Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
THOSE involved with gardening are always planning ahead for the next season and that can include the next six months or more. Looking forward with the experience of the past is probably the best path to take in gardening and, indeed, could be equally applied to all aspects of life.
The trouble is, far too many people have lost the connection with living nature and, therefore, are a bit lost when it comes to know when and what to do in the garden at any particular time. This is a great pity as they quite often miss the critical time for getting the plants in, and this is in spite of the avalanche of gardening information out there but I have the fullest sympathy as too often the advice has been prepared by relatively inexperienced journalists whose duty is to fill copy for a particular time slot. Here, I would suggest that one of the best ways to learn and find out the correct information is via garden clubs and also visit a good traditional garden centre or nursery regularly, just to look around and see what is to be done at a particular time. The majority of staff are only too happy to give you information without the need to buy anything at all.
The autumn months are a good time for planting trees, shrubs, hedging and, of course, spring flowering bulbs. I am always advocating planting these bulbs as they give so much pleasure when they flower from late winter onwards and they are still one of the most economical plants to buy.
I would suggest buy them where you see them for sale but go to a garden centre if you want a better selection. Either way, do plant them as soon as you bring them home or, failing that, leave them in a prominent place so they can annoy you into planting them without delay as too often they are put aside only to be rediscovered in late spring when they have dried up.
What to do
Bulbs can be planted into containers and in the garden, group planting of five upwards is best for a decent show but avoid putting them in singly or in a line as they will look out of place. The flowering season starts already in late January with snowdrops and by choosing different types you can have flowers until mid-June. If the weather is mild you can have some daffodils flowering around Christmas but the normal season for them to start flowering is from February onwards until late March when the scented types flower. During March and April, in addition to daffodils, some of the tulips will begin blooming as well as some miniature Iris and Anemone blanda which is very pretty with white, pink or blue flowers.
The bulbs in order of starting with the earliest flowering and finishing with the latest include:- snowdrops, cyclamen, iris (dwarf), daffodils, crocus, anemone blanda, scilla, tulips, anemone De Caen, iris (tall) and finally alliums.
TIP OF THE WEEK
If you have a wildflower area, now is the time to have a ‘Poldark’ moment when you need to cut the foliage down to around 15cm (6”) but leave it on the ground for a week or two before removing it so that any flower seeds can separate and find their way to the ground to help bulk up next year’s plants.
The autumn is a good time to dig up, divide and replant healthy pieces of perennials while at the same time getting rid of old and weak parts.
The recent winds have demonstrated the need to prune back excessive growth on a number of plants as, otherwise branches and limbs or worse get broken off and in addition might cause damage to people or property.