#NationalGardeningWeek: Q&A with James

For #NationalGardeningWeek, we caught up with one of our gardeners James for the low down on all things gardening. James is part of our talented Morris Care gardening team and helps maintain the gardens in each of our Nursing Homes, ensuring the green spaces are beautiful for residents to enjoy come rain or shine.

Q. What can I do in the garden at this time of year?
A. Check on garden supports like trellises and stakes for your climbers, as some will be coming into flower. At Radbrook the evergreen clematis, the Armandii, is already starting to flower and the evergreen honeysuckle is giving the garden a lovely scent. Check any raised beds for weeds and leaves, ensuring they are clear to make way for new growth. If you grow peonies, delphiniums, or any other perennials that require support, set them out now or get them ready to go.

Top tip: If you’re planting out mint, contain it in a pot as it spreads like mad.

Q. Is it too early to be planting?
A. It may feel like spring is in full swing, but the weather can catch us out with unpredictable changes from mild spells to low temperatures and chilly winds. Though most plants and flowers need warm soil to thrive, pansies and primroses won’t mind if you plant them in the garden early. For spring ground cover, we love periwinkle.

Start thinking about your summer garden. Now is the perfect time to start off your summer seeds in a warm window or greenhouse. If your garden is sheltered, May is a month when more tender plants can be put outside.

Q. Should we be feeding plants in pots?
A. May is a good time to feed plants. If you have plants in containers, especially tender plants which have been overwintered, this is time to feed them. You can do this by sprinkling the fertiliser on the surface of the soil and gently, work it into the top spoil with a hand rake. This is suitable for plants such as agapanthus and dahlias.

Q. When is it safe to sow grass seed?
A. If you’re growing from seed or laying new turf, it’s best to wait until we’ve seen the last of the frost.

Q. Can you prune shrubs?
A. Yes! You can prune early flowering shrubs such as forsythias, however lilacs can be pruned right after blooming. If you want to shape them wait three to four weeks after flowering. Always use pruning shears never hedge trimmers.

Q. What can I plant in my decorative hanging baskets?
A. Geraniums, verbena, calibrachoas (also known as million bells, trailing petunias or superbells) and petunias are just some examples for your hanging baskets. Remember to water them everyday,  sometimes even twice in hotter temperatures and also add a liquid fertiliser every 10 days or so to keep your hanging baskets looking fresh.

Q. When should I plant my tomatoes?
A. May is tomato time, you can buy plants to grow in a greenhouse or late may when all risk of frost has passed.

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