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April 2016 Newsletter

A lovely time of year is now upon us. Now that March has turned into April and we can see evidence of spring really taking shape it’s time to get into the garden and carry out those rewarding tasks of hardening-off young plants by day, sowing hardy annuals outdoors and getting your pond back into ship shape for the summer. 

You may well be mowing your lawn by now. A welcome task after the generally mild and wet winter that has kept the grass pretty long over the last few months.

April is the month of showers too; it’s still worth watering your young plants each morning to get water right to the roots. The rain can often wet the foliage and evaporate before the plants can take up the water in earnest.

Enjoy the start of spring.

James Oakey - Head of Horticulture 

 

Top Tips for April…

Sow and plant hardy annuals outdoors

Consider increasing your garden’s flower power this year by sowing seeds outdoors. Whether you choose to have a patch to emulate a wildflower meadow or want to add flowers to fill in empty spaces in the perennial flower bed, you can ‘broadcast-sow’ or ‘station-sow’ now and take advantage of the warming soil and April rain to get your flowers off to a great start.

Broadcast sowing (wildflower mixes, poppies, corncockles)

Use a rake to level the surface and create a crumble-like tilth. At this point remove any weeds or large stones etc.

Water the surface prior to sowing.  This is better than watering over the top of seeds once they are sown as the force of the water can displace the seeds unevenly. Thinly scatter the seed over the soil. Pour the seed into the palm then tap lightly with the other hand to distribute the seed evenly over the area of soil. Use a rake to gently cover the seeds with soil. Before you forget where the row is and what you’ve sown, place a label in the soil at one end. Remember to water in dry spells

Station sowing (sweet peas, sunflowers)

Sow seeds in a cold frame in early spring or directly in the ground in mid-spring. If growing directly in the ground space at 20cm (8 in) apart.

When sowing, some gardeners soak seeds with hard seed-coats overnight to soften the coats and trigger the germination process. Some also chip the hard coat slightly which also triggers the germination process. You can sow two seeds per station and remove the weaker seedling once they germinate. Label with name of variety and date, once you’ve sown seeds.

 

Repair damaged lawns

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 outlined in our blog here including moss control, spring feed and tools for the job. http://www.unwins.co.uk/blog/article/set-up-the-perfect-lawn-for-summer-bgid265.html

 

 

Prepare the soil for summer bedding

Now that the soil has started to warm up, roots are becoming more and more active in taking up nutrients and water. There are some plants that are particularly hungry including roses, clematis and sweet peas.

You can add nutrients into the soil by adding bulky compost like Organic Extra or well-rotted manure to the soil. Not only does this feed the roots but also improves the soil texture so that the water-holding capacity and air-flow is improved within the soil.

You can choose to add manure around individual plants or dug into entire beds as a pre-planting blanket-feed.

You can also feed plants with a foliage feed to stimulate stem and leaf growth and eventual flower growth.

 

Prune late-summer flowering shrubs

Late summer-flowering shrubs like hardy fuchsias and late-flowering clematis are perfect for pruning now. Once pruned they will send up fresh growth that will mature over early-summer and flower from July onwards into the autumn.

Prune stems of hardy fuchsias, buddleias, late-flowering clematis and grasses to 5cm (2in) from ground level. This keeps the plants tidy and free of tired and old unproductive stems that can restrict air-flow and promote the instance of disease.

 

 

 

Harden off young plants

Plants that you have started from seed or as young plug plants you have bought in will do well to go outdoors by day to toughen the stems and encourage strong robust growth that will fare in all weathers.

Bring the plants indoors at dusk so they do not succumb to early spring frosts and place back outside again the following morning once temperatures start to rise again after the night.

 

 

Apply some pond care to get it looking great over summer

It’s time to get your garden pond looking great for the summer. Now that winter has passed, there’s lots going on in the pond. Amphibians will be spawning, and aquatic insects will be increasing their activity.

A healthy pond makes a great wildlife habitat and is essential for a thriving pond ecosystem. Planting up your pond with lilies and surrounding ‘marginal’ plants will add colour and shelter. See some more tips to get your pond in ship-shape including our effective bio treatment of pond-clear Eco-Sure Super 12.

 

 

Unwins visits…. RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex

We’ve recently visited the RHS Garden Hyde Hall in the heart of East Anglia. This garden highlights the many inspirational ideas for planting in climates that receive less rainfall than other parts of the country and tend to be exposed to chilling winds. Many of the plants are fully hardy in the UK too.

