PLANTING

Purchased plants should be removed from their packing as soon after arrival as possible. If dry give a thorough soaking in water before planting out. If for any reason planting must be delayed ‘heel’ them into the soil, that is, lay in a trench and earth over their roots until wanted. Roses can be ‘heeled’ in for many weeks without mishap, if time and soil conditions do not permit planting. During a spell of frost, however, leave plants in their original packing for the time being. Pot plants should be plunged to their rims in the soil until ready for planting. Planting should be done on a dry, warm day, preferably when the soil is moist. Never plant when the soil is sodden or frozen. Note that most flowers, shrubs, trees, fruits and vegetables must have well-drained land for best results (many primulas, Iris Kaempferi, trollius, poplars, willows and certain other plants will tolerate very wet or even boggy land but these are exceptions). Lime, basic slag etc., may be used to open up heavy, badly drained land . Dig the holes to receive the plants wide enough to let in the roots without the least cramping, stirring the earth deeply and mixing peat or hop manure with the soil at the bottom. With most plants the soil should be firmly pressed round the roots, and the surface lightly hoed over afterwards to enable rain, air and sunlight to penetrate. Plant trees and shrubs in open weather between November and March (evergreens from September to April), although autumn planting is often preferable since there is more time for new roots to develop and the plants can get well ahead in early spring. Stake firmly where necessary. With roses, bury the joint on the stem where scion (the eye or bud separated from the rose proper) and stock meet, planting so that the upper roots He just below the surface.

Divide and replant hardy perennials in early autumn as soon as they have finished flowering, or some time between the end of September and mid-February before growth starts again. Note that certain subjects, e.g. anchusa, Chrysanthemum maximum, gaillardia, pyrethrum and scabious, are best planted in early spring, especially on heavy soil, to avoid possible winter losses. For small plants, use a trowel or hand fork in preference to a dibber, which tends to pack the surrounding soil and does not therefore give free scope for root development. The dibber is handy, however, for setting out very small plants such as cabbages in rows and for planting bulbs like narcissi. It is best reserved for light soils where some consolidation is desirable. Celery and leeks should be trenched for convenience in subsequent earthing up, and the method may also be used with advantage for certain deep-rooting plants like sweet peas. Vegetables must be planted in drills wide enough apart to allow the foliage ample room for growth.

When pot plants are knocked out of the pots, the ball of soil should be gently broken up and the roots eased out before planting out or repotting.

PLATYCODON or BALLOON FLOWER A favourite species is Platycodon grandiflora which grows to 18 in. with violet-blue or white flowers in July and August. The large shiny blooms suggest a campanula. It should have the sun, grows best in a friable soil and is increased by division in spring.

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