Archive for the ‘Spring Gardening’ Category

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Let’s Shake Off The Past Winter

March 7, 2012

Spring for me begins in earnest when all the cheerful bright yellow daffodils and early tulips come out in flower and have a stretch and a yawn from their winter slumber. This is such a welcome sight and one that I’ve waited so long for.

Spring is my favourite season as the days get longer and the weather very slowly starts to warm up; definitely a time for shaking off those winter blues.

Regular readers of this column will know that in my own garden I have a Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ and now it’s blooming with masses of scented pale pink saucer shaped flowers… truly a welcome sight of spring as it looks super festooned over my garage.

feb2.jpgThis is lovely early flowering evergreen Clematis with spear shaped dark glossy leaves and if you want to have some colour later in the season then you can grow a late flowering Clematis through it.

A beautiful specimen tree for great spring interest is the Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’. This is a Willow that has a lovely weeping habit and grows to a full height of only six feet, so it’s a good tree for a small garden. This Willow produces pretty grey catkins that are studded with yellow anthers on bare shoots and I think it looks absolutely stunning.

For bold foliage and showy flowers from mid-winter to mid-spring you could go for the elegant Camellia. Camellias come wide chose of colours from white, yellows and in a vast variety of shade of pink through to reds.

This evergreen shrub grows naturally in acid soil but will tolerate neutral soil as long as it’s rich with organic matter. The Camellia can be grown in sun or dappled shade, but plant it somewhere that it is shielded from the early morning sun, as the sun may damage flowers in frosty weather.

One of the early flowering perennials is the Pulmonaria or known as the Lungwort. This flowering plant makes good ground cover. Most varieties prefer a moist shady border but the Pulmonaria officinalis will tolerate full sun.

Many Lungworts are often semi-evergreen and some varieties have decorative leaves with silver or white spots on. The flower is small and dainty and comes in a choice of colours from white, pink, violet, purple, blue and red.

If you are tempted by a visit to the garden centre to buy a beautiful bright early flowering Rhododendron, then it’s best to keep it in a container with ericaceous acid soil and in the growing season give it some nutrients with an ericaceous feed.

For the garden it is the start of the new season and a profusion of spring flowers will soon be brightening up our gardens. Like I say, it’s time to shake off those winter blues and to get outside into the garden for some welcome spring gardening.

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Spring Has Sprung

March 2, 2012

wwwgardendesignercouk-35.JPGAt last we’re officially in the first month of spring and already the garden is slowing awakening from its winter slumber.

So if you’ve missed being out in the garden, this month you’ll find that there’s plenty to be getting on with such as early sowing, planting, and some pruning.

If you read my blog posting last week, I gave advice on how and what to prune around this time of the year. Up until the end of March you can plant bare-rooted deciduous plants such as trees, shrubs, roses and hedging plants.

“Bare-rooted” means that these plants are grown directly in soil and not in plastic pots. This is a cheaper way for nurseries to produce them and can save money for the customer.

However, remember that such bare-rooted plants must be planted as soon as you get them home and if the roots have dried out a bit, then soak them in a bucket of water for about an hour.

Prepare the soil well, incorporating organic matter, which will help to improve the structure, and drainage of the soil and also to help the roots get established.

You can start preparing the soil for your flowerbeds in readiness to plant out hardy annuals towards the end of this month, so now is also a good time to sprinkle some general fertiliser around the garden to give it some food and nourishment. Thewwwgardendesignercouk-27.JPG winter rains will certainly have washed away some of the goodness and it’s important to put this back.

Around now some clump forming perennials can get too congested, so it is a good time to dig them up and divide them. You can replant them elsewhere in the garden, getting more plants for free, or if you haven’t got the room in your garden, then you can always swap plants with a fellow gardener.

Hardy summer flowering bulbs such as lilies can be planted out now to give you some wonderful welcome colour and scent in amongst your planted borders.

A good idea is to plant bulbs into pots so that you can move them around to wherever you have bare patch in the garden, and put them out of the way after they have flowered.

Also, now is a good time to plant new hedging for the garden, as it will get established with this new growing season.

If you haven’t sown plants before, then have a go this year. Check out seeds at your local garden centre or super market and have a go at sowing some. This is a wonderful cheap way of getting lots of plants for your garden.

