Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
IT is part of human nature that we accept the yearly cycle of the seasons and, I suppose it is also part of our evolution. Our active brains are what keeps us moving forward and while it is called progress, there might be some aspects that appear to move us in the opposite direction.
We passed the shortest day during the Christmas period and, now that we are already in the middle of January there is already a feeling of optimism about the growing season ahead. It has been a mild winter with a few frosts and some blustery wet days but, so far we are fortunate not to experience the extreme conditions that occur in other areas. It is still the quiet time in gardening but, thoughts are starting to stir and also when it is fine, do head out and start preparing the ground for spring planting.
One of the downfalls of the western world is that we waste so many products including food and, also deplete natural resources, all of which is unsustainable. India, for example, with a huge population is a very sustainable nation with the vast majority of materials reused or recycled into a new product. We at home can help by being careful about what we purchase and in the garden we can grow some of the food that we would otherwise buy.
The erratic weather patterns around the world have been acknowledged as a result of ‘climate change’. The worldwide loss of trees and vegetation keeps increasing and sometimes we are at a loss about what we, as individuals can do. Some people will put pressure on the government while having a small input at home, by increasing the planted area in the garden or outside in a community open space.
There is a push to increase more native plants into the landscape and, this is a commendable decision but, because of our geographical position and history, our number of native plants is small, compared even to our next door neighbours in Britain. I have always advocated planting a wider range of trees and shrubs to include those that we are familiar with and feel are native, such as Beech, Chestnuts and Lime. I also advocate planting some small natives in the garden such as Spindle, Guelder rose, Rowan, Birch, Whitethorn, Honeysuckle, Hazel, Bird Cherry and Holly as, all these are small growing, are attractive and of benefit to wildlife.
Planting a selection of native trees and shrubs, growing some of your fruit and vegetables and, recycling and reducing your waste will all help you physically and mentally to face the future in better form. I wish you all a belated Happy New Year!
TIP OF THE WEEK
Pruning of plants that lose their leaves during the winter is a rewarding pastime and, a relatively easy operation as the branches are visible and therefore, cutting out damaged or crossed over twigs is a simple task. With winter pruning I do not feel the regret I feel when cutting off lush foliage or flowers in the summer so, I can be more drastic, if needed, when having to be more ruthless in cutting back, in order to get a plant into shape. 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.