This week 25 Aug 2006

  • Last chance to prune and shape maples before they come into growth and while you can see what you are doing. It is always best to prune before the sap starts rising. This advice applies to pretty well all deciduous plants except flowering cherries.
  • If you can be bothered, it does pay to deadhead hellebores (winter roses). They set seed freely and over time the seedlings start to compete and hellebore beds get very congested. These are promiscuous flowers so the potential colour and form of seedlings is unpredictable unless you hand pollinate or isolate the different colours. If you have prized double forms planted near singles, the vast majority of seedlings will be single, alas.
  • Pleione orchids (teacup orchids) are starting to put up their flower spikes. As they do this before they put out their roots, you can move them around and divide them at this time if you handle them carefully. But be very cautious not to break any shoots you can see at the base of the bulb. Pleiones like to sit just on top of the soil so may need some protection from birds scratching around them if you are using them as garden plants.
  • Tuesday night’s frost was a bit of a wake up call for those of us getting lulled into some degree of complacency. It hit many plants here which we have never seen touched before and turned the first display of magnolias brown. Don’t relax yet on cold, calm, clear nights when the weather is coming from the south.
  • If you have a patch of daffodils which are in full leaf but with hardly any flowers, it is an indication that they need lifting and dividing or that you are growing them in conditions that are too fertile and hospitable or too shaded. Daffodils flower best when they are grown somewhat hard. But don’t try lifting and dividing them until the foliage has died down in late spring.
  • Now is a good time to do a winter oil spray on dormant fruit trees. This spray will help control red spider, scale and woolly aphis which can be problems later in the season.
  • In the vegetable garden, you can keep planting practically anything as the soils will be starting to warm up soon. If you have a glasshouse, you can get an early jump on the season with tomatoes.