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Spring Colour with Eugene Higgins

Thursday, 1 March 2007


Our Big Friendly Gardener (BFG) Eugene Higgins is back with his top tips and he has just the right recipe to kick a little colour back in to your spring garden all for under €50.

As its National Tree Week from the 4th to the 10th of March, Eugene will talk about 2 interesting types of trees.

The flower pots in your garden have probably been ignored throughout the winter so now is the time to start afresh with them. Toss out the old compost and start with organic based compost which you will pick up for approx €6.99

Plant the following in pots, all widely available:

Thymus plants €1.95
The name Thymus derives from the Greek thyo, to perfume.  Dioscorides used the name thymon for this herb, which belongs to the family Labiatae. There are around 400 species and subspecies and well over 100 cultivars. Thymes grow wild in Europe, including Britain and also in Asia and North Africa.  Many of them come from the Mediterranean region.

2 x Tete-a-tete daffodil  @ €2.95 each
This beautiful little daffodil carries from 1 to 3 bright yellow flowers per stem. It is very early and valuable for edgings, rock gardens and pot culture.

Pansies €0.50 (Buy 4)
Pansies have been bred in the north, usually in urban environments. The flowers raised by these individuals range from gold and orange though to purple, violet, and a blue so deep as to be almost black. They are quite a hardy plant, growing well in sunny or partially sunny positions. Pansies are technically biennials that normally have two-year life cycles. The first year they only produce greenery; they bear flowers and seeds in their second year of growth, and afterwards die like annuals. Pansies are not very heat tolerant -once the temperature gets over a certain point they'll become leggy and stop blooming. They should be watered thoroughly about once a week, depending on climate and amount of rainfall. For maximum bloom, give them plant food every second week, according to directions. Regular deadheading can extend the blooming period.

Campanula €4.95
The genus Campanula is large, comprising about 300 species of annuals, biennials and perennials that are widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere. The largest numbers occur in southern Europe and Turkey. Species are found growing in a wide array of habitats from open meadows, woodland to the subalpine and alpine. Most of these species are easily cultivated and provide a long lasting display of flowers. Leaves are entire or toothed and borne alternately. Flowers are borne in panicles, racemes or clustered heads. Occasionally, they are solitary. Their shape varies from tubular to bell or star-shaped. They may also be more open and be cup or saucer-shaped.
Conditions under which each species grows best is dependent upon the habitat from which they originate. In general, a fertile to moderately fertile, neutral to alkaline, well drained soil will provide good growing conditions. Sun or shade depends upon the species. However, as the flower colours of many species are delicate pastel shades partial shade ensures that they do not fade too quickly.

If you have a small garden you can turn the soil once. Otherwise, turn the soil where you intend to plant. The following would go into the ground because they are flowering now.
Pieris cupido €9.95
This plant is quite dwarf-like. It has deep reddish young shoots almost bronze-red, followed by white flowers. Evergreen. They grow to 3 foot.

Helleborus potters wheel  €11.45   
The flowers of hellebores herald the start of the new year, with plants coming into bloom in early January.  Not only do they produce attractive, flowers, but their deeply-lobed, thick leathery leaves create an attractive evergreen backdrop to spring bulbs and flowers. Perhaps the most famous hellebore variety of all, 'Potter's Wheel', in its true form, has immense white flowers up to 13cm (5in.) across, comprising five broad, overlapping petals.
Most hellebores grow happily in shade. They appreciate plenty of organic matter in the soil, topped up with mulch every spring. All types prefer a sheltered position away from the effects of strong icy winds in winter and spring that can damage the emerging blooms and leaves.

Rosemary prostratus €9.95
Grown for its aromatic evergreen leaves and unusual flowers, rosemary is regarded as an essential culinary and medicinal herb, with an invigorating flavour. It makes a great specimen plant in any garden, especially when covered with flowers that attract bees and butterflies. It is also a welcome addition to any herb garden. For the best effect plant it in a position where it is brushed in passing to release its lingering scent. 'Prostratus' is a useful, low growing variety that is less susceptible to wind damage than taller plants. To keep plants in shape, trim after flowering.

Heathers mixed selection   €3.95

Heathers are a hardy and versatile plant for the garden that can bring year round pleasure. The delicate textures of the plants look great in a clump giving a splash of colour.
In general terms', planting is straightforward. Plant in 3, 5, and 7's - always odd numbers for high visual impact. Plant, water and leave to grow.

TOTAL COST = €50.10

Top Tips
1. Weeds start to grow when temp is 6șc and because we have had a mild winter, they are probably growing already.
2. Roses should be pruned before St. Patrick's Day. There are a few different types. Also feeding them potash at this time of year encourages more flowers and ripens the wood making the rose hardier.
- H.T should be cut back to 3 buds
- Floribunda should be cut back to 5 buds
- Climbers should be cut back to a third of last years growth
3. A lot of plants look dead at this time of the year. If you are in doubt, gently cut back some of the bark to see if it's green beneath.
4. Spike your lawn with a fork to help where it has compacted over the winter to about 2/3 inches deep, this allows drainage to improve and this stimulates growth.

National Tree Week runs from the 4th to the 10th of March so we will briefly talk about it today. This year's theme is 'Trees for Energy' and it aims to focus on trees in everyday life. National Tree Week is organised by the Tree Council of Ireland with the help of local authorities, schools and other organisations. There are over 300 events organised across the country as part of National Tree Week, including forest walks, talks, workshops, tree planting ceremonies and exhibitions. The events are sponsored and are free of charge and open to all members of the public. On top of this, over 15,000 trees, supplied by Coillte, will be distributed to schools and community groups by every local authority in the country.
In light of it being tree week, Eugene will have in studio and talk about the following three trees:

Betula jacquemontii "Trinity College" - from €60 to €270 depending on size you get. These are commonly known as silver birch. They are native tree as they are European and we are encouraged to buy them for that reason. They are fast growing and planted regularly all over our gardens. They have a beautiful white bark.

Oak- Quercus robur Fastigata koster - from €150
These types of oak are not for suburban growth, they would be plentiful in large country areas. It is believed they will replace poplars a very common tree in Ireland in the next few years.

For more information
You can contact Eugene at Colour Green in Tullamore, Co. Offaly on 057 9355840 or in Dublin on 01 8674319

National Tree Week
Please contact the Parks & Landscape Services Division of Dublin City Council at 01 -2223806 if your school or community group wishes to avail of trees for National Tree Week.
Dublin City Council has organised a number of events in Parks throughout the city. Please see the Tree Council website for further information of events taking place in your local area.