In your garden 

A brief monthly gardening calendar, suitable for our Lincolnshire climate, is followed by information about gardening activities and events in our area.

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The Garden Group

Bassingham Open Gardens

The Hardy Plant Society


Topical issues are aired and forthcoming events detailed each month in The Witham Staple printed magazine: 

Current Magazine [Click to Download]


A list of contacts for local interest  and community groups is updated in September each year:

Local Information Sheet   [Click to Download]


Local Advertisers



Usually the quietest time in the garden. Check plant supports and maintain heating in greenhouses to preserve tender plants. A good time to plan your gardening for the year ahead from the comfort of an arm chair!

On clear dry days, when temperatures are above 5oC consider opening your greenhouse for an hour or so to help prevent damp.

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Some years in a hard winter, February proves to be the coldest month. Others years, with cloud and rain and a westerly wind at the beginning of the month, the winter can be almost over. We’ll just have to wait and see. It’s usually best to keep off the garden when it’s still very wet or you can do more harm than good; and “ you can do a deal of unsightly damage to lawns if you walk over them when there’s a hard frost. So we have to be patient! When you can get into the garden, there are jobs enough to be done.

Lawns can be aerated and scarified, if the weathers dry enough. Then you can apply moss killer, where necessary. However, a lawn can only be as good as the base it is trying to grow on. If your under-lawn is poor and compacted, then you can waste a lot of time and money on applying moss killer. And digging up and remaking a lawn is much harder work than making a new one. Sometimes the wisest choice is to live with the moss; at least it’s green for a good part of the year!

Herbaceous and mixed borders can be lightly dug and fertiliser applied between plants. Clear away any remaining dead tops of plants and foliage that has died back. Mulching around herbaceous subjects with garden compost or well-rotted farm manure will give plants a good boost in the spring.

Overgrown hedges can be cut back towards the end of the month, but do not cut hard back into subjects like Leyland and Lawson cupressus; unlike privet, Which usually regenerates well after being cut back hard, they will not make new growth from bare wood.

Buy early potatoes and arrange the tubers in one layer in shallow boxes or egg trays with the eyes uppermost. Leave them in a light, frost-proof place to sprout.

Plan your spring planting of annual bedding plants, studying the seed catalogues and buying early. Some can be sown indoors this month (check individual seed packets) and plugs and mini-plants ordered from the suppliers or available in some garden centres.

Check house plants. Prune and re-pot in new compost those that look worthwhile; those that are tired and unlikely to make good plants are best discarded and new ones bought to replace them. Don’t be in a hurry to buy until there are good stocks of new plants at the garden centres.

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Once the weather is dry enough for you to work in the garden without compacting the soil, there’s now plenty to do.

Lawns: worn areas can be reseeded as necessary. Crumbled edges repaired, cutting out a rectangle of turf and turning it through 180° so that the broken part now sits away from the lawn edge. Rake out thatch and aerate any compacted areas by pushing a garden fork in several inches and then wriggling it before pulling it out. Hard work best done a bit at a time but does the lawn a great deal of good, helping drainage and loosening the hard soil.

Herbaceous borders: clear away any remaining dead growth. Fork between and around the plants. Check plant labels before new growth hides them; replace as necessary. Now is a good time to lift and divide plants that have grown too big or lost heart in the middle. Replant smaller pieces from the perimeter to reinvigorate the plant and produce better performance later on. Spread general fertiliser and rake in. Mulch with compost around plants.

Vegetables: sow parsnips in rich but not recently manured soil (otherwise they may produce multiple roots). Towards the end of the month, if the weather is kind and the soil dry, plant early potatoes —Arran Pilot takes a lot of beating, but then most gardeners have their own favourites. Plant onion sets ‘with their noses just sticking above the soil’. Finish planting shallots, if you haven’t already done so. If you like Jerusalem artichokes, plant them now, 9’ deep on a forkful of good compost or manure. Sow leeks for setting out in June. Sow early peas and summer spinach.

Sow annual flower seed for propagation in the greenhouse or on a window sill. Check the seed packets for those that can be sown directly outside where they are to flower. 

