June gardening Tips

Bearded iris

Talk about blowing hot and cold, wet and dry! This Spring has been so changeable, that it has made planning crops or splitting clumps of perennials very difficult to do successfully.  The late frost caught my beans and potatoes, to my dismay.

In spite of last Summer’s drought, rhododendrons and azaleas have performed well in my garden.

There are still jobs that must be done in hope of kind weather continuing… here are some suggestions:

Ornamental garden

  • Gently remove spent flowers from Camellia, and rhododendrons to make room for the leaf buds emerging behind. You can also trim back overgrown shoots to make the shrubs more compact, next year’s flower buds will form on the new growth of side shoots that this stimulates.
  • Divide bearded irises after flowering; plant with the rhizomes facing south.
  • Sow biennials like sweet William, viola and wallflowers
  • Divide spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Remove spent flower heads of Euphorbia by cutting flowered stems to ground level. Wear gloves for this, the sap causes skin irritation.


May gardening tips

A Late-May Border

27th April – 3rd  May is National Gardening Week

There is nothing more rewarding to most gardeners than to see healthy, vigorous plants in their garden. BUT there are some plants that thrive too well and start to ‘take over’.  In my garden, primroses have been a joy, but when they are seeding into the vegetable plot and into the lawn, they become weeds; similarly, Japanese anemones, the yellow flowered, variegated Lamium galeobdolon and even Camassia quamash can take over and squash less vigorous plants.  I even have Dutch irises and tulips which are proliferating to an embarrassing extent.  These all love a light, well-drained soil.

There is a perfect answer. Share and swap with other gardeners who may be populating a new garden or have less success.  Unfortunately, until the current pandemic has been resolved and social distancing relaxed, we cannot hold plant swaps at the trading shed on Saturdays.

Here are some jobs for you to consider in your splendid isolation!

Kitchen garden

  • Earth up potatoes when the foliage reaches 23cm/9in to prevent green tubers or, if frost is expected, cover smaller sprouts with soil for protection.
  • Sow carrots, radishes, beetroot, lettuce and spring onions for successional harvesting.
  • Harden off courgettes and squashes that were started under glass and protect with cloches or fleece if cold nights are forecast
  • Start to harvest asparagus spears
  • Direct sow French beans and sweet corn.


Gardening Tips for March

Items obtainable from our trading shed are highlighted.

We have reached March and spring flowers are at their stunning best to cheer us through, perhaps, the busiest part of the gardening year.

Jobs to do

  • All beds need a mulch both to retain moisture and to suppress those annoying annual weeds that need light to germinate.
  • Remove the top 1 to 2 inches of old compost from permanent pot plants and top-dress with fresh multi-purpose compost. The old compost could be used as mulch.

In the ornamental garden

  • Cut back Cornus, grown for their coloured stems, to 2-3 inches from the base because new growth has the best colour next winter. If that makes you nervous, cut a third of last year’s growth back and leave the rest until next year.
  • Cut down perennial grasses to make room for new growth.
  • Prune bush and standard roses and feed with proprietry rose food, fish, blood and bone or Growmore
  • Prune last season’s growth of Hydrangea panniculata to the lowest pair of strong buds – they flower on this year’s growth; but prune mop-head hydrangeas by removing dead heads back to the next pair of strong buds – they flower on last year’s growth; cut out a third of old growth at the base to encourage more stems to grow for next year’s flowers.
  • Prune Buddleia to a low framework; this will encourage the new growth that bears the flowers

    Euphorbias give texture and colour but the sap can irritate skin.

  • Divide Hemerocallis, Astrantia, Hosta, Heuchera and Bergenia as new growth begins.
  • Start mowing lawns, but keep the blades high to start with.


Gardening Hints and Tips February 2020

by Liz Kirton.

Welcome to the start of the growing year, when seeds can be sown, potatoes prepared by chitting and the first
flowers: daffodils, snowdrops, primroses, winter aconites and pulmonarias show some colour.
February involves pruning many late flowering shrubs to encourage new flowering shoots, for example:
A useful tip for Wisteria – 7 & 2. In the 7th month prune back new growth to 7 buds and in the 2nd month (now) prune these shoots back to 2 buds; you can also cut out some tangled old wood.
Winter jasmine can be cut back after flowers have fade to 5cm/2” from a main stem.
Late-flowering clematis can be cut down to a strong pair of buds about 30cm/12” from the ground. This will
stimulate the new growth that bears the flowers.
Hydrangeas: leave mophead hydrangeas until March before dead-heading, they flower on last year’s growth, but
prune Hydrangea paniculata to an open framework now because they flower on current season’s growth.
Bush roses can be encouraged by pruning back to outward facing buds late in the month
Fuchsias should be cut hard back to 15cm/6” and Santolina and Lavatera to low, well-placed branches
After pruning, a top-dressing of compost or general fertiliser should be applied.
Sowing seeds
Under cover, sow tomatoes, lettuce, sweet-peas, chillies and peppers.
Under cloches, broad beans, cabbages, parsnips, beetroot.
Plant shallot sets and garlic cloves, if you did not do so in the Autumn.
Tidy up
Cut down the top growth of herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses to make room for new shoots.
Feed your fruit bushes and trees with a high potash or general fertiliser.
Autumn-fruiting raspberry canes can be cut to the ground and summer-fruiting canes thinned out.
Places to see snowdrops
Open for charity through the national gardens scheme (www.ngs.org.uk)
23rd February Chawton House near Alton GU34 1SJ
9th February, Bramdean House, Alresford SO24 0JU
16th February, 22nd March Manor of Dean, Petworth GU28 9AP
15th February Church Crookham Garden Society trading shed opens for gardening supplies and plant sales. Car park at the Crookham Memorial Hall.
28th February Church Crookham Garden Society AGM, social evening and quiz. Everybody welcome: members free, guests £3 entry. Willis Hall, Sandy Lane.

