My Monthly Garden
May is when the show really starts to get on the road. Everything seems to grow at once as tulips sing from their beds of wallflowers, peonies uncurl their petals and the earliest broad beans plump up nicely. It’s a good time of year to be a gardener – so here are the jobs you can be getting on with this month:
- Feed the compost bin with clippings from the weekly lawn mow, mixed with drier material like straw or torn-up newspapers, to rot down into rich dark brown crumbly soil improver for your garden.
- Lift and divide pond plants as they get too overgrown and begin crowding out their neighbours. Replant in specialist aquatic compost in perforated baskets.
- In the case of a dry spell, keep all flowers, trees and plants well watered.
- Keep applying a weed killer and fertiliser combination to your lawns or spot treat as an alternative.
- Ventilate your green house well and damp down on sunny days as long as seed are not being raised.
- If you have a pond, keep the pumps and filters running constantly and feed fish if they are near the surface.
- Collect rainwater and investigate ways to recycle water for irrigation.
- Check for nesting birds before clipping hedges.
- Repot agapanthus once they start to burst out of their pots, but don’t move them to too large a container as they flower better when they’re a little rootbound.
- Plant tender annuals outside such as tithonias or zinnias once the weather is reliably warm; if you haven’t tried these exotic beauties, pop into the garden centre and pick up a potful today.
- Plant out dahlia tubers once the last frost has passed, giving them a sunny spot in rich, moist soil and protecting new growth from slugs.
- If you have planted any hanging baskets, put them in the greenhouse until the risk of frost is gone, similarly for any tender plants.
- Deadhead spring bulbs (but do not cut the foliage back yet).
- To prevent them from becoming overgrown, prune spring-flowering shrubs.
- Watch for pests and treat immediately using either a chemical spray or a biological control.
- Harden off vegetable seedlings ready to go outside, leaving them outdoors for a little longer each day till they’re used to the cooler conditions.
- Plant summer cabbage – you’ll find baby plants as plugs on sale in the garden centre right now. Plant 45cm apart and firm them in well after planting.
- Sow coriander direct where it’s to grow into warm, crumbly soil. This aromatic salad herb grows really fast, so resow every three or four weeks for a continual supply.
- Using a straw or black polythene, mulch around strawberries to prevent the fruit being spoiled.
- If peach and nectarine are showing signs of leaf curl, destroy the affected leaves.
- Harvest any early Rhubarb.
- Plant a main crop of potatoes and/or earth up any early crop potatoes.
My Monthly Garden
Flaming June, and the flowers are at their dazzling best, the sun is out more often than not and the evenings are luxuriously long. What better place to be than out in your garden? Here are a few of the jobs you can be getting on with while you’re there:
- Target weeds, regularly hoeing bare soil on dry days and forking out perennials like ground elder as soon as you see them.
- Check moisture levels, digging down with a trowel to find out how damp the soil really is underneath – then water where necessary.
- Start mowing lawns at least once a week (when the weather is dry)
- Stake tall or floppy plants.
- Clip hedges to keep looking smart.
- Trim box hedges to keep them neat, keeping an eye out for signs of box blight or box tree caterpillar. If you see them, pick up a treatment from the garden centre and tackle the problem right away.
- Water and feed hanging baskets to keep them productive and full of flowers for as long as possible. Water whenever the compost is dry and add liquid feed to the water once a week.
- Tie in new growth of climbers like roses and clematis while it’s still young and pliable.
- Do the Chelsea chop cutting back herbaceous perennials like sedum, heleniums and rudbeckia by a third to a half to promote sturdier plants which don’t need staking and extra flowers, too.
- Dig up tulip bulbs to dry and store until you can plant them again in autumn.
- Encourage strong growth and a good flower display in your roses with pest/disease control and sprays
- Plant out summer bedding.
- Remove and destroy lily beetles as soon as you see them. They’re easy to recognise with their brilliant scarlet wing cases; they and their larvae munch voraciously on leaves, stripping plants within weeks.
- Sow squash in pots of compost and place on a warm sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse, then plant out in a sunny spot.
- Sow oriental salads such as pak choi, mizuna and Chinese cabbage as they’re less likely to bolt in mid to late summer.
- Thin apples so your trees aren’t exhausted by trying to bear too heavy a crop, removing the smallest from each cluster.
