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Dead heading is important to get the maximum number of flowers and flowering time from a plant. Why? The purpose of most plants, perennials and annuals, is to reproduce. Plants reproduce by producing flowers which become seeds which are shed and dispersed at which point the cycle is complete. To encourage a plant to keep flowering, or to produce a second flush of  flowers, remove the spent flower so no seed is produced and the plant will strive to produce another flower.&a...
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It's gone, but not quite forgotten. Spring if full of lovely images, above is Iris reticulata, blooming at Harlow Carr, but the Beast from the East with its prolonged, freezing wind has damaged garden plants, some permanently. The mild spell means we can get out and take stock, and the main casualties are the evergreen and semi evergreen shrubs. Other plants have suffered, the hellebores look a bit ragged and many plants are much later coming into sprin...
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It is not too late at the end of March/early April to sow tomatoes. If you do sow now, which is a little later in the season, it is best to pick the smaller varieties of tomatoes. Basically, the larger the tomato, the longer growing season it needs to come to fruit and ripen, so the small cherry types are good to sow now. For best results fill up a seed tray or small pots with seed compost and press down gently to remove any air pockets. The reason for this is that if roots fi...
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Late February and early March is the best time for Pruning Clematis to ensure it produces lovely flowers year after year. Clematis prune can seem a bit complicated, but not really. Group 1 Clematis do not prune at all, and group 1 flower early in the year. Group 2 is a light prune, and Group 3 a hard prune. To check which you have there is detailed information on the Clematis pages to help identify the group to which a clematis belongs if you have no labels or information.  If...
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Do your strawberries look like this? The image left shows strawberries before they have been cut back. Ideally, strawberries should be cut back in late summer, afterfruiting and once any runners have been removed or potted on to make new plants. Not everything in gardening goes to plan and I didn't get round to cutting back the strawberries until February. It still has to be done, as you do not want to start the growing season with lots of dead leaves whi...
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Hellebores are undoubtably one of the most beautiful perennials flowering from December through to spring. They are so welcome in the cold winter days boldly flowering even when covered with snow and all is frozen. They really are irresistible and an easy to grow Perennial which flowers reliably each year. In addition, Hellebores happily self seed and can easily be divided to have more plants for free. Hellebores do not need staking, or pruning or even feeding. Plant in the r...
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Harlow Carr looking spectacular with the garden illuminated;  a blaze of colour for Christmas. The path along side the lake is full of illuminations in the trees, and the stream appears ethereal with the different lights and takes on an ultra violet glow. Unfortunately, just too tricky for me to capture as my night photography and camera are just not up to it, but I managed a few passable images, and there are also a couple of photos kindly supplied by RHS, all of whic...
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It's not to late to plant Allium bulbs for a great spring display. In the right place, Alliums are low maintenance and will return reliably every year and are surely one of the most stylish plants for a border, illustrated by the images. Alliums like a sunny spot with well drained soil, which means they are unhappy on wet boggy soil especially over winter, which can cause the bulbs to rot. If you do not have ideal growing conditions Alliums can be raised in container...
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There are two good reasons for overwintering plants. Firstly, for some tender plants it is a necessity and I have in mind here, especially in more exposed gardens, Tree ferns, Canna lily, and some varieties of Agapanthus.  The other reason is to nurture through the winter plants which would usually be treated as annual bedding and thrown away.  Commonly called Geraniums, Pelargonium will survive a winter under glass. In cold areas they are best in an unheate...
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By the meteorologist calender Autumn started 1st September but we gardeners tend to think of Autumn as starting later in the year, perhaps early October onwards. However we date it, the season of Autumn in so far as it is marked by the turning of leaves is definitely early this year.     This early onset of Autumn was noticed by the head gardener  at Churchill College at Cambridge University where the Boston Ivy started ...
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