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This week in Call
0330 333 1113
24 MARCH 2018

Jobs for this week

4 It’s time to get your gardening year started, says Ruth
6 How to prepare your soil for this year’s burst of colour!
7 Ruth explains how to do this in six easy stages
8 It’s time to get to grips with your post-winter clean-up
4 “Plan now to get the most out of
the Easter break,” says Ruth 10 Now is the perfect time to start this year’s crop, says Ruth
20 Aster ‘Milady Mixed’ is a long-blooming favourite

Great garden ideas

22 Graham Rice chooses six large, late-flowered varieties
26 Tamsin Westhorpe suggests six great plants for instant impact
28 We reveal the best for cutting, borders, wildlife and scent
32 Hazel Sillver on the plants and techniques you need for success
26 “Six great plants for instant
impact,” says Tamsin 55 GET THE LOOK

How one reader created a garden of many styles

Gardening wisdom
12 Be prepared for changes in the weather, says Peter
15 What should you do about weeds? Bob has a plan…
16 Sow lettuces, outdoor tomatoes and mulch fruit bushes
19 Why the ashy mining bee digs and the bee fly takes advantage

28 “I reveal the best hardy
annuals,” says Graham
36 How to start a new strawberry bed
39 Jazzing-up a gravelly patch, sick skimmia, mystery bulbs
43 Allotment wildlife, beware of garden-centre temptation
46 Tips on growing this cottage-garden favourite
48 Facts, puzzles and fancies with the lawn as a theme
59 Toby gets himself into a sticky situation with insects
Reader offers
46 “Foxgloves are perfect for the
country garden,” says Anne 52 Your chance to save up to £200 on a new greenhouse

“Are you prepared for the upcoming Easter

break? Four whole days to lift your garden
GIVE A GIFT SUBSCRIPTION! out of its winter gloom and back on the
road to summer bloom! Remember to use
Call 0330 333 1113 that time wisely – and the key to success is
planning. Work out what you want to achieve,
or: don’t over-promise and don’t forget to enjoy
yourself.” Garry Coward-Williams, Editor
Cover photograph: Sunflower (Helianthus). Pic: Alamy
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes

This weedy area needed

clearing for grass sowing
The four-day
weekend gives you Step Adding
a chance to crack on
with longer tasks by step alpines to
a rockery

1 Dig a hole as deep as your

plant’s rootball. Add some grit
for drainage.

Nettles are a
nightmare to get out!
Please don’t remove all
your weeds as many
provide food for visiting
butterflies and their
caterpillars, such as garlic
mustard for orange-
tip butterflies. 2 Slide the plant from its pot and
tease out any circling roots.
Plant it and firm in.

Ready, get set, GO!

Ruth celebrates the start of the gardening year

ASTER is traditionally a time of plants will complement existing ones.
renewal and rebirth, and I also
think it marks the proper start of
the gardening year. It’s a four-
On these two pages I suggest a few
key jobs that will get your garden ready
for a fruitful and flower-filled year ahead.
3 Water well to saturate the
roots and settle the soil. it will
need little watering afterwards.
day weekend, which gives you ample Part of my work this weekend will be
time to get things ship-shape for the finishing off clearing an area of weeds
year ahead. and scrub towards the back of the
Four days gives you the time to get garden where I want to sow grass seed
on with larger tasks, plan ahead, and It was a tough area to clear as it was
visit open gardens and garden centres full of nettles with long, questing roots
for inspiration for the coming year. and rhizomes that were sending up new
If you haven’t already done so, plan shoots everywhere. It took several hours
filling or improving your borders. Test the
soil, note how much sun they get and
which way they face (their aspect).
to clear and rake, but is now ready for
sowing – see next week’s Lawn Care
Special, where I will be showing you how
4 Surround the plant with grit to
help drainage and deter pests
such as slugs and snails.
Decide on colour schemes and what to grow the perfect lawn from seed.

Prick out your Dib a deep hole in each pot then

carefully lever the rootball of each
Hold seedlings by their leaves
and set them into pots of compost
robust seedlings seedling from their growing trays using
a plastic plant label or old teaspoon.
If, like me, your house and Hold the seedling by its leaves
greenhouse are filling up with and transfer it to its new pot,
trays of seedlings, it’s time to setting it as deeply as possible
prick out the more robust ones. into the compost.
It’s an easy and satisfying job to Firm it in and water
do. Fill 3in (7cm) pots with John carefully. Grow on in a
Innes No1 compost that is designed warm, light spot until
to help the seedlings grow without they are ready to harden
overpowering their roots. off and plant out.


Lovely lawns: Don’t forget top buy next week’s AG
(out 27 March for everything you need to know
about sprucing up your lawn in spring

Four quick jobs for Easter Last call for

Protect, plant and polish to be ready for the summer bare-root roses
Make sure Don’t let your
the graft is at plant dry out
soil level

1 Tidy up your shed inside and out,

and make sure your tools are sharp
and clean for better gardening.
2 Repair damaged fences and give
them a coat of preservative. Do
the same with garden furniture.
This is your last chance to plant
bare-root roses until the winter.
Before planting, check that
their roots are healthy and keep
them damp and cool.
Dig a hole that can take all the
roots and fork in some well-rotted
manure or compost.
Place the rose so the graft is
at, or just above, soil level. This
reduces the risk of developing
rose-replant disease.
Infill with a mix of soil and
compost, firm in and water well.

3 It’s a busy time for nesting and

breeding birds, so make sure they
have clean water and fresh food.
4 Create a simple water feature out
of a half barrel. If you already have
a pond with fish, resume feeding now.
Add a layer of mulch and keep
the plant watered while it gets

Step Laying a simple path

by step
over a worn area of grass

1 Lay out paving stones on top of

the grass until they create an
attractive path and are an easy
2 In turn, slice around each one
with a sharp half-moon lawn
edger, cutting down slightly more
3 Cut away the turf and try the
stone for size. It should be lower
than the grass so it won’t damage
stride apart. than the depth of the stone. your mower blade or trip you up.

4 Lift the stone again and add a

layer of builder’s sand to the hole,
tamping it down to create a firm cushion
5 Replace the stone and firm it
down. Brush a mixture of sand,
soil and some grass seed down the
6 Finally, sweep any remaining
debris off the stones and enjoy
your new path and the protection it
that will hold the stone in place. sides to hold it in place. offers your lawn!


Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Rake your soil well to
prepare it for sowing by step Two ways
annuals directly into
borders in spring to grow
For a natural or formal look
Chemical deterrents will
keep pests – and pets
– off freshly raked soil

1 Create attractive drifts of flowers

by sowing in areas marked out
by sand. Plants that complement
If your soil is cold, heavy one another when sown like this
clay and not that welcoming include blue cornflowers, scarlet
to very young seedlings, poppies and annual grasses such
sow them in pots and plant as quaking grass.
out once they are
strong enough to fend
for themselves.

Sow hardy annuals now

Ruth prepares her soil for this year’s colour burst

HERE are two schools of soil – first one way, then at 90° the other
thought when it comes to way. This will break down the particles
sowing hardy annuals. The
first is to get your seeds in the
into what gardeners call a ‘fine tilth’,
ensuring that seeds do not get lost
2 Sowing in straight lines, or
drills, creates a more formal
effect. It’s also a good way of
ground in autumn, with the soil still among clumps of earth. growing flowers for cutting as
warm from summer and dampened by To help water pass through more they will be easier to access.
rain. This will give you earlier flowers efficiently, tread the soil down with the
the following year as the plants have backs of your heels – in that way,
a head start. However, the young seedlings can take up
seeds also run the risk of
rotting in cold, wet winter
the moisture they need more
easily. Then sprinkle on
What are half-
soil, or being unearthed
and eaten by hungry
some organic feed like
blood, fish and bone, and
hardy annuals?
rodents and birds. lightly rake it over for a ■ Half-hardy annuals are plants
You are more likely nourishing boost as that will give up the ghost when
to be successful with your seeds get going. hit by a late frost. These include
autumn sowing if you live Cosmos are half- In the panel (above flamboyant summer delights such
somewhere warm and hardy annuals right) I show two methods as cosmos, nicotiana, phlox, aster
sheltered. In other areas try (see right) of sowing, but whichever you and border dahlias.
sowing under cover in pots or opt for you’ll need to protect ■ They come into bloom quickly
modules in late winter or early spring, seeds afterwards from anything that and are a cheap and cheerful way
or wait until now and sow your annuals might eat them, and from cats using your of brightening your borders.
in the soil where you want them to grow. beautifully prepared soil as a toilet. I ■ Sow them under cover now and
In spring the soil is warmer and either lay a lattice of twigs over the top, grow them on before hardening
moistened by rain, which helps. But or spray the ground with a chemical off and planting out around late
unless you do some prep, your seeds deterrent such as Cat-a-Pult or Get Off. May – or whenever all threat of
won’t germinate to their full potential. Keep an eye on your growing frost has passed.
For the best results, begin working seedlings, ensure their soil is damp ■ Keep an eye on the forecast and
on your beds a few days before you (water using a fine rose that won’t have some fleece handy to throw
want to sow. Start by digging over the damage small plants) and thin them over young plants in the event that
soil, breaking up any clods with a fork out to the recommended degree once a late frost catches you unawares.
and weeding well. Then rake over the they are large enough to handle.
Snail trail: As well as munching on your
spring flowers, snails will go for tender
perennial shoots, so be alert!

How to plant
Check your plant roots for
fat, white vine weevil new perennials
grubs and either pick The right plant in the right spot
them off by hand or treat
with a chemical such as
Provado Vine Weevil Dig a hole that’s large enough
to accommodate the rootball

Tease out
circling roots

You may need to move perennials

until you get the perfect border
No plant will thrive in the wrong

soil or the wrong situation.

How to move a perennial

When you buy a perennial, read its
label first to see whether it likes sun
or shade, acid or chalky soil, and
how big it gets, as plants won’t thrive
Ruth relocates a favourite but misplaced border plant

if they are cramped together.
ERY little in gardening is set It deserves to be a prominent feature in a Before planting, stand the plant
in stone, which is good news summer border, so now the weather has in water to soak the root ball.
if you are the sort of gardener improved and the soil is warming up I Dig a hole as deep as the plant
who plants things in a fit of decided to move it. container and slightly wider, then
enthusiasm and then decides they You can also move plants in autumn, ease the plant from its pot.
would look better elsewhere. but in exposed areas or places with Carefully tease out any circling
This is what I did with a large heavy clay soils it is best to wait until roots and place the rootball in the
ornamental thistle (Cirsium rivulare spring when things are drying out. hole. Infill with a mix of soil and
‘Atropurpureum’). I wasn’t sure how it Once your plant is in its new spot, compost, firm it down and water well.
would grow, so I settled it in a relatively keep it well watered while it gets A layer of mulch around the plant
out-of-the-way area of garden. established. It may not flower brilliantly will help prevent it drying out while
This was my mistake as it is a tall plant this summer, but be patient and it should it gets established.
with gorgeous, dark, purple-red flowers. bounce back to past glories next year.

Step How to move a plant in six easy stages

by step

1 Dig a hole large enough and fork in

lots of well-rotted organic matter –
this rich, wormy manure is just the job!
2 Dig around the plant and lift it
without damaging the roots, but
keeping as much soil as possible intact.
3 Place the plant in its new home
as soon as possible. Make sure all
the roots can fit into the hole.

4 In-fill around the plant with soil

and compost, firming it to remove
air pockets and support the plant.
5 Water the plant slowly, so moisture
reaches right down to the roots and
doesn’t run off.
6 Once the water has soaked in,
add a layer of mulch to retain
moisture and enrich the soil.


Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Don’t be sentimental – get
rid of past-it plants Four quick tips
Health and safety all round

Hang fire before removing

woody or straggly
1 This hellebore suffered in
the winter weather, and
the damaged material needed
perennials. When the removing to stop it attracting
weather warms up, take pests and disease.
cuttings from them so you
The washing-up follows have a guaranteed
me everywhere I go! replacement.

