Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
WE are slowly turning to thoughts of growing some vegetables, fruit and flowers and this will increase as the daylight and temperatures keep on course. Fresh herbs and those grown in the home garden come to mind as one of these desirable goals.
There is nothing more satisfying than nipping out to the patio and picking some fresh herbs while preparing a meal or snack. Herbs are easy to grow as long as you give them close to their ideal conditions to thrive. Many come from warm and dry areas like the Mediterranean so perhaps the best we can manage is to give them a sunny, warm position with a free draining fertile soil.
What to grow
I should suggest that you grow what you use and, after that, if you have the space add herbs just for the fun of it as they will look good among your collection. Some suggestions would include herbs in the Simon & Garfunkel song, “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme…” and then add chives, lemon verbena (for tea), fennel and mint. Basil is the one exception that is best grown inside on a kitchen window sill or other warm place. Some annual herbs like coriander unfortunately run to seed before I can harvest it.
There are numerous people who work long hours all week and, therefore, cannot enjoy their garden during daylight hours. If that is the case why not switch around and create or adapt your private space with plants and features that will appeal to evening or night time activities. The night time gets drained of colour and the garden takes on a black and white affect where shapes become more prominent.
Night time pursuits
Why not create an additional attraction for nice warm evenings when you can eat outdoors or have
a nice drink to enjoy the setting sun. Then, if you are relaxed enough, while you will not see much, you will begin to take in the fragrance emitting from a number of plants. By choosing selected types you might be able to cover the entire year with scent – I will mention a few now. Annuals grown from seed include Sweet Pea, Night Scented Stock and others, Phlox, Heliotrope, Viola, Nicotiana, Sweet William and Verbena. Shrubs and other flowers include Viburnum (some), roses, Jasmine, Pittosporum, Rhododendrons (some), Azara, Choisya, Cordyline, Witch Hazel, Mock Orange, Moroccan Broom, Pinks, Daphne, Lily-of-the-Valley, Lavender, Honeysuckle, Lilac, Buddleia, Freesia,
Lilies, Myrtle, Osmanthus, Mahonia, Elaeagnus, Elder, Christmas Box, Skimmia (some) and Spanish Broom.
There is another advantage about night time pursuits in that you will not be distracted by colourful flowers but, instead, be seduced by various exotic scents and then try and discover the source from where they originate. This can be a complex but enjoyable experience as, when on your nocturnal sniff, there might be numerous highly charged scents, all waiting seductively to get your undivided attention.
TIP OF THE WEEK
There are many plants that when left to their own devices end up a thick mess of dense branches and less flowers or fruit. During the winter months this can be seen more readily as with many plants the leaves have fallen showing the shape of the structures. Therefore, it is a good time to thin out the plant by removing a number of the thick branches so that more air and light can get to the centre. Plants that come to mind for this action are roses, gooseberries, blackcurrants and a host of shrubs, like weigela and hydrangea.
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.