JOHN’S JOURNAL

Getting Ready For The Frosts

It was nice to have a frost the other morning and a sample of what’s to come! You can’t beat the crispness of a frosty morning, the blue skies, the plumes of breath in the air as you walk and the respite from the soft muddy ground. It’s certainly been quite a wet Autumn and it’s only the law of averages kicking in after what was a dry Summer so we had to pay for it at some point! Anyway what things can you be doing in the garden to prepare for the frost and also to take advantage of it?

ANIMAL FEEDERS – When the frosts do properly start out feathered friends will begin stripping all the berrying bushes and storing these in their nests for the Winter ahead, at the moment there’s still lots of creepy crawlies and insects to feast on, but it’s always good to position some feeders around your garden to help them out, they can hang from trees and branches, basically anywhere high up so when they are enjoying a snack any of our four legged friends aren’t enjoying one at the same time!

FROST FLEECE – Any plants which are hardy don’t need any protection at all and you can just leave them be through the Winter months, there are a few which appreciate a little protection though, Bay and Olive trees don’t mind a bit of frost on their leaves but it’s the freezing of the roots that they don’t like, so if they are growing in pots wrap a bit of fleece or bubble wrap around them and you can then top off with Hessian and it works a treat! If they are in the ground they will be fine as the frost will only penetrate an inch or so down when it’s a hard frost.

PROTECT ANY TENDER PLANTS – Any tender plants like Pelargoniums, Dahlias and other non frost hardy types need placing somewhere frost free, Dahlias like to be lifted from the ground so they don’t get too wet and rot and then place them somewhere dark, cool and dry for the Winter months. Pelargoniums and other Summer bedding plants will continue to grow in frost free conditions so a non heated conservatory is fine, but give it a little heat during cold spells to prevent it freezing inside!

DIG OVER CLAY SOIL – The frost can also help us and a perfect example of how is it can help break down clay soil, you need to dig it over first and then leave it in clods, the frost will then gradually work these apart and then in the Spring before you plant mix in some rotted organic matter and it will be ready for planting then. Make sure to work with the soil only on dry days otherwise it soon becomes mud.

I’m looking forward to the frosts returning and at the nursery we’re getting ready to pot up our Spring bulbs before the growing field lies dormant for the Winter months, in the meantime the nursery is a Winter wonderland and after the success of our first Christmas Market ‘Holly’ last weekend we’re looking forward to the next four on all the Friday, Saturdays and Sundays leading up to Christmas! See you there…..

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems!

 

What will grow in clay soil?

There are lots of plants that thrive in clay soil as it’s also full of nutrients, the main thing is to dig it over and break it up and then mix in rotted organic matter. We only grow plants at the nursery which we know will thrive in the soil conditions around here so there are lots to choose from, it’s all in the preparation of the soil and then the plants will thrive.

What fairy lights do you recommend?

It’s always nice to stick to a traditional warm white and you will see these and also warm white festoons across the nursery at Holden Clough. Nowadays you can get battery powered or also mains, we always stick to mains as it allows you to run a longer length and they are nice and bright. Less is always more but they are a nice soft way of illuminating the garden without being in your face. We also have all the different types available for sale at the nursery

Do I take all the soil off my Dahlias?

Yes you need to lift them out of the ground on a drier day, then cut the stems down to an inch or so, then give them a good knocking against your fork or the barrow and the soil will begin to drop off and you’re just left with the tubers. Then simply store them in a box or create somewhere dark, dry and also cool where they won’t get the frost, a shed is fine for this

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

1 – PLANT TULIPS

Now the temperatures have fallen it’s the time to plant your Tulip bulbs, thread them through your planting or make statements in pots

2 – PLANT BARE ROOT HEDGING

Now is the time to plant any bare food hedging or also bare root trees, you get good value for money and we have a nice selection of hedging available at Holden Clough

3 –PLANT GARLIC AND SHALLOTS

They love a free draining soil and once you have planted them cover them with horticultural fleece

4 – PREPARE FOR PESTS

Make sure you have some pest traps set in the greenhouse for any overwintering mice who may want to nibble away at those overwintering plants

 

 

 

 

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Skimmia ‘Red Ruth’

A female variety bearing many clusters of rich red berries. Great for growing in a shady part of the garden and it is also evergreen. It is pollinated by the male varieties which at this time of year bear their flower buds which open in the Spring with fragrant white flowers.