Autumn is usually a beautiful month with lots of Autumn colours. Unfortunately, with the high winds and rain, nearly all plants lost their leaves early. It’s not all gloom and doom however as there are many berrying shrubs and trees around to add colour. The bright berrying plants can often add colour on a very bleak day, bringing a lot of activity to your garden with birds of all type, vying to feed. Trees that give the best show are members of the Sorbus (mountain ash) family. The common mountain ash Sorbus Aucuparia, is covered with masses of red berries this year. A better variety is Sorbus Sheerwater seedling—more orange berry than red. The best of all are Sorbus Joseph Rock with its yellow berries, generally left untouched by the birds and Sorbus Vilmorinii with its pinkish berries.
Another tree that looks really well this year is Malus Golden Hornet, (crab apple family) with masses of yellow crab apples, also left untouched by the birds. As a wall covering shrub pyrancanthas (Firethorn) give great colour. Its a dense upright evergreen shrub. It has dark green leaves with clusters of small white flowers in summer followed by different coloured berries, depending on varieties, red, orange or yellow. In the shrub line there are a number of beautiful plants such as shrub roses or ‘dog roses’ with their different coloured hips.
Hollys of different varieties berry now. A very good variety is Ilex J.C. Van Tol. This does not need a partner as it is self fertile. It has red berries against a dark green foliage and berries very freely. Its great for making holly wreaths, etc.as it is not very prickly.
Other berrying plants are skimmia Reevesiana, Arbutus Unedo, Gaultheira and Celastrus.
Feeding the birds is becoming more popular as we become more aware of the environment around us. Its a great way for kids to learn and care for animals and discover just how many birds there are; robins, blue tits, finches, warblers, etc. If you hang out a bird feeder or bird table and feed them bird seed or peanuts, you will get to see the most amazing colours and great amusement.
A lot of people ask about how to take a hardwood cutting. This is the time of year for it. Firstly, take a pencil thick cutting off your plant, cut below a bud, allow 8–9 inches and cut a sloping cut above a bud again. So you have a pencil thick cutting 8–9 inches long. Have your ground prepared, it should be free draining with lots of coarse sand and peat dug into it. Secondly, dip the cutting in hormone rooting powder, available in all hardwares and garden centres. Insert your cutting into the open ground leaving about 3 inches above ground, with the sloping cut up. Firm them in. Plants will have rooted by next spring and can be potted up or planted out. Resist the temptation of pulling them up to see if they have rooted! Plants that are easy to propagate this way are Dogwoods, Flowering currant, Forsythia, Weigleas, Buddleias, Philadelphus and winter flowering Virburnum.
Thats it for now, happy gardening in between the showers, 6 weeks to Xmas!
Bosco McDermott, Jnr.
Glynn’s Garden Centre, Lydican, Oranmore.