GNW A Year in the Garden

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P2 JANUARY<br />

Start prepar<strong>in</strong>g your soil<br />


Plant pre-potted bulbs<br />

P4 MARCH<br />

Look after your lawn<br />

P5 APRIL<br />

Pack veg <strong>in</strong>to tight spaces<br />

P6 MAY<br />

Check your houseplants<br />

P7 JUNE<br />

Fill gaps <strong>in</strong> borders<br />

P8 JULY<br />

Take cutt<strong>in</strong>gs of shrubs<br />

P9 AUGUST<br />

Plant a strawberry pot<br />


Sow autumn broad beans<br />

P11 OCTOBER<br />

Plant beautiful grasses<br />


Make wild bird seed fat balls<br />

P13 DECEMBER<br />

Plant up a Christmas gift herb pot

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

January<br />

TOP TIPS<br />

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

February<br />

1Home-made garden<br />

compost is an excellent<br />

source of organic<br />

matter that will help<br />

improve your garden soil.<br />

PLANT<br />


BULBS<br />

It's a great way to get a<br />

quick colourful display<br />



This vital job is key to hav<strong>in</strong>g healthy and productive crops<br />

2Organic matter can<br />

be dug <strong>in</strong> with a spade<br />

or spread on <strong>the</strong><br />

surface, lightly forked <strong>in</strong>to<br />

<strong>the</strong> top few <strong>in</strong>ches of soil.<br />

3Green manure sown <strong>in</strong><br />

autumn on bare soil<br />

can be dug <strong>in</strong>. This<br />

improves <strong>the</strong> structure and<br />

reta<strong>in</strong>s nutrients.<br />

There’s only so<br />

much you can do<br />

<strong>in</strong> autumn and<br />

early w<strong>in</strong>ter before<br />

it all starts to get<br />

overwhelm<strong>in</strong>g with <strong>the</strong> tidy<br />

up and plant<strong>in</strong>g schemes<br />

you have planned. So it’s no<br />

surprise that many gardeners<br />

don’t get round to much bulb<br />

plant<strong>in</strong>g, rely<strong>in</strong>g on last year’s<br />

<strong>in</strong>put, or only get a few packets<br />

<strong>in</strong> before runn<strong>in</strong>g out of time.<br />

It happens to <strong>the</strong> best of us!<br />

So it’s hearten<strong>in</strong>g to see<br />

garden centres sell<strong>in</strong>g shelves<br />

and shelves of pre-planted<br />

bulbs now, all <strong>in</strong> leaf and with<br />

emerg<strong>in</strong>g blooms on <strong>the</strong>ir way.<br />

And <strong>the</strong>re’s a good selection<br />

<strong>the</strong>se days, too; not only are<br />

<strong>the</strong>re <strong>the</strong> common snowdrops<br />

and ‘Tête-à-tête’ daffs, with<br />

<strong>the</strong> odd crocus thrown <strong>in</strong>,<br />

<strong>the</strong>re tend to be all manner of<br />

colours of early iris, narcissus<br />

and species tulips, too.<br />



It’s certa<strong>in</strong>ly not cheat<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

cut out <strong>the</strong> middle man and<br />

fast forward to plant<strong>in</strong>g stage!<br />

They’re not that expensive,<br />

and we buy o<strong>the</strong>r pre-planted<br />

plants so why not bulbs?<br />

My particular favourites are <strong>the</strong><br />

elegant daffs <strong>in</strong> creamy whites and<br />

subtle yellows, such as ‘M<strong>in</strong>now’<br />

or ‘Thalia’, for example, or even<br />

better, dwarf N. canaliculatus.<br />

Pop a few pots <strong>in</strong>, surround with<br />

primroses and ivy to cover up <strong>the</strong><br />

bare soil and you’ve got yourself<br />

a cheap, easy display <strong>in</strong> no time.<br />

Below are some terrific<br />

potted bulbs available at<br />

most garden centres now.<br />

The old garden<strong>in</strong>g<br />

say<strong>in</strong>gs “<strong>the</strong> answer<br />

lies <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> soil” and<br />

“you can’t keep tak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

from <strong>the</strong> soil without<br />

putt<strong>in</strong>g someth<strong>in</strong>g back”, are<br />

both true. For our veg plots to<br />

be productive we’ve got to look<br />

after <strong>the</strong> soil and if you haven’t<br />

already started, now's <strong>the</strong> time<br />

to get crack<strong>in</strong>g ready for spr<strong>in</strong>g<br />

sow<strong>in</strong>g and plant<strong>in</strong>g. Whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

