It’s that time of year again – time to enter your garden in the Milton Keynes Garden of the Year Competition.
For several years now I have taken part in the competition as a judge, and been am amazed at the standard and quality of the gardens, large or small, that are entered.
I talk to a lot of gardeners throughout the year who tell me their garden is not good enough to enter, then when we visit their garden it turns out to be a very good standard – so do not be put off by thinking your garden is not good enough.
Do not be put off by the weather either. We have just experienced the coldest March for 50 years which has left all our gardens a little behind. But I am sure that once the weather turns warmer everything will burst into life. Here are a few tips to help you enhance your garden over the next few weeks.
> Shrub border – now is a good time of year to lightly hoe the soil, remove any weed seedlings before they grow too large; at the same time apply a top dressing of fertilizer such as ‘Growmore’ to the soil to give your shrubs a boost.
> Herbaceous plants – remove any of the old remaining dead foliage from last year’s growth to expose new shoots; it is a little late to lift and divide herbaceous plants as roots are now actively growing. Again, add a top dressing of fertilizer and watch out for slug damage as plants begin to shoot up, particularly if you have any Hostas.
A good tip to enhance and add colour to your herbaceous borders in time for judging during July is to buy some dahlia tubers now, plant them in large plastic flower pots using multi-purpose compost, and place in a frost-free area such as a conservatory or greenhouse.
During early June plant them in borders to add that extra splash of summer colour and fill any empty spaces. Plant lots of annual single summer flowering plants such as Asters, Calendula or Cosmos; single flowered plants will encourage bees and butterflies to your garden – these insects enhance any garden during the summer months.
Once we reach the end of May we should be free of cold frosty nights and will then be able to plant out summer bedding plants.
But if you have a greenhouse or conservatory plant up your hanging baskets now so that plants get established before you hang your baskets outside for the summer.
Once spring flowering bulb flowers fade, dead-head and leave the foliage to die naturally to build up energy in the bulb for next year; after eight weeks you can remove any remaining foliage.
In the vegetable garden there is much to do such as planting out seedlings of brussels, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas and many more varieties of vegetables.
> Lawns – there is no better time to sow grass seed if you are creating a new lawn or lay new turf. Dig the soil over when it is reasonably dry and crumbly; rake out any stones and create a flat surface on which to sow the grass seed or lay new turf. It is also an ideal time to repair established lawns by either reseeding bare patches or infilling with new turf.
The Citizen has once again teamed up with our friends at Frosts Garden Centre and Milton Keynes Council to launch this year’s competition.
There are a host of categories to inspire keen gardeners , see our list shown right.
The closing date is June 21 with judges due to inspect a short list of entries in early July.