Archives for December 2011

Happy New Year!

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 09:59 UK time, Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Gardening Blog team are taking a short break for a few weeks, but we'll be back later in January.

In the meantime, have a very Happy New Year and we wish you all the best for 2012!

'Tis the Season to be Holly

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 09:03 UK time, Saturday, 24 December 2011

‘The holly and the ivy
When they are both full-grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown’

 Ilex aquifolium ‘Handsworth New Silver’ AGM

What would Christmas be without holly? Its red berries bedeck our Christmas puds and liven up the wreaths which hang on our doors: and never mind the extra food they provide for birds. But hollies come in lots of colours other than green. In fact there are almost 280 different hollies to choose from altogether; and Jonathan Hutchinson looks after 160 of them, growing in the National Collection of Ilex at RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon. Here’s his list of must-have hollies to grow in the garden. Happy Christmas!

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Winter Flowering Trees and Shrubs

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Robert Vernon Robert Vernon | 07:00 UK time, Monday, 19 December 2011

Prunus x subhirtella 'Fukubana'

Prunus x subhirtella 'Fukubana'

If you thought there wasn't much to look at outside at this time of year - think again. Dozens of beautiful trees and shrubs are at their colourful best in December and into early spring and here are some of my favourites.

Flourishing in the coldest part of our Derbyshire garden are some of the winter flowering cherries. Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis' bears flutters of white flowers throughout winter from November till Easter; it's close relative, Prunus subhirtella 'Rosea' is similar with soft pink flowers.

The subtle difference, apart from the colour, which I have noted over the years is that the white form usually has a few flowers virtually continuously during winter unless the weather is exceptionally cold whereas the pink clone has bolder flushes of flowers off and on during this period.

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Pruning

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Will Sibley Will Sibley | 09:30 UK time, Friday, 16 December 2011

No other part of fruit growing creates more uncertainty and confusion than pruning.

Terminology such as renewal pruning, replacement pruning, tip bearers, spur bearers, fruit buds and growth buds abound and cause confusion and trepidation. And that's before the question of winter or summer pruning has been raised. So, as it's freezing out there, let's deal with winter pruning hints.

Pruning an apple tree

Pruning an apple tree

Get yourself a good sharp pair of secateurs and a modern pruning saw with a very sharp blade. Both will last you all your life with care.

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All I want for Christmas

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Sue Beesley Sue Beesley | 07:00 UK time, Sunday, 11 December 2011

It's easy to buy a plant for a gardener at Christmas, isn't it? You just pop into a garden centre and buy a bright poinsettia or, if you're really pushing the boat out, a pure white orchid tied primly to an upright cane, its roots creeping weirdly out of a seemingly undersized pot. If it was for me, a gift is a gift and I'd say thank you and try to mean it. But ask me what I really want...

I want scent, sweet and heady enough to uplift the grimmest winter day. I want a promise of pleasures yet to come as leaves slowly unfurl and brilliant colour follows. I want to caress a little treasure in my rough gardener's hands and imagine it growing with me for years. In short, I want my rustic heart to skip a beat on Christmas Day. Too much to ask of the time-pressed, non-gardening shopper? It's easy when you know how...

Hamamelis Jalena

Hamamelis Jalena

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Poinsettias for Christmas

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Val Bourne Val Bourne | 07:00 UK time, Thursday, 8 December 2011

The poinsettia could have been specially designed for Christmas with its bright-red halo and festive green foliage. However that red halo is not just a pretty face: it's the secret of the poinsettia's popularity. It can last for months because the red halo consists of long-lasting leafy bracts rather than soft petals that shrivel up quickly. This allows the poinsettia to look regal for up to twelve weeks or more. Not surprisingly these ornamental lovelies have been used as Christmas ornaments for almost a hundred years.

Poinsettia

Poinsettia

Poinsettias come from Mexico and they were discovered by Joel Poinsett in 1825. They were already associated with Christmas however. An old legend recalls that a poor Mexican boy, unable to afford a proper present to take to church, picked some of these colourful red 'weeds' as his Christmas gift.

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Designing a Winter Garden

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Kevin Smith Kevin Smith | 11:25 UK time, Monday, 5 December 2011

Right, before you read on I'd like you to walk to a window and take a look at your garden. So, what's it look like? Colourful? Full of interest? My garden is neither of these things right now, and has big patches of bare earth, soggy perennials, the odd shrub and very little colour. In fact, it's dull and boring and I'd bet you're garden looks pretty similar (you have permission to feel smug if it doesn't).

garden covered in snow

"My garden last winter."

But what's the solution? What makes a garden look stonking through the winter months? Well, in the school of do as I say and not as I do, I'm going to tell you.

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Tree Dressing

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 10:45 UK time, Thursday, 1 December 2011

Decorating Christmas trees is so last year. This weekend, it's all about sprucing up your local spruce (or oak, or beech, or ash).

Tree Dressing (Photo: Weald & Downland Open Air Museum)

Tree Dressing (Photo: Weald & Downland Open Air Museum)

I'm on about National Tree Dressing Day, always held on the first weekend in December, which celebrates our trees by making them centre of attention and giving them a starring role in gardens, parks, and local woodland.

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