Tuesday, 16 January 2018

CREATE A NEW GARDEN



CREATE A NEW GARDEN

Everybody, at some point in their life will have a new garden to sort out or create. We leave the comfort of home, we get married and find our own home, move location to suit our job or get promoted and move to another town. Some of us will stay put and inherit property and the garden from our parents. The garden is now ours, but just where do you begin. This all depends on whether you are faced with an existing garden or a
Lunch on the patio in spring
totally new one around a new house just vacated by the builders. This new garden gives us a blank canvas with nothing to stop our creativity.
Walls needed for steep slopes
If you have come into an existing garden do not rush to make changes. Take a year to see what the garden has to offer but keep the grass cut, hedges trimmed and weeds controlled. During this time analyze the site and note trees, shrubs, hedges, roses, rock garden plants and other features worth retaining as well as marking those that have to be dug out. Think about paths, walls, patio and fences, garden sheds, ponds and flower borders. Take time to gather all your ideas together and draw up a plan on how best to fit everything in.
Aspects to consider include the following. Do you need a patio in a sheltered sunny spot for relaxation and will this need some degree of privacy. This is always a good location for scented climbers, tubs and flower beds to create an attractive surrounding.
Upright cherry for small garden
If you are in an elevated location and subject to winds then shelter is important with hedges, tall shrubs and trees if space allows them, although there are many columnar types suited to the small garden. The upright flowering cherry, Prunus Amanogawa and the white Eucryphia Rostrevor are very attractive and ideal for small gardens. Trees are also important to give the garden scale and add specimen plants for impact.
If your garden is on a slope you will need to consider terracing, walls, steps and some cut and fill of some slopes to create flat areas. Use plants such as dwarf conifers or even London Pride if the slopes are very steep as they reduce maintenance and stabilize the soil.
Areas in the shade can be planted up with Euonymus, heathers, azaleas and variegated ivy if the shade is very dense. Use Pyracantha or Camellias against walls in the shade. Keep sunny areas for the more special plants, bedding plants, herbaceous plants and if drainage is good try some of the exotics such as figs, grape vine Brant and the palm tree, Cordyline australis. Climbing rose Dublin Bay is brilliant on a sunny south facing wall.
Climbing rose Dublin Bay
While putting all your ideas together keep in mind the garden impact of flowers and lawns for recreation and tranquility. If you have a young family lawns are essential, but give thought to whether the lawn is to be your challenge to create a bowling green surface mowed with manicured straight lines or just flat and full of dandelions, buttercups and daisies which are much more attractive to the kids.
Now the plan is in place it is time to look at the soil. Is it clay, sandy, loamy, deep, well drained, devoid of life
Small trees in the landscape
and full of stones, boulders and builders rubbish. This is where the hard work begins, clearing up debris, digging over the soil and adding manure, compost or whatever you can find to add organic matter to relieve compaction and put life back into the soil. If you are not in a hurry you can plant up the garden with potatoes which are great for breaking down heavy soils, then add a green manure such as clover after harvesting. This will break down the soil further and add nutrients once it is dug in and rots down. You are now ready to order in plants for planting from late autumn till early spring.

Wee jobs to do this week
Spreading lime

Cabbages, cauliflower, kale and sprouts all like an alkaline soil rather than acidic, so it is a good idea to grow them all together and add some hydrated lime a couple of months before planting. As it is normal to rotate crops only lime about a quarter of the vegetable plot and lime another patch the following year. Potatoes prefer acidic soil otherwise they are liable to get scab, so they come last on the rotation after liming.

END

Monday, 8 January 2018

LOOKING AHEAD



LOOKING AHEAD

Gardening and information technology have one thing in common, that both move forward as new ideas emerge, though in gardening the pace of change may be just a wee bit slower. The dark cold days of winter give us the chance to sit down and make plans for the year ahead. We may be trying out new varieties in the vegetable garden,
Phlox with tulips
buying in a new flowering shrub or rose or grape vine or just looking forward to seeing the result of new plants and bulbs planted last year. Control of plant pests and diseases and weeds is always worth looking into as many can devastate crops such as rose blackspot, slugs on everything, vine weevils eating roots of flowers, clubroot of brassicas, caterpillars on cabbages, cauliflower, sawfly on gooseberries, carrot fly, and the list just goes on.
Tulips with narcissi
Then breeders bring out new varieties of fruit, flowers and vegetables for you to try out.
Flowers
Last spring my crocus and tulips put on such a brilliant show, that while we stood and admired them, we decided to extend the show next year where ever possible. Although our garden is a fair size we still struggle to grow all the plants we love so we now try to intercrop bulbs with shrubs, roses (Tulip Sunlover) and herbaceous plants and are trying one area with layers of bulbs planted at different depths and
flowering at different times. This area is a carpet of grape hyacinths. These start to grow in autumn but the leaves bed down in winter to allow my new planting of crocus bulbs to flower in March quickly followed by the grape hyacinths. Underneath these bulbs is a layer of narcissus to grow above them and flower at the same time as the grape hyacinths. When this spring show ends another layer of lilies appear for flowering in mid summer. By this time the spring bulbs foliage is dying down so I can scatter some fast growing annual flower seeds such as Candytuft to accompany the lilies. It is an ambitious plan, but time will tell how successful it turns out to be.
Crocus have been so colourful that I decided to clear out a drift of peonies growing under my apple trees and replaced them with 1000 mixed crocus. Looking forward to seeing these flower in spring.
Tulips and Oriental lily bulbs were purchased for mass planting at a few strategic points for impact and near the patio and entrances for scent.
Fruit
Older strawberry beds have been replaced but I have gone back to reliable varieties such as Honeoye for early summer, Symphony for late summer and Flamenco for the autumn.
New fruit plantings last year of Raspberry Glen Dee, Peach Avalon Pride and Pear Concorde will now begin to crop as they are in their second year. As land is limited and I came across an impressive pear called Beth, so I will get some shoots to graft them onto my family pear tree, which  has Comice, Beurre Hardy, Conference, Concord (from last years grafting) and The Christie.
Vegetables
Plans on the vegetable garden include using clubroot resistant Cauliflower Clapton in three monthly sowings to give curds from summer to autumn. With Swedes I will go back to standard varieties which have turned out to be more reliable and better flavoured than clubroot resistant varieties.
I will no longer be adventurous with onions, so it is back to well established varieties, and same applies to Sweet corn Bountiful as the cobs were rubbish. The pollination failed to set the corns.

Wee jobs to do this week

As winter weather starts to bite and restricts our outdoor gardening activities, take time out to browse the internet on the ipad, mobile, laptop, tablet or computer in the comfort of a warm room and look out some information on any number of gardening problems. Pruning apple trees, plums, pears, grape vines, blackcurrants, gooseberries, brambles and roses of all types. Methods of growing all plants and crops are only a few clicks away, with YouTube videos are plentiful and all my gardening articles for the Dundee Courier magazine going back nearly ten years can be looked up on my blog, archived in date order at scottishartistandhisgarden.blogspot.co.uk

END