Although the weather is feeling decidedly chilly for the time of the year, during May the threat of frost will pass and, with spring well under way, David Coton is in no doubt that this is going to be a busy month in the garden.
A short guide to planting a hedge in your garden. We discuss the different types of hedges you can have and some of the types of plants you can use to create your boundary hedge.
With hedges you need to plan carefully and choose wisely. What is the purpose of the hedge (privacy, security etc), will it serve this purpose (evergreen or deciduous, thorns or flowers) then consider the soil and situation and whether it can it be maintained easily. Good subsequent management will then ensure a garden feature that is both useful and attractive.
The advantages of planting a hedge over putting up a fence are many. For a start they look better, more natural, a living boundary that will change over the seasons and years. Particularly native hedges can be a haven for birds, welcome visitors who eat all those garden pests. Both fences and hedges provide a wind break but a hedge lets the air circulate, avoiding the chance of frost pockets in winter.
A formal hedge that is clipped and shaped provides a strong backdrop to a garden, choose evergreens such as yew or laurel to give the greatest privacy or thorny hawthorn and spikey holly for security. Beech has attractive golden foliage in the autumn but is deciduous and will grow very high (approx. 40ft), while privet is semi-evergreen and reaches only 15ft.
Informal hedging takes up more room and won't be suitable for small garden. Any tallish shrub, flowering or with attractive foliage, can be used such as a butterfly friendly viburnum or escallonia which both reach about 10ft in height, the latter has a mass of fragrant pink or crimson flowers from June to October.
Mixing species in both formal and informal hedges can be particularly striking. Think about hedges formed from native species such as hawthorn, blackthorn, privet or holly and look around where you live to get an indication of what grows best in the prevailing soil conditions – laurel for instance is good in heavy clay while honeysuckle likes a chalky soil.
Plants can be bought as 'whips' that establish rapidly, bare rooted plants (only suitable for planting in the winter months) or container grown (the more expensive option). Evergreens and conifers are often sold with their roots in sacking and should be planted in the spring or autumn.
The best way to plant a hedge is to dig a trench about 2ft deep by 3ft and break up the sub soil. Add manure, compost and other organic matter together with blood, fish and bone. It's now advisable to let the soil settle for about a fortnight before planting at the recommended distances. Some such as privet should be cut back as soon as they are planted to encourage bushy growth. Water well and mulch.
Hedges will need a spring feed like any other shrub and then mulched with organic matter. Clear out the bottom of the hedge in the autumn.
The amount of trimming can be an issue if you are not in the first flush of youth as it can be hard work. Give this due consideration when thinking about the type of hedge you want. Informal and slow growing hedging normally requires cutting only once a year to keep it in shape while formal hedges such as hawthorn need two, perhaps three trims but, like other deciduous hedges, should recover well if this isn't done. Conifers need regular pruning as they won't grow back.
Dazzling with colourful interest in the brilliant sunshine, this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will prove to be a tremendous attraction for everyone as it caters for both keen gardeners and families who just what a day out in magnificent surroundings.
After all the dry hot weather that much of the country has experienced over the last few weeks, the lavender in David Coton's garden is at its most colourful and scented, he's cutting the flowerheads to make lavender biscuits or drying them for pot pourri. Here are more jobs you can do in the garden during July.
At this time of the year you'll find a fabulous selection of summer bedding at our Garden Centre in Birmingham. David Coton will be planting the bedding in containers this month to achieve a wonderful display of colour and here are some other jobs to do in the garden in June.
As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.