Plant of the Month: Gladioli
The easiest way to have a garden full of flowers with more for cutting right through summer is to plant gladioli. There’s a rainbow of colours to choose from and as they’re sold by the bag, the bulb-like corms are economical to buy. Plant a dozen or so every few weeks in rows, pots or randomly in borders and you’ll be rewarded with a succession of blooms right into early autumn. I bury under 10-15cm or soil – deeper than it says on the pack, but that way they don’t need staking. Some gardeners lift and store in autumn to protect the corms from frost, but I find that when buried deep they come through the winter. Keep well fed and if you leave them in divide every few years to freshen up the clumps. IF YOU DO JUST ONE THING… put stakes and hoop-supports over herbaceous plants like delphiniums that flop during summer – they’re soon hidden below the burgeoning growth. Start the ‘war on slugs’ by putting pellets beneath flat stones/slates strategically placed near vulnerable plants. The stones keep the pellets dry meaning that organic water-soluble ferrous sulphate types last longer, and because slugs hide under the stones during the day they don’t escape the pellets.
Move and divide herbaceous flowers and grasses using back-to-back forks to lever clumps apart. Evergreen shrubs move well too if plenty of soil is kept around their roots. Do this by slicing into the soil around the drip-line (the outer leaves), then dig down outside of this line finally angling the spade beneath the plant to chop through the roots below.
Prune early flowering wood plants like forsythia and camellias as soon as the blooms are over. This gives them time to recover and grow fresh flower buds for next year.
Now the cold of winter is behind us and new buds are breaking from the stems it’s safe to prune tender types like salvia, penstemon and gaura, and Mediterranean herbs like rosemary and sage. Deadhead daffs as they go over and look-out for aphids on tulip leaves.
Dig and plant ‘chitted’ potatoes out in rows earthing up soil around their stems as they grow.
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