Gardeners hopeful of better days ahead

Despite the poor weather of late with lots of rain and wind, there is lots of tasks that have to be done over the coming months.

Firstly, we need to tackle our roses and during the following weeks established bushes can be pruned. Cut roses right down to about just a few inches above the soil. Roses are hardy and will grow quite fast over the next few months. Hybrid tea roses and floribunda can be given a proprietary rose feed but the one task that you must do is to remove all fallen twigs from the soil because if you leave them lying on the soil various diseases can form spores which might splash back up onto the bushes causing re-infection.

New roses can be purchased from garden centres as bare rooted varieties and planted out into a rose bed but it is beneficial to apply a chemical inhibitor when planting.

Hardy perennial shrubs are useful

A few days ago I noticed some perennial shrubs on the benches at our local garden centre and these are great to plant out in the perennial border where they will grow for a fairly long time. When combined with some small trees there will not be too much work involved looking after them. Young trees will need to be staked and tied securely to prevent wind rocking them about in the wind and spring gales. Proper ties can be purchased from a garden centre and stakes are also available. Established trees can be given winter wash and this will help to prevent moths and other pests from attacking the bark and leaves of the trees.

Small trees such as Camelia should be kept moist and, if possible, sheltered from east winds which can cause the flowering buds to drop off before flowering can occur. Hedging can be planted out over the coming months and the great advantage is that you do not need to paint it as you would a wooden fence. There are various types of hedging available, including Leylandii which is quite fast growing. For advice on different types of hedging have a word with some of the experts at your local garden centre who will advise you on the spaces needed and they can grow.

Time to order summer bulbs

Begin to think about late spring bulbs and summer flowering bulbs, looking at lilies, dahlias and other such kinds. During the next few weeks I will feature some information on the different types.

Caring for your feathered friends

Over the summer months providing food and water for our little garden birds can bring us much joy and satisfaction as we watch their antics and listen to their warbling. So let us prepare the feeders and dishes to hold seeds and cages to hold fatballs. A bird bath can be a great attraction in any garden, but do make it your aim to provide fresh water daily.

Prepare tubs for patio planting

Over the coming weeks work should be done to prepare large plastic tubs for planting late spring and summer plants. Inexpensive tubs can be purchased new from various stores but holes must be made in the base to allow for drainage.

A visit to local florists may be useful as often the florist will have an excess of black tubs which they will be only too pleased to give free gratis. Again, such containers require holes to be drilled on the base to allow water to drain from the container. These clean tubs only need some ‘crock' - pebbles or clean polystyrene or other redundant packaging materials placed in the bottom six inches or so of the vessel, which can be raised from the ground.

It is a different scenario when dealing with tubs that have been used in the garden. These must be emptied and all the old soil and compost disposed of before giving the insides a good brush out, followed by washing with clean soapy water to which you have added a detergent. Once this task has been carried out the inside can be dried out and the container is now ready for filling with crock and peat-free compost. I would suggest that some gritty material be added to the compost to provide air and assist drainage. Such containers can be utilised for growing flowers or a wide variety of vegetables or herbs.

Herbs such as mint are best grown in a container otherwise the plant will spread via the roots and you will find yourself with a garden full of mint or maybe unless you contain the plant and even worse, maybe a street full of mint! Treat other such plants in a similar manner.

Worms are a sign of healthy soil

As you begin to dig your garden in the coming weeks do not be surprised if you see worms writhing through the soil. This is a sure sign of a healthy soil. I always find worms...and a little robin sitting on a fence just waiting to dive down and grab a worm or two. For digging, a useful tip is to keep your spade nice and sharp and give it a smear of light oil.