- Tie in cordon tomatoes as they grow, remembering to pinch out any sideshoots that appear in the junction between the leaves and the main stem too.
- Hoe between rows of crops to keep annual weeds at bay, chopping them off before they can get established and, worse, set seed.
- Put up pheromone traps to control codling and plum moths; hang the easy-to-use box, available from the garden centre, in the tree to capture males so that females lay fewer fertile eggs.
- Protect your strawberries from slugs by laying straw.
- Harvest lettuce, radish, other salads and early potatoes.
- Thin out rows of previously sown vegetables to allow them to reach their potential.
- Spread nets over soft fruit bushes.
My Monthly Garden
Summertime… and the living is easy. The hard work drops away and you have time to relax and enjoy the beautiful garden you’ve created. There are a few small jobs you can be getting on with, though:
- Edge lawns with edging shears to keep them sharp and neat: lawn edges grow faster than surrounding grass so need trimming more regularly.
- Clip hedges now that the birds have finished nesting, aiming for an A shape so the sun can reach all parts equally.
- Prevent over heating and scorching of tender plants in the greenhouse with shading or netting and remove faded flowers and dropped foliage to prevent the build up of fungal diseases.
- Be water-wise with all plants in warmer weather.
- Keep Ponds topped up and make sure to keep clearing algae, blanket weeds and debris and continue to feed fish and check filters on pumps to ensure that they are not blocked.
- Order catalogues for next year’s spring-flowering bulbs.
- Clean paving or slabs with an algicide.
- Feed roses with a specialist rose fertiliser after regular dead-heading to encourage more flowers to form.
- Deadhead bedding to keep the show going for longer, pinching out fading blooms to encourage new flower buds to form.
- Apply slow release fertiliser granules to containers and hanging baskets to boost growth for the rest of the season.
- Prune late spring and early summer flowering shrubs immediately after flowering to promote new growth.
- Pinch out broad bean shoots to encourage the pods to swell and deter blackfly infestations.
- Harvest and store garlic as soon as the foliage starts yellowing, drying bulbs carefully for two weeks before plaiting them into strings.
- Sow late summer salads in large containers so you can start picking them in as little as six weeks’ time.
- Remove the side shoots on trained fruit trees to encourage new growth.
- Pick raspberries regularly.
- Feed all vegetable plants ensuring to keep onions well watered to maximise yield.
My Monthly Garden
Midsummer can mean a pause while your garden gets ready for the bright colours of autumn – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Keep your outdoor space looking at its best with this month’s garden jobs:
- Remove excess oxygenating plants from ponds and compost them after leaving them on the side for a little while so that wildlife can escape back into the water.
- Check for slug and snail damage and if necessary, set up traps and barriers or attack directly with wildlife-friendly pellets, available from the garden centre here.
- Watering is essential for all plants, containers, hanging baskets and new plants.
- Keep ponds and water features topped up and keep the filters clear and remove any weeds.
- Satisfy your garden's hunger with a granular fertiliser.
- Look out for earwig damage on dahlias – these beetle-like insects love to munch on petals, ruining your display, so trap them in a flowerpot stuffed with straw, hung upside down on a cane among the flowers.
- Give lavender a trim as soon as flowers fade, cutting back to about 2cm of this year’s growth to keep it compact and neat. Don’t cut into older, brown wood or it may not grow back.
- Prune philadelphus as well as other early summer flowering shrubs like weigela and deutzia once flowers have faded, removing a third of the oldest growth at the base.
- Regularly deadhead flowering plants to encourage re-growth.
- Maintain your roses by picking and spraying frequently to control black spot mildew and aphids . Encourage climbing roses by tying in growth.
- Keep sowing salads little and often to keep the supplies coming: look out for seed of endive, lettuces, rocket and pak choi on our seed racks and sow half a row now to keep you in fresh salads through autumn.
- Feed chilli plants weekly with a potassium-rich liquid tomato feed to encourage extra flowers and even more fruits right up till the first frosts.
- Harvest courgettes regularly at no more than 15-20cm long to enjoy them at their tender best: leave them to grow much bigger and plants quickly become less productive, so regular harvesting is essential.
- Continue cutting out old fruited canes on raspberries and pick ripe raspberries.
