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Best hedges and the way to plant them

That’s as the dormant season of late autumn through winter is the greatest time to plant hedges, particularly if you purchase bare-rooted whips from specialist nurseries.

These young plants shall be less expensive than buying most pot-grown hedging from garden centres, and so they usually wear growth quite quickly within the spring.

They may even become stronger plants than in the event you wait until spring to plant them, because they’ll have spent the winter slowly putting down new roots and establishing themselves, in order that they won’t be as liable to dry weather in the summertime.

If you will have the distance to permit for growth, hedges are frequently a more in-depth bet than fences for borders.

This is because they supply a colorful backdrop, or even evergreen hedges change with the seasons – producing flowers in spring and berries within the winter.

But hedges also create a house for wildlife inclusive of birds, who will eat up snails and slugs for you, or insects, who might actually help to pollinate plants.

And while you are on a windy site hedges are better designed to deal with conditions: fence panels will just blow over or break, while hedges – particularly deciduous ones which have dropped their leaves before winter storms arrive – could be ready to bend with the wind.

They do need more maintenance than fences, though. Evergreen hedges generally grow faster than deciduous so that they will need trimming at least one time a year – preferably twice.

My top evergreen hedge is yew (Taxus baccata) because they grow slowly so don’t should be trimmed as often as others and whenever you do get the shears out they don’t scratch.

For a deciduous hedge i’d choose beech (Fagus sylvatica) since the leaves change to copper inside the autumn but don’t drop off until the top of winter after they are replaced by luscious new leaves.

For a winter-flowering hedge i admire winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum), with its little yellow stars of colour cheering even the foremost dismal day.

For a spring-flowering hedge I don’t think you’re able to beat forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia) since it never allows you to down and for summer-flowering hedges i like Fuchsias – but nothing too flouncy or ridiculously bright.

You can use any shrub to create a hedge, so long as you plant enough of them along your boundary.

Just be certain in the event you dig the opening or trench wherein to plant them you dig in numerous compost and ensure it’s sufficiently big to unfolded the roots to encourage them to explore further instead of go round and round.

Take off any wrapping from the roots and confirm each plant is solely buried as deep as they’ve been before – you need to be ready to detect this from the ridge at the trunk.

Plant your whips or pot-grown hedging about 18ins apart, and if you’d like a truly thick hedge plant a staggered second row.

Fill inside the soil carefully, ensuring the roots are properly covered and never left in an air hole, then water well and mulch with more compost or general fertiliser.

As long as you retain a watch on them over the subsequent year, guaranteeing the soil doesn’t dry out an excessive amount of over the spring and summer, you have to an honest-sized hedge within many years.

Out & About: Diarmuid Gavin champions young horticulturalists on the Ideal Home Show

The Irish designer, notorious for his spats with other big names at RHS Chelsea – let alone his non-conformist creations – is now an envoy for the Young Gardener of the Year competition, run in association with the Prince’s Foundation For Building Community.

“I’m very enthusiastic about it. It’s my best role,” said Diarmuid, who can be one of the vital judges. “If i will get the opportunity to encourage and encourage and spot what the following generation are doing it’s the foremost fantastic thing.”

Like other celebrity gardeners, Diarmuid took offence at David Cameron’s dismissal of gardeners in 2010: “He compared horticulture, as a skill, with litter picking, and in case you have done three years in college this is quite difficult to take.”

But Diarmuid did criticise some school-leavers for his or her attitudes: “With this complete X Factor thing, such a lot of youth just want all kinds of factors that aren’t the simplest thing to attempt for,” he said.

‘They want world celebrity but there’s a big deficit with regards to skills – and especially horticultural skills.”

Diarmuid has come a ways since high profile rows with Bunny Guinness and Andy Sturgeon: he hopes to be escorting Prince Charles across the students’ winning gardens on the show in Earls Court.

As well as encouraging the scholars as they build their gardens, and being one of the vital judges, Diarmuid may also hold seminars for the general public.

“I’ll be taking a romp through garden history, showing how the gardens we create today had been influenced by 2,000 years of gardening history,” he says, “looking in any respect the pre-eminent styles leading as much as what we create in our own front and back yards.”

Diarmuid specialises in contemporary garden designs, and his talks will feature a few of the gardens he have been involved with inside the UK and other countries recently, for instance Frimley Park Hospital, near Farnbrough, in Surrey.

