Saturday, 18 November 2017

Start spring pruning

WITH the first appearance of flowering bulbs in our gardens and countryside, we know that spring is just around the

WITH the first appearance of flowering bulbs in our gardens and countryside, we know that spring is just around the corner, despite the snow and bitter cold, and this heralds the time to take action in preparation for the season ahead.

Top of the list is pruning Wisteria. Remove all wispy growth back to three to five buds from main stems to remove the “nest”, so you can best observe the structure, then tie in any new strong stems and check wall ties.

Roses that are not already pruned should also be checked. Start by removing the remainder of flower stalks from last season and cut back canes to a strong bud facing outwards (as that determines the direction of new growth). Remove any dead or diseased canes and where any cross, retain the healthiest and remove the others.

Dogwood (Cornus), grown primarily for their vibrant stems in the winter, should be cut down hard every couple of years. This ensures a burst of new stems, keeping the shrubs dense and stems beautifully straight. This makes them the ideal accompaniment for cut flowers, or if left until later in the season, perfect in a vase on their own. It’s not too late to prune apple, pear or quince trees, nor raspberries.

I’ve been rather over-enthusiastic with sowing seeds this past week. I’m in the process of reinstating a large walled historic kitchen garden on a private estate. What better inspiration could anyone have?

I discovered a notebook in the shed, left by the previous gardener who sadly passed away a few years ago. He had meticulously recorded the varieties and quantities of each crop he had grown, so this provided a wonderful framework from which to start.

If you are planning to grow your own fruit and veg, it is important to start by making a list of your favourites. Make it a family affair. Be realistic about what is feasible according to the size of your garden, plot or allotment, bearing in mind too, constraints on time and resources. I’ve used the Sow and Grow chart from the Kings Seeds website www.kingsseeds.com/Sowharvest chart.pdf

Plants grown from seed are unbelievably inexpensive and it is so satisfying seeing them germinate. In the absence of a greenhouse, you can sow seeds in propagators on the windowsills. I also use pots covered in plastic film. By the time they have germinated, the outdoor temperature should have improved so you can place them either in a cold frame or even start planting them out. Take care to keep your eye on the weather forecast if you do, and make sure you cover them to protect from any further frost or snow.

Be bold, be brave, but ultimately, enjoy!

lWith an eye for detail, Louise Venter has a lifetime’s experience in horticulture, extensive plant knowledge and is a practising garden designer. Her sensitivity to the environment, style and age of each property and attentive consideration of her clients’ brief is evident in all her projects, both large and small.

For more details call 07803 583687, email louise_ venter@yahoo.co.uk, or go to the website www. louiseventergardendesign.com

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