- Prune all summer varieties of fruit down to ground level and ensure netting on fruit cages hasn't worn. Lift and pot up rooted strawberry runners.
- Earth up brussel sprouts and potatoes and continue to water onions to get the most out of your crop.
My Monthly Garden
September is a crossover month in the garden. The borders are ablaze with colour, and you’re reaping the rewards of earlier hard work with overflowing baskets full of fresh fruit and veg: but it’s also time to start winding down and getting ready for next year. Here are this month’s garden jobs:
- Give the lawn some TLC while the soil is still warm so the grass can bounce back in double-quick time. Click here for our full list of lawn care tips.
- Net ponds in plenty of time, before the leaves start to fall and clog up the water. Remove any dead or dying foliage at the same time to keep the water clear.
- Clear up any fallen leaves and other dead plant material to prevent diseases over wintering.
- Check your Greenhouse to ensure that all vents are working so they can be closed on cool evenings.
- Start planting spring-flowering bulbs in borders and containers: visit the garden centre now to make sure you get your favourite varieties as they sell out fast!
- Divide summer-flowering herbaceous perennials to keep them young and fresh: cut back top growth, lift the clump then split with a fork before replanting or potting up the divisions to make new plants.
- Lift tender perennials like Mexican salvias and pelargoniums before the first frosts. Cut back the top growth by a third, pot up into fresh compost and place in a frost-free greenhouse for winter.
- Replace spent summer bedding with winter pansies, heathers and cyclamen for flowers through the coldest months of the year – you’ll find a great selection on sale now at the garden centre.
- Pick up rose leaves affected by black spot to prevent this nasty fungal disease overwintering and reinfecting plants next year. Don’t compost them, though – burn or bin them instead.
- Plant new trees and shrubs to make the most of the milder autumn conditions, when the soil is still warm and damp and ideal for establishing new roots - read all about how to plant fruit trees here!
- Plant autumn onion sets 2cm deep and 10cm apart for an early crop of delicious fat bulbs next June, a full month before maincrop varieties are ready.
- Pick autumn-fruiting raspberries as they ripen and freeze in a single layer laid out on trays overnight before decanting them into plastic bags for the freezer.
- Ripen green tomatoes by taking plants off their supports and laying them flat on a bed of straw before covering them with a cloche to intensify the sunlight.
- Cut and dry herbs for use in the winter. Read our blog post all about how to harvest your herbs!
My Monthly Garden
The garden is ablaze in October, with berrying shrubs laden with brilliantly colourful jewels and trees turning every shade of crimson, copper and ochre. But winter isn’t far off now, so make sure your garden is tucked up and the harvest gathered in with our list of jobs to do this month.
- Plant new trees plus hardy shrubs and perennials while there is still warmth and moisture in the ground and the air temperature hasn’t dropped too low yet.
- Group pots of evergreens together with autumn- and winter-flowering bedding in a sheltered spot for a late-season colour boost to cheer you up on a chilly day.
- Put out additional feed for the birds: At this time of year there should be plenty of nuts and berries in the garden or nearby countryside to collect, and don’t forget to keep their water topped up too.
- Prepare for early frosts: Now is the time to move your tender plants (e.g. aquatic plants) into a frost-free environment such as the Greenhouse.
- Regularly rake up and clear any fallen autumn leaves: Though it may seem a frustrating task at times, the colourful leaves can be stacked (to encourage rotting) and then used to make leafmould which is an invaluable compost and soil conditioner!
- Start reducing your mowing frequency and set the blades high when you do: This month is the last chance to mow your lawns and trim your hedges in mild areas.
- Sow sweet peas under cover five seeds to a 10cm pot in a cool greenhouse or cold frame, so they can germinate before the cold weather; you’ll get a head start on spring and earlier flowers next year.
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs from the eyecatching range on offer in the garden centre right now including daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, snowdrops and lots more.
- Divide perennials such as bergenia, hardy geraniums and phlox, lifting the entire clump and splitting it into smaller segments to keep them vigorous and healthy.
- Cure pumpkins and winter squashes somewhere warm and dry for up to two weeks, turning regularly so the sun can get at all parts of the skin to prepare them for winter storage.
