Gardening Diary for
You might think January is a dead time of year in the garden, but not necessarily so. Over the past 10 years our winters have got warmer, and it's now quite usual for snowdrops and winter aconites to start flowering in January. Shrubs such as winter honeysuckle, witch hazel and Viburnum bodnantense will add colour and gorgeous fragrance to the garden, and evergreens and conifers will ensure your plot looks good on the greyest days. So, if the view from your window is bare and dull, now's the time to decide on new planting to liven things up. Although January is often bitterly cold and wet there may be the odd bright day. Take the opportunity to mulch your soil using one of the wide range of J Arthur Bower's soil conditioners, then sit back and let the worms do the hard work for you.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR JANUARY
Clean and sharpen mowers, shears and other tools
Mulch around fruit trees and established plants
Protect phormiums, cordylines and other tender plants by wrapping them with bubble polythene or horticultural fleece
Order bare-rooted roses from Baytree
Clean out your greenhouse
Keep an area of your pond ice-free
Buy seeds from Baytree
Tidy up your borders if you didn't do it in the autumn and put the debris on the compost heap.
Mulch between trees and shrubs to improve soil structure and fertility. You can use one of J Arthur Bower's soil conditioners for structural improvement or use the 100% organic Farmyard Manure if your soil needs feeding up. See our Quick Guide for more tips on improving your soil.
Phormiums and cordylines need to be protected from sever frost and snow - tie the leaves loosely together and cover with horticultural fleece or bubble wrap. Order seeds and plug plants by mail order
Plant bare-rooted shrubs. Get them off to a great start by using one of J Arthur Bower's planting mixtures. See our Quick Guide for planting tips. If you haven't got time to plant properly yet, or the weather's awful, unpack the plants and dig a trench in a spare part of the garden. Lay the plants in the trench and cover the roots with soil until you have time to plant them.
If you are planting a new hedge, prepare the site before planting by digging it over and adding homemade compost or J Arthur Bower's Farmyard Manure
Plant bare-rooted roses following the instructions given in the Flower Garden and in our Quick Guide.
Take the opportunity to check over your lawn mower and trimmer and clean them. Arrange to have the mower sharpened if necessary.
In the Greenhouse
Hygiene is crucial in the winter greenhouse, otherwise grey mould may infect over-wintering plants. Pick off old flowers and dying leaves and dispose of them. Don't over water plants. It's worth using a fan in the daytime to improve air circulation.
Even in winter containers of winter bedding such as pansies and ivies may need watering in dry conditions.
If you have tender specimen plants protect them from the cold with fleece or bubble pack.
Dig over new plots and leave roughly dug to allow frost to break down the large clods.
Mulch between established fruit trees using one of J Arthur Bower's soil conditioners or mulches.
Prune blackcurrants and raspberries.
Plant new fruit trees following the instructions given in the Flower Garden section.
If you haven't already removed pumps and filters from your water features, do so now. Clean and store the pumps until spring.
Keep an area of you pond ice-free to stop a build-up of gases affecting wildlife.
Spring may seem a
long way off, but calm, sunny days will bring early daffodils and crocuses into
flower to join the snowdrops. Don't be fooled though - February is often the
coldest months of the year. Those clear days may bring hard frosts at night.
Listen to the weather forecast and protect vulnerable plants. If you want to get
some fresh air, why not fork over the soil; between established plants and mulch
with one of the range of J Arthur Bower's mulches and soil conditioners. This
will help get your soil into good heart.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR FEBRUARY
Start to prune roses and clematis
Plant bare-rooted trees, shrubs, roses and hedges
Mulch round established plants
Pick off dying flowers from winter bedding
Start to sow summer bedding in a heated greenhouse
Split overcrowded snowdrops and plant new bulbs
Plant lily bulbs in pots
Start to sow vegetable seeds under cloches and in propagators
Start to prune clematis. For more help to get you started, read our Quick Guide. Clematis fall into one of three basic categories - early-flowered such as montanas, early large-flowered hybrids and those flowering after midsummer. The ones that need pruning now fall into the last two groups, so check first which varieties you've got. For the last group, the late-flowerers, it's very easy - cut them down to six to eight inches above soil level, cutting just above a bud if you can. Don't prune spring-flowering clematis or you'll get no flowers! After pruning feed with your favourite J Arthur Bower's plant food, either Growmore or Fish, Blood and Bone. The early large-flowered varieties are a bit more tricky. You need to cut back healthy stems to just above a strong pair of leaf buds. Don't cut right back or you won't get the early flowers at all. Split clumps of overcrowded snowdrops by digging them up and gently teasing the bulbs apart. Replant in groups of five using a handful of peat or J Arthur Bower's Mulch and Mix in the planting hole.
Continue to plant bare-rooted shrubs, trees and perennials.
Continue to mulch established borders.
Roses can also be pruned now. Shrub roses don't need much trimming, but you can be quite severe with hybrid teas and florabundas. First cut all dead wood, then cut out crowded or crossing stems. Finally cut back the remaining stems by about half. Aim to cut to just above an outward facing bud and this will help to make the bush grow outwards. After pruning use J Arthur Bower's Pure Rose feed
Continue to plant bare-rooted roses
If your lawn is a bit soggy, pierce it all over with a garden fork at six-inch intervals to help drainage.
In the Greenhouse
You can make the first sowings in a heated propagator of summer bedding. Those needing an early start include petunias, geraniums, Busy Lizzies and nicotianas. Use one of the J Arthur Bower's seed composts, or multi-purpose composts.
Tomatoes can also be sown this month
Towards the end of the month start pelargoniums into growth by watering gently. Once growth starts, cut back the plant and re-pot it into fresh multi-purpose compost
Fuchsias can also be started. Cut them back to about six inches, report into multi-purpose compost then water gently.
Keep picking off the dead heads from winter pansies and primroses to keep them looking good.
Under cloches you can sow broad beans, early carrots and parsnips.
Sow summer cabbages, onions, leeks and peas in a warm propagator.
Sow small quantities of parsley seed in a seed tray.. It's a good idea to sow parsley every four weeks until autumn. This will ensure a succession of fresh foliage for harvesting. To help the seeds germinate, soak them in warm water for several hours, then dry before sowing in your favourite J Arthur Bower's Seed Compost.
Continue to plant bare-rooted fruit trees
If your fruit trees have had a lot of problems with pests and diseases it's worth trying a spray of tar oil winter wash over the trunk and branches. Always follow the instructions carefully and be sure not to spray on a windy day.
Cut back in decaying plants and remove dead leaves from your pond if you didn't do it in the autumn.
If frost has lifted your alpines firm them back into the soil or replant if necessary. Dress round the plants with J Arthur Bower's lime-free coarse grit.
