Posted by in Features.

Welcome to a new year in the garden. Like everybody else I am looking forward to a new year and watching everything burst into life again. Gardening is a great activity to escape from the stresses of life and watch nature in its many forms—be that to see bulbs push their way through from bare earth and cheer us with their spectacular blooms, to birds foraging on the floor between plants and then head for your peanut feeders, to the hedgehog gathering leaves for his bed, or watching plants buds swell and then burst open into leaf again. So get out and get active—great aerobic exercise! Don’t look upon the garden as a chore but a hobby. Many people are turned off gardening by spending 2–3 hours cutting a lawn, if it is that big, buy a ride on lawnmower or buy a share in one with one or two friends or neighbours. That will cut down on your workload and not be as boring. Don’t leave all your gardening to the last minute or one or two times a year. Spend an hour or two twice a fortnight and it won’t build up, this will be more rewarding and relaxing as well.

January & February checklist

Lawns: Rake off fallen leaves from the lawn. Prepare the ground for new lawns. Don’t feed till March/April.

Trees & Shrubs: Continue planting deciduous trees and shrubs in good weather. Bareroot trees, hedging and burlapped conifers can still be planted and at a cheaper rate than potted varieties. Carry out any major lopping or felling of deciduous trees. Prune deciduous shrubs. Don’t feed until March/April.

Roses: Dig the ground for new rose beds. Apply composted farmyard manure to existing rose beds. It helps feed them, acts as a mulch and prevents them drying out too much in the summer.

Flowers: In good weather continue planting and tidying, dead heading of plants. Continue light digging of flower beds. Tubs and beds nearer the house can be given a lift with some colour at this time of year with violas, winter pansies, sweet williams, variegated ivies, carex (variegated grass), winter flowering heathers and skimmia rubella (male skimmia red flowers), skimmia reevesiava (red berries).

Vegetables: Finish off digging over the beds. Apply well composted farmyard manure or similar. Get ready for planting all the early seed potatoes. Put the seed potatoes into a box with straw or aeroboard. Keep the end with the most eyes face up and place in a warm dark spot to sprout them before planting. If kept in a dark spot, the sprouts don’t grow as long and don’t break off when planting as easily.

Fruit: Continue planting fruit trees in the good weather. Prune apple and pear trees and blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes. Apply tar oil winter wash. Winter wash kills any overwintering pests and kills any moss or lichens that grow on the tree. Apply now, as when it comes into full leaf it’s too late to apply it. Apply sulphate of potash now (helps in the production of fruit) to all fruit trees and bushes. Sulphate of potash is slowly taken up, so to be use, it needs to be applied now.

Greenhouse: Tidy up and clean all debris from greenhouse. Disinfect pots and seed trays. Bring in potted strawberry plants for forcing. The first seeds to be sown will be geraniums, anthirrinums, pansies, busy lizzies and sweet peas. Seeds are good fun and a lot of them are easy to grow, so start sowing!

Houseplants: Make sure plants get maximum light available. Keep plants out of draughts and cold places. Water and feed only those plants that are in flower. Keep all others on the dry side. Now that the Xmas tree is gone you are left with a gap in the room? Fill it with nice sized houseplant such a a Kentia palm or yucca or Dracenea—easy ones to look after.

Finally, looking around people’s gardens, two plants that have been outstanding this year are one very well known and the other unknown. Heathers are in everyones gardens, but at this bleak time of year they offer colour like no other plant, are cheap to buy, easy to grow and grat ground cover. Some good varieties are Erica Arthur Johnson, Erica Silberschmeke, Erica Westwood yellow, Erica Vivellii, Erica Rosalie, Erica Kramers Red, Erica King George, Erica Snow Queen, and all of these are lime tolerant varieties.

The unknown plant is Hammamellis Mollis Pallida or witchhazel. This has spidery type flowers at this time of year that are fragrant and resistant to frost. They come in a range of colours from red, orange to yellow, yellow being the best.

Did you know?

Weather has an affect on the size and shape at garden spiders webs. In windy weather the spiders build smaller webs with fewer spirals of silk spaced further apart. When the weather is warmer and there is more food about, the spiders build larger webs, increasing the size of their snare. When the level of humidity goes down, so does the size of the web. So a big spiders web and a red sky at night, is it a sign of good weather coming?!

That’s if for now,
Happy gardening,
Bosco McDermott, Jnr,
Glynn’s Garden Centre & Fruit & Veg,
Lydican. Tel: 091 799135