Hygiene is key to health

Ruth gets to grips with her post-winter garden

LL the elements were ranged plants that need moving, and I like to
against us this winter. Even
here in the south we were
faced with hard frosts and
use clay ones for potting up cuttings as
they are porous and won’t suffocate
developing roots.
2 Using a sharp hoe blade and
a stiff broom, sweep debris,
weeds and moss off your patio to
storms topped off by the Beast from the See to patios and decking, removing remove pest havens and prevent
East, which descended on 1 March – weeds, winter moss and other detritus drains becoming blocked.
allegedly, the first day of spring! that can be washed into drains, blocking
If your garden has taken a battering, them and causing flooding. Make sure
start clearing things up now before you your greenhouse is healthy, and if you
get too busy. There is very little that can’t open doors and windows on warm days
be sorted by a stiff brush, hot soapy remember to close them at dusk as
water and a damp cloth, and a sharp nights can still be sharply chilly.
and clean pair of secateurs. Cut away dead and damaged plant
I start by sorting through my plant material that, if left, may provide an entry
pots, and washing those I want to keep point for pests and diseases, and check
in warm soapy water. The most useful for pests. Make sure any dark, shady
ones are the 3in (7cm) variety used for
pricking out seedlings. Larger pots can
be used for temporarily housing mature
corners and drains are swept and
cleaned well too, leaving no room for
further problems to lurk and incubate.
3 Blast accumulated algae,
leaves and mud off your
decking before someone slips
over and hurts themselves.

Keeping it healthy undercover

■ If not kept clean and ventilated,
greenhouses and cold frames become Ventilation and
a haven for pests and diseases. removing diseased plant
material will help keep
■ Open doors, windows and lids your greenhouse healthy
regularly so air can circulate.
■ This is especially important after
storms when they may have been
shut down for several days.
■ Remove dead or sickly plant
material to stop the spread of
contagion and pick off pests as
4 Keep up your ‘pest watch’ –
these snails were bundled
together for security under some
soon as you spot them. leaves, but not for long!


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Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes

Set to and plant your onions now

This is the perfect time to start this year’s crop, says Ruth

OW the worst of the winter
weather is (hopefully) over, I
have planted out this year’s
onion sets. These are baby
onions and provide an easier and
faster way of growing your crop.
They are also better for growing in
cold, exposed gardens and are less Place onions 4in
prone to certain pests and diseases (10cm) apart in rows
than seed-grown crops.
Onions like a sunny, sheltered site
with fertile, free-draining soil as they can
rot in heavy, waterlogged conditions.
They can also rot in soil that has been
recently manured, so I prepared the soil
for ours a few weeks in advance.
They will grow in a raised bed that
was sown with green manure last
autumn. This has been dug in and left
to rot down for several weeks under a
newly-applied layer of manure and
home-made compost.
Before planting the sets I forked over Remove papery
the bed one more time and removed the skin as an
weeds that were starting to come anti-bird device
through again.
Plant your sets roughly 4in (10cm)
apart in rows that are 12in (30cm) apart.
Gently press them into the soil so just
their tips are left on show. Onion sets are best planted between
Carefully remove the papery skin at mid-March and mid-April
the top of each set to make it harder for
hungry birds to pull them out of the soil.
They will happily grow away now and liquid fertiliser, adding some sulphate of are kept weed-free as their narrow,
need relatively little care. Water when potash in June to help with the ripening strap-like leaves put up little resistance
dry and feed occasionally with a general process. Make sure the growing plants against invasive, unwanted plants.

Planting out overwintered cuttings

HARDWOOD cuttings are traditionally Dig a trench in a sheltered area of the
taken and planted or potted up in garden and fork in some well-rotted
autumn, which gives them a year compost or farmyard manure. You
to grow before they are either can also add sand to improve
potted on or planted out. drainage in heavy soil.
However, if conditions Firm cuttings Place the cuttings in the
are unsuitable for down and trench with two-thirds of
planting out in autumn, make sure they each one below the
donÕt dry out
or the cuttings are from surface and enough
slow-rooting plants such plant above for healthy
as Cornus or Laburnum, growth. Leave the
you can overwinter the cuttings there until
cuttings in pots of sand autumn, keeping them
Place the cuttings
that is kept moist. well-watered, especially in a sandy trench
Keep them in a greenhouse during periods of drought. with buds showing,
or cold frame and then plant them out Once they have started to root they ready to burst into
in spring, before the buds break, when can be either transferred to containers new growth
the weather improves. or planted out in their final position.

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‘This Week In The
Garden with Peter
with Peter Seabrook, AG’s classic gardening expert Seabrook’ on

Unless you have the protection of a greenhouse or

polytunnel, you can be caught out in ‘treacherous’ March Peter’s top tips

Tomato ‘Red Alert’ is a good

bush cultivar to sow indoors now
and get ripe fruits in early July
before the onset of blight disease.

It is said we can start sowing

Treacherous March weather outside when seedling weeds are

seen germinating, but be careful
with this. We had seedling weeds
Don’t be fooled into believing spring is here, warns Peter in February and then we were hit

at the end of the month with the
HILE Julius Caesar was be sure they are hardened to outdoor ‘Beast from the East’.
told to ‘Beware the Ides conditions before planting out. When
of March’, gardeners need the weather is rainy and no frost
to be cautious about the forecast, indoor-raised plants can be
weather throughout the month because placed somewhere sheltered, against a
it can be treacherous. When we have south-facing wall, for several days and
warm sunny days it can be tempting
to think that spring has arrived. However,
our precocious activities can be
thwarted by subsequent frost, hail and “A little protection
snow, as the UK discovered recently
when the ‘Beast from the East’ arrived. is invaluable at Primed seeds give faster
A little protection is invaluable at this
time – anything from polythene cloches this time of year” germination and better end results,
especially in cold soils. The carrot
(firmly anchored), a wooden structure below is Mr Fothergills’ Optigrow.
covered in Enviromesh and cold frames
to greenhouses and polytunnels. They nights. They will stiffen up quite quickly
warm the soil, give shelter from winds and be ready to go out into the soil.
and, in the case of greenhouses and Broad beans, cabbages, lettuce,
polytunnels, make it a lot more pleasant garden peas and hardy annual flowers
to work in the garden. will stand cold early spring weather if
It is two years since a sizeable hardened off well first. Tender summer-
polytunnel was constructed in my back fruiting plants can only go out into
garden and now I would not be without greenhouses if they are heated – so
Photographs: Peter Seabrook/Alamy

it. Stepping inside and just getting out of good advice here is to make haste slowly!
the wind makes such a difference to Tomatoes and cucumbers, indeed all
both the plants and myself. the cucurbits, are better sown indoors Strawberry plants taken under
If you are gardening outside, think over the next few weeks to go into cover now will be protected from
about your hardy plants and where they unheated structures in May. Moving frost and flower early, producing
are sited. If you have grown early hardy plants out makes space for the ripe fruits by late May/early June.
maturing vegetable plants under glass, following, more tender things.
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with Bob Flowerdew, AG’s organic gardening expert

Regular hoeing will control

Bob’s top tips
weeds before they establish
for the week

1 Before they’re totally wasted,

either use or process (such
as freeze or bottle) tired-looking
stored apples, potatoes, onions
and other roots.

Dig out as much of a

deep-rooted weed as you can

Smarter weeding 2 If soil is friable put in your

potato sets, both earlies and
lates, ideally covering them with
Different weeds need different approaches, says Bob cloches or clear plastic sheeting.

OR effective control of weeds If it regrows, then get it on your next visit.
it’s important how we go about And this is important: almost all
weeding. You see, there are weeds die completely if you destroy
effectively three sorts of weeds every leaf and shoot you see every
– those coming in masses from seed, weekend. It’s just that some take many
those with their roots already down, and more weekends than others.
those with their roots everywhere. But the third group of weeds, those
We really need to deal with each in with roots everywhere, are near
their own way. Those annoying swathes impossible to exterminate. Bindweed,
of seedlings emerging time after time
from any cleared area of soil are easy to
dispatch by hoeing, or whatever, but
ground elder, Japanese knotweed,
equisetum… you probably know them. 3 Now growth is resuming, prune
roses, evergreens and those
shrubs with hollow stems prone to
then they return almost straight away. winter damage, such as bamboos,
Better we cover them with heavy mulch,
and better still when this is placed over “All weeds die if buddlejas and leycesterias.

a layer of wet newspapers.

Once weeds get their roots down you destroy every
they become much harder to kill,
although regular hoeing with a leaf and shoot”
well-sharpened hoe still puts paid
to them over time.
Hoeing is easy with row crops and Kill off these weeds in any given area
well-spaced borders, but more difficult and their roots soon come back in from
when weeds are mixed in with plants. further away. There really is no solution.
Then, hand weeding is the safer bet, but However, be positive. Continue to
don’t simply pull up weeds as their roots
are likely to be intermingled with your
remove what you can with a hoe or cut
them off and then regard this as an 4 Give soil about to be used for
growing brassicas a dressing
Time Inc/Alamy

plant roots so these will be damaged everlasting source of free fertility. Just of lime or calcified seaweed, at a
too. It’s better to cut the weed off just rot it all down underwater in a butt and handful per square yard.
below ground level with a sharp knife. add the liquid sludge to your compost.
with Lucy Chamberlain, AG’s fruit and veg expert

Step How
by step to sow
Once you reach September,
begin sowing your late-
season lettuces. Sow these
in modules, ready to plant
in a greenhouse border
or growing bag
under cover.

1 It’s still too cold to get

guaranteed good germination
outside, so start your early
lettuces in a propagator set
By sowing a range of different lettuces in
batches, you can ensure a steady supply at 15°C. Fill modular pots with
seed compost, water well and

Sow lettuces in batches

then sow two seeds per cell.
Once germinated, thin to the
strongest seedling.

Start sowing your lettuces now for a steady and

sumptuous supply during the summer, says Lucy

AVING a continual supply cold-tolerant strains for early sowings,
of soft, buttery lettuces and slow-to-bolt types as summer
throughout the summer is a develops. ‘Lobjoits Green Cos’ is my
treat – and one that’s easily favourite for sowing now (my parents
attainable if you stick to a simple cycle. used to grow acres of it commercially
Most of us will eat a salad a day once and its buttery leaves are delicious). For
the weather hots up, especially at
lunchtime when you just want something
light, crisp and refreshing to counteract
summer sowings, ‘Thimble’ has caught
my eye this year because of its disease
and bolt-resistance. Come autumn, I’ll
2 Grow this first batch on at
10°C, until the lettuces are
large enough to plant either in
the heat of the day. Choosing move on to the little-gem type ‘Vailan’. greenhouse borders or growing
appropriate varieties is one secret – Here’s how to sow them (see right). bags under cover, or outside
under cloches at roughly 10in
(25cm) apart each way. Protect
Harvest your from slugs and keep well
watered and weeded as they
sprouting grow in size.

WHETHER it’s smothered in cheese
sauce, tossed into a stir-fry or lightly
steamed and smothered in butter, I
adore sprouting broccoli. It’s not a
crop for the impatient, though. Sown
in April, most varieties take almost a
year to mature, but because they fill This white sprouting has taken almost
the spring ‘hungry gap’ so well, I a year to crop – I can’t wait to eat it!
always make room for them.
There are white and purple
varieties of sprouting broccoli – and essential, so my plants have been
3 Once the lettuces are 5in
(13cm) in diameter, sow a
second batch outdoors. Sow
both are delicious. ‘Burbank’ is a nestling under a cage of netting since clusters every 10in (25cm) in moist
British-bred F1 hybrid white form, the summer. Keep picking the tender soil, and cover with cloches. Thin
and ‘Claret’, another F1 hybrid, is a spears as they develop, to encourage to the strongest seedling per
well-established purple variety. more to form. Then rush into the clump once large enough. Repeat,
Protection from pigeons is kitchen and enjoy! without cloches, until late summer.


