Winter Message and Gardening Tips from Ashdon Gardening Club
HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A PEACEFUL NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL FROM THE ASHDON GARDENING CLUB
AGC committee member, Janet Elsey writes:
For many of us getting out into our gardens in the depths of winter is a less than appealing prospect. It’s too cold, too wet, too dark. Yet there is still plenty to do and even pleasure to be gained from just pottering around for an hour or two on the odd bright day that may come our way. It’s also an ideal time to visit wonderful winter gardens – The Cambridge Botanic Garden is virtually on our doorstep, while Anglesey Abbey is also within easy reach. Both are a source of inspiration and, on one of those brilliant winter days when the low sunlight bathes bare stems and branches in a warming glow, can bring enchantment to the soul.
Winter is also the time to reflect on our successes - and failures – of the previous year, to browse through favourite gardening books and make plans for the new seasons ahead. Are any structural changes needed? New beds to be made? Planting schemes to be devised? It’s a creative time when we can give free rein to our imaginations and make notes and endless wish lists of what we’d like to achieve in the future.
Ashdon Gardening Club also helps to keep the spirit of gardening alive during the winter months with a varied programme of monthly talks and events. And to get the year off to a good start, kicks off on January 21 with the annual social evening– a lively get together with food, wine and a light-hearted quiz.
For those with the energy and inclination to get out into the garden in December, here are just a few personal tips and recommendations from various members of the committee. But remember, when it comes to gardening, nothing is compulsory. Nature is relentless. Things grow, come what may. Pleasure and enjoyment are all that matters.
An Aide Memoire for December.
- Bulbs should be in the ground by now. But if not, pop them in before the first week of January and they will ultimately catch up.
- Bulbs that flower at different times can be layered beneath each other to provide a continuous display.
- Plant spare bulbs in black plastic pots and when they flower dot them around the garden to fill any spaces.
- Finish planting broad beans and garlic.
- Resist any temptation to cut the grass as this will encourage moss build up.
- Don’t walk on the lawn as this will crush the worm casts and result in a sea of mud.
- Contrary to popular wisdom, leaves from the lawn can be swept on to beds to act as a mulch and to provide a habitat for wildlife.
- Prune fruit trees – taking off this year’s upward growth that will sap energy from developing fruit.
- Prune fruit bushes, ornamental vines and tall ornamental shrubs.
- Check trees and shrubs are firm in the ground to avoid wind rock.
- Remove any low hanging branches that could impede lawn mowing.
- Mulch around roses using compost or garden leaves.
- Trim hedges before the birds start to nest. But leave on the ground any berries removed for the birds to feed.
- Clean garden furniture and store in a clean dry place.
- Use teak oil to help preserve wooden furniture.
- Check all garden machinery and arrange for servicing and sharpening where required.
- Check and insulate outside taps
- Clear paths and if possible jet wash paving to prevent slipping.
- Make necessary repairs to sheds and fences.
- Start building new beds
- Leave herbaceous plants in situ for wildlife.
- Plant bare root trees and hedging plants and stake where necessary. (First, dip roots in water and sprinkle with myccorrhiza root grow powder. This is a fungi based treatment used by commercial growers that self-feeds roots and doubles their size).
- Shorten chains on hanging baskets to avoid damage from strong winds.
- Keep warm – wear lots of layers.
- Back sufferers – be warned! Keep a strict limit on how long you spend in the garden – an alarm clock helps!
(Reprinted from the Winter edition of the Ashdon Magazine)