With days getting longer
and the sun getting warmer, spring is just around the corner. Many spring bulbs
such as daffodils, hyacinth, crocuses and early tulips will be in flower. There
are a few jobs to be done in the garden this month. Probably the most important
is to prune your roses and clematis. So get out there in the spring sunshine
with your secateurs. Don't forget to give the plants a generous feed after
pruning. You can also feed established borders before mulching. Seeds can now be
sown in the greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR MARCH
Prune roses and clematis
Give your lawn its first cut with the blades on highest setting
Start sowing vegetables outside
Sow seeds for summer bedding in greenhouse or indoors
Start fuchsias and pelargoniums into growth
Feed and mulch established plants
Divide and replant thick clumps of snowdrops
Last Chance To…Plant bare-rooted trees, shrubs, roses and hedging.
Herbaceous plants will start into growth this month. Fork a general purpose plant food around your plants as they emerge - choose J Arthur Bower's Growmore, or Fish, Blood and Bone if your prefer an organic product. Then cover the soil with a thick mulch using J Arthur Bower's bark chips or composted bark. This will keep the moisture in and keep weeds down, making your life easier. Be careful you don't damage plants that are not yet showing. Carry on pruning clematis. If warm weather means your late-flowering varieties have already made a lot of new growth don't worry about cutting them back - they will shoot again from buds lower down. Pruning will also have the effect of delaying flowering. You might choose to prune some clematis early and some late to give you continuity of flowering. Make sure you know which group your clematis falls into before you get out the secateurs. Feed your clematis after pruning and mulch them. Order summer-flowering bulbs, corms and tubers, such as gladioli, dahlias, eucomis, begonia, crocosmia, lily and schizostylis.
Continue to prune large-flowered and cluster-flowered roses and then give them a feed. Shrub roses should not be pruned in the spring as you won't get flowers. However, you can feed and mulch shrub roses now.
The grass will be starting to grow this month so you can give your lawn its first cut of the season - make sure the blades are set high. Carry on aerating your lawn and rake it to get out debris and dead grass and moss.
If moss is a problem you can choose from one of the J Arthur Bower's extensive range of mosskillers. Lawn sand, with nitrogen, is a traditional treatment, which many gardeners prefer, or you can buy mosskiller on its own. Many gardeners prefer to kill weeds at the same time - in this case choose the Feed, Weed and Mosskiller from our Total Lawn Care range.
In the Greenhouse
Sow seeds for summer bedding in your greenhouse. If you don't have a greenhouse you can raise many seeds successfully on a warm, bright windowsill in the house or conservatory. Many people prefer to buy the seedlings that are now available in garden centres, and to grow these on themselves. However you choose to grow your summer bedding, you'll find a compost available from the J Arthur Bower's range to suit you.
Carry on starting pelargoniums and fuchsias into growth. Don't forget to pot them into fresh compost to get them off to a good start.
You can also start begonia tubers and canna roots. Begonia are best started by laying the tubers in a tray of moist compost. Once the shoots show you can pot them individually.
Winter containers might be looking a bit the worse for wear by now. Clean out the containers ready for planting out summer bedding in May. To give a quick burst of colour until then look out for pots of exotic ranunculus in the garden centre, or plant some perennials that catch your eye. Once May comes, you can plant these into permanent positions in your garden.
If conditions are suitable outside, you can start to sow seeds of broccoli, cabbage, kale, kohl rabi, parsnips, peas, radish and spinach. It's best to cover with cloches.
Plant out onion sets and shallots
Buy seed potatoes and put them in a cool light position to sprout. You can start plant early varieties towards the end of the month.
Continue to sow parsley in small batches. You can use the same technique for coriander and chervil..
Now's a good time to start a new herb garden. Herb plants are readily available in most garden centres. You need to decide whether your main aim is to grow herbs for the kitchen or for their decorative value. Herbs look good in a formal design, so spend a bit of time planning it out on paper before you buy the plants. Most herbs require an open sunny site and a light open soil. If your soil in heavy add grit or san to improve drainage and J Arthur Bower's Mulch and Mix to improve the structure.
Now's your last chance to plant bare-rooted fruit trees into well-prepared soil.
For an early crop of strawberries bring potted plants into the greenhouse. Water well and feed - try J Arthur Bower's liquid tomato food to boost flowers and fruiting. If your rhubarb is pushing through, cover it with an upturned bucket to exclude the light. This will encourage the plant to produce tender pink shoots.
By the end of the month you can safely return your pump and filters to the pond. Marginal plants may need re-potting into bigger baskets - use J Arthur Bower's Aquatic Compost for best results. It's a good idea to lift the top inch of soil of established marginals and replace with fresh compost. Water adds a whole new dimension to gardens. If you don't have a water feature, now's a good time of year to start. You don't have to have an excavated pond. Garden centres stock an enormous range of different features ranging from wall fountains and pebble pools to half barrels for miniature pools.
If some of your carpeting alpines have outspread their welcome you can divide them now and replant into gritty soil
Spring well and truly
arrives this month as trees and shrubs burst into fresh green leaf and gardens
and hedgerows are decked with pink and white blossom. Warm days should tempt
even the most reluctant gardener out to catch up with the jobs that can't be put
off any longer. For many people, the lawn will be the first priority. It's
probably looking pretty sad after the winter, but don't worry. There's an
enormous range of J Arthur Bower lawn care products to help you get your lawn in
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR APRIL
Give your lawn a feed and treat moss and weeds if necessary
Plant new shrubs, perennials and rock plants.
Plant main crop potatoes and onion sets
Sow vegetables, herbs and annual flowers
Divide and replant congested perennials
Train in new shoots of clematis
Start begonias, dahlias and cannas
Start feeding indoor plants
Last Chance To…Prune roses
Sooner or later perennials will need dividing -ideally this should be done every three to five years. Once the plants starts to become woody or dies back at the centre it will benefit from being split up and replanted. Early April is a good time of year to tackle this. Dig up the plant and split ii up into several portions, making sure each has a good share of root. Discard the woody centre. Dig over and fertilise the area for replanting, using your favourite J Arthur Bower's soil conditioner and general plant food. Once planted, water in well and mulch. Garden centres are bursting with colour at this time of year and it's easy to be tempted into buying new plants. Make sure they get off to a good start by preparing the soil well and using one of the planting mixtures set out in the Quick Tips section.
The clematis you pruned last month will be putting on masses of growth now. Spend a but of time training it and tying it in otherwise you'll find it makes a congested mass. If you get training early you can spread the growing shoots widely over the chosen wall or fence and get a far better display of flowers. Be very careful with the new shoots as they are very brittle and easily broken..
