FOBS Gardening Tips

We would like to have local tips from lots of FOBS members. As you know, if you open any newspaper, there are tips or what to do at certain times of the year so we want this to be more personal e.g. something which you have found out from your experience and may not be common knowledge to most people.

Tips on growing Acers, Camellias & Magnolias

Many thanks to our speaker, Mike Gibbons, for allowing us to publish these tips. (Posted 10 May 2011)
Mike's garden in Dronfield is at relatively high altitude, on a generally free-draining soil over sandstone but has patches of clay which can be water-logged. Winds and late frosts can cause problems.


Hate hot, dry wind, especially when buds are opening in April/May.
For water-logged soil - prepare site before planting with plenty of compost.
If grown in pots, make sure pots do not dry out - but do not over-water.
In pots - feed with diluted tomato food (half strength) at 2 week intervals from bud break. Do not feed after early July.
Annual mulch of compost.
Pruning best done in March, avoid autumn pruning.
When buying plants check they are well rooted in pots, and leave in pots for a few weeks in your garden to acclimatise.


For Sheffield/Dronfield:
Choose late flowered varieties
Start with any C. x williamsii hybrid
Pot culture for first year to build up plant roots
Small groups look better than single specimens
Acid feed from end of flowering to early July (do not feed after July)
Protect flower bud formation by watering in August and dry autumns
Plant under canopy layer, or shelter against a wall or fence to protect from frost damage
White-flowered varieties not very successful in this area
Prune immediately after flowering - or risk removing next year's flowers
Annual mulch - acid compost (ericaceous)
Water Water Water (Camellias in Asian cloud forests never dry out).


Need a well-drained sheltered spot.
Enjoy sunshine - do not plant under canopy of other trees.
Organic-rich, acid/neutral soil. May tolerate clay underneath a well-prepared soil.
Annual mulch.
Prune after flowering.
Acid feed granules once a year.
Choose late flowering cultivars in this area.
DO NOT move once planted - shallow fleshy roots hate disturbance.

Red Lily Beetle Alert

Early this year - but these pests have already made an appearance on my Fritillaria imperialis. I favour the thumb & forefinger squish to deal with them. (AH - 24/03/2011)

Overwintering penstemons in Sheffield

Well - have to admit that even leaving the plant untrimmed didn't work. The plants were still actively growing when the extreme cold started in November 2010 - they hadn't gone into 'hibernation'. Result - lots of dead penstemons. My Penstemon digitalis 'Mystica' have survived, but all the hybrid varieties have succumbed. Sad - but an opportunity to fill the gaps with something else. Don't forget FOBS Plant sale on May 8th.
(AH - 24/03/2011)

Saw Fly

If you have problems with Saw Fly on flowers such as Solomon Seal then spray as soon as the plants appear through the ground. Do not wait until the flowers appear as it will be too late. (JQ - 12/06/2010)

Underplanting with Heuchera

Underplant trees in grass with heuchera. This looks particularly attractive in an orchard using different coloured heuchera under different trees eg lime green ones under one tree, and another colour under another tree. (JQ - 12/06/2010)