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Wednesday August 15 2018

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TheVillage Gardening

Looking forward

Posted on December 31 2017 at 3:33:49 0 comments

Oak Tree House

Dave Morgan, county organiser for the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), suggests ways to plan for the warmer weather.

I used to have one of those “page a day” desk calendars that had a different saying for each day – and one that I read about 20 years ago has always stuck in my mind. It was “We look forward, hoping; backward, regretting, whilst the present stands offering us flowers”.

It’s the same sentiment as the shorter saying “Live for today” – and really, both make a lot of sense. But despite that, it shouldn’t stop us planning for the future – and nothing is more sensible when it comes to gardening!

Clearly gardeners have to plan for the future – spring bulbs should have been planted in the autumn or very early winter if you want early spring flowers, while tender plants and exotics should have been removed to greenhouses or warmer places, or generally protected, if you want them to come back to life in the summer.

Clearly, also, in gardening terms, gardeners do look forward hoping – hoping that the spring bulbs grow and that the mice don’t eat them – and hoping that the winter weather isn’t too severe.

But there are some jobs you can still do now – assuming there isn’t several inches of snow on the ground. For instance, you can check the condition of all stakes, supports and ties for trees, looking for signs that indicate that if it becomes very windy the support may not hold the tree, and replace stakes and renew ties if necessary.

You should also continue to check for pests like snails in sheltered places, such as empty pots in the cold frame or greenhouse. Most pests will be inactive in cold spells, but it’s still worth checking!

And there are still plants that can be planted (assuming the soil isn’t frozen solid), like garlic and seeds, which can be sown in seed trays and left in protected areas like a greenhouse or windowsills to germinate ready to be planted out in the spring.

If it’s too cold or wet to actually work in the garden, then just pop out and feed the birds with fat balls and seed.

As well as being a delight to watch, these birds will repay you by eating up a lot of insect pests that lurk out of our sight and reach, under buds and on stems.

When it gets dark, start planning for warmer days in the garden. Try to have something in flower all year-round, which is essential for the wildlife that plays such an important role in keeping gardens healthy.

But perhaps even more exciting is to get hold of the new Worcestershire National Garden Scheme county leaflet (due out at the end of January, and available from most good garden centres and libraries) and start planning for some visits to gardens open as part of the scheme.

The National Garden Scheme (or NGS) has been operational for more than 90 years and raises much-needed funds for various charities like Macmillan Nurses, Marie Curie and Parkinson’s UK, and last year gave £3 million to these and a few other organisations.

In fact for many, like Macmillan and Marie Curie, the NGS is their biggest single annual donor, so the NGS plays a vital role in ensuring these charities can do the work they do.

And what could be more enjoyable than spending time in a delightful garden, admiring the colours and scents of the plants, perhaps gaining a tip or idea for your own garden, with a cup of tea or coffee and a piece of delicious home-made cake, knowing that your visit is also helping someone in need through one of the beneficiary charities?

In Worcestershire, the first garden open is in early February, near Malvern, and the first in the Village catchment area is our own garden (Oak Tree House, Marlbrook) for an evening opening on May 12 when there will be a free glass of wine or soft drink for all visitors (well, I had to get a plug in for our own garden, didn’t I?).

Perhaps, on reflection, that old saying I remembered from 20 years ago should be updated for gardeners to state, “We look forward, planning; backward, having learnt from mistakes; whilst the present stands offering us plenty to do!”

Marlbrook Gardens, which comprises Oak Tree House and Round Hill Garden, will be opening in August only this year – you will find more details on http://www.ngs.org.uk


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