Where did Spring go?
I've been nipping the plants in the hanging baskets as they want to flower. Of course this encourages them to become bushier plants, so that when they actually do make it out to their summer spots, they will be smothered in blooms.
Everything wants to be outside, but of course you should never ever trust the British weather. She always has one last trick up her sleeve. Something that the garden centres, DIY stores and supermarkets hope for. Traditionally, these places start to proffer their bedding plants from the Easter Bank Holiday. These lush gems with the promise of summer-long colour for your garden draw us in, seduce us, and before you realise it you leave with a boot full of goodies. Of course there's nothing at all wrong with that, if you have a sheltered spot, cold frame, greenhouse or conservatory to cosset them in.
In my youth, it probably took me a couple of years, and some hard-earned cash wasted before I realised that the stores were in it for the money. You see you buy these lovely promises, plant them out one sunny weekend in March or April, and wait for summer. Along comes a chilly night, and bang! All your beautiful plants pop off, and you have to return to buy some more! Kerching!
These days I'm far more fastidious. I do still buy bedding plants if something catches my eye like these coleus below, but they go into my greenhouse for a wee while for a bit of protection. I may well pot them on if they need it, or even make up containers if it's required, that way on milder days they can come out of the greenhouse, and go back for the night. This is known as 'hardening off', and once all danger of frosts has passed you should harden off all of your plants whether ornamental or edible, or they'll snuff it from shock.
I always begin by checking them over thoroughly for any signs of pests that may have avoided my scrutiny in the shop - I don't want an infestation of aphids in the greenhouse. Next I will nip out all the shoots. This not only makes for a bushier plant, and thus more flowers, but I use the tips of the shoots for cuttings to make more plants for free. Lastly a really good watering. How often do some of these stores end up slinging plants away for the want of a good watering? It's so wasteful.
A quick nosey around the garden between showers reveals flowers forming on my summer-fruiting raspberries, blackcurrants, and strawberries, these ones below are growing in a hanging basket, away from any slugs.