Planting trees near houses

NHBC’s guide to safeguarding homes and trees

Eucalyptus gunnii kept well pruned

It’s the peak time of the year for new gardeners to plant trees and shrubs – but do you know some root systems can damage your home?

Inexperienced gardeners often pick up the first thing that catches their eye with little regard to its eventual height or demands on a garden.

The prime culprit is the Leylandii conifer, often seen towering over gardens, planted when they were tiny and often sold as ‘dwarf’ conifers by unscrupulous (or ignorant) sellers in the 1970s.

Even experienced gardeners can fall foul of this – in my case, a now huge Phormium in the front garden which is proving impossible to tame, sold as a ‘medium-sized’ plant. Continue reading “Planting trees near houses”

Greenhouse cleaning tips

Be clean to beat pests and diseases

Forest Garden
Nicola Simpson, head of marketing at Forest Garden. Picture; Forest Garden

It’s a horrible job but one worth doing – a real ‘outdoor housework’ chore – preparing your greenhouse for the season ahead.

With the weather starting to get warmer, failing to do this job will lead to an explosion of pests and diseases, making your gardening hard work a complete waste of time.

Here are some helpful tips from Nicola Simpson, head of marketing at Forest Garden. She said: “Now is the time to reorganise your greenhouse.

“One of the key benefits of a greenhouse is that it allows you to grow plants and crops that need more shelter and higher Continue reading “Greenhouse cleaning tips”

Tomato guide – September

Skimp on stakes at your peril

tomato plant
Weight of the tomato plant on a short stake makes it keel over

Cutting corners gets you nowhere, especially with tomatoes. I couldn’t reach the 8ft canes when I first potted them up in June, convinced I would add bigger ones as the plants grew.

Of course, I didn’t, leading to the collapse of several plants under their own weight last week.

If this has happened to you, it’s not the end of the world.

Simply insert a long cane into the soil and firmly tie it to the old cane before gently lifting the bent stem and securing it with string/twine every few inches. Continue reading “Tomato guide – September”

How to take semi-ripe cuttings

Easy way to propagate your favourite plants

Passion flower
Passion flower – perfect for semi-ripe cuttings

Here’s the second instalment in my how to take cuttings series – this time, the semi-ripe type.

Don’t be put off by such an awkward name, it’s really very easy to propagate hardy climbers, herbs, ground-cover plants, shrubs and trees – especially evergreens – and you don’t need special equipment.

Late summer to early autumn is the ideal time to take semi-ripe cuttings – all it means is that you choose shoots from this season’s growth. The base of the cutting should be hard, while the tip is still soft, hence semi-ripe.

Continue reading “How to take semi-ripe cuttings”

Gardening jobs for July 16-17

Either rain or be sunny!

Canna – deadhead for more flowers

A few extra jobs that have reared their ugly heads this week:

Sweet pea Cupani
Sweet pea Cupani – one Vanessa must have missed

Vanessa volunteered – yes, stop the press – to deadhead and tie in the sweet peas. Keep this up and you’ll get lots more flowers. Don’t forget to deadhead roses, herbaceous perennials and tender plants like Canna and geraniums.

The weather’s been mostly dull and windy again but with hardly any significant rain, meaning the annoying job of having to water containers even though it permanently looks like it’s going to chuck it down. Give said containers a general-purpose feed but not if they’re bone dry. Continue reading “Gardening jobs for July 16-17”

Gardening jobs for the weekend

A few extra tasks caused by the weather

Rambling rose
Crushing weight of rambling rose

I know, there’s enough to be getting along with in the monthly lists, but here’s a few things the weather and wildlife are making me do this weekend.

I think some people might be in the same boat.

Tie up runner beans, broad beans and sweet peas: a combination of blustery winds, heavy showers and sparrows nicking miles of twine has left the climbers flopping about.

Scoop fallen leaves and litter out of pond: Vanessa was most upset when she discovered I was doing this with the kitchen sieve (cheap and it works). Continue reading “Gardening jobs for the weekend”