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Ground elder in new and existing borders

January 8th, 2018 · No Comments

On the new and existing garden borders that contain ground elder if you use ground or weed sheeting covered by bark mulch that will stop the ground elder and kill it through lack of sunlight. You can plant through the sheeting with plants by cutting crosses in the sheeting and planting through the sheeting
You will find that some of the ground elder will come up at the edges of the sheeting and sometimes in the crosses you cut into the sheeting to carry out planting. In this case use a small hand held sprayer with Round up weed killer to treat these areas of ground elder as a spot treatment with several applications over the spring and early summer.
With the Round up if you buy it in the litre bottles as it stronger and mix it will 60 percent water here is a link
https://www.ashridgetrees.co.uk/roundup-weedkiller

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Pruning climbing honeysuckle

December 7th, 2017 · No Comments

Over the winter months you can prepare your honeysuckle for new growth and new flowers in the coming spring.
First prune removing all the dead diseased and damaged stems cut back some of the new shoots that were created in last years growing season.
Once all the leaves have fallen off in December or January it’s also a good idea to give the plant and winter wash to remove all the overwintering pests and diseases.
Finally in the early spring provide the honeysuckle with a couple of handfuls of Growmore fertiliser just to ensure some strong new growth and new flowers which in most cases will be formed on the new season growth.

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Overwintering Geraniums.

December 7th, 2017 · No Comments

Overwintering geraniums – As the season draws to a close its time to save you summer geraniums before the hard frosts arrive.To do this dig up you geranium plants and cut them back to the main structure of the plant just leaving a frame work of the larger branches.The softer grow removed can be used to create softwood cuttings.
click here for more details.
With the remaining plants pruned back pot them us into large boxes or pots with a John Inness soil based compost making sure the compost is quite dry. Then place them on or near a window sill in a cool frost free area overwinter.Water very lightly every two weeks to stop them totally drying out.Then you will find in February to early March they will have produced a number of shoots that can be again used for softwood cuttings.Then at the end of March re-pot the plants and start to water and feed them before planting them out into the final bedding positions in the garden or your tubs.One final point whilst over wintering the geraniums keep an eye open for fungal infections and remove any dead of damaged leaves or stems.

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Getting Your Christmas Cactus To Flower.

December 5th, 2017 · No Comments

Treat them mean and keep them keen – A term not often used in relation to plants but in the case of a Christmas Cactus its the key to getting them to flower at the best.Ideally they need to be grown pot bound and slightly under fed so the leaves start to yellow in the autumn.This treatment of a Christmas Cactus will help induce the plant to flower at its most prolific.Then when its finished flowering in late winter give it a light house plant feed and when the risk of frost has passed place the plant outside on a patio so that the summer rains can remove all the dust that builds on the plants leaves over the winter inside.

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Planting for interest near a privet hedge 

October 30th, 2017 · No Comments

Privet hedges are quite hungry and deplete the soil near to them of organic matter and nutrients so to grow plants near to a privet hedge you need to improve the soil with spent mushroom compost and a general fertilizer such Growmore fertilizer 

Plants to consider planting near a privet hedge include the following

cyclamen hederifolium

brunnera macrophylla

Euphorbia myrsinites

Lonicera nitida Baggesen’s Gold

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Plants for creating a seaside style garden 

September 12th, 2017 · No Comments

Plants for creating a seaside style garden 

Tamarix

Armeria

griselinia littoralis

festuca glauca elijah blue

verbascum gainsborough

echium vulgare

Cordyline Australis Red Star

Rosmarinus officinalis

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Native bluebells 

May 1st, 2017 · No Comments

There are two species of bluebell found in the UK. Native or British bluebell and non-native Spanish bluebell. Cross-breeding between the two species means you may spot flowers which combine traits from both.
The easiest way to tell the difference between native and non-native bluebells is to look at the colour of the pollen. If it is creamy-white then the bluebell is native. If it is any other colour such as pale green or blue then it’s not native.
These other characteristics will also help you to tell the difference.

Native Hyacinthoides non-scripta
native bluebells

Native bluebells

Pollen cream-white colour

Deep violet-blue. A genetic mutation occasionally causes white flowers

Flower stem droops or nods distinctly to one side

Almost all flowers are on one side of the stem, hanging down to one side

Flowers are a narrow, straight-sided bell with parallel sides

Petal tips are reflexed (curl back)

Flowers have a strong, sweet scent

Spanish Hyacinthoides hispanica 

Spanish bluebells

Spanish bluebells

Pollen green or blue

Pale to mid-blue, often also white or pink

Flower stem is stiff and upright

Flowers are usually all the way round the stem, with the flowers sticking out

Flowers are a wide open, almost cone shaped bell

Petal tips flare slightly outwards

Flowers have little or no scent at all

Why are non-native bluebells a threat?

Spanish bluebell is a threat to our native species because they readily cross-breed resulting in the fertile hybrid Hyacinthoides hispanica x non-scripta.

This is a problem because crossbreeding dilutes the unique characteristics of our native Bluebell, changing future generations forever.