- Apply grease bands to apple and pear tree trunks to prevent winter moth climbing up in to the trees to lay their eggs and you’ll stop their apple-munching larvae damaging your fruit next year.
- Sow hardy varieties of broad bean into deep root trainer modules and leave them in a cold frame to germinate; they’ll overwinter as seedlings and get going earlier in spring for harvesting by May.
- Potatoes, carrots and beetroots should be ready to be lifted and stored.
- Sow winter lettuce seeds in your Greenhouse: Ensure the Greenhouse is well-ventilated to relieve dampness throughout the upcoming soggy months.
My Monthly Garden
The first whisper of winter’s cold is on the breeze, but not to worry: November is a month of cosy indulgences from bonfires and flame-coloured trees to the rich flavours of the autumn harvest. And you can always warm yourself up with a few jobs to be done this month in the garden!
- Create shelter for wildlife as hedgehogs, frogs and toads rely on finding hideyholes to overwinter. A stack of logs will do; or you can invest in a bespoke wildlife hotel for five star accommodation. Click here to read our blog post all about this!
- Bring tender plants in under cover before frosts start to bite; pot up tender perennials like Mexican salvias and pelargoniums and bring them in to a frost-free greenhouse or conservatory. Slightly hardier tender plants can be insulated with straw, bracken, horticultural fleece, bubble-wrap etc.
- If you have any stone fountains or water features, it is best to drain them to avoid potential damage from freezing conditions.
- Ensure that the heating system in your Greenhouse is working efficiently to prepare for winter temperatures.
- Winter can be a difficult time for birds so it is nice to make sure that their water and food supplies are topped up. Read our blog post here about helping hungry wildlife in your gardens this autumn/winter.
- Plant ornamental crabapple trees for a gorgeous display in spring and summer as well as pretty fruit. They make delightful small trees for more compact gardens, reaching just 3-4m tall
- If graced by a mild day, it is still ok to plant some flowers: We recommend later flowering spring bulbs such as lilies and tulips and also winter/spring bedding plants such as pansies and primulas. Plant tulips in generous swathes for brilliant colour next spring. Throw your tulip bulbs on the ground randomly to give a more natural effect, and plant where they fall 8-10cm deep.
- Prune dead wood from trees and shrubs as well as any diseased or damaged wood to tidy them up before winter sets in.
- To prevent waterlogging, raise your plant containers onto pot feet.
- Prune back roses to avoid damage from wind-rock.
- Protect any newly-planted fruit trees from female winter moths by tying grease bonds around the trunks.
- Finish planting bare-rooted shrubs and trees.
- Plant garlic as it needs a spell of frost to break bulbs into fat, aromatic cloves. Choose your favourite varieties from the garden centre, then break your seed garlic into cloves and plant 15cm apart.
- Plant rhubarb crowns in soil that’s been generously improved with organic matter such as well-rotted manure or garden compost, making sure the central bud is above soil level to prevent rotting.
- Check stored fruit and vegetables every few weeks to make sure none are starting to rot; if you find any, remove them straight away to eat immediately.
My Monthly Garden
If you’re wondering what to do in your garden in December, here’s the answer! When those clear winter days appear, grab your tools and make a start on our handy list of December gardening jobs. And if the weather’s cold and grey, then snuggle up indoors and make plans for next year’s gardening glories.
What to plant in December
Provided the soil’s not waterlogged or frozen, December is still a good time to plant, especially deciduous hedging or shrubs. Water them in well once planted, then mulch around the base with compost, taking care not to mulch right up against the trunks of shrubs as this can cause the trunks to rot.
A few plants really stand out at this time of year, with their scented flowers filling the winter air with fragrance. Sarcococca confusa (Christmas box), Viburnum x bodnantense (arrowwood), Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet) and Hamamelis (witch hazel) are some of the best shrubs to plant for winter colour and scent.
And if you haven’t planted your spring bulbs yet, there’s still time. Fill pots and borders with crocuses, daffodils and tulips for a beautiful spring display.
December gardening jobs
- December’s a good time to prune Japanese maples and birches. Fig, apple and pear trees can also be pruned in December, as can grapevines and wisteria.
- In cold areas, dig up your dahlias once the first frost has blackened their leaves. Cut off the stems and rinse the soil off the tubers. After they’ve dried, pack them into pots or trays covered with compost, and leave them in a frost-free place over winter.
