What a fantastic weekend and our fabulous May-time gardens are keeping that feelgood vibe in top gear. Here are a few things to attend to when you’ve got a minute….
TYING UP THE LOOSE ENDS
Summer clematis are putting on a mass of growth just now, and you need to be vigilant about tying them in. I have found to my cost that many can be frighteningly brittle at the leaf joints if you are cack-handed or rushing the job, and some can get just plain sulky about being man-handled.
So, gently does it, and if a shoot has attached itself to a plant that it shouldn’t have, it’s sometimes better to cut the stem of the other plant (obviously, within reason!) rather than your pampered clematis princess.
EARTHING UP THE SPUDS
You want as many potatoes as possible of course, so as they grow, pile earth up around them, and they will rather cleverly develop new tubers on the buried stems. If you’re growing them in a bag or a pot, it’s even easier – just bung in more compost until the top leaves are up to their necks in it. Keep your growing spuds well-watered to make sure they’re strong and juicy.
PLANTS FOR FREE
Do you, like me and my sisters, sometimes feel horribly guilty at having succumbed to yet another irresistible but pricey plant? There is even another extremely dangerous Growbag Chelsea Saturday on the horizon!! Well, feel good about yourself again by making some plants for free. I promise you, it’s crazy-simple, and will work with all sorts of things – buddleia, hydrangea, lavatera, pelargoniums, fuchsias, euonymus, sambucus, penstemons….
Go out in the morning, when the sap is rising (the plants’ , not yours!) – and snip off about 10 cm of some soft growing shoots of your chosen plant. Don’t let them dry out (an un-PC plastic bag is best, really) and as quickly as you can, trim off the bottom leaves of each cutting, pinch out the soft tip, and push about 5 of them round the edge of a pot of compost.
Make the hole with a pencil first if they are too soft to push in. Water the pot, and put it in the plastic bag, fastened with a rubber band ( or unheated propagator if you have one). Take off the plastic bag twice a week for a few minutes to give the cuttings some ventilation. Put them in a warm place but not blazing sunshine. Most will root within a few weeks – hey presto! Lots of new plants to keep or give away, that cost you zilch.
* Aren’t forget-me-nots pretty! And don’t they get EVERYWHERE! Pull them up as they finish flowering, to prevent them dropping their seeds with wild abandon into every corner of your garden.
* I’m not much of a lawn person – indeed I eliminated grass completely from my Eastbourne garden – but I deeply admire a beautifully-maintained sward, and now’s the time to spread on a high-nitrogen feed. My ‘lawn-friend’ says you must try not to apply it in very dry weather, or the grass can get a bit scorched by it.
* Pinch out the tops of your half-hardies – Cosmos, tagetes etc. etc. – you will enjoy bushier, stronger plants with more flowers.
It’s always busy in May but still plenty of evening left at the end of the day to enjoy some fizz on the terrace/decking/patio, you deserve it! Next week we’ll be sharing our Chelsea winners – yes they’ll be a bit whacky!
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