Centre of excellence for gardeners

THE clocks have changed and longer days are on the way, so it is the perfect time to think about what is going on in your garden.

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Dobbies Braehead General Manager Brendan Chambers in the popular store Pictures: Mark Mainz
Dobbies Braehead General Manager Brendan Chambers in the popular store Pictures: Mark Mainz

Finding time for preparation to get planting and planning ahead for the months to come are all important just now, according to experts at Dobbies in Braehead.

Weeding, getting the lawn in good shape and planting a vegetable garden are all jobs that can be done now, even if the weather isn't particularly warm.

"Be canny, there can still be a bit of frost around, but lawn care is very relevant at the moment," advises store manager Kelvin Mobbs. "It is all about setting up routines, if you are going to look after it, it isn't something you do once and walk away. You've got to love your lawn and if you're going to feed it, do it frequently.

"Often people chuck their feed down, stand back and expect that to be it. But it needs repetition and it needs care."

Keen gardeners will already have been out to do the first cut of the year. If there is moss, tackle it now with a treatment that feeds the lawn, kills weeds and moss, then scarify the grass.

"You can do all this by hand, using a flexible grass rake that pulls out all the moss," explains horticultural manager Andy Garven. "Or you can use an electric lawn rake. If you're keen and really want the lawn to look good that's something to think about. You'd use it in the spring and then again in the autumn."

The number of people growing their own vegetables has risen and the time is right for planting seed potatoes and preparing tomato plants for the months ahead. They are projects popular with children and this Dobbies works with four local schools.

"Potatoes are easy things to grow, you can grow them in lots of different kinds of containers," says Andy. "Chit them to get them started, then put them in."

He says growing tomatoes outside has become more of a trend in recent years, in hanging baskets and pots. Find a sheltered, south-facing wall and you can pick them as you need them all summer long. The same applies to herbs, and you don't even need to have a garden, a patio, balcony or window sill is more than enough space to plant a container full of herbs, sit them in the sun and watch them grow.

A tip from Andy is: "Herbs can also be used for a dual purpose. We have nice containers and if you put in a black trough three plants that are the same it's quite inspirational, it looks good in the garden and you can also use it as you go along."

Interestingly, a recent trend is for citrus plants, maybe a reminder to customers of relaxing in the sun on holidays in the Mediterranean.

Bulbs for summer can be planted now - begonias and dahlias never go out of fashion - and in weeks to come when the temperature goes up, bedding plants bring instant colour to pots and empty flowerbeds.

If you're looking for ideas or inspiration, just ask a member of staff, says deputy store manager Brendan Chambers.

"The staff are brilliant and we love to talk," he laughs. "It's great when you see a customer going out with a trolley full of plants and one of the guys has helped. It's not about the sale, you just know they're going do something in their garden they will be proud of."

A set up of four show gardens perfectly portrays what you could do with your own garden, whatever the size, from displays of architerctural plants to blooming bright flowers, raised beds and containers. If you want to buy plants and aren't sure how they will look put together in containers, staff can pot them up for you at no extra cost.

"Some of our gardeners go straight to what they want but a huge amount of people want to chat," says Brendan. "The more we can create ideas and things that hang together well, it is important.

"There is so much you can do to bring colour or change your garden."

Home and Garden

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