RULES FOR GROWING FLOWERING SHRUBS

MANY of our most beautiful garden shrubs flower in the spring, between the beginning of March and early in June when spring is giving way to summer. As they are among the earliest of plants to flower, no garden, however small, should be without one or two of them. Most of them are easy to grow and need little attention after planting.

Planting of the majority of these shrubs may be done at almost any time between late October and early March, provided the soil is not frozen, snow covered or water logged. If the spring is a late one and the ground remains frozen after a long winter, planting may be delayed until late March or even early April.

The shrubs will be growing in the same position for a good many years so the ground needs to be well prepared. Not that this is difficult, for all that it means is digging over the site deeply and mixing plant foods into the soil. Rotted farmyard manure is hard to come by and most of us have to make do with garden compost. But this is a very good food for shrubs. Try to mix ii evenly through the top foot or so of soil so that as the plant grows the developing roots will still find food. Compost is useful on both heavy and light soils and if you have enough Lo spare use ii liberally. OtHerwise try to give each shrub a minimum of a bucketful and supplement it with other plant foods. Hop manure is good and so are spent hops when they are available. Coarsely eround bone-meal is a useful slow-acting plant food, which you can scatter through the top spit of soil at the rate of j lb. Per square yard.

After the site has been dug over thoroughly the soil ought to be left to settle for at least a couple of weeks. One person can plant small shrubs quite successfully. Make the hole deep enough and wide enough to take the roots well spread out. Before planting cut off any broken or damaged roots with the secateurs. When the shrub is in position in the centre of the hole, its roots spread out, tie its stem to a temporary bamboo cane to keep it upright. This will leave both hands free to return soil. As you cover the roots shake the plant occasionally to make sure the soil filters down between the roots and once they are covered properly, firm lightly with your boot. Then carry on filling up with soil, firming as you go, until the planting hole is filled. Remove the temporary cane and rake the soil over afterwards to remove boot marks.

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