Christmas Gardener 2023
This is a good time and opportunity while you and your garden are taking a well earned rest after another year of war in Europe and a new Middle East War
See if you’ve managed to take some advantage of the open spaces either in your own back yard or simply a good old fashioned walk when the weather is reasonable .i don’t think I could get through the week without ‘stretching my legs every day.
Take a look at putting some winter colour in the house,conservatory and why not in the drier parts of flower beds if the weather is reasonable.
Indoor plants are very popular ,some grow up or down from the ceiling or on the walls is most required.Pointsettias are still very popular but why not try a strong red Amaryllis or
a brilliant white Christmas cactus !
An attractive evergreen long living house plant that can cope with central heating is Dracaena species especially Marginata like a mini palm tree !! No worries about much watering either .
You can’t beat C
yclamens , now available in a wide range of red and pink colours, fairly hardy and reasonably priced. Hyacinths are on sale in attractive wicker baskets for indoors but you can also plant out hyacinths if they have been specially prepared by the growers. This involves a higher temperature speeding up process, followed by low temperature for six weeks, so do check before you buy.!
If you are looking to buy family and friends some plants as a Xmas present for winter or spring (which is not as far away as we think or like it to be), do enjoy a good explore round local garden centres and also on secure websites. Specialist bulb/corm growers have some excellent bulb deals on offer and as long as they are planted in well drained gritty soil in a sunny aspect can be a wonderful addition of colour to many parts of the garden e.g. lawns, bedding, rockery, also for indoor decoration and outdoor containers and hanging baskets. Search for (fragrant) daffodils (narcissus) my local garden centre has some at this time and for early-late Spring look out for packs of leucojums, ornithogalums, chinodoxias and tulips (all lily family) as well as early iris bulbs.
Anemones (Ranunculous family) may soon be available to keep a look out for . Bellis (Daisy) and Violas (Viola family ) are already available and will add cheery colour to your winter scene.
Early spring plants such as Heathers (ericaceous), Sarcococca (box family) very fragrant and very ok in the shade, Osmanthus woody (oleaceae) fragrant and slow growing, Chaenomeles exotic red and pink (roseaceae) good early spring flowering in mild conditions against a wall) may be on sale now. Plant these shrubs out about mid Feb but not in frost periods, or retain in cool moist conditions in a light conservatory or porch until outside conditions suitable.
Birds depend on us all during difficult weather conditions, so do ensure there is appropriate food for them, not just in dispensers but also for the ground feeders, blackbirds, thrushes, robins etc. Thrushes are on the endangered list now and they love what gardeners don’t, snails and slugs. It will help if we can leave the garden a bit more relaxed and untidy, so plenty of leaves, broken branches, bits of moss etc. as this will generate a food chain of over-wintering insects that ground feeding birds require very desperately in cold snaps!
Hibernating animals are many more than we realise, so try to leave habitats such as piles of leaves and sticks perhaps retained by some branches or under some spreading low ground cover branches e.g. Cotoneaster. Hedgehogs are desperate (and severely endangered) at this time of the year so check they can get from garden to garden through a small hole in the neighbours fence. This is really important for them to travel to find winter habitats so check l with neighbours if a joint effort could be made .?
Wishing all you gardeners a very restful Christmas, Peaceful and Hopefully a Happier New Year and perhaps a small prayer to be thankful for what wonderful gardens and environment we have been given and to look forward to another treasured year of growing opportunities. Hopefully climate change may be more moderate but every one of us should all be mindful of thinking a bit greener and adding a few more shrubs and trees if space permits and of course be energy efficient not difficult in these times of high costs !!
Tony Arnold MCIHort www.scienceforthegardener.com or tony@scienceforthe gardener.com for science based garden enquiries.
Science for The Gardener Book personally signed copy available direct from Tony or the website .) Sc4G RHS science resource