Seasonal Gardening Tips
Seasonal Gardening Tips and Advice from Garsons
Brave the elements and venture into your garden this February
It’s time to prepare for the new gardening year, and since it’s Valentine’s Day this month, we’re talking about shrubs that bring a touch of romance to the garden.
The romantic camellia is perfect for Valentine’s Day with its lovely blooms and shiny evergreen leaves. It is one of the few plants providing a big splash of late winter/early spring colour in the garden, with shades ranging from soft white through to pink and deep red.
Camellia varieties come in different sizes, so choose one to fit the space you have. They prefer a sheltered position with room to grow. Some will stay compact, making them ideal for a small space or to grow in a container.
Early flowering varieties of camellia are coming to life around now. You can plant them this month so long as the ground isn’t frozen. Camellias are woodland plants, which means they prefer shade or partial shade.
They are ericaceous so need to grow in an acid or lime-free soil. You can use a simple soil test kit available from Garsons to check your soil’s acidity/alkalinity (often called its pH). Add ericaceous compost to the planting hole if your soil isn’t acid enough. Alternatively, compact varieties of camellia grow well in large pots filled with ericaceous compost, available at the garden centre.
They prefer rainwater to tap water and like to be watered well. Give them ericaceous feed in spring and early summer. Grown in the right soil, camellias can flower reliably and rarely need pruning, which makes them one of our favourites.
The camellia goes well with other hardy shrubs, flowering perennials and bulbs. Ground cover plants are a good choice. Azalea, crocus, cyclamen, snowdrops and tulips will all look good close to your camellia. If you plant one in a container, add smaller varieties of bulbs and seasonal bedding for extra interest.
Staying with the romantic theme, now is an ideal time to plant rose shrubs, so long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged. Here are our tips for planting your shrub:
- Before planting, give the shrub a soak in a bucket of water.
- Check the size guide on the care instructions and make sure the space you’ve chosen is suitable for its eventual height and spread.
- Follow the planting instructions, as a general rule, dig a hole slightly deeper than the root ball and twice as wide.
- Break up the soil so the roots can penetrate.
- Add a layer of fertiliser and some water. For ericaceous plants, add a generous base of ericaceous compost.
- If the plant has visible roots, gently separate them, then place in the ground.
- Fill in around the shrub with compost, firming it down.
- Firm down the top layer to fill air pockets and stop the shrub moving around.
- Water well and add a thick layer of mulch.
If you’ve planted bulbs, they should be springing up to give your winter garden a lovely lift.
Their colour in the garden is so welcome this time of year. You can always add to your bulb display with ready-made planters from the garden centre, and add in bedding plants to complement your spring bulbs.
I hope you venture out in the garden during February. Until next month, happy gardening!
How to brighten up the garden this January!
Happy New Year!
For those of us who have been cooped up indoors over the festive season, it’s good to get some fresh air in the garden.
Unless the ground is frozen, winter rain means the soil is easy to work, so it’s a great time to get planting.
January is a gloomy month, so here are some plants to cheer us up.
Firstly, the primrose is bright and cheerful.
Use them in baskets and containers close to the house, so you get the best view, as well as in the border.
Garsons has plenty of the native primrose, which looks gorgeous in drifts under shrubs and trees, and it tends to spread.
Witch hazel is another favourite for January.
Plant it close to the house to make the most of the scent. Both the primrose and witch hazel are important for early bumblebees that might be around at the wrong time of year.
Cornus alba ‘Aurea’ or red-barked dogwood is another winter winner. The rich red stems give a strong focal point in the borders this time of year. It’s a good structural plant, growing up to three metres high. During the summer, it has soft yellow leaves.
If you would like to start growing your own fruit, choose raspberries, blackcurrants, blackberries and more besides.
Plant now and pick your own later!
When planting a tree or shrub, give it a long soak first. Add some slow-acting fertiliser to the planting hole to get it off to a good start. If your soil is heavy, add a generous mix of horticultural grit to help with drainage.
For plants likely to grow tall, you might want to add a stake. Once planted, firm in your new plant with the heel of your boot to stop it moving around in high winds. Make sure all your new and relocated plants are well watered in dry spells, but avoid watering in frosty weather as you might freeze the roots.
Other jobs for January:
- Prune apple and pear trees now before they start to bud. Remove dead or weak branches and aim for a strong shape with well-spaced branches.
- Clear away dead branches and debris from your borders, but leave it a little messy for wildlife.
- Give your patio and paths a firm brush to remove debris and moss and to stop them being slipper.
- If you haven’t already, clean unused pots and greenhouse glass to remove pests and disease from last season.
Give a helping hand to wild birds because they often rely on food from bird tables and in garden feeders.
Make sure it’s high-energy food such as balls of fat, suet cakes and treats, dried mealworms, peanuts and high-energy seed mixes.
Once you start feeding, try and keep going through the winter as they then come to rely on it. Garsons has a wide range of feeders and feed.
Keep an unfrozen water source available throughout cold weather. Other wildlife will drink from it too.
Until next month, happy gardening!
November Gardening Tips
As leaves fall, evergreen plants give welcome colour, structure and interest to the garden, as well as providing food and shelter for wildlife. So long as it’s not frosty, now is a good time for planting, since the soil is still warm. Follow advice for ‘right plant, right place’ to ensure your new additions thrive – ask for advice in the garden centre.
Embrace autumn with colourful plant displays. Deciduous trees such as the popular acer palmatums (Japanese maple), hawthorn and birch all give wonderful seasonal displays in gold, red and orange.
Choose an acer that’s good for autumn colour, with bright crimson leaves. Acers are best grown in dappled shade, in moist free-draining neutral to acidic soil. They can be grown in the ground or in a container.
Apple, pear and plum trees are in the garden centre now. If you don’t have space for a fruit tree, you could try some raspberry, blackcurrant, blueberry or gooseberry bushes. It’s the right time to plant them for a ripe harvest next summer.
Check the eventual height and spread of the fruit tree or bush you’re thinking of buying, to make sure it won’t outgrow the space you’ve earmarked. Also, check whether it’s self-fertilising; if it isn’t, you’ll need to plant two for it to pollinate. Just ask for advice in the garden centre if you’re unsure.
