What do Hugh Jackman & Ashridge Estate have in common?

I am writing to you on the very last day of my nine week ‘gardening leave’ from the tropical beach of Naithon in Phuket surrounded by Coconut and Casuarinas Trees (see pic below).  I don’t think anything can prepare me for landing at Heathrow, where the temperature is predicted to be just 3 degrees – ouch!  You can find out about my travels on my blog –  Burma and now Cambodia can be found here.

However, rested and fortified I will hit the floor running and will have a busy time completing some winter fruit tree planting and pruning work before spring pops her head up mid-March, or so we hope!

I know it’s been cold there during February but get your base layers on and get your winter gardening work complete, before it’s too late.  Some of these jobs need to be done in the winter, read on for more information, or drop me an email with your particular query.

By the way, my free seed offer was very well received, and those who replied will receive their seeds through the post, as soon as I’ve recovered from my initial shock of returning to the UK!

planting, pruning and training

March is the best month for planting roses, but not in areas where roses were grown previously, to avoid replant disease.  Towards the end of the month, you can plant evergreen shrubs and trees, and stake at the same time to avoid future damage to the root ball.

You can prune established bush and standard roses as they start growing, but before any leaves unfurl and you still have time to prune late-summer flowering shrubs such as  Buddleja Davidii, Hydrangea Paniculata, Leycesteria (genus of Honeysuckle), Lavatera (or Mallow), Perovskia (from the Mint/Sage family) and hardy Fuchsia.  If you’re in doubt, give me a call on 07708 643313 or drop me an email.

Cut back late summer and autumn flowering Clematis, to the lowest pair of strong buds above ground level, and prune winter-flowering Jasmine once the flowers have faded; remove any dead or damaged shoots, tie new shoots to the main framework, cutting back to 2in of a bud.  Its a good idea to feed and mulch both of these after pruning, as the plant will put on lots of growth in response to being cut back.

Mow your lawns mid to late March on a fine day, but, do ensure the first cut of the season is light, raising the blades to 1/4in higher than your usual cutting height.  Newly turfed areas can be mown with the blades set to the highest setting, as soon as the grass reaches 2in.

wetland wildlife in your garden

Not only are ponds and water features a great aesthetic for our gardens, but really important for amphibians too.  Due to intensive land-use changes imposed on our countryside, around three-quarters of British ponds present at the start of the last century have been lost.

Although garden ponds can’t make up for this, they can help by creating additional habitats for plants and animals which depend on water to survive.   Frogs, toads and newts will begin to spawn as the weather improves, always a delight for the young ones and a very handy education site just outside your back door!  Visit this website to find out more.

joyful interlude

Did you know that our very own Ashridge Estate was used, in part, for the filming of Les Miserables?  Read the full article here.  If you’ve not yet had opportunity to see the film, I hear it’s a must-see!

And finally, Georgie Newberry has now listed her new courses on her website, such as this one ‘growing cut flowers in town gardens’, which I’ve booked onto!  You can also find wedding flowers, posy tying, propagating and flower farming, amongst others.  Maybe see you there!