Seasonal Gardening Tips
Seasonal Gardening Tips and Advice from Garsons
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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