What to do in April

  1. Keep weeds under control- use your osslating hoe( have some in stock) and also get down on your hands and knees.
  2. Protect fruit blossom from late frosts.
  3. Tie in climbing and rambling roses.
  4. Sow hardy annuals, herbs and wild flower seed.-Sunflowers, Cosmos, Ammi majus, Calendula, Cleome, Marigolds ,Basil, Coriander,Dill and Chervil
  5. Start to feed citrus plants. Oranges and Lemons- I have them in pots which I protect during the winter.
  6. Increase the water given to houseplants.- tidy them up, check if the could do with a compost freshen up and take cuttings.
  7. Feed hungry shrubs and roses.- Chicken manure pellets are a great slow release general fertiliser.
  8. Sow new lawns or repair bare patches. -only time to water grass is when it has been seeded.
  9. Plant summer bulbs, corms and tubers –  Dahlias.,Begonias. ,Gladioli. ,Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia) and Lilies.
  10. Vegetable seeds, here are a few –  Corn,Brocalli,Beetroot,Kale,Peppers(capsicums),Perpetual spinach, Tomatoes.

Gardening in December

Now for some task you could do:

  1. Take an inventory of tools and equipment that you need for next year. Add them to your Christmas list! How about an Osslating hoe,to save your back when weeding? Have some in stock.
  2. Finish off cutting back herbaceous plants and apply a mulch of compost / manure sealing in what ever heat is left, and protecting the soil from weathering.
  3. Bulbs are beginning to emerge now a good reason to finish off any clearing and weeding.Plant tulip bulbs, provided the ground isn’t frozen and waterlogged.
  4. Plant bare-rooted hedges, trees, shrubs and also native hedges  especially hawthorn-Crataegus monogyna  to encourage wildlife and create attractive boundaries around your garden.Blending it with species such as field maple, hazel, spindle, buckthorn, wild rose and viburnum make for tough and variated hedging. Planting two-foot high saplings a 30 cm apart will provide a fine hedge within four years. Since many are woodland species, they thrive in creating a thick wall of foliage as they vie for light.A wildlife fruiting hedge with crab apple, wild pear and guelder rose. A flowering hedge, with berberis, forsythia, fuchsia, ribes, hydrangea and philadelphus.
  5. Good time if you need to move young deciduous and evergreen shrubs as long as they’re not too large and the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen.  Pre-dig the new planting hole before digging up plants to make the transplanting process as quick as possible and protect the roots from drying out.
  6. If you leave your dahlias in the ground , cover with an extra layer of mulch. If you don’t have any compost or mulch cover with a layer of leaves. Peonies don’t like their crowns covered as it prevents flowering.Baby slugs love to eat emerging shoots, so pull back the mulch in early spring.
  7. Take hardwood cuttings of dormant shrubs and fruit bushes.
  8. Sow antirrhinums (Snapdragons)in a cool greenhouse now for early flowering in the summer.These make great cut flowers.
  9. Protect your poinsettias from cold draughts and allow them to dry out slightly between waterings to make them last for the whole Christmas period and well into January. My last years plant is still thriving.
  10. Bird feeders give them a good cleaning and try and make them squirrel proof. Don’t forget to have water available for all visiting creatures.

Sunday, September 30.Gardening Workshop covering the basics.

The garden is now going to sleep, and now is also the time to plan your beautiful garden for next year.
Seed sowing at this time of year can give you a head start on Spring, roots develop and are stronger. Division of plants- making more, moving plants to better positions, planting bulbs for spring and summer. Feeding your soil, protecting it for the weather ahead- drought, are a few of what we will be covering.

Roses and their care

I was asked today on Spirit Radio about rose care.Not an expert on roses but I know with all flowering plants a good foundation in rich organic soil is the key to a healthy plant.

Coming into May they are should be growing well. To encourage flowers as it is all about the roses.

Pruning.

