Journal of a Gardener 15/02/2017

This week at the Country Garden Plant Centre we have been tidying up ready for spring.

As the beds are now clear, we have considered what worked and didn’t work last year, and have moved some of the miniature conifers that were being overwhelmed by larger shrubs into a newly established bed, where we hope they will have space to shine.

Floribunda and Hybrid Tea roses have received their last pruning. Any dead, dying, crossing or thin stems were cut out to leave a strong framework with good air circulation. This should help to prevent the development of fungal diseases during the growing season. The strong remaining stems were cut back hard to an outward facing bud in order to encourage vigorous growth. This was done with a sloping cut to prevent any water settling on the wound and causing the wood to split. Any remaining old leaves have been stripped from the rose and destroyed. We have started our pruning a little earlier than we would recommend, simply because of the number of roses we have to prune. In a domestic setting you can wait until March.

It is essential when pruning, particularly thick stems, that your secateurs are sharp, as blunt blades will crush or split the stems, making them vulnerable to disease. Also ensure that when pruning multiple roses that you clean your secateurs in between each, to avoid spreading any disease that may be present.

We have applied a mulch about 2-3” thick in a ring around the base of the rose 3 or 4 inches clear of the stems. The reason we leave a gap is that manure which is insufficiently rotted could be acidic and may ‘burn’ the stems. We are using well-rotted manure. However it pays to be cautious.

Our ornamental deciduous grasses have been cut down to approximately 30cm from the ground allowing the new shoots to rise up unobscured.

Buttercups and Nettles are starting to put on growth now. We have dug them out before they have a chance to re-establish themselves.

Finally the beds have been hoed and raked over. This serves two purposes. Firstly, loose top soil will make weed pulling much simpler, as they appear in the spring. Secondly, it just makes everything look so much tidier! Like they say the quickest way to make a garden look tidy is to edge the lawn. Well the same applies to the borders. Tidy the soil and the whole thing looks neater.

Journal of a Gardener 01/02/2017

This week in the Country Garden Plant Centre it is getting warmer at last.

The bulbs in our gardens are starting to peek their heads out, and snowdrops and crocus are starting to flower. Spring is finally on its way! If you are now regretting your decision not to plant bulbs in the autumn or just didn’t find the time, don’t worry, it’s not too late. Spring bulbs which have been grown on in pots are now available at Country Garden Roses. These can be used for creating container displays or planting out into beds and borders. Our personal favourites include the following perennial bulbs:

One of the first flowers of spring and worth getting on your hands and knees to gaze up at the beautiful patterns of the flower. A native woodland plant, snowdrops like partial shade and are fully hardy. They flower from late January through February and will readily multiply. If you wish to split a clump, this is best done in the green when they have finished flowering.

Iris Reticulata

An early flowering (late January/early February) dwarf variety of Iris. They like to be planted in sun with well-drained soil. If you find that your soil holds the water you may consider putting some grit in the bottom of the hole, to aid drainage before you plant.

Who can resist the cheerful yellow of the common Daffodil after the bleak winter months? Daffodils have a relatively long life, flowering from February to May. They will grow in full sun to light shade, are generally fully hardy and very easy to grow. Many varieties have a sweet, pleasing scent that will have you being led by your nose to find the source. A perfect choice for amateur and professional gardeners alike.

russiansnowdropPuschkinia scilloides var. libanotica
(Also known as the Russian Snowdrop)

Longing for something a little more exotic? Originating from South West Asia, these plants have pale blue star-shaped flowers, with a dark blue central stripe to each petal. They have a shorter flowering period, from March to April, but they’re worth if for such spectacular flowers. They will fill the gap perfectly between the snowdrops going over and the bluebells coming into flower. Again, they will grow in full sun or light shade and are generally hardy. They will also multiply freely.

A shallow, bowl shaped flower available in blue, red and white. Anemone coronaria flowers from March to April. Or June to July if planted in the spring. They like to be in full sun, and are fully hardy. As well as container plants, these Anemones make beautiful cut flowers.

You may wish to have a single type of bulb in each pot for a strong impact, or mix different types of bulbs for a longer lasting display. When planting up, remember to give some thought to the varying heights and flowering times of the bulbs and place accordingly. Ensure that your pot is watered on a regular basis. To ensure a good display the following year make sure that you dead head and feed the bulbs once they have finished flowing. Don’t cut back the leaves. Allow them to die down and return the goodness back into the bulb.