Tag Archive: projects


Make your own Christmas Wreath?

Make your own Christmas Wreath?

December’s key gardening tasks may seem a little like November’s (and January’s too). But it’s important to be determined and to keep on top of some routine jobs, especially leaf raking (and leaf mould making), and clearing away spent stems and leaves from areas where, if left, they will encourage pests and diseases (but don’t be too tidy). On the other hand, the pace of activity has definitely slowed, so you can afford to take it a bit easier this month (well I  suppose that should read transferring your energies from gardening to christmas shopping, putting up christmas decorations etc.).

Here are a few ideas to help you stay connected to your garden during the onset of winter.

1. Digging (and mulching)

Continue to dig over beds and borders and incorporate as much organic matter as you can (spade work in heavier soils, or border forks in lighter soils like that in Old School Garden). This will not only help to prepare the soil for next year, it will reduce some pests by exposing them to hungry birds. If conditions are too wet or the ground frozen, avoid digging and instead spread a good layer of organic mulch- and let the worms do the work for you over the winter.

2. Clearing

It’s important to clear away old plant debris to prevent slugs and snails setting up home in the warm and damp conditions layers of leaves and stems can create.  Take special care to remove leaves around alpines – they will die if covered up in damp material. It’s also worth covering bare patches around these plants with a top up of gritty compost to aid new growth. But don’t be too tidy as you’ll remove valuable cover and shelter for hibernating animals and insects.

3. Planting

From now through until March is a great time to plant deciduous hedging (bare – rooted whips can be bought from nurseries). Some varieties – Beech and Hornbeam for example –  will retain their old leaves over the winter, and provide good screens. Hawthorn is good for a traditional country hedge and provides a natural, dense barrier (you can add in dogwoods, maple, dog rose and guelder rose to increase the wildlife value). To plant hedging first dig a trench a week or two before planting. This will allow the soil to settle. Then plant out your whips when the ground is moist (but not waterlogged or frozen). If the right conditions are a little while coming either ‘heel in’ your plants somewhere temporarily or keep them in compost in containers. Other trees and shrubs can also be planted – but again, wait for the right conditions.

It’s also a good time to take cuttings from rhododendrons, azaleas, and other evergreen shrubs. New growing tips should be cut to about 10-15 cms long, just below a leaf node, strip off most of the lower leaves and place the cuttings in pots of gritty compost in bright light, keep them moist and at a temperature of around 21 degrees C.

Hedeg planting- now's the time to get started

Hedge planting- now’s the time to get started

4. Protecting

Mulch Hellebores with wood chips to protect their flowers from rain splashes and remove any black spotted leaves (a fungal disease).

Lift any Dahlias in potentially cold and wet positions and store them in a gritty compost or vermiculite somewhere dry, cool but frost-free for the winter. It’s best to leave these (and any begonias you want to keep) in the ground for as long as possible to fatten their tubers- lift after the foliage has been blackened by frost.

Keep an eye on temperatures and if there’s a sudden drop forecast, then erect a temporary cover for tender flowering plants like Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas and Daphne. A few stakes driven into the soil around the plant and a covering of fleece or a sheet should do the job. But make sure the material doesn’t touch the plant and remove the cover as soon as the temperature rises.

Avoid your hose freezing and splitting by stretching it out with both ends open, so allowing water to drain completely. It can then be coiled up and put away somewhere frost free. Likewise make sure any outside taps are covered to protect them from freezing.

Prevent your compost bin from getting too wet or frozen (and so slowing the decomposition process), by covering it with old carpet or plastic sheeting.

5. Decorating

Why not cut some shoots and branches for Christmas decorations and maybe make your own wreaths? Add in cones, dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and broad, wired ribbon.

If you normally have an artificial or cut Christmas tree, why not consider buying a rooted one this year? They don’t cost that much more and can be planted out to add a feature to your garden as well as saving a living tree! Make sure that you water a living tree well before bringing it inside and limit the tree’s ‘indoor holiday’ to no more than 10 days, making sure you keep it watered and ideally not in a warm room. Here’s a link to advice on caring for your tree.

A living Christmas Tree this year? In some places you can rent them!

A living Christmas Tree this year? In some places you can rent them!

6. Feeding

Now’s when birds start to go short of natural food, so provide good quality bird food and fat or suet balls, ensuring that feeders are out of the reach of cats. And make sure clean water is available and remains unfrozen.

7. Pruning- or not

Have a quick whisk round trees and shrubs and cut out dead, diseased or dying branches. The spurs on smaller fruit trees can be thinned out, and new horizontal tiered branches on Espaliers can be tied in. Apples, pears, quinces and medlars can be pruned. Cut down the canes of Autumn fruiting raspberries (or leave these in place until February if they are in an exposed position) and prune gooseberries, red and white currants.

Now is the time for coppicing native trees and shrubs. This technique is good for limiting the size of trees in small gardens, turning a tree into a multi-stemmed shrub. It will also provide shelter for wildlife and a breeding ground for butterflies, and lets more light through to the surrounding plants that would otherwise be shaded out by a bigger tree. This opens up the possibility of planting bulbs and ground cover plants around the tree.  Pollarding involves pruning to create a single main trunk, with cutting back of higher level stems. If you are growing shrubs for winter stem colour- e.g Cornus, then wait until spring to cut back the stems to the base.

Avoid cutting back all your perennials as they can provide food and shelter for wildlife in the winter. Anyway, many perennials (e.g. Agapanthus and Rudbeckia) have attractive seed heads and so add a little interest to the winter garden. I particularly like to leave the bleached stems of deciduous grasses in Old School Garden.

