Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
THERE are so many activities that are available outside our normal workday that it is not uncommon for people to engage in a combination of several hobbies during the year. Sports activities of some sort would probably feature in most people’s list and it can include simple things such as walking along the beach or hills, while at the other end of the scale you have challenging sports such as the Ironman competition.
We are always encouraged to engage in some form of physical activities as it is good for our well being and balance of life. Unfortunately, the ‘Coronavirus’ stopped dead the majority of our activities overnight and we have had to rethink the way we live, as the majority have more time on their hands but without the facilities to spend time doing what we normally would have done.
Thankfully, the one thing that has not altered is the ability to garden, and while many modern houses and apartments lack a lot of space, people have been resourceful in creating gardening conditions wherever they are. It is certainly difficult for certain sectors of our population to stay at home and we have to help these wherever we can. It is quite amazing how resourceful we have been in these circumstances and maybe there will be a wind change about the way we live as a result of this pandemic.
From being confined to the home, there has been a surge of DIY and garden activities but it can be more difficult to obtain supplies as and when we need it. Plants and seeds are still available and growing conditions are usually good for the next eight weeks at least. Vegetable and flower seeds must certainly be sown soon, whereas patio and bedding plants can be added all summer. Trees, shrubs, perennials and other plants that are long lived can be introduced whenever they are needed.
We all have a strong draw towards plants and this is because of our association with them, primarily as a source of food in ancient times. Once we tamed plants by farming them, we then extended our interest in plants in the form of flowers with which we decorated our homes and gardens. The power of flowers is very strong and with some plants can be intoxicating. There are many plants that would come into this category and I will include a number that make a big impact and lasting impression, such as crab apple trees, cherries and laburnums and in shrubs the camellia, broom, witch hazel, hydrangea, lavender, magnolia, mock orange, pieris, rhododendron, lilac, and, for climbers, the honeysuckle and clematis.
The next best thing following on from patio and summer flowering bedding plants are the perennials. The advantage of these is that they last for many years and give blooms quite close to what we want in summer flowering displays. It is possible to have a variety of types that will give flowers all the year round but the main season is from early summer until the autumn. A selection might include some well known types such as African lily, anemone, aster, campanula, delphinium, foxglove, iris, lupin and Shasta daisy.
TIP OF THE WEEK
The more mundane chore of getting rid of weeds is a continuous process and quite soon there will be a surge of growth, which can be unstoppable if not kept under control but for now this has not started and therefore I suggest that the priority for the next few weeks is to sow and plant whatever you wish to have in flowers, fruit or vegetables. Conditions are ideal and growth will be strong and appear to grow before your eyes due to the good light, warm temperatures and adequate moisture levels.
As people are more confined to the home I think it might be good to involve everyone, reluctant gardeners included, to take part in some form of garden activity. Gardening is or should be a fun activity and includes so many variations there is bound to be some aspects that will appeal.