Fiveways Gardens...March 2014

It's time to spruce up the garden in time for the major burst of growth that's coming over the next few months.  Somehow, the fresh new leaves of spring never look great set amongst the brown, decaying mush of the previous year's growth.  All the bugs and beasties that were happily overwintering in the leaf litter and hollow stems are most likely up and about by now, so it's time for a clear-out.  Tidying now also helps keep plant diseases at bay.  Most of what we grow is really pretty hardy in all senses, but if you've a favourite plant, say a lovely rose that has black spots on the leaves, then clearing them both off the plant and from the ground under the plant helps keep the problem contained.  Fungicides are available, but more recent studies are showing that they can do more harm than good as they wipe out "good" fungus too... As usual in gardening, you takes your choice.

A common question at this time of year is what to do with Narcissus and other bulbous plants once they have finished flowering.  It's best to dead-head, but leave the leaves to enable the plant to put its energy back into the bulb for next year. Adding a bit of fertiliser at this time, especially if the flowers were disappointing this year, is a good idea. 

It's not too late to prune shrubs and trees if you've not got round to it before.  So long as severe frosts aren't threatened, now's a good time to prune lavenders and other silver and grey leaved Mediterranean-type plants.  This will keep the plants looking compact and full of leaf right down to the ground.

Now's a good time to clear out your pond.  Get rid of some of the old plants, splitting them and re-planting in fresh aquatic soil if they didn't perform particularly well last year, or just throwing a load out - leave them on the edge of the pond for a few days to let some of the life make its way back to the water.  It's at this time of year, while the water is relatively settled and not much is growing, that if you're patient you may just spot some newts. 

Happy gardening



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