January 2022


Happy New Year everyone.  Let’s hope it is better than 2021.

How was your Christmas and New Year? I have to confess to quite a bit of over indulgence and torpor in equal measures.  So it was with relief and a tonic to be back outside engaging with nature again – even if the weather has been wrong for the time of year.  Nothing beats the natural urges to get stuck in, down and dirty with the fauna and flora.  Nature waits for no man and it will not be beaten into total submission.  But it can be guided and man and nature might be persuaded to live in harmony.

Having said that gardens became havens and people were reporting that they were really embracing all the gardening vibe and having a go themselves.

And on that note –

Welcome to Gardeners ParadiseKent’s best kept secret.

We enjoy getting down and mucky.  We are so hands on and dedicated that it becomes obsessive.

Many a time after work caked in mud and dubious looking one gets bemused sympathetic glances whilst shopping for vittles. Ah well it’s all in a day’s work!

There is still time to really look at your space and plan how it is to be used.  Start with the structure, the boundaries then fill in the rest over time as the seasons come and go.

Bare root hedging and trees – put them in now whilst the earth is easy to dig what with all this dampness. Actually, bare root hedging – that which is grown and pulled out of the soil really requires planting as soon as possible. Or heel in as a temporary measure just to cover the roots and reassure them that it will happen. Just think how traumatic it must feel to be turfed out of bed when it’s cold and horrid!

Choose trees with care - decide on the height, space conditions, aspect, and tolerances and don’t forget the wildlife.  Then exercise patience.  Trees take a while to establish their root system. Dig a square hole 2 – 3 times wider than the root ball of the tree. Do not dig too deep – you do not want it waggling about in a hole and not anchoring - that would be frustrating and not at all satisfying. The root ball should really protrude 1 – 2 inches (2.5-5cm) above the top of the hole. Back fill the earth around the roots. Maybe use a stake to support it if the tree is in an exposed position. And water, water and water.

Has anyone noticed that yellow seems to be the colour of flowers singing out at this time. 

Behold Mahonias – yes I know they can appear to be spiteful and might give a few pricks. However, they are in flower in the dank dreary winter months and then followed by blue-black berries. The holly-like leaves make no allowances for anyone – except if you are a small bird then the evergreen foliage is a great bolthole.  The long arching racemes of yellow - nectar/pollen-rich - heaven for foraging bees and other pollinators - shine out against the dark glossy evergreen leaves.  As hardy as anything Mahonias require only a bit of sun as they are really woodland plants. They are also useful and hold their own in awkward difficult positions and will sing out with vigour. And low-maintenance.

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ is a cracker! Flowers November to March and fully hardy. Give it a bit of space and allow spring-flowering bulbs and shade-loving perennials to grow around it. How brilliant for a shady area.

If anyone else has ideas for their garden in winter please do share.

 Even if we do not engage so much with nature in such foul weather at least we can have the satisfaction of knowing it is there and be delighted when we venture out for air!