“We have done various hospital gardens recently,” he says, yet he has no plans to construct a show garden at RHS Chelsea this year: “You need to save up for that,” he laughed. “Glorious Goodwood is much more likely.”

The Ideal Home Show is at London’s Earls Court from March 14 to 30 and lines other celebrity experts together with designer Laurence Llewelyn Bowen and television architect George Clarke.

Tickets cost £12 ahead online at, where there’s also a regular timetable and additional information about which days Diarmuid would be on the show to offer his seminars.

Easy methods to help save rare plants by becoming a Plant Heritage Guardian

You could have came upon National Collections of plants while visiting large properties open to the general public.

For instance RHS Garden Wisley, in Surrey, holds some of the National Collections of snowdrops (Galanthus), and Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden has seven National Collections, mostly of tropical and subtropical plants.

But while National Collections desire a specific amount of space, the Plant Guardian scheme is for those that have only one or two rare specimens of their garden and wish to make certain they’re formally recorded and propagated to make sure survival.

Among people who have already signed up for the scheme is Gillian Spencer, a Plant Heritage member, who fell in love with the scented snowdrop Galanthus Trumps’, at a snowdrop sale held on the home of the famous gardener, writer, botanical artist and plant hunter Edward Bowles.

Gillian eventually acquired a lot of these snowdrops for herself, but since they don’t seem to be available at the RHS Plant Finder she has become its Plant Guardian and is hoping to propagate it to share with other Plant Heritage members.

Similarly, Plant Heritage member Sandra Tognarelli is propagating Pelargonium ‘Pink Raspail’, also missing from the RHS Plant Finder, to make certain it doesn’t disappear.

The scheme was launched by TV gardening expert Christine Walkden, who said: “This is a perfect opportunity for the person on the street to make certain we save rare plants in order that future generations can enjoy and appreciate treasures of the plant world, as we now have.”

If you’ve got a unprecedented plant on your garden that’s not listed inside the RHS Plant Finder, and therefore not available in nurseries, you possibly can register it to become a Plant Guardian too.

For additional information go to or call the National Office on 01483 447540.

The best way to plant and prune raspberries now for fruit next summer and autumn

They like to grow in moist soils, so when you’re planning on planting them choose a sunny spot then dig in many compost or organic matter (not horse manure or spent mushroom compost though). This may increasingly help retain moisture in the course of the summer.

Slightly acidic soils work best, but one could try growing them on chalky soil by digging in some ericaceous compost – the kind you mostly buy to grow rhododendrons in pots. You too can grow raspberries in pots if necessary.

Summer-fruiting canes are best grown along wire supports: two wires stretched between posts at 2ft and 5ft (60cm and 1.5m) off the bottom work well, although autumn-fruiting raspberries don’t need support because they don’t grow so tall – and once you don’t mind wading through canes to choose the fruit you don’t should provide any support in any respect.

Always buy virus-free certified canes if you’re planting new canes, because raspberries are at risk of disease, but when your loved ones and friends haven’t had any issues of their raspberries grab any offshoots they don’t want.

The canes must be planted not less than 1ft (30cm) apart, you then should cut them all the way down to about 6ins (15cm) high after they start growing inside the spring.

Summer-fruiting varieties only crop on one-year-old canes, so these would be able to harvest the next summer, but autumn-fruiting varieties will produce raspberries because they fruit on new growth.

Which brings us to pruning: summer-fruiting raspberries will need to have been shrink after being harvested and new shoots tied into the wire supports, but there’s still time to do it now.

Cut this year’s canes down to the floor – they are going to be brown and look dead – and tie in new canes, as a way to have a greenish tinge to them.

Autumn-fruiting raspberries could be left over winter then pruned all the way down to the bottom in about February so that they are able to burst back into life from March.

You can top dress the plants with compost within the spring, to produce extra nutrients and to behave as a mulch.

But don’t use horse manure since it will burn off the hot growth, and mushroom compost is simply too alkaline.

Make sure the canes don’t crowd one another – especially when you haven’t submit supports – as the plants need numerous air circulation to maintain them healthy.

Then all you’ve got to do is get to the raspberries before the birds do.

The best way to spot honey fungus and what to do about it

AUTUMN is the only time of the year when you find yourself more likely to see the fruit of honey fungus: slim, caramel-coloured toadstools that emerge from the bottom of doomed trees, shrubs and hedges.

