This month in your garden

The early flowering bulbs will have gone over by now but they can leave rather a mess of leaves. However, resist the temptation to cut or pull them off, as they are helping the bulb to produce the new flowers for next season. Try to grow something near or around the bulbs that will hide the foliage until you can remove it when it turns brown. If daffodil bulbs have not flowered this year then they may have come to the end of their flowering life, in which case discard them.  However, if they are new to the garden it may be that they were harvested too soon in the bulb fields, or that they have enlarged underground and are now congested. So dig them up and bed them in somewhere and replant them in the autumn. Winter jasmine, Jasminum mesnyi, has been delighting us for some weeks now with its arching sprays of bright yellow flowers.  This is a jasmine that is pruned after flowering, unlike Jasminum officinale, which should be pruned now right back to the wood.

Potted polyanthus plants should be in garden centres now.  They look so pretty growing in baskets or tubs. Unfortunately they are very short lived here, so enjoy them whilst you can. Potted plants probably need to be re-potted this month. Some plants become pot-bound over time and if the roots are protruding through the holes at the bottom of the pot, then make haste to sort them out! Use a mixture of potting compost and garden soil or clean builders’ sand and add in some slow-release fertiliser along with some water retaining crystals. Bought potting composts only have enough nutrients to feed the plants for about 4 or 5 weeks, so the extras are needed to keep the plants going for longer. You can also start to plant up hanging baskets and there are many plants that look good in those.  Remember that in high summer they will need to be watered at least twice a day, so hang them where you can easily do this job.

You should be able to sow some annual seeds now as hopefully the ground will have dried out somewhat. We need to encourage bees and butterflies to come into our gardens and many herbs such as sages, lavenders, rosemarys, fennel and verbenas attract early pollinators. It is important to keep growing flowers that bloom as the season progresses, by choosing flowers like cosmos, asters, sunflowers and zinnias.  The garden centres are full of seed packets of glorious plants that will attract bees and butterflies to your own patch.

If you grow grass then scarify your lawns now with a thin tined rake and remove all the debris from the root areas. Fork over any bare patches and re-seed if necessary with Kikuyu or Four Seasons grass seed or a mixture of both.   Water, sit back and watch it grow and then you will have to mow it!

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