Tips & Advice
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Our Tips For January

Whilst many of us are still recovering from the festive season  – there will be some enthusiastic gardeners out there keen to get back to their gardens. If this describes you, and you're feeling like you need to work off that Christmas pud, then there's nothing like getting moving in the garden again, soaking up some fresh air and burning off those excess festive calories. On days when the garden is accessible it’s best to pop out, do a bit and then head back inside to warm up.

New Year, New Garden!

Without doubt, January is one of the most important times of the year; not only does it mark the beginning of preparation for the new season but it also presents us with the perfect time to reflect and plan for the year ahead.  After all, a tidy mind will equate to a tidy garden.

This month one of the most productive jobs you can do is to make a plan. Sketching out what you will grow where and when throughout the year will not only make the best use of your time now but will also become invaluable as the months go by; what's more, it requires little energy and can be a lot of fun. If on the other hand, you're feeling energetic and eager to get stuck into the garden then there are several jobs you can do. We must warn you though, whilst prospectively rewarding they are a bit laborious.

Top gardening jobs this month:

  • Recycle your real Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch or replant it if possible - use the chips around your plants, in your compost bin or on slippery garden paths.

  • Brush heavy snow (if applicable) from hedges to avoid damage.

  • Protect the greenhouse and container plants with bubble wrap.

  • Clean the greenhouse and ventilate on sunny days to prevent mould, moss and mildew developing.

  • Dig over empty plots that have not already been dug.

  • Deadhead winter flowers – clear snow from low growing flowers such as crocuses.

  • Avoid using salt if possible – whilst it may be tempting to use on pathways and drives, it doesn’t do your soil any good.

  • Start forcing rhubarb.

  • Plan vegetable crops for the year, where you will put them etc – think about your garden’s design as a whole.

Our Tips For February

February may still feel wintery, but venture into the garden and you'll begin to see new growth and shoots appearing. Everywhere we look, there are signs of the approaching spring; light levels and temperatures are increasing, bulbs are emerging in mass and wildlife is waking up. The long winter is waning and spring is all but here -  leaving us with no time to rest.

Indoors, it's time to start thinking about sowing seeds and getting organised for the growing season ahead. Whereas outdoors, it's time to prune shrubs and climbers, such as Wisteria. If you've missed your garden, then we guarantee that your garden's missed you more! Now is the time to make the most of any dry days and reacquaint yourself.

Get a Head Start in the Garden Before Spring Arrives

This month take stock of what you've got - tidy up herbaceous borders and get on top of pruning. The effort that you make now will ensure that your garden rewards you all year long.

If you're not feeling motivated then gently ease your way back into the garden by raking through some soil, and cloche some ground to make way for some early crops. This will ensure that your planting area stays warm, allowing you plant out early.

You can keep your pond from freezing up by adding a floating football / tennis ball which will ensure the attraction of slug-eating toads and frogs. These little friends will give you a head start on controlling the slug population before the weather warms.

Hopefully these few little jobs will get you back into the garden, get you feeling more productive and give you a head start before the spring arrives.

Top Gardening Jobs For This Month:

  • Start sowing summer bedding plants.

  • Towards the end of the month, you can sow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and chillies.

  • Get seed potatoes in for chitting now.

  • Get shallots, onion sets and garlic in for planting.

  • Deadhead any winter flowers and shrubs.

  • Towards the end of the month, think about lawn restoration and returfing if necessary.

  • If you have any trees or shrubs that need moving, then now would be a good time to do so, before any new growth occurs.

  • Prune ornamental grass and late flowering Clematis.

  • Trim ivy, vines and other climbing plants to stimulate new growth.

  • Cut back any newly planted hedges in order for them to become well developed such as young privet, hawthorn and hornbeam.

Note: flowering hedges should only be cut back after they’ve flowered.

Our Tips For March

Whilst it may not be much warmer yet, the days have become noticeably longer and nature everywhere has started to awaken from winter's slumber. Daffodils and crocuses are well on the way and it's looking like spring has arrived.

As the first signs of life in the garden begin to stir after a winter of hibernation there are plenty of jobs to be done. Beneath the surface there's a lot happening, the soil has started to warm and it won't be long before we will be able to plant out tender new plants. For now though, this month is about sowing seeds, tidying up and getting the lawn in shape for the months that follow.

In the Garden this Month

What a joy it is to see life returning to the flower borders once again and whilst we may not be dusting off the barbecue yet in preparation for long days and summer soirees, it is time to rediscover our gardening motivation.

You've probably noticed that the extra light that we've been getting has given your grass what it needs to start growing again. We've certainly noticed the blades shooting up here, and before long we will be getting ready for that very first cut of the year. We would advise that you wait a little yet before you cut your grass but if you do decide to go ahead with that all important first cut, then make sure that the grass is dry and remember to raise the height of the lawn mower. This will ensure that the grass remains strong and will encourage deep rooting. As time goes by and your grass becomes stronger, you can gradually lower the mower.

Cutting the grass towards the end of the month and on a regular basis (once a week) will ensure that it remains denser and greener once the summer arrives. Most lawns should be cut regularly and kept at around a height of 1-1.5 inches; if your lawn gets a lot of wear then it's recommended to keep it at about 2 inches and if it's in the shade, around 3 inches. If you mow your lawn too short, then it will weaken the grass and allow weeds and moss to establish.

To have a really great lawn that turns your neighbours 'green with envy' cut your lawn regularly at the correct height, deal with bare patches now and as they arise, treat weeds and moss and feed it with a good quality lawn fertiliser. To give your grass the best chance, your lawn needs feeding now and later in the summer months. Apply fertilisers when the soil is moist, or when rain is expected. We have a selection of lawn fertilisers available now, for best results we recommend Evergreen 4 in 1. It helps build a thick, green lawn with stronger roots that absorb water and nutrients more effectively.

Top Gardening Tips For This Month:

  • Get on top of weeding jobs as soon as possible. Weeds will grow faster as the weather warms up. It's far easier to remove them now and regularly (once a week or more) before they become established.

  • Get shallots, onion sets and garlic planted out in rows if you haven't already done so.

  • Spray peach leaves with fungicide to prevent leaf curl.

  • Prune dogwood and buddleia.

  • Move evergreens and conifers to new areas before any new growth occurs.

  • Feed cabbage with a rich nitrogen based fertiliser.

  • Feed, restore and returf your lawn if necessary.

  • Place granular fertiliser around roses.

  • Add fertiliser to soil in preparation for the growing season.

  • Sow sweet peas.

Our Tips For April

It's official, spring is now here!  The vernal equinox has passed, the clocks have moved forward and we've all lost an hour in return for what we hope will be longer and much warmer days!  Much of gardening is about thinking ahead and by now you should have planned what you want to plant and where or at the very least have a basic plan. It's what we do in the garden now that will really make the difference when we're spending time in it through the warmer months.

Summer Flowering Bulbs

If your garden tends to suffer from gaps in your borders during the summer months, then now is the perfect time to add a little colour by planting summer flowering bulbs. If you've never planted them before, then don't fear, it's as easy as planting spring flowering ones. You can use gladioli or delphinium to add height at the back of a border, lilies to fill gaps and crocosmia to provide colour from the middle of the summer through until late autumn.

