BRIAN KIDD: The homing snails which slowly slither back

Delphiniums  the best ever after a slow start.

Delphiniums  the best ever after a slow start.

An old wheelbarrow makes an ideal planter near the house for immediate colour

BRIAN KIDD: Everything including a kitchen sink for an instant colour splash

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Our delphiniums were slow to bloom this summer, but they turned out to be the best ever.

We put single canes next to each stem so the foliage hid them. The trick is to cut off the cane tops just below the spire of flowers.

The plants have now been cut back, leaving just two feet of magnificent foliage. I forked the soil to a depth of four inches, added a cupful of fish blood and bone fertiliser and forked in. They have been given a good soaking of Maxicrop Complete liquid plant food made from seaweed because we would like more spikes of blooms in October.

Lots of herbaceous plants won’t bloom again after the first flush of flowers, but there are quite a few which will if all dead flowers are removed. Good examples are erigerons Elstead Pink and Blue Waves.

They bloomed in June, were cut back hard leaving just a rounded shape of foliage, given some of the above feed and today they are in full bloom again. They will continue into autumn if deadheaded regularly.

Herbaceous phlox will bloom again if the main head of dead flowers is taken down to a side shoot with tiny flower buds. Again, a drink of that food will do the trick.

Something was eating the leaves on just one hosta called Diana. We had a look after dark and the culprits were earwigs. They were given the size 10 treatment on smooth paving.

We are now trapping them by upturning a clay flowerpot stuffed with rolled-up newspaper. We put it on a stick eight inches high and placed it alongside the plant. The earwigs eat all night before crawling into the paper. I unfold it in the morning so they too get the size 10. It’s disappointing to find only one or two each day, but the hosta has no more nibbled edges.

We had another problem, rips in the leaves of a ligularia called Desdemona.

We both thought it couldn’t be slugs or snails because hedgehogs eat them at night.

I watered the soil and put down three rhubarb leaves on top of each other on the ground beside the ligularia.

The next morning I found three large snails. I don’t like killing snails so I took them to a piece of wasteland full of docks, three miles from home. I’m sure they are happy there!

It’s no good throwing them into the neighbour’s garden. Snails have homing instincts and will return. Hopefully they won’t slide three miles...

I’m gradually catching up at the allotments and, because I have been struggling, have taken a different attitude. I am looking at what looks good, and there are several areas which do, and then planning which areas need special effort – a prayer mat and lots of bags for the weeds. The best part is taking the weeds to the recycling centre. The guys at Waterlooville recycling centre are very helpful, but I think a blonde wig and mini skirt would be a good idea!

TIP OF THE WEEK

This is the ideal time to plant nerines, amaryllis and colchicum bulbs. Choose a place where they can bask in the sunshine and they will provide a great deal of pleasure in the autumn.

They may not be at garden centres yet, but when they are you should find them in dry packs with a picture on the front.

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