THE LADY GARDENER

With Christmas almost upon us most people’s thoughts are on organising and shopping for the festive period but try not to forget your garden. 

The weather has turned cold and the leaves have fallen from the tress but there are still lots to do around the garden to see it through to next year’s seasons.

If the weather is good carry on digging over your beds and borders and incorporate as much organic matter as you can.  Spending time now will help to prepare the soil for next year and it also helps to reduce pests by exposing them to feed hungry birds.

If you have not already protected your pots and outside taps from frost, wrap them in bubble wrap.  I’m sure you will have plenty around from ordering Christmas presents on the internet!  Also lift all pots off the ground to prevent them sitting in damp areas that can freeze and do damage.  If you have a sheltered spot by the house, tuck them all close together to give protection.

When the weather is not so fine why not spend time in the garage or shed cleaning your garden tools, also you may wish to check your lawn mower in for a service ready for the first cut.

From now until March is the ideal time to plant bare rooted deciduous plants, this is often the most cost effective way to establish a hedge or rose garden.  Beech and hornbeam make excellent hedges and keep some of their leaves over the winter so provide good screening all year long.

After the November rain a lot of lawns will be waterlogged or frozen so try and avoid walking on them as damage is easily inflicted and will take time to remedy in the spring.

Once January is here it is a good time for for pruning and renovation of many deciduous trees, shrubs and hedges, it is easier to see what you are doing when the branches have no leaves.  Suitable examples are beech, hazel and roses.

When it is warm enough to brave the elements wrap up warm and go out and treat sheds, fences and trellis with wood preservatives, it is an ideal time to do this before plants start to grow and get in the way.

February is a busy month for pruning – cut late summer and autumn flowering clematis down to 12” this may seem drastic but they will quickly grow to their old height and produce flowers.  Attend to overgrown hardy evergreens, straggly hedges and wisteria. Lastly, prune roses by taking out all dead, weak and crossing stems.  Hybrid tea roses should be cut back to about 8” to an outward facing bud and floribundas (those with flowers in clusters) down to 10 – 12”.

Buy and plant container-grown snowdrops, always plant them slightly deeper than they were in the pot and add some bonemeal to the planting hole.  You can also plant snowdrops ‘in the green’, these are plants that have been dug up while still in leaf.

If towards the end of February the weather turns dry and mild, the lawn is firm and the grass is starting to look a little long, give it a very gentle mow with the blades on the highest setting.  Don’t be tempted to cut the lawn if conditions are wet.

Divide clumps of herbaceous perennials that you want to propagate or that have become too large for their allocated space or those that are flowering poorly or have lost their shape. This is usually carried out every 2-3 years.

If you live on the Medmenham patch and you need help in your garden and feel I can help, do not hesitate to contact through
www.theladygardener.talktalk.net

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