Hints & Tips from Phyll Watts



The July/August Garden

The Mid Summer garden should be looking at it’s best now, with plants coming into flower. After the adverse weather conditions many are performing better than ever. I hope all of your planning & hard work is paying dividends with colourful flowers and a productive veg patch.

Wildlife is much in the news at the moment, saving bees, butterflies, moths and other insects. The best thing gardeners can do is to plant what they like. They love foxgloves, lavender, allium, campanula, oriental annual poppies, hardy geranium (not pelargonium). The list goes on and on. They do not like double flowers because they can’t reach the pollen. Only use insecticides as a last resort as ladybirds feed on aphids, spraying will kill them too. Generally, bugs do more good than harm.

In the veg patch a lot of the plants have enjoyed the frequent rain, but do remember to keep feeding them as the rain washes nutrients out of the soil.

Plant of the month

Rosa James Gallway (Austin Rose)

A large shrub rose with dark green foliage, repeat flowering with flowering sprays of double pink blooms from June through to November. It has a heavenly scent. I have grown it for 10years, and it has never had blackspot, rust or mildew. A really brilliant plant, well worth buying.

Jobs for the month

  1. Dead head flowers to get repeat blooms
  2. Cut salad crops regularly
  3. Keep beans watered for a good crop
  4. Pick courgettes while young
  5. Mow lawns





The June/July Garden

With the glorious sunshine it seems summer has finally arrived in the garden. We can enjoy roses, peony, delphinium and many more wonderful plants all starting to blossom. One plant that has enjoyed the chilly spring is the bearded iris, it likes a hot/dry place and very good drainage in summer. They come in many colours and are huge this year (4inches across) really spectacular. The best thing about a large herbaceous boarder is it’s ability to change through the year from spring bulbs to Michaelmas daisies & dahlias in the autumn.

Jobs this month

Mow lawns regularly.

Water vegetable plot everyday to produce a bumper crop.

Clear away leaves from daffodils (slugs and snails like to hide in them).

Keep pots, containers and hanging baskets well-watered with a weak solution of Tomorite.

Strawberries are now in full flower, keep them moist.

Train clematis over their supports.

Dead head roses as each flower fades and look for pests or mildew. (Powdery white mildew is often a sign of a lack of water at the base of the plant)

Shrub or small tree

Deutzia rosea grandiflora (White flushed pink)

Hailing from China and the far east it will tolerate any good garden soil. It flowers on the previous years growth, height 4feet x 4feet width.

Plant of the month

Cercius revule

A hardy perennial, thistle like appearance without the prickles! Will grow in most places but likes some sun. Foliage about 18inches high with claret-coloured flowers held well above the plant.

HANGING BASKET & CONTAINER COMPETITION will be judged first week in August. No entry needed.

Prizes will be awarded at the Village Show and will be posted on the FHS Website.

Happy gardening


The May/June Garden

Well, Spring is finally here although it is still unseasonally chilly in the wind. Plants are shooting up and filling out the borders. Tulips are making way for Alliums with their balls of mainly purple flowers. First come the Globemaster followed by Christophii with large silvery mauve heads. Both are a magnet for bees and butterflies. The seed heads last for a couple of months and can be saved for winter flower arrangements. Flower beds are filling with perennials, some coming into bud as are the roses.

Jobs for the month

Prepare the veg patch for beans (runner and french).

Plant out courgettes and outdoor tomatoes.

Half hardy perennials, over wintered in the greenhouse, can be hardened off before planting towards the end of May.

Clematis need training over arches, shrubs or trees.

Hanging baskets can be hardened off ready for their summer position.

Give clematis and roses a feed of chicken pellets.

Shrub of the month

Daphne Mezereum or Odora.

A small shrub ideal for the smaller garden, neat habit, needs no pruning as it is slow growing. Flowers are pink, crimson or white and very fragrant, followed by red berries loved by birds.

Plant of the week

Camassia Leitchilini

North American bulb with double cream flowers, needs moist soil. Eyecatching flower spikes.

Happy Gardening

The April/May Garden

Hello Gardeners. April & May are busy times in the garden, sowing seeds, potting on seedlings, preparing the greenhouse ready for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers etc.

Stake the tall plants (i.e. Delphiniums) early before they get too tall. Then there are lawns to mow & edge, the list goes on & on.

Tulips, the last of the spring bulbs to showoff with their rainbow colours (yes there are green ones) brightening any garden. They are the glamour girls, in pots or in the border they stand out. Although they don’t have the longevity of the daffodils, when grown in borders with their knockout colours they are well worth growing.

Cherry Trees & Magnolia are in blossom now, their pastel coloured blooms against a bright sky are stunning.

Jobs for the next month

Feed borders with blood, fish & bonemeal or chicken pellets.

Scarify lawns to remove moss.

Weed borders & vegetable beds before weeds get established.

Check tender & half hardy plants overwintered in the greenhouse & increase watering.



The March/April Garden

By the time you read this the clocks will be changing to BST and we will be saying goodbye to long dark evenings. Daffodils should be putting on a good show, golden heads nodding in the gentle breeze….maybe I am dreaming.

Jobs to do

Check the lawn mower

Finish pruning the roses & clematis

Plant seeds – annual bedding plants

Have you moved into a house with a small pond in the garden? Don’t panic and fill it in, buy a sheet of Weldmesh from the builders merchants and lay it over the pond with about 1 foot of overlap all-round and fix down. It will carry the weight of a grown man. The mesh is about 4inch squares so plants can grow through and wildlife can use the pond.

Do you have an old unwanted white stone kitchen sink? Why not make it into an authentic looking stone trough and save yourself a lot of money. Real stone troughs cost upwards of £250.00. For instructions see the Society website www.farringdonhs.club.

