With spring well under way, you may be considering buying a greenhouse, Andy Taylor tells you how this will increase your chances of successfully growing a wider variety of plants over a longer period of time.
David Hall thinks that Camellias are without doubt among the prettiest flowering shrubs and, although not native to this country, they are perfectly at home in a cool climate, enjoying dry winters and warm, wet summers.
Ideally Camellias should be planted in semi-shade, preferably on a sheltered site. Avoid a position that catches the early morning sun i.e. facing east as a quick early thaw is liable to damage flowers and buds.
Prepare the soil with plenty of organic matter such as leaf mould plus some grit. This is a plant that loves acidic soil, between 5.5 and 6.5pH, if your soil is any more alkaline consider growing your camellia in a container with ericaceous compost.
To ensure a fine display the following spring, Camellias need plenty of water right up until October, especially when their buds are forming in late summer.
Retain the soil's acidity by using rain rather than tap water. A water butt connected to your guttering will come in very handy if there is a drought.
Although Camellias can survive cool temperatures, if we have a spell of particularly cold weather, protect the plant with fleece or bubble wrap.
A thick mulch of chipped bark or pine needles in the spring will conserve water and add acidity.
Feed container plants with an appropriate ericaceous product early in the season such as a Miracle Gro soluable feed.
Any pruning should be done after flowering in the spring.
Choose plants at least 12-15ins tall that are well shaped, disease free, and in bud. Many different forms of camellia are available in garden centres from the single form through to the formal double form, embracing paeony, anemone and semi-double forms.
Nobillissima is a superb double white with a hint of yellow, very effective against its dark green foliage. It is also one of the earliest camellias to flower making it stand out like a beacon against the grey late winter skies.
Of the more recent hybrids I would have to recommend is 'Debbie', as well as being vigorous and upright in growth, the paeony form flowers are 4ins wide, freely produced and a glowing rose pink. It will flower every year from early March and continue through April.
Here in Birmingham, the weather has been as changeable as ever, very warm just before Easter followed by a cold spell only last week. During May the threat of further frost will largely pass and, with spring well under way, Robert Hall is in no doubt that this is going to be a busy month in the garden.
The weather forecast is for a sizzling summer and David Coton is already looking forward to preparing delicious barbecued food for his family and friends. Barbecues have become incredibly popular over recent years and here is David's guide on what to look out for when choosing one of these summer essentials.
Sheds of any kind are ubiquitous in the British garden and, due to their popularity, there are plenty to choose from. David Coton explores the basic considerations that need to be taken into account before purchasing one.
Robert Hall, senior partner at GardenSite.co.uk has been elected to sit on the Garden Industry Manufacturers Association (GIMA) Judging Panel for 2017. The news was announced on 31st March 2017 on the GIMA website.