August 10, 2007 Weekly Garden Guide

  • The campbellii magnolias on Powderham Street beside the radio station are in full flower at the moment and worth looking at. They are the big pink and white flowers. The red magnolia just opening its flowers around town at the moment is Vulcan.
  • An esteemed colleague in a national publication tells us that there are a number of bulbs which can be lifted when in full growth (but probably better done just after flowering) but he only cites snowdrops and bluebells by name. Normal practice is to dig and replant when the bulbs are dormant in their off season but most of us forget where they are at that time. We knew that the English advocate moving snowdrops (galanthus) when in full growth but it appears that it can be done with other types of bulbs. However, if you are going to do this, we would recommend only transplanting to well cultivated garden beds or pots as opposed to field or woodland drifts in harder conditions. It is a big ask for bulbs in full growth to go into compacted, heavy conditions and to settle in well.
  • Pleione orchids can be divided now. Discard the soft black bulb in the centre and replant the smaller green bulbs which have formed around its outside. Pleiones sit on the surface or just below with their bases nestled in, but do not press down hard. If they have started to shoot from the base and you break the shoots off, they do not put out more. Pleiones are easy to grow in well drained conditions or in pots and multiply up satisfyingly except for the choice yellow ones which prefer a colder climate to here.
  • In all but the coldest areas, early potatoes can be planted now.
  • Peas can be sown. This is a crop where making a sowing every few weeks from here on will ensure continued harvest. Parsnips, carrots, beetroot and radish can also be sown but will need protection from the rain. A coating of compost will help to avoid seeds being washed out. Sheets of glass were the traditional way to cover seeds but narrow strips of clear roofing plastic are easier to handle.
  • Start topdressing your lawn. There are any number of proprietary lawn fertilisers. Bioboost is a cheap and cheerful option. Lawns do not need the Rolls Royce expensive fertiliser options. If you feel you must use hormone sprays on your lawn to take out broadleafed weeds, get onto it as soon as the weather allows. Some deciduous plants, particularly magnolias, are very susceptible to these hormone sprays at the time when they are going into growth. The result can be badly distorted and unsightly foliage all spring and summer. So it is best to use the hormone sprays such as Tordon Gold either very soon or to delay until mid October onwards.