Plant summer flowering bulbs straight into the ground or containers. If you're planting lilies we recommend planting bulbs quite deeply into pots with their growing tips facing upwards and covering them with a generous layer of compost all the way up to about 5cm below the rim of the pot. Water well and firm, adding more compost if required. A little bit of gravel will also help to keep the moisture in. Let the bulbs develop in the greenhouse or a sheltered spot and when the time comes, drop the pot and all, into your space. April is the month to choose and plant.

Getting back into the Garden

Hopefully the slightly warmer weather has given you the motivation you need to get back into the garden. If it hasn't then we're sure it soon will. With so much happening all at once, there's no time to rest; the season is now well under way.

What to do now

Start providing support for taller plants such as peonies, delphiniums, ornamental poppies and any other plants that will need it as they grow. Keep lifting and dividing overgrown clumps of perennials.

If you don't have a compost heap then now would be a good time to start one. You can dedicate a small area of your garden to this and add to it regularly. Grass cuttings, left over vegetables and other organic matter can all be added. This will become an invaluable supply of nutrient rich humus that can be added to soil as a conditioner.

Do your bit and practice 'waterwise' gardening - add downpipes and guttering to sheds and areas where rainfall falls off and guide it into a water butt. A water butt will provide all the water that you need to keep your garden alive throughout the hot summer months, not only that but you will always have water outside that is not only handy but invaluable if there's a hosepipe ban, plus plants actually prefer rainwater because it's healthier for them.

Gardening Jobs For April:

  • Keep on top of weeds.
  • Feed roses and hungry shrubs.
  • Tie climbing roses.
  • Prune fig trees.
  • Deadhead spring bedding to keep everything looking nice, Daffodils and Narcissi will also need dead heading; make sure you don't cut the leaves as these will be necessary for the replenishment of next year's bulb.
  • Heavy rain can wash vital nutrients out of the soil. If it's been raining heavily in your area then fertilise if necessary.
  • Protect the growth of new plants from slugs.
  • Clean and repair garden tools.
  • Check outdoor/garden furniture for rust and rot - replace if  necessary.
  • Repair any flood or storm damage from last winter's storms.

Our Tips For May

How nice it is to see colour returning to the borders once more. It never fails to amaze us how quickly growth re-appears each year. We love May for being just about the best month of the year. The uncertainties of spring and any worries about late frosts are fading, seeds are germinating and the coming weeks will bring us flowers, sunshine, warm rain and lots of gardening joy.

The Last Signs of Winter

It looks like winter may be finally letting go but the chance of frost could still be a distinct possibility. With this in mind we advise you not to put any tender seedlings out yet. Larger plants should be alright if you keep them in pots; the fresh daytime air will toughen them up but you should remain vigilant and keep an eye on the weather, protecting them from frost as necessary. May can often be one of the sunniest months and one of the busiest for gardeners. It's now that everything in the garden really starts to use the extra sunlight to put on an additional growth spurt; unfortunately this does also mean weeds.

If you haven't already started, then we highly recommend that you get on top of all weeds before they get out of control. At this time of year dandelions can become a huge problem if you don't get rid of them. If you haven’t the time to completely uproot them just removing their heads before they go to seed (in a couple of weeks time) will save you so much effort in the long run. Removing daisies and other weeds will also help your lawn and plants flourish. 

Fruit

Make sure you net fruit to prevent the birds from stripping fruit trees/bushes clean – some people leave it until the first fruits start to show; we find that birds love developing fruit buds so it's a good idea to protect them as early as possible if you want to maximise your yield.

Strawberry plants can now be planted outdoors in the ground, ready for a delicious crop that can be ready as soon as July, weather dependent of course. If you have never had a go at strawberries, then we highly recommend growing them this year. 

You will never taste strawberries as rich and aromatic in flavour as those that are grown in your own garden. You can plant them in the ground, in planters or in a hanging basket. 

If you want early strawberries then it's a good idea to put them into the greenhouse now to encourage the growth of early fruit and flowers. If you’re already growing strawberries then feed them now with a high potash feed such as a good tomato fertiliser.

Now is a great time to start harvesting ripe shoots of rhubarb. If you like rhubarb then there are so many delicious recipes available for you to enjoy. You can simply chop it and bake it with honey, stew it with sugar, make a crumble or try combining it with the liquid from a jar of stem ginger and adding whipped cream; the possibilities are endless.

Vegetables

Earth up potatoes, keep drawing the soil up to a ridge every time they grow six inches, this will prevent sunlight getting to the tubers which will turn them green and make them poisonous. It will also increase the yield. Do this every two to three weeks, depending on how fast your potatoes are growing.

Broad bean tips can now be pinched out to prevent encouraging blackfly – be sure to provide adequate support now ready for when they produce pods. You can buy ready made support systems or make your own from garden canes and string. Peas will also now need supporting.

Now is the time to plant runner beans, they’re very easy to plant in seed trays and grow really quickly in the warm soil. Once again be sure to put supports in ready for them as they quickly climb and produce an abundance of delicious beans that are so much tastier than the ones you buy in the supermarket.

If you haven't already, then conditions look good to sow the seeds of beetroot, parsnips, turnips, peas, onions, mangetout and broad bean. Mixed salad, lettuce, watercress and rocket can be sown every two weeks; don’t sow it all at once or you will have so much salad that you won’t know what do with it.

Marrow, courgettes and squash seeds can be planted toward the end of this month.

​Pests to look out for

Lily beetles are now on the move; easily spotted due to their bright red coloured backs. Adults and larvae can damage lilies and fritillaries by defoliation. We've also noticed that whitefly and red spidermite are slowly accumulating in numbers.

Check the underside of leaves on shrubs , perennials and roses regularly for  greenfly and black fly infestation. You can crush them or shake them off, if infestations are really bad, then a mixture of soapy water sprayed onto leaves can help. Alternatively you can introduce biological methods of pest control or buy a greenfly killer. If you’re unsure, then pop in and ask a member of staff for some advice.

Repelling Unwanted Insects
There are lots of ways to naturally repel unwanted insects from different areas of your garden.

  • Planting onions and leeks next to carrots will deter carrot fly.
  • French Marigolds will ward off greenfly and blackfly - plant them next to your tomatoes.
  • Ants can sometimes become a problem with plants that are planted directly into the ground. Plant peppermint, bay leaf or garlic to deter them.
  • Mice can be deterred by planting an elder shrub.
  • Snails and slugs can be caught in a beer trap - a little sip and they become drunk and drown.
  • Nasturtiums will deter aphids.

​Encouraging Beneficial Insects

Buddleia, Achillea and flowering herbs such as Dill, Rosemary and Lavender planted throughout your greenhouse will attract pest-devouring ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies.

You can keep these beneficial insects in your garden by installing a bug box. Bug boxes can house spiders, ladybirds, lacewings, bees and more which can all be beneficial to your garden. Give nature a helping hand this month by making your own bug box or buy a ready made one. Make sure you install it in a sheltered spot that's not too hidden away. 