Next Week: Pollinate forced strawberries under glass, sow
different types of beetroot, ensure plum and gage blooms are
protected from frost, tidy up globe artichokes, sow cucumbers

By sowing these ‘Ferline’ tomatoes now, i’ll hopefully

have blight-free plants outside in summer Harvest the
first rhubarb
WITh most crops only just
waking from their winter slumber,
it’s exciting to think that some
are ready for harvesting now.
Forced rhubarb is a luxury that’s
entirely worth growing. More
sweet, tender and early than
All pictures Time inc

unforced crops, the lurid-pink

stems break through the soil in
late February (sooner if you apply
heat) and by now are pushing the
lids off their forcing pots.
Sow outdoor tomatoes When grown commercially in
large sheds, you can hear the
In mid-February, I urged you to sow devastating. But by sowing early (in stems crack as they expand
tomatoes destined for greenhouse other words, now) and choosing quick- at a phenomenal rate. home
cropping. As I don’t own a greenhouse to-ripen or blight-resistant varieties, you gardeners can use cellars or
myself, I’m delighted that now is the time can bypass the problems.
to sow tomatoes for outdoor harvest. To sow, fill a 9cm diameter pot with
I always sow my favourite slicing seed compost, water it well and allow it
tomato, ‘Ferline’, which has some blight to drain. Space seeds 1cm apart each
resistance, and there are cherry tomato way, pressing them down gently onto
varieties, such as ‘Losetto’, that show the compost. Cover with 3mm of
resistance to this fungal disease, too. compost or vermiculite, place in a
That’s the only drawback of outdoor propagator at 20°C and expect
toms – late blight fungus, which can be germination within a week.

time to mulch Mulching helps to

lock in valuable
your fruit bushes moisture and keep
roots cool in summer
MulCHing your fruit bushes can Pull forced rhubarb
boost yields considerably, but it must once it’s tall enough
be completed soon to be effective. to harvest
Spring soils are relatively moist and
warm, which is heavenly for plant garden sheds, as both these
roots. Mulching locks in these exclude light, which is essential
conditions, making your crops much for forced rhubarb. Large upturned
more resilient to summer drought and pots work just as well outside,
heat. When you consider that, in May, but they take a little longer to
June and July, your fruit plants’ key produce a crop – unless you
role is to pump copious amounts of surround the pots with piles of
water into the developing crop, you farmyard manure as this gives
can see why mulching now is key off heat as it rots down.
to success. to walk on a heavy clay soil. It’s important to choose
By mulch i mean an organic mulch, The time to add mulch depends on quick-to-mature varieties, such
and by organic i mean compost, bark your conditions, as you must wait until as ‘Timperley Early’, for forcing, and
chips or well-rotted manure. The the soil is warm enough. if you lay your to apply organic slug pellets
material you use depends on your mulch over cold or frozen soil you’ll to protect the soft stems within the
budget, your soil type, the fruit crop in retain those conditions, so wait until dark, moist, forcing environment
question and its nutritional needs. if, things warm up. ideally, lay a 1.5in that’s a heaven for slugs. Slide your
for example, you’re on a light sandy (4cm) layer of mulch (budgets can index finger down the stems once
soil, then a good layer of manure will often limit this). Avoid laying it onto they’re tall enough to harvest, then
boost nutrients on these low-fertility stems as this can cause rotting, and if gently twist and pull. Discard shed
soils. Ericaceous compost is ideal for the soil is dry, water it well beforehand. or cellar-grown crowns in late
acid-loving crops like blueberries, and it might seem like hard work, but you’ll spring, and leave plot-grown
bark chips are handy where you need thank me come summer! clumps to rest until spring 2020.

24 MARCH 2018 AmAteur GArDeNING 17

d colour to your

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Gardening Week
with Val Bourne, AG’s organic wildlife expert
begin to see a battle commence. Bee
flies start making an appearance as the
weather warms up, identifiable by their
straight proboscis, which sticks out
rather like one of those reconnaissance
aeroplanes. They visit the primroses,
muscari and pulmonarias.
At roughly the same time, little piles
The ashy mining bee
has a fascinating
of earth appear on the lawn, made by
mating ritual the ashy mining bee (Andrena cineraria).
In some years the whole area is
peppered by mini volcanoes. In others,
there are only a few piles of earth and it’s
a good illustration of how dynamic the
natural world is. If the weather is dry, it’s
extremely hard for the bees to dig a
hole in the grass. They really need
spring rain to soften the earth.
These silvery mining bees, which
are about the same size as a small
honeybee, roll across the lawn as they
mate. The bee eggs are laid in the hole
by the females and then the fun begins.
The bee flies do a fly-past above the
holes and attempt to drop their eggs in.
Some females coat their eggs with soil
or sand to make them heavier. If
successful, the bee-fly’s larva hatches,
All photographs Alamy

crawls further into the bee’s burrow and

waits for the bee’s own larva to grow to
Bee flies are easy to identify due almost full size, at which point the bee-fly
to their distinctive lance-like proboscis
larva attacks the bee larva, feeding on its
body fluids and eventually killing it. Year
on year, however, we still have ashy

Battle of the bees

February saw the arrival of the first bee in Val’s garden
mining bees, despite all the carnage. 
There is another hungry predator, too.
Blackbirds race back-and-forth over the
lawn collecting up the ashy mining bees
in their beaks and then fly off to their
and now she’s waiting for the bee fly and ashy mining bee nests. It’s a miniature illustration of how

the living jigsaw works in your garden.
T’S been such a cold spring here, number of wild bees on the snowdrops.
with week upon week of fairly bright They were tiny, about half the size of a
but chilly weather, that I began to honeybee, and were all over the flowers.
wonder whether I would see a bee We do get some of these smaller bees,
in February at all. However, they just mainly visiting daisies, which I
about made it, and now it’s March, controversially do approve of in lawns.
spring is well and truly underway. When it gets to this time of year we
When you’re a little long in the tooth,
as I am, you realise that there are far
fewer bees out and about than there
used to be. A trip to Ireland in snowdrop
season a few years ago really brought
this home. I visited several gardens close
to Dublin and was astonished at the

“There are far TIP Some 70 per cent of

solitary bees are ashy
fewer bees out mining bees, so if you see a pile of
earth it’s likely to be them. If you
and about” Blackbirds collect ashy mining bees
and take them back to their nests
do see this earth mound, don’t
mow your grass for a week or two.


Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes

Always label
your seeds What’s Things to
on do near you

Visit East Lambrook’s Early Spring

Plant Fair on 24 March

In April and May you can 24 March: Early Spring Plant Fair:
sow asters directly into East Lambrook Manor Gardens,
borders where you want Silver Street, East Lambrook, South
them to grow. Prepare Petherton, Somerset TA13 5HH.
the soil first and thin £4 plus concessions. 1460 240
growing seedlings to Asters are a long-blooming, 328,
8in (20cm) apart. traditional garden favourite
24: Essential Pruning full-day course:
Cottage Garden School, East

A Chinese cracker
Donyland Hall, Fingringhoe, Essex
CO5 7JE. £80. 07837 013900,
24: Plant Hunters’ Fair: Carsington
Asters delight with long-lasting colour, says Ruth

Water Visitor Centre, Ashbourne,
EW varieties of plants seem white and shades of pink and purple. Derbyshire DE6 1ST. 10am-4pm.
to appear every season, so it Relatively wilt-resistant and weather- Free entry to fair and country park.
can make a refreshing change tolerant, it grows well in tubs and pots. In 25: Spring Plant Hunters’ Fair:
to return to a traditional old beds and borders it likes well-prepared, Ness Botanic Gardens, University of
favourite. Step forward asters, whose free-draining soil, in sun or light shade. Liverpool, Neston Road, Ness, Wirral
densely petalled flowers add colour Originating in China, C. chinensis is CH64 4AY. 0151 795 6300,
from summer to autumn, and have been from the same family as coreopsis,
delighting gardeners for generations. chrysanthemum and dahlias. Great for 25: Rare Plant Fair: Evenley Wood
This week’s free seeds are aster attracting pollinators, the bold blooms Garden, Evenley, Northants NN13
‘Milady Mixed’ (Callistephus chinensis), make excellent cut flowers to brighten 5SH.
a robust dwarf half-hardy annual that the house, and regular deadheading 25: Camellia Heritage Tour: Borde
produces masses of large blooms in will keep them coming for longer. Hill Garden, Haywards Heath,
West Sussex RH6 1HP. 01444
How to sow your annual asters 27: Magnolia Tour with head
gardener Andy Stevens, Borde Hill

1 Fill a
seed tray
with seed
2 Tamp flat
and sow
seeds thinly
Garden, Haywards Heath, West
Sussex RH6 1HP. 01444 450326,
and cuttings on the surface, 30: Gardeners’ Questions: Avebury
compost – to enable Manor, Marlborough, Wiltshire
deep enough seedlings to SN8 1RF 01672 538036
for strong germinate with
root systems good airflow
to develop. around them.
■ Please send details and images

3 Cover
the seeds
with compost,
4 Label the
seeds and
add a cover.
of your events to ruth.hayes@ or What’s On, Amateur
Gardening, Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst
vermiculite or a Place them on Road, Farnborough Industrial Park,
mix of the two, a light, warm Farnborough, Hants GU14 7BF.
and water well, windowsill and ■ Listings need to be with us at
using clean germination least six weeks in advance.
water from the should take ■ All details are subject to change without our knowledge,
so please always check that the event is still going ahead
tap (not butt). 2-3 weeks. before leaving home.



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Pick of the very best
Graham Rice chooses his six top RHS Award of Garden Merit winners


With late-flowerers such as C. jackmanii you can

expect big, bold blooms from June or July onwards

This week it’s

Late, large-flowered clematis
Thirteen of these bold, easy-to-prune beauties hold an often starts in June, and will continue
AGM, but which of them make Graham’s final cut? through the summer and into autumn.

Plant them against walls, fences or
RE you looking for colour from curl around trellis, wires or the stems of trellis, on pergolas and towers. They are
a climber? If you are, then look large shrubs. With buds bursting as early especially attractive when positioned to
no further than late-flowering, as February, the vigour of early growth grow through established shrub roses,
large-flowered clematis. I know can be astonishing, but it’s important to climbing roses and other mature shrubs.
that’s a bit of a mouthful, but it tells you remember that a simple spring prune Because they’re so easy to keep in
two of the three things you need to know keeps the plant manageable. check, these clematis are also the best
about these invaluable plants. Flowers are single, and each has choice for containers. But wherever they
All photographs Alamy, unless otherwise credited

Namely: they’re large-flowered, being four to six rounded or pointed petals in are planted, that regular hard spring
4in (10cm) or more across; and they’re every colour you can think of – with the pruning will ensure that they never get
late flowering, June or July onwards and exception of yellow and black. Flowering out of hand. Even if you miss a year they
often well into autumn. The third thing
they have going for them is that they
are very easy to prune. Stockists
Reaching up to 10ft (3m), and Roseland House 01872 560451
sometimes more, in a single season, Thorncroft Clematis 01953 850407
these gorgeous climbers cling in the Taylors Clematis 01302 700716
same way as all clematis: their leaf stalks
the Award of Garden merit is a mark of quality
awarded since 1922 to garden plants (including trees, vegetables and
decorative plants) by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

Blue Angel (‘Blekitny Aniol’) Happy Birthday (‘Zohapbi’) ‘Huldine’

Beautifully textured, pale rosy-blue Deep-purple velvety flowers measuring Elegant, pure-white, 3½in (9cm) flowers
4in (11cm) flowers with hints of lilac 4in (10-11cm), with a reddish stripe develop pearly tones as the pink
open continuously from June to along each petal’s centre. They colouring on the backs of petals tints
September – or later. “Very floriferous. develop dark-bluish overtones as their faces. “Long flowering season.
Flowers from top to bottom,” said the they mature. “Whole thing covered in Very vigorous. Lovely flowers and held
RHS judges. H: 98in (2.5m). flower,” the RHS noted. H: 79in (2m). well,” said the RHS. H: 10ft (3m).

