Monday, 8 January 2018



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.
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.
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.
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


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