8. Harvesting

If you have them, these crops should all be ready for harvesting:

  • Beetroot

  • Turnips

  • Parsnips (best left until the weather has been frosty)

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Celery

  • Swedes

  • Cabbages

  • Leeks

9. Watering

Rain or snow might tempt you to think you don’t need to water your plants, but those which are growing underneath large evergreens or the eaves of the house or in other ‘rain shadows’, may become very dry. A lack of water in winter can be the death knell for these plants.

10. Winter projects

The weather may be good enough for you to complete a special project to enhance your garden:

  • Add a few native trees and shrubs into your borders and more exotic plantings

  • Build a compost heap – use old pallets to get the cheapest, most effective and sturdiest result

  • Feed hedgehogs with tinned dog food (but not bread and milk)

  • ‘Create’ a pile of sticks and logs to make a wonderful ‘des res’ for hibernating hedgehogs and the like

  • Make a leaf container out of chicken wire and posts to make leaf mould out of fallen leaves (it normally takes about 1 – 2 years to rot down). Alternatively they can be stored wet in large black plastic sacks pierced with a fork to make holes

  • Dig a wildlife pond

Oh, and finally, stay off frozen grass!!!

Old School Gardener

Advertisements

It’s about time I updated you on the latest projects in the garden to use recycled pallets or other cheap wood and materials. I continue to be astounded by the creativity and skills out there! All images from the wonderful site 1001 Pallets which includes lots of tutorials, in case you want to have a go yourself!

Old School Gardener

Pallet update

It’s been a while since I put together a selection of outdoor projects using pallets and other recycled materials, so here’s a trawl from the wonderful Facebook site ‘1001 Pallets’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Old School Gardener

PIC00103Moving to a new house with a garden that needs whipping into shape? Need help with an idea for improving part of your established garden? Or maybe you want to completely overhaul your current plot and need a masterplan for achieving your ideas over a number of years?

If you live in the Norfolk area and want to develop your ideas and design skills, in the company of like-minded people, I might be able to help.

I’ve been running a series of short courses to inform, inspire and improve the design skills of gardeners for some years, and I’m planning to kick off the next one in a few weeks time.

I’ve taken the opportunity of a new venue to review the content and programme of the course, also building on the positive feedback I’ve had from previous participants. I’m thrilled to be able to offer a course that’s based at the wonderful Blickling Hall Estate near Aylsham, and hope to take full advantage of it’s fantastic gardens to illustrate and reinforce some key ideas.

WP_20150716_12_09_50_ProAnd as well as visits to the gardens I’ll be using a combination of presentation, group discussion, one-to-one support, handouts, books to borrow and links to further information. You won’t need any special knowledge or skills in garden design or gardening; just the germ of an idea or plan for your garden, or maybe just a general interest in finding out more about garden design.

Venue: The Old School, Blickling Estate, near Aylsham, Norfolk

Times and dates: 10am -12 noon Tuesdays from 2nd February – 22nd March inclusive (excluding 16th February)

Cost: £70 (including refreshments)

For an outline of the Programme take a look here. If you want to find out more about me then take a look at the Page ‘About Me’ on this blog. If you’d like to discuss the course, how it might meet your needs or want to register, please call me on 01603 754250, or leave me a message via the contact form below.

alliums and laburnumI want participants to have the space, time and attention to address their individual needs, so places will be limited; if you’re interested, please get in touch soon!

Old School Gardener (Nigel Boldero)

Pallet Project Update

Well, as it’s been some time since I did a trawl through the Facebook site ‘1001 Pallets’, I thought I’d have a look and, yes there are a few new ideas using pallets or other recycled materials in garden projects. I hope that you enjoy them!

Old School Gardener

 

Here’s my last compilation of the latest outdoor projects using pallet and other recycled wood. This is a bit of a mixture of things, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by them. All courtesy of the Facebook site 1001 Pallets.

Old School Gardener

My latest offering in a ‘mini series’ on pallet and other recycled wood projects for the big outdoors. This time a few cunning designs for your critters! All courtesy of the Facebook site 1001 Pallets.

Old School Gardener

Here’s another trawl of garden projects involving reused pallets or other recycled wood. Again, all courtesy of the Facebook site 1001 Pallets. First a few for child’s play…

And these two are more for the grown ups!

pallet bar picnic table hammock

 

Old School Gardener

So, here’s the second in a series of posts about great ways of using pallets and other recycled wood. There are so many different ways to create a planting space, as these examples from 1001 Pallets, demonstrate…

Old School Gardener

Strange Days

Life and more!

Rambling in the Garden

.....and nurturing my soul

The Interpretation Game

Cultural Heritage and the Digital Economy

pbmGarden

Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy

SISSINGHURST GARDEN

Notes from the Gardeners...

Deep Green Permaculture

Connecting People to Nature, Empowering People to Live Sustainably

BloominBootiful

A girl and her garden :)

gwenniesworld

ABOUT MY GARDEN, MY TRAVELS AND ART

Salt of Portugal

all that is glorious about Portugal

The Ramblings of an Aspiring Small Town Girl

Cooking, gardening, fishing, living, laughing.

aristonorganic

"The Best of the Best"

PetalPushin

Thoughts from a professional Petal Pusher

Free Spirit Publishing Blog

An idea exchange for kids' education

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Wild Plants & Animals Advocate

Focused Moments

Photography by RACHAEL TALIBART

Lightning Droplets

Little flecks of inspiration and creativity

crabandfish garden

This WordPress.com site is our garden, cats, chickens and travel musings

breathofgreenair

mindfulness, relaxation, thought provoking images and poems

%d bloggers like this: