Lonicera Halliana Japonica
Colin Evans garden tips
Easter is coming so most of us will have four days to tend to our gardens. Let our gardening expert Colin Evans guide you through the best way to look after your plants.
With Easter just around the corner you'd think all would be well in the garden, but no, that easterly wind is still with us and although the weather forecasters are putting a brave face on it, it nevertheless still feels a bit on the chilly side.
Plants in the garden are now well behind by about three weeks compared to previous years and this still means we need to watch the more tender plants in the garden and make sure they are not burnt by biting winds or early morning frosts.
In most areas of the county Magnolias and Camellias have managed to escape the worst of the weather and have held onto their colourful flowers through the worst of the frosts. Well, they have in my garden anyway.
Having said that, the flowering plants are behind with their growth this spring, I did notice some Bluebells showing signs of blooms at Upper Basildon this week and I am sure while working in my garden I heard the sounds of Swallows overhead so they at least are looking forward to a warm spring.
Don't be fooled though, because bedding plants purchased from the garden centre should still be given a little protection otherwise you will be back there in about three weeks to buy more.
So be warned and if you do have to buy them make sure you give them protection at night and bring them out in the day to harden off. Once we are into May all should be well.
Lonicerea Japonica 'Halliana' is one of my favourite Japanese Honeysuckles. It has very fragrant flowers that open as white but soon turn to a pale yellow as the blooms age.
The flowers will grace the stems throughout the summer months and depending on where the shrub is planted can be semi or evergreen and can reach a height of six meters (20") and a width of three meters (10").
This Honeysuckle is very hardy, however, like most it's prone to fungal diseases so keep a look out for these. At the first sign of attack spray the plant with a general garden systemic fungicide or a blast of Bordeaux mixture.
1: Gradually start to harden off bedding plants by placing them outside during the day but giving them cover overnight. Once the dangers of frost are at an end then your plants can be planted out. Also, the soil conditions are just right to get seeds into the ground.
The old favourites like radish, lettuce, beetroot and peas can go in now. However, don't forget about onion sets and shallots as getting them in early will get growth started straight away and you may well be eating the results of your hard work with barbecues in early summer.
2: Use plug plants or plants with small root balls available at the garden centres now or through the post and plant up hanging baskets, tubs and troughs.
When planting up hanging baskets go for dense planting as this will give a much better effect once the plants have established.
While paper and fabric liners are available I prefer to use moss. There is no shortage of this in the Thames Valley even if you rake it out of your lawn.
Moss will hold moisture better and will look natural and will continue to stay green throughout the season providing the baskets are kept well watered. Once planted, your hanging baskets can be kept in a cool greenhouse until they are placed in their growing positions in May.
3: Control slugs and snails now as they are on the move and will feed on any soft green foliage they can get to. I know this to my cost as the Hyacinths I planted last year have been attacked and the stems have been eaten right down to the ground.
You can either use pellets or one of the biological Nematode controls purchased at large garden centres. However, though biological control works well it should be noted that this does take a few days to have an effect so for immediate control you won't beat the pellets.
This Easter, why not make the most of the gardens open to the public both under The National Gardens Scheme, The National Trust and English Heritage and take advantage of Saville Gardens, part of Windsor Great Park and The RHS Gardens at Wisley. All these wonderful gardens are all on our doorstep.
Happy Easter and Happy Gardening
last updated: 09/04/2009 at 10:58
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