To the untrained eye, and that’s most people, there are other toadstools with an identical look about them, so that allows you to double check your fungi put some in a plastic carrier bag for an hour or so somewhere warm – tying up the handles to maintain it secure.

That’s not so the toadstools can’t escape, it’s in order that while you open the bag later and take a sniff you’ll smell their syrupy honey scent.

Honey fungus is the foremost deadly of all fungi inside the British garden to plants, and simply because you can’t see the toadstools doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

That’s since it spreads underground all year round in place of by spores blown within the wind from its toadstools.

Root-like rhizomorphs – often referred to as bootlaces – grow in the course of the soil from the basis of an infected plant searching for more roots to contaminate, and after you have it on your garden – or maybe your street – it’s almost impossible to eliminate it.

However, you could possibly keep it in check: woody plants which were got at by honey fungus often die unexpectedly after putting on an extremely impressive show of berries or autumn colours.

Sometimes, though, they die quite slowly: producing smaller leaves, not fruiting in any respect until they’re just dead sticks.

You ought to dig out affected shrubs and trees, then burn them – or get knowledgeable to try this for you – because when you try and compost the diseased plant you’ll just spread the difficulty further.

If you will have a hedge that’s affected you ought to dig out the neighbouring plants too – notwithstanding they give the impression of being healthy – and eliminate the pinnacle soil.

Once you’ve got right down to the subsoil, as much as a few feet below the outside, you could line the ditch you’ve created with heavy duty plastic or pond lining then cover it with new top soil – plus various compost – to create a barrier to the rhizomorphs.

The most difficult thing, though, is deciding what to plant instead. Just putting in place a brand new specimen of a similar plant is calling for trouble and, unless it’s a hedge, you’re probably best growing flowers in preference to woody plants – or setting up some hard-landscaping or a bench.

Unfortunately many hedge plants are liable to honey fungus, notably privet but in addition most hedging conifers.

Also at the danger list are rhododendrons, birch trees, roses and fruit trees equivalent to cherry, plum and crab apple.

The excellent news is that there are more resistant replacements available. For hedges try yew, that is slow growing but evergreen and creates a great backdrop to other plants.

Holly trees and hornbeam also are good, and in preference to rhododendrons try hebes, choisyas or tamarisk.

For a listing of plants to grow and to bypass, check out Garden Organic’s website which has useful factsheets in this and other subjects:

Budding talent: Alan Titchmarsh on the way to grow summer-flowering bulbs

When you can’t rely upon the elements, give summer-flowering bulbs a head start by planting them now, in pots on windowsills indoors. Otherwise, plant hardy summer bulbs – similar to lilies – outdoors from now onwards, once the elements permits. Then follow on with tender species towards the top of April, in patio containers or open ground. 


Lilies have to be planted once possible when you buy them – they’re hardy and on sale now in garden centres. Don’t attempt to keep them, because the bulbs can die if allowed to dehydrate. Lilies are heavy feeders, so plant them in rich, fertile garden soil. Choose a situation where the bulbs shall be kept cool and shaded by a ground covering of short perennials in summer, however the flowers can grow up into sunlight. Plant the bulbs deeply – most species have to be buried at thrice their very own depth (though the Madonna lily needs shallow planting, so the guidelines just show above the soil). Plant in groups of 3 or five, and support tall varieties as their stems elongate. 

For containers, choose compact varieties. Plant three bulbs half-way up large pots full of John Innes No 3 potting compost, and apply liquid tomato feed every few weeks once the flower buds appear. Plant several containers with different species for a continual show of flowers during the summer.


Plant dormant tubers now – preferably in 5in pots packed with multipurpose compost – and begin growing them on warm windowsills indoors. Plant them outdoors in late May, after the frosts are over, for an early begin to flowering. For containers, choose compact varieties sold as patio dahlias and begin them inside the same way, but transfer the young plants to very large patio tubs crammed with John Innes No 3 in late May. Liquid-feed generously with tomato feed from June until late August. 


Encourage potted tubers into growth in a heated or frost-free greenhouse or conservatory now. 

Water them very lightly, until new shoots are growing. Plant them outside in an extremely sunny, sheltered portion of the garden in early June. Cannas grow very tall – 6ft-plus – and are tropical-looking. They’re able to even be grown in large tubs at the patio, but for the reason that roots are restricted, this tends to cramp their style.

