gardens

With the promise of warmer weather the sales of garden furniture and barbeques increase; but there is no point dreaming of a relaxing glass of chardonnay in the garden if your garden looks bedraggled and messy. An unkempt garden will hardly inspire rest and relaxation. So reach for those secateurs’ and get those gardening gloves on as we tackle green cleaning the garden.

gardens2Tidy up

The first task is to have a jolly good tidy up…

dry, grey stalks and stems of last year’s perennials like sedum, purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, and phlox probably look a little sad and well they are simply last years news. With a pair of clean, sharp garden secateurs, cut them to the ground to make way for the new growth appearing from the crown of the roots. This is an excellent time to tidy up shrubs and vines that blossom from this year’s growth. Clematis such as the sweet autumn clematis Clematis terniflora, the Jackmanii types, and the viticella varieties benefit from a judicious pruning as does the vigorous trumpet vine Campsis radicans. Shrubs like buddleia Buddleia davidii, smoke bush Cotinus, spirea Spiraea douglasii and S. japonica, hydrangea, and rose of Sharon Hibiscus syriacus need a light pruning each spring to remove dead or crossing stems and branches. spring tonic. After a good tidy up the garden will be looking better already!

Perk up the plants with a Tonic

Feeding your plants a little tonic means more blossoms and healthier plants come during summer. The best tonic for plants is compost. Its nutrients are released slowly, giving your plants a steady supply of food all season long.

Top dress your flower beds with a thin layer of compost, working it around, but never over the crowns of your perennials and shrubs, using a three-pronged cultivator or garden trowel. This is also a good time to fertilise roses and rhododendrons, try banana peels as listed below and they also benefit from a top dressing of well-composted manure which is readily available from garden nurseries each spring.

When it comes to treating your plants to a feed, there is no need to buy chemical fertilisers as everything you need you can find at your fingertips in the kitchen.

  • BANANA PEELS  –  Eating a banana helps replenish lost potassium, but roses love potassium too. Simply throw one or two peels in the hole before planting your rose bushes or bury a few peels under mulch so they can compost naturally. A few banana skins will ensure bigger and more blooms.

  • COFFEE GROUNDS  – Acid-loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas get a kick out of coffee grounds mixed into the soil. Sprinkled on top of the ground before watering or pour a liquid version on top of the soil. If using as a soil drench, soak 6 cups of coffee grounds in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Let it sit for 2-3 days and then saturate the soil around your plants.

  • EGG SHELLS  – Wash them first and then crush them. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers. The calcium helps fend off blossom end rot.

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

ABOUT SEREN-CHARRINGTON-HOLLINS Describing my work through just one job title is difficult; because my professional life sees me wear a few hats: Food Historian, period cook, broadcaster, writer and consultant. I have a great passion for social and food history and in addition to researching food history and trends I have also acted as a consultant on domestic life and changes throughout history for a number of International Companies. In addition to being regularly aired on radio stations; I have made a number of television appearances on everything from Sky News through to ITV’s Country House Sunday, Holiday of a Lifetime with Len Goodman , BBC4’s Castle’s Under Siege, BBC South Ration Book Britain; Pubs that Built Britain with Hairy Bikers and BBC 2’s Inside the Factory. Amongst other publications my work has been featured in Period Living Magazine, Telegraph, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Great British Food Magazine and I write regularly for a variety of print and online publications. I am very fortunate to be able to undertake work that is also my passion and never tire of researching; recreating historical recipes and researching changing domestic patterns. Feel free to visit my blog, www.serenitykitchen.com