Garden with a Bird Bath

bird-bathsource

A bird bath can be popular with our feathered friends and be a focal point in the garden. If creating a new bed, for plantings, that will have a bird bath as a centre piece locate the bath just off centre. Work into the soil suitable compost  about 4 inches of garden compost will give the bed a good start.

Plant suggestions

  • Use plants of varied heights and colours and bear in mind you are trying to attract native bird species.
  • For the back of the bed try a Persian lilac growing upto 10 feet. Syringia Persica has fragrant mauve flowers.
  • If there is a wall or sturdy fence try Virginia creeper Parthenocissus tricuspidata with it’s red autumn leaves and hiding place for the birds.
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Tips for Growing Acer – Japanese Maples

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Acer trees and shrubs can be spectacular from Spring through Autumn due to the leaf colours and patterns.  This Acer Palmatum Taylor’s leaves with pink foliage will last through summer turning into rich Autumn colours at the backend. It will grow to about 10 feet in 10 years and is suitable for even a small garden.

Top Low Growing Acers

  • The cut leaf  maple Acer Palmatum Dissectum is an umberella shaped shrub with unusually shaped fresh green leaves. The leaves develop a red stripe in the Autumn. The name gives away a description of the shrub – Palmatum refers to the 5 segments of the leaf like the palm of your hand. Disscetum indicates that the leaves are disected into thin often feathery shapes.
  • Acer Pamatum Orange Dream is a slow growing Japanese maple with vivid orange spray foliage which turns golden yellow in Autumn.
  • Acer Palmatum Atropurpureum is a slow growing purple leaved variety grown for both the colour and the attractive shape of the tree. There is a Dissectum variety Garnet which combines the leaf colour with the feathery foliage.
  • Beni Maiko is a dwarf Acer Palmatum growing to  2-3 feet in 10 years and can be kept in a large pot or used in even a small garden. The scarlet leaves progressively turn dark red and green.

Top Tips for Acers

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Plum Blossom

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Spring is well underway but I must take care of my blossom on the Victoria plum. It looks fantastic at the moment and speaks of a good crop this summer but a nip of frost just now would be a real let down. Plums are prone to frost damage and as I am prone to eat Plum jam I will try protect this tree and its blossom.

As the tree has grown above a safe picking height I will trim the upper branches later in summer when the danger of silver leaf disease is much lower.

To augment my plum crop I planted a Czar plum (see below) at the beginning of 2008 and it is showing a very upright habit. This I will encourage into a bowl like shape to get air and light into the centre of the tree for future years. At the moment the rhubarb is a bit too rampant under the plum so I think it will have to come out .

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Topical Gardening Tips – Mid-Spring

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Mid Spring Garden

Garden waste composts best and quickest in a hot heap. Cover the heap and insulate the sides if practical. Mix hard and soft waste if you have mainly grass clippings tear up some cardboard or newspaper to avoid a soggy mess.

Keep sowing summer bedding indoors. Half hardy annuals can be sown out doors in May. Prick out seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle.

Start a weed suppression routine. Hoe out any weeds or hand remove any pernicious perennials. Mulch to suppress and avoid weeds.Spot spray weed killer on hard to get at weeds in paving and wall cracks. Treat patios and paths with algicide or moss killer to remove slippy green paths.

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Fuchsia from Cutting to Show

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My Fuchsias didn’t over winter very well so I wanted some new ‘cheap’ stock. My first attempt was to buy strong looking plants from a nursery but foolishly left them to get frosted in a very cold greenhouse. These cuttings were on sale in there own nifty mini greenhouse with the roots in a water-gel to sustain then through the retail lifecycle.

I got 12 plants for less than £3 and I have potted them on on a window ledge and 4 days later the largest is already for ‘stopping’. I will pinch it and then others out at the growing tip to encourage branching.  If you are wanting a ‘standard’  shape ie a single bare stem topped with a globe of flowers, then do not pinch out the top but remove all the side shoots and main leaves on the stem until the stem is 12 inches tall and the head has been formed.

Training Fuchsias

  • Standards have already been discussed and they follow the training of a bush fuchsia. The bush fuchsia will be trained to have a stem of about 1.5 inches without branches and all growth then eminated from a selected number of laterals.
  • A shrub has multiple growths from below soil level. training starts ater 2 or 3 pairs of leaves have formed by pinching out the growing tip. this process is repeated until the plant is the size and shape required.
  • After every stop give the plants a nitrogenous feed to promote new branches. Plants flower 6-8 weeks after the last stop and in that time the feed can be changed to a 1:1:2 ratio with more potassium to encourage flowering.

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Wallflower Bowles Mauve

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Bowles Mauve is a wallflower Erysimum linifolium that performs for several years unlike its strongly scented cousins. It is a short lived evergreen perennial that gets a bit leggy if not kept in check. The plant flowers all summer long and it seems as though it is flowering itself to death.

