25. November 2009 22:20
Now is the time to lift and divide those perennial plants that may have outgrown their space or maybe they aren’t flowering as well as they should be due to overcrowding. Shrubs and trees that are in the wrong place and were screaming to be moved earlier in the year can all be moved during this dormant season. A good idea for any gardener is to get used to taking regular photographs of the garden. Try and remember now the jobs that you said you must do during the winter. Was there a shrub that you wanted to move? A perennial that you said you must lift and divide? Photographs will jog the memory and remind you of the clump of perennial life lying beneath the soil and show you the shrubs that you thought were wrong during the summer.
It’s very easy to bulk up on your plant numbers by dividing perennial plants that have died back for the winter. With a strong shovel or spade lift the clump out of the ground, identify the growing shoots and with a good sharp knife, secateurs or spade simply divide the plant so that each new division contains at least one growing tip. These plants can then either be grown on in pots, given away as gifts or planted directly into the ground where they will continue to prosper and multiply in size over the coming years. It’s also nice to pass some of these extra plants onto friends and other interested gardeners.
Plants that can be divided in this way include:
- Anemone japonica
This is one of the things that is great about gardening. It is this passing on of knowledge and interest and surplus plants. I couldn’t tell you how many plants I have in my garden that have been given to me as gifts. Whenever the plant catches your attention it reminds you of who gave it to you, often the plant has outlived the benefactor, thus making the garden a truly living and wonderful entity.
18. November 2009 00:16
A friend of mine is involved with a fantastic charity ACARA. They have already built a school in Lesotho but what is great is that they also helped to build a Keyhole garden for the school. This garden illustrates how much we have to learn from them when we are using our skills and knowledge to help them. ACARA built a keyhole garden in Bloom in the Phoenix Park in summer 2009 and I am delighted to report that that garden is now being transported to Dunsland where we will have it on permanent exhibition so people can see how it works. A KEYHOLE GARDEN A Keyhole Garden (so called because it resembles a keyhole being a broken circle with a wedge out of it) was specially designed by the charity Send a Cow, for use in African countries, especially Lesotho, where drought and flash rainstorms make the growing of vegetables very difficult. It is designed as a raised vegetable garden, built from stone, with layers of soil, manure, wood ash, and dry matter placed inside the stone. The essential element of this garden is the placing of a COMPOST BASKET in the middle of the raised bed. All grey water from washing and washing up can be poured directly into the compost basket, along with all the normal compost materials. The goodness and moisture created by the compost basket seep directly out into the vegetable growing area, making a warm, moist bed for the vegetables to grow in. The keyhole garden is generally covered with a mulch to stop evaporation from the surface soil. Lesotho can have 7 months of drought and then 2 months of flash, very heavy, rain storms – this has created a huge problem of soil erosion, with vast stretches of top soil being washed away, adding to the many other problems associated with vegetable growing. A keyhole garden can supply enough vegetables, throughout the year, for a Lesotho family. Vegetables usually grown consist of spinach, beetroot, carrots, kale and beans. The vegetables are rotated around the circle each growing period and more manure is added to the garden and it is revitalised during the winter months.
keyhole garden2.JPG (39.56 kb)
9. November 2009 20:43
There is a dramatic beauty about winter in the garden as deciduous trees and shrubs provide stunning displays as their leaves develop into old age before falling and providing wonderful winter stem effects, but what is really important about winter in the garden is the creatures who call our gardens ‘home’ during the winter months. As gardeners (budding and mature) the outdoor space we create is for us to admire and play in. However, you would be amazed at how much wildlife share this space with us. There is a great diversity of fauna living in our garden’s delicate ecosysytem and it’s these ‘good guys’ that we want to encourage. It isn’t just so we can feel good about ourselves – though is it a wonderful feeling to see your bird table as busy as a popular deli – no, the reason we should be doing this is because they truly can help our garden grow. From the tiny little ladybird that will happily munch away on greenfly and other aphids, to the birds who are a natural predator for slugs and snail, these critters will lend a helping hand all year long if we provide the right home for them. By using chemical formulations either in liquid or pellet form you will upset these useful creatures and thereby upset the balance in your garden. You will encourage birds into the garden by placing bird feeders, baths and tables and also by planting plants the produce winter berries. As I write this, for instance, I am being serenaded by a cacophony of birdsong. I don’t know enough about birds to be able to identify which ones are singing, but I cn tell from where I am sitting that it is a pretty big orchestra. So next time you moan about the birds having stripped your Holly bush or your Skimmia, just remember that they will repay you tenfold by taking care of many of your garden pest problems over the following year. It is believed that domestic gardens accomodate over 60% of all wildlife in Ireland Keep in mind that once you have attracted these creatures to your garden, many of them will need care over the winter. One of the easiest ways of protecting them is by planting a self producing food source in the form of winter berried plants. There are of course many varieties that would be suitable, but one of the most popular is Ilex or Holly. This plant, synonomos obviously with Christmas, is a very important plant in the garden for maintaining the natural order. These majestic plants are also at risk of becoming endangered so so plant one if you have space for one in the garden. Other berried plants that create a wonderful winter display and provide food for the birds are: Pyracantha, Skimmia, Callicarpa, Cotoneaster among others