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  1. snowdrops naturalised in a  lawn

    Snowdrops look lovely naturalised in the lawn but there comes a point in spring when we are thinking of getting the lawn mower out. The snowdrops have faded and the lawn needs its first mow of the season. 

    Can you mow the lawn and Snowdrops? 

    No. Not unsurprisingly,  Snowdrop aftercare is similar to Daffodils and other spring bulbs, they need the leaves to remain in place for a number of weeks to feed to bulbs for next year.  Until later in the year, around  March it is necessary to mow around the fading leaves. Once the leaves are finished and yellow you can mow over them.

    Tips about how to grow snowdrops and planting snowdrops in the green.



  2. Clematis Armandii (2) 310

    John e mailed asking for information about planning and planting a clematis Garden, and what a great idea!

    Clematis are really popular climbing plants and feature a lot in gardening questions.

    It was hard to know where to start on such a big topic and so I advised as follows: 

    With regard to your Clematis project, this sounds very exciting.

    At this stage I can offer some general advice and please feel free to ask anything further as the project develops.

    Most important will be where to position the clematis garden within your garden. Clematis like fertile, rich soil which is on the moist side,  and it is important that neither the soil or plant dries out. Ideally Clematis like to have a cool moist root run, but still like sun on their flowers. These conditions also help to protect against Clematis wilt.

    It is also important how you plant Clematis; at least 5 cms below the soil level. There is information about planting and growing Clematis and also a video about planting Clematis.

    Once you have selected your spot in the garden for the clematis, you may want to enrich the soil given Clematis growing preferences and also be ready to protect the new shoots from slugs. Once established Clematis fare quite well against the slugs, but in the early stages you may need various forms of slug protection.

    Finally, and possibly the best bit, choosing which Clematis to plant. This will be driven by personal preferences, but you may want to think about the size and vigour of the different types of Clematis. An extreme example  would be say Clematis montana (illustrated on the Types of Clematis page,) which is very vigorous, with strong growth and in ideal  growing conditions can reach 12 metres, compared with say C. Crystal fountain, a compact variety growing to 1.8 metres. In addition to size, there is the flowering time and you can have a Clematis in flower during almost any month of the year. Again there is information on the Types of Clematis page.

    Most but not all Clematis are hardy apart from C. armandii, (illustrated above)  slightly tender and C.  napaulensis, which is tender.

    I don’t know the position of your garden and there maybe areas which are shady. If you check out the major on line Clematis retailers they allow you to search by growing conditions and you can select Clematis which are most suited to less sunny areas. However all Clematis like good soil which is moist and benefit from a mulch, feed and watering during dry spells.




  3. thalictrum-aquilegiifolium-with-delphiniums-310-x-240

    Sarah is new to gardening and E- mailed saying :

    I'm a rather new gardener. I moved into a new property with a south east facing garden and hoping to install a cottage garden theme boarder. Any advice would be much appreciated about possible design layout or even when to start the process as in what time of year best.

    Answer: My advice was to start with the basics and go from there. A garden facing South East will receive a fair amount of sun which is always a good starting point. This is especially so in relation to cottage garden plants such as Delphinium, Geranium, Foxgloves, Nepeta, Clematis and Wisteria, to name just a few. All are on the web-site with growing advice.

    If you have moved into a new garden my advice would be to wait, at least through the seasons to establish what is already in the garden. Take photographs of the borders so you can identify what is already there, what you like and don’t like. If you are not sure what a plant is feel free to send it in under the Sunday garden plant identification service.

    Many cottage garden plants are herbaceous, which means they come back each year but die back completely over winter, to bare earth, which is why you want to photograph them when they have leaves and/ or flowers. Next spring there maybe little evidence of the planting until it starts to shoot up with new growth. I have a mainly herbaceous border with many cottage style plants but it would not suit everyone, as there is little or no winter interest when the plants die back, which you may want to think about. It is also higher in maintenance and to reduce the maintenance you can mix cottage style plants with shrubs for all round interest.

    The one basic rule is "right place right plant". This means that plants have preferred growing conditions and these needs to be taken into account when planting up a garden.

    You need to map the sun in your garden so that plants which require full sun get it, those which like dappled shade or part sun are planted in a different part of the garden.

    You need to consider your soil, is it heavy, light, acid or alkaline? Plant labels will say the ideal growing conditions. Unless your garden is very sheltered you need to aim for “hardy plants” which means they are frost tolerant, there is more information about frost hardiness on the web-site.

    Also, it is worth taking a look around your neighbour's gardens nearby to see what they are growing. You could also check the NGS which opens up local gardens for charity and see if there are gardens open near you to look at their gardens, and have a chat, gardeners are always friendly and happy to share advice. This link to NGS lets you put in your post code and see what gardens are open near you.






  4. Hydrangea-paniculata-310x-240

    The drought of 2022 had quite an impact on our gardens. We may not have such severe drought in 2023, but we are dealing with climate change, and this often means warmer and drier summers. The RHS did a survey to find out which plants had suffered the most damage in the drought. Good to know what not to plant.

    We cannot afford to use precious resources watering thirsty plants. This makes drought-resistant plants invaluable. 

    Inevitably, some plants will have died during the drought and it's important to replace them with more resilient plants.




    Trying to drought proof the garden comes in two stages. 


    First, where plants have succumbed to the drought do not replace and avoid the following which were found by the RHS to have fared badly:- Hydrangea, Crocosmia, Acer, Fuchsia, Astilbe, Roses, Anemone, Ferns, Heuchera and Phlox 


     read more about this survey.

    Second check out Drought Resistant Plants for ideas on what to plant to survive future droughts.