Christmas and the Winter Garden

Well I can hardly believe this is my last newsletter of 2011!  I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading my little tips and ideas.  If you’ve any questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch either via email or telephone 07708 643313.

With Christmas greetings to you all!

maintaining your christmas decs!

Although I don’t favour the ‘twee’ Christmassy style news, I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention a couple of key important points:

To keep Poinsettia at their best, position in bright light, away from draughts and direct sunlight and water them sparingly.  Indigenous to Mexico, their beautiful leaf colouring (called bracts) is initiated by short day-lengths, occurring naturally in December and January.  Quite often they are disposed of after Christmas; however it is possible to restore their original colouring:

  • Prune back hard in April to about 4 inches, re-pot and grow in a light cool place all summer.
  • To initiate colouring put them in a dark room, protected from artificial light from 5pm to 8am each day, from October until colour shows in the bracts.  Try and maintain a constant temperate and ensure they don’t get too cold.

Real trees are undoubtedly beautiful but can be incredibly disappointing when they drop their needles.  Follow these simple tips to keep them at their best:

  • Before you bring the tree into your house, saw 1 inch off the trunk, place immediately in water and continue until the water uptake stops (approx 1 gallon).
  • Always keep the base of the tree in water.  Regular tap water is fine but, if the base dries out, resin will form over the cut end, the tree will not be able to absorb water and will dry out more quickly.

top tasks for the month ahead

  • Avoid losing sculptural, or specimen, plants to the cold by wrapping your pots to protect them.  Hessian can look attractive if done stylishly; horticultural fleece is inexpensive and can be casually draped over your shrubs, bays and box, loosely tied and removed once serious snowfall has finished.  You can also use straw to mulch tender perennials such as Fuchsias, Pelargoniums (Geraniums), Osteospermums and Marguerites (Daisies).
  • Take cuttings of your vines whilst the sap is still in the stems and plant them in your vegetable patch.  Choose wood that is pencil thick and cut a length about 9 inches long with a horizontal cut below a bud and an angled one above.  Place the cutting to half its depth in compost and wait until rooted (around a year) before planting out.
  • If you don’t have a pond heater, prevent your pond from freezing by placing a football into the water.
  •  Turn off any external taps or garden pipework and ensure that they are protected from freezing.
  • If you haven’t already done so, clean and repair your garden tools and lawn mower.
  • Warm up the mulled wine and… relax!

gardening & alzheimer sufferers

They say gardening stimulates the mind as well as exercising the body.

Read this really lovely article written by Bunny Guinness, well-known Chartered Landscape Architect and panellist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, about the benefits of gardening for Alzheimer sufferers.

Reading the ‘comments’ is optional!

shed those layers & get some air…

I’ve referred you to the National Trust website for walks in the past, but take a look here; lots of gardens are open during December including Waddesdon, Hughenden, Cliveden and Ashridge.  Better still, most of them have lovely warm tea rooms!

Cycle, walk, ride and Go Ape at Wendover Woods, but do remember that the gates shut at 5pm.  Plus get a free app for your iPhone to help with orienteering; this educational and fun app includes a photo gallery, UK common tree identifier and maps. Or, for the really brave amongst you, perhaps you might like to try Nordic Walking, beginners welcome!  Find everything you need to know here.