Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

I am carrying on the theme of the easy kept garden. Before planting anything in the new garden, cover the soil with black polythene and start to work out which plants should go where.

Place the plants, still in their pots, on the polythene and take a step back to look at the design, especially when using shrubs, heathers or conifers. The main consideration is to give each plant enough room to reach its maximum growth.

Once the position of each plant has been decided cut a cross with a sharp knife in the black plastic to form four flaps. Lift the flaps and dig a hole for the plant, place it in the hole and fill in any gaps then lay the flaps back around the plant’s stem. Do this for all the plants and there is no way your garden will suffer with weeds.

Before deciding what to use to cover the polythene make some holes in it with a garden fork for drainage.

The two choices for cover of the polythene is bark or one of the colourful gravels that is available. All this is going to make the gardening much easier giving time for other pursuits. Just one thing to remember – make sure the soil is wet before laying the polythene, if not give it a good watering.

Even if your preference is not for conifers and heathers, which I have been writing about over the last couple of weeks, you can still carry out the same preparation for planting shrubs.

There are plenty of shrubs that give a lifetime’s show. Here are a few suggestions bearing in mind the conditions in this area.

Try Spiraea Bridal Wreath with arching branches full of white flowers in spring. It grows to around five foot and needs to be trimmed once the flowers have finished.

A summer flowering spiraea is S Bumalda Anthony Waterer. This grows two foot and has pink flowers from July to September, so one for the front of the border. Cut this variety back in the spring to within a couple of inches of the ground.

A totally different types of shrub is Skimmia Japonica Foremanii, an evergreen with bunches of bright red berries, which needs very little pruning, just a tidy up in spring. This grows to around four foot.

A selection of shrubs isn’t complete without Senecio S Greyi or S Laxifolius, two names but the same shrub. This has bright daisy-like flowers in June and a beautiful leathery oval leaf covered in silvery down.

Prunus (flowering cherries) are ideal but keep to the shrubby ones like P Tenella Fire Hill with rosy red flowers in April and a height of around four foot.

One shrub which will lighten up any garden is Potentilla, available in many colours and averaging around two foot in height. This will flower from May to September. It is deciduous and will look dead through the winter, but don’t give it a trim until March because it flowers on the new growth.