Have some fun in the sun PROJECT 1: LAY­ER­ING

Here are a few jobs you could turn your hand to while the weather is good

The Galloway News - - Your Garden -

THE weather has been a bit mixed re­cently but a hot spell will en­sure gar­den growth is at a max­i­mum. So here are a few meaty projects you should be get­ting your teeth into...

FIRSTLY some prop­a­ga­tion. Hy­drangeas are a well-loved shrub, adored for their beau­ti­ful sum­mer blos­soms. They’re a great choice for coastal gar­dens, seem­ing to weather salty winds very ro­bustly.

You can prop­a­gate hy­drangeas from cut­tings but th­ese can be tricky or very slow to root. An eas­ier way is us­ing a tech­nique called lay­er­ing. Pick a pli­able stem which will eas­ily reach the ground – nick it around a leaf bud as this is where growth hor­mones are con­cen­trated, bury it in the soil hold­ing it in place with a lit­tle metal hoop and give it some wa­ter. As it is still con­nected to the mother plant, the stem will still be sup­plied with food and wa­ter, much like an um­bil­i­cal cord.

Lay­er­ing is suit­able for many other ev­er­greens such as daphne, mag­no­lia, camel­lia, rhodo­den­dron, vibur­num, as well as climbers such as clema­tis, hon­ey­suckle and vir­ginia creeper.

PROJECT 2: TOP­I­ARY

HOW about an at­tempt at the dark art of top­i­ary? This is a method of shap­ing and ma­nip­u­lat­ing plants by reg­u­larly cut­ting them. Not all plants are suit­able for this treat­ment but the likes of buxus and yew re­spond mag­i­cally.

Yew will need an­nual trim­ming, box bi-an­nual.

Buxus has been the king of top­i­ary but has had prob­lems in re­cent years be­cause of box cater­pil­lar, a pest, and box blight, which is a fun­gus, both of which de­stroy of the shrub’s ap­pear­ance. Both prob­lems need dif­fer­ent treat­ments but feed­ing and keep­ing your plant healthy is the best way to pre­vent them in the first place.

What shape to go for is up to you but I’d keep it sim­ple on your first at­tempt. Chicken wire or taut strings can help as a guide for shap­ing.

It’s best to start with small plants and grow them to your own de­sired shape – and use a sharp pair of shears as badly cut or dam­aged leaves don’t look good.

Choose a dry, over­cast day for this project – if it’s too sunny, the leaves can scorch.

Reg­u­lar feed­ing will help them to re­main plump and shapely – you won’t go wrong with a sea­weed liq­uid feed. Have a go and have fun Happy gar­den­ing!

PROJECT 3: PRUN­ING

CHERRY trees are very pop­u­lar in gar­dens, putting on an up­lift­ing an­nual dis­play of flo­ral clouds.

Un­like most fruit trees, they should not be pruned in win­ter due to the risk of bac­te­rial canker and sil­ver leaf dis­ease en­ter­ing open wounds, so this is a job for sum­mer.

Only prune if nec­es­sary – your goal is to re­move any branches that are dead, dis­eased or dam­aged. You can also re­move branches that are cross­ing over each other but in gen­eral be cau­tious.

The more you re­move, the longer the tree will take to re­cover and will pro­duce fewer flow­ers and fruit the fol­low­ing year.

Turn­ing a hedge into a fam­ily of march­ing ele­phants might be a lit­tle am­bi­tious, but there are lots of small top­i­ary ideas you could try Hy­drangeas are adored for their sum­mer blos­soms

Hy­drangeas are tricky to prop­a­gate from cut­tings, in­stead you should layer from near a leaf bud

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