The Original Garden Visitor's Guide

Sue's Garden - March 2017

Hello everyone, how are you? Did you have a good February?

I have started the year off quite well, working for my clients, when the weather has permitted! On the south coast, we have had a real mixture of weather either very cold days and nights or incredible temperatures, sometimes as high as 16° during the day. This weather has well and truly confused our plants and also brought on an abundance of weeds or as some of us like to say 'plants growing in the wrong place'.

So, what are the jobs we should be getting on with in the garden now that spring is here? Well, as I mentioned above, the weeds are starting to grow in abundance. If your weeds are very small, it is a good idea to hoe your borders, but if they have really put on some growth, then get your favourite border fork or larger and dig them right out. This is also the time of year where mulching your borders is a good idea. This will help to suppress weeds, retain moisture and also makes the border look attractive. If your mulch is organic matter, try not to place the mulch right up to the main stem of your shrub, instead leave a space as this helps to prevent any rotting occurring if the mulch becomes wet for a prolonged period of time. Decorative mulch also makes a border look great, but obviously won't provide any nutrients.

Prunus 'The Bride'
Prunus 'The Bride'
Edgworthia chrysantha 'Grandiflora'.jpg
Edgworthia chrysantha 'Grandiflora'.jpg

Now is a good time to start feeding your borders and pots.  Have a look in your garden centre to get a good idea of what is available today.  I use Tomorite for my pots and the main garden and this works really well for me.

Shall we talk about pots? So, starting from scratch with your pots, check that none have cracked through the winter and in danger of falling apart.  If that has happened and you can’t easily fix the pot, then you will probably want to replace.  This may have happened at an opportune moment as the plant may have outgrown that pot, which brings me on to the next step of pot checking.  Push your fingers down the side of the pot and roots ... if you cannot easily get your fingers in, then the plant may need to be repotted.  Check the bottom too for roots poking through. Some plants can be divided and put back into the original pot and some plants will respond well to root chopping! If you don’t want to do either of those, then obviously you will need to move up a pot size.  It is all down to personal preference ... I favour keeping my original pots (as I have a small garden) and I will divide plants and repot or trim the roots at the base and side ensuring I do not cut too much off but leave enough of the roots to repot with fresh compost. If the pot is not root bound, scrape off the top layer of compost and replace with lovely fresh compost, firm in your plant and then water and feed ... top with decorative mulch, ie bark chips, slate or stones ... great, all looks neat and tidy ready for the year ahead.

If you haven’t done so already, cut back Fuchsias to one set of buds or two, even if the whole plant is showing buds all the way up the stems, it really will do the plant a great favour and encourage more flowering later-on.

I have also been tidying up Hydrangeas for some of my clients by cutting down to the second set of buds ready for the coming year.

Now on to my Plant of the month – I have two favourites this time...they are Edgworthia chrysantha ‘Grandiflora’ and Salix hookeriana.  I saw these two beauties on my recent visit to RHS Wisley to visit the Orchid Society Show and to walk around the grounds.  I just loved how the catkins on the Salix were bursting into life...they reminded me very much of fat hairy yellow caterpillars...so gorgeous.  My other choice is the Edgworthia which looked so stunning...beautiful perfectly formed balls made up of miniature flowers in cream and yellow.  Originally from the Far East, Edgworthia has long been prized and cultivated in Japan, where its bark is turned into high quality paper used in the manufacture of Japanese wallpaper and Yen currency notes.

These two shrubs, for me, were star performers on the day and are both great choices to grow in your garden for winter into spring interest.

Salix hookeriana
Salix hookeriana

My garden visit for this month (as mentioned above) is RHS Wisley in Surrey.  The main reason for the visit was to look at the orchids on display by the Orchid Society and to view those orchids which were in the competition.  There were some stunning plants on show and some very worthy 1st place winners.  The glasshouse has a permanent orchid display which is well worth visiting.  It is the perfect place to visit if the weather doesn’t inspire you to wander round the grounds of Wisley.

I also enjoyed a lovely walk around the gardens and found beautiful plants and shrubs in flower or just about to burst into flower.  This time of year is always exciting as you can literally see before you this already amazing palette of colour transforming into one full of spring colours, such as the yellows of Narcissi, Mahonia, Stachyurus and Edgworthia.

The Cornus area of the garden looks absolutely stunning at this time of year.  This is such a good shrub for your garden to add winter colour.  Try to mix the colours to add contrast...gold, red, yellow and green or one bold statement of colour.

I came across a beautiful carpet of Chionodoxa luciliae, standing about 5-6cm in height and a gorgeous shade of blue, they look stunning planted en masse as these were, underneath a majestic tree.  These were located near the main restaurant (delicious food by the way).

Talking of carpets of flowers, I saw the Crocus in all their colourful miniature beauty planted in great swathes.  These are situated just beyond the welcome hub and straight through past the Magnolia.  This Magnolia loebneri ‘Merrill’ is in full flower now and magnificent ... fingers crossed the heavy rain and strong winds haven’t brought those delicate blooms down to the ground.

Hellebores are another favourite to mention.  These are dotted about the grounds of Wisley.  They really are star performers in the garden at this time of year and they will last for a long time providing you with colour and enjoyment in your garden.

I said that my reason for the visit to Wisley on this occasion was to see the Orchids at the Orchid Society Show and the permanent Orchid display in the glasshouse. There are so many beautiful and intricate flowers on display it really is a feast for the eyes.  The Orchids in the display/competition were immaculate and so very unusual and beautiful.  I came away feeling very inspired by these wonderful plants...I even bought a very tiny Orchid Masdevallia rolfeana...it has an unusual flower in a gorgeous deep red with a yellow orange centre (that is what it will have when it flowers eventually).  At the moment it is just 6cms in height!!

Well that’s all from me for this month, it’s time for me to get back to work in the garden. I hope you have a great gardening month ahead and I look forward to telling you all about mine in April including any garden visits.

Happy gardening and garden visiting.

Sue