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Staking and tying plants

Some of the traditional perennial plants such as Delphiniums and Paeonies may require high maintenance, including careful staking to ensure success. This is fine if you have time, however, I tend to avoid staking perennials wherever possible and use Link Stakes or hazel twigs when absolutely necessary for tall growing Geraniums, Salvias, Physostegia etc. Wherever possible it is preferable to plant in such a way that the groupings work as a team supporting each other. A good example is Thalictrum aquilegiifolium which always requires some support. If planted at the base of a large shrub Rose the branches of the Rose should act as support and look good at the same time.

Standard and feathered Trees should always be staked, indeed large shrubs should also be secured to avoid the roots rocking during the early stages of establishment. Low level staking is preferable and less unsightly. To attach plants to walls I prefer to use galvanised wire and vine eyes. This system works with most structures although can be difficult on flint walls. Wires should be approximately 18ins (45cms) apart running horizontally starting in at least 20cms from a corner, window or doorway. Wires should be threaded through vine eyes and be approximately 2cms from the wall. Once the galvanised wire has oxidised it is hardly visible and the plants can be attached with soft string as they grow.
Climbing Roses may be grown on a wall but ramblers should always be grown on open structures such as pergolas and trellises allowing a free flow of air through the branches, otherwise they are susceptible to mildew. Consider growing Clematis through Roses particularly through Roses with a single flowering period to increase the season of interest. Plant a Rose on the sunny side of the pergola with the Clematis roots on the shaded side.

1. For soil improvement and mulching it is best to use decomposed material such as well rotted manure, mushroom compost or well rotted garden compost which feeds the ground as well as improving the structure. If you apply wood chip, straw, wood shavings or other partially rotted organic matter the rotting process will use up nitrogen in the soil, reducing the levels available for your plants. Therefore, it is necessary to top up with high nitrogen fertiliser.

2. If mulching to retain moisture during dry periods always soak the ground thoroughly before applying the mulch.

3. If the garden is drying out and you have to choose which to water first, give priority to evergreen shrubs. The deciduous plants can always lose some leaves prematurely and recover later. Evergreens will suffer more lasting damage.

4. Evergreens such as Rhododendrons, Eleagnus and Choisyas often shed a small number of older leaves in spring, first turning yellow before falling, normally from the centre part of the plant.

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