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In Your Garden This Winter

2nd of December 2008

Winter came a little early this year and some of us gardeners did get caught out. The weight of the snow falling on trees and shrubs during October made branches break and led to some early pruning. It did remind us of what might be to come and that we should make preparations for inclement weather without delay. Clear out the greenhouse, disinfect with Jeyes Fluid or Armillatox and fumigate with a Sulphur Candle if there are no plants inside. Clean the glass and line with bubble plastic and make sure that the heater works and then get those tender plants inside. Make sure that the garden taps and exposed water pipes are well lagged and drain out anything that could be damaged by frost, especially the pond pumps. Check the pond heater too.
Young Codrylines are best tied up to prevent winter damage and tender shrubs can be protected against wind damage by covering with garden fleece or hessian. Large evergreens growing in pots are best protected by wrapping the pots with bubble plastic or straw. Always use fleece or hessian to cover plants, not bubble plastic as this might cause them to sweat. Make sure that trees and tall shrubs are well staked against wind rocking. At this time of the year, smooth paths often get slippery with green algae and this can be dealt with using a patio cleaner. As soon as you are able, get as much of the rough digging done so that the hard frosts get to work breaking up the soil. Dig in farmyard manure for the vegetable areas but not where carrots, parsnips and root crops are to be grown. Aerate the lawn if the weather is still mild, but try to keep off the grass if the lawn is frozen. The lawn mower should be serviced as soon as possible and this is often cheaper if done at this time of the year. With the approach of Christmas, a visit to the Garden Centre will provide quite a few ideas of gifts for gardeners and garden lovers. The HTA Garden Gift Token makes an ideal Christmas present which can be used at garden centres nationwide. Non-drop Christmas trees are on sale now together with the new LED tree lights which use less electricity and last much longer.
As the new year dawns it will be a good time to make plans for the spring. Some flower seeds will need to be sown in January and there should be a good selection in the Garden Centre. Seed potatoes should be purchased so that they can be ‘chitted’ in a frost-free place ready for planting in the spring. During winter the summer-flowering shrubs will need to be pruned but spring-flowering shrubs are not pruned until after they have flowered. Fruit trees will need to be pruned and sprayed early in the new year. There are a host of plants which flower during the winter so it is a good time to have a look at the Witch Hazel (Hamamelis), Christmas Rose (Helleborus), Heathers, Aconites (Eranthis), Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus), Christmas Box (Sarcococca) and the Viburnums.
Terry Simmonds

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