Posts Tagged ‘flower garden’

April Gardening Advice

April 1st, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

April Gardening Advice

Spring has sprung! We have more daylight, which is just as well, as we’re going to need as much time as possible to get our gardens and allotments summer-ready. But don’t be fooled into thinking winter has completely gone. Those sharp frosts are the sting in a waning season’s tail. Hold off planting what can’t be fleeced, cloched, or protected, until the last of the frosts have gone.

In the flower garden

Deadheading

The once-glorious daffodils will by now have seen better days, so deadhead them, before they go to seed. The energy will transfer to the bulb, in readiness for next year’s display. But don’t cut away the foliage, let it die back naturally to harness the sun’s energy, fuelling the bulbs for future seasons.

Winter pansies, will be keen to set seed, so regularly remove faded flowers to encourage new displays.

PrimrosesLift and divide Primroses for bigger displays next year

Another flower that has probably passed its prime is the primrose. If you’re hoping for bigger displays next year, then this is the time to lift and divide them. Whether it’s with your hands, or a trowel, prise the plants apart. Don’t worry about damaging them as they’re quite tough, and will respond quickly. Re-plant where you would like to see them appear next year, and water in well.

Support

The roses you finished pruning last month will now be full of life, sending new shoots skywards. You may need to stake and tie-in new growth. This also applies for other tall, climbing perennials. Not only will this help support the plant, but it’ll help prevent high winds from causing windrock to the rootball, or damaging young stems.

Weeds

With plants and borders springing into life, weeds will also start flourishing as they feed off the nutrients given to your flower borders. Ensure you weed regularly or they could smother young, emerging plants. Remove tap roots entirely or they will re-grow. Finally, mulch around your plants to suppress weeds and help retain moisture.

April is the time to get those summer bulbs in the groundBulbs

It’s time to get those newly-bought summer bulbs and corms into the ground, or into pots. If you’re planting in pots, ensure the compost has plenty of grit, so water can drain off easily and not cause the bulbs to rot. It’s also a good idea to place crocks at the base of the pot to improve drainage.

If you’re planting bulbs into beds, think about how the final display might look. Make sure there’s sufficient space and plenty of sunlight. If you haven’t planted bulbs before, then the rule of thumb is to plant the bulb at a depth of three times its height. If your soil is heavy, add grit to the base of the hole, and then fill with a gritted-compost mixture.

Sweet Peas

After pinching out your sweet peas last month, they should now be bushing up. Towards the end of the month, depending on weather, these can be planted out into their final growing positions. Whether it’s directly into the ground, or container, make sure you use a support so the tendrils have something to latch onto and push the plant up. Keep an eye on their growth, as they will quickly need to be tied in.

Container Plants

With new growth appearing daily, you may need to introduce a regular watering regime to your container plants. Make sure you remove weeds, and top up the soil with fresh compost or general-purpose fertiliser. Check that plants aren’t pot bound, and are free of pests. Finally, place them in the appropriate growing area, to ensure they respond successfully.

Hanging Baskets

If you’re looking forward to big floral displays this summer, then get your plug plants into your hanging baskets. Use fresh compost and a slow-release fertiliser. Water retention gel is a good option, to help them through those long hot summer days. Once potted up, keep them in the greenhouse until the last frost has passed. This will also give your plants a chance to grow on and settle into their hanging baskets. Next, place them in a cold frame, or outside during the day, for a week or two. Finally, place them in their final hanging positions and ensure a regular watering regime. Bear in mind they will require extra watering and feeding during the summer months.

April is the time to establish a regular lawn mowing routine

Lawn

It’s time to begin a regular mowing routine. Place the mower’s blades at a low level for a clean, sharp cut. Scarify and fork over any thatched areas to help with drainage. Keep borders strimmed, and cut edges with an edging tool. If your lawns aren’t seeing too much action at the moment, this might be the opportunity to give them a gentle feed, or sow grass seed onto bare patches.

Greenhouse

If you haven’t done so yet, clear and tidy your greenhouse. After a hard winter, there will be items stored that can be removed. Overgrown foliage needs to be cut away to ensure maximum sunlight, and it’s advisable to give the greenhouse a thorough clean, inside and out with warm soapy water.

Hardening Off

Towards the end of the month, you may want to start hardening off certain plants to get them ready for planting out in May. By hardening off, you’re simply getting indoor-sown plants acclimatised to cooler, outdoor temperatures. For example, if you’ve been growing sweet peas, they will grow all the better for a few weeks in a cold frame before planting out into their final position. If you don’t have a cold frame, then place your plants outside on a bright day for a few hours, then bring them in before the temperature drops, or the weather takes a turn for the worse.

