Snow stops play

December 2, 2010

Snow might have stopped play for a short while here in Berkhamsted but there is still plenty to do in the garden for your planting and the wildlife. Do take a few minutes to give the birds a helping hand. They need a supply of drinking water all the time as well as nuts, cheese, seed & pastry scraps. Check out what the RSPB says about how to look after the birds in your garden this winter. www.rspb.org.uk With a bit of care and attention you can avoid losing valuable garden shrubs. Knock off the snow from bushes and trees with a hand brush or longer implement for taller specimens. The weight of the snow can easily cause branches to snap and weaken so get out there with your broom! If branches do snap then make sure the affected area is clipped neatly to stop rot from entering over the winter period. Recycle old blankets, clothing and sacking to insulate your ceramic pots-no need to buy horticultural fleece if you have unwanted stuff in your drawers that with a bit of ingenuity will do the job just as well. If your pots are not being used for winter displays, stack them upside down somewhere out of the wet and cover them elegantly. And make sure your winter display pots have feet underneath them to aid drainage which will avoid them holding too much water & cracking in the icy weather. Christmas trees will last longer and look better if you stand them in a stand that holds water. Christmas trees get thirsty & may need to drink a litre of water a day depending on it's environs. www.christmastreefarm.co.uk  in Chesham sells these stands and has useful care tips on its website. I can supply and deliver beautiful Laurus nobilis (bay trees) to adorn your frontage for the festive season. The large ones are approx 1.5 metres (5' in old money) and look tree-mendous covered in tiny white lights. Please enquire about all sizes-the small ones will make a thoughtful gifts as no special skills are required for these trees to thrive. If you're buying ceramic pots for gifts this Christmas do seek out English thrown frost resistant pots. Often the pots imported from the far east and China say they're frost resistant whereas in fact they're not. I can't tell you how many terracotta pots ended up as crocks after the icy cold weather last winter. Have a look at www.hibbett.co.uk and www.castlehillpottery.co.uk for some special examples. Allotment holders and growers will delight in Marc Diacono's new book 'A Taste of the Unexpected'. Marc writes passionately about growing more unusual varieties of fruit and vegetables that are expensive to buy or just not available in our shops...Japanese wineberries anyone? To boot you'll be pampered with a cornucopia of colourful photographs that will make make your water more than opal fruits. You can't miss it on the book shelves...the front cover looks like a shiny lip gloss palette. For those of you who may have more than a passing interest in gardening, garden writing and garden design I'd like to mention a couple of my Twitter pals who yesterday won awards from the Garden Media Guild. Anne Wareham is the editor behind www.thinkingardens.co.uk which gives access to some of the best garden writing around (including a tweet from me about Waddesden Manor) the contibutions are non-elitist and provocative at times with no holds barred. Log on and read for yourself. Also, I'd like to give Lia Leendertz a plug here. Lia's writings for 'The Guardian' have moved me and many to the tissue box. 'Midnight Brambling' a blog about her allotment, gardening, children and living with adversity deservedly won blog of the year. www.lialeendertz.wordpress.com   Next week, the perm-frost will retreat somewhat I can continue my winter projects in Weston-Turville, Hughenden Valley and Berkhamsted, but meanwhile do send any gardening questions. I'm only too happy to respond while I'm twiddling my thumbs.   Merriment in abundance to you and your families during this advent festival.   Kind regards   Helen

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