Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

As I write this the wind is blowing a near gale and is very cold as well. I have mentioned many times about protecting newly placed plants against this sort of weather – more so with vegetable plants because if they get any sort of check in their early stages they won’t perform very well.

A few canes about 12 inches high and some polythene is all that is needed, but a better option, although more expensive, is the green netlon, but if rolled up after use, which is usually only about five weeks, and then stored in a dark area, it will last for many years.

Remember to keep the hoe working amongst plants to keep the weeds at bay. Also keeping the top couple of inches of soil lose will form a dust mulch which prevents the sun drawing all the moisture from the soil.

Many of the regular tasks started in spring can be continued into early summer. Pruning of spring flowering shrubs after their blossoms have faded and dead-heading of lilacs, rhododendrons and, of course, roses, are typical jobs which should be taken care of whenever necessary.

Many popular deciduous shrubs, which bear blossoms on wood that was produced the previous year, are best pruned as soon as they finish flowering. If they are pruned in winter you will effectively cut away most of the flower buds.

So, if any deciduous shrubs that flower in spring and early summer are ageing or overcrowding prune them as soon as the flowers have faded. They will repay you with vigorous new growth that will blossom really well next year.

Hedge trimming should be started now. Formal deciduous hedges may be trimmed in early summer. However, if birds are nesting in the hedge it is better to postpone shearing until the young ones have left.

Hedging shrubs which normally have the first trimming of the year during this season include berberis, hornbeam, cotoneaster, beech, privet and blackthorn.

Some of the faster growing species may require two or more clippings each year in order to maintain dense growth. Any shrubs that bear decorative fruits or berries which provide food for birds should, of course, be left untouched.

Roses are deep rooted plants and once established require much less watering than many other ornamentals. However, newly planted roses, whose root systems have not yet fully developed, are quicker to suffer from lack of water than older, established bushes.

Prepare to water roses during any prolonged dry spells during the flowering season.

Climbers on house walls often suffer from lack of water so keep an eye open for the signs of dryness. Climbers need watering more often than other plants which grow out in the open.