Matthew Biggs shares his top garden tips for the year
It's hard to believe that spring is almost here - at last we can get into the garden! Here are some of my top tips to ensure your garden looks bloomin' marvellous this year.
It is a great idea to pull out weeds before they produce seeds - just a few hours effort saves lots of weeding this coming year.
Set beer traps for slugs before the end of February. Early trapping keeps the numbers down, you can then move on to wildlife-friendly ferric phosphate pellets later on.
By March you should have ordered your plug plants and be growing them on in the greenhouse or on a bright windowsill.
Remove dead flower heads from daffodils but don’t tie up the leaves, they are essential for making flower buds ready for next year.
As the soil warms, it is the perfect time to plant herbaceous perennials – you can do this at any time, but March and April is the traditional time for planting as it normally ensures excellent results.
In April, it is still not too late to plant summer flowering bulbs and you will certainly need to ‘weed and feed’ so your lawn stays healthy through the summer. Richard Jackson's lawn magic (pictured) is ideal. By the time May arrives with its soft, sunlit mornings your garden will be looking fabulous.
Once there is no danger of frost (it may be earlier or later than May, depending where you live) containers and hanging baskets can be ‘hardened off’ or acclimatised to outdoor conditions – putting them in a sheltered spot during the day and bringing them indoors at night, for seven to ten days, before they finally go outside.
‘Deadheading’ (removing faded flowers) will be a daily task throughout the summer, particularly with plants like petunias and fuchsias; it's the perfect job for anyone who likes ‘pottering’ in the garden!
You may need to water in the morning and at midday if the weather gets warm in July, so check your hanging baskets and pots regularly to make sure they don’t dry out.
Use bedding plants or pots of lilies to fill in gaps in herbaceous borders. If there’s no one around to water your plant while you are away on holiday, why not consider installing a micro-irrigation system? They are water efficient and easy to use.
August is usually one of the hottest months of the year – let’s hope that we have a ‘traditional’ year, after our recent disappointments!
September brings daffodil and spring-bulb planting time, which finishes with tulips in November. Whether they're in pots, naturalised, containers or borders – plant plenty for a great display next year!
Tender plants like tuberous begonias should be lifted before the first frost – dahlias are normally lifted when early October frosts have blackened the leaves and stems - then stored over winter in a cool, frost free, place.
In December, cut a few fragrant flowers like Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ to bring indoors and fill your house with fragrance. Have a glorious display every day - just garden the QVC way!