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Train climbing roses as they start to grow

Train climbing roses as they start to grow, so you end up with a lovely even screen of foliage and flowers across your wall.

Roses flower most prolifically when their stems are held horizontal, as that encourages them to send out lots of smaller flower-bearing sideshoots. So aim for a series of branches arching out on each side from the main stem, tied in to their supports at regular intervals up the wall.

If you're growing your roses up a pillar or obelisk, the same effect can ...

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April's plant of the month is the lavender

April's plant of the month is the lavender, one of the best-known and best-loved of all the herbs. It's got it all: fragrant, well-behaved, and versatile enough to grow in borders, as a hedge or to edge a path in a romantic cottage garden. The beautifully scented violet-blue flowers, adored by bees, can be dried for pot pourris and scented lavender bags, or baked into fragrant cookies.

Most varieties grow to about 75cm tall, making bushy, evergreen shrubs with a silvery-grey tinge to t...

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! The biggest gardening weekend of the year is almost upon us, with an extra two whole days to unwrap the garden from its winter slumbers and spruce it up ready for the year ahead.

Here are our top five ideas for enjoying your garden this Bank Holiday weekend – and long afterwards, too.

  • Sow a mini veg garden: you'll find ready-made raised bed kits from your favourite garden centre which slot together in minutes and fit onto even the tiniest pat...
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Divide clumps of snowdrops

Divide clumps of snowdrops while they're still 'in the green'  that is, while they still have their leaves. It's by far the best time to do it as they're still growing actively, putting down roots before they die down for the summer.

Choose the place you're going to plant them carefully: they're woodlanders, so prefer dappled shade (they're happiest planted in carpets around the feet of trees or shrubs). Clear any weeds, and dig in a good few forkfuls of well-rotted organic matter...

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Start sowing vegetables

Start sowing vegetables this week as long as the weather is good: it's the ideal time to get most hardy crops into the ground. If it's cold or the weather is wet, though, hold off another week: later sowings will catch up quickly, and it's better not to risk losing your seeds to damp or frost.

You'll find seed for lots of crops you can sow direct now in your favourite garden centre, including carrots, lettuce, beetroot and turnips. Look out for early varieties of pea, like 'Meteor', an...

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Cut back dogwoods hard this week

Cut back dogwoods hard this week to encourage those wonderful brilliantly coloured young stems which shine out so beautifully in a winter border. If you haven't got them in your garden already, you'll find a great choice in your favourite garden centre: Cornus alba 'Sibirica' is the one to choose if you want the richest scarlets, or for a clear limey yellow go for Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea'. The two make a lovely contrasting pair planted together.

Pruning these hardy, easy-to-grow shr...

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The plant of the month for March is Vinca

The plant of the month for March is Vinca, better known as the periwinkle and a fantastic choice for covering the ground with a carpet of sky blue, star-shaped flowers from spring onwards. Even better, its attractive glossy foliage is evergreen, spreading into a handsome year-round backdrop for other plants and at the same time suppressing weeds and locking moisture in the ground.

There are two main types. Vinca major is a very vigorous, rapid-spreading ground cover which romps over th...

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National Science Week starts this Friday

National Science Week starts on Friday so it's the perfect opportunity to get out into your garden to do a little experimenting. There are dozens of scientific projects you can join in with, and you don't need any special knowledge or equipment , just a burning interest in finding out about the natural world outside your back door.

You can join in with one of the many citizen science experiments happening all over the country right now. The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) scheme brings to...

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Treat your mum this Mothering Sunday

Treat your mum this Mothering Sunday with a long-lasting present she can plant in her garden and enjoy every day of the year.

You'll find plenty of Mother's Day themed plants at your favourite garden centre: here are some of the best.

  • Rose 'Mother's Day' fits nicely into a container as it grows to just 60cm high. In summer its rich red flowers will cascade fetchingly over the sides.
  • Camellia 'Magic Mum' makes a lovely...
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Get down to your local garden centre for Garden Re-Leaf day

Get down to your local garden centre for Garden Re-Leaf day this Friday, when gardeners across the country will be celebrating the start of the new season with the party to end all parties.

Look out for the ever-popular celebrity gardening quiz evenings, when you can test your knowledge with questions voiced by some of the country's best known gardeners including Christine Walkden, Toby Buckland, Pippa Greenwood and Joe Swift.

There are dozens of other great events planned, from...

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Prune summer-flowering shrubs

Prune summer-flowering shrubs this month to make sure they put on their best display later this season. Some spectacular garden performers come into this category, including the butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii, hardy fuchsias, and musk mallows (Lavatera), all available from your favourite garden centre.
All these shrubs bear flowers on growth produced this year, so you're aiming to encourage them to make as many fresh new shoots as possible. This means quite a hard prune, so don't be t...

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Chit new potatoes

Chit new potatoes to give them a head start on the season, encouraging them to send up sturdy little sprouts while you're waiting for the weather to warm up enough to plant them. It's especially important in colder areas of the country, with a shorter season between planting and harvesting, when your seed potatoes need to be as far ahead as possible by the time you put them in the ground.

It's not necessary, however, for maincrop varieties, which are planted a little later in the year ...

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