‘Polish Spirit’ ‘Prince Charles’ ‘remembrance’

A mass of deep-purple 6in (15cm) A little like ‘Perle d’Azur’ – only without Large 5in (12cm) beautifully textured,
flowers, with a slightly reddish stripe the mildew; 4in (10cm) flowers open raspberry-red flowers are pink on the
along the centre of each petal, which azure-blue with pink tints that fade backs, maturing to a deep-rose hue.
becomes paler with age. Matches as they mature. “Stunning. Always “Outstanding. One of the best in the
prolific flowering with a lovely rich performs. Healthy and vigorous,” was trial,” said the RHS, adding: “Lovely rich
colour. H: 10ft (3m). the RHS judges’ verdict. H: 79in (2m). colour. Good vigour.” H: 98in (2.5m).

can still be cut back almost to ground A few AGM varieties can be prone to
level and will grow away happily.
Sadly, they are not totally trouble-free,
this, including ‘Jackmanii’, but I’ve barred
them from my top six.
What makes
and two diseases may pose problems. Mildew can also be an issue, a good late,
The first is wilt, which causes the
collapse of top growth owing to a fungus
especially on plants growing on hot and
sunny walls. Unfortunately, AGM holder
blocking the sap flow in the stems – ‘Perle d’Azur’ is susceptible, so sadly clematis
usually just above the ground. There is I’ve excluded that one, too. n Attractive flower colouring
no cure; simply cut off all the affected Late March is your last chance to plant n Even, well-shaped flowers
growth and either burn it or take it to these invaluable clematis before the n Prolific flowering
the green-waste dump for composting. fragile new shoots become so long that n A long flowering season
Deep planting of new clematis ensures they break off en route from the nursery, n Resistance to mildew
that there are below-ground buds from or as you transport them home from n Resistance to wilt
which new growth can spring. the garden centre. So seize the day!
24 MARCH 2018 AmAteur GArDeNING 23
Planting clematis
■ Clematis can be very long-
lived, so prepare your site well.
■ Dig a large hole, 18in (45cm)
across and deep. Fork over the
base and loosen the sides.
■ Put 4in (10cm) of compost,
bagged soil improver or well-
rotted manure into the hole,
fork into the base and firm well.
■ Mix two handfuls of
bonemeal or any general
fertiliser into a 50:50 mix of
good garden soil and old
potting compost, then use
to fill the hole.
■ Soak your clematis plant
for half an hour, in water with
Maxicrop or Seasol added.
■ Plant with the clematis’s
crown 2½in (6cm) below the Soak before planting Dig a large hole
general soil level.

Looking after clematis Clematis in

Growing a late
clematis in a
container will
bring versatility
to your patio
or terrace. Both early and late-
You can leave flowering clematis
it in the same need a large pot
place or move
it to a new site annually.
It’s important to choose a large
container of a minimum 18in (45cm)
deep and across, as clematis
Water well in dry weather Help shoots curl around supports develop an extensive root system.

Thin plastic pots heat up too much

in summer, so a wooden half-barrel
■ After planting, cut each stem back every day or two if the weather is or thick concrete container is more
to a pair of shoots or bursting buds, hot and dry. suitable. Make sure it’s well drained,
just above ground level. ■ Clematis appreciate cool roots, so and stand it on pot feet.
■ Push in a cane to guide your plant a low shrub on the sunny side Fill your chosen container with
clematis towards its support. of the planting site – such as potentilla John Innes No2 compost, firm well,
■ Water with a can filled (about five or sarcococca – or lay some slabs over plant your clematis deeply and
litres) with a mix of tap water and the planting area. water thoroughly. Never let the
Maxicrop or Seasol. ■ As they grow, guide the new shoots plant dry out.
■ Repeat the watering a week later – towards and on to their support.

In my garden ‘Perle d’Azur’

About 20 years ago I planted a pale Lovely – although I’d now plant mildew-
blue ‘Perle d’Azur’ clematis and a resistant ‘Prince Charles’ instead.
vigorous soft-pink ‘Heritage’ David A few weeks ago I cut the clematis
Austin rose together at the side of back to 1ft (30cm), and cut the side
the shed. The rose developed as a shoots on the rose back, too. Another
climber and supported the clematis. year of colour and fragrance ahead.


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with Tamsin Westhorpe

Plant up some pots for Easter:

add spring-flowering plants to your
containers to brighten up the garden

Pots of colour at Easter

Add colour and drama to your container displays this Easter using bulbs, shrubs,
alpines and annuals. Tamsin Westhorpe has some quick and easy ideas

ASTER day may fall on 1 April, new spring-flowering plants, and your more permanent home. Reliable
but this isn’t an April Fool. You winter look can quick turn into spring. perennials for spring interest include
really can add colour to your For those surrounded by empty pots bergenias, dicentra, pulmonarias,
pots now to celebrate the of all shapes and sizes, there’s plenty of pulsatillas and erysimums (wallflowers).
Easter holiday in style. If you’re fun to be had. If a vessel has a drainage Plant shade lovers together in one pot
anything like me you have a range hole it can be used as a planting pot. and sun lovers in another. If you mix
of pots – some with tulips and other Hanging baskets, tins, buckets and them up you’ll struggle to find the right
spring bulbs just poking out of the even old boots are all possible home for your completed container.
compost, others with now shabby containers. Old wicker baskets make To accommodate trees or shrubs
winter bedding and plenty of empty the perfect Easter-themed displays. you need generously sized pots. For
pots crying out for attention. I often hear people asking at garden blossom, why not plant a dwarf apple
I prefer to leave my pots of bulbs centres and nurseries if a certain plant tree? ‘Sunset’ and ‘James Grieve’ are to
alone to avoid damaging the new will grow in a pot. The answer is that all be commended for blossom, but bear in
shoots. For those who didn’t plant plants will grow in pots if treated well, but mind that they won’t flower until much
spring-flowering bulbs in autumn, there some perform better than others. This later in April. When buying an apple tree
are plenty of potted bulbs on sale for means that you have the choice of trees, for a pot, choose one grafted onto a
planting in containers now. shrubs, perennials, alpines and annuals. semi-dwarfing rootstock (M26) and
Fading winter bedding pots are underplant with Anemone nemorosa.
easily given a new look by removing Year-to-year colour For earlier blossom an alternative
plants that are past their best. When growing herbaceous perennials is an amelanchier. This is a very
Cyclamen can be planted in shady in pots, don’t expect them to grow as accommodating and reliable tree for
borders and ivy left in the pot but well as they might in a border. For best large pots. However, one of the most
trimmed to encourage new growth. A results I grow them in a container for impressive trees for blossom is Prunus
fresh few inches of compost with slow- a couple of years planted closely cerasifera ‘Nigra’. This tree will need a
release fertiliser mixed in, plus some together, and then transfer them to a more permanent home after a few
Six great Easter plants for pots

Muscari armeniacum ‘Valerie Finnis’ Narcissus ‘tête-à-tête’ No spring Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Apple Blossom’
The grape hyacinth is a bulbous garden is complete without daffodils. This is perfect for a pot against a wall. It
perennial that can be bought as flowering This dwarf variety is ideal for small pots suits full sun or part shade, with a height
plants now or as bulbs in autumn. About and has the classic yellow trumpet. and spread of 8ft (2.5m) when mature.
10in (25cm) in height, it has pale-blue Height 8in (20cm). Available as plants The spring flowers look like apple
flowers and is perfect for window boxes in flower now or bulbs in autumn blossom. Deciduous with autumn fruits
All photographs Alamy

Pulsatilla vulgaris Primulas and polyanthus Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Ballerina’

This perennial adds colour to an alpine Choose the common primrose (Primula This can be bought as a small tree or
trough. The seed heads are as attractive vulgaris) for a pale yellow or polyanthus shrub. It has white star-shaped flowers
as the spring flowers. It looks great with for razzmatazz. Cowslips (Primula in April, and reaches 13ft (4m) when fully
a gravel mulch. Height 8in (20cm) veris) are ideal for small containers mature. Hardy, it is happy in most soils

years, so make sure you have a suitable results. Muscari in a galvanised window especially if the compost is covered
spot reserved in the garden. box offer a fresh, clean look and the with a layer of moss. Don’t forget to add
Shrubs that offer Easter flowers upright dark-blue Iris reticulata in a an Easter twist, such as a small basket
include Ribes sanguineum, camellias white container looks stunning – of china eggs or an Easter bunny!
(with ericaceous compost) and
chaenomeles for a container that
will be placed against a wall. 5 top tips for creating easter containers
Instant impact
My favourite spring pots are those
planted with the classics of spring –
1 Choose a colour theme that
matches your front door or the
coloured glaze on your pots.
blossom on trees and shrubs in
containers. Frost is possible in April.

often referred to as spring bedding in

garden centres. Dwarf narcissi planted 2 Spring-flowering bedding plants
such as polyanthus can cope
4 Group containers together to
create more impact. Place the
groups close to the house so they
with muscari, bellis planted with crocus in very small containers thanks to can be enjoyed from inside if it’s
and violas planted with primroses – all April showers! Have fun planting too chilly to be outside.
in old tin cans and small terracotta
these combinations are perfect for small
pots or window boxes where the plants
are happy planted tightly together.
pots. Make sure all pots have a
drainage hole or two.
5 If replanting winter pots with
spring plants, refresh at least
50 per cent of the compost. Add
If your container is detailed in design
or has a coloured glaze, planting just
one plant can often produce the best
3 Have a sheet of frost-protection
fleece ready to protect early
slow-release feed to encourage
healthy growth of spring plants.

24 MARCH 2018 AmAteur GArDeNING 27

Hardy annuals
for every garden
Tough, floriferous and
Hardy annuals are great for growing with
inexpensive, these garden perennials, shrubs and even vegetables.
heroes are the best way to Try the neon brights of calendula,
sunflowers and nasturtiums
bulk up borders and ring
the changes each year,
says Graham Rice

ardy annual – the name
says it all, really. These are
frost-hardy plants that last for
a single season. and they’re
annuals, so they won’t be making a
return visit next year. Sow seeds now
and they’ll take any spring frosts in their
stride, flower gloriously in summer and
then simply fade away.
Hardy is obviously good. No need for
a greenhouse; no need to fuss with the
seeds and seedlings on the windowsill.
But annuals can be dismissed by some
gardeners. True, they will be gone for
good by the end of the season, but I see
this is as an opportunity rather than a
downside. Borders filled with shrubs and
perennials stay more or less the same
year after year. But with annuals, you can
change what you grow on, well, an
annual basis. Sow the ones you really
enjoy again next year, if that’s what you
like, or try something different.
What the description ‘hardy annual’
doesn’t tell you is how economical they
are. Five hundred seeds of the lovely
double-flowered poppy ‘dawn Chorus’
will cost you £2.29. almost every one of
them will come up and those you don’t
sow one year will keep until the next.
Sound good? Of course it does.
and then there’s the mind-boggling
choice. Mr Fothergill’s lists 198 different
hardy annuals; Thompson & Morgan lists
241! There’s no shortage of options, from
low and fragrant alyssum to tall and
stately sunflowers. Whether grown
between perennials, in front of shrubs or
trailing out of containers, they are, by
some distance, the most economical cut
flowers you can get. Better still, the more
you cut, the more they flower. grow through the mild, wet winters and bi-coloured calendulas (‘Orange Flash’),
The hardy annuals we grow today make seed in the hot, dry summers. red-and-white bi-coloured linums (‘Bright
have come about in a number of These annual wildings have a distinct Eyes’), grape-purple poppies (‘Lauren’)
different ways. Some, such as and delightful charm. But plant breeders and an increasing range of nasturtiums.
cornflowers, are derived from old- have improved them, made them more all are just as easy to grow as the old
fashioned cornfield weeds. Others, prolific, more colourful, and available in favourites. and if they turn out not to be
including sweet peas, have evolved to fit new shades and flower forms. Tempting to your taste, not to worry – you can
into Mediterranean climates, where they recent newcomers include pastel easily try something else next year.
28 AmAteur GArDeNING 24 MARCH 2018
Favourite hardy annuals for...