you're a digger or no-dig gardener,<br />

a vital <strong>in</strong>gredient for good soil is<br />

organic matter, which feeds soil<br />

organisms, bacteria and fungi<br />

that keep it healthy and fertile.<br />

We do this by add<strong>in</strong>g garden<br />

compost, well-rotted manure,<br />

mushroom compost, leaf mould<br />

or bagged soil conditioner.<br />

Ideally, we should add organic<br />

matter to our plot on a regular<br />

basis, but don’t use fresh or<br />

bulky manure where root crops<br />

such as carrots, beetroot and<br />

parsnips are be<strong>in</strong>g grown, to<br />

prevent <strong>the</strong> roots fork<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Green manures sown <strong>in</strong><br />

autumn are ano<strong>the</strong>r source of<br />

organic matter and <strong>the</strong>se can be<br />

dug <strong>in</strong> at this time of <strong>the</strong> year.<br />

On heavy, clay ground organic<br />

matter improves dra<strong>in</strong>age and<br />

opens up soil to let more air <strong>in</strong><br />

for healthy root growth. On light,<br />

sandy soil it improves moisture<br />

and nutrient retention to help<br />

plants cope <strong>in</strong> dry conditions.<br />

4For no-dig plots,<br />

apply a couple of<br />

<strong>in</strong>ches of organic<br />

matter to weed-free soil<br />

and leave it on <strong>the</strong> surface.<br />

Narcissus ‘Sailboat’<br />

Lovely scent, swept back white<br />

petals with yellow centre.<br />

Elegant at 35cm (1¼ft) tall.<br />

Iris ‘Spr<strong>in</strong>g Time’<br />

Charm<strong>in</strong>g bi-colour with lilac and<br />

dark purple petals and white and<br />

yellow spotted flashes.<br />

W<strong>in</strong>ter aconites<br />

Bright pops of buttercup-yellow<br />

to naturalise <strong>in</strong> swa<strong>the</strong>s under<br />

deciduous trees.<br />

Crocus ‘Blue Pearl’<br />

Attractive lilac-white bi-colour with<br />

yellow throat. Naturalise or try <strong>in</strong> a<br />

rock garden.<br />

2 <strong>Garden</strong> News <strong>Garden</strong> News 3

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

March<br />



It's <strong>the</strong> perfect time to give it<br />

a little spr<strong>in</strong>g ma<strong>in</strong>tenance<br />

Awell-kept lawn is a great<br />

asset and helps to set off<br />

plants and borders. It's<br />

often <strong>the</strong> first th<strong>in</strong>g you<br />

see as you enter a garden<br />

and it provides colour all year round.<br />

It’s also an area where you can sit and<br />

relax, a place for children and pets to<br />

play, a feed<strong>in</strong>g area for many birds and<br />

we mustn’t forget <strong>the</strong> vast quantities<br />

of oxygen that lawns produce for us.<br />

The ma<strong>in</strong> way to keep a lawn <strong>in</strong><br />

good condition is to mow little and<br />

often through <strong>the</strong> grow<strong>in</strong>g season to<br />

ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> a thick, healthy cover<strong>in</strong>g of<br />

grass. A spr<strong>in</strong>g feed encourages growth<br />

over <strong>the</strong> summer and an autumn<br />

feed prepares <strong>the</strong> lawn for w<strong>in</strong>ter.<br />

Occasionally, a little extra work can<br />

be carried out to ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> or improve a<br />

lawn and now's <strong>the</strong> perfect time to scarify<br />

and aerate a lawn. Scarify<strong>in</strong>g to rake out<br />

moss and dead plant material (thatch)<br />

from <strong>the</strong> base of <strong>the</strong> lawn encourages<br />

new grass growth. Aerat<strong>in</strong>g with a solid<br />

t<strong>in</strong>e helps to reduce compaction and<br />

improves dra<strong>in</strong>age. Where soil is very<br />

wet or compacted, hollow t<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g can be<br />

done. This removes cores of soil that need<br />

sweep<strong>in</strong>g from <strong>the</strong> lawn. Well-dra<strong>in</strong>ed soil<br />

or sharp sand can <strong>the</strong>n be brushed <strong>in</strong>to<br />

<strong>the</strong> holes to improve <strong>the</strong> soil and dra<strong>in</strong>age.<br />

TOP TIPS<br />

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

April<br />

Sow peas direct<br />

for a summer harvest<br />



Plants are just as prolific as <strong>the</strong>ir more sizeable cous<strong>in</strong>s<br />



