Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
I FIND that the winter lasts too long and think we could shorten January or February and lengthen, say April and May. I should imagine that would be agreeable to everyone and make them happier and have more time to get things done in the garden at that more pleasant season.
Much to do
I have to agree that the tempo has increased in the garden and suddenly there appears to be much more to do. Add to this some of the wet days that occur and there you end up with less time to spend outside. Do not wreck your head with a multitude of things to do but write them down or on your computer and complete whatever you wish in order of priority. For us it was getting the lawn cut while it was dry and also getting into a regular routine of sowing a variety of flowers and vegetables.
Once the lawn or grass area has had its first cut you can see clearly if it needs further attention before strong growth begins. Any bare patches can be over sown by simply scattering lawn seed over the existing lawn, and any moss can be treated by applying a feed, weed and moss killer. After that just get into the routine of mowing your lawn without further attention.
The lack of hair dressers has lead to all sorts of unusual styles, from some who attempt a DIY to others who have just gone with the flow, to a select few who appear to have a perfect cut and get that suspicious look from others! It is a similar situation to what and how to cut back or prune your plants. The general rule is that whatever was on show during the last six months such as flowers or foliage, it is now time to trim them back otherwise like our hair they will become untidy and unkempt. Winter flowering heathers, witch hazel, mahonias and camellias all come into this category. Ornamental grasses need cutting back to near around 5cm (2”) from the ground, likewise red or yellow stems of dogwood can be cut back to 15cm (6”).
Once established the majority of hardy plants are happy enough to grow away without feeding but, you can help plants grow better by mulching with fallen leaves, seaweed gathered from the beach after a storm, manure or the occasional granular fertilizer and, do not forget the benefits of adding your leftover tea and coffee which camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and Pieris love. Hungry plants such as roses and fruit trees will need an annual top up feed to sustain their strong growth and crop of flowers.
Each year there are new plants available and that is an exciting part of gardening but in these days of new consumer marketing, some plants are treated as a temporary addition and are not long lasting like the regular hardy plants which can remain from eight years all the way up to eighty years or longer. Research and asking knowledgeable people will point you in the right direction.
TIP OF THE WEEK
For a little cheer at this time of year and to bring some colour near the house, it is worth while planting up a few pots or containers and place them where they are seen, such as near the front or back door or where you tend to look outside from the house. Do not go the whole hog and plant numerous pots but keep the number to a select few and plant close together a mixture of colourful plants such as heathers, scented pinks, colourful foliaged heuchera, muscari and dwarf narcissi. They will last until the summer flowers are available and can be replanted in the garden to carry on growing.
If you have any comments or queries you can share them with me at 051 384273 or [email protected] and, if of general interest I will share it in a future article.