Eucomis (pineapple flower)

A short plant, growing to around 18in, this has greeny flowers forming a head the form and size of a pineapple. Plant one bulb per 6in pot crammed with a half-and-half mix of John Innes No 3 and peat-free multipurpose compost. Stand on a windowsill indoors and water sparingly. These are best grown as a pot plant within the conservatory, or stood at the patio from early June onwards. They could even be planted as a centrepiece to a patio tub packed with low summer bedding in a warm, sheltered spot. 

Tigridia (peacock flower)

This bulb produces showy, exotic-looking blooms with a wierd triangular shape in bright colours.  Plant them now in an extremely warm, sunny spot, in a 6in pot jam-packed with a half-and-half mix of John Innes No 3 and peat-free multipurpose compost, planting 3in deep. They are going to make small, slow-growing plants, but will grow to 18in high, flowering within the late summer and early autumn. Provide some twiggy sticks to support the stems.


These little charmers grow 3 to 4in high with red, pink or white star-shaped flowers. They generally tend to bloom between late June and September. Plant one bulb per 3in pot around now, in well-drained compost (equal parts of John Innes No 2 multipurpose compost and gritty sand). Keep the pot on a windowsill indoors and water it very sparingly, even if flowering starts. After the last frost in late May, plant out in groups right into a raised bed or Alpine sink, or use several plants to fill a bathtub.

Zantedeschia (calla lilies)

These are colourful non-hardy “arum lilies”. Plant one tuber per 5in pot full of a half-and- half mix of John Innes No 3 and peat-free multipurpose compost. Start them off on a windowsill indoors or within the conservatory from late April. Water them very sparingly until the leaves are growing strongly. Avoid over-watering even then, because the plant is at risk of rot. Stand out at the patio from early June or, if the summer is poor, keep them within the conservatory. Use liquid tomato feed every two weeks while flowering. 

What to do within the garden this week

Start weeding, tidying and mulching borders. Go carefully round clumps of bulbs and emerging “noses” of early perennial plants and don’t bury plant labels.

If the lawn is dry enough, give the grass its first cut with the blades manage high to deal with the additional length.

Rake out patches of moss from lawns to permit new grass to grow. If you’re left with bald patches, scratch the soil surface loose with a small hand-fork and scatter grass seed. Don’t feed lawns yet; it’s too early and may encourage soft, lush growth that’s harmed by cold and frost.

Garden of the week: Ardtornish near Oban

That’s because there are still numerous berries – particularly rowan berries – and rose hips.

It is similar story in lots of other parts of england this year where there was a bumper crop of fruit – in all configurations and dimensions.

Ardtornish still has hydrangeas in flower and evergreen shrubs consisting of spiny desfontainias (Desfontainia spinosa), that have orange-yellow trumpet-shaped flowers.

But the actual glory of this 24-acre hillside garden is its location on the head of Loch Aline and its stupendous views of the Isle of Mull and the Scottish Highlands.

For just the £4 entrance fee you’ll be able to follow paths through Bob’s Glen, past Mandy’s Pool to Andrew’s Wood or even to Fairyland.

You can imagine what a fantastic place it’s for an autumn walk particularly while you make it right down to Cinnabarinum Glen, home to a couple of the foremost colourful fungi that grow in Britain.

Like most vital gardens, though, Ardtornish has year-round interest and is maybe at its best in late spring when there are bluebells within the woods and a huge choice of rhododendrons in May.

But late autumn and winter are the smartest time to work out a few of the garden’s other attractions, including the otters that live within the loch.

You also can spot about a sea eagles during your walk and you’ll certainly leave with colour on your cheeks – even though it’s draining fast from the trees.

Ardtornish Gardens are open daily with the doorway fee going to support Scotland’s Gardens charities on Tuesdays.

For additional information visit and

Garden of the Week: Aberglasney celebrates St David’s Day with its Daffodil displays

Aberglasney features gorgeous Daffodils Narcissus and Magnolias Aberglasney features gorgeous Daffodils, Narcissus and Magnolias [PH]

The national flower of Wales is a speciality at this 11½-acre site, where the 1st Narcissus usually flowers in November and the last continues until June.

Each year the garden adds to its collection, and lately hundreds of Pheasants eye Narcissus (also called Narcissus poeticus) were added inside the Rose Garden.

