BUY BRITISH TO AVOID BLIGHT
This week, the House of Lords published a new report, Sowing the Seeds, with advice on how we can all boost the horticultural sector.
Its findings stress the importance of buying homegrown British plants where possible. As well as helping UK nurseries, this will reduce the number of pests and diseases being brought into the country.
In 2022, the value of imported ornamental plants was £ 1.5 billion, a 22 percent increase on 2021, while our exports were worth £ 49 million — a 12 percent decrease.
UK-grown plants will often grow better than imported plants because of the familiar conditions. When live plants are transported, pests and pathogens can travel with them, bringing in species such as the New Zealand flatworm and the Spanish slug.
Xylella, a bacterial disease spread by insects which were initially seen in the Americas, has been found in lavender shrubs (pictured) in Europe
Meanwhile, Xylella, a bacterial disease spread by insects that was initially seen in the Americas, has been found in Europe in cherry, almond, and olive trees, as well as in lavender shrubs.
There is no treatment for it and infected plants must be destroyed. The Woodland Trust said sourcing trees in the UK is the most effective safeguard.
Give your lawn attention before winter sets in and it will reward you in spring
LAWN MAINTENANCE BEFORE WINTER
Mowing season is at an end, but it’s not time to forget about your lawn just yet. Give it a little attention before winter sets in and it will reward you in the spring.
Remove moss using a Springbok rake, then put it on the compost heap. Use a garden fork to aerate the ground.
There is still time to repair patches by sowing new lawn seed. Define the edges of lawns in preparation for the new year, using the sharp blade of a spade or an edging tool.
SECATEURS AT THE READY
Wait until fruit bushes have lost their leaves before you start pruning
Wait until fruit bushes such as gooseberries and currants have lost their leaves before you start pruning. Cut out any branches that are dead, diseased, or dying, and shoot that cross.
Blackcurrant bushes can be pruned hard, taking out between a quarter and a third of the oldest stems and cutting them right back down to about an inch above the ground. Weed and mulch around the base
PLANT OF THE WEEK
Papaver commutatum ‘Ladybird’
Poppies bloom in the summer – and there’s still time to sow the seeds of this hardy plant for next year
What better way to mark Remembrance Day than with a Ladybird poppy? This is a classic scarlet poppy with distinctive black markings.
Of course, it is not out now, as poppies are an annual flower and bloom in the summer. But there’s still time to sow the seeds of this hardy plant for next year.
You can either sow seeds directly into the ground where they are going to grow, breaking up the surface of the soil with a hand fork to aid germination or sow them into modules, ready to be transplanted in the spring.
Once the plant has established itself in your garden it will self-sow for years to come.
The bottom of our mature Leylandii hedge has turned brown. What can we do?
Debbie Knight, Stranraer.
Q. The bottom of our mature leylandii hedge has turned brown. What can we do?
You may have over-trimmed the hedge, it could have a fungal infection, or it might be suffering from a lack of magnesium.
To treat the latter, add Epsom salts to the soil or mulch with magnesium-rich peat-free compost. Dig it in around the base, but not up to the stem.
You could use secateurs to cut off the brown parts. However, conifers can’t grow from old wood, so your hedge won’t regrow.
You might also try growing ivy up the trunk to distract from the dead sections.