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In last month’s March issue The Irish Garden magazine in association with Mr Middleton’s Garden Shop, posed this question by means of an online survey and well over 1,200 readers replied. That is more than five times the number required for a statistically valid poll. They were asked to vote only for their favourite flower from ten nominated popular flowers.

And, surprise, surprise, the rose was a comfortable winner, head of a surprisingly strong showing by sweet pea. Daffodil had a bit of an advantage because it was March, daffodils season. Peony and lily, two grandees of the garden, were not far behind but then the field petered out to a collection of also-rans, namely, in order: clematis, poppy, tulip, sunflower and iris with little between them, the rose scoring more than their five cumulative scores.


The Irish Garden readers were also asked to score a series of the joys of the garden, naming more than one on the list if they wished. ‘Beautiful flowers and colours’ was a clear winner, at almost 80%, followed by ‘Supports wildlife’ at just over 60%. To place wildlife at number two is a real eye-opener. While most gardening folk love nature in all its forms, the importance of gardens as habitat for wildlife has only come to the fore in recent decades. ‘Sitting relaxing’ and ‘Satisfying effort’ scored quite high at 48% and 39% respectively, emphasising that people truly appreciate the pleasure of a garden and they are by no means all ‘maintenance-free’ merchants.

The total poll indicated that responders selected six of the available choices, which makes the tot-up more solid. Some surprises too, ‘Greenhouse growing’ was expected to do better and ‘Garden water feature’ was low at 10%, given that it is the first thing to be checked out by a new visitor to any garden that has a water feature. Fascinating stuff!


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Greenhouse and House Plants

  • Plant out greenhouse tomatoes in the greenhouse soil or in pots, or growbags.
  • All greenhouse plants should be well watered and liquid fed to grow them on strongly and take advantage of improving weather conditions.
  • Sweet corn should be sown by now but can be put in right away, if not.
  • Courgette seeds and runner beans can be sown mid-month for planting out at the end of May.
  • Watch for greenflies and red spider mites, especially on peach trees.
  • Summer bedding seeds sown this late will flower late in the summer and it might be better to wait and buy plants.

More on Greenhouse and House Plants

Easy CareGreenhouse growing

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Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs

  • If not already done, apply some wood ashes, a source of potash, to fruit trees or a fruit fertilizer to improve growth and yield, but not rich compost or manure when tends to promote soft growth and diseases.
  • Check for greenflies on fruit trees and bushes but do not spray when the blossoms are open in case of damaging pollinating bees and other insects.
  • All kinds of vegetables can be sown, especially carrots, cabbage, peas, onion sets, potatoes and cauliflower.
  • Sow seed onions, and sets can be planted.
  • A first sowing of French beans can be made.
  • Sow herb seeds too.

More on Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs

Easy CareFruit growing | Vegetables | Herbs

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  • Weekly mowing will be necessary from now until the end of June and perhaps after that if the weather is wet.
  • Regular mowing keeps the grass down and encourages a good thickness of grass to develop.
  • Lawns that are growing poorly will tend to be dull in colour or yellow and need feeding now with lawn fertilizer or high-nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Keep lawn edges trimmed.

More on Lawns

Easy CareLawns

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  • It is too early to plant out bedding plants, in all but the mildest gardens close to the south coast.
  • Tidy up flower beds now before the weeds go too far; the ground is still soft and it much easier than it will be in a couple of weeks time.
  • If you are raising your own bedding plants, these should be pricked out into trays or pots in good time and grown on strongly by adequate watering and liquid feeding. If they are developing too fast, simply stop feeding and ease off watering a little.
  • Gladiolus and dahlias can be planted directly outdoors.
  • Sow hardy annual flowers seeds to flower later in summer, especially nasturtiums.

More on Flowers

Easy CarePerennial flowers | Flower beds | Rockery | Containers

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Trees, Shrubs and Roses

  • Watch roses for a build-up of damaging numbers of greenflies, and spray for blackspot disease in wet weather if it was a problem last year.
  • Check the ties on all staked trees to ensure they are not too tight before new season expansion.
  • Recently planted trees, shrubs and hedges need to be checked for water shortage and will need to be watered during dry spells that last for more than five days.
  • Clip hedges that were not clipped earlier and those that have made early growth.

More on Trees, Shrubs and Roses

Easy CareTrees | Shrubs | Hedges | Mixed borders

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