The flowers of spring bulbs will be dying off now. Don't be tempted to cut the leaves and flowers down for at least six weeks after flowering as this will weaken the bulbs. By all means cut off the dead flower heads to stop them setting seed. Once you've done this give the clumps a generous feed with one of J Arthur Bower's Liquid Plant foods. This will help the bulbs build up so that you get an even better display next spring
Annual seeds can be sown in the open garden now. If you sow them in rows you'll find it easier to thin them, and to tell them apart from weed seedlings. Don't sow them too thickly. It's a good idea to sow after there's been a good downpour as the moisture in the soil will help the seeds germinate quickly. Do water if it becomes very dry..
This really is your last chance to prune bedding roses. Don't worry if they've already made lots of growth - all that will happen is that flowering is delayed. The plants will benefit from tough pruning. Honestly! And don't forget to feed them once the job is done.
Give your lawn the pick me up it needs to ensure a smooth green carpet. Choose the appropriate J Arthur Bower's product and use according to the instructions. Be careful not to use if the grass is wet or you could end up with scorched grass.
If you garden on heavy soil which becomes easily compacted, consider using J Arthur Bower's Lawn Dressing, which will improve the soil structure promoting strong root growth and healthy grass.
In the Greenhouse
Continue to sow summer bedding. Last month's sowings should be ready to prick out now.
Sow tomatoes in pots - if you don't have a greenhouse a warm windowsill is fine. Continue to start summer-flowering plants such as fuchsias, pelargoniums, begonias and dahlias into growth
Keep displays looking good by dead-heading and watering more frequently.
Plant second early potatoes at the beginning of the month and main crop varieties at the end of the month. Plant out onion sets in rows, making sure you leave enough space between them for hoeing out the weeds. Continue to sow outdoors or under cloches - leeks, broad beans, beetroot, lettuce, parsnips, peas, mange-tout and spinach can all be treated in this way. Brussels sprouts and summer cauliflower and cabbage is best sown into a seed bed before transplanting in May
Basil is one of the more tricky herbs to grow from seed. It hates cold, damp conditions, so is best sown in a warm greenhouse or on a warm windowsill. Ideally the temperature shouldn't fall below 13 C (55 F). Sow very thinly and prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle. Keep them in a sunny but well-ventilated place
Apply a general plant food, either J Arthur Bower's Growmore or Fish, Blood and Bone, around fruit bushes, trees and strawberry plants
If frost is forecast spread fleece over flowering fruit trees and bushes to protect the blossom
If tadpoles have turned up in your pond make sure they have clumps of pondweed to give them shelter for marauding goldfish.
If you have a piece of your garden that's always soggy, why not consider turning it into a bog garden. You'll need to dig out the soil to s depth of about 12 inches before putting a liner in. Soil should consist of J Arthur Bower's Top Soil mixed half an half with peat, or a peat-substitute if you prefer. Dust over with Growmore or Fish, Blood and Bone before planting.. Among the plants you can choose are astilbes, many varieties of primula and iris and ferns
Many alpine plants are at their best in spring. If you don't have room for a traditional rockery or you can't be bothered with one, don't worry. You can still grow these lovely plants. The easiest way to start is probably in an old sink or similar shallow container. Lay fine mesh netting over the container base and place broken crocks over the drainage holes. Then add about 3 inches of J Arthur Bowers's coarse grit. Make up a planting mixture by mixing one part top soil, one part peat or peat substitute and one part grit. Fill the container to within one inch from the top with this mixture. You can add pieces of tufa rock as you put in the compost. Then it's ready for planting. It's worth going to a specialist alpine nursery and asking for plants that are small and slow-growing otherwise your trough could be swamped. When you've finished planting top-dress the trough with an inch of coarse grit.
May is when spring turns
into early summer. It's hard to keep up with all the plants that are bursting
into flower - look out for irises, peonies, columbines and hardy geraniums. By
the end of the month the first shrub roses will be in bloom. May weather is
often very changeable. Gardeners may have to contend with everything from frost
and strong winds, to heat waves and thunderstorms. With lawns to care for and
summer containers to plan and plant, you'll probably need to stock up on
composts, plant foods and lawn treatments. Choose from the wide range of J
Arthur Bower's products to help you create a summer garden to be proud of.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR MAY
Mow your lawn regularly, feed it, and treat weeds and moss
Create new lawns with seed or turf
Clip fast-growing hedges and feed them
Fix supports around tall perennials
Pot on summer bedding and harden it off
Plant up hanging baskets but keep them in a greenhouse
Feed roses and spray them where pests and diseases are a problem
Trim spring-flowering rock plants
Start to plant grow-bags
Sow biennials, annual flowers, herbs and vegetables
Last Chance To… Sow annual flowers
Fix supports around tall and floppy perennials before they get too tall. There's a wide range of ready-made supports in garden centres now, or you can use twiggy sticks
Biennials are plants that are sown one year to flower the next. Examples include wallflowers, Canterbury bells, sweet williams, forget-me-nots, foxgloves and honesty. Seeds of all these plants should be sown this month. You can sow them out of doors in a well-prepared seed bed before transplanting to their final flowering position in the autumn.
If you've been growing your own summer bedding the young plants should be ready now for hardening off - in other words acclimatising them to a life outdoors after being coddled under glass. To start with put the young plants out in the daytime only. Towards the end of the month they can be left out all the time. Remember that J Arthur Bower's compost contain enough feed to last for 6-8 weeks. After that time is up you'll need to start with a liquid feed.
You can start to plant up hanging baskets and other summer containers, but if you can keep them in a greenhouse or porch for a couple of weeks before putting them out this will help them get established. Choose J Arthur Bower's special Hanging Basket and Container Compost, which contains vermiculite and water storing granules to increase the water-holding capacity. You'll need to start feeding your baskets and tubs after 4-6 weeks with J Arthur Bower's Hanging Basket and Container liquid plant food. Alternatively, use J Arthur Bower's Once plant food as you plant up the containers. Once contains enough food to last the plants for the whole growing season. If you prefer to mix your own compost for summer tubs you can buy J Arthur Bower's Quenchers water-storing granules separately.
Keep a close eye on your roses and spray at the first sign of pests or disease. When buying new roses you may prefer to choose some of the newest hybrids bred for their resistance to pests and diseases
If you applied your first lawn weed early you should feed again towards the end of the month with J Arthur Bower's Spring and Summer Lawn Food Treat weeds as necessary
In the Greenhouse
Fuchsias and pelargoniums should be growing strongly now. Fuchsias should be pinched out once they reach about five inches (12.5 cm) high. This will help make them bushy and far more flowers will be produced.