Gardening Jobs For May:

  • Keep on top of weeds, carry on spring cleaning, driveways, patios etc. 
  • Watch the weather forecast and look out for frosts, protect vulnerable plants by bringing them in at night or keeping them in a heated greenhouse or shed. 
  • Water containers every day. Water the garden thoroughly once or twice a week depending on the weather, if it's really hot and dry or windy then the garden will need to be watered more often.
  • As soon as early flowering Clematis have flowered prune them back to control their size.
  • Gladioli can now be planted along with the outdoor sowing of hardy annual flowers.
  • Take cuttings from the new growth of Dahlias and Fuchsias.
  • Remember to ventilate greenhouses on warm sunny days by opening the door or windows – it’s equally important to heat them or bring plants inside when frost is forecast.
  • Don’t put out tender bedding plants until the middle or towards the end of the month. Be prepared to cover with fleece if necessary.
  • Hellebore seeds can be collected, placed in an envelope and stored in a dry place.
  • Wash any dust off the foliage of houseplants.
  • Rake out dead grass from lawns. Keep on top of lawn mowing. If you’re wanting to sow lawn seed to create a new lawn then this month will likely be the last chance you will have this year.
  • Tidy up hedges but make sure you check for bird's nests first.
  • As the soil now starts to warm up you will notice that things have started to grow. Add fertiliser before covering with mulch especially in the vegetable patch, containers and borders.

Our Tips For June

June brings warmth! Often the mercury rises to the point where (dare we say it!) it can be a little too warm for the gardener! Not for the garden though; in fact after several months of liquid sunshine the garden finally begins to benefit from some of the dry stuff! Everywhere we look there's a riot of colour, herbaceous plants are in full bloom and the first fruits of the year are almost ready for harvest. 

The unmistakable smell of charcoal drifting on a warm breeze combined with heady floral scents signifies that June brings summer and that extended periods of time to spend outdoors are well on the way.

Make the Most of the Summer Solstice


This month brings us the Summer Solstice. This is the one day of the year when there are more sunlight hours than any other day. If you do anything on this day, then make sure you get outside and make the most of the extra light. It's good for the soul!

This month the garden really begins to reward those that have put in the hard work at the beginning of the season. Early peas, salad leaf, rhubarb and new potatoes should be just about ready to harvest.

Those of you who prefer colour in the garden should now be enjoying an abundance of floral colours and scents from verbascum through to lonicera (honeysuckle).
Note: If your honeysuckle's looking a little unwell, it could be due to mildew (symbolised by leaves turning yellow/patchy and dying); prevention is better than cure but if it looks too late to prevent then give it a spray with a fungicide.

Now is a super time to start thinning out those hardy annuals, you really need to be heavy handed though; the more you thin out at this time of year, the better roots, leaves and photosynthesis will be - which means bigger and better plants. Many gardeners will also give their gardens the 'Chelsea chop' at this time of year which encourages plants to bush out and give a better display later in the season. Those interested, should be able to find out more online.

The extra light and warmth this month will mean that everything grows a lot faster than usual, especially weeds. There really is no substitute for eliminating weeds by hand, however if you do find it necessary to use weed killers, then we would advise using them sparingly so as not to damage growing crops. Those of you with a lawn will find that there's no slowing its growth at this time of year and some of you may find yourselves mowing a couple of times a week to keep on top of growth. Remember to give your lawn a good rake through afterwards. This will not only remove any untidy grass cuttings that the mower may have missed but will also help remove thatch and moss. 

Lift Spring Bulbs

Now's the perfect time to lift spring bulbs. Gently lift and store them so that they're ready for next year; any clumps that you are leaving in the garden can now be divided. Although many bulbs will continue to flower again and again each year without any intervention, it's a good idea to divide them every three to five years. This will ensure that no decline occurs from overcrowding. When dividing, remember that bulbs can often spread and be deeper than when they were first planted. With this in mind it's a good idea to start digging a few inches away from the plants and wait until the bulbs become loose. Don't pull on the leaves - you will damage the bulb and it may not flower the following year. Once divided, check the original bulb, if it's healthy replant it, if not throw it away. 

Look Out For Pests

Don't let pests undo all your hard work. This month there's several pests to look out for as well as the usual suspects. 

Remember to:

  • Cover carrots with fine plastic mesh to prevent carrot fly.
  • Dampen down greenhouses to raise humidity and prevent the spread of red spider mites.
  • Pinch out the top of broad beans once the lowest flowers have set. This will prevent the likelihood of aphids attacking.
  • Make sure you have adequate slug control measures in place. 
  • Keep your fruit netted and keep feeding birds from feeders. This will prevent them eating your crops and having birds in your garden should also control the population of slugs and snails.
  • Look out for lily beetles, they're now on the march. The best way to deal with them is to remove them and dispose of them as you wish. Popular insecticides that destroy them, can also do damage to beneficial insects.
  • Check the underside of plants for greenfly.

Natural Predation

If you find that you regularly have a pest problem then it's a good idea to encourage natural predation into your garden.  

  • Birds eat slugs, snails, grubs, wireworms, caterpillars and insects
  • Hedgehogs eat slugs and snails, beetles and insects
  • Frogs and Toads eat slugs, snails and various insects
  • Ladybirds and lacewings eat aphids such as blackfly and whitefly

Ladybirds are one of our favourite little helpers, they help to keep insects and aphid numbers at bay. Incredibly, a seven spot ladybird can eat up to 5000 aphids during its year long life span. Anyone with roses or edible plants would be mad not to encourage them! Remember though, if you want to keep them in your garden then they will need a sacrificial crop to maintain their numbers (a clump of nettles often work) and somewhere to live.

June's Gardening Jobs:

  • Mow grass at least once a week to maintain its height.
  • Dead head flowers on a regular basis to encourage plants to put their energy into producing more flowers.
  • Prune red currants, white currants and gooseberries.
  • Net cherries and other soft fruits to protect them from birds.
  • Make sure that you have adequate methods in place to collect rainwater. Blueberries and cranberries like to be watered with rainwater wherever possible.
  • Make sure you water everything thoroughly at least twice a week. Containers and hanging baskets should be watered every day, twice a day when the weather is hot and windy.
  • Thin out pears, plums, nectarines, apricots and peaches. Apples can be thinned towards the end of the month.
  • Pinch out the side shoots on tomatoes.
  • Feed tomatoes and cucumbers regularly with a liquid feed. Make sure that tomatoes and peppers are watered at regular intervals to prevent blossom end rot.
  • First early potatoes may now be ready for harvest. Flowering is a sign that tubers are developing. There's no need to uproot the plant and damage the root structure to see if your potatoes are ready; once flowers start to open, you can carefully feel around in the soil to see if tubers are big enough to eat. Keep earthing up potatoes that aren't ready to eat.
  • Potatoes and tomatoes can now be sprayed with a protective fungicide as a preventative measure against blight. James Wong suggests that diluting an aspirin in water and spraying the solution on leaves can be a great alternative to fungicide; we have yet to try this ourselves though, so do so at your own risk.
  • Plant out celery, celeriac and peppers once you're sure the risk of frost has passed.
  • Harvest lettuce, radish and salad leaf.
  • Plant out runner beans, they will quickly climb up their supports. If you haven't sown them yet, then there is still time, sow them now.
  • Make sure you have adequate supports in for climbing plants and plants that have a tendency to flop. Check growth and make sure that the supports you have in place are tall enough to support further growth.
  • Cutting back bergamot/monarda (bee balm) now will encourage later flowering. The flowers will have shorter stems but there will be heavier blooming.
  • Many spring flowering shrubs can be pruned once they've finished flowering. rosmarinus (rosemary), evergreen berberis, cornus (winter flowering dogwoods), deutzia, magnolia, syringa (lilac), spiraea (bridal wreath), deciduous elaeagnus (oleaster), cytisus (broom) and bubbleja globosa to mention a few. 
  • Plant out summer bedding and put out hanging baskets. 
  • Now's a good time to create new border edges or tidy up existing ones.

