Colin Evans garden tips - 07.01.08
It's a new year so why not make a fresh start on your garden? BBC Radio Berkshire's green-fingered gardening guru Colin Evans has tips this week on planting hedging, painting fences and recycling your Christmas trees.
With 2007 well out of the way another gardening year dawns and can it be as unpredictable as the last one.
No gardening in January and February
After the most fantastic April we did battle with cold wet weather and the worst floods for many years.
A cold and wet garden
What does 2008 have in store for we stalwarts of all things gardening? One thing is certain: none of us will know until April bursts forth in all its glory.
I always feel that January and February are the worst months with cold wet days, north easterly winds and hard frosts and any of us with any sense stays out of the garden and leaves well alone until the weather settles down.
For me, the best choice is cold dry sunny days with a few light frosts to kill off the overwintering pests and diseases from January to March, then longer days and a warm and mild April to ease us into spring so we can get all the tasks done that have been neglected during the winter.
Looking forward to a summer garden
All this, and then a long hot summer with rain from time to time during the hours of midnight to two in the morning. That would be ideal.
However, one of the pleasures is the fight with the elements and none can know at this stage what will happen because one thing's for sure: whatever nature throws at us we and our gardens will be prepared to do battle with the elements.
With winter conditions in the garden what do you plant to get the new season off to a good start.
January is good time to plant hedging and one of my favorites is Prunus Lusitanica - better known as Portuguese Laurel.
This very hardy evergreen is often overlooked because of the title Laurel, however, this elegant shrub has few of the characteristics of the common or garden variety.
It can be planted as a specimen tree and if you favour a bit of topiary then it can be pruned into any attractive shape, especially favoured is the with a ball or pyramid on the top.
This Laurel will make rapid growth which is great if you want to create a boundary or disguise an unsightly area and this is why it makes a wonderful hedge which can be kept under control with pruning.
During the summer small highly scented white flowers are borne on dark green stems followed in the autumn by dark berries which resemble small clusters of grapes which the birds feast on in the winter months.
Christmas tree recycling
Recycle your Christmas trees
Take you real Christmas trees to the local council refuse collection centre and they will shred and compost it.
Better still if you are lucky enough to own a shredder then do the job yourself and either treat the borders with the chippings or add them to the compost heap.
If your tree is planted in a pot complete with it's own roots then either re pot into a larger container or plant straight into the open ground.
Sow your lettuce
Cover a piece of ground with with clear plastic top warm up and dry the soil. The local garden centre will now have packets of mixed leafy salad lettuce and these will germinate quickly if planted in warm dry soils.
Fancy some lettuce?
Simply dig out a shallow drill under the plastic and sow the seeds.
Once germinated cut the leaves when ready but only as much as you can eat at a time and leave the roots in the ground to continue growing more leaves. You should have enough to keep you going throughout January and February.
Paint your garden woodwork
Paint fences, pergolas and sheds now with a water based preservative.
This can be done while most of the garden is still dormant and you can get to the woodwork.
If you leave the job nearer spring then the new young shoots on plants will get damaged.
last updated: 07/01/2008 at 15:03
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