In October, David Coton is getting the garden prepared for the onset of colder weather but, at the same time, the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centre is a reminder that you should also now be planning ahead for next year.
The beauty of one particular Clematis has enchanted David Hall for many years, Clematis sieboldii or “Florida Bi-Colour” is his queen of the climbers and here he explains why it captivated him.
There are keen gardeners who like to cultivate many different variants of the same species, rose growers are an obvious example, but much as I love all clematis, there's only one that captured my imagination long ago and it is still the only one for me even now.
The much sought after Clematis sieboldii was introduced into Britain from Japan during the nineteenth century. It flowers continuously from late June right through to September with flowers which are up to 4in (10cm) across.
Beautiful white saucer-shaped sepals embrace double flowers which form a domed central boss. Magnificent violet-purple petal-like stamens marry the sepals and flowers together. Each petal also carries a contrasting central green stripe.
The flowers are borne singly in great clusters, bees love them and their star-like shape and striking colours make these unusual blossoms look like those of the more tender Passion Flower.
The dark green biternate leaves of Florida Bi-Colour are composed of nine leaflets and form the perfect sombre backdrop for such a bright and vivid bloom. The growth is slender, reaching up to 7-9 feet (2-3 metres), and generally considered deciduous, though it could be classified as semi-evergreen during a mild winter.
Growing well in a container, its best location is on a south or south-west facing wall with a trellis to give it support. When planting use loam, peat, and a little bone meal and plant at least 2in (5cm) above the top of the rootball at below soil level.
Clematis Florida Bi-Colour produces all its flowers on the current season's growth, so should be pruned hard every March.
In order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our wildlife, there's a selection of habitats and boxes you can purchase that are specifically designed to attract various small animals and insects to your garden. Here we look at some of the products available which also make unusual and very engaging gifts.
With warmer weather and an early Easter, the garden centre is busy at the moment with customers stocking up on summer bedding plants - snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, verbena, phlox, petunia, As well as filling planters, hanging baskets and borders with colour that will last all summer, there are always plenty of jobs to do in the garden during April and David Coton has these suggestions.
Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the bee population over recent years. Intensive farming that demands the use of toxic chemicals, climate change and parasite infestation have all been put forward as potential causes, it's a worrying trend but one that we can all help to reverse.
As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.