Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
Our world was turned upside down in the middle of March when, the coronavirus hit us with the subsequent lockdown and, while we are some months later down the road, the accompanying shockwave is still with us and, we are trying hard to get some certainty back into our lives.
I must admit I was a little surprised at how fast people adjusted to their new situation and, with it came new opportunities in the form of home improvements and gardening. Both of these occupations or hobbies were quite new to a large number of people and, with gardening in particular, many people found themselves totally changed in a somewhat ‘Road to Damascus’ experience as they watched the miracle of a plant growing for the first time.
Are we ‘Back to the Future’ as far as ‘Staycation’ holidays are concerned and if so, this turnaround has more or less been suddenly imposed on us.
Years ago, our holidays really did not exist as any time off was spend in the locality and, then ‘Butlins’ came to Mosney which was a huge transformation and, they did quite well until the affordable package holidays to the sun took over. Now we are back to spending our holidays locally, with only a few going a few counties away to take a chance on a typical Irish type vacation!
Large numbers, including our family, were happy pottering around the garden and, as Ireland is such a small country a few day trips within reach of the home base easily covered most interests.
While the need to be proactive was of necessity during the lockdown, the rewards of home projects completed brought out feelings of wellbeing and a positive outlook but, in many cases it made people also realise that they could carry out the work themselves which was satisfying as it opened new avenues of interest, including an increased awareness of the advantages of gardening.
Hopefully, everyone who has spent time in the garden with flowers and/or food crops has seen the benefits of their involvement and, even with experienced growers, it is a continuing learning experience and everyone gains valuable lessons along the way. Now, whatever way you look at it, the summer is gone and while we may get an ‘Indian’ one, it is a good idea to help it along with some autumn planting to fill in any floral areas that have faded a bit.
I should first reduce the number of containers that were on display all summer but reposition the best-looking ones around where you are most likely to see them, such as around the front door and any prominent area in the back. For replanting, you can reuse both the old compost and any existing plants that are still fresh looking and then infill with colourful heathers, cyclamen and where even a small space allows plant in some winter violas or pansies. If you need height then use a shrub intended for the garden but keep it in a display container for the winter. Possible shrubs include golden choisya, variegated pieris, skimmia (pictured), nandina, holly or mahonia.
TIP OF THE WEEK
The heat, good light and more than enough rain has ensured that plants have put on great growth, which is welcome but weeds are popping up everywhere and need to be eradicated if they are in unwanted areas. Any weed control completed within the next four weeks will ensure that cleared areas remain that way until the growth starts again in late spring.
The time has come around for sowing new lawns, repairing established old ones and generally getting the grass areas back into condition with some feeding if they are looking a bit ragged and pale.
If you have any comments, queries or questions then you are welcome to contact me at [email protected] and I will reply and if of general interest I will share it in this column.