Sunday, November 01, 2020

THE Coronavirus looks like it is staying with us for much longer than we first thought. Well, that is not difficult to understand as we did not ever know much about it but, many people second guessed what was going to happen and, they are still guessing.

Open space: The one thing that the virus has demonstrated is the mental and physical benefits of being outside and immersing yourself in nature and, by extension that includes gardening activities. Many people are fortunate to have some open space at the back of the house which is private and you can totally relax there with your household. Unfortunately, there are some people who are in city apartments that cannot do that but, they have access to the park or general open spaces.

Mixed-up: There are as many variations in gardening methods and styles as there are in those who spend time in their garden. This is one of the reasons why gardening is so interesting and never boring or predictable and, no one year is the same as the next but, luckily, there are certain patterns and cycles that are more or less constant and once you get on the bandwagon of these, you are more or less in tune with other experienced gardening people.

Boundary: Like others, I am probably a little guilty of trying to push the boundaries of what can be grown here but, I did say ‘little’ and that is because I do not stray too much as, I find there is more than enough to interest and challenge me in what is available in the hardy plant range. Even within the reasonably common hardy plants there is a set back every twenty or so years when plants die from a severe frost. The two well-known plants which suffered like this are the Griselinia hedge and the ‘Cabbage Palm’ or cordyline.

Mixed fruit: With so much available it is not easy to choose what you would like in your garden as space is usually the limiting factor. There is no foolproof system as, if you make lists of what you like, it will be too long and, the list is never finished as, additions are made all the time when you come across new plants. I do have lists and photos on my phone and the spaces were filled up quickly but, if I come across something I really want, it is simply a matter of removing the least attractive plant, which I admit is not simple as it can be a tough decision to make.

Outstanding: All this boils down to is that plants have to be something out of the ordinary and/or great to outstanding to be included in my garden.  I include spring flowering bulbs too as they take no space up, are useful to fill odd corners and can bring colour to the garden for up to six months. After that, I would whittle down the list to a selection of highly desirable shrubs, perennials and alpines to complete the garden.

Tip of the Week

To get the best from garlic they must be planted by the end of the year as they like cold conditions in which to start their growth cycle. If you plant too late or have a hardneck variety they might produce a flower shoot in early summer which you should cut off to help the bulbs swell. We plant softneck varieties as they do not tend to produce a flower shoot and they also keep better and contain more cloves that hardneck types.

The other crop that likes being planted in the wet and cold weather is rhubarb and this can be carried out until the end of February. ‘Timperley Early’ is the best all round variety to choose from and usually four to six pieces are enough for most families.

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