Most bluebells in urban areas are now thought to be hybrids and a study by Plantlife found that one in six broadleaved woodlands contained the hybrid or Spanish bluebell.

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Mulching your garden borders

April 28th, 2017 · No Comments


One of the keys to creating a low maintenance gardening is to use mulches to suppress the weeds and reduce the need for weeding. 
In areas that are predominantly trees and shrubs you can use a weed sheeting covering my bark chips or wood chip mulches. On areas that contain perennial plants it’s best to use either spent mushroom compost or well rotted horse/farmyard manure making sure the material does not contain weeds initially.
These mulches will be incorporated into the soil over a period of time by the soil bacteria and by earthworms helping to improving the texture and water holding capacities of the soil.
One important point to remember with all mulches is that as they breakdown they remove nutrients from the soil as the bacteria uses the nutrients to help to break down the mulches so it’s important when you apply a mulch to add some fertiliser to the soil first we normally recommend a handful of Growmore fertiliser per square metre.
Spent mushroom compost is ideal for most soils and most plants however if you need to lower the pH in the soil or if you have plants that prefer acid soil conditions well rotted horse manure or farmyard manure is a better option as it is slightly acid. 

Spent mushroom compost contains high levels of lime making it unsuitable for acid loving plants. 
After the initial application of the mulch you will need to top it up every year and any more persistent weeds that grow through the mulch will need removing by hand or spot treating with Round up weedkiller. 

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When To Prune A Passion Flower.

March 26th, 2017 · No Comments

Prune your passion flower is spring, when danger of the most severe frosts have passed.It is good to leave as much growth on during the winter to protect it from the weather even though it looks quite messy.Its hard to prune to any set format just follow the existing main stems and prune back to these.Once pruned a liquid feed of a fertilizer containing a high potash content is ideal i.e. liquid tomato feed is ideal.

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Bay Tree Damaged By Frost.

February 5th, 2017 · No Comments

Question
With regards to your question on your bay tree damaged by frost over the winter months.
Answer
The damaged leaves will not recover and are best removed by hand.Once they have been removed feed them with a liquid plant food,for bay trees the best one is one high in phosphate such as a liquid tomato feed available from most garden centres.After about 6 weeks you should find that new leaves start to grow from the bare stems and by the end of the summer the plant should have fully recovered. For More information:
click here

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Renovating an old allotment and removing difficult weeds

February 2nd, 2017 · No Comments


It’s not very often you get to take over an old allotments or an allotment from a previous owner where it is completely weed free normally taking over an allotment can be a bit of a nightmare as its often overgrown with grass and brambles.

As you are going to grow vegetables in your allotment using a chemical weed killer is not really on option a more organic method is needed. Firstly remove all the rubbish on our allotment, next strim or cut down the brambles, weeds and long grass. Plus if the allotment is uneven try to level it as best you can.

With the allotment level you can now lay a black plastic covering to exclude the light. Ideally this plastic covering should be of a woven construction which is stronger than a more plastic sheeting.
The plastic sheeting will need to be pegged to the ground to stop it moving in the wind etc.
The GardenAdvice team us a Mypex ground cover sheeting.

With the plastic sheeting in place you can still grow a number of crops such as potatoes and tomatoes, runner beans etc. These can be planted through the sheeting as tubers or young plants by making small cross cuts in the plastic sheeting. Potatoes have the added advantage of cleaning up the soil and creating a very easy to work soil once the plastic is removed.
Before planting crops through the plastic were the allotment has been overgrown you might have to wait a few months for the weeds under the plastic sheeting to die down.

If you are intending to grow crops through the sheeting its a good idea before the sheeting is laid to install a drip irrigation or leaky hose system under the sheeting which will make the task of watering much easier.

Ideally the plastic needs to be in place for a full 12 months or over the winter months to produce a fairly weed free and workable soil once the plastic is removed it’s not going to remove 100% of the weeds but the ones that remain will be controllable if you continue to work on soil and work the allotment.

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Renovating a lawn containing builders rubble

January 20th, 2017 · No Comments

If you buy a new house with a lawn full of builders rubble then you best bet is to start again as in the long run this will save a lot of time and money.

To start it’s often best to kill the existing lawn a few weeks before with round up weed killer applying it with a watering can on a dry day about 10 days before you start. The reason for this is that it will make the cultivation of the existing lawn a lot easier.

Next after about 10 days after the application of the weed killer you can start to dig over the existing lawn removing all the rubble ideally over 50 to 75 mm. If the soil is very hard often it a good idea to use a spade and mattock spade that’s similar to a pick axe with flattened ends.

At this stage if your soil is a wet heavy clay it’s a good idea as you dig it over work in one 25 kg of grit sand per 3 metre square area. This will help break up the soil ( if the builders merchant is not sure about the type of sand just tell them it’s the type of sand used for rendering)

With the area of the lawn worked over now it’s time to create a general level with a rake and walking over the area as you start to work the soil down.
At this stage you can decide if you need to import topsoil. If the soil still contains a lot of rubble or is hard to level and still lumpy it’s often better to import some screened soil and lay the additional topsoil over the area to a depth of 50mm to 75mm.