Courgette ‘Eight Ball'<br />

A compact, bushy plant that<br />

doesn’t sprawl as o<strong>the</strong>rs do, with<br />

fun snooker-ball-sized fruits.<br />

www.victoriananursery.co.uk.<br />

Cauliflower ‘Igloo’<br />

Bred for close plant<strong>in</strong>g to create<br />

m<strong>in</strong>i tennis ball-sized heads.<br />

Harvest from early summer.<br />

www.nickys-nursery.co.uk.<br />

Kale ‘Dwarf<br />

Green Curled’<br />

Perfect for pots or for grow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> w<strong>in</strong>dy gardens with poor soil.<br />

It has a compact habit.<br />

www.dobies.co.uk.<br />

1Small areas of lawn can be<br />

raked by hand with a wire<br />

rake. This removes thatch<br />

and makes <strong>the</strong> lawn less spongy to<br />

walk on.<br />

2For larger areas it’s worth<br />

us<strong>in</strong>g an electric or petrol<br />

scarifier that makes light<br />

work of remov<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> thatch from<br />

<strong>the</strong> lawn.<br />

3If parts of <strong>the</strong> lawn are<br />

compacted or dra<strong>in</strong> poorly,<br />

use a garden fork pushed <strong>in</strong>to<br />

<strong>the</strong> lawn 10cm (4<strong>in</strong>) to help get air<br />

<strong>in</strong>to <strong>the</strong> soil.<br />

4Where compaction is a<br />

problem, consider hir<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

hollow t<strong>in</strong>e spiker to remove<br />

cores of soil, that can be filled with<br />

sharp sand.<br />

The wonderful th<strong>in</strong>g<br />

about grow<strong>in</strong>g fruit<br />

and veg <strong>the</strong>se days is<br />

<strong>the</strong> lengths growers<br />

and breeders go to<br />

to make it easier for us to grow<br />

our own. And as our gardens and<br />

plots get smaller – ei<strong>the</strong>r because<br />

we’ve chosen a more manageable<br />

grow<strong>in</strong>g space <strong>in</strong> keep<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

our busy lives, or because houses<br />

don’t come with as big a plot<br />

<strong>the</strong>se days – <strong>the</strong>y’ve seen fit to<br />

breed smaller plants for us to<br />

squeeze <strong>in</strong> accord<strong>in</strong>gly.<br />

Whe<strong>the</strong>r you just have pots<br />

to grow <strong>in</strong> or a few small raised<br />

beds, <strong>the</strong>re’s someth<strong>in</strong>g to grow <strong>in</strong><br />

every space, and often <strong>the</strong> plants<br />

are just as prolific as <strong>the</strong>ir more<br />

sizeable cous<strong>in</strong>s, and won’t need<br />

stak<strong>in</strong>g ei<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Dwarf plants can be ra<strong>the</strong>r<br />

more useful for <strong>the</strong> modern<br />

gardener, produc<strong>in</strong>g smaller<br />

yields and us<strong>in</strong>g less space so our<br />

freezers and outhouses aren’t<br />

<strong>in</strong>undated with crops. There are<br />

only so many marrows you can<br />

offload onto your neighbours!<br />

Be<strong>in</strong>g sown here is dwarf<br />

pea ‘Oskar’, a prolific podder<br />

and a fantastic dim<strong>in</strong>utive<br />

variety at only 90cm (3ft) tall,<br />

with extremely sweet peas. Its<br />

appeal<strong>in</strong>g quality, apart from its<br />

handy stature for small gardens,<br />

is that it crops very early at <strong>the</strong><br />

start of <strong>the</strong> pea season. Sown<br />

from March you can harvest<br />

from May, and sown direct now<br />

you should be gett<strong>in</strong>g peas <strong>in</strong><br />

June. Available from Real Seeds,<br />

www.realseeds.co.uk. Here are a<br />

few more to try out now.<br />

French bean<br />

‘Purple Queen’<br />

Long, dark purple str<strong>in</strong>gless<br />

beans on compact plants.<br />

Perfect for pots. www.<br />

victoriananursery.co.uk.<br />

4 <strong>Garden</strong> News <strong>Garden</strong> News 5

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

May<br />

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

June<br />



Now's <strong>the</strong> perfect time<br />

to give <strong>the</strong>m a quick<br />

MOT as <strong>the</strong>y start<br />

mak<strong>in</strong>g new growth<br />

Houseplants are back <strong>in</strong> a big way<br />

and more and more people are<br />

grow<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>m <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir homes.<br />

