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Gardens Green with Envy

At last much needed rain has fallen in our shire, and what a difference it makes to our gardens and our enthusiasm to get out and enjoy a spot of gardening.

Now is the ideal time to plant with moist soil and cooler weather allowing for maximum establishment with minimal loses and minimal work. The ground is so much easier to dig; worms are back near the surface (who knows where they go?). Mulch spread now will preserve soil moisture for many months to come.

The Golden Plains has really lived up to its name this year but I look forward to the green of winter.  The lush green landscape can be enjoyed without the rapid growth and constant mowing which is required come spring.

Our vegetable garden will take a hit this winter/spring as we ran out of tank water and the ground became so hard and dry. We subsequently made the decision not to plant crops in autumn. For the first year in many we will miss growing our own leeks, broad beans, cauliflower and broccoli.  Instead we will use the next few months to enrich the soil with compost, manure and thick mulch which will benefit spring plantings and improve soil for many seasons to come.

We love many of the long lasting cut flowers in the Protea family but our flat block and heavy soils made them more prone to root rot.  With a newly created raised garden bed with have now planted Leucodendrons which will grow as a screen to around 3m and provide months of cut flowers once established.  We planted Inca Gold and Red Gem, but there are many other stunning varieties grown easily where drainage is good.

If you are planning on planting fruit trees this winter it’s time to head down to your local nursery and seek advice and order your bare rooted trees.  They will be arriving in store any day, and by getting in early you ensure you get the best varieties and best shaped trees.  At this time of year you can also plant asparagus and rhubarb crowns, and a range of berries too.

In coming weeks we will start pruning our fruit trees. Then we lift, divide and replant strawberry runners and also cottage plants such as daylilies, sedums, agapanthus and ornamental garlic. Plant them back into soil newly enriched with compost from your heap, it’s a great way to multiply the plants you have and many of these varieties look better mass planted anyway. We resist pruning our roses until well into July to allow them a little more time to rest having produced such a wonderful display throughout the warmer months.

There is plenty to do, but there is also plenty of time with no real urgency now that almost everything has either slowed down or gone dormant.  It means we can pick our days, wait for nice weather and stay inside should the days turn sour.

Don’t let cooler weather deter you - one hour in the garden now with save you 5 times later if left until later in spring.  Get out and enjoy it, so much happens at this time of year.  Jonquils and many other bulbs start to show their potential and the native garden has many flowering shrubs and trees. The starkness of deciduous trees displays the intricate detail of the many spider webs which inhabit your trees, highlighted by morning dew.  Those same branches reveal the abandoned nests which hatched last year’s new born chicks and cast tangled shadows on dusk as the sun sets low in the sky.  It really is a beautiful time of year not to be missed!

Cheers,  Chris Hose