December and January Gardening


“In the bleak midwinter….ground as hard as iron, water like a stone”.

This is a difficult time for plants:  when water freezes in the ground they cannot replace water lost from the leaves.  They have adapted by losing their leaves and becoming dormant, or by having waxy, waterproof leaves.

In December

  • Prune birches, Japanese maples now they are dormant, removing crossing branches and reducing overall size.
  • Prune grapevines, apples, pears, currants and gooseberries. The aim is to achieve an open-centred tree or bush. Renovation pruning of neglected trees is a three-year job (search apples and pears: renovating old trees at rhs.org.uk)
  • Erect a rain shelter over wall-trained peaches and nectarines to protect against leaf curl until May.
  • Take hard wood cuttings from trees like mulberry, tamarix or euonymus: take the current season’s growth, cut into 10-20cm sections with about 4 buds. Cut below a node at the base and make a slanting cut away from a bud at the top. Insert into gritty compost and leave in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.
  • ‘Force’ rhubarb by covering with straw and a dark bucket or special forcer pot.
  • Forget the tinsel! Coloured stems from acers, cornus, willows and bamboos go well with holly, ivy and fir for your seasonal decorations.
  • Have a very happy Christmas.



Hellebores {Christmas roses)


Hints and Tips for October 2019

Potential bird food?

October will probably bring the first frosts and they will precipitate colour change, leaf fall and the sound of blowers that will reverberate in the neighbourhood!  So long as the leaves are disease-free, they can be collected, and will decay to form leaf mould.  Your heap of dead leaves may make a home for hedgehogs, slow-worms and many invertebrates over winter.

Tender plants like Fuchsia, citrus and Brugmansia should be moved indoors or under glass.  Cannas, gladioli, tuberous begonias and dahlias need to be lifted and their tubers/bulbs stored somewhere dry and frost-free.  Salvias can be protected outside with a thick layer of mulch; Penstemmons and Gaura survive better if you leave their stems in place to protect new growth until late spring.

Potatoes, beetroots and turnips can be damaged by frost, but can be harvested and stored indoors (dark and dry).  Pumpkins and squashes need a few days in a warm room to ‘cure’ before storage.

Herbaceous borders need to be reviewed… Cut down old foliage, unless it provides useful seeds or protection for wildlife; divide overcrowded plants, retaining the outside vigorous parts and replant in enriched soil.  Crocosmias, particularly need to be divided every 3 years because, as I have found, their flowering is much diminished if you don’t!  (Cut down the leaves, dig up the whole clump, and replace the fattest corms in improved soil).

By the way, rhubarb that has been in place for five years, needs to be treated in much the same way, retaining the outermost parts to grow on.

Spare plants could contribute to the plant sale during Crondall Open Gardens 2020.


February Hints and Tips 2019

In January, my garden is in a muddle.  At least 17 different plant types are flowering: leftovers from last year, like Fuchsia, Abutilon and Hederantha, genuine winter flowerers like Helleborus, Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’, Iris unguiculata, winter jasmine and witchhazel, and Pulmonaria and primroses that think it is spring!

It is difficult to predict how things will develop from now.  It may depend on whether we get another ‘Beast from the East’.  With any luck, we should be enjoying daffodils and crocuses and noticeably longer days.

Some plants that flower on new season’s growth, like late-flowering clematis and Buddleja, need to be stimulated by pruning back to a framework now.

Buddleja before pruning

Buddleja after pruning










So… Jobs you could do in February

Ornamental garden

Prune late-flowering clematis to just above a low pair of healthy buds 6-12” (15- 30cm) above soil level.

Prune winter jasmine after flowering has finished; cut back vigorous stems and old and crossing stems

Finish pruning rambling and climbing roses and start pruning bush roses at the end of the month.