Fruit trees and bushes prefer a sunny and sheltered position. When planting shrubs and trees, soak the pot in a bucket of water for an hour or so first. Add slow-acting fertiliser to the planting hole and be generous with the compost to get it off to a healthy start.
Firm in your new plant to stop it moving around in strong winds, and add a stake. Make sure your new and relocated plants are well-watered in dry spells and have a thick layer of mulch.
You can mulch when the soil is moist, and before frost gets into the ground. Mulching provides a protective layer over the winter, preventing soil erosion and leaching of nutrients. Landscape bark, leaf mould and farmyard manure are great soil improvers – stock up on some bags from the garden centre.
You can now prune fruit trees and bushes. Stone fruit shouldn’t be pruned in winter as the sap is being drawn back into the trees. Leave the pruning of buddleia, clematis, wisteria and anything potentially tender until the end of winter to avoid die-back in hard frosts.
If you would like some flowers this time of year, chrysanthemums add welcome bursts of colour, and winter flowering pansies look good in containers, or you could add clusters in your borders to brighten up dull patches. Or how about a Christmas rose for a wintery display of white flowers?
November is also a good time for planting roses. They look like twigs in the garden centre this time of year, but with a little care and attention, they have the potential to be lovely next year. If the roots are dry, give them a good soak before planting.
Existing rose bushes in your garden can be reduced in height by a third to prevent the wind catching them.
Until next month, happy gardening!
Hardy plants from Garsons Garden Centre are guaranteed for life. Just keep your receipt.
Happy Gardening come rain or shine
This month is a treat for lovers of autumnal coloured plants. Garsons is filled with plants that bring autumn to life. Seasonal choices include plants with fantastic leaf colour to those
covered in berries. There are plenty available now that will establish well in damp autumn conditions.
If you dodge the rain, it’s an ideal time for planting, since the soil is the right temperature to encourage roots of newly planted shrubs, hedging and other hardy plants. By planting now and up until Christmas, you can take advantage of warm soil, despite the cooler air temperature. Autumnal rain should make the ground easier to work.
Look out for Plant of the Month offers at Garsons in October shrubs which are bird-friendly.
Trees and shrubs like malus (crab apple), sorbus (mountain ash), pyracanthus
(firethorn) and skimmia will provide you with berries of reds, yellows, whites, and pinks to welcome you into the season.
It’s harvest time, and in addition to making the most of autumn crops, why not plant fruit trees and soft fruit ready for next year? Apple, pear and plum trees are in the garden centre now, along with raspberry, blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes. It’s the right time to plant them for a ripe harvest next summer.
You can’t beat fresh produce from your garden, and you only need a small area to get started. You can even grow apples if you don’t have much space. A tree can be trained along a sunny wall or fence. It’s then sheltered and can soak up warmth from the wall or fence, so can do really well.
Plant all fruit trees and bushes in a sunny, sheltered position to increase the amount of fruit. Always check the eventual height and spread of any trees and shrubs to make sure they have enough room to grow. Ask for advice in the garden centre to help achieve the right growing conditions.
When planting a tree or shrub, give it a long soak first in a bucket of water. Add some slow-acting fertiliser to the planting hole to get it off to a good start. If you have heavy soil, add horticultural grit to the hole to help drainage. Once planted, firm your new plant in to stop it moving around.
Make sure young trees are supported with stakes – the stake should be driven into the hole first, having checked the position in relation to the roots. Remember to keep your new and relocated plants watered in dry spells.
Extend the flowering season and add interest by under-planting trees with plants that love shade or semi-shade. Choose plants such as sarcococa and skimmias, whose female forms produce large bunches of red berries. Low growing shrubs like vinca provide great groundcover. Hardy cyclamen are another favourite.
It’s good to get out in the fresh air and tidy the garden. Most flowering plants can be cut back. Get rid of weeds and dead leaves. Cut back hedges, and if you have a pond, remove dead leaves through the season.
Happy gardening, come rain or shine!
Lots to do in the garden in September!
I hope you have enjoyed your garden over the summer. September is a busy time in the gardening calendar – there’s lots to do while the weather holds out.
As the days shorten, summer bedding starts to look tired. September offers you some wonderful displays that can add interest into winter, so compensate for the shorter days and chillier mornings with autumnal colour.
Now is a great time for planting.
The heat of summer will stay in the ground for a while yet, and with the addition of rain, autumn is one of the best planting seasons. Plants put in now have time to establish before winter, developing good roots, which puts them in a strong position to flourish next year. So get planting!
Prairie planting is growing in popularity. This is where you create landscaped areas of perennials and grasses for a lovely unstructured look. The natural style of planting is very appealing and you can combine different heights, colours and textures of grasses with flowering plants. It not only looks good, it can attract wildlife too.
The Plant of the Month at Garsons is the Heuchera. It mixes in well with grasses, along with country garden favourites like aster, rudbeckia, and sedum. You can’t beat the yellow-orange rudbeckia for seasonal colour. It’s a cottage garden favourite and likes space to spread out.
The aster or Michaelmas daisy is another lovely choice, in shades of pink through to dark purple.
For stunning autumn colour, miscanthus and panicum are clump-forming grasses. They look good mixed with the bold colours of asters and the succulent foliage of sedums. Sedums are good for the front of your borders, with deep purple leaves and red flowers.
Your poor lawn has had a hard time, what with the parched summer. Scarify with a rake to remove moss and dead grass, then aerate with a spring tine fork to allow air and water to the roots. Don’t worry about it looking tatty afterwards, since it will soon bounce back and be in better shape to cope with the changing seasons. Choose an autumn lawn treatment to boost root growth and help it through the winter.
Other jobs for September
- Get on top of weeding and clearing debris this month, before it turns chillier. It’s not such a chore if the sun is shining!
- Prune blackberry bushes and other flowering climbers.
- Raspberry bushes can be cut down to just above the ground.
- If you have a greenhouse, once tomatoes and other crops are over, give it a good clean to prevent pests from making a home in that lovely warm environment, ready to leap into action next spring.
