Gardening and Horticulture 04-2015

The clocks spring forward this weekend, so it's time to get down to business in the garden. Monty Don plants up a new bed of asparagus and shows us how to lift and divide hostas. And on our second visit to South Africa, we explore the conditions that allow agapanthus to thrive in the wild.



 Gardening how to's :

1. Agapanthus tips

Steve and Elaine Hickman, holders of a National Collection of Agapanthus, have given us their top tips for keeping agapanthus happy in pots.
If you’re buying smaller plants, place several together in a pot as this restriction of the roots initiates flower buds. Put two or three 9cm plants in a 30cm/10 litre pot. They should be happy for two years. Then repot into a container just 5-7cm bigger than the previous pot.
Ensure there is good drainage, with a mix of 2 parts compost to 1 part sand, gravel or grit.
From mid-March to mid-September, give the plants a high-potash feed every 2 to 3 weeks. This will enhance flower colour and improve vigour with more flowers.
In early November, give your plants in pots one last water and then keep dry over the winter. Start watering again in March when you bring them outside.
During the winter, keep evergreen varieties indoors in a cold greenhouse, shed or garage near a window. Deciduous varieties don’t need light so can even be placed in a cellar.
If pots are too big to bring inside, ensure you mulch the surface of the soil. This will protect the plants from frost which can kill flower buds that have formed just below the surface and which will give you blooms the following summer. For this, leave a 5cm gap below the lip of the pot which you can then fill with bark chippings. Mound up chippings towards the centre of the plant to a depth of15-20cm. Wrap containers to prevent the pots getting too cold.

2. Prune buddleja

Now is the time to prune buddleja. It’s important to cut back hard as this will stimulate vigorous new growth that will carry this year’s flowers. Prune to within one or two buds of the older woody framework. It’s good to remove any thin, weak or dead growth too.

3. Plant out early salad crops

If you’re eager to get started on the veg plot, you can start transplanting salad crops, such as rocket or lettuce, that you’ve perhaps been growing in the greenhouse or bought in as plug plants. Plant them about 15cm (6in) apart and in rows if you want to make hoeing easier. It’s still a little cold so ensure you give them some protection, either with a layer of fleece or a cloche.

4. Put up bean supports

It won’t be long before it’s time to plant runner beans. Be prepared by making a support system that is strong enough to take the weight of the crop. Here are three possible methods:
Use a double row of inwardly sloping 2.4m (8ft) tall bamboo canes or hazel poles tied near their top to form a long A-frame. Secure to a horizontal cane across the top.
Make wigwams using three or more bamboo canes. These make good use of space in small gardens and can add interest to mixed borders.
Use 10cm (4in) polyethylene pea/bean netting supported by tall posts or placed over a frame.But don’t forget to prepare the ground well before starting the process.

Gardening and Horticulture 04-2015
Gardening and Horticulture 04-2015