Garden Care in Boroughbridge

Border between front lawn and drive


D & E have a spacious front garden which is partially visible to the public and is used mostly to create an attractive view from the house. The soil is poor, very sandy at depth and filled with builders rubble and  clay at the surface which was probably from topsoil imported during the house construction.  Much of the garden is very damp and is close to a river. They have a lovely rear garden with high conifer hedges creating almost complete privacy for sitting out and a warm, sheltered micro-climate allowing planting of a range of more tender plants than might otherwise be possible.  D & E love architectural shapes, colour and love Alpines and Rockery plants. I have worked with the existing plants, divide and increasing those  which grow successfully in the existing conditions,moving others to better sites in the garden and remove perennials and shrubs which are not succeeding.  I have reduced plants which have outgrown their allotted space and introduce more colour for each season with colourful foliage and flowers. The addition of compost as a mulch in spring and autumn has helped improve the soil quality and individual plant health care has been a huge priority. I have also encouraged them to experiment with the propagation of  a wider range of plants from seed.


Scented roses, Alchemilla Mollis and hardy geraniums in the front garden

Don and Elaine say – “Yorkshire Gardeners has been looking after our garden for a few years now and has reshaped and invigorated the whole visual effect. Emma has an innovative yet practical approach to landscaping and her in-depth horticultural knowledge and enthusiasm has helped develop really interesting, colourful and rewarding borders and surrounds in our garden. She and her team are friendly, helpful and very good value – we recommend them without reservation – 10/10.”

February and March in the garden

Mixed hellebores

Mixed hellebores

We are just moving into a very busy period for the garden, tidying up after a warmish and very wet winter and preparing for the spring. Check for damage to supports for climbers and wall shrubs, remove dead and broken branches from shrubs and trees, check for fungal infections such as blight on box and holly and check for bracket fungus on trees and call in a tree surgeon if necessary.

Hopefully everybody now has completed winter pruning on their wisteria but, if not, I have’ a very very little’ availability over the next couple of weeks.

As the gardens are now mostly dried out we can get onto the soil and start tidying up and getting rid of those pesky weeds that have started growing very early – although the frost over the last week has at least brought that to a sudden stop.  Some people may well have spots in their garden which have started flooding every winter and this spring may be the time to consider some changes to these areas, for example raised beds or planting shrubs and trees which can survive both wet and dry conditions.

If you haven’t done it already any perennials left for winter interest should be cut back.  This includes the grasses.  Also remove the old untidy leaves of Hellebores to give a better view of these beautiful flowers and keep deadheading pansies to encourage flowering through spring.

Galanthus (snowdrops)  Hyacinthoides non-scripta (English Bluebells) and Aconite hyemalis are all best moved ‘in the green’.  When the flowers fade dig up large clumps, split them and replant in new positions.  If you have too many give them away to friends and neighbours.  This is a far more successful way of increasing the number of plants than attempting to plant bulbs and corms.  Do not mistake our native bluebells for Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) which are hugely invasive, without scent and virtually impossible to remove once established in a garden.  They are best removed from any garden as soon as possible.

Now is the time to prune Group 3 Clematis, generally large flowered, these are the summer and autumn flowering clematis. You will be also pruning Group 2 probably by the end of March.   If you are not sure which Group your Clematis belongs to this article by Sue Sanderson for Thompson and Morgan is very helpful.

Prune winter flowering shrubs  as soon as they finish flowering.  Not all will need pruning; Viburnum tinus and winter-flowering jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) for example can be thuggish and will benefit from a hard prune back if they have outgrown their required space – others  may only need a light trim or nothing at all.

When your Hostas start to show above the ground you can divide larger clumps through March.  Hostas are very forgiving and if you have a huge compacted clump that it is impossible to get a spade or fork through try a bow saw – it worked brilliantly for me last year.

Bush and shrub roses can be pruned through March.  Climbing and rambling roses should have been pruned in the autumn with any renovation done in the winter.

Coloured winter stems on Cornus and Salix can be pollarded or coppiced in March to encourage coloured stems for next winter and keep the size down.

Check out any stored Dahlia tubers as they might either be drying out too much or (if you have a leaky hut like me) getting damp and rotting.

Once plants are pruned and any sign of blight removed (including any leaves), mulch these areas thoroughly. Many gardens around Ripon have sandy soil so mulching can take place very soon.  For heavier clay soils it will be better to wait a bit longer.

It will also be worth considering extra feeding for shrubs and trees this year once growth gets underway and all danger of frost is over.  The extreme wet weather will have washed nutrients out of the soil.




Long Border Makeover

Border before makeover

Keith clearing away dead growth to examine plants before lifting.

I have been working with one of my gardeners, Keith, over the past few days renovating a lovely long border running the full length of an old brick wall.  The border is filled with a wonderful range of herbaceous perennials which many people cut back for winter. However here, many  have been left with their seed heads over winter to attract wildlife.  These perennials are mainly tall and mid-summer to autumn flowering.  Many were heavily compacted and in need of lifting and dividing.