September is a great time to be outdoors, so make the most of autumnal colours and get your garden looking good for this season. The hardy plants at Garsons Garden Centre are guaranteed for life. Ask the trained horticultural staff for advice, and visit garsons.co.uk for more gardening tips. Until next month, happy gardening!
Gardening Tips for August
It’s a pleasure to be in the garden in August. You can enjoy late summer and spend a little time weeding and cutting back summer bedding. If you keep deadheading flowers such as roses, you’ll encourage more blooms well into the autumn.
We’ve had a hot summer so far, and the garden might need freshening up. Cut back summer flowering plants that are past their best. Garden chrysanthemums are great for filling in empty spots where summer colour has faded. When choosing a plant, look for plenty of unopened buds to come. The earlier you plant them the longer the flowering display and the better chance they have to manage through the winter. To over-winter, plant early in a sheltered spot, leave the foliage on until spring and mulch heavily.
Another favourite plant is the cyclamen. It may seem early to be thinking about cyclamen as they are traditionally a winter plant, but the season is now longer because of heat-resistant varieties. As well as keeping them in the garden, houseplant cyclamen are popular, with their long-lasting large flowers and solid stems. For best results, water them by giving the pot a soak in a bowl of water for half an hour, and then drain away any excess.
Ornamental grasses bring height, texture and movement to the garden. They develop through the seasons, with colourful foliage joined by graceful flower heads that last well into winter. Taller grasses add movement to otherwise static displays, swaying in a summer breeze to add interest and catch the eye.
Ornamental grasses come in a range of shades and sizes. They offer great value, and produce long-lasting displays that can mix well with your existing planting schemes. In large borders, grasses can be planted in bold groups or striking drifts. Colourful planting combinations can be created with flowering perennials like the Echinacea and ice plant.
Tips for planning and planting grasses
- Be generous and plant grasses in drifts or bold groups rather than as lonely individuals
- Some large potted grasses can be divided into two or three pieces at planting time, each with roots and shoots attached
- Grasses grow well in patio pots, positioned where their individual shape and arching form can be appreciated. Make sure tall varieties are planted in large, heavy pots to prevent them blowing over in strong winds.
It’s a good time to get the secateurs out. Prune wisteria to encourage flowering and prevent rampant growth. Cut down straggly new growth to 2-3 leaves from the base. Summer pruning of fruit trees will channel water and energy into fruit production particularly apple trees, and help prevent silver leaf, a fungal disease in plums and cherries. You can also give evergreen hedges a shape and tidy up. Trim flowering herbs such as thyme and lavender to stop them becoming woody.
Remember thirsty birds and wildlife by having a bird bath topped up with water and a bowl or two at ground level.
Until next month, enjoy your late summer garden.
July Gardening with The Hersham Hub and Garsons
July is a glorious month for enjoying the garden. As you admire your efforts, do a little deadheading to encourage more flowers, especially if you have roses and sweet peas.
Consider what works in the garden and what you might change in the autumn – make some notes and take photos to remind you. It’s lovely to gain inspiration by visiting gardens taking part in the National Gardens Scheme.
This month we’re looking at climbers, which are ideal if you want an abundance of flowers trailing up your garden fence or wall.
Rambling roses are coming into their own, with varieties to suit all tastes and gardens.
The star jasmine is a glossy evergreen with pure white flowers and a lovely fragrance. It’s a vigorous climber. Solanum jasminoides or potato vine is a beautiful white flowering evergreen climber. It has a long flowering time from now until autumn.
Climbers are often less hardy than other plants, so take care with them and you will be rewarded. They generally prefer well-drained soil in full or partial sun. Give them a good start by digging a large planting hole and mixing in horticultural grit to help with drainage, along with plenty of compost.
Firm the soil in, and then spread a mulch of bark chips round the base to protect the root system. Make sure new additions are well watered through July and August.
Clematis in particular benefits from a generous layer of mulch, which you can find at Garsons. Clematis has its roots near to the surface, so mulching helps to retain moisture and protect exposed roots from direct sun.
If your garden needs more colour, try the gorgeous Agapanthus or African lily. It’s bold and architectural, with statuesque stems, topped with balls of intensely coloured flowers.
The Agapanthus is great for colour in the second half of summer, and the dark blue and purple varieties are increasingly popular. It fits easily into a modern garden setting or a traditional mixed border, as well as looking good in pots. Plant in well-drained soil and position in full sun to encourage flowering.
Apply a summer lawn feed for healthy green growth. Set your mower blades high to avoid cutting the grass too short, which can leave it parched in dry weather. Use a lawn edger to tidy the edges, which makes it so much neater.
Other jobs this month:
- Keep on top of weeding, as the garden can so easily become a wilderness this time of year.
- Give tomato plants a feed every fortnight for a juicy crop. Liquid tomato feed also works well for flowering plants, fortnightly through the summer.
- Apply a rose food to your roses and other flowering shrubs to prolong flowering.
- Keep an eye out for pests on plants. Early action is best. Ask for advice in Garsons if you’re not sure what to do.
- Keep bird baths and bowls of water topped up during hot weather. A small bowl at ground level will be welcome for any passing hedgehogs.
Garsons Garden Centre has everything you need to care for your summer garden.
Their plants have been expertly reared and hardy plants are guaranteed. Ask the trained horticultural staff for advice, and visit garsons.co.uk for more gardening tips
Your Garden ‘To Do’ list for June
June is the highlight of the year for many of us gardeners, since the garden is at its peak and we can make the most of sunny evenings. You’ll want time to enjoy your garden at its best, so let’s look at how to make an impact for little effort.
Plant up a few containers of colourful blooms and position them so you appreciate the colour. Choose your favourite flowering plants, and a pot. When planting in containers, use a loam-based compost such as John Innes because it holds water and nutrients better. Adding a layer of gravel to the finished pot will keep the compost cooler and it looks decorative. A layer of gravel isn’t suitable if you’re growing from seeds, but is fine for established plants. Water regularly and give a weekly general purpose feed such as Miracle-Gro.
The marguerite looks lovely in a container or planted in the garden. It’s a charming daisy-like flower in shades of white and yellow, through to pink and purple. Marguerite prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It can grow from one to three feet tall and wide, flowering through the summer. It’s popular with butterflies, and if you deadhead the flowers, it will bloom prolifically.