Not only do <strong>the</strong>y look good, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

br<strong>in</strong>g health benefits <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> form<br />

of produc<strong>in</strong>g oxygen and help<strong>in</strong>g to filter <strong>the</strong><br />

air that we breath. There’s also <strong>the</strong> feel-good<br />

factor of hav<strong>in</strong>g liv<strong>in</strong>g plants around you.<br />

Houseplants can be grown all year, but<br />

it’s from now on with <strong>the</strong> better light levels<br />

that <strong>the</strong>y make new growth and often<br />

look <strong>the</strong>ir best. So it's <strong>the</strong> perfect time to<br />

check plants and carry out any rout<strong>in</strong>e<br />

care on <strong>the</strong>m to keep <strong>the</strong>m healthy and<br />

grow<strong>in</strong>g all through <strong>the</strong> summer and<br />

<strong>in</strong>to autumn. This might be as simple as<br />

remov<strong>in</strong>g any dead or damaged foliage<br />

and wip<strong>in</strong>g down <strong>the</strong> foliage to remove<br />

dust. Or, check<strong>in</strong>g to make sure plants are<br />

watered to ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> moist compost and fed<br />

every few weeks to promote new leaves.<br />

While plants are mak<strong>in</strong>g active growth,<br />

it’s also <strong>the</strong> perfect time to repot <strong>the</strong>m. If <strong>the</strong><br />

plant has stopped grow<strong>in</strong>g and looks pale,<br />

check <strong>the</strong> roots by carefully remov<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> pot.<br />

If <strong>the</strong> roots are tight and congested, pot up<br />

<strong>in</strong>to a slightly larger pot us<strong>in</strong>g fresh compost.<br />

You can <strong>the</strong>n enjoy your houseplants at<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir best over <strong>the</strong> com<strong>in</strong>g months.<br />


Now’s <strong>the</strong> time to pop <strong>in</strong> extra plants for added garden impact<br />

It’s at this time you can really<br />

see where <strong>the</strong> floral wow<br />

factor may be lack<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> your<br />

garden. You’ve planted up<br />

most areas and let <strong>the</strong> plants<br />

do <strong>the</strong>ir th<strong>in</strong>g – but once <strong>the</strong>y’ve<br />

filled out are <strong>the</strong>re any glar<strong>in</strong>g<br />

gaps present?<br />

It’s good to not overdo it to<br />

start with <strong>in</strong> spr<strong>in</strong>g, buy<strong>in</strong>g fewer<br />

plants and lett<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>m reach<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir summer potential first.<br />

Then you can leave room for<br />

some real crackers at a later<br />

date to add z<strong>in</strong>g. Your plants will<br />

have enough room to thrive and<br />

you’ll save money by not buy<strong>in</strong>g<br />

unnecessary plants – difficult to<br />

do, of course, when <strong>the</strong> shops are<br />

filled with beautiful specimens!<br />

Your best bet for add<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

<strong>the</strong> melee of blooms <strong>in</strong> your<br />

border is to get to your favourite<br />

garden centre or nursery, and<br />

for <strong>the</strong> most impact, f<strong>in</strong>d plants<br />

that are bloom<strong>in</strong>g now. You<br />

may even f<strong>in</strong>d some barga<strong>in</strong>s<br />

as <strong>the</strong> centres are try<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

make room for newer stock.<br />

Go for hostas or dead nettles<br />

for shade, while geraniums,<br />

grasses, anyth<strong>in</strong>g from <strong>the</strong> daisy<br />

family, achillea, penstemons or<br />

hollyhocks are all good doers<br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> sun, and will give muchneeded<br />