Our Tips For July

July can be one of the hottest months of the year, so keep your eye on the forecast and watch out for tell tale signs of plants wilting. 

Make sure that you regularly water everything including flower beds, containers and hanging baskets because they can dry out really quickly in the summer sun, even more so if it's windy. 

If temperatures are average and rainfall generous, then growth in your garden will be prolific making it a busy month in the garden for all of us.

When to Water

The very best time to water is early in the morning when it's cool, this will allow the water to run down into the soil and reach the roots of plants without excess water being lost to evaporation. Making water available early in the morning will ensure that plants have all the water they need to deal with the heat of the summer sun. The second best time to water is late afternoon into early evening, this will enable plants to dry before night time thus avoiding damp leaves which promote fungus and other problems, especially in vegetables. Watering at this time will also give them several hours to take up water without contending with the heat of the sun.

Installing a Water Butt
If you haven't installed a water butt then think about doing so, plants prefer rain water over chlorinated tap water and collected water is not only free but environmentally friendly. We have a range of sizes available from 100 litres upwards which include everything you need to get started. We also have a selection of accessories including connector kits, overflow kits and more.

Install a Watering Kit
If you're going on holiday then don't forget to arrange for a friend or neighbour to water your plants. If this isn't possible then a watering kit will become an invaluable asset to your garden or greenhouse. A watering kit is superb for precise watering, it will provide a steady flow meaning that plants will be thoroughly watered without wastage. A watering kit can also be used with a timer ensuring that plants get the right amount of water at the right time of day, for the correct length of time. 

We have several varieties of watering kits, pop in and see our selection, if you need help just ask.

Fruit

July presents us with the opportunity to reap the fruits of our labour and sample some of the sweetness of summer. If you grow your own fruit then gooseberries, rhubarb and early strawberries are amongst the delicious fruits that are ripe for the picking, later this month you should be able to pick blackcurrants, raspberries, redcurrants, tayberries, white currants, rhubarb and more strawberries. In fact it's been a bumper year for strawberries and it's predicted that harvests of later flowering fruits will also be good. The milder winter has favoured bee populations which has in turn increased fruit pollination.

If you haven't planted a lot of soft fruit in your garden this year then we still have a selection of young plants in stock that have had a great start and many of which are now flowering.
Choose from several different strawberry varieties, blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and many more.

It's a fantastic month for baking fruit crumbles, cakes, eating strawberries and cream and making your own refreshing summer cordials. Remember though that now is the time to net or put a crop cage around all soft fruit before the birds decide to take an active interest. Don't leave it too late, birds can strip berries clean in a matter of days.

Vegetables

The hectic sowing part of the year has passed but we can still sow: 
Spring Cabbage, Chicory, Chinese Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Peas, French Beans, Beetroot, Carrots, Radishes and Mixed Salad Leaf.

Lawn Care

The appearance of lawns tends to peak in July and if you've noticed that yours is looking a little tired then it may be time to give it a feed. You can leave the box off the mower and let the cuttings spread over the grass (or spread your cuttings manually) to provide a shallow mulch that will keep it in good condition or add a lawn feed. Adding a lawn feed at this time of year is extremely beneficial as it will provide your grass with protection from the warmer sun and keep it in great condition until the end of the season.

Keep on top of your lawn by raking out the accumulation of dead brown grass, moss and weeds from your lawn or borders. This will not only encourage new grass to grow but also keep existing grass in good condition. 

Pruning

It's important to prune shrubs, herbaceous perennials and other plants at certain times of the year in order for them to give their best display or crop. As a rule of thumb, most woody plants are best pruned when they're dormant or if spring flowering, when their flowers begin to fade. Herbaceous plants are best cut back towards the end of the growing season after they've flowered.

Knowing what to prune and when comes with experience, pruning at the wrong time of year may result in less flowers or fruit but it is rarely fatal for the plant so don't be afraid to have a go.

This month we recommend pruning:

  • Wisteria (prune the side shoots from the main branch network to about 20cm from their base)
  • Abutilon vitifolium (prune out any previous winter's damage once flowered, it's also worth deadheading)
  • Deciduous Magnolia (if needed)
  • Carpenteria - no routine pruning is necessary but if yours needs pruning then now is a good time (immediately after flowering) to remove dead or damaged stems as well as rubbing branches.
  • Apples and pears to maintain a good shape
  • Plum, apricot, peach and cherry trees (to reduce the risk of silver leaf disease)
  • Fruited stems of blackcurrant bushes once harvested
  • dead heading:
  • Lupins (for the promotion of more flowers),
  • Bedding plants and perennials
  • Roses 
  • Peonies
  • Sweet Peas etc
  • and cutting back:
  • Delphiniums and Geraniums.
  • Penstemon just above the bud as flowers fade

Late Summer Colour

For many of us summer has just started but any serious gardener knows that you have to plan ahead for the best results. Now is the time to start thinking about plants that will provide late season colour.

Autumn flowering bulbs such as crocuses, dahlia, nerine, cyclamen and begonias can be planted at the end of this month for a late seasonal display.

Spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths and others can be dug up this month and stored in a cool dry but airy place until the autumn.

Keep sowing herbaceous seeds, it's unlikely that any will flower now but you should be able to build some good strong plants ready for next year. If you're wanting to dry and store your own seeds then this month is the time to start collecting them.

Ponds and Aquatic Life

This month it's very likely that ponds will need some attention in order to keep them looking healthy and in top condition. Remove yellowing leaves from lilies and other plants as soon as they're spotted, make sure they don't fall into the water and rot because this will increase algae and decrease the quality of the water. Any surface or blanket weed should be removed with a net or rake, this will increase the oxygen in the water which will help any aquatic life. If water levels drop then top up with water from a water butt and remember to clean out filters and pumps to ensure that everything is working as well as it should be.

