Journal of a Gardener 26/01/2017

This week at the Country Garden Plant Centre Winter Visitors.

You can now cut back your perennials that were left standing over winter, as the birds have collected all they can from the seed heads by now. The same goes for any deciduous grasses. Do this now before the new shoots start to appear.

Enrich your beds and borders with well-rotted farm yard manure. A good couple of inches will suppress any weeds and give good moisture retention as the weather warms up (which feels like a lifetime away!) Not only that but it’s a good quick fix to give the garden a neat appearance.

Apple and pear trees can now be pruned to shape and to open out the centre of the tree. This will allow good airflow to the centre of the tree.

Further guidance can be found in “The Fruit Expert” by Dr.Hessayon, available to purchase in the Garden Centre Shop.

Autumn fruiting raspberries can be cut right to the ground as, unlike summer varieties, they will fruit on this season’s growth. Summer flowering raspberries fill fruit on the previous season’s new growth, so just cut out any old looking stems from the base leaving the fresh green stems to fruit.

Whilst on the subject of fruit, why not try forcing some rhubarb for an early treat! Use a traditional rhubarb forcer or an inverted pot will do the same job. The trick is to block out all the light so that the stems strain upwards seeking the light. This in turn will also blanch the stems making them sweet and tender. Pick the stems when they are 20-30cm, but this should only be done with established crowns. If you try this with newly planted rhubarb you will exhaust the plant. Start getting your vegetable gardening going.

It’s not too late to plant garlic and if you get them in now, you will have a taste of the Mediterranean come the summertime! Place your seed potatoes in an old egg box to start them into growth. This is called chitting. The aim is to get short green growths from the eyes of the potato, which can be done by placing them in a light frost free place. If the growth is leggy, move to a brighter spot. They should be ready to plant by March. If you have a greenhouse or cold frame you can sow salad leaves which will be ready for cropping as baby leaves in no time.

A job that I have been busy doing in my own garden is what I call “the hermit crab shuffle”. Moving plants from one pot to the next. Giving them a new home in the next size up whilst removing the top couple of inches of compost and replacing with fresh. This task is also a good opportunity to give them a trim, tidy up or re-shape. Keep an eye out for vine weevil grubs. Treat with a systemic pesticide if found. These little grubs will nibble away at roots causing the plant to wilt and eventually die.

This time of year can be particularly hard going for our feathered friends as they start to exhaust their natural food stocks. Think about installing a bird table or even a plate on a garden table will suffice in a fix. Keep the food topped up as the birds will come to rely on this larder and will even visit on schedule as they become accustomed to the time that you feed them. Much enjoyment can be had from watching the birds tussle for a turn at the table. At this time of year, high fat foods are what they’re looking for. Fat balls, suet and peanuts are perfect. Robins and Blackbirds are particularly partial to mealworms which can be strewn across the lawn for them to forage. Ensure that your bird bath is unfrozen for them to have a drink with their meal.

When all your work is done (if you have any energy left) why not take a walk in the woods on the hunt for snowdrops? The first ones are beginning to appear now, a comforting sign that spring is not too far away!

Journal of a Gardener 13/01/2017

IT’S TIME TO STRIP AND TRIM…YOUR ROSE BUSH

This week in the gardens we have been stripping our rose bushes of any remaining leaves and lightly trimming them into shape. With the recent frosts we have been having, we feel it is a little too soon to start any serious pruning.

Dead leaves and stalks on herbaceous perennials have been cut back to fresh growth, or in its absence, right to the ground, leaving enough of the plant remaining so that we don’t forget that it is there!

Leaves which have fallen from overhead tree canopies have been raked up and added to the compost heap.

Whilst there are a good number of tulip, daffodil and crocus bulbs starting to peek through the soil, the borders are now looking a little bereft.

Simple yet stunning use of space

Winter is an excellent time to address the empty spaces in your garden and add some features to provide year round interest.

You may like to add an entirely practical feature, such as a bench on which to sit and survey your hard work.

We currently have in stock two beautiful stoneware benches, (£119.95 each) which require less maintenance than wooden benches, and have a significantly longer life, making them surprisingly cost efficient.

 

You may wish to add the tranquil sound of running water to the garden.

We have 1 and 2 tier wooden barrel water features (starting from £189.99), which are self-contained, and can be quickly added to the garden for instant impact.