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April 2015 Newsletter

 

April’s an exciting time in the garden – with so much you can be getting on with now that the growing season has started in earnest.  The clocks have gone forward now, so there’s more opportunity to garden into the evening as well as during the long Easter weekend. The temperature is starting to warm up, wildlife is springing to life and the grass is now starting to grow. It won’t be long before you hear the first lawn mower going.

This month we let you know some of the best flowers to sow and plant as well as tasty vegetable crops. Plus we suggest other things to be get on with - to get your garden off to a great start for the year ahead.

Plant summer-flowering bulbs such as gladiolus

Planting summer-flowering bulbs: Summer-flowering bulbs, corms and tubers are many and varied. They enhance many planting schemes – looking good in containers as well as in flowerbeds with perennials. There are tall varieties, which are useful for cutting for vases and to add height to your garden. Shorter-types are ideal for rockeries and at the front of borders. The bulbs are best planted in late spring and will usually flower within a couple of months.

 

Before planting

Bulbs prefer free-draining soil. For best results, dig in some coarse sand or grit before planting to aid drainage if soil is heavy or compacted.

To give your plants an extra boost and to maximise flowering, rake some fish, blood and bone or Organic Extra dry Farmyard Manure into the surface of the soil before planting.

 

Planting

-Lily Bulbs and Gladioli Corms:

•Dig a hole with a trowel 2 – 3 times the depth of the bulb.

•Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole. If your soil is very heavy or clay, mix in a good handful of grit or sand too.

•Position the bulb at the bottom of the hole in an upright position (with the pointed end facing upwards) and backfill the soil.

•Firm down the soil with your hands and water-in.

•Spacing: Allow about 8in/20cm between bulbs.

•Some Lilies require support to stop them falling over particularly Skyscraper types.

 

-Planting Dahlia Tubers:

•The tuber should be planted horizontally with the old stem at the top, so dig a hole that’s wide enough to accommodate it and about 5in/12cm deep.

•Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole. If your soil is very heavy or clay, mix in a good handful of grit or sand too.

•Position the tuber at the bottom of the hole. Position the bulb with any visible buds pointing upwards.

•Backfill the hole and firm down with your hands. Water thoroughly after planting.

•Spacing: Allow about 24in/60cm between tubers.

TOP TIP: Mark where you have planted bulbs with a cane. To avoid accidental disturbance before they start to grow.

-Planting Begonia Corms:

•Begonias are best started in containers indoors as they are tender and need a longer growing period.

•Plant the corms close to the surface ensure the bulb is position the right way up. The concave side of the corm should be facing upwards.

•Cover the corm with a fine layer of soil – the edges of the corm should only just be visible.

•Spacing: Allow about 30cm/12in between corms.

-Planting in Containers

•Place broken crocks or polystyrene in the base of the pot.

•Half fill with compost and place bulbs on top.

•Cover bulbs, firm compost gently, and water well.

•If using Begonias plant the corms close to the surface with the concave side pointing upwards.

•Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole. If your soil is very heavy or clay, mix in a good handful of grit or sand too.

•Position the bulb at the bottom of the hole in an upright position (with the pointed end facing upwards) and backfill the soil.

•Firm down the soil with your hands and water-in.

•Allow about 8in/20cm between bulbs.

 

After Flowering

Not all summer bulbs are fully hardy. After flowering, but before the weather turns really cold, those of a more tender nature will need to have their crowns covered with a thick mulch of peat, compost or leaf mould. 

Alternatively, some plants (particularly Dahlias and Begonias) should be lifted and stored for the winter. The best time to do this is when the foliage has died down: cut the foliage back to 1” above the soil surface and dig up the tubers or corms with a garden fork. Shake off excess soil and store in a light, frost free place over winter, in a wooden crate or cardboard box, submerged in dry compost is ideal. 

TOP TIP: There’s no need to water bulbs, tubers or corms when in storage as this may cause the bulbs to rot.

 

Sow seeds of hardy annuals

Now that the weather is warming up and the days are getting longer, seeds will respond well to this and germinate readily. So it’s an ideal time to get sowing annual plants directly onto raked soil outdoors for an inexpensive way to get lots of bedding plants for your garden. And there’s lots of hardy annual flowers to choose from so seek out ones that come in your favourite colours.

Once you have your packet of seeds, follow our instructions below and the instructions on the seed packet to get a successful germination of seedlings.