Gardening Jobs For July:

  • Keep mowing grass and raking out dead brown grass. Now's a good time to give your lawn a summer feed, especially if it will be the first of this year. This will ensure that your lawn remains in 'tip top' condition throughout the rest of the season.
  • Net cherries and other soft fruits to protect them from birds or install a crop cage.
  • If you haven't already then install a water butt to make the most of the water that we do get during these dry months.
  • Make sure you water everything thoroughly at least twice a week. Containers and hanging baskets should be watered every day, twice a day when the weather is hot and windy.
  • Apples can be thinned out this month.
  • Pinch out the side shoots on tomatoes to prevent unwanted growth, this will ensure that your fruit will be of a decent size.
  • Feed tomatoes and cucumbers regularly with a liquid feed. Make sure that tomatoes and peppers are watered at regular intervals to prevent blossom end rot and splitting.
  • Damp down greenhouses to prevent red spider mites.
  • Ensure your greenhouse has good ventilation, consider using blinds as a shield if your greenhouse is getting too hot.
  • First early potatoes can now be harvested. Check before lifting.
  • Make sure you have adequate supports in for climbing plants and plants that have a tendency to flop. Nets work wonders for climbing peas and beans.
  • Prune spring flowering shrubs and dead head flowers on a regular basis to encourage plants to put their energy into producing more flowers. Roses, sweet peas, peonies, bedding plants etc. Plants that have finished flowering can be cut back to keep the garden tidy. Many plants will provide a second flush of flowers in abundance if cut back now, hardy geraniums and salvia to name a couple.
  • Cut back growth in hanging baskets – this will encourage new growth and quite often revive a tired display
  • Grow new plants from strawberry runners and remove the unwanted runners so that plants maintain their strength  
  • Pinch out the top of broad beans to discourage blackfly
  • Net brassicas and check them regularly for butterfly eggs and caterpillars
  • Keep on top of weeding, make sure you get dandelions before they go to seed.
  • Plant out broccoli, sprouts, cabbages and leeks

Our Tips For August

For many of us, the month of August can dictate the start of the slide into off season; as summer exhales and momentum begins to slow. This month really is about enjoying your garden at its peak, so please do take the time out to relax in the garden, even if it is between showers.

It's so easy to feel like giving up on your garden this month but fight the temptation! Summer may well have exhaled but there's still lots of jobs that you can do to prolong your flower and vegetable gardens. Besides, summer may still return - last year we had a very wet August but one of the driest and warmest Septembers for a long time. Here's hoping!

Keep on Top of Watering

If like many of us, you're setting off overseas in search of a lesser-spotted sun this month then do make sure that you give your garden a thorough watering before you go. Group plants in containers/pots together, this will create more shade and they will develop their own ecosystem requiring less water.

If you can't find a neighbour to look after your plants then there are several drip watering systems available here at Beetham or you could make your own from a bucket of water and some string. Just search online for 'wick watering methods' - the basic premise is that you set up a bucket of water with a wick (string works well) - one end will be placed in the bucket and the other buried into the soil of the plant you wish to water. Over time the capillary action that takes place will ensure that your plants receive water as they need it.

Tomatoes & Fruit

Tomato plants and other fruits will need feeding regularly (once every two weeks) to ensure that you get the optimum fruit. If growing tomatoes, you should be beginning to see fruits ripening toward the end of this month. If you haven’t already, then pinch out the top of your tomato plants to stop them producing more trusses (not applicable to tumblers). The ideal number of trusses you should have is about 4-6 but this will obviously depend on the variety you are growing.

It's important to keep an eye out for blight and blossom end rot at this time of year. Blossom end rot is where the bottom of your fruits will start to develop a brown patch; this occurs when there is a lack of calcium or in extremely wet conditions. Blossom end rot is caused mainly by irregular watering, whilst fruits that have developed blossom end rot cannot be saved, subsequent fruits can; make sure that you water regularly and never allow the soil to completely dry out. It’s best to water twice a day in hot conditions than to water once a day in larger quantities. Regularly watering will also prevent tomatoes from splitting. Keep removing yellow leaves that appear further down the plant – this is symbolic that the leaves are no longer functioning and are past their best.

Install a Thermometer

As gardeners we do tend to develop an obsession with the local Met office website or weather channels, mainly because so much depends upon weather and air temperature that this information is invaluable. As great as the Met office is though, it can't tell you exactly what's happening in your own garden; with this in mind it's quite surprising that many of us don't actually have a garden thermometer installed. As the evenings turn a little cooler, a garden thermometer can become an extremely valuable tool.

There are a few things to think about before installing a thermometer in your garden, especially if you require an accurate temperature reading.
When installing a thermometer it's important that you position it in a shaded area out of direct sunlight; a north facing wall is ideal. Make sure that there's good airflow around it and that it's raised roughly 4-6ft above the ground.

Late Summer Colour

Towards the last weeks of August, your garden can begin to look a little tired (this is quite normal) due to the low water table and the natural lull that often occurs between summer and autumn flowering. If you can't stand to turn a blind eye whilst this transition takes place then there are many plants that will provide an abundance of colour at this time of year. 

  • 1. Agapanthus Silver Moon - a clump forming perennial with narrow strap like variegated leaves and blue flowers in summer through into August. We have lots of varieties of other Agapanthus available. 
  • 2. Crocosmia Carmine Brilliant - red orange flame flowers that are a must have in the late summer border. Other varieties also available. 
  • 3. Eucomis Sparkling Rose - a bulbous perennial with broad, glossy, fleshy, strap-shaped, burgundy red leaves. Erect stems of pink, tightly packed, starry flowers topped with a rosette of leaves like a pineapple. Just coming into bloom and will last well into the autumn. 
  • 4. Anemone (our plant of the month) - a spreading perennial with dark green leaves and pretty single pink flowers, whose alternate petals are paler. 
  • 5. Leucanthemum Superbum Shapcott Gossamer - Large ragged white petalled white flowers from July through until November. Other varieties also available.

Daisies and Dahlias

Daisies and Dahlias are great at this time of year and there are so many different varieties to choose from; these cheerful flowers are just coming into bloom and we have many that will last well into the colder months.

Rudbeckia are one of our favourite types of daisy due to their durability and ease of growth. They have small flowers consisting of tubular petals, usually with a chestnut brown centre.  If you like daisies or dahlias then be sure to come and have a look at our huge collection - guaranteed to add some much needed colour at this time of year.

August is also a superb time for echinacea, which are currently flowering in abundance. They are strong stemmed large daisy like flowers that are extremely hardy and will look great in any garden.

Planning Ahead

This month presents a great opportunity to get a head start on next year's gardening plans. Now's the time to note any gaps/congestion in your borders that you'll want to rectify later in the season ahead of next year and to start a shopping list for autumn bulbs. Towards the end of the month you can start sowing hardy annuals and plan next year's colour.

August is a great time to reflect on the garden; get a sketch pad and draw out a rough design of how your garden looks now and how you would like it to look next year. You don't have to be an artist but it doesn't hurt to have a rough idea of what you've planted where, and where next season's plants are going to go. This will not only help you organise where colour will be but will prevent you from digging up bulbs etc that you may have forgotten about planting earlier (we've all done it!). This is also a great time to take photographs of your garden at its peak and to note any container combinations that you may wish to repeat.

Don't let the garden go this month

There's still plenty that we can sow and grow:

Flowers:
Winter flowering pansies can be sown now for colour over the cooler months and violas can be sown for over wintering to provide early spring colour.

Vegetables:
There are also lots of vegetables that can be sown now:
Winter lettuces can be sown ready to plant out at the end of the month. If you have a greenhouse then dwarf runner beans can be sown now for an autumn crop. Winter radishes, winter hardy spring onions, swiss chard, pak choi, turnips, spinach, spring cabbages can all be sown this month. Parsley, chervil, coriander can all be sown in seed trays to grow under glass through the cooler months.

Plant out:
Summer/autumn cauliflowers, winter cabbages and kale.

