Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - IN THE GARDEN - by Char­lie Wilkins

TREE FERN fronds which have turned brown af­ter be­ing cooped up for months, should be cut at the base, un­less the spec­i­men is in a cold spot, in which case leave them in­tact to pro­vide shel­ter for the new crosiers. Ap­ply a liq­uid fer­tiliser to the trunk or lightly fork in a slow re­lease fer­tiliser around the base. AVOID BLEED­ING: When some trees are pruned or cut they bleed sap. This is a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem dur­ing spring when own­ers start to ‘shape’ plants for sum­mer. On maples and birch, sap can gush out alarm­ingly if cut or wounded. The sap con­tains sug­ars that have been stored in the roots over win­ter to fuel the spring flush of growth. A trick I have used on vines is to make up a stiff mud-pack us­ing heavy clay and to ap­ply this to the wounded area on a warm day when dry­ing is fast. It hard­ens over the wound and pre­vents the sap from flow­ing. BUT­TER­FLY num­bers are de­clin­ing due to many rea­sons. In or­der to en­cour­age greater num­bers, gar­den­ers should try to plant those flow­ers favoured by but­ter­flies. Th­ese in­clude as­tran­tia, cat­mint, cen­tau­rea, sea holly, ber­ge­nia, and red va­le­rian. For late sum­mer, plant se­dum spectabile and asters. How­ever, a but­ter­fly plant­ing in a sum­mer gar­den isn’t com­plete with­out a bud­dleia. Some but­ter­fly cater­pil­lars feed on grasses so try to leave un­mown ar­eas for their pe­rusal. Other lar­val food plants in­clude gar­lic mus­tard, lady’s smock and net­tles.

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