Sowing

Weed the flowerbed that you want to sow your seeds on. This is so the seedlings get the most nutrients and water without having to compete with the weeds for them. Good seedling development means the potential for big beautiful flowers.

Level the weeded flowerbed with a rake so the flowerbed is flat and even and the soil is light and fluffy. Fluffy soil means the roots of the seedlings can move around easily to get the nutrients and water they need.

Water the bed using a watering can fitted with a shower-head like ‘rose’ on the spout. This applies water evenly and lightly over the soil, so water doesn’t plop out ruining your level soil surface.

Scatter seed over the surface of the soil thinly and widely.

Mark the name of the flower and the date you sowed on a plant label and keep the label in the flowerbed. This reminds you what you sowed in that part of your flowerbed. It also  gives you telling information of how long it’s taken for those seeds to germinate and then grow and flower.

Caring for the growing plants

Watch out for weeds growing in the same area of your developing annual flowers. Once you can see that they’re an unwelcome guest, remove them using your hands or a hoe- if space allows.

As your annual flowers grow, you might need to thin out which means remove some of the plants so there’s not too much competition amongst them for light, water and nutrients. Don’t worry about those you remove – they can go in another part of your garden or you can give excess plants to friends and neighbours.

Water each morning or evening (or both in particularly warm weather) but not in the midday sun as this might scorch the leaves of your plants and this will affect the growing power of your plants.

Once your annual plants are flowering, remove the flowers that are over. Annual plants are happy to replace them with more flowers the next day. Get in a habit of doing this in the evening and you’ll be rewarding with a season-long display of beautiful blooms.

Suggested annuals

Love-in-a-mist – white, blue and mauve flowers surrounded by lovely ferny foliage
Pot marigolds –orange and yellow daisy-like flowers that are great for pollinating insects
African marigolds – many petalled pom-pom flowers with aromatic leaves
Poached-egg plants- delicate white and yellow flowers
Poppies (opium, Shirley, ladybird, Californian) – crinkle-petalled flowers on intricate stems)
Wildflower mixes – a collection of insect-loving flowers that add a palette of colour to your garden

 

Now’s a great time to apply pond care.

Turn your pond into a healthy and thriving part of your garden. Spring is the time when aquatic wildlife really gets going and you can give it a helping hand by doing just a few little tasks now. Add a few plants to your pond to get instant colour, texture and height for visual impact and treat the water to a biological treatment to keep it clear all-year-round.

Apply the right level of care at the right time of year

You can help to keep pondwater clear and free of scum by giving it a biological-based treatment such as Eco Sure Pond Clear Aqua Super 12. By treating the pond to just a few applications you can achieve a really healthy pond environment, relying on and encouraging good bacteria to thrive in the pond. And a clear pond means you can watch the fascinating pond-life in cinema fashion.

Introduce a range of colourful and scented pond plants

Buy a range of pond plants, some that float on the surface and some that grow at the pondside, and you will get welcome colour as well as provide vital shelter and cool-spots for aquatic wildlife. Try a pondside iris, a floating oxygenating plant such as curly water thyme and a waterlily to get you started.

 

Tend to your lawn in spring

 

Get excellent and lush-green grass for a beautiful lawn this summer. A healthy green lawn is a perfect partner to your colourful flowerbeds and containers. Just do some simple tasks now to get your lawn in top condition then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour. See our comprehensive lawn-care range. and follow some simple steps.

Now that the weather is getting warmer and the evenings lighter, you can get into the garden and start on the jobs that will get your garden looking fantastic for the season ahead. Preparing the lawn is a great job to start now, and what’s more it will thank you for it. Just follow our tips below for what you can be doing now;


Know your lawn

Who uses your lawn? Your pets? Children? Or indeed yourself?

There are a range of different grass mixes, depending on how much traffic your lawn gets.
Does your grass get a lot of wear and tear? Then choose a multi-purpose lawn mix or a really tough-grass mix.

These mixes are fast to germinate and quick to establish. They’re good to create a dense lawn and has particularly good tolerance to wear and tear.

Do you want a ‘keep-off-the-grass’-quality lawn? Then choose a luxury lawn mix with bents and fescues. They are very much luxury grasses and create a lovely lush finish. Just think of those two-tone striped lawns.

Any bare patches to see to?

