The strong winds over the Christmas period finally blew off the last of the autumn leaves - amazingly late! - more sweeping up - and a fresh crisp frost has heralded the new year. The shortest day is behind us and we can look forward to increased daylight, but as the old sages warned “as the days grow longer the cold grows stronger” and often the worst of our winter weather occurs in the new year.
We are busy preparing orders for the Cambs County Council Tree and Hedge planting schemes. Providing it’s not too frosty, this is an ideal time to plant trees, hedges, roses and fruit, particularly deciduous varieties that are dormant at this time of year. These are normally field grown rather than containerised and are supplied as bare root plants between November and March, and this is a very economical way to buy. Popular hedging plants are hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, hazel, privet, dog rose, hornbeam, and dogwood. A mix of these plants will produce a colourful hedge and as they are native to our country, provide a rich haven for wildlife.
Trees, be they native, ornamental or fruit, often establish better if purchased bare root and planted during the winter. A large area may simply be ‘slit’ planted by inserting a spade to its full depth, enlarging the resultant slit and inserting the roots of the small plant to the depth to which it has been grown and closing up by heeling around the plant. On small areas, or when time allows, digging a pit twice the size of the rootball and mixing in a compost prior to backfilling is always beneficial, and of course a must with larger specimens.
A fruit garden can be created or replenished cheaply now. All fruit trees, strawberries, raspberries, red, white and black currants, loganberries, blackberries, nuts and many more are available. Please call for advice on varieties, pollinators or plant spacings.
How about creating a rose bed or border this year? Probably unsurpassed for summer brilliance and fragrance. The choice is endless and there are roses to suit all situations and soils, - but remember, it is unwise to plant roses where they have been growing before without changing the soil.
Perhaps like me your Christmas presents included some useful gardening gifts which we can put to use during the coming year, and I hope, also like me, you enjoy many happy hours in your garden.