Adrienne Wild gives topical tips and advice on what to do in your garden from spring to autumn

Planting bulbs

Do you know when you should be planting bulbs © iStock

February to March

✤ Sow frost-sensitive summer-bedding seeds, such as pelargoniums, in pots on a warm windowsill. For something a bit different, sow and grow climbers, such as Chilean Glory Flower (Eccremocarpus) and Morning Glory (Ipomoea).

✤ Sow beetroot, salad onions, radish and lettuce every two weeks for a ready supply of fresh salads throughout the summer.

✤ Give bulbs the perfect partners by planting the gaps in-between with colourful spring bedding, such as polyanthus, bellis daisies, wallflowers and forget-me-nots – sold in pots and trays at garden centres.

TOP TIP

Have secateurs, shears, hoes, spades and the lawnmower sharpened ready for action.

April

✤ Sow hardy annuals where you want them to flower – mark out a sowing scheme on bare soil with silver sand.

✤ Sow some chilli pepper seeds on a warm windowsill – they take between 14 and 21 days to sprout. Grow them either in a greenhouse or in pots of well-draining compost on a sunny patio.

✤ Grow some carrots, sugar-snap peas and spinach under cloches to give you a head start. Also, sow some pumpkins and squashes in pots on a warm windowsill indoors so they’ll be ready to plant out after the last frost.

TOP TIP
Choose a sunny, windy day to hoe and leave the seedlings to wither on the ground, then spread a 5-10cm layer of mulch to suppress further weed growth.

May

✤ Plant a variety of herbs – such as thyme, parsley, basil, borage and mint – in a sunny border or patio pots. They will help to protect susceptible plants from pest damage.

✤ Sow seeds of fast-growing hardy annuals, such as eschscholzia or poached-egg plant, calendulas and nasturtiums, in pots ready to fill gaps that emerge in flower beds. They, too, will attract beneficial insects and help keep borders pest free.

✤ Fill your border hot spots and patio pots with summer-flowering bulbs,such as lilies, dahlias and gladioli.

TOP TIP

Deadhead spring-blooming bulbs to prevent them running to seed, but let foliage grow until it yellows before cutting it off.

June

✤ Plant out summer bedding in patio pots, hanging baskets and borders. Feed bedding plants every time you water with a quarter-strength liquid fertiliser.

✤ Prune spring-flowering shrubs, such as philadelphus, weigela and kolkwitzia; reduce the plant by one third just after flowering, then sprinkle a handful of Growmore over the root area to help them recover.

✤ Sow night-scented stock in 12cm pots in a cold frame. When they are about to flower, put them among plants in a sunny border so they fill the air with scent.

TOP TIP

Spray roses with an organic soap insecticide to get rid of aphid.

Dahlias

Will dahlias be part of your garden year plan? © iStock

July

✤ Sow winter-flowering pansies, polyanthus, wallflowers and sweet Williams in a cold frame for filling pots and borders in late winter and early spring. Keep the plants cool and plant out in autumn with spring bulbs.

✤ Trim faded flower stalks of lavender bushes to a point just behind the first leaves, and pinch out the strongest existing or subsequent non-flowering shoots to encourage bushiness for next year. Avoid cutting into old wood as it will not re-sprout.

✤ Deadhead bedding plants to keep them productive. Also, cut off the old flower spikes of early-flowered perennials, such as delphiniums, polemoniums, lupins and foxtail lilies.

TOP TIP

Give leafy vegetables a boost by feeding them with liquid fertiliser rich in nitrogen.

August

✤ Use rainwater laced with an acid fertiliser or iron sequestrene to boost potted camellias and rhododendrons and prevent leaves from yellowing. Don’t allow the plants to become
dry at the roots, otherwise theflower buds will drop off.

✤ Trim back conifer hedges with shears and use secateurs to cut out wayward shoots with thicker stems. Cutting across the leaf spray will turn remaining ends brown.

✤ Cut back perennial shoots that are overhanging the lawn. To prevent worn edges on the lawn install a mowing strip – a row of paving. Set the slabs level with the lawn so that you run the mower over them.

TOP TIP

Pick faded flowers off fuchsias; if allowed to fruit, plants stop flowering. Feed with high-potash fertiliser to encourage more blooms.

September

✤ Dig up large evergreen shrubs that have outgrown their positions and move to a ready prepared planting hole in more spacious areas. After planting, keep the roots moist and protect from winds.

✤ Plant spring-flowering bulbs in pots and borders.

✤ Replace tatty grass by starting a new lawn from seed. Remove all traces of weeds then rake and level and make sure the soil is moist before sowing. Sprinkle around 25g of seed per square metre. Keep watered during prolonged dry spells.

TOP TIP

Cut off and burn perennial plant leaves that are infected with fungal diseases before the spores can hibernate in the soil ready to re-infect the plants next spring.

October

✤ Plants with berries will draw in birds at this time of year and nectar-rich Michaelmas daisies and ice plants or Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ will feed butterflies beforethey go into hibernation.

✤ Remove fading annuals and summer bedding to make way for displays of winter pansies, cyclamen, hebes, chrysanthemums and ornamental cabbages.

✤ Lift dahlia tubers as soon as the foliage has been blackened by frost. Clean off the soil and cut back the stems before storing.

TOP TIP

Check tree ties are not too tight or loose and are positioned so that the trunk is not rubbing the stake.

November

✤ Prune bush roses, cutting them back by a third to prevent the wind rocking them from the ground. Cut off dead wood flush with the stem and trim healthy stems by making a 45° angled cut just above the next bud on a stem.

✤ Dig up and divide congested clumps of perennials. Use two forks back-to-back to prise clumps apart. Discard the old woody centres of the crown and cut the outer sections into pieces with a sharp knife. Transplant immediately.

✤ Replace broken fencing with eco-friendly hedging. Plant bare- root deciduous hedging plants, spacing them 60cm apart in a prepared trench and backfill with enriched soil. Erect a net screen to prevent gales damaging roots.

TOP TIP

Clear fallen leaves and other debris so that slugs, snails and other pests have nowhere to overwinter.

Use fallen leaves to make leaf mould.

Falllen leaves

Sweep up falllen leaves towards the end of the year © iStock