotic to the garden with their stately elegance, the colour choice is blue or white but there is a good choice of blue from the light blue to dark indigo blue and from pure white to silver white with a hint of blue. Agapanthus are not the hardest plants to grow but they are also not the easiest they will need a little help and encouragement but once established they will reward you from July to late August with an amazing display with their large open flower heads which are excellent for cut flowers.

    Agapanthus grow from rhizomes not bulbs or tubers they produce fleshy roots which like to be constricted, the leaves depending on the variety can have different shapes and colours from light to dark green, grey green and variegated. Like so many garden favourites choose the right variety for your garden, if you’re unsure Agapanthus Africanus Blue or white or Blue Giant are good hardy varieties they are excellent plants to start you off, you can always grown the other varieties in pots and bring them indoors for winter care.

    If planting Agapanthus in pots use a mixture of soil and compost mixed with a little sand and grit to help drainage. Feeding every couple of weeks or at least once a month when you see the green shoots appear with high potash feed Tomato fertilizer is excellent for this; it’s also important to add some general fertilizer as well to make sure the Agapanthus plants receive the best nutrients you can give them.

    If growing in the garden follow the same feeding tips for growing in pots, they are not hungry feeders but will reward you with a fabulous flower display, always leave the leaves to die back naturally and leave until at least March before you remove them, this will give some protection to the crown of the Agapanthus plants, a good mulch is required if you live in very cold areas. You can plant non hardy varieties in pots and sink them just below soil level which will hide the pots then after flowering remove them for winter; I have a few varieties in pots which I move around the garden to highlight different areas and plants. Agapanthus like a well drained soil/compost

    Agapanthus are tolerant of salty winds and so make good coastal plants, hailing from South African they love the sun so plant in a south facing position where they will produce stronger stems and more flowers over the years, they don’t suffer from major pests or disease, the taller varieties will do well in windy conditions. Agapanthus are drought tolerant but they will need some water at least twice a week, it’s important they are planted in a part of the garden that does not hold water as they do not like to sit in water, the best time to plant Agapanthus from bare root is from March to May

    Agapanthus plants can be slow to establish one or two years but when they do you will not be disappointed and the wait will have been worth it.

  • Flamboyant Poppies

    IMG_2126The Oriental poppies have put on a wonderful display this year with their beautiful large papery petals that burst from the fat buds held proud on long strong stems, above clumps of hairy leaves.

    Flowering from June to July they put on a flamboyant show with their glorious flowers, as soon as the flowers begin to fade snip the stems out to prevent them from producing seed this can help bulk up the flower production. For the flower arrangers the seed heads can be dried and left natural or spray with a little metallic paint for that extra zing they can be used for decorations in the month the man with the red suit pops by (I won’t mention the word a little early I think)

    When poppies have finished their glamorous show they can look untidy but don’t despair they are one of the easiest plants to care for, cut all the growth back to just above ground level give them a dressing of fertiliser and a little mulch; in a few weeks they will be producing their hairy leaves again with the possibility of a late flush of flowers around September.

    Oriental poppies can leave a gap when cut back this is not a problem plant Asters, or the daisy flowers of Heleniums and Rudbeckias to fill the space these will provide late summer colour and elegance to the garden.

    We will have some lovely new poppies next spring Central Park a lovely wine red, Harlem burgundy pink and Helen Elisabeth a lovely salmon pink.

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