How to get a lovely carpet of colour

Brian Andrews, Frances Leppard and Charles Mobsby with their trophies

Top-notch daffodils reap rewards as village spring show returns for 2018

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When it comes to planting out the summer flowers in the borders, it can be quite a daunting task.

The job can take hours, but if we follow some basics it can be made easier and the plants will grow rather than fail.

This is the ideal time to plant all types of flowers for summer carpets of colour.

First of all the soil needs to dug over, but not to the full depth of a garden fork. Six inches will be quite sufficient.

There’s no need to add manure or compost either because both materials are best incorporated in autumn. That’s a relief – the work has been reduced considerably!

As the soil is dug over, it is important to break up the clods as soon as the soil is turned over. That’s because at this time of year, if the clods are left until the soil is dry, it is difficult to attain what is called a good tilth. This is achieved by using a decent rake to break down the clods.

Failures are usually due to lack of nutrition or pests or diseases. So a scattering of VitaxQ4 pelleted fertiliser using 2-3oz per square yard is applied once the fine tilth is achieved. This is raked into the top 2-3in of the soil.

The soil is now ready for planting and the fertiliser will help the plants resist pests and diseases. Without fertiliser, all plants tend to be weaker and more vulnerable to problems.

I have mentioned this lots of times before and people laugh at me, but give this a try.

If the ground where you wish to make an impression is really poor, it is easy to improve it if you can afford a fiver.

That will buy a couple of cheap growing bags. Once the soil is forked over, add a 3in layer of the contents of a bag over the top of the ground and just fork it lightly into the top 2-3in of the top soil.

Best results are achieved if this is tried on a fairly small area so that the contents are not spread too far.

If the soil consists of heavy clay, an inch of sharp sand can be added to the layer of the growing bag compost. But don’t forget to add the fertiliser.

Plants grown in little pots are ideal for excellent results, as are plants grown in insert cells. This is because every plant has an individual entire root system, whereas plants grown closely together have their roots intertwined. This usually means a lot of roots are torn or damaged once they are separated when planting.

Freshly-prepared soil is normally nice and moist but not too wet to plant in. Many a flower display has been ruined due to the roots on the plants being dry when being planted.

This is frequently overlooked and, when asked what has gone wrong, people tell me they watered the soil well after planting. But the root balls of the plants don’t always absorb the water!