Whether it's a bleak December or the more mild weather we are becoming used to, you can still spend useful time in the garden. David Coton suggests the jobs that can occupy the shortening days.
Should you break the ice on your pond? Dan Everton, Garden Site's aquatics expert, is asked this question by customers when they come to the Garden Centre during the winter.
Your pond is likely to freeze over during any prolonged cold weather we experience during the winter. This leads to many of our garden centre customers wondering whether the presence of ice is a danger to their fish.
For many years I believed that it was to the benefit of the pond and its inhabitants to ensure that there was a hole in the ice.
But according to the charity Freshwater Habitats Trust. breaking the ice has little effect on the amount of oxygen contained in the water. This is because oxygen diffuses into the water so slowly, about 32mm per day, and therefore a hole makes little difference.
The Trust's aim is to protect the nation's freshwater sites so that they can be enjoyed by everyone, In the future they want to see sustainable populations of all freshwater plants and animals, and this is to be achieved through conservation, community action, research and policy work.
They think that oxygen levels may actually rise under a sheet of ice. The reasoning for this is that plants still produce oxygen through photosynthesis, this is then trapped and levels rise. This is of course dependent on there being no snow on top of the ice blocking out sunlight.
So the jury is probably still out although any snow should be brushed off and I would still recommend introducing oxygen if there are fish in the pond especially if the bottom of the pond has decaying matter such as leaves that produce noxious gases.
However, prevention is better than cure and there is a large selection of ice prevention products on GardenSite that work through heating the water or introducing oxygen. The latter can also be useful in the summer months when hot weather will drain oxygen from the water.
The answer to the question I am continually asked is therefore not as simple as it might seem. It's practically impossible to avoid leaves drifting to the bottom of a pond so I would say that it's probably best to err on the side of caution especially if you are a fishkeeper.
At this time of the year you'll find a fabulous selection of summer bedding at our Garden Centre in Birmingham. David Coton will be planting the bedding in containers this month to achieve a wonderful display of colour and here are some other jobs to do in the garden in June.
As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.
Over the years GardenSite has regularly provided support and donated items to television programmes including Love Your Garden. A few months ago we were again contacted by the production company concerning a garden Alan Titchmarsh were planning to celebrate 70 years of the NHS.
Requesting a greenhouse without glass is one of the more unusual inquiries that our Marketing Department has received, but it was all in the cause of art and we were pleased to help out local designer Julian Bull create his latest installation.