One of our favourite plants for garden borders is the hardy geranium, or cranesbill. It’s not to be confused with bedding geraniums. Hardy geranium is a tough perennial that tolerates a wide range of growing conditions to provide colour every year.
Choose a mix of garden herbs to go in a pot and you can grab a handful for the barbecue and to sprinkle on salads. Snipping them back encourages growth. You can easily fit three different herb plants in one medium sized container. Many varieties are available in Garsons to plant up straightaway. Most like a sunny position and well-drained soil.
Shrub-like herbs such as sage, thyme and rosemary all like dry conditions. Mint can take over, so is good to have in a pot on its own. It’s perfect with new potatoes, and you’ll need a sprig of mint for your Pimms!
You can grow lettuce from seeds. It’s an easy, fast growing crop. Select a bag of compost suitable for fruit and vegetables, fill a container and sow the seeds. Place it in a sunny spot and keep well-watered.
Get your lawn in good shape. Dry, hot spells can leave it looking parched so give it a boost for summer. Mowing the lawn once a week can keep it fresh and help control weeds. Avoid cutting it too short as this can make it too sparse in dry weather.
If you didn’t use a spring lawn treatment, try a summer feed to perk up your grass. When using a lawn feed, make sure it’s right for the season since they contain a different mix of nutrients depending on the time of year. A summer feed will give green and lush results in a few days, which is ideal if you’re entertaining at the weekend.
Garsons Garden Centre has everything you need to care for your summer garden. Ask the trained horticultural staff for advice.
Your May Garden To-Do List
Spring is here and the growing season is off to a great start. Show your garden some love this month to enjoy it at its best and get it in shape for the summer.
Ceanothus is a mostly evergreen shrub with a fantastic show of blue flowers in spring and early summer. It is commonly known as California lilac. It grows best in fertile well-drained soil in full sun. Protect it from frost and strong winds. There are many varieties of Ceanothus from tall to low growing shrubs. The smaller leaved species are generally the toughest.
It’s very satisfying to plant your own hanging baskets and containers. Include water-retaining crystals and slow-release fertiliser for long lasting blooms. Trailing plants look lovely cascading down. Popular basket plants are trailing petunia (Surfinia), impatiens (Busy Lizzies) and lobellia. Patio containers can look lovely if you fill each one with a single variety of plant for a fantastic burst of colour. You can also fill containers with herbs to keep you supplied through the summer.
If the thought of watering in the drier months doesn’t appeal, invest in some drought-resistant plants. As an added advantage they are often hardy and can cope with less attention than other plants. Avoid putting them in areas that become waterlogged. Ground cover varieties, such as saxifrage, work particularly well in rockeries.
There are plenty of choices for drought-tolerant plants. They usually have the following characteristics:
- Small leaves, for example rosemary
- Long narrow leaves which are good for shedding heat without losing water, such as phormiums
- Grey leaves, such as sage and lavender
- Hairy leaves, for example geranium and lambs’ ears
- Fleshy or succulent leaves, particularly the large range of sedums in a variety of colours
They still need to be watered well when you plant them, and kept watered until they are established and during very dry spells.
Garsons has everything you need for your drought-tolerant garden. View the range and ask the planteria staff for advice.
Now is the time to get your roses in good shape for the coming season. With a little care, they will flower right through to the colder nights of autumn. A liquid rose feed early this month and then another in July will promote and prolong flowering. Just follow the instructions for the type of feed you have chosen.
Deadhead your roses through the flowering season to keep them blooming. For best results, simply snap off the dead head without removing any leaves.
Other gardening jobs for May
- With more emphasis on outdoor living this time of year, it’s easy to forget houseplants. But now is the growing season and they dry out more frequently, so keep them watered and treat them to a weekly liquid feed
- Apply a liquid fertiliser to deadheaded daffodils and tulips to encourage next year’s flowers
- Mow your lawn weekly to keep it fresh and tidy. Don’t cut it too short as it will be more vulnerable to dry conditions
- Add a mulch of bark chippings around plants to suppress weeds and keep moisture in
- Prune shrubs by cutting back dead and untidy branches, keeping new shoots and buds
- Feed shrubs and climbers to get them ready for the growing season
Enjoy the outdoors and until next month, happy gardening!
April Gardening Tips!
Spring is here, the temperature is rising and gardens are bursting into life. Give your garden some attention by refreshing it with a colourful shrub or two. This is an ideal time of year to get new shrubs established, while the soil is damp and April showers will help with watering in. Browse round Garsons for inspiration.
Plant rhododendron now and watch them come into their prime. Healthy rhododendrons have loads of colour, supported with lush green hardy foliage. There are shades to match all tastes and they look stunning in containers, but don’t like to full sun all day. Ask for advice in the garden centre if you’re unsure.
The rhododendron is ericaceous or acid-loving. If you don’t have acid soil, plant it in ericaceous soil and give it a regular ericaceous feed during the flowering season and when it finishes flowering. Cover the base of the plant with mulch such as chipped bark to protect the roots from drying out as they are fairly close to the surface.
The Japanese maple or acer is a good choice for a small space or courtyard garden and it provides a focal point, brightening a shaded corner, or overhanging a pond or water feature.
They include some extremely slow-growing forms that stay a small, manageable size without the need for regular pruning. You could develop an Oriental theme around them with ferns, hostas, and bamboo.
The acer also looks striking in a large patio pot.
Cover the pot surface with a mulch of pebbles or ornamental gravel, which helps retain moisture and is in keeping with their Oriental style.
Tips for growing Japanese maple
• Choose a sheltered spot protected from late spring frosts, cold winds and scorching sun.
• Maples prefer well-drained soil with lots of compost to lock in moisture. Spread a deep mulch of leaf-mould, compost or shredded bark over the soil around your maple to retain moisture and reduce weed growth.
• For growing in a container, choose a large and stable terracotta pot with drainage holes. Use a loam-based John Innes No.3 compost with extra grit added for good drainage.
• Keep your maple watered and it will look stunning for many months at a time.
