Blogs, Books, Weather and Pruning

That’s it folks – the winter is over!  Thankfully it didn’t last long and was also fairly painless; a huge improvement on the last two winters.

Noticed how dry it’s been?  Yes I’m afraid that all the talk on the news about a drought this year, is a very real possibility.  I’ll keep you posted!

We’ve had some fabulous walks locally here in Berkhamsted.  At the same time I’ve been playing around with my new camera and caught some of the winter colours at Northchurch Common and Ashridge Deer Park – you can see them on my latest blog post.  Winter is my favourite time for walking, I love the trees with their trunks all black and naked against the blue sky.

Olympic Park update

Planting has now been completed since I last wrote about this place.  The Olympic Parklands contain 4,000 semi-mature trees, over 300,000 wetland plants and more than ten football fields’ worth of nectar-rich annual and perennial meadows, designed and sown to flower during the London 2012 Games.

tasks for the month ahead

  • Pruning summer flowering bushes now, such as Buddleja, Perovskia, Caryopteris and Spirea, will provide better blooms and improve the overall plant health.  You can also prune your winter flowering bushes now too, if they have finished.
  • Overgrown shrubs can be revitalised with quite harsh pruning from November to March, so if you’ve not yet done it, there is still time!  Of course, large shrubs will create lots of waste so be sure your local refuse collector will take it away or call me and I’ll do it for you.
  • An overhaul of your overgrown climbing and rambling roses should be completed by March and will normally require use of both ladders and loppers!  After pruning, they will normally need training onto a wall or pergola or some other support with sturdy wirework.  If you need assistance or direction with this, don’t hesitate to call me.  And please do make sure that your ladder is secure, secateurs sharp and use good sturdy gloves to protect your hands too.
  • For those with an allotment or vegetable patch, now is the time to prepare your vegetable seed beds, sow some vegetables under cover, chit your potatoes and place netting over your fruit and vegetable crops to protect them from birds.
  • Seed germination and the early growth of any plant will significantly influence the quality.  Ensure the bed is in an open, yet sheltered position, with good drainage, free of perennial weeds.  If the bed is new, dig to break up the soil, remove stones, rake well and tread to firm.
  • Chitting simply means encouraging your seed potatoes to sprout before planting.  Each one will have a more rounded, blunt end that has a number of ‘eyes’.  Position with blunt end uppermost in trays or old egg boxes, with plenty of natural light.  The potatoes will be ready to plant when the shoots are 1.5 – 2.5cm long.

zen and the art of garden maintenance

My good pal Arabella Sock’s blog (yes that’s her ‘nom de plume’ darling) – The Sea of Immeasurable Gravy – is witty, observant and quite funny at times.

I first ‘met’ Arabella via Twitter in 2010 and we’ve got together many times since.  She writes candidly about the gardening world and its celebs, and this year has been awarded a Chelsea Flower Show Press pass.  She also makes short very funny films!

Here she writes about her recent trip to Japan, including her musings on Japanese gardens, food, culture, hotel toilets and the much-revered Japanese tea ceremony!

sweet peas for summer

Laetitia Maklouf’s eagerly awaited second book, entitled ‘Sweet Peas for Summer – How to Create a Garden in a Year’ is due for publication next month.

Laetitia is a garden TV celebrity and her most recent television appearance was on ‘Love Your Garden’ presented by Alan Titchmarsh.

I feel extremely honoured to have been invited to her launch party at Clifton Nurseries, London, and will write a full update, post- event, for my blog.

By the way, if you have any interesting thoughts, words or ideas to ‘donate’, I would love to hear from you, my blog sits here.