  • Take regular cuttings which are easy to root and grow on.
  • It grows 2 feet high and wide in most types of soil preferring alkaline to acid
  • Also try  other Perennial Wallflowers, Bowles Yellow or the shorter ‘Little Lilac Kiss’ from seed
  • Erysimum perofskianum Gold Shot as its name suggests has golden yellow flowers
  • Butterflies are attracted to this plant of the brassica family
  • As a member of the Cruciferae family the flowers grow from stems originating in the centre of the grey leaves and have 4 petals each in the shape of a cross.

everlasting-wallflower

 

Read also Everlasting Wallflowers

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Colour of Spring

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What is your favourite colour combination? 
Cerise, Shocking Pink scarlet and yellow seems a bit off colour to me.

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Your second choice includes a white Hyacinth perhaps Carnegie or Aiolos
A bit better at keeping the colour temperature in check.

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Which Parks Gardener thought up this combination?
My kids would call it yucky and I think that is polite.
Think about colour schemes when putting plant close to one another.
The stripped greens of newly mown grass have a lot to commend them.

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Dandelion a Martians Favourite

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What is wrong with the humble Dandelion and why do we take against it so? The flowers are prolific, uniform with good and vibrant colour. The seed heads look light and airy before the Dandelion Clock strikes and blows all the seeds to germinate where they will. The leaves are lance-shaped, so deeply toothed, they gave the plant its name in Old French – Dent-de-lion means lion’s tooth. So is it the profligate flowering, the ability to seed so freely the French Connection or some other prejudice.

Dandelion Wine

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Honesty Seedheads & Flowers

everlasting-flower

Honesty also called Lunaria annua has beautiful purple flowers in April and May that are one of the few early nectar attractions for butterflies. In spite of it’s Latin name, Honesty is actually a biennial putting down a long tap root in it’s first year. This is why you seldom see it for sale in garden centres.

Gardeners Tips Growing Honesty

  • Honesty will also grow in shade and the seed heads make a great Autumn and Winter attraction as the coin shaped seed heads shed an outer skin and become luminous white moon shapes like tracing paper.
  • The growth is stiff and entirely self-supporting, a central stem branching out freely and bearing abundance of small flowers like Wallflowers.
  • Honesty should be massed with say a dozen plants in a group to give the best effect. The white variety is well worth growing, the colour being very pure and luminous in quality but purple is the main colour.
  • Honesty self sows quite freely and young seedlings can be transplanted with care being take of the tap root. Collect the seeds in October as the husks are shed but leave the papery head.
  • Seed heads can be cut, hung to dry in Autumn and used as dried flowers in floral arrangements. They look good with Christmas arrangements.
  • Most are anything but nondescript, and there are some strains with richly coloured flowers of a vibrant deep purple with a hint of magenta.
  • Lunaria annua is a biennial belonging to the brassica  family and will grow in most soil, if it looks unhappy try a bit of lime. When it is happy, which is most of the time since it generally chooses for itself where to live, it can develop into a robust, branching plant, 2ft tall and 1.5ft across.
  • Unfortunately it has no scent. Although a biennial, with each plant living only two years, when it is established it will go on forever, becoming a feature of the late spring garden. When left to its own devices it often turns up in unexpected places.
  • There is a perennial honesty Lunaria rediviva that is an exceptionally beautiful plant. It has a simple grace with yard-high stems clothed in similar fresh green heart-shaped leaves. Its cross-shaped flowers are pale lavender and sweetly scented.
  • Honesty develops thick storage roots, almost like tubers, and, in common with other brassicas, has deep tap roots.
  • Avoid overfeeding and do not use manure Honesty does best without pampering.

Read Honesty is the best policy

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Lawns in Spring

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Tips for Sowing a new Lawn

  • Mid Spring is a good time to sow a new lawn. The soil is warming up and light showers should help germination.
  • If it is too dry you will need to water the seedlings with a fine spray – do not be tempted to drown the seed.
  • Select an appropriate seed mixture. They are available for a range of lawns from bowling green, prize lawn, back garden, shaded lawn etc.  Shake the box of seed as some mixtures settle and separate out.
  • Sow at the rate of 1-1.5 oz (35 gms) per square yard and eventually cut the grass to half an inch
  • Prepare the ground thoroughly, remove perennial weeds and stones. Compact and level then rake to a fine tilth, Sow when the top is dry but the ground is still holding moisture.
  • Measure out a square yard at a time and spread evenly then try maintain a similar density across the whole area sown. Cast seed horizontally and vertically to avoid patched.
  • Rake very gently once sown to cover the seed. If troubled by birds get a cat if trouble by cats get netting or string across the new area.
  • If just reseeding a patch scratch the bare area incorporate some multi-purpose compost and sow at half the quantity.

Seed Mixes

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