Colin Evans Garden Tips
Colin blows a raspberry at the cold weather and tells you how to brighten up your garden with spring flowers such as narcissi, tulips, crocuses and snowdrops. Also, how to grow your own garlic for use in cooking.
I hate the cold and wet days of winter more and more but this week the sight of the spring bulbs rearing their little green heads above the cold soil surface means that in a short space of time our gardens and parks will be filled with the colour of early spring.
Snowdrops usually make an appearance first but on my travels this week I saw some daffodils in full bloom in Windsor brightening up a dull area just beside the road and won't be long before the crocuses will making their appearance soon.
Last November I planted about fourteen hundred mixed spring bulbs including narcissi, tulips, crocus, sporaxis and snowdrops to name but a few and I can't wait to see what impact they have on the mixed shrub borders in my garden once their flowers are fully open.
If you did not get the chance to plant spring bulbs into your own garden last year then all is not wasted if you still want those spring displays.
All the garden centres will have bulbs in flower in pots now and you can buy as many of these as you want and just plant them into your open borders or tubs and troughs.
If you do this now then you will have colour without all the hard work. Once planted the blooms should last about three weeks and when flowering is over the bulbs will remain healthy for many years to come.
If you have a patio, gravel or scree garden then you may well want something a little exotic to plant there. Miniature acers or field maples can look every bit the part when incorporated into a scheme.
Acers will be happy in pots or in the open ground, though they prefer a slightly acid soil so if your ground is not suitable then plant the trees in pots and fill with an acid free compost.
My favourite varieties are those that give the best leaf colour and I recommend the acer "Katsua" types which has in some cases both green and yellow or pinky purple leaves . Don't forget, miniature acers can be delicate so protect them from the frosts .
Garlic can be planted outside if you like the flavour of this bulb in your cooking. Just mound up a ridge of soil 10cm high and push garlic bulbs into the soil so that they just nestle below the surface and plant 30cm apart.
Just leave them to their own devises and you should be getting plenty of succulent cloves in the next three months or so.
Choose English raised types as they are hardened to our climate. Choose Solent Wight "Cristo" or Primavera.
Raspberries can be cut back and cleaned up with the autumn types being pruned right back to force plenty of new growth once the days are longer and with the summer varieties leaving at least five healthy stems to carry fruit this year. If any canes look past their best then I always grub them put and plant new stocks.
If the ground is dry and frost free then use this time to uplift and transplant trees and shrubs which are now in the wrong place. Any uprooted trees should be staked and tied to ensure that they are not rocked about by strong winter winds.
last updated: 30/01/2009 at 14:28
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