Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
UNLESS you are building your own house there is little movement in terms of design or changes you can make before completion. Fortunately, with gardening there is huge scope and here it is entirely in your hands. There might be structures in the garden which you have to work around but usually any further permanent features can be of your own design.
Concrete or steel buildings that dominate many of our cities are dull and depressing so avoid that in your back garden. Green living plants, on the other hand, are soothing, peaceful and have a calming effect on the mind so include as many of these in variety as you can to increase the interest.
Whether your open space is an apartment balcony or a garden of any size, it does pay to take time to design and work out how you would like it to look. This is the stage in which to take your time planning for your needs and desires. The needs are a place to hide the bins, maybe a store or shed for tools and possibly a clothes line or rotary unit. The desires are what anyone who lives in the home would like to have. Once you are armed with that information you can begin the journey of creating something special.
To give your garden some structure it is usual to have some trees but, this aspect needs to be carefully thought through as many people underestimate the size they can grow to and in time they can overpower the garden and might need removing. It is no problem in medium and large gardens but your choice in small spaces has to be reduced to those that stay confined and in this category you will find Japanese maples, some crab apples and rowans and, do consider using a few shrubs that can be trained into a tree-like shape but stay compact without too much pruning.
While I favour hedges for boundaries in the countryside, I suggest a more permanent solution in town gardens with neighbours and think concrete walls or coloured steel or wood would be a more sensible approach. Hedges need space for maintenance while I would suggest shrubs and climbers for walls. Self-clinging climbers are the easiest as they more or less look after themselves and include coloured ivies, Virginia creepers and climbing Hydrangeas. Wall shrubs such as Ceanothus and Pyracantha are evergreen shrubs and will need training to keep into shape. After that, Clematis and Honeysuckle are a popular choice but they need a trellis (wood, plastic or wire) support onto which they will twine and hold on.
Once the initial stages have been completed the final touches can be started and this can be carried out over a period of time. There is no hurry with this part as it is a fun and easy thing to chop, swop and change around all the smaller infill plants. They can be temporary as in the annual summer patio flowers or more permanent plants such as herbaceous perennials and a selection of shrubs of different sizes depending on your available space or a combination of both.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Give a last feed for this year to indoor house plants, patio plants and any other plant that looks weak and could do with a boost before the winter. Give a final trim to hedges to keep them neat through the winter. New lawns and bare patches can be reseeded from now on and if the grass area looks yellowish spread some fertilizer to green it up.
If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future newsletter.