Complete all digging now. Kill weeds on paths and drives as soon as they show some growth. Have an eye to slug damage. Be very careful if you use slug pellets: place them under some orange or grapefruit skins so that the birds find neither the pellets nor the dead slugs. Better still, use horticultural grit around plants that slugs go for. It is thought that slug bait has contributed significantly to the alarming fall in the song thrush population.


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Lawns: new lawns can still be sown this month, provided the ground has been properly prepared. On established lawns, apply spring fertiliser first, to get sturdy growth under way. Then you can apply weedkiller or weed-and-feed, following instructions carefully to avoid ‘fertiliser burn’.

Herbaceous Borders: stake and tie and tie delphiniums and large herbaceous subjects late in April before they grow too tall. You can still lift, divide and replant old herbaceous plants such as michaelmas daisies and perennial rudbeckias, to give them a new start in life. Water them several times until they are happily established. Mulch beds and borders once they have warmed up a bit and the soil is moist and after you’ve hoed out the weeds.

Vegetables: protect potatoes from any late frosts as they emerge. Plant onion sets and sow salad crops and maincrop carrots. Sow winter cabbage and purple-sprouting broccoli for next year’s crop. Remove any rhubarb flowers as soon as they appear. French and runner beans can be sown under glass or in pots inside to give them a head start.

Hardy annuals can now be sown outside where they are to flower. Deadhead early flowering bulbs but do not remove the foliage from daffodils or tie them up; the plant needs the next month’s growth of leaf to feed the bulb for next year’s flowers.

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Take the heads off daffodils as they die to stop them making seed heads. Do not cut off or tie the leaves; they are needed to build up the bulb now to produce flowers for next year.

About the middle of the month, sow runner beans and french beans. (If you started them in pots or trays in April, wait till June before planting them out.) Continue to sow successions of carrots, lettuce and radishes.

Take cuttings of sage, thyme and rosemary and plant in sandy soil or around the edge of pots filled with sandy compost. 

Spray roses regularly against aphid, blackspot and mildew. Tackle slugs, preferably with beer traps or your own favourite remedy; avoid using slug pellets, since they are a death sentence to birds, particularly thrushes, who eat the slugs and snails.

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Take more cuttings of sage, thyme, and rosemary. Insert them around the edge of a sand-filled pot or into open sandy soil Plant out any runner beans that you started inside in pots. Also marrows, courgettes sweet corn and outdoor tomatoes. Plant leeks, Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli and cabbage.

Continue to spray roses against mildew, blackspot and rust. Pinch out side buds on hybrid teas where you want good large blooms. Sow hardy annuals in flowering positions; thin out as they germinate to avoid crowded, leggy plants. Sow hardy perennials outdoors for first flowering next year. Sow sweet williams and wallflowers for use next year.

Water recently planted shrubs and vegetables in dry spells: a good soak is better than a little and often. Spray raspberries against raspberry beetle ten days after flowering. Net the fruits to keep the birds out. Water well to produce a good crop of full-sized, juicy fruits.

If you are away for the weekend, move houseplants away from south- or west-facing widows where they get direct sunlight at the hottest part of the day.

Plant out summer vegetables if you’ve had them already started in pots or trays, or sow them now directly where they are to grow: runner beans, french beans, courgettes, sweet corn and outdoor tomatoes. Now is the time also to plant out from their seed beds winter vegetables such as purple sprouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and leeks.  

June can be a bumper month for both aphids and moulds and mildews. Keep a keen eye and continue to spray appropriately each week.

and... take time to stand back and enjoy your garden — and other people’s [Open Gardens in Bassingham & Aubournlate June / early July]

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July / August:

Cut lupins and delphiniums to ground level to encourage a second flowering. Continue to disbud border carnations and remove old flower stems from pinks. Pinch out tendrils and side shoots on sweet peas.

Pick raspberries, then cut out old canes and tie in new shoots as they grow high enough to reach the supporting framework; cut out weak ones. Pick blackcurrants and prune bushes, leaving in the best robust new shoots. Train in new blackberry and loganberry shoots which will bear next year’s fruit.

Finish planting late Brussels sprouts, winter cabbage and sprouting broccoli. Lift and dry off shallots as their tops yellow. Start to lift and dry off onions.  

Visit other people’s gardens and see what you can pick up — literally and metaphorically perhaps! The real gardening gems come from good gardeners as much as from books, garden centres or television programmes... Enjoy your garden and your gardening!

