GARDENS FOR NATURE AND YOU
Jody’s Garden Services
If you have taken on a new garden and want to re-design it to suit your family or to make changes to an old established garden, now with different priorities, December is a good month to get started as, usually, the weather is still mild and dry enough to work outside.
Take your pencil and paper outside to note down the different features and remember the notes you took back in the summer when everything was in full bloom and problem areas were more apparent.
Decide from where you want the best viewing aspect to be, maybe from the kitchen window or perhaps from a seat at the bottom of the garden and sit there while you plan the new layout. Take photos to help when working on plans indoors.
Take into account the size and shape of the garden. Wide paths and features will seem to take over in a small patch and appear to dominate every aspect, but don’t make everything too small or the garden will not have character. In a long narrow garden, consider taking the path diagonally across to make the sides look wider and to bring the bottom of the garden closer.
Try to find a space at the bottom of the garden for a couple of compost bins and a vegetable patch. These need not take up as much space as you think and quite a few salad crops and perhaps a row of peas or beans can be grown in only 2-3 square metres of well worked ground.
In a small garden, height is very important to increase the growing area. Use arches and pergolas between beds to grow honeysuckle, clematis and roses up. These will also be happy growing up and over perimeter fences, giving even more character to your garden.
If you have a warm, sheltered, south facing fence, this can be utilised for growing more exotic fruits such as peaches, nectarines or grapes.
New beds and borders should be deeply dug over with lots of compost incorporated into it. Clay gardens will benefit from being dug over roughly and left for winter frosts to break down the clay. Leave a good thickness of manure on top to over-winter - the worms will take it down and it will improve the structure of the soil.
Planting of roses, shrubs and trees can be done now when there is no risk of frost. Plants put in when the ground is frosty or frozen will suffer badly with the roots being unable to establish contact with the icy soil. If the weather is too cold to plant out when your shrubs arrive, protect them as advised for treating fruit trees mentioned in January diary.
With very little going on in the garden now, it will be a good time to re-design the layout. Dig out new beds and borders and site a new pond.