Peter’s Gardening Tips for February 2016

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The weather continues to oscillate between cold and warm, Storms – Gertrude just gone and Henry arriving.

This month is always unpredictable, my father always disliked February because of the weather! At least the days are getting longer….. It’s just so wet everywhere, unless your garden is on a sandy soil.

Armchair gardening is definitely a good idea, browsing through catalogues or going on-line. Venture to your garden centre for inspiration too – seed potatoes, shallots, onions, garlic, rhubarb, fruit trees and soft fruit.

Dream of warmer drier days pottering around sowing seeds, planting out young plants……

Jobs to do:-

  • Clean gutters and check downpipes aren’t blocked with leaves and moss, look for leaks in sheds and garages etc.
  • Sort through any stored fruit, onions, garlic etc.
  • Clean tools, oil and wipe down. Treat wooden handles for woodworm, have a sort out in the shed or greenhouse. Replace broken pots, seed trays, root trainers, canes, gloves, tools.
  • Empty outside saucers under pots, wash and put away.
  • Crack on with pruning Wisterias, cut out all weedy growth back to 3-5 black buds, creating spurs.

I’m itching to get out in my own garden, I did manage to spike the ground on the lawns worst effected places, to improve drainage and do a little rootling of the soil surface in the herbaceous/shrub border.

Fruit Tree Special Report-

Standard Apple trees

Standard Apple trees

I went to see a specialist grower of fruit trees, Southern Fruit Trees.

Mike Foard runs the family nursery where over 125 varieties of apples are grown plus:

  • 11 varieties of pears
  • 20 varieties of plums, damsons, gages and Mirabelle
  • 15 varieties of peaches, nectarines and apricots
  • 14 varieties of cherries
  • 11 varieties of red/white blackcurrants

The range is fantastic and for the real fruit connoisseur you can get standard fruit trees if you want to create an orchard, or simply want your fruit tree up and out of the way of a flower border or in a lawn where you want to mow underneath it.

Soft fruit bushes

Soft fruit bushes

Bush, Cordon, Fan and Espalier are also available depending on how much space you have available. Cordon apples can be planted as close as 2 feet apart against a fence or as a division across a garden with posts and straining wires.

All trees are open ground grown so are bare root making them extremely good value.

One of the best unique selling points of Southern Fruit Trees is that Mike will graft any apple you might want to duplicate.

  • An apple in a relatives garden, mum/dad/etc or friends garden
  • A variety that tastes fantastic
  • An unknown variety
  • Your moving house and can’t take the tree with you
  • The tree is dying and you want the same variety etc.
  • An apple tree that has sentimental attachment to you.
Espalier,bush and cordon apple trees

Espalier,bush and cordon apple trees

This is such a truly special touch that means old varieties can be multiplied up, rare or even new varieties discovered.

What does Mike need to make this happen?

  • Healthy straight pieces of apple stem which are pencil length and thickness and last years growth, no gnarled woody old bent stems! These need to be cut and placed in a sealed, plastic bag and posted to Mike.

You will need to collect your ‘Bud Wood’ pencil stems soon as grafting is done whilst the bulbs are dormant, before the stems break into leaf – before March!

Old Grain Dryer Corner
GU33 6BP


Telephone: 01420 488822

Email: [email protected]

All trees are available to mail order, please phone to discuss your requirements using the details above.

As you can see I’m passionate about ‘Proper Specialist Nurseries’. If you want me to champion somebody let me know before they die out!

Kind Regards and Happy Gardening,

P.S  I am happy to answer any of your gardening questions too, so feel free to leave them below and I will do my best to reply! 

Visit my website too ←

P.S. Old gardener’s don’t die. They just throw in the trowel!! – Audrey Austin

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Peter Mills

I love everything to do with natural history, wildlife, biodiversity and of course horticulture - basically the big outdoors. I grew up with very good teachers namely my parents and my French grandfather who was a superb grower of vegetables. At Hadlow College I studied a three year OND in Horticulture. I had a market stall selling plants. Went onto wholesaling house plants to florists and garden centres across southern England. In 1986 I joined Clandon Park Garden Centre as manager. Whilst there I started my career as a gardening radio presenter with the BBC Southern Counties Radio. This continued for 15 years, building up valuable contacts with the RHS Wisley, live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows etc. Since 1998 I have been self-employed, working as a Head Gardener and in private gardens . Through the RHS Advisory Department at Wisley I advise on horticultural problems in members gardens, including pest & disease problems, lawn-care advice, pruning of wisterias, fruit trees, roses, wildlife gardening, growing fruit & vegetables, creating wildflower meadows, identifying plants and control of pernicious weeds. Autumn 2016 finds me at the Autumn Flower Show 6-8 of September at RHS Wisley and Taste of Autumn Sunday 23rd of October. Sunday 11th of September I am cycling from London to Brighton for Perennial ( Gardeners Benevolent Fund) who helped me when I broke my leg badly in 2014. Had the plate removed in February this year. My Just Giving page is Perennial is a Fabulous Charity who help anyone working in horticulture. I didn't think I would need their help at the age of 52! They were brilliant and helped us as a family. It's my turn to repay their help and others too! John Ambrose and I have raised over £ 2000.00 thank you all. I am an extremely lucky guy who loves what I do and the trade called Horticulture!

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2nd Feb 2016
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I saw a Red Admiral butterfly today-amazing in the sunlight but on the 2nd Feb??? That cannot be right. All our daffs are starting to bloom-beautiful spring is on its way!

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