On the veg patch

Sow

Now is the time to sow crops such as salads, radishes, beetroot, chard, kohl rabi, carrots and parsnips. If the ground is too cold, sow into modules, trays or pots. Keep them somewhere warm, with plenty of sunlight, such as a greenhouse or polytunnel.

If the ground is too cold then sow seeds into module trays or pots

Any seeds sown back in March may now need thinning out, or even re-potting. As you do so, remember that it’s important to hold the seedling by their ‘true leaves’, not their stems. While a damaged leaf won’t hamper the plant’s growth, a damaged stem will leave the young plant helpless.

If your ground is prepped and ready to go, think about sowing peas, leeks, carrots, broad beans or cabbage. Remember to sow little and often, otherwise, in a few months’ time you could end up with a glut.

If you have sown onion sets, make sure you net them. Birds will see them as a potential food source and remove them from the ground.

Potatoes

You should have now planted your chitted tubers. If they produce substantial foliage, earth up as this will both protect the plant, and encourage it to produce more potatoes. However, it’s a good idea to keep horticultural fleece handy, as a sharp frost could burn the plants, destroy the foliage and potentially kill the plant.

Structures

If you’re growing beans and peas, then think about setting up your runner bean poles. Peas will also need a support structure, such as netting, poles or twiggy hazel sticks. Prep the beds and get your structures ready.

Soft Fruit

Fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries should be mulched. This feeds the plants, helps retain the moisture in the soil, and should give you better-tasting fruit. If you grow blueberries, make sure you use an ericaceous compost.

Remember to keep bird feeders topped up

Other

  • Keep an eye on weather reports, as sharp frosts can still occur, and potentially damage or kill young plants and seedlings.
  • Warmer temperatures will also encourage indoor plants to grow, so step-up their watering and feeding regime.
  • Continue to keep bird feeders topped up.

March Gardening Advice

March 1st, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

March Gardening Advice - a time for new beginnings in the garden

We can finally say goodbye to winter, and hello to spring. The clocks going forward on the 31st of the month means more daylight and more hours to spend in the garden, which is just as well, as March is a busy month for gardeners. We need to prepare, clean, and more excitingly, start sowing. All those planting lists and plans we drew up over the colder months can now be put into action. This is the month for new beginnings.

But we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, as there’s always the chance of a short sharp frost, or even snow. So, it’s best not to get too carried away with the sowing. What can’t be protected in a heated greenhouse, or under cloches and horticultural fleece, should be saved for later.

This is a month of change, and everyday there’s something new to enjoy. Whether it’s the bold trumpets of a daffodil, or the emerging shoots of a keen tulip, it’s important to take the time to enjoy these moments, as they are all too brief.

In the flower garden

Dogwood

By now your cornus has done its job, so prune before it starts producing its leaves. Cut it down to ground level, so the energy can transfer to the root ball of the plant. This will help strengthen it and enable it to re-grow quickly. Come next autumn, you’ll have tall, strong, colourful whips that will brighten a dark winter’s day.

December-is-the-tiarch Gardening Advice - Now is the time to prune your rosesme-to-prune-wisteria-and-climbing-roses

Prune

As winter gives way to spring, you should be finishing all winter pruning. Fuchsias will now begin to show new growth. Cut to either just above where the new shoots appear, or back to one or two buds on a shoot.

If you haven’t done so, then now’s the time to prune your roses. With all roses, remove any shoots that are dead, damaged or diseased. Shrub roses with flowering shoots should be cut back by 8-12cms. The cut should be made just above a bud. Climbing roses should be pruned back by two thirds, cutting out old branches at the base, as this will promote new growth. Ensure all climbing shoots are suitably tied to a support. For all rose varieties, it’s advisable to disturb the soil at the base of the plant, and feed with a well-balanced rose feed, and water.

Summer bulbs

With the soil warming up, it’s time to plant your summer bulbs. Plant gladioli, freesias and alliums at a depth of two to three times the height of your bulb. Whether they’re going into pots, or straight into the ground, ensure they’re planted into well-drained soil. If not, add grit as bulbs can rot in waterlogged conditions. Place the bulb upright, then cover over and water in.

Dahlias

If you’ve been storing dahlia tubers over winter, it’s time to get them out. Disregard any that are damaged, or have succumbed to the winter weather. Using a good multi-purpose compost, pot them up, and water them in. Place them in a greenhouse or cold frame, and let them slowly respond to the change of season.

