Plus Pic of dandelions for roundell

Jack Frost’ in the air!

The cool weather during much of the month has delayed and extended many flowering plants and the aptly named Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ is one such plant that is still looking good despite the unseasonal weather!

This is a lovely herbaceous perennial that is at its best in April and May when it produces a mound or fresh foliage and sprays of small blue forget-me-not like flowers – in fact one of its common names is the false forget-me-not. It grows in most soils, but is particularly at home in a woodland setting or border where it gets a little shade. After the flowers fade, the tall stems need trimming back to tidy the plant. This exposes the large heart shaped leaves that have a silver mottled effect with dark green veins giving the appearance that the foliage has a covering of frost - hence the name! If you want to create a spring cottage garden effect in your garden brunnera is a perfect plant to use and there are several different cultivars with colourful foliage. Another that is very attractive is Brunnera ‘Dawson’s White’ which has bright variegated leaves and pale blue flowers.

Jobs for the week

If you have bought or grown summer bedding plants, before planting them out in the garden make sure they are hardened off for a couple of weeks. Acclimatise the plants by standing them outside in a sheltered spot and if frost is forecast cover them over with fleece.

As the growth of potatoes pushes through the soil, gradually draw soil up around the stems into ridges. This process encourages more tubers to develop.

Dandelions are in full flower and seem to be everywhere. To control them in lawns spot treat them with a selective lawn weed killer or use a long knife to grub out the tap roots.

Plant dahlia plants into the garden to fill gaps in borders where you want some late summer colour. After planting water well and support the plants with canes.

Check water features to make sure that pumps and filters are working correctly as this will help to prevent a build-up of blanket weed.

Readers’ questions

Jackie from Harrogate wants to grow some Kenya beans and would like to know how they differ from French beans?

Basically French beans and Kenya beans are all the same. Very often they are also called green beans, adding to the confusion! Green beans are grown on a large scale in Kenya for distribution around the world and thus are marketed as Kenya beans. The varieties grown as Kenya beans tend to produce very slim beans. To grow these beans in your garden you need to buy seed or plants of varieties of dwarf French beans such as ‘Safari’ or ‘Opera’. Both of these produce tender, slim round beans that in my opinion taste much better when picked fresh than imported beans. If you can’t find plants, there is still time to sow the seeds in trays of compost for planting out at the end of May or early June when the danger of frost has passed. Grow your beans in a sunny, sheltered position and keep them watered in dry weather. By mid-July you should be harvesting you own, fresh French/Kenya beans.

If you have a gardening question for Martin Fish please email him at martin@flowershow.org.uk and we’ll print a selection of questions and answers for readers to share. Or, write to Ackrill Media Group, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate and we’ll pass on your question