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  • Writer's pictureDebi Holland

Garden News 24 May 2022

Garden News 24 May 2022

What to do in the garden this week?

This week I share six top tips of timely jobs to do in the garden to keep on top of growth spurts and deal with a few gardening problems.

Shape topiary

Topiary is the art of clipping shrubs into sculptural shapes. Traditionally Buxus sempervirens, box, is the familiar native hedging of choice; its slow growing nature makes it relatively easy to maintain and its dense, robust foliage responds well to shaping but nationally box has been hit with both box blight and box caterpillar and so evergreen alternatives have been sought. Yew, privet, holly, bay laurel and thuja all offer excellent options for knot gardens, parterre, balls, wire framed sculpted shapes or even mazes! Foliage can be clipped free-hand with shears or for larger specimens use a hedge trimmer.

Propagate succulents 

Succulents are easy plants to propagate! Increase your collection by division, leaf cuttings and water.

Succulents like echeveria and sempervivum naturally produce offsets from the mother plant which can be gently pulled off and potted on in gritty compost. They quickly root.

Try leaf propagation. Slice a leaf from sedum or echeveria and leave to dry and callous over for about four days to prevent rotting and water loss, then pop the leaf on soil to root in indirect sunlight, mist regularly or place a calloused cutting of Crassula ovata, Jade plant in rainwater and about month later roots should form.

Trim aubrieta / alyssum 

Aubrieta are low-growing colourful evergreen perennials ideal for cascading down garden walls, rockeries or filling front of borders with beautiful bee-friendly blooms and annual Lobularia maritima, sweet alyssum display masses of fragrant white flowers which sprawl or form mounds.

Both require little attention but once flowering has finished keep plants in shape with a trim; they have a tendency to get leggy and develop bald patches. Cutting back these straggly dead areas will encourage a second flush of new growth. Depending on the amount of dead material, lightly trim or hard prune and plants will bounce back in no time.

Dig out invasive forget-me-nots

Drifts of vibrant Myosotis sylvatica, forget-me-nots waft beautifully through borders in a sea of blue, pink or white, meandering between herbaceous perennials, tulips and ferns but they easily self-seed and over time can completely swamp a border. This is easily remedied. Once these shallow rooted plants have finished flowering, hand pull clumps to thin before forget-me-nots go to seed. Why not dig up a clump and share with friends or a gardening club? Gardener’s always covet plants they haven’t got and curse too much of a good thing. Thin out overzealous invasive self-seeders to free up space.

Look for box blight 

Box blight, Cylindrocladium buxicola, is a fungal disease which affects Buxus, box. Blight turns leaves brown and they eventually drop to the floor if touched leaving stems bare. It is possible to rescue box with swift action as blight does not attack the roots. Cut out all infected material and pick up leaves from soil. Do not compost waste. Ensure tools are clean; disinfect after using and apply an organic feed to give box a boost. Blight is often confused with box caterpillar but the main difference is the caterpillars quickly defoliate foliage leaving cobweb-like webbing on the remaining skeletal leaves.

Pinch out tomato side shoots 

Bowls of homegrown tomatoes are a delicious summer salad staple but how do we get our plants to set trusses and produce fruit rather than lots of foliage? One important step towards luscious juicy fruit is pinching out cordon (indeterminate) tomato side shoots. These are the small stems that start growing in between the main stem and leaf stem.

Simply take the side shoot between your finger and thumb and pinch, the shoot should be easily removed. By removing side shoots energy is concentrated to the main job in hand - making tomatoes! Bush (determinate) varieties do not need pinching out.

I even pop up on the this week's front cover along with my succulent photo.

Have a great week in the garden.

All photos © Debi Holland 2022


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