Author: Janine Winlaw

Garden Talk: Get ahead with spring bulbs

It may seem a way off, but autumn is the time to plant your spring bulbs – you’ll really appreciate those splashes of colour after the grey winter months. Bulbs look great in drifts under deciduous trees and bushes or at the front of borders, but work well in containers too. Here are a few to try. Crocuses One of the first flowers to emerge in February, they create a pretty wash of purple or yellow naturalised in the lawn and are lovely clustered under magnolia trees or crammed into pots. Soft purple C. tommasinianus ‘Barr’s Purple’ with its golden orange stamens is a winner while C. vernus ‘Pickwick’ is more robust and bigger (12-15cm), so good for impact on a dull winter’s day. Sarah Raven’s favourite C.minimus ‘Spring Beauty’ is a stunner and great in pots on the windowsill where you can admire the striking dark purple stripe on the outer petal. Most need well drained soil and sun. Narcissi Daffodils are a must for cheerful spring colour and lovely scent, and there’s a …

Garden Talk: Get into grasses

Ornamental grasses are at their best now. Their faded buttery seedheads look wonderful swaying amongst late summer perennials, purple asters, pink anemones, and yellow helenium. Most like sun and free draining soil (though some are fine in shade) and look amazing in big drifts. But they also work well dotted around smaller gardens linking plants and adding a naturalism, movement and texture to planting. They don’t need feeding or watering when established and add autumn and winter interest. Here are some to try: Miscanthus Miscanthus sinensis ‘Ferner Osten’ is a popular variety of this striking statement grass with arching leaves and a fountain of burgundy pink flowers in August. Great for late season interest with its coppery autumn leaves. (1.6 m). Starlight is a smaller version. Miscanthus sinensis ‘Kleine Silberspinne’ is more compact at 1.2m with burgundy plumes fading to a shimmery silver, so nice where it catches the winter light. It looking great with Anemone x hybrida ‘September Charm.’ Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’. A delicate variety that rarely flowers but is grown for the …

Garden Talk: Heavenly hydrangea

Hydrangeas are gorgeous shrubs – their great mounds of delicate yet showy flowers often take on pinky hues into autumn and can be dried for winter use too. There are masses of varieties, colours and sizes to choose from. Here’s my pick: Hydrangea Macrophylla H.macrophylla go pink in alkaline and blue in acidic soil. To guarantee colour – go for white. There are two types, mophead, with large, globular heads and lacecap with flattened heads of tiny flowers surrounded by sterile florets. They’re happiest in part shade but can take sun – and like to be kept hydrated. Macrophylla ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’ A flamboyant white mophead becoming pink tinged into autumn– great for lighting up a partly shady border. Macrophylla ‘Westfalen’ A compact cultivar with bright green leaves and large rich purple mophead blooms. Good for smaller gardens. Macrophylla ‘Veitchii’ A small, elegant and hardy lacecap hydrangea with white sterile florets, that turn pink as they age. Macrophylla ‘Rotchwanz’ A more unusual lacecap with deep pink to wine-colored starry flowers and dark green leaves flushed …

Garden Talk: Deep Purple

Deep purple Flowers aren’t the only way of giving your garden colour and interest –plum coloured-foliage adds real drama, depth and contrast. Use in a few key areas with some sun, (it tend to blend into shady spots) to highlight brighter flowers. Here’s my pick of the best: Perennials Heuchera. I’ve recently discovered the appeal of heuchera – they’re easy to grow in sun or shade and their big evergreen leaves and pretty early flower spires provide winter and spring interest. There are lots of purple varieties such as H. ‘Purple Palace’ and H. ‘Obsidian’ but my favourite is ‘Plum Pudding’ with silvery plum veined leaves. They look gorgeously moody with dark blues and stunning with silvers, soft pinks and mauves. Sedum. S. ‘Matrona’ has dark stems, grey purple leaves and in August, large pale pink flowers – a great combination. The gorgeous S. ‘Blue Pearl’ with deep bluey purple leaves and bright pink flowers is fantastic with silver plants such as Stachys byzantina. Other purple-tinged varieties include ‘Jose Aubergine’ and Sedum telephium ‘Purple Emperor’. …

Eight ways to go organic in the garden

It’s easy to panic and reach for a chemical spray at the first sight of greenfly or diseased plants. But there’s a more natural way. Here’s how: Encourage wildlife. Instead of using pesticides that will harm all insects good and bad – lure in the beneficial ones. Ladybirds and hoverfly larvae will eat aphids – they like chives, fennel and cosmos, or invest in a bug hotel. Ground beetles eat slugs. Birds will help keep down snails as will frogs. Try a birdbath, feeder or berries for birds and a little pond for frogs. Keep weeds down naturally. Weeds carry disease, and steal light, water and nutrients from your plants. A thick mulch of bark or well rotten manure will keep them at bay, as will pulling them out as young seedlings. Patrol to keep control. Aphids like the new tender growth of plants like clematis and rose buds, so keep an eye out for them – they can make leaves curl up. Squish them off by hand, or use a strong spritz of water. …