A close up of wisteria
Colin Evans Garden Tips
Colin gets wistful about wisteria, and urges listeners to take inspiration from the great gardens of Berkshire. Also, how to make sure your maple tree looks magnificent and tips on how to get spring bulbs for free.
May is such a great month for visiting open gardens. The growth is so fresh, the flowers are so colourful and the air is filled with the perfume of the masses of blooms open to the elements and the pollinating insects.
The wisteria at Greys Court
The National Gardens Scheme is a real joy because in our neck of the woods there are so many great gardens to take in. Why not spend a few hours indulging in the surroundings and getting lots of ideas for your own garden?
This week I was lucky enough to report on BBC Radio Berkshire's breakfast show about the most amazing 110-year-old wisteria at the National Trust's Greys Court near Henley.
Laburnum Watereri Vossii
The gardens there are looking the best I have ever seen them with great cascades of bright yellow laburnum, deep blue flag irises, peonies just about ready to burst and the best example, locally, of the rare pulmaria or foxglove tree with its vibrant light blue blooms.
Tucked away in a far corner is the magnificent wisteria where early this year the gardeners carefully removed the old frame holding up the plant and installed a new one thus ensuring the huge plant is supported for the next thirty years or more.
With enormous drops of purple blue flowers hanging in great cascades down and over the fresh foliage and filling the air with the most heady perfume I recommend you take a trip there soon before the glory of this old plant is lost until this time next year.
Wisteria sinensis must be the most used climber in the garden, but unless planted in just the right position can be a real disappointment. Remember the maxim "location, location, location". Never has such a phrase been so relevant to a plant.
A south or westerly facing wall or fence is the very best spot for wisteria because, if it gets the morning sun, which faces east, then the flowers will not develop. Get this right and you will never regret planting one.
Choose pot grown varieties, as wisteria do not like root disturbance, and get planted in the open ground as soon as possible. Pruning should be carried out in both February and October and the plant fed during the growing season. Do all this and you will be rewarded with the most dramatic display every May.
If you have variegated trees like maples in your garden then look out for stems and large branches that stand out as being green as they can easily be seen next to their variegated counterparts. Once seen, each offending stem or branch must be cut out if you are to avoid the whole tree becoming green as the years go by.
Dig a shallow trench somewhere out of the way in the garden and each time you deadhead any of your plants just throw the debris into the trench. At the end of the growing season just fill in and level the ground and who knows you may well have some free plants ready to transplant next year. Plants which especially take to this are spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips and perennials like lupins, foxgloves and aquilegia.
The lawn will be growing well now but so are the weeds. It is difficult to spray selective weed killers all over the lawn as it can create unsightly brown areas. It is best to remove deep rooted lawn weeds like dandelions, buttercups and daisies with a long bladed trowel and if this is not possible, then arm yourself with a spot treatment weedkiller which is easy to obtain at the local garden centre.
last updated: 22/05/2009 at 09:49
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