Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
IF you are very busy, idle thought processes get repressed as you are kept focused with things to do in the garden, and that finally comes to an end around now. The mind is a funny thing and soon ideas will come floating around, just waiting to land on your lap with subsequent plans.
Gardening ideas can come in a variety of ways and not necessarily directly from garden programmes or the general media. I think there are already ideas which appeal to each person and then something will stimulate it into a plan or project, which will fit snugly into your garden. Hand written notes in a folder or on the computer will help keep things fresh in the mind until you are certain on what to do.
Of all the insects, I like butterflies the best with dragonflies a close second and find insects fascinating as long as they leave us all alone while doing their buzzing around. I have been adding plants that attract butterflies and they can smell nectar rich flowers from 8km (5 miles) away. In recent weeks I have seen large numbers, including Peacock, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip and the Cabbage Whites.
There are many benefits to having some wildlife in your garden and the mixture of plants normally found in gardens appears to encourage them to take up residence for a while. The addition of a wildlife pond brings its own attraction with, among others, dragonflies. The traditional ponds with goldfish are out of fashion for a number of reasons while wildlife ponds have become more popular.
A wildlife pond need not be too deep and should taper gradually at least in one area to the surface so that the maximum amount of wildlife can benefit. A depth of about 60cm (2’) if a small lily is added, otherwise around 30cm (1’) is good enough for most water plants and the area leading to the surface could have pebbles to hide the pond liner and also be a resting place for birds, dragonflies and other insects, including frogs who will find their way into the deeper part to spawn in late winter.
No matter what way you construct your pond there will be some maintenance after a number of years. Dust particles will continue to land on the water and eventually there will be a layer of mud on the bottom which, in time, will need clearing out. This can be carried out between August and October and the existing plants and whatever wildlife you find can be transferred to a temporary water bin, buckets or similar until returned to the clean pond.
With the dry and hot weather during August some plants started showing some autumn colours but that was sporadic and is attractive in extending the colourful season. From now on we can be on the watch out for fiery foliar displays in the coming weeks. Autumn colours are not restricted to rare or specific plants but can occur on a huge range of common plants, such as the well known Forsythia. Again, it is a case of observing nature around you.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Many people have found planting winter onion sets give better results than spring sown ones and they will be in the garden shops shortly, along with garlic bulbs. These bulbs just make some roots but remain dormant above ground and then are ready for an early start when the warm weather arrives in the spring. You can replant spring flowering bulbs and buy additional ones but do spend time getting them into the ground. 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.