Mulch

With warmer temperatures comes warmer soil, which not only wakes your dormant plants, but encourages weeds. Mulching your borders will suppress weeds, and protect plants from those cold nights and sharp frosts. Wood chippings, compost or leaf mould, all do the job, and smarten up any bare border.

Summer bedding

If you’re hoping for a big floral display this summer, then sow now. Varieties to consider include, petunia, lobelia, marigold, larkspur and impatiens. Ensure you have somewhere bright and warm for seeds to germinate. Once they’ve become young seedlings, individually pot up and grow on.

Pests

The arrival of spring also means the arrival of pests. Slugs and snails will be arriving en masse, so be prepared. Check all pots, containers, and any lush new growth. Vine weevil may also be lurking. Remove all pests from site. If you choose to use pellets, ensure you are considering who or what else uses the garden as they can be harmful. Alternatively, use nematodes or organic methods.

Lawns

If you have an established lawn and it’s a dry day, this might be the opportunity to give it the first cut of the season. Nothing drastic, just a minimal trim. Remove weeds, and cut lawn edges with an edging tool.

Paths and patios

Winter may have encouraged lichen and slippery conditions. So, on a dry, bright day, pressure clean all decking and paths. If using chemicals, ensure the water doesn’t harm surrounding plants or wildlife.

Maintenance

Now’s the time to make repairs on any garden structures. Whether it’s fencing, walls, or sheds, inspect closely for any signs of decay and fix accordingly. With flowers only just beginning to stir, this is the time to stain a fence or paint a shed.

On the veg patch

Potatoes

Plant your chitted first earlies into the ground, or potato growbags. If planting them into a trench, tubers should be placed to the depth of 12cm, and 30cm apart.  Keep fleece handy, as frost will damage the emerging foliage, blackening them and possibly killing the tuber. If you’re growing potatoes in growbags, or large containers, place no more than four seeded tubers on a base of 10cm of soil, or compost, and cover over thoroughly. Again, ensure they are kept in a sunny spot, with good drainage.

Fruit

As there’s still a strong possibility of a sharp frost, any flowering or bud-forming fruit trees should be protected by fleece at night. Any frost damage could cause irreversible damage to your budding trees.

If you have strawberry plants, cut away old leaves, tidy the bed and apply a general fertiliser. However, if your strawberry plants are over four years old, or you’re thinking of growing strawberries for the first time, consider ordering bare root varieties.

Once your new plants arrive, place them, roots down, in a few inches of water. With your growing area prepared, plant, water and give them a top-dressing feed. Until they become established, keep fleece handy to protect them from the late frost. Strawberries will grow equally well in containers, pots or hanging baskets.

Raspberries need to be cut. If you have autumn-fruiting varieties, cut down to the base of the plant as this will stimulate the plant to produce new shoots. If you have a summer-fruiting variety, trim the edges to above a bud, and tie-in.

You may find early varieties of forced rhubarb, such as Timperley Early, will now have strong growing stems. These could be ready for harvesting by the end of the month. Once picked, refrain from forcing further as you’ll weaken the crown. Instead, mulch around the crown and leave to rest until next year.

Dig In

If you’ve used well-rotted manure to cover your beds over winter, or green manure, then dig in. To prepare for the growing season ahead, break the matter down until the soil is workable. Ensure any weeds and stones are removed.

March Gardening Advice - if the weather is bad, sow seed varieties in module trays until they're ready to be planted outSow

If you’ve been warming your plots and raised beds with cloches, sheeting or fleece, then you can think about sowing directly into the ground. Early varieties of carrots and beetroot, parsnips, Swiss chard, onions, sprouts and cabbage, are all fit for purpose. With unpredictable weather at this time of year, try to carry out your sowing on a sunny, dry day. Failing that, these seed varieties can also be sown in modules, and kept in cold frames, greenhouses and polytunnels, until you’re ready to plant them out as young plants.

Other Jobs

  • From now until the end of summer, introduce a regular feed to your plants.
  • Reduce water and feed intake on winter plants.
  • Warmer temperatures encourage pests and disease, so check all indoor plants regularly.
  • With new growth, indoor plants may require larger pots. Plant up accordingly.

Mr Fothergill’s Names its New Sweet Pea Capel Manor After Well-Known College and Partner

January 8th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Leading sweet pea seed supplier Mr Fothergill’s has introduced a new and exclusive large flowered variety for the forthcoming season which has been named after Capel Manor, as it was to Dr Robert Uvedale, a schoolmaster at the college, to whom Franciscus Cupani sent the first sweet pea seeds to arrive in England, back in 1699.

