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.
Roses are regularly voted the nation's favourite plant. With such a fantastic variety of colour, scent, size and habit, it's no wonder that there's a rose to suit every garden. Nathan James Dodd explains their enduring appeal and how to ensure a summer long display.
Cultivated for hundreds of years there is now a huge choice of over 4000 varieties, consisting of may types – old fashioned, Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, Shrub, Climber, Patio etc. Unless you are a total perfectionist, roses are no more difficult to grow than the average shrub.
It's true that many, especially older varieties of rose can suffer problems, mainly mildew, rust and black spot, others will only grow well in a perfect location, while some have weak stems that need support. However with disease resistant varieties and modern cultivation techniques, these problems can be minimised and avoided.
Roses need to be planted in an open, preferably sheltered position, away from trees and hedges. Although they will grow in different soil types, the most favourable would be a heavier type such as clay or loam.
Potted Roses should be planted in the spring or autumn and, if watered well, during the summer; bare rooted roses are bought and planted in the winter. Make sure you work in lots of organic matter, compost or manure to a good depth, and plant the rose so that the rootstock graft is about one inch below ground.
Feeding is essential, roses need the normal roster of nutrients gained from a general fertilizer plus extra potash and magnesium found in specialist rose feed. Mulching is also necessary, manure or compost, every spring to add trace elements, suppress weeds and encourage moisture retention.
Pruning is required each year and can be a mysterious art to many people. However, the fundamental principle is that you should cut out dead growth entirely and cut back weak shoots harder than stronger ones.
Timing and just how hard you prune depends on the type of rose. Hybrid teas and floribundas need to be pruned in late winter to early spring, always cutting to an outward facing bud. Both modern shrub roses and old fashioned roses require only light pruning after flowering to maintain their shape.
Deadheading back to a healthy leaf, removing weak stems altogether, is another essential summer task, as you want the rose to produce more flowers rather than set seed. Suckers, vigorous stems of no value, also need to be removed.
British Potted Roses offer excellent disease resistance, fragrance and colour. A variety such as 'Happy Ruby Wedding' with masses of dark red flowers are excellent for special occasions, and for a specific location, a rose such as the 'Golden Wishes' patio rose would be ideal with trusses of abundant golden yellow blooms.
There are climbers such as 'New Dawn' and ramblers such as the strongly fragrant 'Alfresco', and who could forget the 'Remember Me ' Hybrid Tea that has fragrant orange and yellow flowers.
Whatever you decide, the rose will reward a little care and attention that will fill your garden or any outdoor space with a blooming good show.
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.