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Organising your garden plants

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Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Monday, 24th February 2020, 09:00

March is always an exciting time in Gloucestershire with the racing buzz in the air!

The daffodils are at their best on the roundabouts and verges to welcome the punters and the weather can be beautiful – we have sat outside a pub in the town at 10 o’clock at night after the races in our short sleeves! On the other hand, there has also been snow at race week, so who knows what will happen this year. Fingers crossed for sunshine!

Bright and fiery reds and yellows

Now is the time to hard-prune the stems of willows and dogwoods that have been wonderful and bright during the winter with their fiery reds and yellows. Species grown for their colourful stems include Cornus alba, C. sanguinea and C. sericea (all dogwoods) and the willows (salix) include Salix alba and S. irrorata.

Cut back to two or three buds from the base of the shrub. This very old technique is called ‘coppicing’ or ‘stooling’ and will provide lots of fresh new shoots and colour for the next winter. This can be done every year, or every two years depending on how you want the shrub to grow.

March is also a good time to divide Hostas if they are getting too big. Dig them up and slice them into sections, making sure each has some shoots at the top. Replant them, enriching the soil with some compost and bone meal. If you have too many bits to plant in your garden, pot them up and give to a friend – after all, that is one of the greatest pleasures in being a gardener!

Agapanthus rarely need dividing – probably only every five years or so when they start flowering less than before. If this is the case with yours, divide them now, cutting through congested clumps with a sharp spade and replanting in nice free-draining soil. They will take a year to recover properly so don’t panic if they don’t flower in the first season.

Promoting conservation of Alpine plants

March and April are the main repotting times for Alpine plants. If you are interested in Alpines it is worth visiting the Alpine Garden Society garden at Avon Bank in Pershore, which is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to promote the conservation and cultivation of Alpine plants and their habitats.

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