THIS MONTH IN THE GARDEN (April 2015) with Derek Cox

During mid-March, when looking out of my kitchen window I was surprised to see what most people would say was a cloud of dust being blown from my 18 feet (5.5 meter) tall Irish yew. This was not dust, but pollen, which conifers and other wind pollinated trees release from mid-March until early May. Most conifers from seed, will produce either male, or female plants and in the wild the wind is the only way a female can be fertilized by a male to enable it to produce seed.
In my last article I mentioned how a young Squirrel was biting the flower heads off my Snowdrops. Well someone came up with an answer by saying, have you tried Chilli powder? So I bought a small container from a local supermarket, where the Asian lady asked if I liked Chilli. I said no, I need it for the squirrels. She looked at me as if to think I was crazy. However, I sprinkled the Chilli powder around the Snowdrops and to my surprise there have been no more flower heads chewed off. The pigeons have also stopped walking amongst the Snowdrops, so perhaps they also have a case of hot feet.
In my garden there are over forty Saxifrage varieties and a number of these are over forty years old.Saxifrage pink Most are grown in a trough, two sinks, or gravel screes. The majority form tight evergreen rosettes of foliage and a number of these have silver foliage. They flower from mid March until early May and have flowers, which according to variety are white, yellow, pink, or almost red. Most of the rosettes forming Saxifrages originate from mountainous regions and although they will tolerate very low temperatures, they do not thrive in heavy wet soils. If you garden on Leicestershire clay, grow them in sinks, or raised beds of well drained soil.
For a number of years Hebe ‘Silver Dollar’ has grown in my front garden to form a two and a half foot (75cm) mound.
Unfortunately ‘Silver Dollar’ had started to grow over the top of plants around it, so during last autumn seeing a number of young shoots growing around the base, I cut the shrub down to within nine inches, 22cm of the ground.Hebe Silver Dollar. cuttings The branches I cut down had a number of strong young shoots on them, so I cut 15 of these off and after just stripping off the bottom two thirds of the leaves, I inserted these into a two litre pot containing half and half multipurpose compost and Perlite. They all rooted and as they are now showing new growth I shall pot them individually into 9cm pots and they should be ready for sale at the Syston in Bloom stand at Syston carnival on Saturday 5th September.
I called in at Goscote Nurseries to buy two bags of compost and had a wander around to see what new plants were in stock. I saw Lesley the nursery plant lady who was caning and tying a number of Clematis, so I asked her if anything new had come in. She showed me a number of new acquisitions and then said, have you tried the new Clematis that are suitable for growing in containers, or even large hanging baskets. I said no, show them to me. Lesley took me to where two varieties were on show in two litre pots, I said, which would you choose and she said ‘Filigree’ as it is a dainty, elegant lavender. When I went to pay for it, Tony, who is one of the nurserymen said why have you picked this? ‘Bijou’ is a far superior blue; do you want me to change it? I said no; get me a ‘Bijou’ I will have the two. Both Clematis have now been planted in 10 litre ornamental containers and we shall show you pictures of them when they are in flower.
During the third week in March I planted my ‘Rocket’ potatoes in fifty litre black tree tubs, which are 15 inches (38cm) deep. I use half and half multipurpose and John Innes no3 compost with a hand full of Osmacote to a bucketful of compost. I first put 6 inches (15cm) of compost in the bottom of the tree tub, then space out five seed potatoes and cover them with an inch (2.5cm) of compost. As the potatoes grow they are earthed up to enable the shoots to put out more roots and as a consequence more potatoes.