December Gardening

December Gardening 2018 by Ewshot Gardener

Most leaves of deciduous trees have fallen by now and you tidy gardeners will have swept
them up and started the leaf mould process – you cannot buy leaf mould. Beech hedges will
retain their dead leaves until Spring. Oak trees will continue to lose leaves and you can
watch as ‘herds’ of leaves skitter like mice along paths to hide in corners throughout the
This is the time of year when structure in the garden is important. Deciduous tree and
shrubs present skeletons of branches; you can improve their appearance by pruning out
crossing or crowded branches. If they are providing too much shade, then perhaps you
could lift the canopy.
All that hard work in the summer clipping evergreen shrubs and hedges into shape can be
appreciated now; the crisp green outlines you created look wonderful all the way to Spring
Not all colour has gone: stems of dogwoods, willows and some maples are colourful both
outside, and as part of your Christmas decorations indoors. (Something I found worked well,
in Spring, when you have to cut back dogwoods to get new colourful shoots, use the old
shoots as decorative plant supports.)
Birch bark can light up the winter garden on dark days. Some varieties are better than
others. Betula albo-sinensis has orange bark, B.papyrifera has white bark that peels off in
Mahonia, Hellebores, Daphne and Viburnum are good shrubs for winter colour and often
scent. The very early Iris unguicularis (stilosa) flowers in the dead of winter, clear blue
flowers that you can cut and admire in a vase.

This is Clematis tangutica. Seed heads can be decorative at this time of year

Jobs to do
Kitchen garden
For fresh mint and chives, pot up some roots for the kitchen windowsill.
Cover rhubarb crowns with straw and cover with a bucket or clay rhubarb pot.
Prune grape vines and continue to prune apples, pears, currants and gooseberries. If you
have a neglected fruit tree, now is the time to renovate by removing some larger branches.
Be warned, though, that if you cut off more than a third, the roots and top will be unbalanced
and you will get vigorous ‘water shoots’ that look like witches’ broomsticks. Smaller fruit
trees can be sprayed with winter tree wash to reduce early aphid damage.
Ornamental garden
Dry mulch tender perennials such as agapanthus and phygelius to protect their crowns.
Prune Acer and Betula before mid-December to avoid sap bleeding.
Enjoy the patterned leaves of cyclamens; these will remain until Spring. I forgot to mention
holly, ivy and mistletoe!
Where there is heavy soil, avoid walking on your lawn when it is wet or frosty. This prevents
slipperiness and soil compaction.
Unless you have a cat, keep feeding the birds … except feeding pigeons or rabbits with your
winter greens (net them).
Last year, snow collected on my netting and crushed the broccoli, so a redesign is needed
using more rigid net and sturdier posts – you learn more through mistakes, I suppose. (more…)

November Gardening Tips

The colour of trees in the garden and wider countryside turns to gold, red and bronze, quite lovely on a sunny day. The ground beneath looks gold plated.

I am not fastidious about raking leaves up immediately – they will do no harm for several weeks and will provide food for worms.  Left too long, they will start to damage grass and provide slug heaven, so I will have to pick them up and make leaf mould!

Dead leaves in the pond should be removed with a rake or net, but leave some as a habitat for invertebrates.  Put the extracted leaves near the pond for a day so that any creepy-crawlies can get back into the water.

At this time of year, the fruiting bodies of fungi (toadstools) are visible.  It is worth remembering that leaves are broken down mainly by fungi, liberating nutrients.  The vast network of tiny tubes (mycelium) from which the toadstools arise is of great importance to the health of trees and shrubs.  They live in a mutually beneficial relationship with the roots, increasing surface area for the uptake of water and nutrients.  More is being discovered all the time.  Fungi mostly only colonise a plant that is already damaged or stressed.

Jobs to do

Regularly check stored apples for rot







October Hints and Tips


This rose won 1st prize at the Summer Show

2018 has produced an extraordinary crop of top fruits and they have been ready to harvest from late August. o you have probably already stored the sound fruit in newspaper in a cool shed or garage. However, it has been too dry for autumn raspberries to thrive. I am so disappointed.

Other jobs you could do 

Remaining tender fruits like squashes, pumpkins and turnips need to be brought indoors to protect them from frosty nights.  You can plant autumn onions, garlic and overwintering broad beans.

Rake up and dispose of rotting fallen fruits and leaves from apples and pears – it is best to burn or green bin them to reduce fungal infection next year.  Grease bands will prevent female winter moths climbing up the trunks to lay their eggs. (Their larvae eating their way out of the fruit is one cause of rot.)

Rhubarb that has been in place for five years should be lifted and divided. Discard the centre and replant the outermost vigorous portions.

Pot up and bring under glass Fuchsia, citrus and Brugmansia; dig up tubers of tender plants like Dahlia and Canna once the foliage has been slightly blackened by frost – place them in a frost free, dry place over winter.

Lift and divide herbaceous perennials and cut back top growth UNLESS they are very tender like Penstemon, Gaura or hardy Fuchsia, where the top will protect the new growth from frost.  Unless you are obsessively tidy-minded, it is kind to leave some seed heads for the wildlife.

Take hard wood cuttings of roses and other deciduous shrubs like Cornus, Forsythia and Philadelphus.  It is a good idea to reduce hybrid tea roses and Buddleia by a third to prevent wind rock; for the same reason prune old growth of climbing roses and tie in new shoots of ramblers.