As always, keep on top of weeding at this early stage in the gardening season to stop them taking over. It’s easy to pull up a few weeds here and there when you’re out enjoying your garden bursting into life.
If you don’t already have a water butt, think about investing in one so it can be full up by the time the hot dry weather is with us. A mulch of compost or well-rotted manure around established shrubs and hedges will help keep moisture in the soil and deter weeds.
Lastly, if you’re getting into Grow Your Own, there are masses of fruit and veg varieties ready to be planted. Growing fruit and veg is the most satisfying and environmentally friendly way to get your ‘five a day’. You’ll find everything you need to get started at Garsons including seeds, compost and advice.
Until next month, happy gardening!
March Gardening Tips!
Now spring is on its way, fill up flower beds and patio pots with plants to brighten your outlook.
For spring planting combinations, mix up spring bedding plants, flowering bulbs and hardy perennials to create good-looking displays. Some can be grown from seeds or plug plants, or buy them as established plants that have buds forming.
Try a mix of primulas and polyanthus, bedding daisies, forget-me-nots and heuchera.
The vinca is a garden favourite in shades of violet-blue, pink and white. It’s evergreen and is easy to grow in all soil types and conditions except very dry soil. It provides ground cover and will flower from spring through to autumn.
If you didn’t plant bulbs last year, pick up some from the garden centre that have been ready-planted. Hyacinths look gorgeous and have a heady scent. Grape hyacinths and narcissus look lovely in a container close to the house. Tulips are also flowering now.
Everyone can get into Grow Your Own, even if it’s just a few salad crops on your patio. Look out for vegetable grow bags – it’s surprising what you can produce in a small area.
If you’re new to Grow Your Own, advice is available in the Garden Centre.
Shallots and onions can go in the ground this month if it’s not waterlogged or frosty. Here’s how to get started:
Set aside a sunny, well-drained patch of soil, ideally an area that has had lots of manure dug into it. The easiest way to grow onions is from sets, which are little bulbs that have already been cultivated.
To plant your sets, make furrows about 30cm apart, deep enough to take the bulbs. Place them with the roots down, fill the soil around them and gently firm in. Aim for the tips of the bulbs to just poke through the surface.
Water your onions in and keep watered in dry spells, but try to water the soil rather than the plant. A little liquid fertiliser will help them along in the early months.
If you plant them from mid-March to mid-April, they should be ready to harvest in August or September. Lift them with a fork and allow them to dry thoroughly.
Give your rose bushes a little attention and they’ll reward you in the summer. They like to be fed – lack of nutrients will show with discoloured leaves and poor blooms. Treat them to a granular or powder rose feed around the base of the plant. Ask for advice in the Garden Centre if you’re unsure of how to care for your roses.
Other jobs for March
- Have a tidy up in the garden, and get ahead of weeds by suppressing them with a thick layer of mulch.
- Clear away leaves and debris from the borders to give light and air to any new growth sprouting through.
- Improve your soil by forking in good quality compost.
Enjoy your garden in March.
And remember it’s Mother’s Day this month, so treat your mum to a flowering gift she can enjoy indoors, on the patio or planted in the garden.
Garsons card holders have 20% off the Plant of the Month range, which in March is the elegant Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid.
Spring bulbs are such a welcome sight this time of year. If you’re craving spring colour, brighten up your patio with some delicate Narcissus ‘Tête à Tête’, ready planted in containers.
Their cheery yellow colour brings the garden back to life after the winter. They are easy to grow and reliable in making their appearance every year. When autumn comes, you can plant them in the ground, keeping the container for the next flush of spring flowers.
Narcissus dwarf varieties are popular for their compact habit. They look good in all kinds of containers and are not so easily caught by the wind. Narcissus make great cut flowers, with a gorgeous fragrance and they’ll last a week in a vase.
Another lovely addition to the garden this month is the heather. Heathers were a national treasure of upland areas, bringing people luck, and shelter to game birds.
They are hardy, colourful and full of interest, with many varieties to choose. It is the myriad flower colour that makes heather such a display.
As well as the flower colour, heathers have wonderful, flat leaves, which change colour through the year. They deepen and intensify as the year goes on and sometimes russets and browns take over. They are squat but defiant and almost dome-shaped.
Many heathers grow best in acidic soil, so you may need to add some specialist compost. Give them good drainage by adding horticultural grit to the compost. We have soil testing kits at Garsons if you are unsure of your soil PH.
If you don’t have acidic soil, heathers can be grown in pots and containers. Apart from some pruning, they need little care, but all plants in containers need to be kept watered in dry spells. Give them a feed in spring and remove older stems.
Also available around now are pots of seedlings in the garden centre, ready to transplant into fresh compost. They provide a quick and easy way to get good results. All you need is a fresh bag of potting compost and some trays to give each seedling the space to grow, along with enough warmth and heat to encourage strong growth. You can also sow sweet pea seeds in deep pots so that the roots have lots of depth.
It’s a good idea this month to remove all dead leaves from the garden, and lightly fork in a layer of fertiliser to bare patches of soil. Fruit trees will benefit from a feed of manure. Now’s also the time to cut back dead and broken branches that didn’t survive the winter.
Cut back late-flowering clematis varieties. The tangled growth can be cut back to within a few inches of the soil, which encourages strong new shoots and reduces mildew on the dead leaves. Other clematis varieties can be cleared of deadwood and old flower heads.
Wisteria needs to be cut back so it can produce a profusion of flowers. A neglected wisteria can turn into a mass of leaves that carry very little flowers, so cut back any main stems that aren’t needed to build up the framework, and prune the sideshoots to about 3–4 inches.
I hope you venture out in the garden during February. Until next month, happy gardening!
Happy New Year! If you feel like working off the excesses of Christmas, wrap up warm and give your garden some attention.
Now it’s January we can look forward to some early flowers and the appearance of cheery bulbs such as snowdrops. Choose from the ready planted pots of bulbs at Garsons Garden Centre if you haven’t planted any.
So long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can plant shrubs in January. It gives them lots of time to become established for the growing season. Why not introduce some winter colour?
Three of our favourites are the hellebore, Euphorbia and Christmas box.
