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The Grumpy Gardener - April

Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In his regular column for French News Online "Lifestyle" Section, professional gardener Mike Alexander, waxes lyrical as he contemplates his February garden.

Narcissus Genus
- Daffodils -

Do Dogs and Daffodils Go Together?

I am a devout dog lover and all my clients know that my Jack Russell assistant and I are a package deal. You hire the dog and you get me thrown in for free.

Recently however I arrived at one of my clients to find myself being greeted by an exuberant puppy. He had apparently been abandoned and was now "temporarily" staying whilst a new home was found for him. I had a bad feeling about this and his giant muffin sized paws told me he wasn't going to stay small for long.


The Lawn Looks Like a Minefield
Well, as I had anticipated he did not remain small and a second home was never found but stay he certainly did. The problem is that this is a dog who loves to dig. He has a wonderful nature but the lawn looks like a minefield. He has dug up every plant I have planted for the last six months and eaten several wonderful mature specimens including an Acer palmatum and a Wisteria of all things. The client is only able to scold him, at best, but I am a proponent of firmer chastisement.

The only effect has been to make him more fond of me and he is a constant shadow as I move around the garden, nuzzling me or resting his head on my shoulder whenever I kneel down to do anything. Others are sure he is showing me affection though I am more inclined to believe he is just spying on me so he can memorise where to launch his next attack.

Narcissus Genus
The garden has taken rather a downhill spiral since his arrival, along with my morale, so it was with some surprise that I noticed the daffodils I had planted last year coming through and starting to flower. Mice and voles are not fond of daffodil bulbs so I can only assume the dog is not either, or they escaped his attention when I planted them. Daffodils (jonquil in French) are members of the Narcissus genus and there are about 5000 species and at least 13000 hybrids so there is no shortage of choice. They come in four colours, pink, white, salmon and, most commonly, yellow ranging in height from 15 to 50 centimetres. Normally they are long lived, providing the dog doesn't get them.

In Greek mythology they are named after the hunter Narcissus who was said to be very handsome. Eventually the goddess Nemesis led him to a pool where he fell in love with his own reflection and refused to leave the pool till he died. The other gods felt this was a rather harsh fate so allowed him to return as the flower which we now know so well.

Dead heading daffodils after flowering will eliminate seed production and boost strength, as will a twice yearly top dressing with a good compost. It used to be said that the leaves should not be removed until dead but research has shown that if they are removed when they turn yellow the plants show little ill effect. They can be divided every five years and will naturalise if allowed to seed although flowering will take two to three years.

Previously - click an image below
To read February's gardening tips article - click this image
Is a world without bees possible? Read about this crisis that will affect us all - click here
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
What you should have done in January!
Prune your roses - click here
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
Grumpy Gardener April - It's War Out There. Click to view
Click to read this article
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring...
click to read Grumpy's july  tips
You've got to be quick!
Un-thirsty Lavender
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Grasp the Nettle
Star Jasmine - Madrid
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Jihad - on Bunnies Ears
Autumn Arrives
Designer chic or neccessity? - click here for full story
To read this article - click here
Designer Chic?
Gravity - not to be ignored!
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If Winter Comes....
Hottest chilli in the world

Grumpy Gardener
Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Your gardening questions are welcome and while they may not be individually answered, they may form the basis of future monthly columns.

Article: Mike Alexander
April 2012

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