Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
IN case anyone is interested I am not a slave to gardening. Unless an emergency crops up I will not brave the elements gardening in high winds, snow, hard frosts or torrential rain.
I do not think this makes me a ‘fair weather’ gardener either, and I believe that most people fit into my category of gardening when it is a pleasure to do so.
What I will do, however, is venture outside in less than ideal conditions and that is for a bit of fresh air while having a casual eye on anything that is liable to break and need attention, where a useful piece of ‘binder twine’ will hold things together until the weather calms down a bit. We had over a week of super fine conditions when we gave our first cut to the lawn and also did Trojan work in preparing beds for vegetables, fruit and flowers.
While there are many people devoted to one aspect of gardening I feel that a grand mix of growing some vegetables, fruit and flowers gives the best all round satisfaction. I could not simply grow just vegetables or fruit or flowers as I do like the freedom of moving from one section to another and food crops are seasonal with flowers or many types being an all year round pleasure.
I have mentioned that my sister who lives and works in the South of France has got an apartment with a largish balcony and has pots and troughs of herbs, salads, vegetables, fruit in 5 types, and many flowers. Now, there is not a great crop that will sustain them for the winter but they have something most days from their small area. What this tells us is that it is quite possible to do all these things and more if you have a larger area to use.
Once the fine weather appears many people want to rush out and plant all sorts of pots up, thinking they will last until the autumn but it is too early for those plants and what is available is a selection of spring flowers such as dianthus, primroses, violas and small bulbs, which will be a stop gap of bright colour for a few weeks until the summer plants are available from late April onwards.
The major season for flowering trees and shrubs begins in April and it is worth waiting until then for any major planting but there are a few select plants that flower from the New Year until April that are worth considering for a part of your garden and they include: Snowdrops, Hellebores and Heathers as small growing plants and moving up in size consider Christmas Box, Viburnum tinus and Farreri, Camellia, Witch hazel, Mahonia and Daphne.
It is amazing how one or two of these plants will do the trick of having some bright colour during those dull winter months.
TIP OF THE WEEK
In a month’s time gardening will take off like a rocket and there is still time to get motivated if you are not already there but certainly look at what is available and have a head start by preparing your pots, window boxes, raised beds and the ground for the plants you expect to sow or plant. It is important to make sure that your nutrition levels in the soil are adequate for the year ahead and for this give a top up with chicken pellets, compost and/or manure. If you have queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on [email protected] or 051-384273 and if of general interest I will include it in a later article.