- Rake fallen leaves off your lawn to stop dead patches appearing on the grass, and pile the leaves in a corner or store them in black bags to make leafmould.
- Harvest your root crops, winter cabbage and sprouts for delicious winter roasts and stews.
- And don’t forget birds are hungry too at this time of year. Keep your bird-feeders topped up with high-energy seeds, and check that bird baths haven’t frozen over. Top Tip: You can prevent ponds, water features and bird baths from freezing over either by draining or by placing a small ball in them.
- Regularly check that your winter protection structures are still securely in place and that your Greenhouse heater is still working and move patio pots to house wall to give support and protection.
- Protect evergreens from cold winds by using Horticultural Fleece.
- Protect treasured plants, especially alpines and bulbs, from slugs by surrounding with pellets.
Planning and preparation
One of the most enjoyable December gardening jobs is planning next year’s gardening. Once all the leaves in your garden have fallen and the perennials have been cut back, it’s easy to see where the gaps are. Grab your notebook, sit back and plan your spring planting for a garden filled with colour next year.
Pick a clear, dry day and clean out your greenhouse. Move all the plants somewhere warm, then wash the floor and windows with a disinfectant like Jeyes Fluid to kill any lurking bugs and germs. Finally, clean your tools and get your lawnmower serviced. Now you’re ready for another year of gardening!
Visit our garden centre to stock up on everything you need for next year’s gardening. And we’ve got the perfect Christmas presents for the gardener in your life!
My Monthly Garden
It’s a brand new year and there’s loads to do out in the garden! As well as the usual catching up to do after Christmas, there are borders to get ready, new plants to get in the ground and plans to make. Here are a few of the things you can be getting on with in the garden this month:
- Treat timber with wood preservative to keep them in good condition. Sheds, fences and pergolas all benefit from a generous coat to protect them from bad weather.
- Lag outdoor stand pipes and taps with bubble-wrap insulation or hessian to prevent them freezing in the cold weather and then cracking as they thaw.
- Recycle your Christmas Tree. Click here for our list of ideas for inspiration.
- Put out plenty of food and water for hungry birds.
- Check any stakes, tree ties and other supports for damage and repair where necessary.
- If we had a white Christmas then remove snow from evergreen trees and shrubs.
- Avoid walking on grass while it is frozen: The frozen leaves are brittle and easily damaged.
- Have your lawn mower serviced and clean and oil garden tools.
- Plant new trees and shrubs as long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged: you’ll find some fine specimens, including plants with gorgeous winter flowers, available now at the garden centre.
- Prune wisteria cutting back sideshoots to two or three buds to encourage cascades of beautifully scented flowers in late spring.
- Tie in climbing plants to protect them from being blown about in the wind and potentially damaged, and trim ornamental vines, Virginia creeper and Boston ivy away from windows, doors and gutters.
- Dig over any vacant plots that you haven't already and leave rough for frost to break down.
- Consider moving plants to sunnier parts of your garden to maximise light exposure.
- Sow onion seed in 5cm module trays and transfer to a heated propagator set to 15-18°C to germinate. Sowing from seed early in the year gives your onions the maximum time possible to grow into fat bulbs.
- Prune autumn raspberries cutting canes down right to the base, then follow up with a feed of slow-release fertiliser and a generous mulch of well-rotted farmyard manure.
- Sow microgreens in trays on the windowsill to give you something good to eat even when you can’t go out. They germinate in no time and are delicious snipped raw into salads.
- Check stored fruit and vegetables and remove any damaged or mouldy produce to avoid spoiling the rest.
- Prune apple and pear trees.
- Toward the end of the month, give early salad crops a good start by putting up plastic cloches to warm the soil.
My Monthly Garden
As daylight hours increase there is plenty of planting to do to get you outside:
- Plant spring flowering perennials such as alstromeria, coral bells, campanula, euryops, and perennial dianthus.
- Set out summer flowering bulbs like amaryllis, calla, canna, dahlia, gladiolus, lily, tuberose, tuberous begonia, and tiger flower.
- Divide snowdrops after flowering.
- Prepare vegetable seed beds, and sow some vegetables under cover.
- Set apricots, nectarines and peaches to grow in the Greenhouse and protect the blossom.
