Brighten up: Our resident gardener Marie Staunton brightens things up
Liven up your garden with bursts of colour from jewel-hued primroses, says Marie Staunton
Pretty little Primulas (primroses) can now be found in the most beautiful jewel colours imaginable, adding an instant pick-me-up to every garden, terrace, planter or window box.
It was once thought that having primroses growing close to the house kept the evil fairies away. Even if you have never heard of that particular piseog, most of us tend to plant them close to the house anyway.
There are many varieties and colours to choose from, but my favourites are native Irish primroses. If you are interested in Irish ones in particular, seek out some from the Kennedy Irish Primrose collection -- this is a unique collection of Primula bred over 35 years from old Irish varieties.
I'm a great believer in that old adage that rules are meant to be broken, while some things work simply because they just do. Planting in threes and fives works so much better visually than in twos or fours, or indeed in a line like little soldiers. I remember when this was explained to me in college and I promised always to break that particular rule, but more experienced gardeners know best, because planting in a natural way adds fluidity to your garden design.
If you haven't done so already, start digging compost into your beds and borders -- if you have your own stuff even better, but make sure that what you put into your compost bin is actually compostable. You would be amazed at what some people shove into their bins: cat-food tins do not break down, worms don't really fancy them and, oddly enough, they come out the same shape as they went in!
It's better to have a nice mixture of things going into your bin or heap; that way you will be rewarded with wonderfully dark-brown compost.
Grass clippings are good in small amounts, along with vegetable peelings, weeds, soft hedge clippings, shredded paper and waste from the chicken coop. Don't add in cooked food as this will attract the wrong sort of furry friend!
It's a good idea to give the compost heap a mix around every now and again to make sure that there is good air circulation. To keep it moist, add a bit of water if the heap looks a little dry. If you have an old bit of carpet, throw it on top.
Water charges are on the way, so start finding ways of saving water. Clean the gutters, repair any leaks and place water butts at every down pipe -- just remember to put a lid on them, or it will breed mosquitoes by the thousand.
There's an awful lot to do really, so before you get the ladder out, have a nice cuppa and a sit down. I did warn you that I'm into slow gardening.