Cut ornamental grasses right back to ground

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

Now is the time to cut ornamental grasses right back to the ground. Don’t worry if some of the new growth is cut as it will soon recover.

Just as they are coming into growth is also the right time to divide or move any grasses. Ornamental grasses are best divided every three years which also gives the option of replanting in groups in other areas.

Cornus (dogwoods) give such a brilliant show of colourful stems during the winter, red, yellow black or salmon pink. It’s the new growth that provide the flush of colour in winter.

Stems from dogwoods are ideal for supporting other plants.

Cut back to two inches from the ground this month in our area.

Some of the jobs I mention for the gardener may seem a little late, but as I have mentioned many times, we are at least a couple of weeks behind those gardening in the south. Three weeks if the cold winds hit about now.

It is better being a week late and getting things right as plants growing in the correct conditions soon catch up, but a week early and plants don’t get a good start and struggle.

You may notice a black coating on the leaves of camellias. This is a fungus known as sooty mould. Although it is very unsightly it won’t harm the plants. Take a look under the leaves and you will probably see bumps which are scale insets. New spring growth will soon cover the unsightly foliage.

In July give camellias a spray with Provado Ultimate Bug Killer and never let the plants go short of water especially if they are grown in containers.

Also, during August and September, camellias are making buds for the following year’s flowers so need plenty of water.

If they don’t get enough, when it comes to flowering time the buds will turn brown and drop off or they will fail to open.

In cool districts, where pears are not yet in flower, they should be given a pre-blossom spraying with lime sulphur as a prevention against scab.

Derris can also be given with this spray if there is any suspicioun that caterpillars or aphids are active.

The gooseberry is a fruit that is at its best in a cold climate where the slow ripening brings out the best of the subtle flavour of the fruit. It is rarely troubled by frost and is never spoiled by rain.

The fruit will hang on the bushes for several week and so may be used when slightly under ripe for culinary purposes and when fully ripe for desert.