Cannas and other tender exotics will probably need potting on into larger pots now. Use J Arthur Bower's Seed and Potting compost for best results and keep the plants well watered.
Grow-bags are an easy way to grow a wide range of tender vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, peppers and even melons. Bring the bags into the greenhouse a weeks or so before planting into them - this will give the compost time to warm up first. J Arthur Bower produces peat and peat-free grow-bags.
Summer containers can be planted up this month. If you don't have a greenhouse or porch to keep them away from late frosts, just make sure you listen to the weather forecast and cover the containers with fleece if necessary.
Be ready to cover potatoes if frost is forecast
Sow outdoor marrows and courgettes at the end of the month. Start preparing the planting site at the beginning of the month by digging holes one foot deep and wide, about three feet apart. Dig plenty of J Arthur Bower's Organic Farmyard Manure into each hole then mound the earth up over the manure.
Runner beans can be sown in the second half of the month on a site prepared earlier.
In warmer parts of the country why not try sweetcorn - it should be sown at the end of the month.
Take cuttings of rosemary, sage and thyme from the previous years growth. Take off the lower leaves of the cuttings and put them round the edge of a pot filled either with J Arthur Bower's Perlite or Sharp Sand. If you haven't got a space for a herb garden, many herbs can be successfully grown in containers. Chives, mint and parsley enjoy quite a rich soil and would be better in J Arthur Bower's John Innes No. 2. For marjoram, thyme, sage, hyssop, rosemary and lavender mix 3 parts John Innes No. 1 with 1 part J Arthur Bower's sharp sand and add some coarse grit. Annual herbs such as coriander and chervil can be grown in the same mixture or in multi-purpose compost.
Apply a general plant food around fruit trees unless they have failed to set much fruit. Young trees may still need watering in dry weather Gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes can also be fed
All types of water plants can be planted this month using J Arthur Bower's Aquatic Compost. Top dress the basket with gravel to stop compost clouding the water Algae and blanket weed may become a problem as the weather warms up, especially in fairly new ponds where there is not much leaf cover on the surface. It's easy to remove blanket weed with a stick - you'll find you can wind it round and pull it out. If algae persist you might consider using a proprietary pond treatment, but be sure to follow the instructions carefully and use the correct amount for your pond.
Trim back aubrietas and arabis that have flowered - this helps keep them compact and free-flowering.. After pruning feed the plants with an all-round plant food such as J Arthur Bower's Growmore or Fish, Blood and Bone May's a good month to plant new alpines. Dig out a hole bigger than the root ball and half fill with a gritty planting mixture. Mix this into the surrounding soil and add more mixture around the plant. Water in well and top dress with J Arthur Bower's coarse grit.
Long sunny days and warm
light evenings make June the month when even the most reluctant gardener will
enjoy spending time outside, even if it's only lounging on the patio with a long
cool drink. Roses, honeysuckle and clematis are in full flower, and bedding
plants in summer containers will start to fill out. All containers will need
careful feeding and watering - you can rely on J Arthur Bower's specially
designed composts and feeds to give you a summer display to be proud of. If
you're really stuck for space, how about investing in a couple of grow bags.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR JUNE
Water containers and feed when necessary
Plant new acquisitions and water regularly
Stand cacti and houseplants outside - re-pot if necessary Continue to feed and mow lawns. Aerate
Harvest vegetables and herbs. Earth up potatoes
Harvest soft fruit
Prune fruit trees
Mist greenhouse on hot days and shade
Clear blanket weed from ponds
Clip hedges and topiary and feed
Last Chance To…Plant out summer bedding
June is one of the most popular months for buying perennials and shrubs - hardly surprising with so many beautiful plants flowering this month. Make sure all new acquisitions are planted with a good handful of your favourite J Arthur Bower's planting mixture (see our Quick Tips for suitable recipes). Water new plantings in very well and continue to water regularly - every couple of days if it's really hot - until the plants are established and making new growth. Summer bedding can be planted out in your borders this month. Follow the usual planting rules, remembering that many bedding plants only have small root systems and very likely to dry out in hot weather.
Prune shrubs that have finished flowering, such as flowering currants, kerrias, weigelas, philadelphus and deutzias, by cutting back flowered shoots to a healthy bud. In mature plants, you can cut out whole branches that have flowered to open up the shrub and promote new growth. It's best to cut back about one third of branches each year in a three-year cycle. After pruning, water the shrubs well and give them a good feed using J Arthur Bower's Growmore or Fish, Blood and Bone
Evergreen hedges and topiary of yew, privet, box, Lonicera nitida and Leyland cypress can be clipped this month and given a light feed of all-purpose plant food.
Continue to spray roses against pests and diseases where necessary
Dead-head large-flowered and cluster-flowered roses that have finished flowering- this will promote a second flush of flowers in July and August. Feed after the first flush of blooms with J Arthur Bower's
Pune Roses. Shrub roses and once-flowering old-fashioned varieties do not need drastic pruning. Dead-head them instead.
Feed your lawn with J Arthur Bower's Spring and Summer Lawn Food, if you didn't do it last month. If weeds or moss are still a problem use the appropriate product from the huge range of J Arthur Bower's Total Lawn Care range.
Mowing should now be done with the blades set low, unless the weather is very dry - in such conditions a medium setting will be better for the grass Aerating your lawn will enable it to take up moisture as well as improving drainage, so if you didn't do it earlier in the year it's worth doing now. However, don't do it in really dry conditions - best done after rain.
In the Greenhouse
Keeping plants moist and protecting them from intense heat will be priorities this month. Paint shading onto the glass, and mist plants as well as watering regularly. You can boost the humidity of your greenhouse by spraying the floor with water each morning. Keeping the atmosphere moist will help to keep red spider mite at bay.
To keep displays of fuchsias and pelargoniums looking good, remove faded flowers regularly and apply a liquid feed such as J Arthur Bower's Growmore Liquid Hanging Basket and Container, which has extra potassium to boost flowering.
African violets and Begonia rex can be propagated from leaf cuttings. For African violets, push a leaf with an inch or slightly more of stalk attached vertically into a small pot containing a mixture of equal parts peat and sharp sand. For begonias, cut the veins on the underside of the leaf in several places and lay the leaves, cut side down, on top of a small tray of the same mixture. Fasten the leaves down with two or three stones or hairpins. In a few weeks baby plants will be produced - these can be potted up separately into J Arthur Bower's Houseplant compost. Plant up your J Arthur Bower's Grow in Bags with your choice of crop. Keep the bags well watered - you will find that the New Horizon peat-free bags need slightly more water than peat-based grow in bags. Bags should also be fed at least once a week with
J Arthur Bower's Liquid plant food. If you're growing tomatoes don't use the Liquid Tomato Food until the first truss of flowers has set fruit.
