My Garden by Philippa Thomas

Our Winter is finally slipping away to reveal our Spring, In Our Dalkey Air…So, we’re almost ready to discard our firesides, sofas, blankets and gardening books.  No one who gardens regularly (and pottering about, is many of our ways of relaxing,) – can doubt its health benefits… doesn’t it calm and order the mind and then, builds up a healthy appetite – and thirst, too! – as we anticipate and welcome our Spring Borders literally, surging into life and energy.  Hedges often get neglected at this time of the year, as they are the backgrounds of our displays rather than Our Potential Stars.  To enable strong healthy foliage, it is well worth clearing the weeds underneath and then, trimming their tops and giving them a good fertiliser.   As our warmer temperatures arrive, our grass is growing so we must be gentle with it and raise our mower blades to their highest settings to avoid cutting it too short while it is growing.

You may see in the early days of Spring, big fat bumblebees – , they look rather clumsy as they fly from flower to flower.  These bumblebees are Queens and are the sole survivors of their last years colonies.  In March, when our temperature rises they leave their Winter hiding place beneath the ground, – their thick fur keeps them from cooling down too much.  Buzzing loudly, they quickly go in search of energising nectar, that can be found in crocuses, snowdrops, bluebells, aconites, anenomies, narcissi, scillas, etc.

Assessing Your Soil Texture.

For an idea of your soil texture, take a small amount of damp soil and rub, between your palms, soils that feel gritty and will not form a ball that holds together, are sandy.  Those that form a ball or sausage shape, are higher in clay and silt… Some gardeners believe that the ideal garden soil is loam, since it drains freely, yet holds moisture and nutrients well.  Loam has a mix of clay, sand and silt.  Most soils can be improved by adding organic matter – However, there are some tough little survivors that go on surviving, even in the poorest of soils.  Several of these are self–seeded plants.

Top Ten Self – Seeding Plants.

  1. Common Poppy, Papavor.
  2. Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea.
  3. Verbena bonariensiensis, Everybody just loves this plant.
  4. Lady’s bonnets, Aquilegia.
  5. Lady’s – mantle. Alchemilla mollis, with its scalloped green leaves and frothy haze of lime green flowers that flush, twice.
  6. Forget–Me–Nots, Myostis.
  7. Fever Few, Chrysanthemum Parthenium.
  8. Honesty, Lunarin Annua.
  9. Sea Holly, Erynigium.
  10. Bronze fennel, Foeniculum.

Think, These plants flesh out the garden in months rather than years.  They are accommodating and versatile in their various forms and needs and provide continuity and interest with their flowers and foliage as they romp away, effortlessly and always look attractive.

Tidy Roses To Boost Growth and Beat Disease.

Is Not the Calming sight of Dew on a Rose petal – Not Persuasion Enough? ……………….

Then, We happily await our new growth of our Roses in the garden before we discover our first tender leaves, Rose aphids generally have already inhabited them.  The black eggs of the large Rose aphid, Macrosiphum Rosae, have wintered unnoticed in the woody shoots.  The wingless green aphids feed on sap, suckling it from the leaves with their proboscises and also from the tender rosebuds.  If the infestation becomes too severe, the plants are weakened by the numerous needle pricks of the proboscis and the loss of nutients.  As a result, our roses produce fewer shoots and flowers.  By May, these little creatures have developed wings and are now ready to colonise new nearby plants.  Both Hybrid Teas and Floribundas should be pruned in early Spring.  The main reason for pruning is to create a less overcrowded shrub so there is better air circulation to help to avoid fungal disease such as blackspot.  It will also encourage vigorous flower growth, – advisable to remove any weak or twiggy growth and stems that rub against each other.

Might Do Maybe, March Jobs

  1. Watch out for tempted bargains of Summer bulbs at cut prices. Sometimes, these can produce weaker plants and spindly stems.  Size really does matter.  Better to spend on large heavy bulbs. The bigger the bulb the stronger the plant and the larger the blooms.
  2. Cut back Climbers before they do damage. In Spring, they love to scramble under roof tiles and to wrap themselves around gutters.  – Gently tease them out.
  3. New bought plants take a while to grow new roots into your surrounding soil, so they are dependant on you, to keep them watered initially.
  4. Old trees and their branches can be colonised by moss but its nothing to worry about. They are mostly fruit frees and should be allowed to grow old gracefully, moss can be a decorative feature of the tree.
  5. Even a heavy downpour of rain won’t keep container compost moist as rain usually falls off the foliage and doesn’t permeate the roots or root ball.           Clay Pots:  Plants in clay pots need more water than those in plastic pots – the more porous the material the more water is sucked through it.  In cold weather, the pottery insulates and protects the root ball.  If you don’t like the white fleck, you can wash it off, using citrus or vinegar cleaner.  I must say I love it – , That Aesthetic Woodland Appearance.
  6. Seedlings: When they have two true leaves, seedlings are the ideal size for potting.
  7. Sedums benefit from The Chelsea Chop.
  8. Just one fresh bay leaf is enough for soups, stews and meat dishes. Fresh is more aromatic than dried.  Make small tears or cuts in the leaf to release the flavour.
  9. Avoid putting peanuts into bird feeders as the young nestlings can choke on them. Good foods to use are black sunflower seeds, meal worms, wax worms, soft apples and pears, bananas and grapes cut in half.
  10. Red Cabbage and Beetroot can stain your hands, red or purple. Citric Acid removes these stains, so rub your hands with half a used lemon and wash off immediately. ‘Same’ works for fish and garlic smells.

Worth  Remembering

In The ‘Which Garden Trial’, it was noticed  that the most popular flowers with butterflies were purple and orange.  And well watered plants will produce more nectar for hungry butterflies.

  • Linking Colours Creates Harmony And Continuity.
  • Flashes Of Colour in Borders Command Attention.