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  • east neuk perennials

Spring is here - time to clear herbaceous borders

One of the key tasks you should be undertaking this month is clearing herbaceous perennials to ensure there is plenty of space and daylight in your borders for new growth.

While a lot of this work may have been done in the autumn, now is the time to remove the dead foliage of plants which you may have left in borders for winter interest, such as astilbe, sedum, eryngium and kniphofia.

It’s important that tender plants with woody stems, such as penstemons, are left in the ground a while longer to protect the crown from frost. Leave pruning of these until the risk of frost has passed – usually around mid-May.When cutting back at this time of year, be careful not to damage any new shoots that are already starting to emerge. Follow our top tips to ensure you stay on the right track:Use a sharp pair of secateurs to cut stems down to the ‘crown’ or dormant top of the plant, avoiding the removal of new shootsIn spring, new growth arises from the base of herbaceous plants that die back to ground level over winter. This is best not removed during cutting backSome perennials may shoot from the base or from branching points higher up the old shoots. If growth is coming from the base, cut the old stems back to within a few centimetres of the ground, leaving the new shoots open. Where growth arises higher up a branch, shorten the old stems and cut to just above a healthy leaf or budOnce you’ve finished cutting back, mulch with leaf mould or wood bark chippings and fertilise with a well balanced fertiliser such as blood fish and bone to promote growth and flowering.Now the spring is here, we’ll be posting regular blogs once more. Please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for top seasonal tips and advice.Happy gardening!Karen and Sue

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