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The Gardening Coach

PUBLISHED: 11:55 24 March 2015

Dwarf pine

Dwarf pine

Archant

Judy Shardlow gives her top tips for the garden this month

Great for adding colour, structure and interest to a garden particularly during early spring, dwarf pines have been back in favour among garden designers for a few years now, and many garden centres stock a good range of compact pines and conifers.

The dwarf mountain pine, pinus mugo ‘Mops’ often features at Chelsea Flower Show. It’s a popular compact variety, growing to a maximum of one metre high. Others varieties such as pinus mugo var. mughus can grow a little larger, up to three metres, but they are slow growing and can be lightly pruned in the spring to maintain a good shape. These are very ‘can-do’ plants, growing happily in a range of different soil types and in full sun or part shade, but they do need a well-drained slope or raised bed to match their native alpine conditions.

One of my favourites is pinus mugo ‘Carsten’s Wintergold’. Its golden needles glow in the low sunlight of a winter garden, and it’s perfect for bringing light and focus to a shadier border. Next time you’re in a garden centre take a look at the dwarf pines, their beauty is subtle, but in a good well-drained spot, and as a partner for spring flowering bulbs such as snowdrops, iris reticulata, or dwarf narcissus, they’ll earn their keep very nicely.

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March gardening tips

Spruce up borders with a deep spring mulch of well-rotted garden compost or farmyard manure.

Know your onions - easy to grow and great for your health. Start off with small ‘sets’ which can be planted in well-drained soil in full sun.

Start planning new borders Mark them out with canes or hosepipe and leave in place while you check the effect from different viewpoints.

Sow sweet peas Soak seeds in tepid water overnight then sow into deep pots of seed compost. They’ll be ready to plant out at the end of May.

Give bare roots a go Bare rooted trees and shrubs are cost effective and establish quickly. March is the last month for planting.

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Judy Shardlow is an RHS award-winning garden designer and coach

01438 833858 heartwoodgardendesign.co.uk

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