The Dry Garden highlights grasses, succulents and trees that can withstand cold winters so long as they are not wet. You can create contrasting shapes and textures with these dry-loving plants.

 

 

 

Even with relatively little colour you can create dramatic effects, playing with different plant textures. Hardy palms are spiky and look great next to the more mellow mounds of hebes.

 

 

 

Purple crocuses naturalised in your lawn look so lovely. It’s a simple notion that conjures up feelings of Easter. The spiky leaves add drama to the beautiful spoon-shaped flower petals.

 

 

 

Beautiful spring bulb snake-head’s fritillary looks gorgeous planted with other spring bulbs like narcissi or anemones. Fritillaries appreciate a slightly boggy ground so can withstand saturated soils.

 

 

 

The gravel in the Dry Garden highlights the dark leaves of flowers beautifully like in this alpine plant Lithodora with its beautiful blue flowers.

 

 

 

Plants of the month - Summer bulbs

Now’s the time to order and plant bulbs for your summer displays. These plants look great in containers such as lilies and crocosmia. Alternatively try summer bulbs in hanging baskets. Begonia ‘Illumination’ cascades over baskets and makes great patio displays. In herbaceous bed grow dahlias and gladioli for colour and drama.

  • Add brightness and vibrancy to your summer borders
  • Perfect for pots and baskets
  • Easy to plant as you would spring-flowering bulbs

TOP TIP – If you are planting in beds make sure that the soil is well-draining but moist. If the soils are particularly clayey in your beds add a soil-conditioner like Organic Extra to improve the drainage of the soil and enhance the performance of your bulbs.

FASCINATING FACT: The term ‘bulbs’ is a general term for a range of storage organs. Corms like crocosmia are swollen stem bases, tubers like dahlia are swollen underground stems as are rhizomes like cannas.

PESTS AND DISEASES: Dahlias are susceptible to earwig damage. You can catch earwigs by placing plant pots over stakes plunged into the soil and filling them with straw. The earwigs with then hide out in these and you can remove them. Summer bulbs are susceptible to rot in heavy, wet soils so improve your soil with a conditioner like Organic Extra. 

 

The highlights of Perennials

Herbaceous perennials are fantastic. They’re easy to plant, many are fully hardy in the UK dying back in winter to come back up the following year even more floriferous. With varieties at different heights you can create a lovely display where the colourful flowers complement each other for many months of the year.

Many have great seed heads too which look lovely over winter especially when rimed with frost. See our current competition where you could win £50 in Unwins vouchers by sending in your images of your borders. Good luck.

 

News

Mosskade

Get hold of our new cleaning product Mosskade – it’s an easy-to-apply natural liquid agent that not only works against algae growth but also works against unsightly liverworts and mosses (bryophytes) that form thick, impenetrable layers on soil surfaces that can starve the soil of oxygen.

See the difference an application makes on benches, patios and hard surfaces. You can even use it on vertical surfaces like the walls of polytunnels to rid the green layer of algae that block out all- important light.

 

Rose Fragrant Beauty

We're offering you a dynamic duo; two standards of hybrid-tea rose 'Fragrant Beauty' for £39.90, saving you £10.

Hybrid Tea Rose 'Fragrant Beauty' produces individual velvety pale-pink flowers from June to October that give off the most captivating fragrance.Hybrid Tea Rose 'Fragrant Beauty' produces individual velvety pale-pink flowers from June to October that give off the most captivating fragrance. Hybrid Tea Rose 'Fragrant Beauty' produces individual velvety pale-pink flowers from June to October that give off the most captivating fragranceHybrid Tea Rose 'Fragrant Beauty' produces individual velvety pale-pink flowers from June to October that give off the most captivating fragrance. Hybrid Tea Rose 'Fragrant Beauty' produces individual velvety pale-pink flowers from June to October that give off the most captivating fragrance. 

Hybrid Tea Rose 'Fragrant Beauty' produces individual velvety pale-pink flowers from June to October that give off the most captivating fragrance. Hybrid Tea Rose 'Fragrant Beauty' produces individual velvety pale-pink flowers from June to October that give off the most captivating fragrance. Hybrid Tea Rose 'Fragrant Beauty' produces individual velvety pale-pink flowers from June to October that give off the most captivating fragrance. 

Grown and trained as standards, one plant has a clear stem of 80cm (2½ ft) before branching out into a lovely canopy of roses. This means it takes on the appearance of a lovely 'lollipop' tree giving an air of formality and prestige.

 

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