Finish planting up containers of summer bedding. Make sure you keep them well-watered, especially hanging baskets and shallow window-boxes. Aim to water these once a day if you can, preferably when the sun isn't on them.
You can start planting out young leeks this month - make holes with a dibber, plant the leeks then water without a rose on your can so that the soil is washed from the sides of the hole. Cut the tops of young leeks back by about a quarter before planting out. Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages and sprouting broccoli can also be planted out
Earth up potatoes when the foliage is 23 cm (9 inches) high. Drawing the soil up around the stems in this way will prevent tubers that form near the surface from being green and unfit to eat.
With a bit of luck you should be harvesting early summer cabbages and cauliflower this month.
Many herbs will be ready for picking. Choose a dry sunny morning (before the heat of the day releases the herb's essential oils). Cut shoots and tie them into small bundles before hanging upside-down in a warm place. Once they are dry, strip the leaves from the stalks and store in jars. If you haven't really got a suitable place for drying, try using the microwave. Place sprigs or leaves in a single layer on a sheet of kitchen paper and microwave for 2-3 minutes, checking every 30 seconds. Cool, then crumble and store.
Another way of preserving herbs is by chopping them and freezing into ice cube trays. This is especially good for parsley, basil, mint and whole borage flowers. Add one tablespoon of water to each tablespoon of herbs. Continue to take cuttings of rosemary, sage and thyme.
Apples will drop many small fruits this month - it's known as the June drop. Don't worry! It's nature's way of thinning out the crop. Gardeners can do even more thinning if a particularly heavy crop is being carried. This is easy on dwarf trees, but is not worth doing on large old standard trees. Check gooseberry bushes for sawfly and mildew and spray if necessary
If you have a pond with fish but no fountain, oxygenate the water in hot weather by spraying in fresh water from a hose. This is especially important in shallow pools.
Top up pebble pools as water evaporates
Healianthemums that have flowered should have their stems cut back by half to encourage next year's flowering. Dead-head plants unless you plan to save seed. Cut out dead rosettes of foliage and do any weeding as necessary. Don't let perennial weeds become established as they can quickly overwhelm alpines
The hottest month of the
year brings annual plants bursting into flower turning your garden into a riot
of colour. You may be astonished at just how enormous some of your perennials
and shrubs have grown - make a note now so that you can move any overcrowded
plants in the autumn or next spring. Unfortunately, all sorts of pests and
diseases are likely to flourish in the warm weather, so make sure you keep
plants well fed and watered. A plant under stress is more liable to succumb to
infection. If you find your borders flagging in the sun, water them very well
before mulching with bark or gravel from the J Arthur Bower range.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR JULY
Prune shrubs that have flowered and feed them
Take cuttings from many shrubs and alpines
Water containers every day in hot weather
Water borders if necessary, then mulch
Clear excess pondweed
Spray roses and feed
Dead-head perennials and annuals unless you want to save seed
Plant leeks and winter brassicas
Prune trained fruit trees
Last Chance To…Sow biennials
Carry on pruning shrubs that flowered in spring and early summer, then feed them with one of the J Arthur Bower's all-purpose plant foods. It's worth watering well and mulching them even at this stage in the year.
Cut down the stems of bearded iris now that the blooms have faded. If the clumps are very congested dig them up and divide, cutting the rhizomes at a joint. Trim back the leaves to 15 cm (6 inches). Replant in ordinary garden soil with a bit of J Arthur Bower's grit added, and water in. Continue to water until established.
Pinch out chrysanthemum shoot tips to encourage them to branch and produce more flowering stems.
Remove seeds heads of annuals to encourage the plant to produce more flowers
If your dahlias aren't growing very strongly, give them a boost with some J Arthur Bower's Liquid Growmore every 10-14 days.
Some early-flowering perennials, particularly lupins and delphiniums, can be encouraged to produce a second, smaller, flush of flowers if you cut the stems right down and apply a liquid feed.
Take cuttings of non-flowering shoots from many shrubs, putting them round the edge of small pots of half and half peat and sharp sand or peat and perlite. Water them in and keep warm but out of direct sun. Cuttings can also be taken of pinks.
This is the best month to trim hawthorn hedges. If you cut them earlier they need another trim, but if you leave it any later the growth will be very tough and hard to cut.
Continue to trim back and feed roses that have finished their first flush of blooms
Spray as necessary against pests and diseases
Hopefully, all that hard work you did in the spring will have paid off, and your lawn will be looking green and velvety. If not, there's still time to use any of the wide range of J Arthur Bower's weedkillers, mosskillers and feeds. You should continue to feeds your lawn, and try to mow it twice a week if you can, though once a week will be OK. Don't add the clippings to the compost heap for the first few weeks after applying weedkillers.
In the Greenhouse
Never let your grow-in bags go short of water as you may find it hard to re-wet them thoroughly
Plants in pots may need watering every day, and should be fed once a fortnight with a liquid feed
If whitefly and red spider mite are proving a problem, it is now possible to obtain biological controls, which can be used this month.
Tomatoes should start fruiting this month. Keep the plants well supported and remove side shoots regularly. Use J Arthur Bower's Liquid Tomato Feed every week to ensure a bumper crop.
Water containers every day in hot weather. Hanging baskets can be watered twice a day if you've got them time and energy. Feed all containers once a week with J Arthur Bower's Liquid Hanging Basket & Container Liquid Feed
Carry on sowing salad crops outside. French beans can also be sown at the beginning of the month for a late crop.
