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Perfect Plants

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  • Four reasons why you need to plant a rose in April or May

    1: You won't need rose-tinted spectacles in the first month of summer

    In springtime, it’s gratifying to bask in the colours of the growing season and there’s a vibrancy which is much-needed after what seems like a long winter. But this can often disappear by June. good gardeners are masters at planning ahead, and now’s the time to plug the June gap! Why? Because April and May are full of vitality, with blooms coming thick and fast. Crocuses, daffodils, grape hyacinths, tulips, alpines such as Aubrieta, spring blossom on trees, Camellias, Forsythia and other spring flowering shrubs are packing a punch that has amazing vitality. But afterwards, the energy gradually slows and can dwindle away to almost nothing. Unless you plan to change this sorry state of affairs! Now is the perfect time to plan for a patch of paradise instead and plant a rose or two.

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  • How to make a great hanging basket display this spring

    Want to create an amazing hanging basket display this year? It's not difficult, provided you follow simple advice:

    The sight of a tumbling cascade of summer colour, dangling in the air, is a joy to behold. The best thing about hanging baskets is the fact that you can achieve them just about anywhere. All you need is a sunny wall or a strong fence post together with a hanging hook or bracket, a basket, liner, compost – oh, and plants, of course.

    So, what’s the secret of a great display?

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  • How do I get more colour in my garden?

    Do you crave to fill your summer flowering gap? Or perhaps you are more than happy with luscious green, yellow and red foliage.

    I want more colour in my garden. Now there’s a statement that is declared time after time. It might be something to do with age, lack of imagination or personal preference, but there’s a huge proportion of people who express a desire to have “more colour in my garden”. What’s all this about? Is it a wish to see gaudy annuals covering every inch of soil in bright, blousy blooms, or could it occur after a visit to a public garden where the herbaceous border is awash with glorious flowers from spring through to autumn? Maybe it’s a desire to re-create the glorious colours of spring bulb displays that happen seemingly effortlessly when daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinths and the likes pop up to brighten the season.

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  • Once upon a garden, a story of everyday town folk

    Once upon a time there was a modern house with a rectangular garden

    One day, during winter, new owners moved into the property and they took many days, weeks and months to decorate; put up shelves, purchase new furniture and technology and play with soft furnishings like children with Barbie dolls. When visitors came to the house, they were taken into many different rooms. “What do you think of the colour; the style; the ornaments; the furniture?” asked the owners? They drank tea (and sometimes wine or beer, depending on the time of day and the mode of transport). The new owners, let’s call them Adam and Annie Poppins, were very happy.

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  • Making a case for conifers, but are they good or bad?

    Carefree conifers, are leylandii friend or foe?

    Did you know that there are almost as many leylandii conifers in the UK as there are people? The numbers are estimated to be in the region of 55 million. That’s a lot of fuel to fire up hatred, but why do we love to despise this plant, which is correctly called x Cuprocyparis leylandii? It’s all about perception, but also size. People do tend to plant this tree inappropriately, then they neglect to keep them under control.
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  • What can I do in the garden in March?

    March is a great month in which to get to grips with the garden

    If you have a growing schedule, there will be a lot of green dots for March. This really is the month in which to get organised outdoors if you want to achieve the very best during the forthcoming gardening season. Let’s look at some gardening tasks and fire up enthusiasm for everything to come:
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  • Taking the mystery out of pruning apple trees in the garden

    How do I prune my apple and other fruit trees?

    The pruning of apple trees and other fruit trees doesn’t need to be a mystery. In fact, it’s not set in stone. There are favourable times to prune, depending on your needs. Just remember that fruit trees producing stone fruit such as plums, peach, apricots and cherries are best pruned outside of the winter season – in other words, avoid the dormant period. Why? Because this tends to reduce the risk of silver leaf disease and other infections. Plum trees don’t really require a great deal of pruning anyway, once they have been encouraged to grow into a good shape. Just take out any old wood or badly crossing branches in early spring right through to mid-summer and that’s really all they should require.
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  • Are garden shrubs popular?

    Which are the best shrubs for my modern garden?

    So, where are we with shrubs in these days of creative design, modern, sleek lines and contemporary spaces? Plants have an age-old appeal and it’s only natural that trends come and go. Have shrubs gone? Well, for a while they declined in popularity, but it seems that the tide of opinion is turning. The group of plants that we refer to as shrubs is a huge and diverse category of botanic life and one that would definitely have featured prominently in your great-granny’s garden. Continue reading

  • I think my old fashioned garden might need updating

    How do you recognise a 1970s garden?

    What does the term ‘old fashioned’ or ‘outdated’ mean, in terms of gardens? It’s very easy to spot garden styles, just by the planting. Walk through a public park that hasn’t been updated for a few decades and look at the plants. There might well be some overcrowded ‘dwarf’ evergreen conifers that are now four metres high or so. Lots of shrubs. Some Acers, if the soil is right. Definitely rose beds, maybe Cordyline, pampas grass and perhaps some empty winter beds that will soon be filled with summer bedding. Is this an outdated style?

    pampas grass growing in a garden Pampas grass was popular back in the 1970s and 80s and it does have a place in modern gardens, in the right situation.

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  • How to deal with a sloping garden or a difficult site

    What can I do with my difficult garden? Steps to success...

    A garden doesn’t need to be spacious or flat in order to be beautiful and rewarding. In fact, some of the most interesting and difficult gardens are those that represent a challenge in one form or another. Dealing with a steep slope, for example, brings a set of problems that might need imaginative thinking. Terracing is the obvious answer, but rows of steep steps leading to narrow, flat areas can look cramped, uninviting and daunting. Continue reading

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