It’s good to cast an eye over the lawn to see if there are any patches that could do with a bit of TLC. It’s usual that some areas are more prone to drying out than others or receive more wear and tear. Rest assured – these are repairable and re-seeding is a great job you can do now.


Moss taking a hold?

Patches of moss in the lawn can be unsightly and usually indicate problems with soil acidity levels. This is redeemable and you can reduce the amount of moss by tending to the lawn throughout the year – March included. Use a moss-killer or soil acidity neutraliser and resolve the problem.

Shunt out the weeds

Even with the most fastidious care weeds can take a hold in your lawn, robbing grass roots of essential nutrients and moisture and ruining the overall visual effect. Dandelions and daisies are the best-known culprits, and create a headache for a lot of gardeners. You can grub out dandelion roots manually or apply a weedkiller, specially selected to kill the broad-leaved weeds, leaving grass unharmed.


Feed the lawn well

Once you've made the first cut of the season, which should be a mere trim at this stage, you can put the lawn in good stead by treating it to a feed, high in nitrogen and trace elements that it will truly appreciate.

The tools for the job

To finish the lawn to a high standard you’d do well to invest in a few tools- not only to make your job easier and less back-breaking, but also to get the best results. Here are a couple of tools you can get your hands on to add to your collection.
Edging spades allow lawn edges to look the business. Make sure the blade is hard-wearing and lightweight for ease of handling and durability. Get in a habit of finishing your lawn to top quality and see the fantastic results.


Lawn spreaders allow easy and even application of granular feeds and treatments. Spreaders take the stress out of guessing quantities and give the lawn the products they need at the precise quantity for best results.

 

 

Want to add great leaf plants as well as lovely flowers? Then this garden plant is definitely one to consider. Grow this low-growing, neat perennial to give you stunning mottled leaves and pretty delicate tall flower stems. They’ll come back year after year flowering more each year and producing patterned leaves with dark veins and red-purple undersides. They tolerate shade as well.

How to grow

Place heucheras in moist soils and not only will they give you an abundance of mottled and beautifully patterned leaves, they will flower for you happily. They are happy to grow in shade though provided soil is moist so try them under a tree or shrub.

If you apply fertiliser or manure around the plants in spring you’ll give them the nutrients to produce more of those gorgeous leaves that are great background to dwarf tulips and grape hyacinths.

In autumn cut down spent flower stems. They are semi-evergreen so you may get leaf-interest even in the winter.

In autumn separate clumps and divide into little plants. This keeps clumps young, healthy and vigorous and allows you to fill any gaps in your beds

 

 

Plants to grow with heucheras

Tiarella Pacific Crest Grown mainly for their attractive foliage, these showy tierellas thrive in awkward shady spots

Campanula Iridescent Bells Silky deep purple, elongated buds open to silvery-white bells flushed with palest purpleSilky deep purple, elongated buds open to silvery-white bells flushed with the palest purple

Stachys Lilac Falls is a hybrid cross between Stachys (lambs leaf) and Lamium (Deadnettle). Creates cascades of lilac pink flowers for containers.

Ajuga Pink Lightening Spreading, weed-suppressing plants are smothered in nectar-rich pretty-pink flower stems.

 

Problem watch

As the weather warms up, opportunity knocks for weeds to grow fast and establish. Be sure to be one step ahead by using mechanical and chemical control like hoeing and applying weedkiller.

Weeds act as competition to your prize plants, robbing them of essential nutrients within the soil and all-important sunlight.

See our range of weed products and be in control.

 

 

What to sow now

Nigella
California Poppy
Wildflower Mix
Carrots
Cucumber
Broad Beans
Tomatoes
Celeriac



What to plant now

Roses
Foxgloves
Lavenders
Gladiolus
Hedging
Soft Fruit
Asparagus

 

News

1)      New Hibiscus plants in our shrub range

We've three exciting Hibiscus plants in our shrub range to add to your collection. All three varieties flower profusely in late summer and into autumn on tidy, upright shrubs, perfect for gardens that are tight on space. What’s more is that you can buy all three varieties for the price of two.

 

 

 

2)      New Eco-sure catalogue with new range of products

See our new Eco-Sure catalogue which has a great range of plants, pond treatments and accessories to ensure a healthy and clear water environment for fish and aquatic wildlife. There’s new products in there too so have a browse and make an order.

 

 

 

 

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