Onions will need a lot of water at this time of year or the yield will be greatly reduced. Weeds will compete for every drop of water, so keep on hoeing around your onions to keep weeds at bay
Complete planting out young leeks
Continue to harvest herbs for drying or freezing
The first week of the month is usually the best time to cut lavender for drying. Cut the hole stalk as soon as the flowers show colour, but before they are fully open. Tie them in small bundles and hang in a greenhouse or warm shed or porch to dry. Alternatively you could lay them in trays in the airing cupboard. When the flower buds are completely dry, rub them gently off the stalks. Use in muslin bags or small bowls
Trained fruit trees, such as cordons, fans, dwarf pyramids and espaliers should be trimmed of any unwanted shoots this month
Pick blackcurrants as soon as they ripen. Growth being made now will produce next year's crop so keep bushes watered in dry weather and give them a handful of all-purpose plant food
Waterlilies should be flowering now, so if you want to buy new plants, now's the time to make your choice. Waterlilies come in all sorts of different sizes - there are even miniature ones suitable for container pools. Make sure you get the right size for your water feature. If aphids are a problem on waterlily foliage try and knock them off with water spray from a hosepipe. Don't use a greenfly killer anywhere near a pond as it will harm fish and wildlife
Thin out oxygenating plants taking care not to remove young fish, water snails or froglets with the excess. The best way to do this is to check through the pondweed carefully, then lay it out in bundles around the sides of the pond and leave it overnight. This will give little creatures a chance to slither back into the water
If mounded or trailing plants seem not to be flourishing after flowering give them a top dressing of J Arthur Bower's peat and Silvaperl silver sand mixed half and half with a dusting of Fish, Blood and Bone. Work this mixture into the plant then water well and dress with Silvaperl coarse grit
Gardening Diary for August
Still hot, August weather is often similar to that of July. However days are getting noticeably shorter. By the end of the month there's often a distinctly autumnal feeling in the air. As August is the month when most people go away, try to arrange for a neighbour of friend to water your containers and greenhouse plants. It's a good idea to move containers out of full sun while you're away. Why not use your holiday to visit one or two gardens - you might get some good ideas for your own plot.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR AUGUST
Take cuttings of shrubby herbs and tender perennials
Water all containers every day and feed regularly
Treat vine weevil with biological control
Pinch out tomato sideshoots
Prune raspberries and gooseberries
Mow the lawn before going on holiday
Last Chance To…Take cuttings of rock plants and shrubs
Take cuttings of tender perennial, such as verbenas, argyranthemums, fuchsias, salvias and pelargoniums. Dip the cuttings into a hormone rooting compound before inserting them into small pots of half and half peat and perlite or peat and silver sand. Water in well and keep the cuttings in a cold frame or even on warm windowsill out of direct sunlight. They should root within eight weeks and can then be potted up in J Arthur Bower's Multi-Purpose compost and over-wintered in a heated greenhouse or on a bedroom windowsill
Trim lavender bushes once the flowers are past their best. If you like to attract wildlife to your garden you may prefer to leave the seedheads as goldcrest adore the seeds and may visit in early autumn
If you have camellias, azaleas or rhododendrons water them well in dry weather otherwise the flower buds for next year may not develop properly. To boost growth feed them with J Arthur Bower's Liquid Ericaceous Feed. If you have lime in your soil you may find that the foliage of these particular plants is turning yellow. The lime in the soil stops the plants taking up trace elements, particularly iron. You can alleviate the condition by applying J Arthur Bower's sulphate of iron. In severe cases it is probably better to grow lime-hating plants in containers using one of the J Arthur Bower's Ericaceous composts.
Late-flowering bulbs such as nerines, agapanthus, schistylis and sternbergia will appreciate watering at this time of year. .The reason is that all these plants come from parts of the world with summer rains. If they go dry they may not flower well
This is the month to plant the lovely, but temperamental madonna lily. It prefers limy soil and should be planted not more than 5 cm (2 inches) deep
Stop feeding roses now. Feeding will encourage soft growth that won't have a chance to ripen before the winter. It will then be prone to diseases.
Rambler roses that have finished flowering can be pruned now. Cut the long old stems that flowered this year, but leave non-flowering shoots as these should bloom next year
In the Greenhouse
Vine weevil has become a common pest in greenhouses and containers in recent years. The adult weevil is dull dark grey in colour, slightly mottled. It comes out at night and chomps away at the margins of leaves. But it is the larvae that cause the real damage by burrowing down into the compost and devouring the roots of plants. By the time the gardener spots that the plant is not flourishing it may well be too late. If you see wilting leaves remove the plant from its pot and have a look. The grubs are about 1 cm (1/2 inch) long, curved and creamy white in colour with brown heads. They should be destroyed on sight. Biological control by nematodes is now available and should be used this month. Follow the instructions carefully.
Continue to mist plants and check shading
Continue to feed tomato plants each weeks with J Arthur Bower's Liquid Tomato Feed
Before you go on holiday try and arrange for a friend or neighbour to come round and water your containers. If they can't come every day, take steps to cut down on watering requirements by moving all containers and hanging baskets out of the sun as far as possible. Clay pots can be stood on trays filled with wet gravel. If you have a very elaborate summer display with window-boxes and hanging baskets, you should consider installing an automatic watering system controlled by a timer.
Pick courgettes regularly while they are small
Pinch out the tips of the climbing shoots of runner beans once they reach the tip of their supports
Sow lettuce, winter spinach, spring cabbage and Chinese cabbage out of doors
Continue to take cuttings of woody herbs including hyssop, lavender, rosemary, curry plant, rue and sage. Dip the cuttings into hormone rooting compound before inserting them into small pots of equal parts peat and silver sand or peat and perlite.
It's a good time of year to divide congested clumps of chives. Dig them up and divide in small clumps of about five or six bulbs. Replant with a handful of your favourite J Arthur Bower's planting mixture.
Plant rooted strawberry runners now to ensure a good crop next year. If you leave this much later the crop will be severely reduced
Continue to prune raspberries and tie in new shoots
Prune gooseberries, shortening the main stems and side shoots to five leaves
It's OK to cut off water lily leaves if they are hiding the flowers
Continue to thin heavy growths of oxygenating plants from ponds
Ask a neighbour to feed any fish while you're on holiday. Ornamental fish need to feed heavily in late summer and autumn to help them get through the winter
There's still time to take cuttings of alpines
unmistakably arrives this month, the huge availability of tender perennials
means we can all ensure our gardens remain colourful for a few more weeks.
