By Colin Evans
Wisteria will only flower in a sunny south position.
If the latest winter temperatures are anything to go by then pests and diseases should not present so much of a problem this year.
At this time of year many of us head off to the garden centres and local nurseries and get tempted by the fantastic displays of colour.
It is tempting to take home the plants we like the look of without thinking about the conditions they will require.
Many plants fail because the conditions are just wrong.
No matter how much we try, our favourite plants just don't make it.
Apart from being a waste of time and a waste of a good plant, in these times of tight budgets, expensive as well.
Far better then to give some consideration to what conditions you are able to give to your plants.
Sighting the new purchase must be given consideration as so many plants cannot cope with the wrong planting position.
For example, Wisteria will not flower if not given a sunny south or south-Westerly place in which to grow.
Checking the acidity of the soil can prevent a poor choice as Rhododendrons planted in an alkaline soil will not do well and conversely, lime loving plants have a hard time hanging onto life in soils high in acidity.
A simple PH testing kit will give you the information you will need to make your decision on just what will survive.
Before your purchase, check the details on the label and if you can give your chosen plant the conditions stated then you have a good chance of having a plant which will grace your garden for years to come.
PLANT OF THE WEEK:
Hebe "First Light" is one of many Hebes which few gardens should be without.
This eye-catching evergreen shrub has light burgundy foliage in winter and spring, followed by wonderfully pretty purple - pink flowers in summer.
This interesting shrub has a compact habit making it ideal for small borders and containers and will grow well in most soils providing it is given a sunny position.
Hear Colin on BBC Radio Berkshire on Wednesdays and Sundays
Now spring appears to just around the corner, vegetable growers will be champing at the bit to get seeds into the ground to make the most of earlier crops, however, beware, as we are not out of cold and wet conditions yet.
My advice is to hang on for at least another three to four weeks yet.
Agreed, if you are lucky enough to have some cloches which were placed over the ground recently, as I suggested some time ago, then go ahead and sow the seeds, or if you have early potatoes then go ahead. If not, wait.
Some tender shrubs may still need protection as nights can still be very cold with early morning frosts so keep an eye on weather forecasts and take action if temperatures are going to drop below 2C
Old net curtains, paper, or best of all, horticultural fleece will protect most plants from hard frosts and give shrubs the protection they need preventing new growth and developing flower buds from being victims of cold nights which are still with us.
Cut back deciduous ornamental grasses just before new growth starts which will be soon.
Prune the plants just above the crown letting light and air to the growing point allowing rapid growth.
Some fertilizer around the base with a little mulch of either leaf mould or forest bark will keep the weeds at bay and the moisture in.
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