Fern Lea Nurseries Advice Gardening

Advice from Robert Ibbotson of Fernlea Nursery in Maltby le Marsh

Fernlea Nurseries1. About Plants

Everyone would like to grow plants that will give pleasure by way of colour foliage scent or just add beauty to the garden or patio. We might like to screen off part of the garden to make it a little haven away from the rush and cares of the outside world.

All of these things are possible with the right plants. Keeping in mind certain plants are more suitable because of shape size colour of leaf we might want evergreens, would they flower and when would they need clipping or pruning? Will the soil type be suitable for the particular plant choice? Is the ground well drained, clay, sandy and dry in summer, in shade under trees or open to damaging winds?

Another consideration is the how much lime alkaline content the soil contains this is critical for some ericaceous plants or even too acid for others. Frost pockets are yet another hazard not to mention all of the insect pests and fungal disease that invade our gardens.

Enough to put most of us off gardening for good. Please do not be, nearly all the above we can be remedy, by prevention or adding something to the soil to increase the fertility, or by protecting them in some way, selecting the suitable choice of plants for their various needs in our gardens and give us great joy to see them thriving.

2. Oh Bedding Plants.

I have no doubt in my mind that Bedding plants provide most of the stunning colour in our gardens during the summer months. It has often been said by gardeners I have talked with that they do not want the bother of planting up borders with summer bedding and pulling out the plants at the end of the season. They say it is too much trouble to grow annual plants every year. However, please think of the positive side the sheer enjoyment getting a border ready for planting, planning your design and colour scheme which can be different each year, putting in the plants on a nice warm spring day to anticipate the result with a little help from nature.

eg. The blue and white Lobelia with yellow or orange Marigold, Fire red Salvia, Red pink and white Begonias, Blue Ageratum, multicolour Petunias, Carnival Nemesia, Antirrhinum, and large flowed Cosmos. Gerainums, The Buzzie Lizzie in all its shades of colour. Taller African marigold in yellow or orange, Tagetes yellow. There are foliage plants that can be mixed in Cinararia silver, Red leaf Foxtail, and lots more, have lots of fun with them all and put some colour in your garden this year.

I am growing most of the old favourites as well as some new ones. Planting usually starts in my area last week in May throughout June depending on the weather.

3. Make a Rock Plant or Alpine Garden.

Try to create an alpine landscape. Most alpine plants like good drainage so to raise the site above normal level is beneficial, lay down one of the weed proof sheets so that you do not get perennial weeds coming up, several bits of large rocks as well as some of different shapes and sizes I like to place them so that they make small pockets that each plant has a niche where it can grow and not over run plants next to it.


A lot of spring and summer flowering alpine plants like full sun, however, some will grow in partial shade, there are even those which like damp shady conditions such as primulua species, after making the ground floor as you might say. The shape or size does not matter it can be round oval square or some eccentric design all the better for that, build up the next layer and so on until it is as high as you want it to be. Most of these type of plants do not need a lot of soil to grow in, plenty of pea gravel mixed into weed free compost is ideal place the plant so that it can grow over and hang down the rocks provided for it, some alpine plants grow in small clumps these can be placed in the centre of the niche with rock protection each side,other plants like to grow in cracks in the rocks just put a bit of soil in and then the plant.

Alpine and rock plants grow year after year with very little maintenance required just trimming after the flowering season. Putting pea gravel around the plant gives a pleasing appearance and is of benefit to the plant also suppressing weeds, some like to add a little height and character by planting a few evereen dwarf conifer's at the top this is a matter of choice,what ever your choice there are a good range of well grown alpine and rock plants at this nursery during the planting season.

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