Dahlias really come into their own, along with salvias, cannas and other
exotics. Crocosmias, perennials asters and Japanese anemones are easy choices
for colour in the border. The weather in early September can often be warm and
sunny, but by the end of the month it is often unsettled with rain and strong
winds. Frost may strike so gardeners need to be prepared to move tender plants
to their winter quarters. Cacti and houseplants should be brought inside at the
beginning of the month.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR SEPTEMBER
Buy spring bulbs for next year (Baytree has the largest selection in the country)
Plant prepared bulbs for Christmas flowering
Dead-head roses and trim back tall stems
Harvest sweetcorn and onions
Rake lawn to remove debris and apply autumn dressing
Continue to plant containerised trees and shrubs
Keep feeding fish in ponds
Sow new lawns
Last Chance To…Take cuttings of tender perennials
Buy spring bulbs for next year. For a wider choice than is available at your local garden centre, study mail order catalogues. Most bulbs, including daffodils, hyacinths, lilies and small bulbs are best planted this month or in early October. Tulips are better planted towards the end of October
Give evergreen hedges a final trim to ensure they are neat for the winter
Now's the time to go around your garden collecting seeds from perennials and annuals. Collect seed heads in paper bags and leave them in a warm place to dry for a few days, before cleaning and storing in small envelopes. Some gardens that open to the public offer see-collecting days - a great way to find something unusual. Most seeds are best sown in spring, Sweet pea lovers may find that sowing seed in autumn produces stronger plants. Do not soak the seeds as they are liable to rot. Use J Arthur Bower's Traditional Seed and Potting Compost and sow the seeds in root trainers, sweet peas tubes, pots or trays. It has been found that dark coloured seeds germinate well in fairly damp compost, but pale seed require a compost that is only just moist. Cover the containers with glass or put them in a propagator and keep at around 15 C (59 F). When the seedlings appear transfer them to a cold frame. Pinch out the growing tips when the plants are about 10 cm (4 inches) high
Shrub roses and ramblers can easily be propagated from stem cuttings at this time of year. Take a length of stem about 30 cm (12 inches) long and trim it off just below the bottom leaf. Remove the soft tip just above a root joint. Take off all but the top two or three leaves and push the cuttings into a well dug trench in the garden to about half their length. They should be left for 12 months to root and develop
If rambler and climbing roses have got a bit out of hand, spend a bit of time tying them in
Aerate the lawn with a fork or special tool then apply J Arthur Bower's Autumn Lawn Food to nourish your lawn through the winter months. You can continue to re-seed bare patches on your lawn. It's also a good time of year to prepare the ground for sowing a new lawn, while the earth is still warm
In the Greenhouse
Bring in cacti and houseplants that have spent the summer out of doors
Continue to take cuttings of tender perennials
Buy prepared bulbs for Christmas flowering and plant them in bowls of J Arthur Bower's Bulb Fibre. The added charcoal will keep the compost sweet even if the container has no drainage holes, but make sure you don't saturate it
If you have kept indoor cyclamen plants from last winter you should now start watering them. Water from the bottom by standing them in a shallow tray and allow to drain thoroughly.
Your summer bedding will probably still be looking so good that you can't bear to throw it out yet. Keep them going until they look tired. Remember that you can over-winter many tender plants. Take them out of their pots and brush off most of the old compost so that you can trim back the roots. Also trim the top growth. Then place them in a tray with some damp, but not saturated, J Arthur Bower's peat covering the roots and store them in a frost-free place
When planting daffodils in containers it's worth planting two layers of bulbs, slightly staggered one above the other. This will ensure a spectacular display. Plant the bulbs deeply enough to allow you to plant winter and spring bedding, such as winter pansies, primroses, polyanthus and wallflowers on top
Sweetcorn will be ready to harvest when the silks have turned from golden to brown. For the sweetest taste, cook them within minutes of cutting
Ripe onions should be lifted carefully and laid out to dry before storing
Continue to harvest runner beans and courgettes. Make sure you don't leave runner and French beans too long otherwise they will be stringy and tough
If you're sowing out of doors this month you can speed up germination by putting a cloche over the seeds
Parsley can be sown now for an early spring crop.
Tidy up your herb garden by dead-heading and trimming back perennials and discarding annuals
Cover autumn-fruiting blackberries and raspberries with netting to keep off the birds, but check daily to ensure no animals or birds get trapped
Pick early varieties of apples as soon as they're ripe and eat them - they won't keep. If you want to obtain new fruit trees shop at Baytree. You'll get a far wider choice that way.
Continue to feed fish
Clear decaying foliage from waterlilies.
Tidy up your alpine plants for the winter, making sure they're all firmly settled into the ground. Renew top dressings of Silvaperl Coarse Grit.
October brings rain, wind
and cloud, but often there's a spell of settled weather. Gardens can still be
colourful with chrysanthemums, Michaelmas daisies and cyclamen, not forgetting
berries and autumn foliage. It's not too late to plant something that will give
you colour for years to come. Follow our planting tips to get your new
acquisitions of to a flying start. You may have more fallen leaves than you know
what to do with. Don't waste them - with the help of J Arthur Bower's products
you can turn then into valuable compost.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST
Bring in tender perennials, trim and store in a frost-free place
Mulch your border with homemade compost
Start a new compost heap
Compost summer bedding and plant up containers with bulbs and winter bedding
Plant bulbs in the garden.
Last Chance To…Sow a new lawn
Continue to plant bulbs in the open garden. Enrich the soil in the planting hole with a sprinkling of J Arthur Bower's Bonemeal
This is also a good time of year to plant new shrubs and perennials. The warmth in the soil will help them to get quickly established. Be generous with the planting mixture and be sure to water in well in dry weather
At this time of year the amount of material suitable for composting multiplies alarmingly. Summer bedding, trimmings from perennials and fallen leaves will all rot down, so don't waste them. Use up all your existing homemade compost to mulch around established borders or to add to planting mixtures for new acquisitions. Then start a new compost heap. Always mix together the different materials - this helps decomposition. Whether you favour a purpose-made compost container, such as J Arthur Bower's Garottabin, or an open heap, you'll find that the addition of a biological compost maker will help you produce high quality compost easily and cheaply. Choose from the Garotta and Biotal range October is a good time of year to move established evergreens and conifers. Get a friend to help and dig them up with the biggest root ball you can manage. Prepare the new planting site well with lots of your favourite planting mixture - make sure to include J Arthur Bower's bonemeal to boost root formation. Then water in very well. You'll need to continue for several weeks until the plant becomes established Dig up dahlias as soon as frost blackens the foliage. Cut back the stems to about 10 cm (4 inches) and remove as much soil as possible before standing the plants upside-down for about a week to allow them to dry out. Store the tubers in boxes, covered with slightly damp peat. If you don't have a frost-free greenhouse or shed, you can keep the tubers in a spare bedroom or unheated porch
If black spot or rust has been a problem try and pick off infected leaves as far as you can and dispose of them - don't put them on the compost heap. If they fall to the ground and blow about they will spread the infections next year. Send off for specialist catalogues and choose new varieties for next year.
New lawns can be laid or sown on well-prepared sites
Scarify established lawns with a rake, then aerate with a fork if you haven't done it already. There's still time to use J Arthur Bower's Autumn Lawn Food
Check through all pots that have been growing in the greenhouse or that have been brought in from the garden. Destroy any vine weevil larvae that you find
Stop watering tuberous begonias and allow the tops to die off. Then remove the tubers from the compost and store in a cool, dry place
Bring late-flowering pot-grown chrysanthemums into the greenhouse for some late colour
Wash shading off the windows and consider insulating your greenhouse with bubble wrap
As well as planting containers with bulbs and spring bedding, consider planting a couple with small evergreen shrubs to give a bit of structure and green through the winter months. Euonymus, ivies and dwarf conifers are ideal.