The rose-like hellebore is a hardy winter plant, giving much needed colour in the coldest months. It prefers partial shade or a shady position and is hardy but likes well-drained soil. It looks good in a container where you can appreciate its charms close up, or it will be at home in your garden borders.
Plant Euphorbia around now to make the most of the spring blooms. If you prune the spring flowers in June, it should treat you to a second flowering in the summer. It likes full sun or partial shade.
For another abundance of flowers, go for Sarcococca or Christmas box, which will be smothered in deliciously scented flowers from mid to late January. The small white flowers can provide a heady scent in winter. It’s happy in full sun, partial or full shade. This hardy plant is tolerant of most soil conditions so long as the ground is kept moist. Give it a good mulch to retain moisture.
As well as looking out for these plants, the garden centre has dormant trees, shrubs and perennials ready to fill gaps in borders or to make features of in containers. Come and have a browse for inspiration. Hardy shrubs from Garsons Garden Centre are guaranteed, so keep your receipt.
January often brings the coldest temperatures, so protect your tender perennials from the worst that the winter might bring. Tuck them up with horticultural fleece from the garden centre, which gives them air and light, and lets the rain through. Move containers close to the house or to a protected spot in the garden and check they have good drainage to stop the roots freezing.
Give fruit trees a prune before the buds show signs of growth. Remove dead or weak looking branches from apple and pear trees, aiming for a good, strong shape with well-spaced branches.
Wild birds have limited natural food sources in winter, so leave out a regular supply of high energy food. Balls of fat, suet cakes, peanuts and high-energy seeds are good options. Once you start, keep feeding them the same food through the winter as they come to rely on it.
Different bird feeders suit different types of birds. Garsons has a wide range of feeders and feed, including seed to attract specific species. Remember to have an unfrozen water source for birds and other wildlife.
Until next month, happy gardening!
Have a breather from the Christmas rush and potter in the garden. If it’s not frosty, now is still a good time to plant shrubs, since the soil is warm enough to encourage root growth. Be generous with the compost to get them off to a healthy start.
The mahonia is a yellow winter flowering evergreen. Its flowers are lily-of-the-valley scented, so position it where you can enjoy the fragrance. The long-lasting flowers are often followed by small, plum-coloured fruits, which birds love.
Mahonia’s leaves are glossy and often take on red or purple tints when the weather turns cold. Mahonias are hardy and they generally aren’t affected by pests. They are happiest in partial or full shade so long as there are good light levels. Apart from that, they’re a versatile, low maintenance plant.
Winter jasmine is a great choice if you’re looking for something tall to brighten a north facing wall which wouldn’t suit many flowering plants. It has yellow flowers during the winter, bringing a welcome splash of colour to the garden this time of year.
Potted hyacinths give gorgeous flowers and sweet lingering fragrance to your home and garden. They make lovely Christmas gifts, and are perfect for a windowsill, conservatory, doorstep, patio or balcony. Put them where you can smell their fragrance when passing by.
Once your hyacinth finishes flowering, cut back the flowers so it doesn’t waste energy on seeds, but keep the foliage as this helps build the bulb for next year. They can grow well outside, flowering in the spring and reappearing year after year.
You can prune fruit trees now, except stone fruit, as the sap is being drawn back into the trees. Established roses can be reduced in height by a third to prevent the wind catching them. Leave the pruning of clematis, wisteria and anything tender until the end of winter.
Add a layer of mulch when the soil is moist, before frost gets into the ground. Mulching provides a protective winter layer and prevents soil erosion. Landscape bark, leaf mould and manure are great soil improvers, so stock up on some bags from Garsons.
Back indoors, fill your home with seasonal cheer and choose from the houseplant selection in the Garden Centre. Flowering houseplants make pretty table decorations and lovely gifts for when you’re visiting. There are plenty of gorgeous pots and planted containers at Garsons. Christmas favourites are so welcome this time of year. Choose from cyclamen in shades of red and white, and the poinsettia in festive red and winter white.
How about an elegant orchid to add natural style to your festive home? the cymbidium is one of the easiest orchids to grow, which is surprising when it has such exotic flowers. The flowers last about ten weeks during the winter, and colours include white, cream, yellow, pink, red and orange. Cymbidiums are tolerant of the cold to as low as 7˚C.
Lastly, don’t forget the wildlife in your garden over the winter months. Wild bird feed will keep our feathered friends going, as will a birdbath or bowls of water kept topped up and unfrozen.
Until next month, happy gardening and merry Christmas!
If you would like a garden with year-round appeal, pick shrubs that celebrate each season.
Some, like the cornus or dogwood, will even do extra duty by looking good through the rest of the year.
The dogwood is a reliable and hardy shrub that provides a leafy backdrop to summer flowers. Then their foliage transforms into stunning colours during autumn before fluttering away to reveal brilliant wand-like stems.
During winter, the brightly coloured stems of dogwoods catch the sunlight to give you dazzling displays. Position yours where the low winter sunlight will shine through and catch the stems.
Many shrubby dogwoods also carry clusters of tiny flowers through summer. These are usually a creamy-white colour which then form dense heads of white berries in autumn.
Shrubby dogwoods grow well in almost any soil, even moist sites and heavy clay ground. They’ll grow best in a sunny position, but will tolerate some shade.
Contrasting colours work well when developing planting combinations, so consider planting groups of three or more together. You can plant dogwoods in large patio containers to create seasonal displays with a difference. Under-plant them with low growing winter bedding, leafy perennials and small shrubs.
Lower growing plants make good companions for dogwood, like skimmia, bergenia and heuchera.
Or plant early flowering bulbs around them, such as snowdrops, crocus and narcissus. They can also look good with the berry-bearing shrubs featured last month. If you choose the right combinations, your garden will look stunning through the less colourful months of the year. Ask the plant experts at Garsons for advice if you’re unsure.
To enjoy the winter stems of dogwood, it will need annual pruning. This is done by cutting all stems down to their woody base close to ground level every spring. It will encourage new stems to develop during the year for you to enjoy the following winter.
