Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Spring like feel to the garden

THE recent good weather has brought a spring-like feel to the garden and countryside.

At this time of year there is no reason why window boxes and containers should not look as attractive and colourful as in the summer.

Attention should be given to form and texture to create an interesting and balanced display. Try using shaped box balls contrasting with trailing ivies and a selection of winter flowing Heathers and spring flowering bulbs will contribute a splash of warm and welcome colour.

Other young shrubs may also be used effectively in containers. Variegated foliage lightens the scheme and is suggestive of warmer days.

Check over newly planted and established trees to complete structural pruning. Autumn and winter gales may have cracked or broken branches. If so, remove them carefully using a pruning saw or loppers. Trees that are too big can be cut back to size.

When pruning an overgrown tree remove overcrowded and crossed over branches, then prune back all remaining branches to a third of their length stepping back every so often to decide which branch to cut back next.

Avoid pruning the branches back to all the same length; try to keep the tree looking as natural as possible rather than creating an unnatural bobble shape.

Cut out all fruiting shoots on raspberries that have carried last season's crop. Tie in the new canes to the supporting framework. If there is a lot of growth above the top wire either cut it back or tie the growths to the wire to prevent wind damage.

Prune established apple trees by removing dead, diseased wood and cut out crossing or rubbing branches. Keep your secateurs sharp for cutting small branches and tipping leaders.

Heathers are among the easiest garden plants to grow in the garden flowering either in summer or during the winter months, often with the bonus of colourful foliage as well.

Heathers are mostly acid loving, therefore demanding a lime free soil, but winter flowering varieties can tolerate some lime.