The Border Day 1

Keith and I cleared away dead growth and lifted each plant, discovering a large infestation of bindweed in some places and couch grass in others all of which we removed as much as possible and stored separately for removal from site. The rest of the waste was added to the compost heap or set aside for the bonfire. Plants were divided, dead growth removed and then we carefully replanted everything in new groups along the border.  The area was dug over to remove any remaining weeds and unwanted plants, including some particularly invasive bamboo, the stone edging between border and path cleaned up and the path raked to remove any rubbish.

Border makeover

Once completed the border looked clean and tidy and filled with fresh new plants from the old compacted clumps, some of which produced so many plants a temporary nursery bed had to be created to store them until a new home was found.  The new plants should look wonderful later in the year when they become established.

We will be back in April to fill the gaps with a range of mid to low level perennials flowering in late spring and early summer to contrast the existing plants.




Spring Bulb Care










spring bulbsSpring bulbs can become congested over time leading to decreased flowering, increased pests and diseases and other problems until they finally disappear from your garden.  But with a little care they can keep flowering and multiply around  your garden.


Grown from corms these can bulk up after  a few years and flowering reduces.  Lift and divide the corms about a month to six weeks after flowering has finished and spread them around your garden,  replanting immediately  into soil improved by garden compost .


These can become congested over five or six years and need to be divided before flowers vanish.  Lift carefully after flowering and avoid damaging the foliage.  Ease the bulbs apart and replant individual bulbs immediately into soil improved by garden compost.  Plant at a depth of approx. 18cm.

Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)

I love seeing masses of these lovely blue flowers mixed with snowdrops but the common form of Grape Hyacinth can be very invasive and needs lifting and thinning out every few years.  Lift the larger clumps as soon as the flowers start to fade and ease the plants apart.  Replant the required number individually and move the remaining healthy plants to other parts of the garden or give them away.  Muscari should be planted at a depth of approx. 10cm.

muscarWinter Aconite (Eranthis)

These early bright yellow flowers cheer me up on early spring when very little else is open at ground level.  If they do become congested then simply lift them whilst still in growth (in the green) , divide and replant immediately  in new positions into soil improved by leaf mould or garden compost.  .

Snowdrops (Galanthus)

One of my favourite spring flowers which looks amazing sweeping through woodland and in shady areas of the garden.  These form clumps very quickly and should be divided on a regular basis to encourage flowering.  Lift ‘in the green’ as the flowers fade, divide into single bulbs and replant in damp shady areas of your garden into soil improved with leaf mould and at a depth of 10cm.  If buying Snowdrops then always buy in the green for best results.


Tulips seem to have a very short life span in most gardens in Yorkshire and they really need a very well drained soil to thrprimulaive.  Their life can be increased by lifting them after flowering.  Wait until the flowers and leaves turn yellow and start to fade and then carefully dig them up.  Brush off as much soil as possible and remove any bulbils which have formed around the bulb.  These will drain the strength of the bulb. Allow to dry for a time in a dark cool place like a garden hut, brush off any remaining soil and then pack away until November when they can be replanted in the garden.  You can carefully store them in cardboard boxes but I like using old tights hanging in a corner of my garden hut where air can circulate.

Primrose (Primula Vulgaris)

These form large clumps very quickly and you can often create ten or more new plants from a single clump.  Lift after flowering and gently ease the newly rooted outer pieces of the plant away from the woody centre.  Discard the original plant and plant the new ones in humus rich soil in semi-shade and keep watering until established.



Law(n) Order

  • Regular maintenance is best for a healthy, weed free lawn.
  • Lawns that have become waterlogged should have started drying out by now. Do not walk on them until they do.
  • Waterlogging may have led to moss, bare patches and yellowing grass. A spring feed is essential and can be combined with a chemical moss killer. Non chemical means can be introduced in autumn.
  • Reseed bare patches and sow new lawns.
  • Start mowing existing lawns if you haven’t already – remember to get the height right. Grass cut too short will not thrive.

What’s The Buzz?

Watch out for:

  • Slugs and snails on new growth of delphiniums, hostas and others.
  • Rots, rust and black spot – keep a close eye out as these affect a wide range of plants.
  • Aphids, leatherjackets and vine weevils, prevention now can save so much time later. Leatherjackets (the larval stage of daddy-longlegs/crane flies) in particular may be more numerous this spring as they thrive in damp conditions and mild winters.

    Leatherjacket damage to lawn

    Leatherjacket damage to lawn

Dig In

The ground is warming up and drying out after a very wet winter and the Spring jobs are mounting up:

  • Start planting your summer flowering bulbs and plant out forced bulbs from indoor winter displays.
  • Top dress your containers.
  • Get on top of your weeds before they get on top of you!!
  • Plant new and divide established perennials.
  • Feeding – essential for all plants and particularly for fruit trees after last years mega harvest.
  • Ideal time to mulch to show off plants and keep weeds suppressed as long as your soil is warm and dry enough.
  • Dig in lots of organic matter for your beds.
  • March/April is the best time to plant deciduous plants and April/May is better for evergreens.
  • Remember to guard against rabbits.