Colin Evans garden tips
April is the cruellest month according to poet T.S Eliot, well the winter months are pretty tough too says our gardening guru Colin Evans. Read on to find out how your garden can survive the frost.
Some frosty conditions may make us think winter is here and there is little to do in the garden. You would, of course be wrong if you thought that, as winter to some is the the start of the new growing season.
Indeed winter lettuce and spinach can be sown now especially if you have cloches over the vegetable patch.
Roses and Chrysanthemums
Both Roses and Chrysanthemums can be grown in the greenhouse and the season for preparing and digging borders is very much with us.
This combined with pruning, grass cutting and clearing up in general means that gardeners still have much to do and achieve before the worst months of January and February are upon us.
Bulb planting and in particular tulips can still be planted now though make sure the ground is dry and not frosted and it has been deeply dug.
The vegetable garden will benefit from a good digging and leaving the clods on top will enable the frosts to break them up into workable soil, so you see, there is still much to do.
Plant of the week
The heady perfume of Osmanthus Delavayi fills the lower part of my garden and if you want something special at this time of the year then this is the shrub for you.
This evergreen shrub grows well in prepared soils and likes either shade or sunny places. With its holly like dark green leaves and it's clusters of sweet scented white blossom this fantastic evergreen shrub will not look out of place as part of a border display or on its own as a specimen plant.
Flowering is from September to October, though, as I say mine is still in full flower.
Once climbers start to die down use the opportunity to paint wood preservative on fences.
Spruce up your garden fence
This not only protects them from the weather it renews the wood and makes it look like new. Always use the water based products as these are easier to use as opposed to the oil based types, also the water based products will not harm plants.
The most widely used colour is natural wood but if you fancy a change then there are many colours available in the range.
Ivy can look a real treat throughout the winter months covering unsightly areas and walls and fences.
Ivy is perfect for winter
Ivy has a bad name among growers which I feel is unfair as this hardy plant will reward you with colour, texture, berries and wildlife. So it's the perfect plant to grow in any garden.
The variegated varieties are especially beautiful, just have a look at your local garden centre or plant catalogues and be amazed at all the varieties.
If you already have some in the garden then why not take cuttings. It's easy.
All you do is take tip cuttings about 6 inches long, pull off the leaves halfway down the stem and put the base into some rooting hormone.
Plant a few cuttings in pots and stand them out of sight until spring. They will root very fast and you can plant them out in the spring.
Paths and patios can be built at this time of the year, though, only carry out the work on frost free days. The best advice I can give is to mark out the area to be covered a few days before you get on with the job to make sure this is the right size and shape.
Get your patio sorted
Once decided, dig out the area to half a spade depth and back fill with ballast which is a mixture of sharp sand and aggregate, to a depth of three inches and firm down and level. The next step is to cover that with a layer of soft sand to two inches depth and firm and level.
Get your slabs or crazy paving or whatever hard material you have decided to use and mix mortar which is soft sand, cement and water to a consistency of thick custard at a rate of four parts sand to one part cement and using a trowel place some peaks of mortar under where the first slab will go.
Place the slab onto the mortar peaks and tap into position and level with either a rubber hammer or the handle of a four pound club hammer. Keep going until the area is complete.
In a few days when the patio or pathway can be walked on mix up some dry sand and cement and brush into the cracks letting the natural moisture harden it off.
last updated: 19/11/07
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