Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Time to turn over a new leaf

 NOW that we have entered a new year it's time to turn over a new leaf and get back to work in the garden; there is a lot of preparation work ahead and now is the time to get started. Freshen over beds and borders and start spraying weeds on paths and drives and through the borders.

Plants which keep their leaves in winter are often worth more than the flamboyant, herbaceous plants which disappear completely when conditions are grim. They give pleasure all year round, give a reason for walking in the garden in winter and help present a picture from the house.

Hot, sandy or gravel soils which cause concern in dry summers often provide the most furnished areas in winter, apart from the absence of flowers in several winter months. Perfect examples are Viburnums, Laurels, Photinia , Rhododendrons, Conifers and Holly. These will also provide a wind-break and give a great structure to the garden through the winter.

The garden's greatest enemy is wind and this month often proves to be the stormiest. You cannot stop the wind, but you can slow it down and you can create a micro climate in your garden. Fences, walls and artificial screens will affect this, up to a point, but the best way is with plants.

Hedges are excellent wind-breaks and grow far more quickly than you might imagine, especially if you nurse them with a temporary fence or shelter screen while they develop.

Groups of trees and shrubs also make great shelter devices and have the added advantage of reducing noise. Plant densely at first, but be prepared to thin out later. The best time to plant shelter trees, hedges or any woody plant is now.