Now is the last chance to plant your tulip bulbs. Five inches is the right depth for bulbs to be lifted after flowering, or eight inches for permanent planting. Plant them on a handful of horticultural grit to help with drainage. If you’ve planted bulbs in bowls, place them in the dark and water them when the soil is dry.
Other jobs for November:
- Have a tidy up in the garden before it gets too cold. Clear away fallen leaves from your borders, and the lawn to stop the grass turning yellow.
- Roughly dig some manure into bare patches of your borders so it will be broken down by planting time next spring.
- Add a thick layer of mulch around plants to give protection over the winter.
- Remember to protect tender plants from frosts. Bring pots close to the house, and wrap tender plants in horticultural fleece.
- Give your lawn an autumn lawn feed to help it through the winter.
Until next month, happy gardening!
Hardy plants from Garsons Garden Centre are guaranteed for life. Just keep your receipt.
October is a great month for planting. The soil is warm and many plants will become established before the winter, helped by autumn showers.
If your garden is lacking in colour, autumn varieties of wallflower look good now and some will bloom again in the spring. The wallflower is a sun worshipper, so plant in full sun, sheltered from strong winds. It’s very easy to grow, and prefers well-drained soil.
The wallflower has narrow, dark grey-green leaves and pretty, upright flowers in many different shades. After it has flowered, trim lightly to keep its rounded shape. A favourite variety is Aida, which flowers in autumn and spring. The flowers are sweet-scented, so enjoy their fragrance by planting them in containers or sunny flowerbeds near a doorway.
Our October plants of the moment are berry-bearing trees and shrubs, which come into their own in autumn. They create colourful displays that can last well into winter. From elder berries to rose hips, crab apples to firethorns, berrying plants give structure and colour to the garden and provide home grown food for hungry birds and wildlife.
Evergreen berrying shrubs give a backdrop of greenery through the year and the bonus of early flower displays followed by autumn berries. Once of the best compact shrubs is a skimmia with a mouthful of a name: Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana. Its displays of bright red berries are second to none. Also check out the compact and spreading Viburnum davidii, a hardy shrub with evergreen foliage that produces unusual metallic-looking blue-black berries.
If you would like to create seasonal pots for autumn colour, include a small Gaultheria mucronata. It has brilliant berries in pink, red or white. Combined with pansies and violas, trailing ivy, heather, carex or skimmia, your pots will put on a display that can last for months.
Firethorn or pyracantha is an evergreen shrub to train against walls and fences. Its thorny stems make it a great choice for producing secure garden boundaries, but don’t let the spines put you off. It provides valuable nesting sites for birds, flowers that attract bees, and red, orange or yellow berries to feed birds into winter.
Explore the cotoneaster family too. These attractive ornamental shrubs have year-round appeal. The arching stems with herringbone-patterned stalks of Cotoneaster horizontalis make it an excellent choice to train up a fence.
If space allows, many ornamental trees produce bright berries and fruits as well as good displays of autumn foliage colour. Two of the best families are rowan and crab apple, and both make ideal trees for small gardens.
It really is possible to fill your garden with berried treasure this autumn!
Tips for planning and planting
- Many shrubs can be given a permanent home in large patio pots. Plant them using a free-draining loam-based compost.
- Stand pots on terracotta ‘feet’ during winter to prevent drainage holes getting blocked and pots filling-up with water.
- Small berry-bearing shrubs included in seasonal patio pot arrangements can be planted in the garden next spring.
- Some plants have both male and female varieties, so it might just be the female one that’s carrying berries. Ask for advice, as in future years you may need to grow male forms alongside the females to ensure their flowers get pollinated and develop future crops of berries.
Other popular plants of the moment
As well as choosing planting partners carrying berries, create varied displays by including ornamental grasses, architectural plants with strong shapes and forms, and those with great autumn foliage. Here are some to consider:
- Carex ‘Evergold’
- Pansy and viola
- Roses with colourful hips, like Rosa rugosa, Rosa canina and Rosa ‘Geranium’
- Skimmia ‘Magic Marlot’
Tulip bulbs can be planted now. They like a sunny position and look particularly stunning in pots. Mix in horticultural grit to keep the soil well-drained and to stop your bulbs becoming waterlogged. If you can’t plant them immediately, keep in a cool place.
Tidy up your garden before the weather gets too cold and wet. Most flowering plants can be cut back. Add a layer of compost to your borders to enrich the soil and protect it from the winter weather. You could give your lawn an autumn feed to see it through the colder months. Enjoy your garden in October!
Garsons Garden Centre is at Fontley Road, Titchfield. Their plants have been expertly reared and hardy plants are guaranteed. Ask the trained horticultural staff for advice.
Visit garsons.co.uk for more gardening tips.
Here’s hoping we can enjoy the garden in September. The nights might be drawing in, but the days can still be warm and we might even have an Indian summer.
This month we’re looking at seasonal stunners that will make a difference to your autumn garden. These fashionably late perennials have been waiting for their turn to take centre stage, and now they are bursting into bloom, filling our gardens with colour.
Japanese anemones are always a favourite.
Tall and bold, their simple flowers in shades from pink to white really celebrate the season. They’re adaptable too, growing in full sun or partial shade.
It’s Michaelmas Day on 29th September, lending its name to the Michaelmas daisy, or aster. This is a hardy perennial that flowers throughout September and October. Many are varieties of the New York aster. A succession of blooms gives asters long-lasting appeal, and they make great cut flowers too.
Verbena is another great performer, flowering over many months to earn its place in any garden. It’s hard to beat Verbena bonariensis, valued for its tall, branching stems topped with clusters of purple flowers. Its airy growth habit means it can be slotted in among smaller neighbours to flower above them.
As well as flowering plants, don’t forget that many perennials form attractive seed heads too, and these can be enjoyed right through autumn and into winter. Favourites include cone flowers, globe thistle, sea holly or Eryngium, agapanthus, and ornamental grasses. Visit Garsons for late perennials that keep colour and interest going well into winter.
Tips for planning and planting:
- When planning your borders choose a selection of plants that flower at different times through the year so there’s always something to enjoy.
- Plant taller growing autumn flowering varieties behind low growing summer ones so they’ll grow up above them once summer displays fade away.