colour and impact.<br />

TOP TIPS<br />



1Wipe down large leaves to<br />

remove dust that’s built up<br />

and mist regularly to create<br />

humid conditions.<br />

2If a plant’s potbound and<br />

not mak<strong>in</strong>g new growth,<br />

repot <strong>in</strong>to a slightly larger<br />

pot with fresh compost.<br />

3Keep your plants watered<br />

through <strong>the</strong> summer months<br />

to ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> moist compost<br />

and feed fortnightly.<br />

4To <strong>in</strong>crease your favourite<br />

houseplants, propagate by<br />

division, leaf cutt<strong>in</strong>gs or<br />

short stem cutt<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

Spiraea ‘Goldflame’<br />

A wonderful ’doer’ shrub – brightly<br />

coloured and trouble free <strong>in</strong> a sunny<br />

spot and fertile, well-dra<strong>in</strong>ed soil.<br />

Geranium ‘Max Frei’<br />

Geraniums are so easy and this one<br />

will brighten up <strong>the</strong> front of a border.<br />

Low-grow<strong>in</strong>g and bright p<strong>in</strong>k blooms.<br />

Hakonechloa<br />

A grass for a moist, part-shaded<br />

spot. Try bronze ‘Nicolas’, variegated<br />

‘Aureola’, or z<strong>in</strong>gy lime ‘All Gold’.<br />

Achillea<br />

A brilliant upright border filler. There’s<br />

one <strong>in</strong> every colour but ‘Terracotta’<br />

and ‘Cerise Queen’ are gorgeous.<br />

6 <strong>Garden</strong> News <strong>Garden</strong> News 7

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

July<br />



The softwood type should root<br />

with<strong>in</strong> weeks <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> right conditions<br />

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

August<br />


1Fill <strong>the</strong> lower part of <strong>the</strong><br />

pot with compost. Always<br />

firm <strong>the</strong> compost and<br />

plant each level as you fill.<br />

Through <strong>the</strong> summer<br />

many popular<br />

garden shrubs, such<br />

as philadelphus,<br />

hydrangea, deutzia,<br />

weigela, kolkwitzia, spiraea,<br />

buddleja and many more, can<br />

be propagated from cutt<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

At this time of year <strong>the</strong> young<br />

growth is still soft and <strong>the</strong> short<br />

cutt<strong>in</strong>gs are known as softwood<br />

cutt<strong>in</strong>gs. This type of cutt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

should root <strong>in</strong> around four weeks<br />

if you can provide <strong>the</strong> correct<br />

conditions, which are moisture,<br />

humidity and not too much heat.<br />

Softwood cutt<strong>in</strong>gs wilt quickly<br />

so it’s important to keep <strong>the</strong>m out<br />

of direct sun and somewhere shady<br />

and cool. An enclosed propagator<br />

on a north-fac<strong>in</strong>g w<strong>in</strong>dowsill or<br />

shaded greenhouse is ideal and<br />

will provide <strong>the</strong> humidity needed<br />

to prevent <strong>the</strong> soft cutt<strong>in</strong>gs from<br />

wilt<strong>in</strong>g until roots develop. Most<br />

softwood cutt<strong>in</strong>gs will root without<br />

additional heat <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> summer,<br />

although a little gentle base heat<br />

can help roots to develop as long<br />

as you can keep <strong>the</strong> leaves of<br />

<strong>the</strong> cutt<strong>in</strong>gs cool and hydrated<br />

by regular mist<strong>in</strong>g with water.<br />


1Trim <strong>the</strong> cutt<strong>in</strong>gs to 5-7cm<br />

(2-3<strong>in</strong>) just below a leaf jo<strong>in</strong>t<br />

and remove <strong>the</strong> lower leaves<br />

to create a clear stem.<br />

The secret is to collect <strong>the</strong><br />

cutt<strong>in</strong>gs early morn<strong>in</strong>g while it’s<br />

still cool and prepare and <strong>in</strong>sert<br />

<strong>the</strong>m <strong>in</strong>to compost straight<br />

2If you use a root<strong>in</strong>g hormone<br />

treat <strong>the</strong> base of <strong>the</strong> cutt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and <strong>in</strong>sert <strong>in</strong>to trays of<br />

cutt<strong>in</strong>g compost<br />

away. Root<strong>in</strong>g compounds can<br />

be used, but softwoods tend<br />

to root without it <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> correct<br />

conditions. When it comes to<br />

3Place cutt<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong>to <strong>the</strong><br />

propagator and water. Mist<br />

regularly or cover with th<strong>in</strong><br />

poly<strong>the</strong>ne to create humidity.<br />

compost, a multi-purpose is f<strong>in</strong>e,<br />

with 25 per cent added Perlite or<br />

Vermiculite to improve porosity<br />

around <strong>the</strong> base of <strong>the</strong> cutt<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

4Or you can <strong>in</strong>sert several<br />

cutt<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong>to a small pot,<br />

water and place a poly<strong>the</strong>ne<br />

bag over to seal <strong>in</strong> moisture.<br />

PLANT A<br />


It gives plants time to establish for bumper crops next year<br />

Strawberries are <strong>the</strong><br />

easiest of all soft fruit<br />

to grow and <strong>the</strong>y’re<br />

quick, too. They can be<br />

grown <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> ground,<br />

<strong>in</strong> raised beds, pots and grow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

bags. But <strong>the</strong> traditional way<br />

to grow <strong>the</strong>m on <strong>the</strong> patio is<br />

<strong>in</strong> strawberry pots. These are<br />

usually made of terracotta but<br />

you can buy less expensive k<strong>in</strong>ds<br />

made of plastic. They all have<br />

plant<strong>in</strong>g pockets around a central<br />

core. The advantage of <strong>the</strong>m<br />

is that <strong>the</strong>y raise <strong>the</strong> plants off<br />

<strong>the</strong> ground, which can reduce<br />

slug damage, <strong>the</strong>y take up little<br />

space and <strong>the</strong>y’re easy to net,<br />

protect<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> fruits from birds.<br />

