The Ornamental Garden
- It is time to sow Winter Flowering Pansies, Primrose and Polyanthus. All are best sown in seed compost in seed trays. Cover the pansies with ¼” of compost but cover the others with cling film and put them in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks before bringing them out into a cool place to germinate. All these plants germinate best if kept cool.
- It is also time to sow your Wallflowers; these are sown thinly into a prepared seedbed [water well before sowing] outside, prior to lifting and planting out in the autumn.
- Remove the dead flowers from tall perennials such as Delphiniums, Lupins and Foxgloves. This will encourage them to flower again this year.
- Fill any gaps in your borders and pots with plants that provide instant colour. There is a large range available from Cleeve Nursery.
- If you are having a few friends around for a party in the garden brighten the place up with a few extra planted pots!
- Some perennials such as Lady’s Mantle [Alchemilla mollis] can be too successful and may seed themselves everywhere. To limit their spread, remove the flowers as soon as they fade so that seeds cannot form.
- Stake sunflowers and other tall plants. It’s time to tackle any bindweed that is strangling plants. If it is growing up and through plants pull it aside and treat with Roundup Weed killer Gel*. Alternatively shield your garden plants with some polythene and spray with a glyphosate based weed killer such as Roundup*.
- Regular hoeing between plants in borders and in the vegetable patch will keep weeds under control and also reduce drying out of the soil.
- Now is a good time to spray thistles, couch grass, Japanese knotgrass, bindweed and other difficult to control perennial weeds. Roundup* [or other weedkillers containing glyphosate] is the best material to use and is inactivated when it touches the soil. However keep it off the leaves and stems of plants you do not want to kill. If the weeds are in among plants you wish to keep use Roundup Weed killer Gel*.
- Vigorous shrubs such as Firethorn [Pyracantha] will benefit from having over-long shoots pruned back and this will stop them hiding the attractive berries which should have formed on old growth.
- Carefully prune evergreen Californian Lilac [Ceanothus] and Broom [Cytisus] now that they have finished flowering. Don’t just hack at it, but make sure you use really sharp tools and trim out leading shoots to leave weaker side shoots.
- Vigorous climbers such as Clematis, Honeysuckle and perennial sweet peas will need tying up again. Support them well and they will repay you well with more blooms.
- After they have finished blooming, move pot grown lime-hating plants into a shady area of the garden. They will enjoy the cool and you can bring something showier into the limelight for summer.
- All lime-hating plants, either in pots or in the garden, will reward you next spring if you regularly feed with a specific plant food such as Miracle-Gro Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron feed. This month is when next year’s flower buds form so ensure they don’t go short of water.
- Check susceptible varieties of plants for vine weevil damage. Half circle notches out of the edges of leaves are common at this time of year and are caused by the adult insects. Likely plants to show symptoms are Viburnums, Heucheras, Euonymus, Bergenias, Camellias, Rhododendrons and Fuchsias. If damage is seen, treat with a natural predator that can be watered around the roots where the grubs cause the greatest damage.
- Feed rose bushes. Spread a handful or two of Toprose fertiliser around the plants and lightly hoe it in. Remove dead flowers and the tip of each shoot to encourage a strong new shoot to grow. This will give you a good show later.
- Prune Climbing and Rambling roses by cutting out old shoots that have flowered [and weak ones that haven’t]. Cut back hard to encourage new shoots to appear. These new shoots will carry next years’ flowers.
- Remove Buddleja blooms as they fade. Most will grow new small flowers further down the stem. Leave a few un-pruned to produce seeds for the birds in winter.
- Trim back Lady’s Mantle, Catmint and hardy Geraniums if they are getting scruffy. Within a very short time they will produce new fresh looking leaves and perhaps some flowers too. Turn your compost heap regularly and water it if dry. Watch out for slow worms which love the heat generated in a well tended compost heap. They are harmless and a real gardener’s ally.
- Watch out for those pests and diseases. Aphids in all their colour forms can multiply alarmingly fast. Keep a look out for them on your climbing beans.
- Mildew and other diseases can also quickly get a hold so here preventative treatment is the best form of attack. Spray with Fungus Fighter*.
- If you water your garden now, remember that it is better to give it a thorough soaking less often than a splash over the top every night. Use washing up water and other “grey water” particularly if your water is metered.
- If you are going away, it is worth investing in an automatic watering system. Very good drip systems are now available to regularly water pots, hanging baskets and greenhouses.
- Keep the green house well watered, don’t forget to damp down the floor on hot days.
- Watch out for signs of pest and disease, particularly aphid and treat with a pesticide or use natural predators.
The Inside Garden
- Move sun loving plants outside on warm days but avoid scorching the leaves with strong sunshine.
The Kitchen Garden
- Plant Winter Cauliflower, Purple Sprouting and Leeks in the space created by digging early potatoes.
- Check your fruit trees for the weight of crop they have. If there is a heavy fruit set then it is wise to thin the fruit out now. Thin apples and pears to just two fruits per cluster and, if your plums have a heavy ‘set’, a drastic removal of excess fruits is needed to prevent small fruit and branch breakage later.
- Summer pruning of fruit; Apple and Pear trained as cordons or espaliers need summer pruning now. Shorten main stems and laterals when longer than 9” back to the third leaf and lateral side shoots pruned to leave the basal cluster.
Gooseberries, red and white currants, new side shoots reduce to 4-5 leaves.
Plums & cherries, now is the correct time to prune, never in the winter.
- Trim herbs back. Remove flowers. Give them a good soaking with liquid feed to encourage new shoots. These are always the tastiest.
- Loosen onions and shallots and lay them out in the sun to ripen. If you don’t do this they may not store so well.
- Sow seed of Spring Cabbages. Sow in a seedbed [outside] for transplanting into the veg. patch in autumn. Sow Wheelers Imperial or F1 Spring Hero.
- Stop harvesting rhubarb and asparagus now. This will give it a chance to build up strength for next year. Check your asparagus for weevils and pick them off.
The Wildlife Garden
- Don’t be in too much of a hurry to tidy up every part of the garden. Wildlife will thrive in the odd corner that has a heap of logs, a few nettles and a pile of dead leaves.
- Provide water for birds to bathe and drink.
- Plant butterfly and bee friendly plants in a warm sunny place. Try Buddleja, Hebe, wallflowers, Sedums, marjoram, mints, Aster, Solidaster, Solidago, heathers, and thyme.
- Try one of our Wildlife World butterfly and moth feeders in your garden.
- Check hedges for late nests before disturbance by trimming them.
- Check the water level in ponds and water features regularly. A lot of water can lost through evaporation.
- Thin out oxygenating weed so that it occupies around a third of the water volume.
- Keep water pump filters clean.
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