  • All dead and diseased wood.
  • Stand back and look at its shape.
  • Branches that are crossing keep the one that will allow the plant to grow out. You should be looking for a cup shape. This allows air to circulate, cutting down on a spore bone fungus called Grey mould.
  • If you didn’t get around to pruning in the autumn — this prevents the roses rocking in heavy wind and also aids shape development, prune lightly as the new growth will produce the flowers.
  • Check the ground for old leaves as they can harbour the spores of last years Blackspot. Don’t add these leaves to your compost unless you know they will break down very well.
  • Apply a mulch of well-rotted manure or simply an organic mulch which will prevent any remaining spores from splashing up not the new growth.
  • Hopefully with a good mulch at the base protecting the soil from evaporation yours should be ok but wind can be a feature of drying — remember how our clothes dry on the clothesline, well the same applies to our plants. Keep an eye-the plant will also tell you. Roses don’t like overwatering either.

Feeding

  • Some roses only flower once and the ones that repeat will need feeding during the growing season to encourage new flowers.This can be a foliar feed or a drench at the base of the plant.I will often give a second feeding just as the first big bloom starts to develop, and one more in the middle of the summer to promote later flushes.
  • Also, roses need to be watered during dry spells. The Alhambra in Spain is a scented garden with many roses, and it was the development of an excellent irrigation system by the Moore’s which allowed them to do so.Repeat bloomers, you can feed them several times through the growing season to encourage additional blooms.
  • Overfeeding can produce sappy growth which is open to aphid  attack – back and whitefly.Using a pressurised hose to wash off is one solution Aphids, do the same job to plants that mosquitoes do to humans, they introduce a virus.

Where to grow.

  • Lots of sunlight, growing in shady conditions they will not flourish to their potential.
  • Traditionally rose were grown on their own — they can look magnificent but also awful.The advantage is that you are able to keep a close eye on them, preventing black spot and also easier to feed at once.Plants like companionship, as in isolation any visiting predators have only the roses to feast on.
  • I like to grow mine in mixed beds, but I actually was received gifts of roses shrubs in memory of my sister Frances and ended up planting them together, but my intention is to fill up the space around them with annuals such as- Cosmos, bulbs Alliums, lavender Lavandula, Nepeta catmint, Alchemilla mollies ladies mantle, Dianthus pinks. Good companions also act as living mulches—suppressing weeds and lightly shading the soil, keeping their roots nice and cool, with their heads in the sun.

Companion planting with roses

  • Good rose companions are those that hide their bare legs. Traditionally, lavender (Lavandula), catmint (Nepeta), lady’s mantle (Alchemilla)great in an arrangement, and tall growing pinks (Dianthus) Alliums all make good partners. Good companions also act as living mulches—suppressing weeds and lightly shading the soil, keeping their roots nice and cool, heads in the sun.
  • Alliums including ornamental alliums deter aphids and other pests by confusing them with their strong scent. They also help roses combat black spot. While garlic and chives are most commonly recommended.That is why you will see roses growing vegetable gardens.
  • Yarrow – attracts ladybugs, which will then eat any nearby aphids.
  • Marigolds  (Calendula and Tagetes) — deter pests and help encourage strong plant growth.
  • True Geraniums  – repel Japanese beetles, aphids, and other rose beetles Another important insect in your garden is the wasp as they also feed on aphids.

Planting roses.

When buying roses, to be sure you are getting the colour you want, buy them in bloom.Although the best time is in autumn, then you might not get what you want.Most roses are planted on a rootstock, that of a wild rose, leave this exposed so that if you see the growth you can prune it away — if left it will take over.

•First, give the root ball a good soak in a bucket of water for 15 minutes before you plant.If the compost is dry, it will remain dry in the hole.

•Dig a hole around one 30 cm -foot deep and at least a 30cm-foot wider all around than the root ball of the plant.

•Add some organic matter generously; again garden compost or well-rotted horse manure is ideal, around the planting hole. You want the roots to search out nutrition and not remain happy in its spot.Also, try digging a square hole.

If you are planting in a position where there had been a rose, add some Mycorrhizal Fungi to the planting hole. Make sure the roots are in contact as they act as a bridge from the roots to the soil allowing for quicker and better root establishment. Where roses had been grown previously, the soil could be tired, another good reason to add plenty of organic matter.

In Kew Botanical gardens they have completely changed the soil in their rose garden as the roses had been performing for many years and it was felt the soil was completely exhausted. Our gardens would not have had the same pressure but a healthy well-fed soil will provide great rewards, not only for roses but for all your plants.

This is the tip of the iceberg concerning roses. One more thing, plant scented roses.

I hope this was of help.

Annmarie