Harvest carrots and potatoes, making sure the crops are clean and dry before you put them into storage. Marrows can be stored once their skins have been hardened in the sun
Finish picking tomatoes before the plants become diseased. You can hang up the whole plant to ripen green trusses, or alternatively pick the fruit and ripen it individually. Or you could always make some green tomato chutney!
To ensure a supply of fresh mint during winter dig up some roots and plant them 5 cm (2 inches) deep in a seed tray in J Arthur Bower's Multi-Purpose Compost. Keep the tray in the greenhouse.
Clumps of chives can also be put into pots and brought into the greenhouse
Prepare site for planting bare-rooted fruit trees and bushes. No fruit trees like poor drainage so if your soil is heavy add plenty of Silvaperl grit or gravel as well as organic matter when you dig it over
Finish harvesting autumn-fruiting raspberries and cut down all the canes that have fruited this year
Clear decaying foliage from waterlilies and other marginals in pools. Also clear fallen leaves from the water
At the end of the month remove any pumps and filters, clean them out and store until spring
Continue to feed fish until the end of the month, cutting down gradually on the amount you give them
Rooted cuttings should be planted out before the end of the month. If they're rather tiny keep them in pots until the spring.
Renew the writing on labels that are starting to fade otherwise you may find that winter rain washes away the writing altogether
Some alpines with woolly or hairy leaves hate winter rain. You can protect them with tiny open-ended cloches made from large lemonade bottle sliced horizontally. Fasten the cloches down with wire
November is often one of
the wettest months of the year, and also brings fog and frosts. Despite the
gloom there's still some colour to be found among leaves and berries.
Winter-flowering shrubs such as Mahonia media hybrids, winter honeysuckle and
Viburnum bodnantense will bring gorgeous fragrance to the short days. Try and
spend a little time tidying up your borders - you'll be pleased you did when
spring comes round. This is a good time of year to plant conifers with the help
of your favourite J Arthur Bower's planting mixture.
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR NOVEMBER
Plant conifers and evergreens
Clear leaves and compost them
Sow peas and broad beans
Spike lawn and give it an autumn feed
Protect tender outdoor plants from frost
Start stored poinsettias into growth for Christmas
Last Chance To…Plant bulbs for spring
Frosts can strike in November so make sure you have some horticultural fleece handy to throw overtender shrubs
November is a good time of year to plant new hedges. You'll see bundles of bare-rooted hedging plants in Baytree now. Prepare your site well, digging on lots of organic matter such as homemade compost or J Arthur Bower's Farm Manure before you plant
Harden off autumn-sown sweet peas by keeping the cold frame open as much as possible during slight frosts. If the temperature drops below -2 C (28 F) close the frame and cover it. Watch out for aphids on the young plants
Roses need very little attention this month - just make sure they're all tidied up for the winter
This is your last chance to catch up with jobs you didn't do earlier, such as aerating your lawns and applying an autumn feed
In the Greenhouse
Pot on cuttings of tender perennials that were taken in September. Use J Arthur Bower's Multi-Purpose Compost or John Innes No. 1 if you prefer.
Keep the greenhouse well-ventilated to keep diseases at bay
For a splash of colour plant a container with some of the colourful ornamental cabbages now available or winter-flowering heathers. The heathers, varieties of Erica carnea prefer an ericaceous compost
If you have cordylines or other tender shrubs in pots protect them from winter frosts. Remember that some terracotta pots are not frost-resistant and should be stored through the winter
For an early crop of broad beans sow varieties such as "Aquadulce Claudia" and "Reina Blanca"
Peas can be sown for an early crop.
If your cold frame is standing idle use it to grow a crop of carrots
If you have a bay tree in a container make sure it's in a sheltered place or protect it with fleece for the winter
Established trees can be winter-pruned this month
Clean out your pond and remove the pump and filter, clean and store.
Remove fallen leaves from around rock plants
Let's face it - most
people don't venture out into the garden this month, unless it's to cut
evergreens for Christmas decorations or to put out bird food. December weather
is often cold, wet and windy. There may even be snow. Winter jasmine is a star
performer, covering its green shoots with starry yellow flowers. However dismal
the weather, hopefully you can still enjoy your garden from the warmth of your
ESSENTIAL JOBS CHECKLIST FOR DECEMBER
Store terracotta pots in a shed unless you're sure they're frost-resistant
Line your greenhouse with bubble-wrap for insulation
Move houseplants off windowsills at night
Last Chance To…Do your Christmas shopping!
If you're feeling energetic get out and do a bit of digging. Start a programme of conditioning and improving your soil. To do this successfully you need first to find out what sort of soil you've got, whether it's acid, neutral or alkaline, whether it's sandy, peaty, stony, loamy or sticky with clay. If you're new to gardening ask your neighbours. Buy a soil testing kit - this will measure the acidity of your soil. Any soil will benefit from having organic matter added so while you're digging add plenty of J Arthur Bower's Farm Manure.As long as the weather remains dry you can continue planting evergreens
Clear up any fallen leaves and cut back perennials if you haven't already done so
Curl up in front of the fire with lots of colourful catalogues to give you lots of ideas for next year
Bare-rooted roses can be planted this month.
Clean your lawn mower and think about getting it serviced. When spring comes you'll be glad you did
In the Greenhouse
Save energy and keep your greenhouse warm by lining it with bubble pack
Potted azaleas need to be watered with rainwater. Feed them weekly with J Arthur Bower's Liquid Ericaceous Feed and stand them on damp gravel. When they form buds you can take them into the house if your prefer but continue to treat them in the same way. They do prefer to be kept on the cool side.
You may think pests are dead or hibernating but unfortunately whitefly and greenfly find greenhouse very congenial all the year round. Be on the lookout for them and spray as necessary
Trees and shrubs can be planted in containers in fine weather. For permanent plantings like these choose J Arthur Bower's John Innes No. 3 or John Innes Ericaceous Compost.
Clear away the remains of old crops and put them on your compost heap. Remember to add Garotta biological compost maker every 15 cm (6 inches)
Protect bay in very cold weather or if it's in a container move it to a sheltered spot
Take hardwood cuttings of currants and gooseberries. The cuttings should be about 25-30 cm (10-12 inches) long and should be buried in a trench in the open ground to about half their length
Keep an area in pools and ponds ice-free to stop the build-up of gases that could harm wildlife. Never smash the ice. Melt it by standing a pan of boiling water on it.
Now's the time of year to sow those seeds that require exposure to the frost to promote germination. Use small pots of John Innes seed compost with added grit where required and cover the seeds with Silvaperl Grit Sand. Stand the pots out of the sun.