Greenfingers - June 2016

In the Autumn, the local squirrel digs a neat hole in the lawn to bury each hazel nut, carefully covers it and pats down the grass. But digging them up in the Spring-time is a different matter, leaving a hole, loose grass clumps and the tell-tale shell halves. I suppose it’s quite impressive that he relocates them again after several months (except those that sprout into trees), which seems to be a combination of spatial awareness and memory plus good scent detection.

I find that there are specific places in the garden to which I tend to gravitate when planting new purchases. As a result these key locations tend to become something of a crowd scene, with bulb shoots spearing through clumps of perennials, as well as odd colour combinations.

I’ve heard reports of mice being a problem in some places, particularly in newly planted rows of beans and peas. To avoid this, it may be worth starting the seedlings off in the greenhouse and planting them out once they’re established, though this does mean more work in handling theseedlings plants and occupies valuable space.

The idea of a small hedge around the flower bed is something I am interested to try, so I’ve taken about 30 yew cuttings and planted them in pots in the greenhouse. I used a fairly open mixture of sand and compost, and applied some rooting compound to the cut end of each stem. This was at the end of April, so we’ll see how they progress.

There are many tasks to be getting on with as the weather improves and the garden responds. Salads and early potatoes can be harvested, pinch out the sideshoots on tomatoes, plant out summer bedding and position hanging baskets and containers, and keep them watered and fed. Keep on top of the weeds, and provide supports for tall perennials if not already in place. There are probably many spring-flowering shrubs which could be pruned.

I was pleased to see that the fig tree is sprouting leaves. I cut this back and moved it from growing in the ground at the back of the house into a large pot last winter, and it has survived! It was getting too big for its location.

The citrus have been moved outside now that the days are warmer, but they will be moved back under protection if a cold night is forecast.

Pete Smith