Christmas is coming
PUBLISHED: 00:16 16 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:18 20 February 2013
Choosing the Christmas tree is a family affair in the Beardshaw household
Like many families in the Cotswolds we will be carefully choosing our Christmas tree early in the month which we make a family affair each of us admiring each tree before we make our final collective decision! We like to buy a home-grown tree from a local nursery or from one of the many farmers markets our region enjoys. Dont forget to stand yours in a bucket of water for a day or so before taking into the house to help minimise needle drop.
Plant lily bulbs
Be sure your garden is bursting with colour early next spring by forcing your lily bulbs in the greenhouse now. In order to achieve this, plant the bulbs 5- 10cm deep, in free-draining soil-based potting compost with a slow release fertiliser, such as bone meal, and one which is enriched with organic matter. Maintain a temperature of 7-10C till well rooted, then raise to 16-20C and your flowers should begin to bloom after only 12 to 14 weeks.
Peas are known for their aversion to being sown and transplanted into cold soil and as a result are best started at this time of year in lengths of guttering. Simply half fill the guttering with seed compost and place the pea seeds 5cm apart in staggered rows, then cover with 4cm of the same compost and place a cool greenhouse or cold frame remembering to keep them moist.
Take hardwood cuttings
Plants such as Cornus, Salix, Populus and Rosa are all ripe for propagation now using hardwood cuttings. This means taking a 30cm long stem from this years growth and inserting it to two thirds its length into a deep pot, cold frame or well dug area of the garden. The trick is to harvest stems of sufficient thickness as the great their diameter the more energy they have stored to manufacture new roots and shoots on the cuttings.
This centuries old technique of cutting trees and shrubs back to ground level promotes new vigorous growth and rejuvenates plants that tolerate hard pruning. Coppice overgrown Yews, Hazels and Hornbeams by cutting them close to the ground. The results for your efforts will be the production of lots of new stems. Your hazels will grow back with much straighter canes that in turn can be used for supports in the garden
Ornamental vines, Virginia creepers, Boston ivy and climbing hydrangea are all good candidates for a winter haircut. Take advantage of the deciduous nature of these climbers with all their leaves gone you can see the network of branches easily. Meaning you can spot congestion and thin out where necessary. Its also a good idea to make sure that these sometimes boisterous climbers are behaving themselves and not trying to enter your home through the window frames, or clogging up your guttering.
Cleanse and disinfect:
While the glasshouse, conservatory and cold frames are relatively free of plants take the opportunity to treat the interior to control bacteria and fungal complains. Various products are available with the most effective organic treatments being based on natural citrus oils, which are low toxic but maximum impact.
Spades, forks, shears and all other hard working garden tools may be relatively infrequently used over the Christmas period but it is the perfect time to treat them to some care. Clean metal work with warm water, dry, and if the tools are made of mild steel, brush with vegetable oil to avoid corrosion. Check also timber handles for cracks and structural faults. Finally, if the tools have been subjected to wet weather it is likely that the grain of the timber has expanded causing handles to become rough. Remedy this by rubbing with a sheet of glass paper then coating lightly in oil.
I will be spending a few days aboard ship this month which I fly out to meet and then travel back to port. I enjoy meeting the crew and passengers who will have toured gardens on their cruise and I talk about gardens I have created or help them with their gardening questions. Once back on dry land I will be busy writing and catching up with design clients before the Christmas break.
Look out for details on my new look website www.chrisbeardshaw.com and follow me on twitter @chrisbeardshaw