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Lawns can now be safely aerated and scarified, and any worn patches can be reseeded. Autumn fertiliser (with less nitrogen but more potash and phosphate) can be applied.

Roses: the new growth of climbing roses can be tied in. Climbers and ramblers, which have only one flush of blossom, can now be pruned. Continue to remove faded blooms on shrub roses and hybrid teas. Repeat spraying against blackspot, mildew and greenfly.

Now is the time to plant spring bulbs, between shrubs or herbaceous plants. For naturalising bulbs in lawns, just scatter them and plant each one where it falls.

Clip hedges for the last time this season. Have a look too at all your hedges, shrubs and trees; some of them have probably grown well beyond their allotted space; everything seems to have grown and grown continuously throughout this summer. New evergreen hedges can be planted between mid-September and mid-October.

Spring cabbages can be planted this month, dusting against club root and cabbage root fly. Lift and store main crop carrots. To ripen marrows for storage, raise them off the ground on individual platforms of brick or wood while still on the plant.

Finish any paving, walling or fencing jobs before any risk of frosty weather next month.  Now is a good time to have an eye to the care of your garden tools: clean off caked soil and check the haft on that faithful old spade, and the fork, rake and hoe, making sure they’re still firm and tight, and give them a well deserved wipe down with a rag impregnated with linseed oil, both haft and the metal parts to protect them from the winter dampness yet to come.

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Lift any remaining potatoes and store them away from light and frost. Clear pea and bean haulm and dig over the ground. Cut out fruited blackberry canes and tie in new shoots. Pick apples and pears as they ripen.

When the weather allows, rake and aerate established lawns. Tidy borders and beds, removing stakes and plant debris and compost or burn.

(ensure any bonfire does not cause nuisance to others); dead-head except for decorative seed heads; remove seedling weeds. Divide old clumps of perennials and revitalize by planting the vigorous outer shoots.  

Take hardwood cuttings of rambler and miniature roses. Cut back taller roses. Firm in any stakes and check ties.  


Right then this is my first attempt at this section as there has been limited room up to now within the magazine. The problem is I don't have green finger and Alan Titchmarsh I'm not. So here goes. 

I'm afraid that Autumn is upon us the summer displays are fading and the leaves are a-coming down. On your allotments or vegetable patch I believe its time to lift remaining potatoes and store them away from light and frost. Peas and bean haulm are to be cleared and the ground dug over. Pick your apples and pears as they ripen, cut out fruited blackberry canes and tie in new shoots. 

Take hardwood cuttings of rambler and miniature roses. Cut back taller roses. Firm in any stakes and check ties. Mow lawn as appropriate feed and water if needed, control moss if necessary and aerate. 

Tidy borders and beds, removing stakes and plant debris and compost or burn (ensure any bonfire does not cause nuisance to others) dead head except for decorative seed heads, remove seeding weeds. Divide old clumps of perennials and revitalize by planting the vigorous outer shoots. 

But most of all try to catch a few of the late summer sunny days to enjoy your garden.

[WS Oct 05]

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November / December:

Jobs for November: Keep cleaning the leaves away to prevent debris accumulating in beds and borders. Now is a good time to transplant any plants you wish to move. Get your bulbs in now, especially tulips! They are overdue! But be careful with other bulbs as they can rot in overly wet conditions. With heavy rain, it's a good time to put autumn feed on grass if it's short. You can cut back clematis, and any other bushes that don't have berries on at the moment. Mulch your flowering shrubs around the base with compost. Hold fire with pruning for the moment, if it is still too warm. Keep the greenhouse clean and tidy, and keep the air vents open because it is still relatively warm, so the warm air of the day meats the cold air of the night and can still lead to condensation.

Herbaceous borders: continue cleaning and tidying up beds and borders and digging between plants. Replace worn lawn turf beside beds, by cutting rectangular sections and turning them through 180°. Prune any overhanging branches of trees and shrubs. Check for any invasive roots from trees and hedges, cutting through them with a sharp spade.

Lawns: continue to aerate the turf when reasonably dry. This can be done with an ordinary garden fork, pushing it several inches in and wriggling it. If possible, brush in sharp sand. Now is the time to clean and overhaul your cutting equipment and mowers, oiling them and putting them away in the dry.

