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- Vine Weevils lurking in container compost!
Whether in containers or in open ground, if plants suddenly seem to fail for no reason unearth their roots and poke around in the compost. If your sickly plant has very few roots and you spot those familiar grubs, then that ‘mystery cause' of demise suddenly becomes crystal clear! Don't be tempted to reuse compost until you've thoroughly investigated what has been left in it - or you might be in for a shock!
- Prevent moulds and fungal disease
This warm weather has been a boon for some plants but warm, wet weather can cause high humidity that encourages fungal infections and fuzzy moulds. These young violas were grown from seed and they looked healthy enough, but at the weekend I noticed some spots on the leaves. This may be the start of a mildew infection so these viola plants are going into quarantine!
- Grow Scented Winter Flowers
Winter scent may seem harder to achieve but there are some wonderfully fragrant winter flowering plants. Shrubs such as chimonanthus, (Winter sweet), Viburnum bodnantense, witch hazels (Hamamelis)or sarcococca. All these plants will pack a powerful punch of perfume in the depths of winter. Their flowers often look very delicate but don't be fooled, most can tough out frost and snowstorms and still come up smiling!
- Create a Spring and Summer Garden that smells as good as it looks!
Choosing plants by colour is second nature to most gardeners but choosing by scent can be just as rewarding. Perfume is so evocative; it may bring back memories of childhood gardens and grandparents; or visiting or even working in a favourite garden... Scent seems to stay in the memory forever; capable of recalling times and events with a clarity that is almost unmatched by our other senses.
- Sow sweet pea seeds indoors
If you prefer to get started on some indoor gardening during this turbulent weather then there are plenty of seeds to sow now. From sweet peas to sweet corn take advantage of our seed offers to try something new as well as your usual favourites. The Sunday Times at the weekend had a good article by Rachel de Thame on what to sow now and included one of our lovely new Sweet Peas: Sweet Pea Madison.
- How to protect container plants from wind damage.
Sunday weather was lovely here, definitely a welcome lull in a dreadful few weeks of storms.It was good to get out in the sunshine and take the chance to see what the storm had done. Most years aren't this stormy thank goodness but it pays to bear in mind the weather when planting up containers, especially if they are in exposed locations. We share some tips to protect container plants from wind damage.
- Plants for damp soils
Last February it was snowy and very cold. This February so far has been pretty warm but very wet and windy. A crystal ball would definitely be a useful gardening tool! If your garden is regularly waterlogged then look for ways to improve drainage permanently with drainage ditches, earth bunds or even land drains if the problem is severe. The only consolation is a probable increase in fertility next year. But if your garden is still visible, albeit wet and muddy there are ways to beat the weather. Help improve drainage by digging in grit and grow crops in raised beds,
- Order your favourite plants early!
Planning your summer garden certainly lifts the spirits when days are short but it’s not just psychological, there are practical benefits too. Deciding on ‘must have’ plants early in the season means you don’t have to worry about them. They’ll be grown by expert growers and delivered when weather and soil warms up and at the right time to plant so you won’t need to fret about them. But if you order a lot of plants for baskets and containers it makes sense to plan where to keep them if weather suddenly gets cold.
- Weather is wet and windy but at least it's warm!
For now the spring tidy up outside will have to wait but there are still some jobs that can be done to make spring seem closer.
- Prune Cornus this month for the brightest stems
If you have a cornus (commonly called dogwood) in the garden you'll know what brilliant year-round plants they are. Prune cornus this month to encourage lots of new stems to shoot from the plants' base.