August's Gardening Jobs:

  • Fruit and vegetable plants will need watering daily in warm or windy weather - don't underestimate the wind. If unsure it’s best to push your finger into about an inch of the soil and see if it’s moist or not.
  • Pick peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to encourage the development of further flowers.
  • Pick gooseberries, currants, strawberries and other fruits.
  • Harvest onions sown last autumn.
  • Keep camellias and rhododendrons well watered, this will ensure that next year’s buds develop well.
  • Lilies and top heavy dahlias will need staking to prevent wind damage; deadhead to ensure better displays next year.
  • Water indoor cyclamen after their summer rest in order to encourage new growth.
  • Plant prepared hyacinth bulbs in vases.
  • Now’s a great time to collect seeds. Place in a bag, label and store in a dry, cool, place. The shed or a dedicated draw is ideal.
  • Deadhead roses toward the end of the month unless you wish for them to form autumn hips.
  • Take cuttings from shrubs including but not limited to; honeysuckle, ivy, hydrangea, potentilla and rosemary.
  • Ensure the greenhouse is well ventilated, consider shading with blinds if your greenhouse is getting too hot
  • Damp the greenhouse down if temperatures increase, this will provide moisture and prevent red spider mites.
  • Keep pinching out the side shoots of tomatoes – regular watering/feeding  will prevent the fruits from splitting. Remove leaves that have yellowed or don’t look healthy. Check regularly for aphids, whitefly and red spider mite.
  • Keep on top of weeding, whilst weeds will grow slower now, it’s a good idea to hoe borders regularly, especially in sunny weather.
  • Trim hedges.
  • Scoop weed from ponds to prevent algae bloom and treat if necessary. Top up water levels if required.
  • Raise the height of the mower - keeping your grass that little bit longer will prevent the summer sun from scorching it.
  • Water fruit to increase your yields and then cover with a mulch to retain the moisture.
  • Plums apples and pears with heavy laden branches will need supporting now.
  • Spray tomatoes and potatoes with Bordeaux mixture to prevent blight.

Cutting back

  • Lavender can be trimmed back once it’s finished flowering.
  • Perennials that have faded or are past their best can be cut back to keep your borders tidy.
  • Cut back herbs to encourage fresh tasty leaves that can be harvested before winter arrives.
  • Clematis can occasionally get ‘clematis wilt’ symptoms include wilting leaves and discolouration of the stem. The best thing is to cut out infected parts of the plant and dispose of them accordingly. Don’t put them on your compost heap as you could then infect your compost.

Pruning

  • Summer flowering shrubs can be pruned once they have finished flowering.
  • Prune out side shoots of Wisteria.
  • Prune climbing roses once they’ve finished flowering (unless they’re repeat bloomers).
  • Cuttings of perennials like Fuchsia can be taken now to propagate for next year.
  • Prune out fruited canes of raspberries.
  • Prune out the oldest branches of blackcurrant.

Later this Month

  • Harvest young marrows.
  • Hang wasp traps in fruit trees.
  • Thin out plums.
  • Pick early apple varieties.
  • Sow parsley.
  • Trim leaves from strawberries that have finished fruiting.
  • Check sweetcorn to see if it's ripe.
  • If you haven’t already pinched out the top of tomatoes then we would highly recommend doing so now as flowers that have set are not likely to ripen in time. Note: this doesn't apply to tumbling tomatoes.

Our Tips For September

It's hard to believe that summer has matured, especially as it only seems like yesterday that the daffodils were dancing in the breeze. This month we urge you to make the most of the last weeks of summer as it subsides to make way for the autumnal equinox.

If you ask a gardener what their favourite month is, many will say this one. It's a beautiful time of year when the early morning dew refreshes and replenishes the garden, revitalising grass and bringing colour back to parts of the garden that have begun to look a little jaded. This is without doubt, one of the most colourful months of the year, allowing nature the chance to show off with spectacular displays. Towards the end of the month, leaves turn a multitude of tints from yellows and oranges to reds and burnt umbers. This is the season's last major display of colour before the cooler months arrive.

The Autumnal Equinox

The official start to autumn is when the sun crosses the celestial equator. This is called the autumnal equinox and represents the point when night and day are almost of equal length. Each year the autumnal equinox changes slightly but it always happens on the 22nd, 23rd or 24th of September.

The Perfect Time to Plant

September is the perfect time to plant container grown shrubs, fruit bushes, trees, perennials and bulbs for next year because the soil is moist and still warm, creating ideal conditions for plants to become established before the ground freezes.

This is also a month of harvesting, clearing up, sowing winter seeds and planning for the year ahead.

Spring Flowering Bulbs

When the first blooms of spring begin to appear, they bring reassurance that warmer weather is on the way. Some of the first blooms include daffodils, snowdrops, crocus, hyacinths and tulips.
For the widest choice and best quality, don't delay, get your spring flowering bulbs as soon as possible. 

Now's the time to plant them three to four times the depth of the bulb allowing them to develop roots before the ground freezes. We have an amazing selection of spring flowering bulbs now in stock including but not limited to daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinths and fritillarias.

Note: Don't plant tulips yet or they will come up before the cold weather arrives; wait until the weather turns a little colder. 

Look Out for Frost

We all know how quickly the time can go whilst you're out in the garden, especially as the nights start to draw in. It's important to watch the temperatures this month because September can sometimes bring with it a surprise frost. If a frost threatens, move plants to warmer areas or be sure to add a good layer of mulch to protect their roots. We sell a variety of frost protection products that are guaranteed to help your plants through the colder months. If you need any advice just ask a member of staff who will be happy to help.

Revitalise Your Lawn

September is a great time to give your lawn some much needed love to revitalise it after the hot dry weather and ensure that it's fit enough to get through the winter.

Now's the time to rake out moss and thatch or use a moss killer if necessary. Moss often grows in shaded or waterlogged areas of a lawn and the cause can often be prevented. Lower branches of trees can be removed to provide extra light and grass can be forked regularly to aerate and improve drainage. Raking your lawn will remove thatch which will also help with drainage.

If your lawn gets waterlogged or is heavily compacted, you will find that it will benefit from being forked at regular intervals of roughly four inches; just place your fork into the ground as far as it will go and wiggle it back and forth. Use a sandy top dressing for the surface of your lawn to allow air and water into the holes and apply a good autumn lawn fertiliser which will encourage strong root development.

As the leaves start to fall, they can cover your lawn and deprive it of much needed sunlight. At this time of year light becomes essential for lawns to develop strong roots, be sure to rake leaves regularly.

