Peter’s Gardening tips for May 2016

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The long wait for Spring has finally happened and WOW what an explosion of growth, colours to feast your eyes on, the noise from the birds, the smell of fresh cut grass…

Soaring temperatures and now heavy rain perfect growing conditions, also for slugs and snails, beware huge numbers this Spring because of a relatively mild Winter.

Gardening Jobs

Dead head any bulbs, remove the whole of the dead flower, snap off or use scissors. Water in liquid feed to build up bulbs for next year – Miracle Gro, Phostrogen or Tomato food. Lift and divide blind bulbs, replant them two and half times the depth of the bulb.

Treat lawns for weeds unless you want a wildflower meadow. Don’t cut the grass too short as this encourages moss. Longer grass withstands more wear and tear, also dry conditions. Scarify and aerate the lawn if the weather allows, you need the ground moist but the grass dry!

Feed all plants especially in pots with a liquid feed or use slow release fertiliser granules.

‘Chelsea Chop’ – cut back leggy herbaceous plants by 1/3 -1/2, seems drastic but you will have more flower stems which are shorter. Some large clumps you can cut the front stems down and leave the back of the plant uncut, this will extend the flowering season!

Put in plant supports now before they get too tall. Pea sticks (cut hazel branches),or silver birch branches make more rustic supports.

Hedges if looking gappy or tired will appreciate a general purpose feed. Most gardeners forget to feed hedges yet they are so important. Starved hedges are more prone to disease and pests even established ones. Use up old fertiliser in the shed/garage or buy Growmore. In dry weather give a good soak to water in the fertiliser.

Model veg at Wisley. Some poor germination because of low temperatures.

Model Vegetable Garden at RHS Wisley. Some poor germination because of low temperatures.

Seed sowing – This is the BIG seed sowing month for vegetables and annual flowering seeds. There are too many plants to list, I recommend you read the packets or go on-line direct to the seed companies, Marshalls, Kings, Thompson & Morgan, Suttons, Unwins, Garden Organic, Seeds of Distinction, Franchi…….

I am trialling 17 varieties of climbing beans, Borlotti and French for taste purposes, vigor and productivity! Steamed Borlotti beans are so creamy and tasty, so different to Runner beans. Try something different to grow youself!

Climbing plants, keep under control. Train up trellis, canes, pea and bean sticks, wires etc. Don’t be afraid to pinch out growing tips of clematis to encourage more stems and ultimately more flowers.

Weeds – dig up before they flower!!

Now for the pretty stuff……………

I insist you make time to visit gardens open with the National Garden Scheme, National Trust houses, RHS Gardens or Privately owned gardens open to the public for inspiration, relaxation, education and a real shot of enthusiasm. We can all get a bit stale in our own gardens and this is truly invigorating!

Bluebells

Bluebells at RHS Wisley

Bluebells, Rhododendrons, Japanese Acers, trees of all shapes, your local park or woodlands looking magical, share your pictures, ideas and gardening tips with friends and family and of course Silversurfers!!

One word of warning, frost is still possible so don’t plant out tender bedding plants just yet..

Please leave your gardening questions for me to answer this weekend. I was kept very busy last Monday at RHS Wisley answering gardening questions on the Gardening Advice desk!

Happy Gardening!

Peter

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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 http://www.justgiving.com/Peter-Mills14 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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felipo1
30th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Is there any way of reviving a lavender plant
t in a pot? I've tried liquid feed. Does it need to be watered constantly? Secondly, my irises have failed to produce pods so far this year. Is there a reason?
Peter Mills
30th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Hi Felipo1,
I'm afraid lavender hate too much water. Wet,cold weather is what they hate and kills more lavenders than anything else. Irises, might be too soon. Only just flowering here, or lack of bees because it's been so up and down weather wise.
Kind regards Peter
Nannydot
29th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
please can you tell me how often I should feed my Citrus Plants in the summer as they have flowers and fruit on, they are in pots not large trees [ornamental] I would think you call them. one Calamondon and one Lemon.
Peter Mills
29th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Hi Nannydot,
I tend to feed every other watering when the flowers have set. Don't over water. This will swell the fruit. If there are too many fruitlets some will drop off, or thin them out to one per bunch to have larger fruit.
Kind regards Peter
Birdy
28th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Is there any quick way of removing thousands of alliums which seem to be in the process of taking over my garden. I started with 6 bulbs several years ago now. They are coming up like grass all over the garden. Each one appears to have several 'bulbs' developing on its root system. I have dead headed them but to no avail, digging them out is tedious to say the least!
Peter Mills
29th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Birdy,
This was my nickname at college! Allium control. Weaken by regular hoeing or weedkill carefully with Roundup Gel.
Digging up as well. Good luck.
Kind regards Peter
Birdy
30th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Thankyou for your advice. I will give it a try.
Regards Birdy
olivemay
28th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Hi Peter,
The usual question, blinking snails.
I haven't used pellets because of danger to hedgehogs.i,ve been told that hogs will not eat dying or sick snails. Would you verify this is true please.
Peter Mills
29th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Olivemay,
I have hedgehogs too. The pellets I use are from Neudorff Sluggo slug and snail killer. It is certified for organic use too.
Kind regards Peter
AlienLondon
28th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
Peter please help! I have a lot of potted plants in my garden, I also have a lot of vine weevils eating the roots! I have been treating the pots with vine weevil killer to keep the problem under some control. Having been to several local garden centres recently and unable to find any on the shelves, I asked, only to be told it has been banned!!! What should I do? Please don't say put plants in ground, as it is clay soil and I'm unable to dig it.
Peter Mills
29th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi AlienLondon,
Biological control is the only answer. Nemasys Vine weevil control. By online or from Agralan.
Kind regards Peter
birminghamaussie
28th May 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
I have a weed growing in lawn it has small clover like leaves and tiny yellow flowers it spreads on tendrils. What do you suggest as a weed killer. I have been dilenglently pulling it out.
Peter Mills
29th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Birminghamaussie,
Sounds like yellow trefoil or creeping suckling clover. Use a selective weedkiller like Scott's weevil lawn weedkiller.
Kind regards Peter
Bright
27th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Peter
I have a laurel hedge on a steep bank which is perfectly green one side and bare apart from the top third on the other, can I resurrect it, it is only the last couple of years this has happened and there is no sign of disease?
Peter Mills
29th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Bright,
I would feed and water the laurels more. If need be prune the tops to encourage new growth lower down. Laurels are tough.
Kind regards Peter
estherB
27th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Can you take cuttings from a wisteria.
Peter Mills
29th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Ester,
Wisteria are normally grafted. Best way is to layer a branch. Bend a stem down to the ground cover with soil, place a brick on the stem and the soil leaving the growing tip free to grow. By the autumn this will have rooted and you can cut it off from the parent plant.
Kind regards Peter
gaia10-0
27th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Good morning Peter
Why does my standard patio rose look healthy and green, even flowers over winter, yet in summer the leaves are brown and shed?
Peter Mills
29th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Gaia,
Your rose sounds like its getting black spot, a fungal disease. Spray with rose clear, keep fed and watered. Roses are very hungry plants. Use rose fertiliser or tomato feed.
Kind regards Peter
Marley444
12th May 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
Hello Peter ... I have now planted out my Mange Tout plants, as I thought the weather had settled down. There is now a risk of frost this weekend ... will they be ok if they've been in the ground for a couple of weeks, or should I try and cover them at night? Thank you

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