Even if you don’t have a greenhouse, start your seedlings off indoors in seed trays and you’ll soon be able to give your garden a boost of colour this summer.

 

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Don’t Just Look Back…

February 27, 2012

Some of our front gardens don’t receive as much tender loving care as they could do. One reason could be because a front garden is often just considered to be a small transitional area that we pass through from the roadside to our front doors. Also many of our front gardens now have to accommodate off-street parking and are often paved or covered over with concrete.

Although our front gardens don’t often get as much attention as they deserve, with a little bit of imagination even the tiniest, shadiest or paved front garden can be transformed with some planting to make the setting and entrance to our homes more inviting and pleasant.

Even just by having two planters on either side of the front door you can enhance the entrance immediately. Take into account the style of your house and choose pots that will suit your type of property. Larger pots preferable to smaller ones as the scale and proportion works better, andfront2.jpg besides, they also require less maintenance than small pots.

For security, I fill my pots one third full of stones, not only to add drainage, but also to make them very heavy to be picked up. If possible concrete in or secure the pots with some form of anti-theft anchor.

For easy care and stylish plants I’d go for topiary Buxus ball, cone or lollipop shapes as they look smart and elegant. Plant around the topiary Buxus with some trailing Ivy and seasonal colourful bedding plants to make a super display.

Hanging baskets also look petty and colourful around a front door but they will need constant feeding and watering. If you only have a small wall area by your front door then you could always put up an attractive wall planter with seasonal planting.

The smallest of front gardens can be given an instant stylish makeover by using gravel, some rocks, planting pots and a few small hardy shrubs. For vertical colour interest plant a manageable flowering climber or wall shrub around your front door.

Remember to plant the base of these plants more than twelve inches away from the wall of the property so their root get access to rainwater, while at the same time keeping the roots away from foundations.

If you must pave over your front garden for car parking, then how about incorporating raised planting beds somewhere?

If your car is going to be parked on a diagonal in front of your house, then how about having a fan or triangular shaped flowerbed in the corner of your front garden to create an attractive focal point?

So, if your front garden is looking a bit drab, give it a spring clean and get imaginative and creative… and give your front garden some kerb appeal.

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There’s Something Astir In The Garden Already…

February 13, 2012

Early spring flowers are now awaking, starting to stir and will soon burst into bloom to give the garden some much-needed masses of colour to bring it alive. The sap is slowly starting to rise with the anticipation of a new season just around the corner and there are plenty of plants to look out for during the month of February.

Regular readers of my column will know that one of my favourite flowers is the Iris, and in February the early-flowering dwarf Iris makes its appearance. This dainty little flower grows only to a height of about six nar.jpginches and comes in a variety of colours from yellow, blue or purple and usually has pretty markings on its petals. They’re best grown in a sunny spot and perhaps in a raised bed or container so that their beauty can be admired at close hand.

One early flowing Narcissus is the Narcissus cyclamineus, the Wild Narcissus. This is also a very dainty plant and grows to six to eight inches tall and has golden yellow flowers with swept-backed petals. Grow this vigorous perennial bulb in rock or a woodland garden or alternatively you could naturalise it in your lawn.

The Crocus has been a favourite in many of our gardens and there is an early variety to start colouring up the garden this month called Crocus tommasinianus. This pretty goblet shaped flower comes in a choice of colours of white, lilac and purple.

Primrose-Polyanthus primulas are a very diverse group of winter to spring flowering perennial that come in a wide range of bright colours. They are commercially grown for bedding or containers to produce early flowering plants and they remind me of pretty small Victorian posies and are plants to look out for during this month.

One particular Clematis that’ll be coming into flower around now is thefreckles.jpg Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’. This late winter flowering Clematis has creamy-white flowers with delightful red speckles. Grow this in sun, although it will tolerate dappled shade against a wall or through a deciduous tree to give winter interest.

A very useful early flowering shrub for the garden is the Chaenomeles, or better known as the Ornamental Quince. It’s quite a versatile shrub as it can tolerate a shady site and can be grown in a shrub border or be trained against a wall. This shrub has lovely dense clusters of cup-shaped flowers which come in a variety of colours from white to various shades of pink or apricot through to more brash shades of red. This shrub provides autumn interest when it produces its small apple-like fruits, Quince.

Even in the last month of winter our gardens can produce a cheery colourful sight with early flowering plants… a sure true sign that spring is on its way.