September's Gardening Jobs:

  • Get hedges clipped and in shape early this month, if clipped too late then the new growth can be damaged by frost. This is one of the main reasons for conifers browning.
  • Conifers, shrubs, evergreen trees and hedging can all be planted now. Water in well after planting and if still warm remember to water them regularly.
  • Take cuttings from any perennials that are not very hardy in case they don't make it through the winter and over winter them in a frost free area.
  • Buy spring flowering bulbs for an explosion of colour at the start of the season.
  • Keep picking salad leaf to stop it going to seed.
  • As winds pick up, plants that grow tall will need support e.g. brussel sprouts, stake them in.
  • Towards the middle of the month, cut off whole trusses of any unripened tomatoes before the frost gets them. They can be ripened in a sheltered spot or made into chutney.
  • Make sure greenhouse heaters are working properly if you have them.  
  • Dig up onions and lay in an airy space to dry before putting into storage.
  • Collect seeds, lay out to dry and store in a dry paper envelope.
  • Take cuttings from lavender now.
  • Remove any shading that you may have in place in the greenhouse to maximise the amount of light.
  • Lawns can be scarified, returfed or sown from seed. It's a good idea to apply an autumn lawn feed and carry out any lawn care that's needed.
  • Buy spring flowering bulbs, plant daffodils in pots and borders.
  • Rake autumn leaves.
  • Build a leaf bin out of chicken wire to collect autumn leaves.
  • Plant out spring cabbages.
  • Order fruit trees for planting - don't miss our apple and fruit weekend!
  • Harvest apples, pears and plums as they ripen.
  • Take hardwood cuttings from fruit bushes.
  • Insulate the greenhouse.
  • Net ponds to prevent leaves falling in.
  • Check any structures are secure.
  • Cut off any suckers on roses and remove any diseased leaves.

Cutting and Pruning

Cutting back:

  • Cut back perennials that have faded or are past their best 
  • Cut back herbs to encourage fresh tasty leaves that can be harvested before winter arrives.
  • Cut back plants overhanging pathways and driveways.

Prune:

  • Pyracantha (Firethorn) can be pruned now, they do respond well to hard pruning so don't worry about doing any damage.
  • Rambling roses, cutting out old flowering stems and training new ones in.
  • Finish pruning apple and pear trees that you may have been training.
  • Prune out blackberry stems that have fruited. Tie and stake in the new shoots.

Sowing

This month, we can sow:
Japanese onions, spring cabbages, turnips, winter lettuces, spinach, salad leaves and land cress.

Sow sweet peas into pots for early flowering next year. Plant dwarf bulbs into containers e.g. iris, crocus etc.

Later This month

  • Clear away summer bedding and annuals.
  • Plant daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths.
  • Mark areas ready for planting spring bulbs and fork over if necessary.
  • Get tulips in for planting but hold off doing so until next month.
  • Net autumn blackberries and raspberries.
  • Check to see if pears are ripe.
  • Keep an eye on the weather for frost and be prepared to bring in any tender potted plants or use horticultural fleece to protect them.
  • Remove fallen leaves from around roses to prevent the spread of mould and diseases.
  • Lift and divide perennials
  • Plant up an autumn/winter hanging basket

Our Tips For October

Temperatures are slowly dipping away, winds are increasing in strength and nights are drawing in. This can signify only one thing, autumn has well and truly arrived.

As the nights do start to draw in and the seasons inevitably change, we find it instinctive to move about far less. Whilst it may feel tempting to draw the curtains, light the fire and relax in the warmth, we'd recommend not doing so yet because there's still lots to do in the garden.

In the Garden This Month

October is a month for tidying up, harvesting, getting prepared for next season and making sure that everything is safe and well secured before heavy winds and cold frosts arrive. If you do anything this month then start gathering fallen leaves and placing them into a wire bin or leaf sack. Leaves can rot down and be used later as a conditioner for the soil. Often the importance of this job is overlooked, however if it's not done regularly, fallen leaves can spread disease and encourage the growth of unwanted pests.

Feed Birds

If you haven't started feeding the birds in your garden yet, then it's a really good time to start doing so. We have a huge selection of bird tables, feeding stations, feeders and food available in the garden centre. As the colder weather comes, birds will begin to rely on you for their survival. Suet balls are one of the best foods to give at this time of year because they're high in energy.

Plant Relocation

Perhaps you regret planting something in a particular area of your garden, or maybe a plant has got to big for its current position. If so, then October is a great time for plant relocation. Once dormant, plants can be carefully lifted and relocated to another area of the garden with the least amount of damage.

Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs Now

Don't leave it too late! It may seem like a long way away now but it won't be long before spring returns. If you want your garden to flourish with colour in the spring and if you haven't done so yet, then plant spring flowering bulbs now before the first frost arrives.

Look Out For Frost

Be vigilant and look out for frost this month. Plants can be protected with horticultural fleece or if there's anything that you think won't survive the winter, bring it inside now or place it in a heated greenhouse.

Sowing

This month, we can sow:

  • Wildflower seeds into the ground to attract bees and butterflies next year.
  • Hardy annuals like poached egg plant, poppies, larkspur and cornflowers directly outdoors.
  • Winter lettuce, hardy peas and broad beans.
  • Basil, chives, parsley and dill on your windowsill for winter herbs.

Planting

Autumn onion sets, garlic (for bigger crops next year), spring cabbages and winter lettuces can be planted directly outdoors this month.

If you have a cold frame, then you can plant spring onions and all year round cauliflowers so that they're ready for harvesting next spring.

October's Gardening Jobs:

  • Tidy up leaves.
  • Harvest everything that won't survive the winter. Chutney is a great way of getting rid of unused edibles from the kitchen garden.
  • Move outside plants that are susceptible to frost inside or to a warmer area - bear in mind that plants indoors will not require as much watering.
  • Remove suckers growing at the base of trees.
  • If you have a pond, remove pumps and filters from fountains to prevent frost damage. You can prevent your pond from freezing over by floating large inflatable balls or plastic bottles filled with stones on the surface. Fish need oxygen so if your pond does freeze, you can place a pan of hot water on the surface to melt it.
  • This is the last chance to mow lawns and trim hedges.
  • Paint any decking, fences, sheds etc that need protection over winter with a good quality preservative.
  • Apply an autumn lawn feed to revitalise summer lawns and help them through the colder months, re-turf if necessary. 
  • Divide perennials; this should be done every three to five years. The best way is to shake all of the soil off and carefully prize them apart into two halves, this will then give you two plants that you can replant. Remember to water in well once replanted.
  • Check tree ties and stakes before winter gales come.
  • Create a bird feeding area to keep birds in your garden over the winter. If you have already done this, then don't forget to keep feeding the birds; now's the time when they will really depend on you for survival.

Cutting and Pruning

  • Cut back perennials that have faded or are past their best. Divide poor flowering or overcrowded herbaceous plants.
  • Cut back plants overhanging pathways and driveways.
  • Take hardwood cuttings from roses, cotinus and blackberries
  • Cut back any shrubs that are normally pruned hard in the spring in order to prevent wind rock and to tidy up their appearance.

Note: It's important to always use sharp secateurs and loppers when pruning otherwise you will be crushing and tearing, which will promote frost damage and disease. Always prune back to an outward facing bud wherever possible. This will reduce the amount of central growth in the plant. Use a pruning saw for thick stems/branches and always leave a couple of centimetres from the main stem, this will promote healing.

Pruning
October sees the start of the dormant period, making it a great time to prune shrubs that have flowered and deciduous garden trees. Pruning at this time of year will prevent bleeding as sap flow will have slowed down. If you didn't get on top of September's pruning jobs, then it's not too late to do them now as well.

