Monday, 27 August 2007


Never let onions go short of water in the dry weather or their yield will be severely reduced. Water plants thoroughly once or twice a week if conditions are dry, and keep down weed competition by hand or using a hoe.

Cut out plain green shoots growing on variegated shrubs to prevent them spoiling the appearance of your shrubs. The same applies to variegated trees. I saw an example of a lovely variegated willow recently that was neglected. The offshoot coming form the base was getting to be larger than the tree. Unfortunately I did not have my secateurs with me!

Keep up the battle against problem weeds, removing any flowering stems before they have a chance to set seed. Many can be removed by hand, digging deeply to get out every last piece of root, or some chemical treatments can be effective, if you want to go down that route. Larger areas can be cleared by smothering them with a large sheet of black polythene, left in place until next spring. If you do think of using carpet to cover the area, make sure it is a good quality axminster with a natural backing. If not you will find that the top rots over time but you will be left with a tangled weave of nylon that will be a devil to get out.


Mow it at least once a week, (unless it is synthetic of course), twice if possible, and finish by cutting the edges neatly. The clippings can usually be mixed into the compost heap, but remember to discard them for the first few mowings if you have applied any weedkillers.

Protect new and established plants by mulching the soil between them with composted bark, cocoa shells or another ornamental mulch. This will not only look attractive, setting off the surrounding plants, it will also reduce annual weed growth and conserve soil moisture. Always mulch over moist ground, never on to bone-dry soil, so be sure to water well first if necessary.

Lift and divide bearded irises once they have finished flowering. Remove any dormant sections from the centre of the clump, and replant the fresh new shoots.


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