Sandhurst Garden Design

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Spring is in the air; the days are getting longer, and there are signs of new life emerging out in the garden. Soon it will be time to move young plants from the protection of the greenhouse and out into the big wide world.

These young plants will have to run the gauntlet of insects and wildlife who are just going about their own business, but sadly in doing so will eat or damage our new plants before they can reach maturity.

Companion planting is one such way you can help young plants navigate those early weeks by using one plant to protect another. For example, herbs that will use their scent to attract pests and away from their neighbour, or by using a plant to function as a ‘sacrifice’ one that it so irresistible to the bugs they will feed on them instead of the crop or plant you want to nurture.

Combinations you could try are Calendula or marigolds planted alongside tomatoes will help to deter white fly. Planting a clove of garlic near to the roots of a rose bush will be absorbed and produce a chemical that aphid detests, without altering the aroma or your roses!

Nasturtiums are an example of a sacrificial flower you could plant near to your French or runner beans which will attract aphids and tempt caterpillars away from your cabbages.

The number one arch enemy of gardeners must be slugs and snails collectively known as gastropods, which means ‘stomach foot’ which can decimate plants overnight, including their all-time favourite, the Hosta.

Recently the RHS have voiced their opinion that slugs and snails have a ‘bad reputation’ and should be viewed no longer as pests, but as ‘helpful visitors’ to the garden as they do more good than harm by clearing up fallen leaves and other garden debris which helps to maintain a healthy and balanced eco-system.

We do not use slug pellets in our own garden but instead encourage the wildlife to do the job for us. We have birds that visit the garden including a gorgeous thrush who soon makes short work of a snail shell, in our wildlife pond we have frogs, and if we are lucky, a visiting hedgehog who is partial to a juicy slug.

In addition, applying ‘barriers’ as a defence is something you could do near to your plants to help deter these slithering assassins. The theory being that they do not like moving over sharp or rough material which dries up their slime or irritates them, so they go elsewhere.

Wood chippings, wool pellets, broken eggshells, coffee grounds or a smear of Vaseline or a band of copper applied to the rim of a plant pot are all humane options you could try, but be warned, slugs and snails are persistent.

Now for the good news, there are plants that are avoided by these annoying critters, so here are some you could try which will keep your garden blooming.

Erigeron Karvinskianus or Mexican Fleabane. This low growing daisy has white and pink flowers that form clumps so makes it perfect for ground cover in a sunny spot.

Foxgloves, if you love your spire shaped flowers and are fed up with your delphiniums being munched, then these wildlife friendly plants are the perfect alternative. They can grow up to 2 m tall so perfect for the back of a border, happy in sun or shade so ideal for that dark shady corner in the garden which will be illuminated with the addition of white foxgloves.

Penstemon really is a plant worth its weight in gold. There are many varieties that come in a whole host of colours, easy to look after and they flower for weeks.

Verbena Bonariensis this tall airy plant has small heads of purple flowers held on stiff slender stems and loved by butterflies. The leaves on this plant are rough in texture so not a bit interesting to slugs or snails.

Finally, Rudbeckia this sun loving compact plant has daisy like flowers has petals of warm shades of gold, mahogany, and orange, it blooms from early summer until the first frosts, and in a sheltered spot, may over winter.

Hopefully, this has inspired you to head out into the garden and to include some of these plants in your borders, and remember if you need help with garden design ideas or advice with plant selection, then give me a call 0789 9710168 or visit my website.

Until next time

Julie

 

 

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