How does your garden grow?
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Sun’s out. The garden is calling. But what do to first? Don’t ask me, I’m hopeless!
Still, I know just the man to help. Simon, The Oxfordshire Gardener, who has been doing a fine job of crafting some shape into my rampant borders, has these tips for those with green fingers. Happy gardening!
Five must-do jobs for April.
1. Protect the new growth on vulnerable plants such as delphiniums (below) and hostas from slugs and snails. Encourage natural predators into your garden (frogs, toads, hedgehogs, blackbirds and thrushes like nothing better than a juicy slug!) or try using barriers (e.g. crushed rocks, repellent gels or copper tape) or organic pelleted baits. If all else fails, why not choose more robust plants such as Acanthus or Agapanthus.
2. Spray roses against black spot, a fungus that leaves large purple-black spots on the upper surface of the leaves, causing the leaves to drop and reducing plant vigour. There are loads of products available to control the symptoms of black spot, and with all of them it’s best to start in the spring when the leaves first appear.
3. Tie in the new shoots of climbers such as clematis and honeysuckle – we use soft ties to prevent damage to the stems as they grow but whatever you have to hand is fine as long as it’s gently applied.
4. Prune shrubs such as Cotinus coggygria and Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ that are grown for their large or colourful foliage. The RHS website has a wealth of information on plant care, including pruning.
5. If you haven’t already done so, feed roses, soft fruit and container plants with a general-purpose fertiliser such as fish, blood and bone. Apply it as a top dressing by sprinkling it on the soil surface and lightly working it in with a rake. If there is no rain forecast then add some water to help it disperse.
The Oxfordshire Gardener, Tel: 07771 813558. firstname.lastname@example.org