These are known for his or her delicate scent, and flower in April and will.

“These make excellent border plants as they’ve got multiple flower heads on each stem and, obviously, a terrific scent,” says Head Gardener Joseph

“Throughout the garden we use Narcissus in lots of other ways, consisting of formal bedding, mixed border plants, naturalistic drifts or in long grass areas.

“The neatest thing about Narcissus is that they are probably the good bulb for coming back annually.”

Aberglasney is a part of the only Historic Garden group of 7 Welsh rediscovered parks, woodlands and gardens, and have been under cultivation for greater than 500 years.

Among the highlights is The Cloister Garden with its parapet wall, which was hidden for hundreds of years and was used to look at out for raiders and safeguard crops – just like fortified manor houses in other parts of Wales.

The gardens fell into decline after the second one World War but work to revive them began 16 years ago because of a wealthy American benefactor.

“We spend an incredible amount of cash on plants, that is unusual for many gardens,” says Joseph, who studied horticulture at Aberglasney.

This year there are plans to construct a brand new horticultural college in derelict farm building at the estate, as a part of its on-going restoration.

These make excellent border plants as they’ve got multiple flower heads on each stem and, without a doubt , a very good scent

Previously this has included converting portion of the ruined mansion house right into a Ninfarium, a connection with the garden within the ruins of the medieval village at Ninfa south of Rome.

A glass atrium covers the remainder walls of the rooms, that have sub-tropical plants which include orchids, palms, cycads and magnolias.

In fact the magnolias are some of the star performers at Aberglasney. From March and into April the gardens are known for his or her 60 forms of the spring-flowering shrubs.

“We have a great choice of rare magnolias,” says Joseph. “The previous head gardener was a expert, he worked within the Saville Garden near

“They are all quite young since the garden has only been replanted for approximately 15 years.”

Some of those magnolias are available inside the Bishop Rudd’s Walk component to the garden, where you may see spring-flowering corylopsis – fragrant,
yellow-flowering shrubs also called buttercup witch hazels.

There are 40 or 50 ferns planted within the garden, with tree ferns, hostas, lady slipper orchids and a powerful summer display of
cardiocrinums – or giant Himalayan lilies.

These elegant plants have huge trumpet-like flowers, and Joseph says: “I am very pleased with them, they have got done fantastically well.

“The trick is not very to clutter around with them. They don’t want to be moved about.”

But essentially the mostsome of the most unusual feature of Aberglasney is undoubtedly the medieval cloisters, which encompass three arcaded stone ramparts.

These were hidden under rampant vegetation until the 1990s, when restoration began, and seem to be the only survivor of a method of fortified

Research suggest that prime-value goods including mead, cider, firewood, herbs and spices, medicinal plants and oris root – used for perfumes – would
have been stored in the walls.

“The top of the walls are wide enough to take advantage of for growing crops in addition to waiting for raiders,” says Joseph.

“The thing about Aberglasney is if records have been kept lets possibly be the oldest garden in Britain. There’s nothing to claim we aren’t.”

Certainly the gatehouse and paths are 500 years old and there’s a 350-year-old yew tunnel.

The cloister square, now gravel paths with clipped yews and lawns, used to be used to grow vegetables, Joseph believes, but there’s now a separate
kitchen garden.

Stepover fruit trees edge the vegetable beds, replacing the former box hedges that were burnt up by blight.

Japanese holly (Ilex cranata) was used elsewhere to interchange diseased box: “It looks the greatest substitute,” says Joseph.

In late April the kitchen garden’s crab apple arbour is a sea of white blossom and there are hundreds of tulips round the gardens, particularly in
the Penelope Hobhouse-designed herbaceous garden, that is a mid-summer spectacle.

“From late February to July we’re absolutely outstanding, there’s so much to work out,” says Joseph, proudly.

And the excellent news for Aberglasney is that, owing to their benefactor, the gardens will continue to enhance each year.

Dream Gardens: Experience life at the edge

However there is a lot to be said of their favour from a pragmatic viewpoint.

Edgings help stop blackbirds chucking mulch over the lawn.

Tall ones can stop plants flopping forwards and leaving yellow “scallops” where they’ve smothered the grass.

And they act as a barrier against gravel “creeping” off the drive and directly to the lawn where small stones chip divots from your mower blades.

Stylish edgings also give the garden a particular design feel.

