Here are our most recent Lichfield Mercury columns.

We write these weekly to help guide and inspire our local customers!

If you are a member of a local garden society with events you’d like us to mention during 2017/18, please email info@theplantplot.com.

 

14th September 2017

Knowing where to put plants is a skill and we don’t all have the luxury of a garden designer to guide us. However, the team at The Plant Plot will be able to advise you, especially if you are planting a statement piece. One helpful thing to note is that evergreen shrubs that have grown bigger than you expected or are in the wrong place can be moved now. Prepare the new planting hole before you lift the plant making sure that the hole is bigger than the root ball. Remove the shrub carefully, ensuring that you don’t damage the roots, and transplant immediately. Keep watering it if the weather is dry.

ON THE PATIO

Don’t pack your barbecue away just yet. The nights might be drawing in and getting colder but with a chimenea or fire pit you can still enjoy an evening outside. As dusk falls, lighting adds a romantic look to your decking and patio. Pretty solar lighting is now available in many different forms. Grasses and bamboos look wonderful when uplighted. Hang a string of LED lights or lanterns in trees and use battery tealights and candles on tables for a range of effects.

VEGETABLE GARDEN

Your maincrop potatoes should be lifted by the end of this month. Whilst they may still be growing there is a greater risk of attack by slugs. Choose a dry day to lift them when they will be easier to handle and make sure to get every one out of the ground – even the tiny ones – otherwise you will have potatoes growing where you don’t want them next season. Dry the tubers out in the shed or garage before storing them in lightproof sacks. Cardboard boxes make a cheap alternative.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Screen Shot 2017 09 13 at 15.27.58It’s time to start or return to university so why not give the students in your life a cactus to take with them? Cactus represent endurance as it is a plant that can stand up to the most inhospitable of conditions. It is a great gift for a student who is bound to meet some difficulties along the way, demonstrating determination and resolution. There are so many different cacti available and they are so easy to look after. A collection of three different types will give friends something to talk about and also be a reminder of home.


7th September 2017

Hostas can be lifted and divided now before they die back for the winter. This gives you the chance to replant or move them to a new position and pot some up as spares to plant into gaps or use in containers. When replanting, discard the old woody root and use the fresh new shoots. Mix plenty of organic matter into the soil and, if your soil is heavy, add some grit.

Spring bulbs are available now and daffodils can be planted as soon as the ground is ready, but tulips are best planted in the late autumn. A very handy new idea is the use of bulb planting baskets which are ideal for borders. Fill them with compost and add your bulbs, then plant the whole basket into the ground - the bulbs will root through the gaps. When they have finished flowering the basket can be lifted out and your border will be ready to replant without having to wait for the bulbs to die back.

ON THE PATIO

Camellias are producing their flower buds at this time of the year and it’s really important that they’re not allowed to dry out if you want a good show of flowers next year. This applies to those planted in the border as well as those in containers. 

VEGETABLE GARDEN

  • The feathery foliage of asparagus should be cut right down to 1” above the ground now
  • If your Brussels sprouts are becoming top heavy, earth up the stems and tie them into stakes before they start to lean
  • Remove a few leaves from pumpkins and winter squash to enable the sun to ripen the fruit 

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Screen Shot 2017 09 13 at 15.32.51Our plant this week is the hydrangea paniculate. This variety has conical clusters of long lasting flowers held on woody stems that make them ideal in flower arrangements. The flowers appear in mid-summer, starting lime green and then fade to cream before acquiring a pink tinge in autumn. Left to their own devices, these hydrangeas can spread to 13ft across but if pruned hard in early spring, cutting back the previous season’s shoots to within a few buds of the woody framework of the shrub, they can be kept manageable for the smaller garden. They look really effective with green nicotianas and hostas. Pictured is ‘Limelight’.


31st August 2017

September heralds the beginning of autumn but the days can still be pleasantly warm and it’s a joy to be working in the garden. Continue dead-heading and cutting back summer perennials to keep the borders tidy. There are still lots of autumn flowering plants available that can be popped into gaps in the borders to keep your displays going. As they are mostly perennials, leave them in their pots and then you can move them easily to a more permanent position. If your summer bedding is starting to flag, give the plants a good feed and they’ll keep going until October when winter bedding becomes available

ON THE PATIO

As the days shorten you might need to move your containers to get the most of the sun. Just like your summer bedding, keep dead-heading and feeding annuals and they will go for a bit longer. Any that are really past their best should be consigned to the compost bin, the container emptied of compost and cleaned ready to be refilled for the winter or put away for next year.

VEGETABLE GARDEN

  • If you have grown spring cabbage in pots or a temporary seed bed, now is the time to move it to its final position. Firm the ground down well before transplanting.
  • Onion sets can be planted now. Work the soil down well and add a general propose fertiliser. Bury them 3-4” apart with just their tips showing. It’s a good idea to cover them with netting to stop the birds disturbing them before roots have formed.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

IMG 02691Some plants have so many different names it is sometimes difficult to recognise exactly what you are buying from the label. Leucanthemum x superbum, also known as Chrysanthemum maximum, is commonly known as the Shasta daisy. ‘Broadway Lights’ (pictured) is not the common white one but a compact form that emerges as bright yellow and then turns all shades from butter to cream and then pure white as it matures. It blooms from July right through to October given a sunny spot and regular dead-heading. Useful in a container or in the border, it is a hardy perennial that will clump up and after two years can be divided just before it starts into growth again in early spring.


7th September 2017

Hostas can be lifted and divided now before they die back for the winter. This gives you the chance to replant or move them to a new position and pot some up as spares to plant into gaps or use in containers. When replanting, discard the old woody root and use the fresh new shoots. Mix plenty of organic matter into the soil and, if your soil is heavy, add some grit.

Spring bulbs are available now and daffodils can be planted as soon as the ground is ready, but tulips are best planted in the late autumn. A very handy new idea is the use of bulb planting baskets which are ideal for borders. Fill them with compost and add your bulbs, then plant the whole basket into the ground - the bulbs will root through the gaps. When they have finished flowering the basket can be lifted out and your border will be ready to replant without having to wait for the bulbs to die back.

ON THE PATIO

Camellias are producing their flower buds at this time of the year and it’s really important that they’re not allowed to dry out if you want a good show of flowers next year. This applies to those planted in the border as well as those in containers. 

VEGETABLE GARDEN

  • The feathery foliage of asparagus should be cut right down to 1” above the ground now
  • If your Brussels sprouts are becoming top heavy, earth up the stems and tie them into stakes before they start to lean
  • Remove a few leaves from pumpkins and winter squash to enable the sun to ripen the fruit 

PLANT OF THE WEEK

IMG 0266Our plant this week is the hydrangea paniculate. This variety has conical clusters of long lasting flowers held on woody stems that make them ideal in flower arrangements. The flowers appear in mid-summer, starting lime green and then fade to cream before acquiring a pink tinge in autumn. Left to their own devices, these hydrangeas can spread to 13ft across but if pruned hard in early spring, cutting back the previous season’s shoots to within a few buds of the woody framework of the shrub, they can be kept manageable for the smaller garden. They look really effective with green nicotianas and hostas. Pictured is ‘Limelight’.