- Prune winter-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering.
- Fertilize spring-blooming flowers and fall-planted annuals and perennials.
- Finish pruning cane berries, deciduous fruit trees, grapes, roses, and wisteria by mid-month.
- Prune evergreen hedges and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges.
- Check the Greenhouse glass is still sturdy after high winds and clean out accumulated rubbish etc before spring.
- Start shopping for early spring flowering shrubs and vines, such as Carolina Jessamine, daphne, azalea, camellia, and early rhododendrons.
My Monthly Garden
- Prune back autumn flowering clematis and lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials.
- Take the old flower heads off winter flowering heathers and trim the plants to shape.
- Deadhead daffodils then let the foliage die down naturally so it feeds the bulb and produces an even better display next year.
- Finish pruning roses and feed rose bushes.
- Steep freshly-cut nettles in water for a few weeks and decant the rich brown liquid for a potent, nitrogen-rich plant food.
- Protect new spring shoots from slugs.
- Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes - Plant onion sets around 10cm apart, sinking the sets just below the soil’s surface.
- Weeds are set to make a come-back. Now is the time to deal with them before they get out of hand - Start hoeing weekly to catch annual weeds the moment they appear so they never get big enough to bother you or your plants.
- Start using ponds and fountains etc again and remove pond heaters.
- On warm days, open the greenhouse or conservatory doors and vents and keep a look out for fungal diseases.
- On dry days, start mowing the lawn again but keep blades on highest setting.
- Plant summer-flowering bulbs.
- Mulch Raspberry canes with compost or manure.
- Now is your last chance to plant bare-root fruit bushes and trees.
- In warmer areas, spray Peaches and Nectarines to help control Peach leaf curl.
- Sow seeds of beetroot, leek, lettuce and summer cabbage in a heated Greenhouse.
My Monthly Garden
April is a kind month, its warmth encouraging shoots and seedlings to burst into new growth at last. There are daffodils and the first tulips to enjoy, as well as spring perennials and the glory of spring blossom. So here are this month’s jobs so you can get yourself outside and enjoy it all!
- Restock ponds with summer beauties such as water lilies and irises, planting into aquatic compost in porous baskets with a covering of gravel to hold everything in place.
- Start mowing the lawn at least once a fortnight now that the grass is growing more quickly, keeping the mower blade at a medium height for now.
- For the first time this year, you can properly start cutting your grass again! Start off the first few times with a high-blade-setting.
- Re-seed and re-turf any bald patches on your lawn and use a good lawn feed and weed killer to help it look its best.
- Increase the water you give to your house plants.
- Feed all other plants in the garden using a slow-release fertiliser to improve flowering and growth.
- Prune evergreens now that the harshest cold is over, including winter-flowering heathers, lavender, rosemary and sage to keep them producing plenty of new flowering wood.
- Deadhead faded daffodils leaving the stem to die down and feed the bulb through summer. A boosting feed with a capful of liquid seaweed added to the watering can gives them a pick-me-up too.
- Sow annual climbers such as morning glory, Cobaea scandens (cup and saucer vine) and Spanish flag for a mass of brilliantly colourful flowers all summer.
- Once flowering has finished, thin out herbaceous plants and prune spring flowering shrubs.
- Sprinkle rose fertiliser around roses and begin to spray them to control pests and diseases.
- At the start of the month, sow garden vegetables outside like potatoes, peas, broad beans, leeks, cauliflower, summer cabbage, brussel sprouts, onions, spinach, turnips, parsnips and lettuce.
- Start sowing courgettes about 2cm deep into 9cm pots, keeping them warm until seed leaves appear. They tend to germinate quite quickly; pot on as soon as the roots fill the container.
- Transplant tomato seedlings as they grow bigger; they should be well rooted in their pots by now and ready to go into the greenhouse. Plant into large pots or grow bags, or into the greenhouse border soil.
- Plant second early and maincrop potatoes burying them about 15cm deep and 60cm apart. As shoots emerge, pull earth up around them to encourage more tubers and a bumper harvest
- Start to feed citrus plants and now is an ideal time to plant strawberry plants in your garden.
For any gardening equipment or advice you may require for the month ahead, make sure to visit Pugh's Garden Village - our friendly and helpful staff are always on hand to help!