Caring for bushes

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CONTENTS

Barberry bush (Berberis barbarossa) © Ita McCobb

Caring for your bush month by month

Most people find that bushes are easy maintenance. As long as you keep a watchful eye on their progress they wil do most of the work themselves. Always try to keep the soil around the base of your bush quite firm and never let it become too dry or cracked – but equally, never let it get too wet – just dampish is the better option.

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January

In January, thin out dead and diseased branches from established bushes.

Prevent the weight of snow breaking down the branches of conifer hedging by keeping them cleared of snow – which can become very heavy during persistent snowfalls. For young conifers, you can tie their branches together with hessian to stop the weight of the snow causing them to snap.

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February

In February, clear any ivy that may be growing around your bushes’ branches, taking care not to damage the bushes. Also clear any moss or lichen that may have grown on your bushes – a tar-oil wash works quite well for this.

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Deutzia gracilis © Ita McCobb

March

In March, top-dress young and newly planted bushes with manure (if you can get it and your neighbours won’t complain!), or use peat, compost or a branded compost from your local garden centre.

Start planting frost-hardy conifers – avoid planting in frosty or very wet conditions.

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April/May

In April and May, water newly planted bushes during dry weather and protect with a mulch of lawn cuttings or a branded mulch from your local nursery – you can even use black plastic sheeting if it’s not too hot.

Lightly prune deciduous bushes that have finished flowering.

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Camelia 'Anticipation' © Ita McCobb

June/July

In June and July, remove any self-sown seedlings from around the base or in the locality of your bushes.

Lightly prune deciduous bushes that have finished flowering.

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August/September

In August and September, start planting conifer bushes towards the end of the month. Continue planting throughout September.

Lightly prune deciduous bushes that have finished flowering.

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October/November

In October and November, start planting deciduous bushes towards the end of the month during fine weather and you can continue planting through December – avoiding frosty or wet conditions. 

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December

In December, re-firm soil around newly planted bushes that may have been loosened by frost. Protect young bushes from frost damage by covering them with horticultural fleece.

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References: Ita McCobb; Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press; Collins Tree Guide, Owen Johnson, William Collins; The Wildflower Key, Francis Rose (revised by Clare O’Reilly), Frederick Warne, The Gardening Year, Reader’s Digest; Botany for Gardeners, Third edition, Timber Press; David Austin Roses; Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, London; Missouri Botanical Garden; International Botanical Congress (IBC); The Royal Horticultural Society Gardeners’ Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers, Christopher Brickell ed., Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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