February is here and the spring bulbs are beginning to emerge from their winter slumber. Now is the perfect time to look forward and start to plan your gardening calendar for the coming year.
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Many of you will be thinking about planting perennials, shrubs, and trees in your gardens this year, so it makes good sense to give them the best start and chance of success, so with a little preparation and by following these simple steps, your garden will look a picture.
Choose healthy plants. Look at the base of the pot, if you can see fibrous roots poking out from the drainage holes that look fresh and white in colour, then that is a good sign that the plant is eager to go.
However, if you can see thick woody looking roots, it might be a sign that the plant has been in its pot for some time and may take longer to establish once planted. When plants have been left in their pots for too long, they become pot bound. This means that their roots have been restricted within the container and forced to grow round and round the pot. If this is the case, they should be avoided.
When selecting bulbs whether spring or summer flowering varieties, examine the bulbs carefully. They should look plump and free from any sign of mould and if they feel squidgy or look like they are shriveling find an alternative supply.
Soil preparation is key to success. If your soil is good and full of organic matter, then simply dig a hole and plant. Sadly, most of us are not that lucky so ensuring good drainage is especially important and by using a peat free mulch around the plant after planting will help to keep then moisture in the soil so less watering is required.
We all like to save money, so unless your priority is to create a garden that looks established from day one, choose smaller plants that will cost less to buy, they will soon get established.
Any plants purchased from a garden centre or nursery are used to being pampered with regular watering and dead heading to keep them looking at their best, so when you take them home, this becomes your responsibility.
One of the most common mistakes when laying new turf, planting a row of hedging, perennials, or a specimen tree, is not watering enough in the first year when the plant is busy establishing itself which sadly will cause the plant to fail, so if you are planting particularly in spring and summer, remember water, water, water!
Ensure that you plant your new purchase at the right soil depth. The rule of thumb is to plant bulbs 2-3 times the height of the bulb but check the packaging for clear instructions if you are not sure.
When you are ready to plant your perennials, shrubs, and trees, remove the plant from its pot and gently tease the roots with your fingers to encourage them to spread outwards and into the planting hole. Take care not to plant too deep. Make sure your planting hole is the same depth as the container, and with plants that have been grafted, ensure the point where the root emerges from the stem is at soil level.
A tree is always a fantastic addition to any garden, but if the location is at all exposed to the prevailing wind, then it will need to be staked to prevent the root ball from rocking and disturbing the roots.
Insert a low stake at 45 degrees into the ground, ensuring the wind blows the stem away from the stake so as not to causing any rubbing, and use a tree tie to hold in place allowing the tree to flex whilst ensuring the root ball remains stable. After about 12-18 months the stake and tie can be removed.
Until next time