Please post your pictures of garden  successes – pets – wildlife on the website.

Happy Gardening

Instructions for Stone Trough

You will need the following :-

A large sheet of plastic 4ft x 4ft

PVA glue

A paint brush

Equal amounts of :- compost (containing some peat), sharp sand and cement about one shovel full of each

Water to mix

A pair of rubber gloves

3 bricks or a block of wood

  1. Stand the sink on the plastic sheet(18inches in from one end) on the bricks or block.
  2. Wash the sink thoroughly, particularly under the bottom rim and down inside for about 6inches. Allow this to dry completely.
  3. Paint all the washed surfaces with the PVA and leave until the glue becomes tacky.
  4. While you are waiting mix together the compost, sand and cement. Add the water gradually until it becomes a stiff “pudding” mixture. Too wet and it will slide off and too dry it will crumble.
  5. Wearing the rubber gloves slap handfuls of the mix onto the sink. The finish should look like rough stone, not too smooth. Leave to dry for at least 14 days.

In the case of wet weather you will need to cover the trough with another plastic sheet to allow it to dry.


Planting the trough

Move the trough to its permanent position. It will be very heavy but can be easily moved using sack trucks. Stand on three bricks, cover the drain hole with some fine mesh for drainage.

Cover the bottom of the trough with crocks or chopped up polystyrine to a depth of about 3inches. Fill the trough with the compost mixture (2 parts compost to 1 part horticultural grit)then plant. Chunks of stone (size of a small loaf) can be embedded into the soil before planting.

Ideal plants are :-

  • Minature Dianthus (Pinks)
  • Cyclimen corms
  • Sempervivum (houseleaks)
  • Sedum alpine
  • Thyme serpyllum
  • Saxifrage alpine
  • Tiny tulips
  • Tiny narcissus

Plants like Aubrietia are too rampent and will soon smother smaller plants.

Finally cover the surface with horticultural grit, taking care around the neck of each plant.

Hey Presto! A minature garden.


The February Garden

Looking out of the window on an overcast chilly day you could be forgiven for thinking spring was a long way off. Nothing much happening, but you would be wrong. Just take a walk around the garden and you will see that the plants don’t agree.

Hellebores are all out in flower from yellow, white and pink to almost dark maroon. The Aconites with their bright yellow flowers surrounded by a bright green ruff. Scylla flowering in their beautiful blue. Magenta flowers of the Cyclamen corm are like little jewels. Crocus of all colours popping up. Daffodils and Alliums pushing through the soil just waiting for their time in the limelight. Shrubs and climbers are all coming into bud.

Take heart there’s plenty of interest to brighten each day. A garden is for every day not just for summer.


Jobs for February

Plant Broad Beans in 3″ pots & put them in a cold greenhouse or a coldframe.

Plant Peas in a length of unwanted guttering spacing evenly in a double row and keep as for Broad Beans.

Raspberries cut out last years fruiting canes, give a feed with an organic fertilizer and tie in the new canes to the wires.

Dahlias check overwintered tubers.







The January Garden

This month can be dark and grey, why not invest in a few plants that ‘Strut their stuff’ now.


CORNUS ‘Midwinter Fire’

Small deciduous shrub grows to 1 metre tall; buttercup yellow leaves in the autumn, when fallen the stems turn bright yellow through to pink, orange and red. This lasts until new leaves appear.

Prune the thickest stems down to 15cm from the base every 3 years, and cut off any suckers that might shoot up.


SARCOCOCCA ‘Humilis’ (Christmas Box)

Small evergreen shrub with shiny leathery mid green leaves. Covered in small pinkish/white and very highly scented flowers. Flowers from January to March. Grows to 1metre tall.

Plant near the house or next to a path to take advantage of the strong scent.

Cut a few sprigs and bring them into the house, you will not be disappointed.



Evergreen ferny leafed climber with creamy/pink flowers followed by attractive seed heads. Spreads 5ft by 8ft high.

Can be reduced in late spring or summer by trimming back.

All the above plants can be grown in good garden soil. If you have heavy clay dig over the planting area three times the size of the pot holding the plant, incorporate one bucket of compost to lighten the soil. Keep all newly planted plants well watered in hot summer weather, damp not saturated.


Many small bulbs and corms are getting ready to burst onto the scene. Snowdrops, Aconites, Ipheion, Chicnodoxa.

The Snowdrops are the best known with their pendant pristine white flowers.


GALANTHUS (Snowdrop) nivalis.

These charming little bulbs are very accommodating and will grow almost anywhere. Their favoured place is dappled shade and damp soil. They don’t enjoy hot dry places. Always plant them in ‘In the green’.

‘In the green’ means bulbs that have flowered but still have green leaves. Small dried bulbs often sold in garden centres rarely survive, if they do, flowering is usually poor.

Most gardening magazines will have ‘In the green’ bulbs for sale in February/March/April. Your order will come by post.

Plant them as soon as you can to stop them drying out. This method is recommended and highly reliable. Plant 3mm deep in groups of 3 or 4 bulbs about 4 inches apart.

If you have any garden problems or questions post them on the Society website www.farringdonhs.club. And we will attempt to answer them.



4 February 2020

Timely Tips

Now is the time to ‘force’ Rhubarb.

Cover the crowns with straw, get a very large pot and put it upside down over the crown and straw.

This keeps the ground warm and stops the the straw blowing all over the garden.

In a few weeks you will an early crop.

Spring is here!

Flowers out this week: Snowdrops,Aconite,Crocus,Hellebores, Cyclamen.

Shrubs filling the garden with scent are, Winter Honey Suckle and Sarcococca (Christmas Box)

Happy Gardening