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.
Hanging Baskets have just arrived in our garden centre, take them home and hang in a sunny position and they will make a wonderful display all summer. Nathan James Dodd thinks they're fabulous and explains why.
As popular as ever, and ubiquitous throughout the summer months, hanging baskets exuberantly decorate our houses and public places nationwide.
Blank walls and tired buildings are transformed by these splendid concoctions. A vibrant mass of plants bursting with colour, clamouring with each other to demand attention.
Buy ready made up hanging baskets from a garden centre, you can't go wrong. Already packed with flowers selected by nurseries with years of experience creating confections of vibrant flowers.
There are a myriad of choices, although traditionally a central plant probably a geranium or begonia, is normally present, surrounded by perhaps petunias, pansies and marigolds with busy lizzies. No subtlety is required, the more colours the merrier.
Trailing plants such as lobelia, fuchsia, verbena and nasturtiums are placed around the edge or through slits around the side of the basket, so when in full bloom, nothing will be seen of the frame under a riot of colour.
If you prefer planting a basket yourself, this means collecting together quite a few elements: the basket, soil based compost, fibre lining, moisture retaining granules, multi-purpose and slow release fertilizer and of course the plants.
When all the time and expense is taken into consideration, buying a professionally produced basket might be the best option.
Whatever you decide, the basket can go outside when the risk of frost is over. Never let it dry out, water daily in the morning or evening and feed regularly with a liquid fertiliser. And don't forget to deadhead so the plants can spend their energy producing flowers rather than seed.
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.