Sweet Pea Capel Manor has large, frilly two-tone, deep purple-blue blooms that are lightly scented. This classic Spencer type sweet pea will add colour and create perfect displays when planted over trellis or fences. A packet of 20 seeds of Capel Manor is priced at £2.35.

Sweet Pea Capel Manor

Capel Manor College educates new generations of horticulturists offering a range of courses for those who are interested in plants, trees and environment. Mr Fothergill’s has a long-established relationship with the College working together to produce spring and summer display gardens and providing an award for exceptional students every year.

Among other new Sweet Peas introduced in the 2018-2019 season is the gorgeous dwarf and compact Teresa Maureen, with RRP at £2.35 for 20 seeds. This highly scented variety stands out from other Lathyrus odoratus with a mass of small flowers in pink, white and lavender shades.

Sweet Pea Balcony Mixed is a stunning blend of large white frilly blooms with coloured markings in red, orange, pink, blue, purple and magenta. This versatile, scented variety is perfect for large patio pots. A packet of 20 seeds of Balcony Mixed is priced at £2.35.

Sweet Pea Terry Wogan distinguishes itself with an incredible warm salmon rose colour which is more intense on the petal edges. It produces large fragrant blooms that makes it one of the nation’s favourite cultivars.

Sweet Pea Teresa MaureenSweet Pea Balcony MixSweet Pea Terry Wogan

All sweet peas are available from Mr Fothergill’s retail stockists throughout the UK and from the company’s latest Seed Catalogue or online. Visit your local garden centre for the full range or head over to www.mr-fothergills.co.uk.

December Gardening Advice

December 3rd, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

start-planning-your-2019-garden-now-its-never-too-early-to-plan-ahead

The smell of pine, the taste of mulled wine, and the promise of a large gentleman in a red suit bearing gifts, means the festive season is once again upon us. Hard to think that we’re about to wave goodbye to another year. But what a year! The sun shined, the flowers bloomed and the crops flourished.

So, while we make merry with friends and family, it’s also the ideal time to find a quiet little nook, away from the usual television repeats, to reflect on this year in the garden and on the allotment. Think about your successes and failures, and how to improve things next year.

Browse through the seed catalogues, write your ‘wish lists’, and draw your blueprint for 2019. It’s never too early to plan ahead. Before you know it, the sun will be shining and the flowers blossoming.

In the flower garden

Plant up

Why not greet the festive season with an array of outdoor colour? Pansies, cyclamen and winter heathers can be bought in most nurseries, or ordered online. Plant up in containers, pots or hanging baskets, then place them around your front door and path to make a warm welcome for any guest or carol singer this season.

Prune

This is the time to prune wisteria. Cut back any growing side shoots to two or three buds, and tie-in. You might also need to improve the support structure of the plant for next spring. You should also prune and tie-in climbing roses. Any established stems shouldn’t be cutback to more than two thirds. Remove fallen leaves from site, as they could be harbouring blackspot, and that will only spread come spring.

Greenhouse

If you have plants in the greenhouse, then a heater might make all the difference on a cold night. If there is a snowfall, ensure all snow is removed from the greenhouse exterior, as plants growing inside will need all the warmth and light they can get. However, a warm greenhouse does increase the risk of pests and diseases, so regularly check all plants, pots and trays.

Root cuttings

Consider taking root cuttings from herbaceous perennials. This will increase your flower border supplies, and save you the expense of having to buy new plants next season.

Wreath

You can also save the pennies by making your own festive wreath. A homemade wreath looks great on a front door, all you need is a little patience and imagination. With secateurs, scissors, wire and string as your tools, take a foamed floral-ring as your foundation and soak it in a bucket of water for a few minutes before plugging it with cuttings. There’s plenty of stunning foliage and plants to use at this time of year, including holly, mistletoe, ivy, rosehips and pine cones. Any leftover cuttings can decorate a mantle or make a table display.

Structure

Now’s a great time to make repairs or build new garden structures. Whether it’s fences panels, pergolas, sheds or trellises, with plants pruned or tied back, you can see clearly where to install new structures, or make good on damaged ones. Once you’ve completed the structure, treat it with a wood preservative or give it a coat of paint.

Think about how you want your garden to look next year, and make the changes now. Lift, divide, and re-plant perennials and hedging. Inspect any established hedging for damage or disease, and remove.

Add new structure by introducing bare-root roses and hedging. But remember, plant in well, and give roses a thick mulch to protect them from winter weather.

