As winter draws in and Christmas beckons, indoor plants, floral and foliage decorations assume greater significance. David Coton suggests how you can transform your home with the colourful interest of seasonal plants.
As winter is generally the best time of the year to prune shrubs and trees, David Coton waits for the leaves to fall from the trees before getting out his clean sharp secateurs and loppers.
Pruning leads to healthy new growth, encourages the formation of fruit or flower buds and re-shapes plants that look unbalanced or have been damaged by bad weather.
Techniques needed to prune different species of trees and shrubs are many and varied but you can bear in mind a few basic rules.
By pruning you are trying to encourage steady healthy regrowth, if you cut back too much the resultant growth surge may be too vigorous.
Annual pruning in normal circumstances should be minimal rather than brutal, always making a clean cut slanting away and just above a bud.
You may have to resort to hard pruning now and again in certain circumstances, and some shrubs can be rejuvenated in this way, but it's not commonly necessary.
Cut out any weak or dead shoots shoots that have started to overcrowd the centre of a tree or shrub, this allows air to circulate more easily and lets light in.
Generally, pruning should take place when plants are in their winter dormancy, this leaves the maximum growing time for flowering shoots to be produced.
Deciding on when and how to prune becomes complicated when you have to balance maintaining the shape and decorative nature of perhaps a fruit tree with pruning that will maximise its crop.
To achieve this successfully you will need to know flowering and fruiting times. As an example, if a plant flowers or produces fruit on year old shoots, you clearly won't want to cut these out by annual pruning. So it's vital that you know the characteristics of the plant before you prune.
Cosmetic pruning may be limited to removing over vigorous shoots that have unbalanced a shrub's shape. Remember to cut back weak growth hard, and strong growth lightly.
Dead and damaged wood on trees should be removed for safety reasons and the possibility that they may be an entry point for infection.
Wood that is already diseased should be removed completely by cutting cleanly back to healthy growth. If you are removing an entire branch, cut back to close by the branch's collar.
Paintng the cut used to be popular but now the common consensus is that the wound will heal perfectly well by itself and painting may do more harm than good by interfering with a tree's natural healing process.
Robert Hall reviews the new Halls Qube Greenhouse, stating that; this is a major evolutionary step in greenhouse design. Read his full review of the new range here.
GardenSite were once again pleased to support the Boldmere Community Festival which took place on 18 November, with the Christmas Lights switched on by Alan Gardner, well known for his appearances as TV's Autistic Gardener.
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 during the last month of the year. David Coton suggests some garden jobs that can occupy the short days.
An iced over pond will have a detrimental effect on animal and plant pond life, although fish and amphibians will survive under a frozen surface for some time, ice traps gases escaping from decaying material and prevents oxygen from entering the water.