Chiltern Seeds


Calendula Scabious Nigella

Naturally well-branched, with mainly Large pin-cushion flowers on tall, long- Unusual, crown-centred flowers develop
double flowers in oranges and yellows, stemmed plants. ‘Summer Fruits’ comes fat seed pods (ideal for drying) and are
plus white ‘Snow Princess’ (above). Two- in shades of grape, wine, strawberry and set off by fine, feathery foliage. Pale-blue
tone varieties with darker backs to their raspberry, plus pastel colours. Or try ‘Miss Jekyll’ is the old favourite, while
petals (‘Indian Prince’) are lovely, but ‘Beaujolais Bonnets’, with its merlot-and- recent white ‘Albion Green Pod’ (above)
avoid dwarf types. H: 16-22in (40-75cm). rosé-hued blooms. H: 24in (60cm). is worth trying. H: 16-20in (40-50cm).


Lavatera Nasturtium Sunflowers

Shimmering ruby, pink or white cups, Neat, bushy, variegated types are the In an ever-growing range of colours and
often with contrasting veins, are set ones to look for, and are ideal at the front shapes. ‘Valentine’ is an appealing soft
against dark foliage. It quickly makes an of sunny borders. Avoid trailers and cream, while new fully double ‘Sun King’
impressive, upright plant that flowers climbers that will swamp everything. ‘Tip (above) adds back-of-the-border drama.
all summer if deadheaded and kept Top Alaska’ (above) holds its flowers And don’t forget smaller types such as
moist. H: 18-24in (45-60cm). above the leaves. H: 10-12in (25-30cm). ‘Waooh’. H: 20-78in (50cm-2m).

Main photo: All others Alamy, unless credited

Echium Ammi Cornflower

Happy in poor soil, echium is among This is like a super-classy cow parsley, A hit with bees, hoverflies and other
the finest of all bee-attracting plants. only more elegant and productive, and a insects, the wild blue cornflower now
E. vulgare ‘Blue Bedder’ (above) is not magnet for aphid-munching hoverflies. comes in many colours, including ‘Black
only especially rich in nectar, but also Look for ‘Graceland’ (above), which is Ball’ (ruby red) and some fine bi-colours
one of the most vivid blue flowers you prolific, great for cutting and mixes well (like ‘Classic Fantastic’ above). Usually
can grow. H: 18in (45cm). with other flowers. H: 36in (90cm). needs support. H: 16-36in (40-90cm).
24 MARCH 2018 AmAteur GArDeNING 29
More unusual options

A fashionable Mediterranean
annual, ‘Purpurascens’ (above)
has blue-green leaves and purple
tubular flowers that are popular

with bees and keep opening for

months. Self-sows without being
Corn cockle ‘Snow Queen’ annoying, and is intriguing in
The white form of this almost-extinct cornfield weed has pure snow-coloured posies. H: 18in (45cm).
flowers with a pretty linear pattern of dots on the petals. Lovely in mixed borders,
but those narrow stems will need support. H: 36in (90cm).

4 for scent

Night-scented stock Amberboa moschata Lupin Sweet pea

This moth attractor is pretty ‘the Bride’ Annual lupins have a lovely Classically fragrant – look for
unremarkable during the day, The large, fluffy white flowers floral fragrance, and the the scent rating on packets
but as dusk falls the flowers of this sweet sultan have a recently introduced ‘Avalune’, and in catalogues as a guide
open and the intoxicating touch of cream and a sweet – in purple-and-white and to the most powerful perfume.
scent wafts around the fragrance. Amberboa also red-and-white – is neat, ‘Hi Scent’ (above) is probably
garden. ‘Starlight Scentsation’ comes in pretty combinations prolific and (if deadheaded) the best scented of them all;
(above) has the best flower of white and pink. Needs long flowering. Good in pots dwarf types tend to be less
colour. H: 12in (30cm). support. H: 2ft (60cm). and posies. H: 12in (30cm). fragrant. H: 6ft (1.8m).
30 AmAteur GArDeNING 24 MARCH 2018
Rudbeckia ‘Chim Chiminee’
Some double-flowered annual rudbeckias in unusual colours have arrived recently.
Along with ‘Chim Chiminee’, with its rolled petals in coppery-orange and yellow
tones, look for the rustic old rose and amber shades of ‘Caramel’. H: 24in (60cm).

Making them last Sowing hardy

Hardy annuals are at their
most prolific in fertile,
annual seeds
moist but well-drained
Regular dead-
heading (right)
is the most
factor in
the flowering
Watering in
dry spells is
also key if you Sow in sun, and in fertile and well-drained soil.
want more blooms. Follow the packet guidance on spacing and don’t
In general, double be tempted to grow plants too close together.
flowers bloom for longer Dribble water into the drills immediately before
than single flowers. sowing to give the seeds a moist start.
Make sure that tall varieties are supported before Seedlings should not need frost protection.
they flop or are battered by a sudden storm. Protect from slugs as a routine precaution.

Where to buy Plants of Distinction 01449 721720
Chiltern Seeds Sarah Raven 01491 824675 0345 092 0283
Mr Fothergill’s Thompson & Morgan 0333 777 3936 0844 573 1818


Climber-clad walls, collections of pots planted
with fragrant flowers and light paintwork can
work wonders in even the smallest space

Create the perfect

Courtyard garden
You don’t have to fork out for a garden designer to transform that tired,
soulless yard into a calming, leafy hideaway. Hazel Sillver reveals the plants
and techniques you need that are perfect for the long weekend ahead

ush planting that soars towards in which to take refuge from people, disappear. Likewise, pale flowers (such
the sky, walls coated in scented traffic and the pace of urban life. Trees as light blue or white) will give the illusion
plants, the sound of birdsong and tall, leafy shrubs are ideal for of space. Greens, blues and whites are
and a place to put your feet up courtyards – use them to create a soothing, whereas fiery tones are
– a courtyard garden can be a secret canopy for privacy and to attract wildlife. enlivening. This is useful if you’re going
haven of greenery and a space to Once mature, they will add to the lush, to be entertaining in your courtyard, but
unwind, especially in a town or city. ‘secret garden’ feel. the fact that reds and yellows draw the
The tradition of gardens within the space is usually tight, but much can eye will make a space appear smaller. 
buildings or boundary walls of houses be done to give the illusion of breadth Fill the air with scent by using fragrant
comes from overseas: from the Zen and depth, including the addition of plants like honeysuckle and jasmine,
gardens of Japan, the riads of Morocco, mirrors and water, which reflect light. and containing their perfume via a
the courtyards of Moorish spain, and The presence of water has also been canopy. And why not add some grasses
the medieval cloisters of France. proven to reduce stress and boost and bamboos? They will whisper gently
These outdoor sanctuaries are wellbeing. Try a ‘rill’ (a narrow, shallow on the breeze, blocking out the sound
frequently surrounded by rooms channel), a fountain or a barrel pond.  of neighbours and traffic.
into which the sound of trickling water Colour is also key, both in enhancing Layers of foliage are your best
and the perfume of plants drift. the sense of space and setting the defence against noise pollution. They’ll
Today, many inner-city gardens are mood. using lots of tall foliage plants also lure birds that will (hopefully)
courtyards, and if you’ve got one you’ll and coating the walls with evergreen serenade you as you sip your G&T from
know how important it is to have a place climbers will make the boundaries the comfort of your new courtyard oasis.
32 AmAteur GArDeNING 24 MARCH 2018
6 courtyard essentials
All photos Alamy, unless otherwise credited

Trachelospermum jasminoides (AGM) Soleirolia soleirolii Campanula persicifolia var. alba
Star jasmine is a great climber for a Grow shade-tolerant carpet foliage This easy-to-grow bellflower will
sunny wall. It has glossy evergreen plants, such as mind-your-own- spread itself around the garden, and
leaves that blush red-bronze during business or Corsican mint (Mentha shines in dappled shade when it
the winter, and it has deliciously requienii) under an ironwork grille blooms during June and July. Regular
scented white flowers throughout or grate. Scour architectural salvage deadheading will keep the flowers
summer. H: 30ft (9m).  yards for metalwork. H: 4in (10cm). coming. H: 3ft (90cm).

Fargesia murielae (AGm) Agapanthus ‘midnight Star’ Hydrangea arborescens

On breezy days the rustling of this Great in containers, ‘Midnight Star’ ‘Annabelle’ (AGm)
fast-growing evergreen bamboo will produces flowering explosions of A wonderful hydrangea; grow in
add an enchanting soundtrack to rich blue, on top of tall, sturdy stems, moisture-retentive soil, in sun or
your courtyard. Masses of soft foliage in August and September. Use John semi-shade, for handful-sized white
grow from the arching golden canes, Innes No3 compost if growing in flowerheads (fading to lime-green)
creating lush denseness. H: 13ft (4m). pots. H: 32in (80cm). from July to September. H: 8ft (2.5m).
24 MARCH 2018 AmAteur GArDeNING 33
5 features for a courtyard

mosaic Colour Pots

Get creative! Use pebbles (or pieces Alter the mood by painting one (or all) For best use of space, attach wall pots.
of broken tile or pot) for your design; of the walls. Soft greens will enhance Grow trees in large containers with good
a swirl, star or concentric circles all the sense of space, while the warm drainage, and group pots together – the
look impressive. Lay over gravel and tones of terracotta or pink inject resulting microclimate will enable you
set with pre-mixed dry mortar. cheer. Or try a bold splash of blue. to cultivate more tender plants.

make your ideas
seem bigger
n Use leafy, tall plants (including
trees) to give the illusion of a far
more spacious area.
n If walls are high, erect trellis or
paint them a different colour to
6ft (1.8m); this will lower your eye
level and prevent claustrophobia.

n Utilise different light-reflective

Water mirrors elements. Mirrors are cheap and
An ornate bird bath will give a feeling of Just like water, mirrors reflect light, easy; or install a water feature.
tranquillity and reflect light, creating a fooling the eye into thinking a small n Plant pale flowers on (or at the
sense of space. Make sure the bath has space is larger. Hang a mirror on a base of) walls, to exaggerate the
edges for the birds to perch on, and is wall, and dangle mirror mobiles (or ‘sun dimensions of your yard.
not too deep for them to bathe. catchers’) from the branches of trees.

Dark characters: the best plants

for shade or semi-shade
Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’ (AGm) gorgeous scent and will shine in
An easy-to-grow evergreen fern a less-sunny spot. H: 13-20ft (4-6m). 
reaching 39-60in (1-1.5m).  Lonicera periclymenum ‘Graham
Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ (AGm) thomas’ (AGm) A deciduous
With gold-green leaves and lilac honeysuckle with a delicious
summer flowers. H: 32in (80cm).  perfume. H: 23ft (7m). 
Rosa ‘madame Alfred Carrière’ Fatsia japonica (AGm) Jungle-effect
(AGm) This white-flowered, glossy foliage is this evergreen Rose ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’
almost thornless rose has a truly shrub’s big attraction. H: 13ft (4m).

34 AmAteur GArDeNING 24 MARCH 2018

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Anne Swithinbank’s masterclass on: starting a strawberry bed

Planting a new
On heavier soils likely to hold
water in winter, plant
berry bed
strawberries in slightly raised
or mounded beds. On lighter,
drier soils, drought is more of
a problem. Fit a fibre mat
around the plants to hold
in moisture.

■ Choose a sunny, sheltered,

well-cultivated bed where early
flowers are unlikely to be frosted
and the soil is well conditioned,
These potted plants
are healthy, but too preferably slightly acidic and well
small to fruit well this drained. Add a general-purpose
summer. Their fertiliser before planting.
How do I start a new flowers will be
removed, enabling
them to make large
strawberry bed? plants ready to fruit
next year

Q We inherited a strawberry bed, but

the plants have multiplied, shrunk
and don’t give much fruit. How do I go
poor foliage and small, misshapen fruits
are a bad bet and it would be unwise to
propagate from these.
about starting a new bed and when You might be able to squeeze ■ Make sure roots are well
should I do it? another year out of your strawberries by moistened, set them out 14in (35cm)
Clive Gilbert, Ashford, Kent lavishing care on them, but it sounds as apart in rows 24in (60cm) apart.
though the time has come to grub them Remove each from its pot and

A Unlike most soft fruits, strawberry

plants have a short cropping life
and are usually replaced after three or
out and start again with new disease-
free plants from certified mother stock.
Strawberry plants are available pretty
loosen roots gently.

four years. New plants are started off in a much all year round in various forms.
different bed and the old plants From spring to early July, cold-stored
disposed of away from the garden, to runners that are dug while dormant and
avoid diseases persisting in compost. held at low temperatures are posted out
Even when strawberry plants have with good root systems. These grow fast
been well tended, they often behave to give a small crop after 60 days in their
badly with age. Multiple crowns form, first year and a better one the next.
sending rhizomes over the ground and Bare-rooted plants are lifted and
flinging out runners. After a while, it is delivered from their nursery beds in ■ When planting, trim rather than
difficult to see where they were originally autumn, so order early to receive them fold any overlong roots of bare-
planted and the quality dwindles. before cold weather sets in. Garden rooted stock. Plant so the crown
Canny gardeners root runners in centres have potted plants for sale is at or just above the surface and
summer while their plants are still pretty much all year round, but avoid the roots are neatly buried.
healthy, enabling them to start new winter planting when the soil is liable
beds for free. Sickly looking plants with to be frosted or waterlogged.

