Monday, December 21, 2020


Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre

IT is great that gardening quietens down during the duller months and there is no pressure to do anything but on the rare, bright, sunny, crisp days you still have the option to venture idly outside. Within a short time you will find yourself getting involved with something and that is the pleasure of having some outdoor space.


It is not everybody’s cup of tea to grow some food crops such as fruit and vegetables, and that is the fun about gardening in that there are so many variations and combinations. But at the end of the day it is all about the joy and satisfaction of growing plants. At this time the majority of hobby food producers now take the time to reflect on last summer’s crops and make notes on what to do next year.


There are also people who I call the ‘Ornamentals’ and they are those who grow plants for flowers, foliage, berries and other interest. It is a great idea to have a variety of plants to cover all the seasons and it is a good way to absorb nature up close in the form of plants as they go through their yearly cycle – all in the confines of the garden. You can do the same by selecting a number of suitable areas around the countryside and that also gets you out of the house but it is not that convenient or as accessible as stepping outside the house into your garden at a moment’s notice.

Raw material

I do enjoy the time spent out in the countryside and that includes beaches, mountains, greenway, woods and along rivers and we are all fortunate in the county to have all these within thirty minutes of where we live. Part of the fun is to gather natural materials along the way to use in future decorations but that takes time and sometimes there is a need to create something quickly. It is then that whatever is in the garden will have to do. The solution if you have the space is to have some plants that provide decorative material around the garden and these might include Skimmia (flowers and berries), Malus ‘Red Sentinel’ (berries), Holly (foliage and berries), Conifers (cones and foliage), Ivy (foliage and berries), Viburnum (flowers) and Mahonia (flowers and foliage).


It is not difficult to make up your own display and for a long time it was the only way to have a quality decoration. I have to say there are some made up ones now which are good quality but there is a bit of satisfaction in making your own and maybe getting some of the family to share in the preparations.


You can do the same with wreaths which are traditionally placed on graves and to a lesser extent on the front door. All you need is the base which can be bought from a garden centre or make up one by bending a wire coat hanger into shape. Then, tie in some conifer foliage to bulk the shape up and thereafter stick in whatever decorations you like such as holly, ivy, fir and maybe a ribbon or lifelike flowers.


Some plants lose too much sap when pruned and may suffer as a result and they need pruning when they are dormant or asleep which is now and includes such plants as grape vines, kiwi fruit, birch trees and figs. If in doubt with others you can continue pruning with mainly deciduous trees and shrubs. Planting hedges, trees, apples etc continues all the time and it is safe to buy bare-rooted (un-potted) ones until mid March.

If you have queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a later newsletter.

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By Melanie Dool
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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