GardenFest Winners & Spring Bedding Displays

 In George Irvine

Entrants to this year’s Gardenfest Competition  – Inverclyde’s top Garden competition organised by Inverclyde Council and sponsored by Cardwell Garden Centre – will gather on Wednesday evening when the results of this year’s contest will be announced.

Invitations to the prize-giving evening which takes place on Wednesday at Cardwell Garden Centre – a change from the usual venue of Greenock Town Hall- will allow all the gardeners and their friends to meet each other for an enjoyable evening and a chat while viewing colour pictures of all the gardens.  There will be a commentary on all the gardens before the prizes for each municipal ward are announced and the awards presented by local councillors

With an increased number of entries than previous years, it will be interesting to find out which gardens have lifted the top trophies in the specialist classes, including householders, commercial and community premises together with schools and nurseries.

Watch next week’s Gardening Blog for all  the news of the winning gardens.

Preparing Your Spring Bedding Displays

Now is the ideal time to think about preparing your Spring bedding display in your borders, or even in tubs and large pots.

You can create a nice mix of spring bedding plants along with a selection of spring bulbs. Small Daffodils and rockery type Tulips are ideal when planted with bedding plants such as Primula , Polyanthus and Bellis –the latter being small daisy like flowers.. Wallflowers are also colourful Spring flowers but these are best planted as bare-rooted plants which you can obtain from Cardwell. Add some winter Pansies to enhance your displays and they will bloom all Winter provided you keep an eye on them and remove spent flowers regularly.

Winter heathers are also good at providing lots of winter hues and are quite hardy to stand up to frost and inclement weather.

If you are planting up a spring display in containers do ensure that you have plenty of drainage in the  container and lift the feet off the ground rather using proprietary pot feet or even a couple of bricks.

Reader’s Problems.

At this time of year I often get readers approaching me about problems which they have encountered in their gardens – sometimes just over recent weeks

One such problem is that of honey fungus which often manifests itself at this time of the year. Gardeners find lots of mushrooms appearing in their lawns or among other plants or grassy areas. Unfortunately, there are no chemicals currently available to combat honey fungus.

The problem is usually due to decaying wood material under the soil – maybe where the roots of a tree has been buried- or other woody plant material. The best option is to cut away all the mushroom type fungi which will certainly help. Also regular disturbance of the soil will help a bit so keep hoeing or digging around the area. You will never get rid of the problem completely but work the soil regularly will certainly help to keep it at bay.

Another common problem which worries a lot of gardeners is the presence of dog lichen in lawns. This is a problem that occurs in very poor lawns and often is found in shady areas under trees. It usually is a sign of a neglected lawn and the area needs to be well raked and then spiked before being given a feed.

Some Tips on Overwintering Begonias.

Let’s start by remembering that there are basically two types of begonia – namely the fibrous rooted varieties and the tuberous types.

The fibrous rooted kinds – often used as bedding plants do not have any underground storage organs, so the only way they can be over-wintered is by growing them in pots in a light , frost-free place. If you choose to adopt this method, I would suggest that you trim off the old foliage using a pair of garden shears. Give the trimmed plants some water- just enough to keep the soil damp and then move the plants into a cold frost-free greenhouse or even a shed or cellar and keep them there until early spring. Indeed, I know of a Gourock gardener who had a brilliant display of fibrous- rooted begonias in his garden every year, although his plants were some five years old. He simply over-wintered them each year

However, to over-winter the tuberous types wait until the top growth has had a touch of frost and then move the plant into a frost-free place and stop watering it. Allow the top growth to fall off and then wait for another couple of weeks before removing the tuber from the compost . Clean off the compost or soil from around the tuber and remove the scabs that formed where the stems were attached . Dry the wounds with some clean kitchen roll before wrapping the tubers in newspaper and store them in a dry but frost-free place. My advice is that you check them from time to time and remove any tubers that are showing signs of rot. Around the end of February or early March the tubers can be started into growth again by planting them – dimple side up,- in trays of fresh compost.

Apply Grease Bands to Fruit Trees Before Winter.

Caterpillars of the winter moths feed on the foliage of deciduous trees especially apples and pears as the buds open in the spring and in some years it has been known for extensive defoliation to occur.

The adult moth is usually active from autumn right through until to late winter. The male moth is about just an inch long and is pale brown in colour. The female moth, on the other hand, is brown and wingless and can only crawl up the trunks of the tree to it’s eggs on the branches

The best method by which to prevent the female moth from crawling up the tree trunk is to apply a grease band to the trunk of the tree before the end of October. Ideally, the grease band should be to the tree trunks – and indeed, any stakes -about eighteen inches above the ground

However, bear in mind that grease bands will not control other flying fruit pests such as aphids or codling moths.



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