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Brian Kidd, retired Parks Officer for Portsmouth City Council, will be giving weekly gardening advice and answering gardeners emails. Email your gardening questions to



The leaves on daffodils and tulips are a nuisance when planting out the summer flowers and you aren’t the only one to pull them off! Please don’t. The quickest way to encourage spring bulb foliage to die down naturally is to remove the dead flowers and seed head. The flower stem then dies down naturally and all the elements in the flower stalk returns to the mother bulb.


Have you bought your begonia corms yet? Not many people have bothered because the weather has not been suitable for gardening. The tubers are in stock at Keydell and can be potted now and used as pot plants which will flower all summer. Don't leave it too late.

Hardy annuals such as godetia, pot marigolds and cornflowers (lots of others too) can be sown directly into the soil for a quick display of flowers. Plant little pinches of seeds about a foot apart and in 5 weeks’ time, prick them out where gaps can be seen. A nice job for children because these flowers bloom quite soon after sowing. You will see a lovely range of hardy annual seeds at Keydell. Look for HA on the packs.

Evergreen shrubs can be moved now, it may seem too late but lots of evergreens become scorched if they are moved during winter. Spray the foliage once a day to keep the leaves turgid, rather than keeping the soil too wet. If you need to fill a gap, have a look at the potted shrubs at Keydell where you will see a good range at low prices.

Prune forsythia and other spring flowering shrubs as soon as the flowers finish blooming. If this seems daunting, pull back an outer branch, you will see where the dead flowers are, look down to where there is a side growth and cut off the stem right down to a side growth. Pull another branch towards you and do the same all around the shrub.

Plant water lilies or split existing ones. When planting into baskets, use loam and cover the top with a layer of grit, this helps prevent too much soil leaving the surface of the container and prevents the water becoming polluted.

Sow seeds of primulas which are grown in greenhouses. Try some Primula malacoides or Primula Kewensis. Primula obconica is another beautiful plant but some folk are allergic to the hairs on the leaves, the others don’t cause this problem. Sow all primula seeds in the light, the don’t germinate in darkness.

Plant dormant dahlia tubers outdoors but be prepared to cover the shoots as they grow above the soil level otherwise frost will cause the rapid growing shoots to become blackened.

Have a look at the colourful packs of dahlia tubers in stock at Keydell. A lot of gardeners buy one every week to add to their collection. Dahlias flower all through the summer.

Dahlia plants produced from cuttings must not be planted outside until the third week in May.

There are some lovely clematis plants at Keydell Nurseries ready to plant in the garden. Plant the newly purchased plant in well prepared ground 2 inches deeper than the surface in the pot. Try to find a 12 “ long piece of plastic down pipe to put over the stem and press the end of the pipe into the soil to a depth of 2 inches. This reduces the possibility of clematis wilt by over 75%.

Remove the dead leaves around the bases of bearded iris plants, this will enhance the overall appearance of the plant which is admired not only for the flower but the foliage too. It looks wonderful alongside all forms of hosta. ​