Plant of the week: New Zealand Flax
Colin Evans garden tips
This week Colin explains how you can protect your plants against scavenging squirrels and he reveals what his favourite 'architectural' plant of the week is. You can email Colin with your horticultural questions below.
It's hard to believe February is just around the corner as it seems as January has only just arrived.
It makes me happier, I have to say, because in my view January and February are the worst months, so in a short space of time the evenings will noticeably be drawing out and we can look forward to spring.
Garden woes in February
February also has to be one of the worst months to work in the garden as there is so little you can do outside except for some single or double digging and that is only when it is dry enough to do the job.
Still, there is much clearing to be done in terms of getting up the last dregs of fallen leaves.
Do be careful though because just below the soil the leaves on the spring bulbs will be just below the surface and any damage now will prevent them from flowering.
Already Snowdrops are showing themselves and it will not be long before the Crocus will remind us that they have been waiting all summer and winter to put on the finest colourful show.
If you are a regular reader of this website you know that I am a great fan of what I call architectural plants, those that stand alone and make a great statement, and if you want to do just that, then you can do no better than plant Phormium Tenax, or New Zealand Flax (see image above).
This fantastic grass-like giant will cope with most conditions and there are many varieties on offer - both slow growing and those that make great growth both height and width-wise.
This very leafy subject looks good not only as a border plant but in a large tub and as a specimen plant in the open ground, or as part of a scree or gravel border.
If you like exotic colour then you will not be disappointed: lime green right through to bright pinks and reds are all there.
In terms of cultural requirements, it's easy as all you do is feed and water and cut off the brown leaves when the lower ones begin to die off.
If the squirrels are after your spring flowering bulbs then cover the area with forest bark.
The smell will mask the odour of the emerging bulbs which confuses the squirrels, unless they are very clever.
Because the outside conditions are not favourable for being in the garden then why not attend to the house plants?
African Violets can be propagated from leaf cuttings.
All you do is snap off the healthy leaves and make a few cuts across the surface, this is where the new roots will grow and lay them on a bed of moist compost.
A small wire to hold the cuttings in position is best and a little water from time to time with as much natural light as possible but no direct sunlight should do the trick.
Average room temperature and patience means your cuttings should see signs of root growth in six weeks or so. If any die in the meantime then remove them from the healthy ones.
Moving small trees and shrubs
As the ground is still fairly moist, and providing it's not frosty, then moving small trees and shrubs to other parts of the garden should not be a problem now.
This is providing the you make sure there is plenty of soil around the root ball.
Prepare a good sized planting pit before lifting the plant to be transplanted. Then, once in position, firm well into the ground. A good watering means all should be well.
last updated: 29/01/2008 at 17:07
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