WORK FOR THE WEEK
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.