Gardening with James Vaughan: Support your local garden centre

James Vaughan


James Vaughan



Gardening with James Vaughan: Support your local garden centre

We had a couple of nights last week of frost. Frost at this time of year is not as severe as, say, January.

But frost at this time of year is not without incident. A lot of our shrubs and trees - even native Irish ones, had their fresh growth bitten back. Our fruit trees had some crop damage, along with some of our early potatoes. None of this damage will be long lasting and all trees and shrubs will recover.

This all goes to show just how fickle gardening can be. There is a lesson in all of this. I have long known that frost can occur in this country right up until the end of May. We have summer bedding coming on indoors and won't place these out until next week at the earliest.

I would suggest to you that if you have bought any summer bedding plants that you would hold off on planting them out for at least another week or two. If you have already planted them out, then you could always cover them with horticultural fleece on a night that frost was forecast.


We have some rhododendrons in our garden that still have some flowers on them. Our rhododendrons are white but they are available in colours from dark purple through to pale pink and even yellow and orange. The rhododendron shrub is an attractive, blooming specimen in many gardens and is fairly low maintenance when planted properly, and with the right acid soil.

Growing rhododendron successfully requires the proper planting spot for the rhododendron shrub. They like a sheltered spot with good amounts of light.

Proper soil preparation is also necessary for the health of this acid loving plant. Planting the rhododendron in spring is the best idea. Growing rhododendrons requires either the presence of acidic or boggy/ peaty soil or the need to add ericaceous plant food regularly.

Unlike many blooming plants, rhododendrons do not like full morning sun in winter and do best when planted in dappled shade. Growing rhododendrons are happiest in a location protected from the wind and not under eaves of a building, for example. You may find now that garden centers are opened again that they have a nice stock of Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Remember to treat your specimen correctly and it will reward you with flowers for years to come.

Garden Centres

If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to visit a local garden centre. This is a great time of year to visit a garden centre and pick up something different. Each year there are new and exciting varieties to try. If you can, try and visit a local, independently owned, garden centre.

You will be supporting them in these trying times and, who knows, you might come away with a shrub that rewards you with flowers for many years to come!

Contact James by email: james.vaughan1020