This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to the oncoming festivities, Santa Claus, friends and family coming home and getting the house ready for Christmas.
We tend to forget about the garden but yet it can still contribute in a large way. You can look back on the year and the enjoyment you may have got from your garden.
Your lawn will need very little care at this time of the year. You can cut if if you wish at a high cut and when the ground is firm. If ther are a lot of leaves on your lawn, remove them to avoid them smothering or thinning your lawn.
The vegetable garden can be tidied at this time of the year. Remove all the old vegetable debris and either dump it or put it on your compost heap. This helps to prevent over wintering pests and diseases, The cleared area can be dug over or rotavated and any kind of organic material (seedweed, mushrooms, compost, dung) dug into the soil or just left scattered over the soil.
Bulbs can still be planted into November and December, even though its not the most ideal. They can usually be bought cheaper as well, as most outlets are clearing them at special prices. Most herbaceous perennials can be lifted and divided now also. You can still plant at this time of the year. All the bareroot trees, conifers and hedging can be planted now until March, and these plants are also less expensive than the potted specimen. Polyanthus and winter pansys can still be planted for some winter colour.
At this time of the year, we start getting the heavy frosts. Protect your clay pots by rising them off the ground slightly and letting them dry out slightly. Also if you wish, you can wrap bubble insulation around them and tie it with twine.
A common question at this time of the year is “What do I do with my roses?” Well, basically it is very simple. Roses as a rule, other than climbing varieties, can be cut back by approximately a third now. Some varieties can be quite tall and with all the wind they rock over and back, water lodges in the hole at the base and if you get frost, it can damage the plants. To prevent this happening, cut the roses back by a third and do not be fussy where you cut them. The main pruning and feeding is done in March, around St. Patrick’s weekend and I will detail that in due course.
Fruit trees and Roses can be planted now and most garden centres will have a very big stock of them now.
Christmas is not Christmas without a nice Christmas tree and nowadays there is a huge variety to choose from. The most popular nowadays is the Noble Fir. A beautiful full greeny/blue non shed conifer with a beautiful scent. These trees are specifically grown by growers for Christmas. The next is the Lodge Pole Pine. Another non shed light green tree not as full as the Noble Fir. The third tree is the old traditional Norway Spruce, not as popular now, as it sheds the needles. Some people plant a live Christmas tree to have for a few years, bringing it in and out. Lastly, there is the artificial tree, looks good but like Coca Cola, you can’t beat the real thing!
For the love of your life, who is gardening mad you never know what to buy them. Do I buy a plant or houseplant or book? Perhaps the answer is a gift voucher from your garden centre, and let them choose.
During this festive season a lot of people will receive pot plants as gifts and don’t know how to take care of them, I will name a few and outline how to look after them:
- Poinsettias—they like average warmth, with lots of light. Water thoroughly but wait until the compost is moderately dry before watering them again. If the room is very humid, mist the leaves occasionally.
- Solanums (Christmas Cherry)—these like a cooler room temperature, lots of light and keep the compost moist at all times. Mist regularly.]
- Cyclamens—they like a cool room temperature, lots of light and keep moist at all times, using soft water (rain water) and semi tepid (lukewarm). Put pebbles on tray or saucer if possible.
- Christmas Cactus—they like an average room tempereature, well lit spot, no sunlight. Water liberally when the compost begins to dry out.
- Chrysanthemum—bright light is essential, but shade from the midday sun. Keep the compost moist at all times. A cool 50–60°F temperature is ideal. After flowering most plants are discarded, but pot chrysanthemums can be planted out in the garden where, if they survive, they will revert to their natural growth habit.
That’s it for now, happy gardening.
Bosco McDermott Jnr,
Glynn’s Garden Centre, Lydican.