All pictures Time Inc unless otherwise credited

SMALL plants set out in late autumn or

early spring might be deemed too
scrawny to carry a crop in their first
summer. This is a difficult decision to ■ Water in well and, once
make (we want those berries!), but established, give fortnightly liquid
removing all blossom pushes energy feeds with a high-potash tomato-
into growth and strong plants will give Remove flowers for stronger plants type fertiliser.
bumper crops the following summer.
Next Week: Anne explains how to care for your lawn,
including treating, re-seeding, feeding and
weeding, in our Lawn Care Special

Aftercare of strawberries mesh works well, make sure fruits have

set before putting it on, otherwise
pollinating insects are excluded. Slugs
Use straw to raise berries off the can be troublesome, so take steps to
ground and cover the plants with trap or control these if damage is
netting to stop birds eating your crop
noticed. During wet weather, softer-
fruiting varieties in particular might rot.
Remove spoiled fruits quickly to prevent
the spread of botrytis (grey mould).
Immediately after cropping, shear
away and clear old foliage along with
straw and other debris to be disposed of
away from the garden. This removes
diseased foliage and lets more light in to
the crowns, encouraging new growth.
Select the runners to pin down into
Richard everitt

pots of compost buried in the ground (for

stability and moisture), or tuck them into
gaps to root in and remove the rest. The
When the strawberries are about to squirrels will want to share the crop and big advantage of rooting runners is
fruit, tuck straw or fibre mats under and start on them as soon as they turn colour, being able to plant them out in their new
around them to raise berries off soil. so provide a cover. netting supported by bed during the favourable months of
Birds (especially blackbirds) and plastic hoops is ideal, and while woven August and September.

Choosing strawberry varieties

If you have the space and love strawberries, choose an early, mid and late-season variety for the longest
season of fruits in June and July. Everbearers will crop intermittently from June to October and are ideal
if you just want a few fruits to slice on your cereal in the morning.


‘Christine’ ‘Pegasus’ ‘Malwina’ ‘Mara des Bois’

Quality fruits, excellent A mid-late variety ideal for A late variety with large, This everbearing variety
flavour and large, heavier soils. Open habit and flavoursome red fruits has the aromatic flavour
bright-red berries are the good disease resistance. produced to the end of July of wild strawberries. It
hallmarks of this early Abundant medium-sized and into August. Good produces regular-sized
season variety. fruits are sweet and juicy. disease resistance. berries through summer.

resurrecting neglected plants

Find and mark the largest crowns in Firm soil around any exposed roots and Mulch generously between and
the bed so they are 12-18in (30-36cm) sprinkle a general-purpose fertiliser up to the plants with well-rotted
apart and remove smaller unwanted around the plants, adding it gently compost to hold in moisture and
ones, along with weeds and debris. between them. nourish the soil.

24 MARCH 2018 AmAteur GArDeNING 37

Grows healthy
Plants with
strong roots

Enriched From raising
seedlings to
With Loam planting
AND feed containers

Of Plant
From germinating seeds, to potting on and planting up
containers our Multi-Purpose Compost with John Innes is
the perfect life partner for plants. This gardeners favourite
retains and releases nutrients and water to give plants all
they need to thrive – through every stage of their life.
Anna Toeman, Dr Jane Bingham, John Negus

Cistus and agapanthus will

brighten any garden
Getty Images

Daffodil bulbs are best

planted in a sunny spot

Bulb mystery
Seed Lynx Supplies

Q These bulbs were overlooked

when we were planting up a

How can I jazz up a gravelly patch?

border – can you tell me what they are?
Philip Pearce, via email

Q We have a small area with gravel

over sand that is about 30 years
old. Should we remove the gravel and
thrive in full sun or light shade:
Perennials: Agapanthus, allium,
alchemilla, Anemone hupehensis,
A The attached image shows daffodil
bulbs. They should have been
planted in August or September, but it is
replace it with soil? Which would be the aquilegia, aster, astrantia, brunnera, not too late to plant them now.
best plants to now put in? campanula, Chrysanthemum ‘Clara Prepare a patch of ground in full sun
Margaret and Martin Pagett, via email Curtis’, crocosmia, dianthus, dicentra, – daffodils will bloom in light shade, but
echinacea, euphorbia, hardy geranium, prefer good light – and set bulbs 6in

A I suggest that you work good

topsoil and crumbly manure into
the gravel and sand area to make an
hemerocallis, hosta, and bearded iris.
Small shrubs: Abelia, aucuba, berberis,
Buddleja ‘Buzz’, camellia, ceratostigma,
(15cm) deep and 6-9in (15-23cm) apart.
Alternatively, consign them to pots.
Ideally, liquid-feed them with a high-
appealing bed. choisya, cistus, Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’, potash tomato fertiliser when flowers
To create a series of islands, divide cytisus, Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’, appear and leaves are bright-green and
them with grass paths. If you use pea hardy fuchsia, Hebe ‘Dazzler’, perky, and well before they fade. It will
shingle for paths, edge it with ceramic hydrangea, hypericum, lavender, boost the bulb size for next year.
tiles, bricks or plastic edging strips. The mahonia, myrtle, Philadelphus
following shrubs and border perennials ‘Manteau d’Hermine’.
Blueberry pruning
What’s wrong with my skimmia? Q Should I cut
back hard

Q Our old skimmia has grown into a

very large bush, but the leaves
have started to yellow and fall off. What
my standard
bushes so
is the cause of this and what can I do? they will
David C Cook, via email grow into

A From the photos, it looks like the

yellowing and drooping of the
leaves is confined to one section of
Skimmias react badly to
cold and vine weevils
Ian Mitchell,
Blueberries are
relatively easy

your skimmia. This part of the shrub via email to prune

could well be more exposed to frost roots, tubers and corms, causing the
and cold, drying winds.
The affected branches may have
been damaged. Check for splits and
plants affected to wilt, grow slowly and
die if the roots are damaged.
In spring and summer the beetle-
A With the ‘half-standard’ blueberries
with lollipop heads, it would be
unwise to cut them back to near the
breakages and remove damaged like adults feed on leaves at night. You ground. If you did, it would mean waiting
sections. Also, check the soil – it might can tackle them with a root drench of at least three years for new shoots to
be too wet and poorly drained, or it Provado Vine Weevil Killer. mature and fruit.
might be too dry. Improve the vigour of your shrubs Far better to leave the bushes as they
Skimmias are favoured by vine by correct feeding and pruning. Feed are and, each year, shorten a quarter of
weevils. The white larvae are active in skimmia with a fertiliser for ericaceous the oldest of the ‘lollipop’ stems to near
the soil over the winter, feeding on (acid-loving) plants. the base and some to half their length,
ideally cutting to a side shoot.
Write to us: Ask The AG Experts, Amateur Gardening magazine,
Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough Business Park,
Farnborough, Hants, GU14 7BF.
Email us:

Eucalyptus leaves can be used for Quick questions

& answers
leaf mould, but take longer to
rot down than other varieties

Q Should I prune my
grapefruit and
stand it on the warm,
sunny patio?
Simon Lander,
via email

Wikimedia/Trauttmansdorff Gardens
It is a little early to put your
grapefruit outdoors. If you
do, be vigilant and bring it back
into your greenhouse if the
temperature falls below 10˚C.
 As for pruning, your plant would
benefit from a light prune – remove
a few of the overcrowded
branches and pinch back the tips
of overly long shoots.

Do eucalyptus leaves make leaf mould? Q What is this strange

insect I saw
on one of my

Q I have some containers full of

shredded eucalyptus leaves. Can
they be bagged up as with autumn
week or so, then remove them and
mix with a compost accelerator or
high-nitrogen fertiliser, such as
raspberry canes?
Jeff Healey,
via email
leaves and left, presumably for longer, Growmore or sulphate of ammonia.

or how should I treat them? Put them in a compost bin or plastic It is the mottled bee-fly
Phillip Mills, Derby bag in which you’ve punched holes (Thyridanthrax fenestratus).
with a garden fork to ensure that air Colonising sandy heathland,

A Unlike softer oak, beech or

hornbeam leaves, those of
eucalyptus are leathery and take
penetrates. They will break down
into nutrient-rich humus.
When crumbly, use them as a border
mainly in Dorset, the New Forest
and West Sussex, it is rarely seen
– so you made a good spot!.
longer to decompose. mulch or dig them in to improve the Normally on the wing from late
The best way to accelerate the texture of heavy soils or the moisture- May to early September, it tends to
process is to soak them in water for a conserving quality of light, sandy soils. associate with the heath sand
wasp (Ammophila pubescens).

Best spot for a hotel

Q I have been given a lovely ‘insect
hotel’ for my garden, with different
Q Could someone
identify this
plant? It appeared in
compartments to attract all sorts of my snowdrop patch
insects. Is there a best place and height and has three
to position it?  snowdrop-shaped
Peter Gray, via email blooms per stem.
Susan Vincent, via email

A I am delighted that you have an

insect hotel. A wide range of
creatures, including mason bees, A It is summer snowflake
(Leucojum aestivum). A British
lacewings and ladybirds, will, in winter, native colonising damp places, it is
hibernate within it, and the more insects happy in light shade or in full sun.
we have the better plants perform. It multiplies well in ordinary soil.
I suggest, therefore, that you site it If it is not in the right place,
where it will receive sunshine for around transplant it and it will recover
seven hours a day; solitary bees like it quickly. To increase it, wait until
warm and sunny. Insect hotels help small creatures leaves die back in autumn and then
So I would attach your hotel to a wall, as well as your plants lift it and divide the bulb cluster.

fence, hedge or tree.