Plant<strong>in</strong>g now allows plants<br />

to establish so <strong>the</strong>y’ll crop well<br />

next year. You can plant with<br />

potted plants or with bare-root<br />

runners, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g any you’ve<br />

rooted yourself. An advantage<br />

is that <strong>the</strong> pots, while heavy, are<br />

mobile so <strong>the</strong>y can be moved<br />

to a cold greenhouse <strong>in</strong> spr<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to encourage early fruits.<br />

Although you can use any<br />

multi-purpose compost, I<br />

prefer to mix this with equal<br />

parts of John Innes No 3. It<br />

makes it easier to water and<br />

it prevents <strong>the</strong> compost from<br />

shr<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g or slump<strong>in</strong>g over time.<br />

Add controlled-release fertiliser<br />

to feed <strong>the</strong> young plants.<br />

It can be difficult to water<br />

evenly <strong>in</strong> a strawberry pot<br />

because water can run out of<br />

<strong>the</strong> side plant<strong>in</strong>g holes and not<br />

reach <strong>the</strong> bottom of <strong>the</strong> pot.<br />

And <strong>in</strong> w<strong>in</strong>ter <strong>the</strong> lower levels<br />

can be wet. So, it’s worth putt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

some gravel or broken pots <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> base for dra<strong>in</strong>age and to<br />

put a plastic bottle <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> top<br />

with holes made <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> base.<br />

This allows you to get water to<br />

<strong>the</strong> lower levels <strong>in</strong> summer.<br />

2Put <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> lower level of<br />

plants. Make sure <strong>the</strong>y’re<br />

well watered before<br />

plant<strong>in</strong>g. Plant so <strong>the</strong> crowns<br />

aren’t buried or <strong>the</strong>y may rot.<br />

3Add more compost up to<br />

<strong>the</strong> next level and add<br />

<strong>the</strong> next layer of plants.<br />

Include a plastic bottle or a<br />

tube to make water<strong>in</strong>g easier.<br />

4Add compost to <strong>the</strong><br />

top and put <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> last<br />

plants. Give it a thorough<br />

water<strong>in</strong>g and keep <strong>in</strong> a shady<br />

spot until established.<br />

8 <strong>Garden</strong> News <strong>Garden</strong> News 9

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

September<br />



Start prepp<strong>in</strong>g seeds now for a feast to harvest <strong>in</strong> spr<strong>in</strong>g<br />



Dwarf ‘The Sutton’<br />

This classic, tasty dwarf variety<br />

has an RHS AGM for excellent<br />

garden performance.<br />

Dwarf ‘Rob<strong>in</strong> Hood’<br />

Sow this <strong>in</strong> autumn <strong>in</strong> mild<br />

areas only for lots of short pods.<br />

Perfect for pots.<br />

Tall ‘Aquadulce<br />

Claudia’<br />

The best bean to sow <strong>in</strong> autumn<br />

for overw<strong>in</strong>ter<strong>in</strong>g outside.<br />

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

October<br />

PLANT<br />



They’ll br<strong>in</strong>g movement and<br />

colour to brighten autumn days<br />

Grasses are great plants for autumn,<br />

add<strong>in</strong>g fullness and movement<br />

on blustery days. Some have<br />

good colour now, too. They’re low<br />

ma<strong>in</strong>tenance, grow well <strong>in</strong> poor<br />

soil and look good for much of <strong>the</strong> year.<br />

Hardier, cool climate grasses should be planted<br />

now, but it’s best to wait until spr<strong>in</strong>g to plant<br />

warm climate grasses, which may struggle <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>ir first w<strong>in</strong>ter before <strong>the</strong>y’re established. Go for<br />

stipa species and varieties, deschampsia, carex,<br />

festuca, mol<strong>in</strong>ia, calamagrostis and hakonechloa,<br />

but leave plant<strong>in</strong>g pennisetum, miscanthus<br />

and panicum, for example, until spr<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

