Gardening with Simon

Well, the storms appear to have all passed over and we can get down to repairing the damage and get started into the new season now that Spring has arrived.
We will all have to think twice about what trees we plant in the future and where we plant them as well as making sure that existing trees are looked at to see if they need pruning or pollarding to make them less prone to damage in future storms. Many trees like Sycamore, Ash, Willow, Poplar and Beech respond well to hard pruning and new shoots will appear very quickly during the growing season giving a nice compact leaf canopy. Take a good look at each tree around the garden and consider cutting them back especially if they are close to the house or along a roadway. When it comes to replanting trees there are plenty of medium growing trees to consider like the Flowering Cherries , Crab Apples and Purple Plums as well as some ornamental Maples, Amalanchier, Crataegus and Mountain Ash that would be more suitable where space is limited.
1 Lawns. If you haven’t tidied the lawn yet you better get out there while its still dry. By cutting the grass now it helps to even out the patchy winter growth and helps to clear up recently fallen twigs and old leaves that might still be blowing around. Wait for about a week and then apply some Lawn Feed with Moss and Weedkiller. This will give the grass a boost and also helps knock back the moss and weeds. Due to the severe build-up of moss it may be necessary to apply in two applications , once now and then again in May. Apply this fertilizer just before rain is forecast and don’t cut the grass for at least 7 days after applying.
2 Shrubs. Prune summer flowering shrubs now ! This is so that when growth starts in a few weeks’ time it will be coming from a sturdier framework and the young growth will produce more abundant flowers than from older wood. For spring flowering shrubs, wait until they have finished flowering and then prune within a month of the flowers finishing. Apply fertilizer when you have finished pruning and raking up the twigs and old leaves from under the bushes. A special ‘Tree and Shrub’ fertilizer can be applied or Pelleted Poultry Manure ( Chicken —it) . Ericaceous plants can have their own formulation of fertilizer. Epson Salts and Sulphate of Iron are good for restoring a deeper green colour on evergreens like Rhododendron, Camelia, Viburnum and Laurels if they are looking anaemic. Boxus now have their own specific feed mixed with a fungicide to encourage a healthier plant. Now is also a good time for planting up new additions to your garden , so once you have finished tidying up, take a step back and see if you have any gaps between your shrubs that need filling in. Flowering shrubs that are braving the weather and looking good at the moment include, Forsythia, Viburnum tinus, Skimmia, Kerria and Camelia. St. Patricks Day is the time for pruning Roses. Prune back down to just above the beginning of last years’ growth to encourage regrowth from as low down as possible. The new shoots will be sturdier and should carry better quality flowers. Fertilize after pruning with a recommended Rose feed.
3 Trees. Spring is a good time for planting up new trees in your garden. Make sure that after planting the trees are well supported by a strong stake to prevent the tree from rocking in the wind. Soon it will be cherry blossom time !
4 Patio Plants. It is still way toooo early for planting summer plants but Pansies, Violas, Primroses, Heathers, Bellis and spring flowering bulbs can all be planted up now to provide colour in the patio containers or window boxes. The Pansies and Viola will flower all through the summer as well and will put up with all the bad weather before then without any trouble at all. Hard little devils 5 Vege Gardens. As the weather warms up more time can be spent in the vege garden getting ready for the main planting season. Peas, Beans, Tomato, Cucumber and Lettuce for example can be sown inside and potted into small pots along a window sill for planting out when it is a bit warmer. If you have a poly tunnel or small greenhouse then your seed sowing should be in full swing. But even so you should be prepared to cover young plants or seedlings with a layer of fleece or plastic on the extremely cold nights that we could have even into April. Herb seed can also be sown for transplanting in May. Seed Potatoes can be spaced out in trays so the young shoots can develop slowly from the ‘eyes’ and will be ready for planting in a few weeks’ time.
6 Fruit Gardens. This is the main period for planting up new fruit bushes, strawberries and fruit trees. Why not try some different types of fruit like, Tayberry, Loganberry or boysenberry that will provide a good mixture of summer fruit along with the traditional Raspberries and Strawberries.
7 Flower Gardens. Make sure that any early weed growth gets dealt with as soon as possible and remove any hiding places for slugs under old leaves and plant debris. Try and catch slugs in ‘slug traps’ or saucers of beer early in the season . Dahlia and Gladioli corms/tubers can be planted now for summer flowering..just be careful of slugs attacking the young shoots as they just begin to appear at ground level. By placing the top half of a clear drink bottle, that has been cut in half, over the soil above the root you have planted, like an ‘igloo’, the emerging shoots will appear under the protection of the plastic container. When the shots are a couple of inches long, remove the container and scatter some slug bait around them.
8 Photographs. Another thing you can do is to take some photographs of your garden and send them into us on facebook or email to . Any good spring pictures can also be entered into the ‘Weekend in Kenmare’ competition also on facebook.
So, until next month, happy gardening from all at Willowfield.