The UK’s temperate climate is fabulous for the diversity of plants we can grow but it also encourages all sorts of unwanted guests in our gardens. We’re inundated with slugs and snails but recently I found that a simple, organic mix of garlic, water and washing up liquid deters them from our Hostas and other tender plants. Just mix 1 crushed bulbs of garlic in 1 pint of boiling water. Once cooled, strain the mix. The mix can then be added in the proportions of 1 tablespoon to a gallon of water with a quick squirt of (organic if you want) washing up liquid and sprayed all over delicate plants. It’s best to test a small patch first to check the solution is not too strong.
As a general rule of thumb pruning should be undertaken soon after the plant has flowered.
Generally the worst that can happen is that the shrub will not flower the next year as a result of incorrect timing of trimming.
Encouraging natural aphid predators
Who hasn’t despaired at the carnage aphids inflict on gardens and sighed at the prospect of getting rid of them? Wouldn’t it be lovely if something else could keep them at bay? Enter the Lacewing; a voracious aphid predator. These can be encouraged into your garden by providing a place for them to hibernate. You can buy some very decorative Lacewing Chambers or you can build your own, cheap version. Take an old 1litre fizzy drink bottle and cut the top end off. Pierce two holes on either side near the bottom. Tightly roll a piece of corrugated cardboard to fill the bottle. Trim any excess card from the bottom and fix in place with some string or a stick pushed through the holes. Hang it in a tree or bush and clean it out next summer. Job done!