Admittedly you’d expect formal gardens to have neatly edged paths and beds but a row of low stonework or dwarf evergreens in any garden links features together and leads the attention around the view.

They may also emphasise key features so that they stand out more prominently. This can be a great assist in winter when perennials die down and deciduous plants appear to be dead twigs leaving plenty of bare soil showing. That’s when edgings come into their very own.

There are every type of fabrics to fit any style and situation.

Architectural edgings is also so simple as a row of pebbles, weather-worn clay roof tiles or old red bricks set at an angle of 45 degrees alongside a path which will look cottagey. Otherwise you might decide on the smarter Victorian style terracotta coloured rope-topped tiles, good-looking if pricEy for more formal situations.

Solid edgings wouldn’t have to be concreted in place, merely sunk part way into the soil, unless you would like a extremely indestructible finish.

For lawns there are specially designed edging strips, from green corrugated plastic to costlier metal sections that clip together. These aren’t intended to face up proud within the turf. The assumption is to make a superb edge to the lawn that a mower can omit and which makes it easy to run round with the edging shears afterwards.

Then there reside green edgings which might be often used to enclose flowerbeds or paths and increasingly for enclosing decorative veggie beds.

For these jobs the conventional edging is a proper row of tightly clipped box. The error lots of people make is in buying regular hedging box Buxus sempervirens which grows way too big. The only you desire is dwarf box Buxus sempervirens Suffruticosa, that is small and slow-growing and is worked up being kept under 1ft. Two clips per year is all that it takes.

Put in a row of young plants four to 6 inches apart or better still buy one plant and root your personal row cheaply from cuttings. It is simple and just needs a little patience.

Box is not the only plant for the job. You may use lavender instead.

Choose a brief, uprightish variety akin to Hidcote or Imperial Gem.

For something shorter still grow a row of upright thymes or on the way to be different plant a row of ivies (not necessarily the complete same variety) and twist them round as they grow to form ropes.

They look stunning outlining the perimeters of steps and paths, and in dark corners where more traditional edging plants happen their toes.

The right edging within the right place is such a fine detail that makes the adaptation between a fine garden and an amazing-looking one, especially in winter. So why not start now

For additional information on gardening and other subjects visit Alan Titchmarsh’s website:

After the rain: Alan Titchmarsh on gardening after the wettest winter on record

We have had the wettest winter on record. Never have we experienced such dramatic deluges from sea and sky. But because the weather eventually settles, and spring begins to unfold, gardens around the country can be waking up and plants would be beginning to grow in earnest.

The trouble is that the heavy rains could have leached a massive amount of nutrients out of the soil, and plants, like us, need greater than water in the event that they are to thrive. Food is important, too.

There are three main elements that plants need for healthy growth – nitrogen, phosphates and potash. Oh, all of it sounds very technical, however the shortage could be remedied by applying a general fertiliser which includes all three, corresponding to Growmore. In case you use an inorganic fertiliser, once it’s diluted in soil water, it is going to go into action straightaway when absorbed by the plant. The disadvantage is that it does nothing for soil bacteria, which might be an integral part of soil health. Healthy soil is prime to healthy plant growth.

Far better is blood, bone and fishmeal (or blood, fish and bone) that’s an organic fertiliser containing all three elements. Soil bacteria must break it down before it is usually absorbed and so are encouraged in a technique that may be absent when using other all-purpose fertilisers.

But if fertiliser provides the vitamins, it’s well-rotted organic matter that gives the “meat and two veg”. Stable manure, farmyard manure, spent mushroom compost, spent hops etc are all bulky and might be dug into the soil now to enhance its structure. On heavy clay soil they are going to improve drainage, and on light sandy soils they’ll help to carry directly to moisture (although it sounds as if one statement must contradict the alternative).

Work in up to you could on bare ground, and in beds and borders, lay it as a mulch (a 2in thick layer) between plants. Apply two handfuls of blood, fish and bone to every square yard of soil and fork it in before laying mulch on top. Gradually, the worms will take it into the soil, but while lying at the top it’s going to seal in moisture and help keep down the weeds.

For now, our efforts involve doing away with moisture, but in the summertime we have to keep as much of it around plant roots as we will be able to. Act now to ensure plants get over the winter and, hopefully, enjoy a summer with the intention to make up for it.

Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and each day inside the Daily Express. For more info on his range of gardening products, visit

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