This month you can prune:

  • Shrubs that have flowered; buddleia, lavatera, climbing roses and rose bushes.
  • Blackberries as they finish fruiting.
  • Betula (birch) - remove lower branches from young trees.
  • Gleditsia (honey locust) - remove lower branches to expose a good trunk height of about 2 metres this will make room for the naturally downward curving branches. Crossing and damaged branches can also be removed.
  • Carpinus (hornbeam) - whilst they don't really need any interference, carpinus can benefit from the removal of lower, as well as crossing and damaged branches. You can train them as standards or dense hedges.
  • Juglans (walnut) - young English or black walnuts can be pruned before winter arrives, they're prone to damage during the winter so if the main leader is damaged cut it back to healthy wood and train a new one. It's important to raise the canopy as they're young and to keep the stem clear to reduce cavities forming after pruning. Leave older trees that are well established.
  • Laburnum (golden rain) - much like juglans these are prone to cavities forming after severe pruning when they're young. Raise the canopy when they are young and keep the stem clear. They tend to bleed a lot so prune towards the end of the month and later in order to keep their shape and remove damaged branches.
  • Liriodendrum (tulip tree) - little pruning is required other than removing damaged or crossing branches. Younger trees should have lower branches removed to leave a trunk of about 2 metres.
  • Pyrus (ornamental pear) - remove damaged or crossing branches that are badly positioned in order to create a pleasing shape. Remove lower branches as they grow to leave a trunk of about 2 metres.
  • Finish pruning apple and pear trees that you may have been training.


Our Tips For November

This month there's lots of changes taking place. Everywhere you look nature is showing off with beautiful autumn tints and colours. Trees, fields, gardens and pavements decorated with leaves of rust, burnt umber and orange. This is one of our favourite months for colour but we suggest making the most of it because it won't be long before these colours fade and give way to crisp leaves, colder mornings and trees that become perfect winter skeletons.  

Bring Vulnerable Plants Indoors

If you haven't moved plants that are tender and won't survive the winter yet, then now is the time to do so! Bring vulnerable plants indoors; anything that can't be moved should be provided with winter protection. Mulch, bubble wrap or protect with a winter fleece. We recommend the latter.

Cutting and Pruning

The garden should be well and truly dormant towards the end of this month, so many shrubs and deciduous trees can be pruned or moved to another location if required. Don't over do it with pruning though, it's important to remember that many trees can be pruned mid winter or early spring when the threat of disease has truly gone. 

Apples and pears can be pruned anytime between now and early March, this will ensure that there will be a good crop of fruit next season. The aim is to remove congested branches and create a goblet shape out of roughly five to six branches.
Prune deciduous trees.

Hedges that have grown out of proportion can now be cut back and shaped.
Wisteria can now be pruned - prune back side shoots on older branches to about 10cm, just above the bud.

Keep pruning tools sharp and clean and remember to clean them before moving onto the next tree; this will stop the spread of any diseases. Hot soapy water or a tablespoon of bleach in hot water kills most germs. Don't prune when it's wet because damp weather can encourage the growth of microbes. If you wait until the sun is out for a little while, it will dry out and kill mold and bacteria.

November's Gardening Jobs:

  • Improve and condition soil by digging it over with rotted leaves and/or farmyard manure. This will put nutrients back into the soil and replace the goodness that your plants will have used up during the year.  
  • If the ground is not too wet or frozen then you can still plant, herbaceous perennials, shrubs, roses, deciduous trees, fruit trees, pansies, wallflowers and forget-me-nots. They do need to be in by early November though.   
  • Remove what's left of your herbaceous plants by cutting them back and disposing of the cuttings into the compost heap.  
  • Pick ripe apples and pears, harvest marrows, onions and potatoes.   
  • Sow broad beans and hardy peas, plant garlic cloves, new fruit trees and bushes.   
  • Take hardwood cuttings from existing fruit bushes.  
  • Protect shrubs, perennials and evergreens by placing a good 2 inch mulch around the base to protect crowns and roots.  You can use wood-chip, straw, bark chippings, crushed shells or well rotted manure, this provides a barrier against the cold weather and helps lock in nutrients; before mulching make sure that the plant is well watered and free of weeds.  
  • The growth of grass will slow down this month (thankfully!) so it’s unlikely that you will be using the mower, make good use of this time by getting it serviced or the blade sharpened.
  • Check structures in the garden, fence posts etc to make sure they will survive the stronger winds that are most likely on the way, if weak, repair or replace. Stake out climbing plants, prune back roses and climbers that sway to protect them from wind rock.  
  • Bin or burn fallen rose leaves; it’s important not to place them on the compost heap as many of them can be diseased and infected with Black Spot.  
  • Lift Dahlias by cutting the stem to a few inches above soil level and lifting out the tuber, wash off the soil, leave to dry and dust off with sulphur, cover with a non peat based compost and store in a cool dry place.  
  • Insulate the greenhouse - If you don’t have a heating system installed or don’t want to spend money on one, then bubble wrap is ideal for insulating the greenhouse from cold weather and drafts; this will ensure that your plants are protected from the cold weather. If you do have a heating system then don't forget to turn it on.  
  • Beware of heavy frosts this month. Once your greenhouse is ready, either move tender plants inside or keep a supply of fleece or bubble wrap to protect them from freezing conditions during night and even daytime - this is especially important for recently planted hardy annuals.  
  • Plant bare rooted hedges now that they're dormant.  
  • Don’t forget there is still an opportunity to plant and brighten your borders, hanging baskets and containers with favorites such as winter heathers, pansies, violas, primroses and cyclamen.

Our Tips For December

Make the most of any settled days which at this time of year are short lived but very much welcome, by gathering the last of the fallen leaves and tidying up the garden before the inevitable hand over from autumn to winter takes place.

Winter Solstice
Winter begins this month with the winter solstice which brings us the shortest day and the longest night of the year. If you don't like the short days then it's time to rejoice because although the solstice marks the official start of winter, it also marks the point at which days start to lengthen; which can mean only one thing, spring is just around the corner.

In the Garden This Month

With spring being just around the corner you should be well ahead with the garden. Plants should now be protected from frost conditions, the greenhouse heater turned on, the 'autumn clean up' all but done and spring flowering bulbs including tulips now planted ready for a beautiful early floral display. In fact it's just about time to put your feet up, relax and enjoy the festive period, for it's this month that you can truly let the garden take care of itself. 

What to Do Now

The garden may slow down at this time of year but it doesn't mean it has to stop altogether. Some of our favourite winter crops are:
Leeks, kale, parsnips, salad rocket, chicories, brussel sprouts and an old favourite, beetroot.

Sow:
Basil, dill, chives and parsley indoors on your window sill for winter use.
Winter hardy salad leaves can also be sown under cover.

Plant: 
Currants, blueberries (in acidic soil) and gooseberries can all be planted now. Rhubarb crowns can also be planted but make sure you plant them in well conditioned soil with plenty of organic matter.

Harvest:
Brussel sprouts, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, leeks, parsnips and swede.

December's Gardening Jobs:

  • Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and other root crops.
  • Don’t step on lawns when frosty or very wet.
  • Brush heavy snow (if applicable) from hedges to avoid damage.
  • Keep raking leaves (not long now until they'll all be gone).
  • Check your winter protection structures are still in place.
  • Make sure greenhouses are fully insulated if you're overwintering plants that aren't very hardy.
  • Prune Acers, Birches and Vines.
  • Prune apple and pear trees if you have not done so already.
  • Prune ornamental vines and overgrown deciduous hedges, trees and shrubs (to shape).