Action plan: Nigel Colborn’s essential jobs for your garden this week

  • Nigel Colborn believes now is the best time to plant woody plants or move them.
  • To dig a deep hole for each plant you will need to have sticks, tree ties and strength
  • UK-based gardening expert also answers a reader’s question about pelargonium 


The planting season is from January to March. However, the sooner you plant young trees or shrubs, the sooner they will settle.

For each tree or shrub you will need to dig a deep hole. You will need tree ties, support stakes and sticks. Rootgrow and other mycorrhizal products can be used to enhance the planting hole.

Bare-rooted plants are more productive than those that have been containerized, and often have better root systems. Many rose, shrub, and tree nurseries offer these plants online or by mail order between October to March.

Nigel Colborn says now is the time if you want to move or plant woody plants

Nigel Colborn believes now is the best time to plant woody plants or move them.

Unpack your order as soon as it arrives. Dig a temporary hole or trench if your ground isn’t ready for planting. Take the roots out of the plants and place them in the ground. Cover them immediately, before they dry.

Young trees and shrubs that are tall can be placed at an angle.

Before you plant shrubs or trees, dig holes. If you are dealing in containerised plants, you will need to remove the pot from the hole. If necessary, remove congested roots and spread them to fill the hole.

Containerised plants can be found in many places and are very convenient. They also have high success rates. However, bare-root nursery stock has been shown to be able to produce better root systems. 


Remember the birds. Asters, tall sedums, and many other summer plants contain lots of seeds. This is vital for seed-eating birds, such as sparrows, goldfinches, and sparrows. Dying vegetation is also a breeding ground for insects and spiders. If you leave these areas unaffected, the birds can flourish.


Nigel chose Prunus Incisa 'Kojo-No-Mai as this week's plant

Nigel chose Prunus Incisa Kojo-No-Mai to be this week’s plant 

It’s time to divide any autumn and summer perennials that are showing signs of age. Take whole plants and shake the soil off of them. Take divisions or splits of the clumps to replant. These are the earliest and most likely to mature into mature plants. Toss the middles of the clumps. These are old and will lose their vigour. I prefer to replant three to five small divisions in close groups, rather than one larger clump. This will ensure a beautiful first year display as well as a large clump over the next couple of years.


This charming little cherry deserves a second look. It is a dwarf tree that looks beautiful in all seasons. The stiff, twiggy branches are shaped like a shuttlecock, and make a beautiful winter outline. Early spring branches are laden in small, pale pink flowers. The leaves soon turn green when their petals fall. Each leaf in autumn flushes first with rust, and then intensifies into a rich, burning red. If the weather is calm, they can carry colour for up to a week.


Some of the leaves started to be eaten after I brought my pelargoniums inside the greenhouse. After much searching, I found the culprit: a large brown caterpillar. What is it? And how can I get rid of them?

Mrs R. Hutchins. 

The Cabbage Moth Mamestra brassicae has been discovered. The caterpillars reach 50mm in length before pupating. They are common greenhouse pests and feed voraciously at night. To avoid them, bring a torch to your greenhouse after dark. It will then be simple to remove the larvae and destroy them. It’s a shame, in a way. They’re beautiful insects.