Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
WE are lucky to live in our cosy corner of Ireland, which has better and milder weather than any other part of the country, and it follows that we can spend more time outdoors in comfort most of the year.
The spring months are the most popular gardening seasons but the other three have their attractions and should not be neglected. I would suggest that every month is important and to create some interest I would suggest you check out your garden and see what improvements can be made to fill in any gaps that appear. It is quite simple as you only need about 12 plants to cover you for flower or other interest during the autumn and winter months.
I think I am like many other gardeners in that I gather plants and then do not plant them in the garden straight away but they remain by the back door for ages until in one swoop I will plant the entire lot in the one day. I do have to say part of the delay is that I do not know exactly where I am going to place the new plant and I will take my time to plant them properly in good soil as just shoving them in does not help them grow and they might sulk for a while or even die off.
I like all the seasons and would find it difficult to choose one above the other as they all have their points of interest. I am enjoying the autumn now and feel it has lasted well this year but the end of the leaf fall is close. I have captured some outstanding coloured foliage on camera and picked a few leaves for pressing into dry specimens. At least the berries will last longer into the season and some of my favourites are Malus Evereste, Callicarpa, Skimmia and coloured Hypercium with pink, red, orange and white berries and all good for indoor decorations too.
On any dry but cold or frosty morning I try to get warm by digging a patch of ground, or tackling a bad weed problem or last week our overgrown Photinia ‘Red Robin’ hedge. This is very popular with its bright red new growths but it takes time and effort to keep it into shape and I suspect its popularity will fade when people realise the maintenance it needs. Our ‘Red Robin’ had reached 5m (15’) high and over time and without attention got bare near the ground which was then colonised with ivy and briars. It took two days of a hard slog and now the hedge is clean and down to 1.5m (5’).
It is great to make some of your own compost and the ingredients are free but they are bulky and a small composter soon gets filled up so filling plastic bags as mentioned a few weeks ago is a solution. If you have the space you can make up simple compost bins using pallets. Three pallets on their end in the shape of a U and supported by 1.5m posts will give you a quick, easy bay to fill and you can add additional bays if you have the raw material to fill them.
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The popularity of having some plants indoors has increased for several years, particularly among the 25-40 year olds. There is nothing daunting about looking after them as long as you follow a few simple rules. First of all stick to those that are classified as easy to grow and maintain, then only feed and frequently water from about April until the end of August. House plants die if too cold, hot, dry or wet so everything in moderation and from September until March if in doubt just a little water keeping the compost on the dry side and mist foliage frequently. 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 article.