Sunday, 17 January 2016



Although the very wet weather at the start of 2016 has not been kind to gardens or gardeners giving us precious little chance to get onto the soil, we can still do some gardening at home, sorting out plans for the new season. We have had time to analyse last year’s results so we can continue with our success stories and find answers to our failures.
There have always been continual changes around the garden and on the allotment. We have a permanent battle with the weather all year round, and then there are new varieties of flowers, fruit and vegetables to try out.
Add to that those must have trees and shrubs that have given us a lot of pleasure for many years, but eventually outgrow their allotted space. I have had to sacrifice my eucalyptus, several huge conifers, many shrub roses devastated by blackspot, my plum tree which got infected by silver leaf disease and my peach tree devastated by peach leaf curl. I also lost several grape vines, my goji and a row of raspberries killed out by phytophthora root rot.
However the gaps left behind gives us the challenge of improving the landscape design. Thus a lot of new plantings took place last year including many dwarf rhododendrons and azaleas, some osteospermums, flag iris, outdoor fuchsias and bulbs.
I had a huge ceanothus growing at the bottom of a steep bank, but during a dry spell last year it died so I dug it out. The ground was replanted with a drift of yellow doronicums around which I have planted numerous dwarf red tulips to flower at the same time. Another dry area at the top of a wall has been planted up with peonies and pinks around the edges to trail over the wall. This area has also been under planted with tall red tulips for a spring display and highly scented oriental lilies for the summer. More oriental lilies are planned for the ground vacated by removal of my forty year old plum tree as well as hundreds of grape hyacinths which naturalise very easily.

Update in the fruit garden
Last year my new autumn raspberry Polka started to fruit, and as hoped the berries were larger than Autumn Bliss, so I look forward to this year’s crop. I will try out a new summer raspberry bred recently at James Hutton Institute called Glen Dee, with larger fruit than Glen Ample, heavier yields with tolerance to some strains of raspberry root rot.
Bramble Rhuben will now be in its second year, so I hope it fairs better than last year. This is a primocane type fruiting on new shoots produced in the same year. However last year some of these new canes flowered in November so never had a chance to fruit, though it was a cold sunless year.
Blackcurrant Big Ben gave a good crop of large berries so hope this continues this year.
Aronia Viking gave us its first crop last year, but as the bush grows the cropping potential will increase, so 2016 could be a good year, with enough for a demijohn of wine.
My original outdoor peach tree Peregrine, grown against a south facing fence had to be dug out as the peach leaf curl could not be controlled. It has now been replaced with peach Avalon Pride said to be resistant to this disease, so here we go again.
In the greenhouse my new grape Siegerrebe was quite promising, giving white grapes with a Muscat flavour, so I took some cuttings and will try this one outdoors on a south facing fence.
Starline apple Firedance planted last year gave a few apples, and in the cool wet summer growth was fairly decent, so it will be interesting to see what it does this year.

Wee jobs around the garden

Winter aconites are now beginning to flower a lot earlier than normal due to the mild winter. Where a drift is forming from scattered seed these are now germinating but only produce one set of seed leaves in the first year and no mature leaves. The second year they produce one mature leaf, and then hopefully begin to flower in the third year. Make sure you can recognise these young leaves so they don’t get mistaken for an early flush of weeds.


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