40 AmAteur GArDeNING 24 MARCH 2018
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Email us:
with Wendy Humphries

Talking Lee has a trick to overcome slug

points damage: “I ensure plants are healthy
and strong before planting out,” he says

Lee created an area for wildlife,

including plants for pollinators and a
pond to attract amphibians

Wildlife on the allotment

ACH year on my allotment in mix of insects this encouraged.
Forest Hall, Newcastle, I try Being an organic gardener I don’t
to do something a little
different. My plot is just
use any chemicals at all, so the idea of
encouraging more frogs and toads was
“The idea of
under 300sq m, and with a south-
facing aspect it is in a great location.
a win-win for me. I do have a hedgehog
on my plot too, which has been great as
In 2016, I decided that I would
create a wildlife area in one corner
we don’t have any others on the site.
Slugs were more abundant than ever
more frogs and
with a pond incorporated to
try to encourage a little
last year – which was great for
my resident hedgehog – but
toads was a
more wildlife into the
garden, particularly
quite challenging for me
given they too like to eat
win-win for me”
frogs, toads and veggies!
hedgehogs, to I overcame this by
help keep the slug ensuring that my fruit and veg that you buy is treated
population at bay. plants were healthy with different chemicals and has
I installed the pond and strong before undoubtedly travelled hundreds, if not
one Saturday, and planting out, and it thousands, of miles before it reaches
to my amazement seemed to prove the supermarket shelf.
“Slugs were abundant last
by the following year – great for our successful. The plot has been my saviour in
Saturday I had lots of resident hedgehog” Last year was an many ways. I find my allotment a form
frog spawn. I wanted to exceptional growing year and of therapy, having suffered from
build on the success of this we had a glut of many crops. I was depression in the past. I was delighted
area by planting the likes of foxglove, able to supply most of my neighbours, to win a ‘best allotment’ title last year;
geraniums, teasel and buddleja to friends, work colleagues and our local the judges seemed really impressed
encourage a greater selection of food bank with a good supply of with the diverse mix of veg that I had
beneficial insects to the plot. produce. So many people ask why I grown, not to mention the wildlife area
I built a log pile and made a few bother growing my own as you can buy and my lavender hedges.
bug hotels and used these in the area it very cheaply in supermarkets. What Lee Kirkbride, Forest Hall,
too. I was pleased with the diverse people fail to grasp is that the majority of |Newcastle upon Tyne


Share your stories, tips and photos with us and if your
letter is published you will receive a new book.
When you write, please indicate your area of interest!

of the

“I didn’t want to be
distracted by the
flowers,” says Celia

Buying plants
in flower may A sunny February day
and out came the bees
be tempting…
i’ve just taken delivery of two new
clematis. One of them (C. ‘Jackmanii)
Let’s hear it for hellebores
is going to trail along the fence and This photo was taken on 24 February, to watch a bumblebee forage for
another (‘Perrin’s Pride’), is specifically a very cold but sunny day. it may be pollen and nectar, while other tiny
for a large pot on the patio. i didn’t want early in the year, but my hellebores bees flitted in and out at speed, too
to go to a garden centre and then be were doing a sterling job of attracting quick to catch on camera!
distracted to buy a clematis based on different types of bee. it was wonderful Anne Aiken, Worcestershire
how its flowers look, only for it to be
unsuitable for its intended purpose. 
There are leaf buds coming already
and i’m looking forward to the time
when i can plant them out.
Reader’s Quick Tip
Celia Holt, via email DRAW a plan of the spring bulbs in your
garden while they are still visible. Then,
Wendy says: Good idea, Celia, to do in autumn, it will be much easier to plant
your research before buying. Plant your new ones to fill in the gaps.
‘Jackmanii’ clematis 2-3in (5-8cm) Fred Whittaker, Co Durham
deeper than the surrounding soil level.

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While foxgloves will grow
in dry shade, they tend to be
poor and stunted in such
conditions. To reach their full
potential they need light
shade and moist soil
enriched with well-
rotted compost.

I found these Giant Spotted Group

foxgloves at a local garden centre
and plan to sow more this June

How to grow
Spires of pest-resistant foxgloves are just perfect for
the country garden, says Anne Swithinbank

AST June our garden was full been felled, leaving sunny clearings.
of white foxgloves, towering in Return the following June and these
borders and making glorious glades are likely to be bursting with
combinations with shrubs, roses purple spires. Foxgloves are biennial,
and in particular, blue Anchusa azurea. so during the first growing season a
This momentous display cost next to rosette of leaves develops. This waits
nothing, as it all came from a packet of out winter and then rises to flower the
AG’s free seeds sown the preceding following June. Plants sometimes live
June. Best of all for a country garden like longer but rarely bloom twice with the
Foxgloves spires make a magnificent
mine, digitalis are immune to deer and same vigour. cottage garden border display
rabbits. Even slugs and snails seem to For wild areas, straight D. purpurea or
leave them well alone. the white form D. p. ‘Alba’ look stunning,
Foxgloves are bitter-tasting and and the tubular flowers arranged on one short and multi-stemmed with attractive
poisonous, containing glycosides side of the stem are a magnet for bees. deeply cut blooms.
including digitalis. This has a long history ‘Pam’s Choice’ boasts white flowers Over-wintered rosettes are available
of use in heart-regulating medicine with rich-red throats and taller, showier to plant now and flower this summer. As
stretching back to ancient Roman times. Excelsior hybrids bring a range of long as the soil around them is not overly
Due to bitterness, poisoning by colours, with flowers all around the stem. disturbed, they’ll seed themselves.
foxgloves is rare but it pays to remember For containers or cottage gardens in The Dalmatian and Camelot series
the old country name: ‘dead man’s bells’. tighter spaces, opt for shorter varieties, have been bred to bloom in their first
Seeds of the common foxglove, such as ‘Knee High Mixed’ or strawberry- year from an early spring sowing, but
Time Inc/Alamy

Digitalis purpurea, persist in the ground rose ‘Summer King’. If you like novelties, for sheer numbers to replicate wild
for many years. On country walks, you then ‘Candy Mountain’ has upward- communities, make a note to sow
might notice areas where trees have looking flowers and ‘Pam’s Split’ is traditional varieties in late May or June.
46 AmAteur GArDeNING 24 MARCH 2018
Follow Anne’s advice to
grow foxgloves from seed
Prepare a half seed tray with
good soilless multi-purpose
compost, firm the surface
gently so it is flat and
water using a fine rose
(sprinkler) on the can.
Allow to drain.
Sprinkle the fine seed
thinly and evenly over
the surface. Press lightly
into the moist surface but
don’t cover.
Place in a shaded spot and keep
moist until the seeds have germinated and grown.
Carefully transplant one seed per 31∕2in (9cm) pot.
When roots have filled the pot, plant out 12-18in
(30-45cm) apart, usually in August or September.
Water in really well.

Four favourite
foxgloves to enjoy

D. purpurea ‘Alba’ D. p. ‘Sutton’s

The elegant pure-white Apricot’
form of the native foxglove A traditional foxglove
is an absolute favourite and whose soft, peachy-pink
looks good with every plant flowers are a subtle
in the garden. Will reach up delight on plants
to 5ft (1.5m). reaching 4ft (1.2m).
Mr Fothergill’s

D. p. ‘Camelot Cream’ D. p. Foxy Mixed

These F1 hybrid foxgloves A good choice for the
have been bred to flower in smaller garden, white
their first and second year and pink-shaded flowers
from seed at 3-4ft (90- open on compact plants
120cm). Spotted creamy to 3ft (90cm) tall. Flowers
white flowers open all in the first year from an
around the stems. early sowing.


A Gardener’s Miscellany
Gardening’s king of trivia and brain-teasers, Graham Clarke

THIS Gardening All for lawn

WEEK history FROM now on, gardeners will be
feeding, raking, spiking, weeding and
IN 20-26 March moss-killing their lawns up and down the
land, so this week we thought we’d look
at some of the amazing facts
surrounding lawns and grasses.
■ 20 March There are around 15 million garden
1727 Sir Isaac lawns in Britain. In 2012 (the last time
Newton, figures were analysed), we spent £127
scientist and million on mowers to cut them, and £54
apple grower, million on lawn fertilisers to feed them.


■ 21 March 1933
Budding inventions
Michael Ray Dibdin EDWIN Beard Budding (1775-1846) is
Heseltine, Baron famous for inventing the lawnmower. At
Heseltine, was the time (1830), people thought he was a
born. Former madman to use such a contraption. He
Deputy Prime therefore tested the machine at night so
Minister and no one would see him.
Conservative MP, he It’s less well known that he also
Wikimedia / Financial Times

is a keen gardener and invented the adjustable spanner. Using

tree expert; his arboretum at the Phoenix Ironworks at Thrupp in
Thenford in Northamptonshire is Gloucestershire, he developed the
open to the public screw system for adjusting the spanner’s
four times a year. grip. Before this, spanners had to be
adjusted with wedges. Adjustable
■ 22 March 1915 wrenches using Budding’s principle are
Tomorite tomato used all over the world to this day.
fertiliser was ■ Incidentally, using a petrol-driven
launched lawnmower for one hour apparently
(originally in solid produces as much air pollution as a
form, it is now only 100-mile car trip. This is according to a
available in liquid). Swedish study reported in the June 2013
issue of Environmental Science and
Technology – the journal of the
American Chemical Society.

5 decorative plants referred

to as grass – but aren’t
■ 23 March 1969 Renowned
planstwoman Margery Fish dies. She Hundred-leaved grass or common
yarrow – Achillea millefolium
wrote in AG regularly, exercised a
strong influence on the informal
cottage garden style, and created
East Lambrook Manor Gardens in Carpenter grass or selfheal
Somerset (pictured above). – Prunella vulgaris

■ 24 March 1818 Humphry

Repton, the last great
English landscape
Time Inc/Alamy unless credited

designer of the Sea grass or thrift

– Armeria maritima
18th century, and
the successor to
Capability Sweet grass or sweet woodruff Onion grass or chives –
Brown, died. – Galium odoratum Allium schoenoprasum



quotes Prize draw
“My neighbour Helping keep your indoor plants well watered, the Westland
asked if he Watering Indicator Stick changes colour to alert you when
could use my the soil in your pot is drying out. A red window display means
lawnmower and your plant needs watering. Once the soil is rehydrated, the
I told him of course colour changes to blue to show all is well. We have five
he could, so long as indicator sticks to give away, each worth £2.99. See below
he didn’t take it out of for details of how to enter the prize draw.
my garden!” Comedian
Eric Morecambe (1926-1984)
“Tradition dictates that we have a lawn How to enter
– but do we really need one? Why not Send your name and address on the back of a postcard
increase the size of your borders, or to Westland Watering Indicator Stick Draw, Amateur
replace lawned areas with paving stones Gardening, 2 Pinehurst, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough,
and gravel?” Severn Trent Water (The Hampshire, GU14 7BF. Or you can email your details
Gardener’s Water Code, 1996) to, heading the email
“Nothing is more pleasant to the eye Westland Watering Indicator Stick Draw.
than green grass kept finely shorn.” The closing date is 29 March 2018.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Essays:
Of Gardens (1625)

£30 Word search No:

This word search contains R E S I L I T R E F

words associated with lawns
and lawn care. They are R S S A R G R C T S
listed below, and in the grid
they may be read across, I E H E S E Y S U G
Vital grass backwards, up, down or
diagonally. Letters may be
THE grass family (Poaceae) is the most shared between words. R A O O I C D E F N
important plant group for mankind. It Erroneous or duplicate
contains more than 11,000 species, words may appear in the A M L N M G E Y I I
and forms the staple of people’s grid, but there is only one
diets across the world, including correct solution. After the T C D R I N R S N D
wheat, corn, rice and sorghum. listed words are found there
are six letters remaining; O E O N W S W I G E
Millions of acres of man-made fields
and pastures around the world arrange these to make this
week’s KEYWORD.
sustain cattle and other livestock.
Natural grasslands cover about R O L L I N G D L S
a quarter of the planet’s land area
and are home to a rich diversity AERATE HOW TO ENTER: Enter this week’s Keyword on the entry form,
of dependent flora and fauna. CLOVER and send it to AG Word Search No 408, Amateur Gardening,
CYLINDER 2 Pinehurst, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14
DAISY 7BF, to arrive by Wednesday 4 April, 2018. The first correct entry
EDGING chosen at random will win our £30 cash prize.
How grass grows FERTILISER This week’s Keyword is ....................................................................................
Grass leaves grow from their bases
GREEN Name ..................................................................................................................
rather than from their tips, unlike a tree
IRON Address ..............................................................................................................
or shrub branch which elongates from its
branch tips. Grass growth has evolved LAWNMOWER .............................................................................................................................
over millions of years in MOSS
response to animal Postcode ............................................................................................................
grazing; it can be ROTARY Email ...................................................................................................................
grazed (and mown) SEEDING
regularly without Tel no ..................................................................................................................
TURFING Time Inc (UK) Ltd, publisher of Amateur Gardening will collect your personal information solely to
irreparable WORMCAST process your competition entry.

damage to the plant.