- A cluster of three plants of the same variety can look more impressive than choosing three different plants.
- Repetition works well, so if you have a favourite plant then include several groups of it to help link different areas of the garden together.
- Leave old flowers on Verbena bonariensis to set seed and release this over the surrounding border to develop into new plants that will flower in following years.
It’s bulb time, but if you’re not ready to put them in, keep them in a cool, airy place. If you’ve planted any bulbs in bowls, place them in the dark and water them when the soil becomes dry, unless you’ve added bedding plants to the top, in which case, keep them on the doorstep or patio to make the most of the blooms.
As a general rule, plant bulbs at twice their depth and two bulb widths apart, or simply check the planting tips on the packaging for whatever variety you have chosen. Bulbs like good drainage, so mix generous amounts of horticultural grit to the planting hole or mix in with the compost.
The hardy plants at Garsons Garden Centre are guaranteed for life.
Ask the trained horticultural staff for advice, and visit garsons.co.uk for more gardening tips.
Attracting Butterflies and Tips for Flourishing Fruit and Veg
* Thanks to Mal Raynor from the Loving Surrey Facebook Group for sharing the lovely butterfly photograph with us!
July is such an enjoyable time to be in the garden, so sit back and appreciate it while the days are long and the weather is hopefully fine. You can still do weeding, deadheading, cutting back and tidying, but it’s not much trouble on a sunny evening or weekend.
If you visit the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show at the start of the month, you’re likely to come away fired up with inspiration, and possibly loaded down with plants!
This month we’re looking at bringing in the butterflies and bees. Many colourful flowers act like fuelling stations around our gardens for butterflies, moths, bees and other beneficial insects, providing them with nectar for energy.
One of the most popular is the Butterfly Bush, or Buddleja, a hardy and reliable shrub whose flowers act like magnets for butterflies. Dwarf and compact varieties of Butterfly Bush are now available that are perfect for pots or tiny spaces, with flowers in colours from pink and white to blue, lavender, magenta and deep purple.
Choose a range of plants that flower through the year to support different types of butterflies in your garden. Some flowering perennials provide long-lasting displays, with flowers opening over several months. These include varieties of Rudbeckia and Cone Flower (Echinacea), both valued for their outstanding garden performance.
Lavenders provide welcome nectar for butterflies through the summer months. Planting a range of Sedum, or Ice Plants, ensures more flowers develop into autumn to feed late-flying butterflies as they prepare for hibernation.
Tips for attracting butterflies
- Choose plants with different flowering periods to ensure there’s something in bloom through spring, summer and autumn for butterflies to feed from.
- Let patches of nettles establish in a wild or natural areas for breeding and feeding sites for native butterflies including Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Comma and Peacock.
- Avoid using pesticides that could harm butterflies, bees, ladybirds and other beneficial creatures.
- For more information check out www.butterfly-conservation.org.
If you’re growing your own fruit and veg.
Give them a boost with fortnightly feeds. A liquid feed such as Tomorite will do the job. Tomatoes should be ripening. Keep on feeding tomatoes and leave them on the vine until ripe and juicy.
If you grow any of the above bee-friendly plants, bees and other friendly pollinators will visit your tomato crops too and help them to flourish!
You can still sow seeds for spring onions, lettuce, carrots, radish seeds and beetroot.
Make use of your garden herbs, especially as snipping them back encourages fresh growth. It’s a good move to check all your seasonal fruit and veg daily to enjoy at its best. If it’s as dry in July as June, make sure they get plenty of water, ideally in the evenings.
Enjoy your garden in July!
Garsons Garden Centre at West End, Esher has everything you need to care for your summer garden. Their plants have been expertly reared and hardy plants are guaranteed. Ask the trained horticultural staff for advice, and visit garsons.co.uk for more gardening tips.
June Gardening – Tips for growing clematis
It’s such a pleasure to spend time in the garden this month, and June is often considered the peak of the gardening year.
It’s the longest day this month, so extra sunlight combined with warm weather encourages abundant growth.
The kitchen garden is about to come into its own, and borders are reaching their early summer peak.
One of our favourite plants for June is the clematis. From bold blooms to delicate nodding bells, clematis are versatile, colourful climbers. They are wonderfully diverse and happy to clamber up a trellis or be trained over a pergola.
New varieties of clematis are introduced every year. Most enjoy sunshine, but some, like the lilac ‘Cezanne’, from Raymond Evison, will grow in semi-shade. Large-flowered hybrids are among the most impressive, coming into their own during the summer, and these are joined by daintier varieties of Clematis viticella that keep blooming into autumn.
Compact Varieties such as Filigree & Bijou are perfect to grow in containers, provide ground cover or train up an ornamental obelisk; ideal for growing in small gardens and patio areas.
Clematis are often partnered with climbing roses and honeysuckle to create long-lasting flower displays, but vibrant combinations can be created with virtually any other climbers or wall shrubs.
Tips for growing clematis:
- They like their heads in the sun and feet in the shade, so try to keep the roots shaded and train shoots up into a brighter, lighter space above.
- Dig a deep hole so the top of the rootball is 7-10cm below the soil surface, and bury the base of the stems with soil. This can help plants regrow if they ever suffer from clematis wilt disease.
- Spread a deep mulch of compost or bark over the soil after planting to lock in moisture and keep roots cool.
- All clematis belong to one of three pruning groups depending on when they flower. Talk to the experts at Garsons to find out which pruning group your clematis belongs to and get advice on when and how to prune.
Jobs for this month:
Flowering plants can last longer if you feed them weekly with liquid tomato feed or Miracle-Gro. Pay special attention to those in containers and hanging baskets. Deadheading early summer flowers will encourage more blooms. Plant growth can be rampant this month, so tie up sweet peas and climbing plants to help them scramble up.
The downside of the new growth is all the weeds sprouting up. A little and often approach to hoeing and weeding will stop them taking over. Mowing your lawn regularly will help control weeds. Add a layer of mulch to your borders to keep weeds down and helps plants to retain water.
Garsons at Winterdown Road, Esher has everything you need to care for your summer garden including options for conserving water –
Let’s hope we have a glorious summer ahead. Until next time, enjoy your garden!
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