Indoor sowing

If there isn’t a heat supply in your greenhouse or polytunnel, a warm conservatory or a well-lit window ledge might be the solution. Using a seed tray, seed compost and horticulture grit, you may want to think about sowing cyclamen or geranium. Ensure the seed is sparingly spread. Cover over lightly with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite and place in a tray semi-filled with water. This allows the water to seep into the soil from the bottom up, without disturbing the seeds.

On the veg patch

Leeks, carrots and parsnips

If you’ve been growing leeks, carrots or parsnips and hoping to enjoy them alongside your turkey on the big day, try to harvest them when the ground is not frozen, ideally in the afternoon. Once lifted they can be heeled in gently, and left until Christmas morning, or when you’re ready to use them.

Brussels sprouts

By now, your brussels sprouts should be swelling up nicely. To keep the plants at their best, remove the yellowing lower leaves. As the top of the plant is now a lot heavier, ensure they are staked in well, otherwise they make suffer wind rock, which could harm or kill the plant.

Structure

With most crops now lifted, the exposed view will reveal the structure of your allotment or kitchen garden. If you’re thinking of adding plots, paths or borders, now’s the time to carry out these tasks.

Christmas potatoes

After months of growing and topping up the soil, the big day is nearly here, and so are your spuds. Whether they’re in grow bags or sacks, tip them out into an empty wheelbarrow, and search through the soil for your golden treasure. With all potatoes removed, the leftover soil can be tipped into veg beds, and worked in.

Beans

If you want a bumper harvest of beans next year, select your plot and dig a trench. Over a period of time, fill the area with festive kitchen food waste (not meat or dairy). Once filled, mark the area, and backfill with soil. This will rot down, providing a rich growing bed for your young legume plants next season.

Fruits trees

Gooseberries, raspberries and currants will make a welcome addition to your garden or veg plot. Before planting bare-root plants, soak the roots in a bucket of water for half an hour. Dig the hole, adding compost (and grit if the soil is heavy) and plant in well. Water and mulch. If you’ve planted large plants, or plants that will take on vigorous growth in the spring, consider adding a support structure to the growing area.

Blueberries are another great plant to grow. When planting, remember these will need to be grown in ericaceous soil (which is acidic), and only water with rainwater.

If you have a fig tree, then wrap it in horticultural fleece. The colder weather could potentially damage the end branches of the tree, and hamper next season’s growth.

For apple and pear trees, prune now whilst they are dormant, removing any dead, damaged or diseased branches.

Other Jobs

Christmas is not just about the tree – hyacinths, indoor cyclamen and poinsettias can all join the party. If you haven’t had the opportunity to grow them from bulbs, they can easily be bought from nurseries or online.

As the weather becomes bitter, move indoor plants from draughty and open door areas. Keep away from radiators and sun spots. Check foliage regularly for mildew, yellowing or disease.

Continue to look after the garden wildlife. Ensure there is a fresh water supply for birds, and break up frozen water. Keep bird feeders and tables topped up.

Install a compost bin in your garden or allotment, or remember to turn over the contents of any established bins.

Seeds Tested Whatever the Weather

August 9th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

As all gardeners know, 2018 has been a challenging year weather-wise and Mr Fothergill’s, the UK leading seed company, can confirm it from their Suffolk weather station data!

In the February to August period the range of temperature was 41C, between -7.2c and +33.8C.
After a particularly cold and wet winter, where temperatures were at freezing from early October and still very cold well into May, the weather changed dramatically. The great drought then arrived in the main growing period with 54 days of no rain – only 21 mm coming on the day the heatwave broke on Friday 27th July when the temperature also peaked at 33.8C.

In June and July 2018 Mr Fothergill’s experienced 33 days where the temperature was over 24C. In June and July 2017 there were only 6 days including the annual high of 27C!

From January to the end of July 2018 Mr Fothergill’s received 230mm of rain which is actually more than the same period in 2017. The difference was distribution with most of that rain coming in the first three months of the year and little since while it was more evenly spread over the six month is 2017.

Despite the vagaries of the UK weather, the seed trials were doing their job at Mr Fothergill’s and looked superb. In this way the company are testing all their varieties in real life conditions to ensure everything is fit for purpose for the home gardener.

Rachel Cole, Seeds Manager at Mr Fothergill’s said: “The weather is different every year and that’s why our trial grounds are so important to us. We can be sure of the quality of everything we sell and absolutely certain things will perform in UK conditions, however varied. Our weather station has proved invaluable in allowing us to track performance against conditions.”