Jo Whittingham on gardens

Jo Whittingham on gardens

Jo Whittingham on gardens: Be poised in the vegetable patch to pinch out the tips of climbing beans and cordon tomatoes

While we can't rely on July for a heatwave, things are guaranteed to be hotting up in the beds and borders as high summer's fiery herbaceous flowers begin to bloom.

Gardens Works: Jo Whittingham

Our warm, wet spring has brought many plants into bloom early and the best way to keep this display going into summer is to cut each head as it fades to encourage more flowers.

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Jo Whittingham on gardens: 'It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of summer crops and forget less glamorous winter staples'

When I began growing fruit and veg I imagined that eating produce from your own plot all year round was a privilege reserved for veteran allotment holders or those with a country estate and staff of gardeners.

Jo Whittingham on gardens: 'Climbers, such as clematis and roses, should also be romping away'

Whether you're pruning, weeding, sowing or planting, success in the garden is often down to getting the timing right. Thanks to the vagaries of our weather, that's not always easy, especially this month, when balmy spring days can go hand in hand with biting frosty nights.

Jo Whittingham: 'Buy seed potatoes now and chit them on a cool, bright windowsill'

It seems impossible after the winter we've had, but there's a definite whiff of spring in the air at last.

Jo Whittingham on gardens: 'Start early crops in pots to be planted out later if you're keen to get ahead'

By February I'm usually brimming with excitement about the coming spring, having got most of the winter jobs done in the garden and already seen the earliest flowers show their welcome faces.

Jo Whittingham on gardens: 'I can't get enough of the subtle charms of hellebores at this time of year'

This time last year our gardens had disappeared under a serious covering of snow. Even my coastal garden, where the white stuff never usually settles at all, was draped in a beautiful thick, white blanket for a couple of weeks.

Jo Whittingham on gardens: Planting fruit in winter

I discovered greengages this autumn. Admittedly not a life-changing event, but the lure of this subtly perfumed, sweet-fleshed little plum has got me on the hunt for a greengage tree – just a young one – that I can train as a fan against a bare fence.

Jo Whittingham on gardens: 'Autumn sunshine against a blue sky is something close to heaven for me'

People have told me that they find October a bit depressing and, while I'll probably have nodded in agreement at the time, I must admit I've got no idea why.

Jo Whittingham: 'Pick sweetcorn, climbing beans and, best of all, the early apples and pears '

All of a sudden we're slipping into autumn. The early signs are subtle this month, so enjoy the late colour left in your beds and tuck into your harvest of fruit and vegetables, while the sun is still warm and the evenings still light.

Jo Whittingham: It's worth acclimatising young plants gradually

I'm sorry to say that the pickings from my veg plot are extremely slim at the moment.

Jo Whittingham: Get the cold weather casualties out now

I'm sure it was this time last year that I was bemoaning the sad state of our lawns following a dusting of snow, so after this winter it's no surprise to see yellowing, tufty grass in almost every garden once again.

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