As a general rule, grasses cope with a<br />

wide range of conditions, but treat <strong>the</strong>m to<br />

an open, sunny spot <strong>in</strong> light, moist, welldra<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

soil and you won’t go far wrong.<br />

A handful of general purpose balanced<br />

fertiliser <strong>in</strong> spr<strong>in</strong>g will be all <strong>the</strong>y need.<br />

Grasses can be some of <strong>the</strong> most longlast<strong>in</strong>g<br />

plants <strong>in</strong> your garden and are very<br />

easy-go<strong>in</strong>g. I’ve had my Stipa tenuissima<br />

(pictured) <strong>in</strong> a large pot for at least four years<br />

and it has thrived, provid<strong>in</strong>g no-ma<strong>in</strong>tenance<br />

charm all year round. Below are some perfect<br />

grasses to seek out for your plot now.<br />

● Available from www.crocus.co.uk<br />

or www.knollgardens.co.uk.<br />



While <strong>the</strong> ground<br />

is still warm over<br />

<strong>the</strong> next month<br />

or two, keep <strong>the</strong><br />

grow<strong>in</strong>g go<strong>in</strong>g on<br />

your plot by sow<strong>in</strong>g some tasty<br />

broad beans for next year. You<br />

can wait until spr<strong>in</strong>g, but if you do<br />

it now you’ll get beans nice and<br />

early <strong>in</strong> late spr<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>stead of a<br />

few weeks later.<br />

Bean seeds sown over <strong>the</strong><br />

next few weeks will take about<br />

a fortnight or so to germ<strong>in</strong>ate<br />

and you’ll have young plants<br />

<strong>in</strong> situ that can overw<strong>in</strong>ter<br />

and spr<strong>in</strong>g forth <strong>in</strong> March and<br />

April to cont<strong>in</strong>ue <strong>in</strong>to mature<br />

plants before fruit<strong>in</strong>g. Dur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

cold snaps, or if you don’t live<br />

<strong>in</strong> a particularly mild area,<br />

you’ll need to fleece or cloche<br />

<strong>the</strong>se little plants. When plant<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> a pot this is vital as potted<br />

crops can be vulnerable to <strong>the</strong><br />

elements. Sow about 5-6cm deep,<br />

at least 15cm apart and water<br />

well. Make sure <strong>the</strong> soil <strong>the</strong>y are<br />

<strong>in</strong> is well dra<strong>in</strong>ed so <strong>the</strong> seeds are<br />

less likely to rot <strong>in</strong> w<strong>in</strong>ter wea<strong>the</strong>r<br />

and stand potted crops on pot<br />

feet so <strong>the</strong> pot’s moisture can<br />

freely run clear, too.<br />

Tall ‘Oscar’<br />

This upright, sturdy plant of up<br />

to 1m tall produces <strong>the</strong> smallest<br />

beans, that are tender and juicy.<br />

Stipa tenuissima<br />

A reliable, soft hair-like grass that’s<br />

easy ma<strong>in</strong>tenance all year round.<br />

Compact for pots.<br />

Festuca glauca<br />

An evergreen that forms small<br />

clumps of bright blue to adorn pots,<br />

rockeries and borders.<br />

Calamagrostis<br />

‘Karl Foerster’<br />

Green and lilac until autumn when<br />

it bleaches to a straw colour.<br />

Hakonechloa ‘Nicolas’<br />

Low hummocks of green<br />

leaves that take on superb bronzeorange<br />

autumn colour.<br />

10 <strong>Garden</strong> News <strong>Garden</strong> News 11

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

November<br />

What to do<br />

THIS<br />

MONTH<br />

December<br />






The quick and easy treats<br />

will keep our fea<strong>the</strong>red<br />

friends happy <strong>in</strong> w<strong>in</strong>ter<br />

Home-made bird seed fat balls are<br />

a lovely way to feed your local<br />

wildlife while also hav<strong>in</strong>g fun!<br />

Fat balls are quick and easy to<br />

make and are a perfect messy<br />

project to do with kids on a ra<strong>in</strong>y day.<br />

Dur<strong>in</strong>g w<strong>in</strong>ter, birds need calories to stay warm,<br />

so select seed that is high <strong>in</strong> fat and prote<strong>in</strong> as<br />

this will give <strong>the</strong>m an energy boost. Sunflower<br />

hearts, black sunflower and nyjer seed, chopped<br />

unsalted peanuts and red and white millet are<br />

all great choices. Buy good quality pre-made<br />

seed mixes or make up your own bespoke mix.<br />

Why not make a big batch of fat balls and keep <strong>the</strong><br />

extra ones <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> fridge or freezer until <strong>the</strong>y’re go<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to be used. Be aware fat balls deteriorate if hang<strong>in</strong>g<br />

