At the moment the arching stems of buddleia are bearing spikes of flower in shades from white through to a purple so deep that it is almost black.
These easy-going shrubs are a magnet for butterflies and will grow just about anywhere. Cut them down to ground level when new growth appears in spring to keep them from becoming leggy.
For asparagus lovers, growing their own is the ultimate test of willpower.
It’s not that asparagus is difficult to grow, although it does like to occupy the sunniest spot on the garden and to grow on free-draining soil that’s been enriched with well-rotted manure.
No, the test comes in the first year after planting, when gardeners have to resist the temptation to harvest even a single spear if they want their asparagus to grow properly.
And then in year two it’s not much better, because only a limited number of spears can be picked at this stage as the roots are still developing.
But roll on to year three and growers will be able to feast on as much as they want of this delicious vegetable. Asparagus has a short season and by the end of June it is pretty much over, which is why it is so expensive to buy in the supermarket.
Plant your own asparagus bed, however, and you could be enjoying the rewards for up to 25 years.
The secret to success is all in the preparation and autumn, when the soil is still warm, is a good time to get started.
Dig over the soil, removing all weeds, and then create a trench. At the bottom of the trench place a row of manure and top it off with soil. Plant the asparagus crowns on top of this ridge and then cover them with more soil, keeping them well-watered.
If you have heavy soil, then the preparations are exactly the same, except that you will have to do them on a raised bed otherwise your asparagus will rot off during the winter.
You could even try growing asparagus in very large containers, although this way you’ll only get a few years’ of crops after the initial two-year period.
Even so, if you have a passion for asparagus then even a few years of enjoying the stems when they are freshly picked and full of flavour is worth the effort.
However you are growing your asparagus spears, feed them with a general fertiliser in March, water them will in dry spells, remove the old foliage in autumn and mulch them thickly before the first frosts.
Then tuck them up under fleece to prevent weeds from germinating and wait patiently for your next crop.
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