May Garden Notes
I would like to start this month's column with a thank you all to who attended the W I table top sale and Spring Craft Fair in May. I loved hearing your thoughts and ideas on gardening and will pass on advice given to me through this column.
Much needed steady rain in the middle of May has really helped the gardens and allotments recover but, of course, also encouraged weeds to cover any bit of soil without a plant in it. There are lots of ways to discourage weeds; some use a mulch of bark chippings or gravel. Ella Webb, a dear family friend, uses both chippings and gravel but would recommend more plants to cover bare soil. It's very effective and looks so nice. This time of year there are some bargains to be had at garden centres. With a big turnover some plants get neglected and are sold off cheaply. A good soak in water overnight is needed then plant out. At this time of year they will catch up.
Hanging baskets are lovely to look at but they do need quite a bit of attention. You cannot be half-hearted when looking after these. They will need watering once, sometimes twice a day and feeding once a week at the very least and of course they will need regular deadheading to encourage new blooms. Older villagers may remember the Condick family. Kenny Condick had a passion for gardening and his garden, just off Caerau Lane, was a multiple competition winner. Hanging baskets were his forte. If you where lucky enough to obtain one from him you were told not to put it outside until June and he was not a person to be disobeyed.
If you think your lawn needs watering, the two main things to remember are a) that it takes a long time and b) if you're on a water meter it may be a little costly. Grass is a great survivor and will tolerate water shortage. Just sprinkling water on to a lawn for a short time will encourage roots to be near the surface where they will dry out quickly and weaken the grass. Unless you're really sure it needs watering, let it be.
Remove any leaves that have fallen from Roses (as they harbour disease) and don't compost them. I know I keep on about it but do not forget to treat for black spot.
Council chairman Colin Thomas has been asked, while at his allotment, about the best times for planting various vegetables. Colin says that he plants out when he knows he will be around to take care of them as, with many things in life, the first few weeks are the most trying. The National Open Garden Scheme (www.ngs.org.uk) has plenty of gardens to visit locally and this is a perfect way to get inspiration for your garden and raise money. Last year the scheme donated £2.7 million to charities
One of the best things about working around this village is seeing other people's gardens. I love learning more about plants from fellow gardeners and hearing how their plots have developed over time. Brian and Sandra Jones live in one of the Old Wenvoe estate houses on Walston Road, opposite the church and I was fortunate enough to be invited to take a look at their garden. Brian showed me around what is the best cottage garden I've seen for a very long time and also told me a bit of it's fascinating history.
Now is the time to plant Foxgloves,Canterbury Bells and Delphinium seeds if you want good, cheap plants next year. Grow them on in pots and plant out to final position in September.
Brian Foster, of Church Rise, is a wizard at growing Tomatoes and Cucumbers. He mixes his own potion,and will tell you the ingredients (with a bit of arm twisting) but not the proportions. He's always picking tomatoes before me – moan! If you have any tips for next month's article, stop me when you see me around the village.