Tatworth and District Horticultural Society ,South Somerset UK Special Talk by Rob Cotterill FCIHort M Hort (RHS)
At the second open meeting of the Spring programme the speaker was Rob Cotterill who spoke on “My Horticultural Life in Ten Plants”.
Rob chose the ten plants from a wide range of locations – UK to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, India (Himalayas) and a time line from his early childhood to his professional career to date as a garden maker (designer).
The plants varied from his earliest memories of growing potatoes to the strange New Zealand Alpine, which looks like sheeps wool. There was also an interesting description of rice planting and growing which cannot be grown in our northern climate.
Rob a qualified horticulturist, is obviously a keen plants person and enjoys designing water cycle gardens in particular.
There were several questions to the speaker, particularly on growing Acer Japonica in northern climates which are not always successful without a warm and wind free sheltered location.
I hope you will all really enjoy the coming Spring – the weather has to get better but beware late frost and planting outside too quickly those superb new plants from the garden centre.
Talking of buying plants, don’t forget to look up plant family relatives if you have particularly successful growing plants as their growing characteristics may be similar! If you grow lupins or roses or bell flowers for example, look up their families, leguminacea (fabaceae), rosaceae or campanulaceae respectively; you will find an Aladdin’s cave of plants that may well enjoy the similar conditions in your garden. It’s very similar with vegetable families as well, cabbage, peas beans, and carrot families. It works!
Do email me if you require information and advice on finding the related plant families.
Good web sites will then guide you to a target list of plants and gardening advice for growing each plant. The RHS is a user friendly excellent web site.
Trees shrubs and climbers should be planted now, also hardy annuals, but do offer protection against April wind and rain storms which can do great damage to new plantings!
Feeding and mulching
Water is now being taken up by plants so start feeding liquid feed if flowering now and place slow release feed over most of the garden as winter rain will have leached out a lot of essential nutrients. This is the best time to feed bulbs as well, often forgotten as they exhaust themselves after flowering! In general add modest amounts of general and organic fertiliser to all your flowering beds. Do not over fertilise as this will attract pests and diseases to lush growth.
Mulching with growing media after your ground warms up mid April is one of the most recommended tasks, again to replace lost winter nutrients. We all forget soil and organic matter (called loam) gets used up each year. Make sure your acid loving plants get acidic soil (ericaceous) which will be clearly labelled along with the plants that require it. Adding horticultural Epsom salts will help return colour to green leaves turned yellow but these plants will still need ericaceous liquid feed urgently to restore depleted nitrogen and iron.
Vegetable plants may need some liming to raise pH above 7 and some additional manure. Peas and beans carry nitrogen nodules and will not require manure, just phosphorus and potassium and trace elements. Tomato food is popular, but look around for specialist proprietary products for your vegetables, for best advice.
Complete pruning and tidying up of shrubs except those showing buds. Prunus trees do not require pruning unless showing disease symptoms. Check pruning regimes if you are not quite sure and beware cutting into old wood especially if it’s the main stem!!
Grass is a plant requiring feeding and mulching and if possible very important raking gently to get rid of dead thatch that deprives living grass of oxygen and moisture. Add high nitrogen proprietary liquid grass fertiliser. Raise mower blades as grass is weak after winter and mowing blades can rip out roots as well! Avoid mowing if ground is still very wet.
There is so much to do, but plan and enjoy your long awaited Spring