I have been going on a bit about pruning deciduous trees lately, this is the best time of year for the job. Avoid late winter as the sap is rising, pruning then can cause damage, in severe cases whole sections or branches can die off. If in doubt make some checks before rushing in to this job.
One to definitely be aware of is cherry trees, they should only be pruned in mid summer, certainly confuses me, what with Prunus, or Cherry being deciduous you would think that the dormant season would be the time of year for pruning, well apparently not.
Here we have a cherry, ideal for planting now and also looks great in the smaller garden. (Prunus Amanogawa) a narrow upright tree also known as the flagpole cherry. This one has good Autumn leaf colour and clusters of fragrant pale pink semi double flowers in late Spring. Eventual height is around 25ft an excellent specimen tree, fully hardy, grow in moist but well drained moderately fertile soil in full sun.
What I really like about this one most of all is, you can virtually forget about pruning completely.
Still tidying up the main borders in the back garden, loads of debris to get rid of. Once this was done I gently forked over the earth, a few dips will require some top soil to even it up.
The main mixed border which has been extremely productive will benefit with a mulch of compost. I find this is a good time of year to apply a top dressing to your borders, by doing this you add much needed nutrients to the soil, and if you give a good two inch covering the roots of your plants will benefit from the added protection.
Our main border is about fifteen feet wide and thirty five feet long, and I have found that waiting until Spring to add a mulch is made all the more difficult with the shoots of bulbs popping through the soil.
Still waiting for some roses to arrive, this is a good time of year to be getting these planted, mind you I hope they arrive this week before we get in to the serious winter conditions. Still surprisingly mild at the moment, a warm jacket and a pair of boots and I can disappear outside for a couple of hours no bother.
The lawn I thought was feeling a bit spongy under foot. So I gave it a good spiking with the garden fork, perhaps a bit on the late side for this job, but probably better than becoming water logged.
If you have not already done so, I think that you should get those container grown plants in to the unheated greenhouse now. It really is surprising how many plants are lost with the roots dying off in a prolonged cold spell. In fact if you live in the north east it would be advisable to also wrap the pots in pollybubble.
Probably the shrub in Winter which is the most free flowering, is Viburnum Bodnantense Dawn. White, pink tinged fragrant flowers produced, in colder areas, January through till March.
In milder spots this shrub can flower off and on from late Autumn right through till the end of winter. Having said this, here in Aberdeen I have already spotted several of these Viburnums in full bloom.
This earlier flowering may well be due to the exceptional summer and mild Autumn which we had, hopefully a sign of things to come.
Bodnantense Dawn, a deciduous shrub will grow in any reasonable garden soil which is relatively free draining, full sun or partial shade. This shrub does have a tendency to look straggly after a few years.
When mature cut out some of the older stems, best done just after flowering. Grows to an eventual height of 10/12ft, however you can keep it more compact as hard pruning back is tolerated. Some years you will find that it is smothered in flowers, whilst in others it can flower sparsely, perhaps depending on the summer and autumn conditions.
Our back garden, I would not describe it as one of those which look beautiful all year round, in fact it is very much a summer garden. I am keen to make some changes, but always afraid that I will do something which may spoil the outstanding summer garden which we have.
One cheery evergreen which is helping to brighten up the garden and producing flower buds at the moment is Mahonia Charity. Mahonias are grown for their fragrant winter flowers and attractive foliage ‘Charity’ has an upright habit with long leaves consisting of 17 to 21 dark green leaflets. Stalks of bright yellow, fragrant flowers are produced at the ends of branches from late autumn to late winter.
This one can grow to an eventual height of 400cm, however they can look a bit straggly. It is best if you prune back immediately after flowering. Mahonias are not fussy regarding soil, and will grow well in sun or partial shade, even tolerating full shade.
Weather at the moment is making it completely impossible for any work in the garden. Mind you taking it easy for a while is not such a bad thing. Gives time to reflect on my favourite time of the year (Spring)
In the back garden the other day I spotted some shoots of Trillium poking through the soil. A favourite of mine is Trillium Grandiflorum this plant has very striking foliage, not unlike giant clover leaves, triangular white three-cornered flowers are held just above the foliage in mid till late spring. Position in half or even full shade, height is about 40cm, grows best in acid soil.
The foliage stays fresh and looks good long after the flowers have gone over. This is a terrific plant for a woodland setting and looks great with other woodlanders such as epimediums which also like the same conditions.
However, don’t allow Trilliums to be swamped by vigorous or spreading plants as they can struggle to survive with the competition if this happens.
Once established they dislike disturbance, clumps are not very likely to outgrow their space. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit.