Gardening Times

WITH the changeable weather, staycationers can still get a lot out of their gardens.

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Gardeners who want to create their own hot garden will need a sunny spot to plant perennials. A lot of these plants aren't fussy about soil.

They are general herbaceous perennials which come from north America and they are hardy.

You need well-drained, moisture-retentive soil which isn't overly rich.

You get more flowers in the sun, but some of them will need staking, such as clumps of monardas and heleniums which reach around 5ft.

Repeat planting helps to hold colour and texture together, even if it's a small garden. Keep up with the dead-heading to prolong the season.

However, if you are looking for texture and movement in a border of hot colours, Miscanthus sinensis is a welcome addition.

The wafting ornamental grass will provide you with airy, plumed seed heads that last from August until late January.

The plumes emerge in late summer or early autumn before fading to a silver-grey, while the heads provide interest right up to winter, their translucent veils making shadows in winter sunlight as they disintegrate slowly.

Make sure the grass is visible - it needs to catch the light for full effect, so don't tuck it away in a shady spot.

If you have had a go at planting garlic this year you should check the crop for lifting any time now.

It should be done when the tops of the plants start to die and the lower leaves begin to go brown.

You may still have a few weeks to go, but when you see the leaves decline, stop watering, which will help cure the garlic.

If you're not sure, dig up a few bulbs and slice them in half. If the cloves fill the skins, they should be ready.

Harvest too early and you will be left with small bulbs which are more difficult to store.

Harvest too late and the cloves will be splitting their skins, so are more prone to disease.

This week you could also look at:

l Replacing strawberry beds which are more than three years old.

l Taking cuttings of rock plants such as aubrieta, alyssum, phlox,

lThinking about your bulb requirements for spring bedding, with a view to ordering early.

l Saving a few new potatoes to plant for a fresh crop at Christmas.

Home and Garden

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