Trees and shrubs: clear away fallen leaves to the compost heap. Check for any loosening due to frost or wind. This year, even some mature established trees have been rocked and made unstable in the waterlogged soil. 

Otherwise, put your feet up and settle down with the seed catalogue to plan for next year’s garden dreams.

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The Garden Group

Details of events are provided periodically in The Witham Staple printed magazine.


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Bassingham Open Gardens

Details of events are provided periodically in The Witham Staple printed magazine.

See selected photographs from some of gardens and scarecrows on display in past years.


A request to all gardeners:

Please remember when you are reorganising your house plants and greenhouse and are setting out in the garden that your spare plants would be very much appreciated as stock for the plant stall at Bassingham Open Gardens. If you can’t keep them until June we will gladly look after them. Call Geoff and Jan Culpitt (Tel: 788793).

You can also:

Hedges Growing Over Paths

Please check outside your home and see if the vegetation is spreading over the pavement or footpath. If so, please cut it back. Such growth must not interfere with the safe use of the footpath, and due consideration must be given especially to small children, prams, pushchairs and wheelchairs. Overgrown hedges can also cause annoyance to your neighbours - be considerate!

High Hedges

The High Hedges legislation became law on 20th November 2003. It has been introduced pnmarily because of the increased incidence of neighbour disputes arising from fast-growing Leylandii cupressus hedges and should be fully operational by the end of 2004.

It is clearly in everybody’s interest to resolve differences regarding hedges amicably. However, if this is not possible, complaints may be taken to the local authority, provided that:

• the hedge in question is comprised wholly or predominantly of a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs;

• is over two metres high;

• the hedge acts, to some degree, as a barrier to light or access;

• and because if its height, is adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of his domestic property (ie home or garden).

The criteria covered by the guidance for local authorities all concern problems caused by the height of the hedge and are expected to include:

• both light and sunlight deprivation to homes and gardens;

• safe height for regular trimming and maintenance if the hedge is in such a position that it needs to be regularly maintained because, for instance, the overhang is taking up too much of the victim’s ground;

• plant damage caused by hedge height through deprivation of light or rainfall;

• deprivation of a cherished view.

For those who do have hedges bordering other property, it may be worth checking whether your neighbour is content with the height and state of the hedge. Alternatively, it may be advisable to take early action to trim the hedge down to manageable proportions.

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The Hardy Plant Society

The Hardy Plant Society is a charity that informs and inspires lovers of plants and gardens. It is an international Society and was formed in 1957 by a group of eminent gardeners and nurserymen. The Founding Four were Alan Bloom, Arthur Hellyer, Will Ingerson and John Sambrook. Our current President is Roy Lancaster, OBE, who has supported the society for decades.

The aim of the Hardy Plant Society is to give its members information about the wealth of both well known and little known perennials and to ensure that all worthy plants remain in cultivation and have the widest possible distribution.

There are over 40 friendly Local Groups across the UK and the Lincolnshire Group, formed in 1989, hold their lively meetings at the William Farr Church of England School, Lincoln Road, Welton, LN2 3JB. There is ample parking on-site. The school is accessible by wheelchair.

Members travel here from all over the county - from The Wash to The Humber and come from Doncaster and Nottinghamshire too. All levels of gardeners, of any age, are very welcome. In fact, anyone, with enthusiasm and a love of gardening. Gardeners enjoy meeting other gardeners and it is a very good way of making friends. Our aim is to encourage young members who will, of course, be our future. After all age is only a number whether we are young or slightly older!

Visitors and New Members will receive a warm welcome and the opportunity to share ideas and information in a convivial environment. We have 7 Speakers annually: in January (after our AGM), February, March, April, September, October, November and a Plant Sale (everyone welcome) in May; with a host of activities during the summer months. Our Talks are diverse and afterwards we adjourn for a welcome cup of tea/coffee and biscuits. Members Plant Sales at most meetings.

Lincolnshire group meetings are held at William Farr Church of England School, Lincoln Road, Welton, LN2 3JB.

Why not come along to one of these meetings as a Visitor, hear an interesting and illustrated Talk by a knowledgeable Speaker and afterwards join us for tea/coffee and biscuits. It’s a good way to make new friends.

[WS May 2013]

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