around a while, particularly <strong>in</strong> warm wea<strong>the</strong>r, so<br />

remove and replace to avoid rott<strong>in</strong>g. Hang <strong>the</strong> bird<br />

seed fat balls close to trees or shrubs so birds can<br />

quickly take cover if feel<strong>in</strong>g threatened. Many birds,<br />

such as sparrows, tits, starl<strong>in</strong>gs and goldf<strong>in</strong>ches, like<br />

to perch while feed<strong>in</strong>g, whereas rob<strong>in</strong>s and blackbirds<br />

are also happy ground feed<strong>in</strong>g and will hoover up<br />

any dropped seed. A mixture of seed <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> fat balls<br />

will make sure you attract lots of different birds to<br />

your garden. Just avoid plac<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> tasty treats where<br />

cats could easily creep on our fea<strong>the</strong>red friends.<br />


PLANT UP A<br />



Herb pots make<br />

super garden<strong>in</strong>g gifts<br />

Show you care with a liv<strong>in</strong>g present that’s useful too!<br />

Rosemary<br />

A classic hardy, evergreen shrub<br />

with a strong aroma, perfect for<br />

stews and w<strong>in</strong>ter roasts.<br />

Curry plant<br />

So called for <strong>the</strong> smell of its<br />

leaves. Use <strong>in</strong> cookery, for edible<br />

flowers or as a dried flower.<br />

Thyme<br />

Visit www.hooksgreenherbs.com<br />

for a selection of thymes,<br />

all aromatic and flower<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> summer.<br />

1You’ll need a pan, lard (or<br />

suet), wild bird seed, cake<br />

t<strong>in</strong>s, p<strong>in</strong>econes and garden<br />

tw<strong>in</strong>e to tie and make a hanger.<br />

2Mix room temperature lard<br />

and wild bird seed toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

<strong>in</strong> a pan or briefly warm<br />

on <strong>the</strong> hob to soften <strong>the</strong> lard.<br />

3Spoon bird seed mixture <strong>in</strong>to<br />

moulds or push <strong>in</strong>to p<strong>in</strong>econe<br />

scales. Your hand warmth<br />

will warm <strong>the</strong> mix to shape.<br />

4Push tw<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong>to mixture.<br />

Pop <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> fridge and leave<br />

overnight until set. Remove<br />

moulds and hang <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> garden.<br />

If you still need <strong>in</strong>spiration<br />

for a last-m<strong>in</strong>ute gift, <strong>the</strong>n<br />

why not create <strong>the</strong> perfect<br />

present for any budd<strong>in</strong>g<br />

gardeners who are dab hands<br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> kitchen? After all, is <strong>the</strong>re<br />

a better gift than a herb pot filled<br />

with beautiful aromas that’s also<br />

relatively easy to look after?<br />

An array of evergreen herbs,<br />

all available now to plant will<br />

adorn a patio all year round<br />

with smell and colour, and<br />

flowers too <strong>in</strong> many cases.<br />

They’re all low ma<strong>in</strong>tenance<br />

and <strong>the</strong> natural act of snipp<strong>in</strong>g<br />

off segments of herbs to use<br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> kitchen is a healthy<br />

prun<strong>in</strong>g exercise for your plants,<br />

though some woody plants,<br />

such as rosemary, need to<br />

be kept <strong>in</strong> check and pruned<br />

after flower<strong>in</strong>g to keep <strong>the</strong>m<br />

bushy. O<strong>the</strong>rwise <strong>the</strong>y’ll get<br />

leggy and turn <strong>in</strong>to tall, woody<br />

stems with not much top growth.<br />

Herbs can be replaced every few<br />

years to refresh <strong>the</strong> collection.<br />

Once planted up, decorate<br />

with ribbons and berried stems,<br />

perhaps, for a festive feel! Advise<br />

your giftee to pop <strong>the</strong>ir planter<br />

<strong>in</strong> a sunny spot, or keep it on a<br />

w<strong>in</strong>dowsill or <strong>in</strong> a conservatory<br />

for easy access until <strong>the</strong> spr<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

mak<strong>in</strong>g sure to water sufficiently.<br />

Santol<strong>in</strong>a<br />

Known as cotton lavender, hardy<br />

and a good moth repellent.<br />

Produces yellow button flowers.<br />

12 <strong>Garden</strong> News <strong>Garden</strong> News 13

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