The Friday gardening group is back in action after the half term break and we talked about the many things there are to do in the garden at this time of year- cutting back, raking up and collecting leaves, planting shrubs or perennials whilst the soil still has some warmth, taking in and protecting plants like pelargoniums that are not frost hardy, planting winter bedding and getting the bulbs in the ground. If you have heavy clay soil then add a mulch to the garden now, for chalk soils it is better to add a mulch in spring so the nutrients will not all be washed away by rain.
We had some discussion on making leaf mould and compost. Leaves can be collected and kept in a chicken wire enclosure or even just in a black bin liner with some holes punctured to allow the air in, they will take about a year to rot down. Leaf mould is an invaluable mulch or soil conditioner and can also be added to compost or used on its own for some plants.
Compost is a valuable source of nutrients that plants need for growth and compost heaps need a balance of carbon and nitrogen – so there needs to be a mix of vegetable kitchen waste and plant matter which are nitrogen rich and cardboard and paper or wood ash that are carbon rich. Lots of interesting suggestions about what should or shouldn’t be added to the compost heap. Top tip from Vicky is to add old jeans which break down rapidly or human hair or feathers. Don’t add potato peelings as you may get potato plants popping up all over the garden.
- Pelargonium Tomentosum- a spreading plant with velvety, peppermint-scented, heart-shaped leaves and small clusters of tiny white flowers. It will need to be kept frost free over winter.
- Heuchera ‘Prince’ has bronze purple leaves and produces tall purple stems with small white flowers in the spring. It can be planted out in the garden in full sun or partial shade.
- Callicarpa giraldii ‘Profusion’ or Beauty bush is a medium-sized deciduous upright shrub that grows to 3m in height. It has small lilac flowers and purple berries in compact clusters. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade.
Activities in the garden this week:
- Sorting out and cutting back some of the pelargoniums in the greenhouse to slow down winter growth
- Making cuttings of Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’, the perennial wallflower
- Sowing peas in guttering to put in greenhouse
- Making edging around the redcurrant bed
- Sowing sweet peas
- Planting white narcissi and erythronium bulbs in woodland garden