If you decide to use some imported soil this is best delivered with the turf as it should be reasonable dry and easy to work . If left in a pile for a week or so it might become unworkable if it rains.

If you decide to seed the area it’s best to spread and level the imported topsoil and leave if for a few weeks before you sow the grass seed to allow any weed seeds to germinate first do they can be removed before you sow the grass seed.

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Ceanothus Damaged By Frost.

January 15th, 2017 · No Comments

We have noticed and indeed have had loads of questions this year about ceanothus being damaged by the frost and the bad weather. Our advice is to wait for a time to see if they re-shoots from the lower branches and then cut back to these green shoots.The shoot might take up until the end of May to start to come through.To check the plant is not died lightly scratch the lower stems and see if you can see some green colour just under the branches surface,this will indicate that the plant is still alive and more than likely recover.

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Plants Damaged By Frost.

January 15th, 2017 · No Comments

With this winter being on of the hardest of recent years now at the start of April its a good time to give your plants a helping hand.Many of the softer plants have been damaged such as ceanothus and fatsia japonica together with the slightly more exotic plants such as the bottle brush shrub.
In most cases its worth removing damaged growing tips by simply removing them, this should encourage new shoots to grow later in the spring.In the case of plants that look to be dead its worth waiting a few weeks to see is they shoot from the bare stems.A good example of this is ceanothus which in hard weather often gets its leaves burned by frost and snow,then later in the year new shoots start to grow on the older bare stems.At this point you can prune back the dead and damaged wood and the plant over a couple of seasons regrows.

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Mimosa Damaged By Frost.

January 10th, 2017 · No Comments

Mimosa damaged by frost. It may possibly resprout from live wood so I would be inclined to wait before doing anything drastic.A way of telling whether there is still green wood is to use your finger nail to scrape away some of the bark.If it is still green underneath then you are in with a good chance of it surviving.It may be that it has not been killed right down to its roots so may well regrow from the base.My advice is wait and see and don’t do anything with it until high summer.

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Winder Damage To Olive Plants.

January 10th, 2017 · No Comments

Olive plants although quite hardy are often damaged by winter winds and frosts which burn the leaves.This can be avoided by placing a horticultural fleece over the olive plants on the coldest days and nights or bring them inside if they are in containers.If your plants have been damaged they should recover in the spring and to aid the recover you should feed them with a high nitrogen plant food and remove the very badly damaged leaves.

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Frost Damage On Pyracantha.

January 5th, 2017 · No Comments

Frost damage on Pyracantha – This will happen only in the hardest of winters or in a very exposed position.Normally resulting in leaf burn and leaf drop in the early spring.If the stems are still alive, you can tell this by lightly scratching a stem to see if its pith is still green underneath it should recover.However it might take until the start of June before the new shoots appear.
As always with any weather damaged plant a course of liquid feeding in the spring helps in the plants recovery.

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Winter Damage To Bottle Bush.

January 5th, 2017 · No Comments

Over the last few years most bottle brush plants have got away without much damage.However in the UK this past winter has seen then suffer a considerable amount of damage.Bottle brush plants are not fully hardy in the UK and on the more frosty nights require to be covered by a horticultural fleece to add some additional protection.If you have a bottle brush plant damaged by the winter the best course of action is to leave it until the start of May then cut back the damaged areas and apply a liquid plant food high in potash to add the recovery.

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Bay Tree Winter Damage.

January 5th, 2017 · No Comments

Bay trees although fully hardy are often damaged by winter winds and frosts which burn the leaves.This can be avoided by placing a horticultural fleece over the bay plants on the coldest days and nights.If your plants have been damaged they should recover in the spring and to aid the recover you should feed them with a high nitrogen plant food and remove the very badly damaged leaves.

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Free online gardening advice – send us your question and/or pictures and we will send you the answers
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Disease problems with apple trees

December 7th, 2016 · No Comments

Many of our viewers and members apple trees are having problems with a bacterial infection with climate change fungal and bacteria diseases and infections have spread and are enjoying the damper milder climate. Most of the chemicals for the treatment have been withdrawn from sale because of EEC rules . So the cure is largely down to cultural methods.
Firstly on a dry day I would treat the infected areas with yellow sulfur
http://www.vitax.co.uk/home-garden/vitax-yellow-sulphur/
Next then when the leaves have fallen prune all the dead and diseased wood from the trees rake up the leaves and burn them or place them in the rubbish bin – do not compost them as the fungal spores can survive being dormant for years.
Then treat the trees with a winter wash to help remove the over wintering spores and over wintering pest eggs http://www.vitax.co.uk/winter-tree-wash/
In spring you need to feed the trees with Growmore fertilzer adding a couple of handfuls of feed around the base also its a good idea to sow a few tagetes seeds around the base these are a type of marigold that releases a scent that helps keep the pests away mainly aphids which can spread the fungal spores etc

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