Around the garden

The larvae of the Black Sawfly are small, black, slimy, slug-like creatures we know as pear or cherry slugs. 

These pests decimate the leaves on birches, cherries, pears, plums and quinces by feeding on the upper surfaces of the leaves.

This gives them a skeletonised appearance.

On heavily-infested trees the leaves turn brown, wither up and fall off.  

As a protective measure, the larvae cover themselves in a green slime that makes them unpalatable to predators.

To control spray regularly with a contact insecticide.

Cherry care

Cherry trees bloom early and are susceptible to frost damage, so choose a protected site when planting a new tree.  

They are also very sensitive to poor drainage.

Sour cherry trees only need the weaker growth and some cutting back of the taller branches to keep the tree low enough for spraying and ease of harvesting. 

Sweet cherry trees are pruned less than other fruit trees. 

After planting, a little corrective pruning may be necessary, but just enough to maintain a structurally-sound tree.

Birds taking fruit can be a problem, so keep the height of fruit trees low so netting can be easily thrown over them.

Cherries need a sheltered, well-drained position in order to thrive.

Cherries need a sheltered, well-drained position in order to thrive.

Rain lily

Zephyranthes candida, the autumn crocus is sometimes called the rain lily because it bursts into flower after late summer rains. 

These small bulbs have thin, grass-like foliage and clusters of dainty white blooms, and will spread rapidly throughout the garden. 

They prefer a sunny position in well-drained soil and look best grown in clumps.

They are named after Zephyrus, the mythological Greek god of the west wind.

Hedge your bets

Hedges not only offer an effective design element in the landscape but also form screens to give privacy, define areas and act as barriers and windbreaks.

It’s important to give careful thought to your plant selection.

For example, don’t plant sun-loving plants in shady areas, and make sure your soil is compatible with the needs of the plants. 

Purchase small plants because, as they grow, you can keep clipping them so they mature into dense screens. 

Check the eventual spread and height so you can make allowances for their space, and remember regular pruning is needed.

The right hedge adds an exciting and decorative element to a garden.

The right hedge adds an exciting and decorative element to a garden.

Pea planting

The second or third weekend in March is the traditional time for sowing sweet peas to bloom in October, so begin to prepare a suitable site now. 

Choose a well-drained position that gets plenty of sun and, if the soil is acidic, spread a good handful per square metre of dolomite limestone.