Home & Garden
Amateur Gardening

Amateur Gardening 18-Jan-2020

Every week, Amateur Gardening is the first choice for both beginners and knowledgeable gardeners looking for advice and easy-to-follow practical features on growing flowers, trees, shrubs as well as fruit and vegetables. Be inspired, by our beautifully illustrated features covering plant and flower groups, both home grown and exotic, and take a sneak peek into some of the most beautiful private gardens around the country. Plus, every week we feature expert opinion and tips from some of gardening’s most influential exponents including Toby Buckland, Bob Flowerdew, Anne Swithinbank, Peter Seabrook and Jo Whittingham.

United Kingdom
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51 Issues

In this issue

2 min.
we’re getting ready for the spring!

1 Check plant protection after winter storms. Tread down frost-heaved soil, replace insulating mulch and straw, make sure tree ties are secure and that cloches won’t blow away. 2 Uneaten bird food can transmit parasites and diseases, so scrape it off and wipe down the bird table with a weak disinfectant solution. Keep birdbaths and feeders clean and stocked with fresh food and water. 3 Deadhead flowering houseplants and cut away old leaves. Water sparingly when compost is dry and only feed those that are blooming or growing. An organic invigorating spray helps keep them healthy and pest-free. 4 Turn single-use plastics into multi-use. Fruit punnets are ideal for growing seeds and plastic bottles can be cut in half to make mini-cloches. 5 Keep adding to and turning your compost, though don’t fork too…

3 min.
scientists unveil new plant theory

CONTRARY to the long-held belief that plants in the natural world are always in competition new research has found that in harsh environments bigger plants help smaller ones survive, and in return they help them to thrive. The first study to examine plant interactions in a hostile environment over their lifespan found that plants sheltering seedlings actually help the smaller plants survive and are more successful themselves – a process in ecology called facilitation. ‘Ecological desert’ The study, led by Dr Rocio Perez-Barrales at the University of Portsmouth and Dr Alicia Montesinos-Navarro at the Desertification Research Center in Valencia, Spain, looked at adult and seedling plants in the ‘ecological desert’ of gypsum soil in the south-east of Spain. Dr Perez-Barrales said: “If you’re a seedling in a barren landscape – say, at the top…

1 min.
book review

Bee Hotel By Melanie von Orlow, Haynes, £10.99 WOULD you like to make your own insect hotel? This pocket-sized manual has 30 DIY insect home projects, with easy-to-follow instructions. It details the different styles of housing each species needs, so you can create homes for many different insects. It also lists the many plants and everyday objects that can be used to make your hotel perfect for its guests. This book is perfect for nature lovers who want to help the environment by ensuring their green space is fit for an insect in need of a home. I liked that it was not just about bee hotels and that I learnt a lot about a large variety of insects, like butterflies and earwigs. Bees and other insects are extremely important to the future of…

1 min.
plant heritage launches new website

PLANT conservation charity Plant Heritage has launched its new website ( plantheritage.org.uk) showcasing a huge variety of plants, including rare threatened cultivars, plus information about its National Plant Collections. Visitors will be able to search for any collection, from mighty oaks to miniature orchids. The site also contains conservation and cultivation advice, how you can help to save rare plants, and details of the annual plant exchange and specialist plant fairs. Keep our horticultural history alive Vicki Cooke, plant conservation manager, says: “We’re a nation of gardeners who have a rich history, but this history does not maintain itself. Our 650 National Plant Collections have a vital part to play in keeping our horticultural history alive, so please visit the site and find out more.”…

1 min.
prepare soil for growing

THIS week, I have been mainly thinking about soil, because as winter draws on I’m itching to get back outside and start sowing and planting this year’s crops and flowers. It won’t be too much longer before the first signs of spring and the warmer weather make their presence felt, but for now our best course of action is preparing the ground in readiness. If you mulched borders and beds in autumn, the winter weather will have helped to break the mulch down and enrich the soil. Any green manures sown should be ready to cut back and dig in about now (see right), but do remember to wait at least a fortnight before restarting cultivation. The cold will have penetrated right down into the soil, so over the next few weeks start…

1 min.
how to cut back autumn raspberries

Late winter is when you need to prune your autumn-fruiting raspberries, cutting them right back to the ground. This gives new canes plenty of time to grow before next year’s harvest. Another option, if space is tight, is double cropping, which you can do once canes are properly established. Instead of pruning all autumn-fruiting canes right down, select some of the strongest and cut off the tops, leaving canes around 3ft (1m) tall. This gives a longer, staggered period of fruiting. Shortened canes should be cut right down after harvesting.…