A Gardener’s
Miscellany Crossword
...just for fun!
Wow! I didn’t know that! 1 2 3 4

The shortest Latin plant 5 6

name used to be a
species of American blue 7 8
grass, Poa fax, but this
9 10
plant now seems to be
defunct. Poa as a genus 11 12
does still exist, and so
does Ada (an orchid), so 13
these are currently the
shortest genus names 14 15
among plants. 16 17

18 19
Bamboos technically
are in the grass kingdom.
The giant bamboos of
south-east Asia are 20
incredibly fast growing
– they can grow up to one
metre in 24 hours! ACROSS
1 Perennial plant having the shrub rose ‘____ Narcisse’
leaf-like stems, scale-like and the flowering onion Allium
leaves, and small flowers, ‘____ Regard’ (4)
Oddly, ‘Bamboo and the young shoots of which 20 The Eastern Roman Empire,
Blackie’ is a curiously are eaten as a vegetable (9) as in the ________ crocus
named variety of daylily 7 Lemna is the watery ____ (C. banaticus) (9)
(hemerocallis), while weed (4)
‘White Lawn’ is a variety
8 The essential oil or perfume DOWN
obtained from flowers (4) 2 Potato group, usually planted
of heather (Calluna 9 A kind of sweet potato (3) in March and harvested from
vulgaris, right). Both are 11 Found in clones of melon, July (6,5)
available from breeders this is an abbreviation for 3 Genus of the herb rue (4)
and garden centres. longitude (3) 4 Errant mould is an extreme
12 Since it is found in the sago form of the current style
palm – and an octagonal (11) (anag)
dragon (3) 5 Leontopodium alpinum is
If you know 13 Appropriate social better known as this (9)
someone called behaviour, as in the ‘great white 6 Botanical garden devoted
‘Timothy Bent’, then his rhododendron’ (R. _______) (7) to trees (9)
14 This sheep sounds like the 9 Genus of evergreen plants,
horticultural name is common name for Taxus having long, pointed, and
‘Grass Grass’: both baccata (3) rigid leaves at the top of a
Timothy (Phleum 15 A number found in woody stem, and bearing a
pratense, left) and bonemeal! (3) large head of showy white
Bent (Agrostis spp.) are 16 The fraxinus tree (3) blossoms (5)
18 Channel Island, as in the 10 Fragrant gum resin obtained
types of lawn grass. old floribunda rose variety from certain trees and used in
‘Dame of ____’ (4) perfumery and incense (5)
19 Man much concerned with 17 A tomato’s will if the
his dress and appearance, as in watering is erratic (4)
Alternative lawn-based 10 Myrrh 17 Skin
DOWN 2 Second early 3 Ruta 4 Ultramodern 5 Edelweiss 6 Arboretum 9 Yucca
definitions 15 One 16 Ash 18 Sark 19 Beau 20 Byzantine
ACROSS 1 Asparagus 7 Duck 8 Atar 9 Yam 11 Lon 12 Ago 13 Decorum 14 Ewe
Aerate – The cost of buying oxygen
Bamboo – A surprise hit
Dandelion – Fashionably dressed big cat
Spiking – Monarch working for MI6
topdress – Area of material just below a lady’s neckline
turfing – Instant grassification AND THE WINNER IS:
Weeding – The sound of a small bell in Scotland MRS B MACDONALD, PARBOLD, LANCASHiRE

50 AmAteur GArDeNING 24 MARCH 2018 13 JANUARY 2018 AmAteur GArDeNING 50


The best begonias you’ll ever grow

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Outstanding performance
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At Thompson & Morgan we select only the best plants that will
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cascading Begonia Apricot Shades has been a customer favourite.
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you. Begonias thrive in the British weather growing in sun, rain
and shade. Only by growing this spectacular variety will you truly
appreciate why this is our best selling begonia. Plant in beds, create
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48 Plants Plug plants supplied from April, garden ready June.



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or borders. Great for attracting
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product or give you your money back.
Please send to: Thompson & Morgan, Dept TM_TS124, Poplar Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP8 3BU.

Product Code Item Description Price Qty Total

I enclose a cheque/postal order made payable to ‘Thompson & Morgan’ for £ ORDER CODE
TJ16811 Begonia Apricot Shades Improved, 24 plugs £11.99 SAVE £2 £9.99
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qu ote code:

Designing and manufacturing an inspiring range of garden structures and plant supports for nearly 50 years.
* Terms & Conditions apply, see website for details. Valid until 31/08/18.

Arches • Pergolas • Gazebos • Bowers • Porticoes • Obelisks • Screens • Fruit Cages | 0117 934 1790
Get the look
Ideas for gorgeous gardens
Use an archway to create a ‘gateway’ from one
section of the garden to another. A jazzy red
feeder adds to the colour provided by petunia,
fuchsia and Lychnis coronaria

A garden of many styles

Kathy Fairweather has created her very own piece of heaven on earth in Derbyshire

nspiration was not in short laughs. “i wanted a project and this
supply when Kathy Fairweather blank canvas was perfect.”
set about making her mark on “The house was With so many requirements for her
the L-shaped plot behind her garden to meet, Kathy decided the best
Derbyshire home. immaterial – way forward was to divide her plot into
the retired university lecturer had ‘rooms’, each with their own characters
spent years collecting ideas for a
horticultural haven that would provide
I wanted a project” and underlying vibes.
in doing so she’s been able to
her with places in which she could relax, incorporate a mix of horticultural styles
contemplate, watch wildlife, and grow and when she viewed a 1950s into the overall layout, including a
fruit and vegetables, going on to add a property with a garden put down to lawn hollyhock-rich cottage garden, wildlife-
woodland area to her list after being and block paving, she knew she had friendly pond, calming Japanese-style
captivated by one she saw while found the ideal spot. zone, organic fruit and vegetable patch,
looking at different houses to buy. “the house was immaterial,” Kathy quiet ‘spiritual area’ and woodland
24 MARCH 2018 AmAteur GArDeNING 55
A garden of many styles

Bring together red and green foliage, using plants such acer, Physocarpus ‘Lady in Red’,
a fastigate (column-like) Sambucus nigra and Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, for a hint
of drama. Kathy’s wildlife-friendly pond has a ‘beach’ of pebbles so creatures can get in and out

corridor, and the comings and goings

can be viewed from her conservatory.
Linking these diverse sections are
pathways, water contained within two
ponds and a stream, and a number of
quirky touches ranging from colourful
murals to cute knitted bumble bees that
infuse the entire plot with the personality
of its creator.
At the same time, Kathy has filled
every space with a wide range of plants,
many of which rare and chosen for their
foliage colour and texture as well as
flowering potential. All have been Cheer up a dull wall with a mural.
Kathy got her friend to paint this
carefully positioned to create within her fruit and veg area
complementing contrasts.
“I like so many different types of
gardens, and I thought, ‘I can have them “He’s my labourer,” she quips. lives for 14 years now and I’m delighted
all’,” says Kathy. “I created lots of They’re both able to enjoy the fruits of with how it’s matured,” says Kathy.
different rooms.” their hard work, as are the large number “Some areas have developed over
Kathy is helped by her partner Jim of birds, reptiles and insects for which time: I identified the site of the Japanese
Woodburn, although she jokes that only the garden is now home. garden quite early on, but it took around
she lays claim to the title of gardener. “This garden has been part of our three years to evolve. I’m particularly
56 AmAteur GArDeNING 24 MARCH 2018
A negative into a positive: grass on
a sloping area never looked great,
so Kathy added a paved feature

A bamboo fence encloses an

area with a Buddha statue
and bench for contemplation

The Japanese area brings together a fishpond, A sleeping

false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia), a lot Buddha and a
of green-leaved plants and a torii gate heron combine
with canna leaves
and dahlias

Have fun by hanging ornaments from tree branches,

such as this knitted bee dangling from a plum

Meet the owner

26 Windmill
Rise, Belper,
DE56 1GQ
GARDEN SIZE: L-shaped garden
60m x 9m wide
Delight the nose with fragrant ASPECT: East-facing longer
lilies. Try the oriental trumpet section, the rest is south facing
Words: Sue Bradley. Photography: Howard walker

lily ‘Big Brother’ for height

SOIL: Light loam neutral pH
OPEN FOR NGS: 7 and 8 July,
pleased with the twisted branches of the around the garden 10 times to get them maintained garden featuring
false acacia, which was just a sapling exactly how I want them. paths leading to sections:
when we put it in, and the torii gate “I think this garden allows me to use Japanese, woodland, secret
made for me by a friend who’s a master the artistic part of my brain, and I love to garden, cottage, edible, pond
woodworker. watch things grow. and small stream areas
“Some plants have been moved “It’s my bit of heaven in a busy world.”
24 MARCH 2018 AMAteur GArDeNING 57
Call 0203 148 2517 / Fax 0203 148 8314 / or email

GardeninG equipment Greenhouses BulBs Plants & seeds

snowdrops in the green
Single Snowdrops....................... £9 per 100
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English bluebells........................£14 per 100
Crocus ......................................... £9 per 100
Miniture Daffodils........................ £8 per 50
Aconites ........................................ £8 per 50
Dwarf Iris .................................... £10 per 10
Snowflakes...................................£10 per 10

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phone 01945 410966
BulBs Plants & seeds

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Tel: 0800 046 7443
2018 Catalogue available online now or,
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call 01246 451077 for a catalogue

shop online
Two Wests & Elliott (AG) Unit 4 Carrwood Road,
Sheepbridge Industrial Estate, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S41 9RH
Toby Buckland
Nurseryman and former Gardeners’ World host
Cordylines are
believed to be the
Facts about
plants stick insects
used to hitch a lift
from New Zealand to
stick insects
the UK in the 1900s

Stick insects feed

on privet (above)
brambles and
leylandii hedges

■ Stick insects are among the

longest and rarest insects in
the world.
Time Inc

A sticky The first UK stick insect

(a prickly stick insect) was
found in Devon in 1909

If you live in the south-west of England, look out for one

of the five naturalised stick-insect species, says Toby ■ They are masters of disguise,

not only resembling sticks but
HEN my friend Sarah Could it be true that stick insects were also changing colour to merge
sent me a picture of a now naturalised in the West Country? into their background – even
‘hitchhiker’ wanting a lift to Casting around for info, I ascertained wobbling about to mimic the
work, I expected to see a that they’d lived here since hitching a lift movement of the wind.
youth with his thumb in the air. But no! on imports of Torbay palms (Cordyline
The creature wasn’t a hoodie-clad australis) from New Zealand in 1905.
millennial, but a stick insect clinging to Further populations had then England, overwintering in a trance-like
the front tyre of her Citroën! escaped from Paignton Zoo in the 1920s state among the dense foliage of
I was amazed. Why was this unusual while others had arrived on tree ferns. shrubs. Come the spring, they emerge to
beast stalking (make that sticking) the According to Nick Wadham, a wildlife feed on the surrounding privet, brambles
streets of south Cornwall, and how had it expert from educational enrichment and leylandii hedges.
arrived there? My first thought was that it company BugFest, there are five I can only imagine that with the
must be on the run from some young different species of stick insect in the warming climate we’ll all be seeing
entomologist’s jam-jar terrarium. Sarah, UK – three from New Zealand and more of these interesting insects in
however, thought differently, as she’d another two from southern Europe. our gardens. So remember, the next
encountered stick insects alive, well, and As the insects can’t survive frost they, time you look at a stick, it might be
‘al fresco’ near her home before and said er, stick to the milder south-west of looking back at you!
that a naturalised population lived in the
gardens nearby.
Well, every day is a school day when
you’re a gardener, but this occurrence
Did you know? live in balance with their environemnt,
feeding on plants and being fed on by
was so abstract from my reality that I Stick insects lay their several birds. They never move far except to
turned to the wisdom of the great hundreds of seed-like eggs below find a warm place to spend the winter.
philosophers for guidance. “Seeing is where they feed in summer and The most common species is
All pictures Alamy unless otherwise credited

not believing – it’s only seeing,” said autumn. These hatch out in the ‘unarmed’, followed by
George MacDonald, author and poet; spring and grow over a few the ‘Indian’, which, while it
whilst the philosopher, Confucius, weeks until they reach doesn’t over-winter, is
believed that: “Real knowledge is to their mature size of apparently a common
know the extent of one’s ignorance!”. roughly 4in (10cm) long. pet escapee that can be
And of course, who could forget: “It is the Unlike non-native spotted across the
stickiest situation since Sticky the stick species, stick insects The unarmed stick insect country during summer
insect got stuck on a sticky bun,” Lord have found a niche and is most common the UK and autumn.
Blackadder, BBC, 1983.
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