In My Garden with Michael Kerr

Rye Garden SUS-141103-084320001
Rye Garden SUS-141103-084320001
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The weather seems to be settling down at last and the soil drying out enough to allow some work to be done outdoors.

However, if the ground in your garden is still very saturated it would be best to avoid standing on it till it’s drier; standing on wet ground compacts the soil ridding it of air which plants require to grow well. It’s the same story with lawns, and here you also risk skidding and possibly damaging the plants themselves so much so that you may end up with unsightly bare patches.

Now is the time to renovate and cut lawn edges though, so if you really have to carry out this task then use something like old scaffold boards to stand on while you are working. You may also want to mow your lawn this month as a milder than normal winter has allowed grass to grow longer than usual, but don’t cut if the ground is squelching underfoot and cut high as we may yet get an icy blast that could prove destructive.

In my garden the buddleja have self-seeded everywhere and I will be removing some of them entirely, but I’ll cut back the ones I have chosen to keep right back to their base this month so that I don’t end up with leggy plants later on.

I’m hoping they’re a dark variety, ‘Dark Knight’ for example, but I expect they will be a more common, though still lovely, light-purple variety. A favourite plant of mine is the more unusual Buddleja globbosa which bears orange, spherical flowers, but still attracts as many butterflies as the Buddleja davidii varieties, however, I’m certain that my buddlejas are not globossa because the leaves aren’t quite right. Cornus (Dogwood) can be treated the same way as buddlejas.

Cut them right back to the base now to encourage many more shoots to grow and bulking the plant up to create a much more dense habit; in doing so, the effect of their winter colour display will be much greater.

I’ve never seen so many annual weed seedlings as I have this year. This must be due to the rain, with torrential downpours driving the seeds right down into the soil where they can germinate more successfully. Hoe them off now before they have a chance to form stronger roots that will make them trickier to get rid of later. Be careful not to harm any perennials or summer bulbs that haven’t yet put out shoots as a sharp hoe can cause a lot of damage. There’s still some time left if you want to divide your perennials to place in other sites or gaps around your garden.

Dig them up and prise the clumps apart using two forks (don’t worry about how brutal you are while doing this as the plants will be robust enough to recover) and re-plant elsewhere giving each ‘new plant’ a sprinkling of fertiliser.

If you haven’t pruned your roses yet then do so immediately or you may end up pruning off shoots that have developed early buds. And, scatter some annual flower seedlings such as nigella and calendula, to encourage wildlife into your garden in the coming months.