Ernest Cornish, who lives at our Peaselands retirement housing scheme in Bradford, has a passion for gardening and was commended in the Green Fingered category of our Happy Living Awards in 2015. We asked Ernest to share with us his top gardening tips as part of our Great British Gardening Challenge, and here’s what he had to say.

• For plants that you want to last years and years, make sure you keep your area clean and water them frequently.  The key is to not let your soil became hard and dry as this shortens their life span. If the soil gets compacted the roots can’t force their way through, causing them to lay on the surface and die

• For bedding plants, the best thing to do is leave them alone. Only pick off the dead flower heads as leaving them will cause others to die. For every dead flower head you pick off, two more will usually grow in its place

• Quite often when you’re planting and you want them to bush, you have to not let the flower grow. Take the flower off, this causes the plant to grow two stalks in its place which makes your flowers bushier in the long run

• The best plants to use in winter are pansies and snow drops, because they are hardier plants

• After buying bedding plants, if they already are flowering, place them in the soil and let them settle. The key is to concentrate on letting the roots grow in, then deflower them to create a bushier plant

• Slugs and pests won’t eat fresh plants and leaves, they only eat dying plants. Most of the time you bring the slugs into your garden in the soil of new plants which already contain the eggs. Always get your soil and plants from a reputable firm, as the plants and soil should be clear of all pests

• Plants and flowers are like children; if you let the flower do what it wants, you shorten its life span and stunt its development growth. But if you nip the bud off when it starts to show, you are helping develop the stalk so it can grow more in the long run

Enjoy your gardening and good luck!

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