winter gardenSpring bulbs planting should be done in groups of three or five at the right time. Paper-whites are now available worldwide. They are mainly grown in pots and are ideal to give as gifts to those friends who have everything! Planting them at the right time will result in small, white, perfumed flowers during winters . They can grow on a bed of pebbles with water added, but the more usual way is to sit them in a shallow bowl of compost over a layer of stones. Don’t let the bulbs touch each other or the sides of the pot. Cover with just enough compost to leave their tops exposed and water them lightly. Keep the pot in a cool dark place until the shoots start to show.

During winters a good care is needed for roses. Growing damascena and banksia roses could be a good choice as they need very little attention apart from removing any diseased or dead wood. Damascena roses put on a lot of growth and it is a good idea to shorten the long stems by about half now, removing a few of the older woody stems each winter. Constantly renewing the growth sometimes helps in the case of rust, which this lovely rose is prone to. Check that the roots of all roses are firmly in the ground and water in a feed with a lot of potassium (high last number on the fertiliser) after this treatment.

If the ground is suitably damp then you can move pot bound plants into larger pots or even into the garden. If a plant has been in a pot for some years then a bonsai effect is created. The roots confined in the pot will be growing round and round. Gently unwind them and if necessary trim them down. All this can affect the plant and it may take a little while to recover from such drastic surgery but in the long run the plant will benefit from this. Always add some new compost, slow release fertilizer or bone meal if you can get it, to the planting hole and water in well after ensuring that the plant is firmly in the ground.

Regular pruning of shrubs  even during winters will help promote lots of new growth and the bush will always look fresh. Plumbagos put out enormously long stems each year that they really do need to be chopped back to about 15cm. There are white plumbagos too – just treat them the same way as the blue ones. Lantana bushes put out fresh growth each season as well, so cut them back to the wood and they will give you fresh new stems in the spring. Always water well and feed aft

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