Gardening, Gardening Year, Guest Posts, Plants

busy winter gardening

It’s a mistake to think that because the flowers have stopped blooming and your bushes and shrubs are devoid of leaves that there’s nothing to do in the garden now that winter is here. The winter weather in the UK has become even more changeable but there are always going to be extremely cold days, heavy rain and winds, maybe even snow. If you love your garden, there’s no need to go into hibernation for the winter months. There is still lots to keep you busy.

Bring in some winter plants

If you’re used to a lush green garden and plenty of blooms in the spring and summer, it can be sad to see such an austere area in the winter. You can bring in some colour and interest with hardy and winter flowering plants and shrubs. If you want winter flowering shrubs, they will obviously need time to embed and grow before they start to bloom so they will need general care according to the plant type until the season they bloom. For more instant colour, a job you can do in winter is to plant flowers that can withstand the harsh conditions. You might have an area of the garden set aside for winter flowers, or you might use pots and containers. Traditional crocus, Christmas roses. Snowdrops, and even early daffodils can all provide splashes of colour when the skies are grey.

snowdrop

Looking after the lawn

Grass does not stop growing in the coldest months of the year, but growth slows down considerably. According to the professionals at Mowers Online, there will be spurts of growth during milder periods so if there is a dry period, it is worth getting the mower out to tidy up the lawn. Cutting the lawn will also stimulate growth at this time of year. Despite the slow growth, grass that is just left alone between October and March – generally considered the closed season on lawn mowing – can become long, diseased, thinner, and less dense. It will make it harder to get it looking pristine again.

There are other things to bear in mind if you want your grass to look its best when spring comes.

  • Apply some soluble iron to provide colour and hardiness.
  • Clear up fallen leaves as best as you can so they don’t smother the grass and prevent growth.
  • Do not walk on the lawn when it is covered in frost.
  • Keep edges along pathways and around borders trimmed.
  • Don’t worry about clearing snow from the lawn.

winter grass

Thinking ahead

Now is the time to think about the new growth you want to introduce to your garden for the spring. You aren’t restricted to sowing seeds indoors or keeping things in the shed to start them off. The practice of winter sowing enables you to get a head start on spring. Whether you want to plant flowers or vegetables, there is a way to seed now for spring growth. You’ll need to understand the winter sowing technique and then have the confidence to apply it to the things you want to grow.

Clear out the shed

Winter is a good time to do a spring clean of the shed. Most gardeners start off with the intention of starting each spring with a nice, tidy shed, all organised with tools all sorted, pots arranged by sized, and electrical tools stored correctly. By the time the summer is over, tools are everywhere, some still have clumps of soil attached, there’s compost on the floor, the extension leads are all jumbled, and there’s detritus all over the place. Put on a warm jumper or a coat and be resolute in tidying it all up. Get rid of anything you know you won’t use despite good intentions, clean tools, repair anything that needs it. You’ll be glad of the effort when spring comes around.

winter shed

A DIY project

TV gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh says that the winter is the ideal time to undertake a DIY project. You might consider building a raised bed from railway sleepers or bricks. Borders can be reshaped, or you might think about putting edges to the borders using slate, fencing, or some other decorative materials. Winter might be time to think about installing that brick barbecue you’ve been planning for the last couple of years, or to add extra seating so you don’t have guests scrabbling for seats during those family get togethers on summer days. You might even erect a new shed. The thing to remember about DIY projects in the garden in winter is that progress will be determined by the weather. The ground might be too hard to dig, the rain might be too heavy, and you can’t work when there’s a few inches of snow on the ground.

Ruby ClarksonRuby Clarkson is a freelance writer who has a passion for all things gardening. When she isn’t outside planting flowers or digging up weeds, she is wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of tea and a book.

Current Issues, Events, Gardening Year, George, Hampton Court Flower Show, News, RHS

Once again it’s time to look forward to a new year, and we’ve found plenty of festivals, shows and exhibitions to get you excited. So without further ado, dive into our gardening events 2019 calendar and find your favourite.

2019 gardening calendar

January

26-28Big Garden Birdwatch – Get set for a weekend of spying the fabulous winged wildlife in your own back garden.

February

9 Feb-10 MarchKew Orchid Festival – Columbia is the theme for this year’s show, so expect vibrant displays and a ‘carnival of animals’.

March

3Forde Abbey Plant & Gardening Fair – Take in over 30 plant stalls offering stock and expertise, plus explore the abbey’s award-winning gardens.

April

12-14RHS Flower Show Cardiff –  Alongside expert talks and shopping, expect to see inspirational gardens from recent graduates and the new Blooming Borders competition.

25-28Harrogate Spring Flower Show – See the biggest floristry exhibition in the country as well as fabulous show gardens.

30 Apr-6 MayNational Gardening Week – Across the country, gardeners will be sharing their love of all things outdoors – get involved!

May

9-12RHS Malvern Spring Festival – The focus this year is on encouraging health and wellbeing, celebrating garden photography, and introducing indoor greenery.

21-25RHS Chelsea Flower Show – The most famous gardening event on the calendar, Chelsea is packed with global flower displays, fine dining with Raymond Blanc and the world’s most ambitious show gardens.

25 May-2 JunNational Children’s Gardening Week – Make gardening fun for the younger generation while supporting the charity Greenfingers.

31st May-2 JunGardening Scotland – The 20th anniversary of Edinburgh’s biggest garden celebration, packed with plants and fun for kids.

June

5-9RHS Chatsworth Flower Show – Ask floral experts your questions, shop outdoor living goodies and indulge in some afternoon tea, all in the grounds of the Chatsworth estate.

13-16Gardeners’ World Live – Your favourite magazine comes to life with talks from experts like Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don, alongside show gardens and shopping.

22-23Woburn Abbey Garden Show – Go to see private gardens, free tours, Q&As, live music and more at Woburn Abbey.

July

2-7RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival – Explore the new Global Impact Gardens, learn about garden wellbeing, take part in workshops and pick up some great gifts.

17-21RHS Flower Show Tatton Park – Be inspired by the Young Designer of the Year competition and discover vegetable growing expertise.

August

10-11The Great Comp Summer Show – Enjoy the 17th edition of this annual spectacular with some local jazz and Pimm’s on the lawn.

15-18Southport Flower Show – Visit the UK’s largest independent flower show, where the theme this year is ‘The Garden Party’.

September

13-15Harrogate Autumn Flower Show – Plan your garden with nursery displays, demonstrations, shopping and of course the giant vegetable competition!

28-29RHS Malvern Autumn Show – Close out the season with some retail therapy, gardening demos and plants at Malvern.

We hope this calendar has whet your appetite for the coming year. If so, get the dates in your diary and start booking tickets!

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Garden Furniture, Gardening Year, Guest Posts, How To

As summer gives way to autumn, we’ll barely have time to appreciate the landscape’s colour change before winter will be knocking. For some, winter means cosying up by the fire and enjoying time indoors – while others are loath to say goodbye to the sun. Whatever your stance on the season, one thing’s for certain: in order to ensure your garden is fit for the next barbecue season, attention must be paid.

Fortunately, our friends over at Jolly Good Loans are on hand to help. Today, they’ll be providing some essential pointers to help you protect your garden furniture against the harsh weather that is inevitably coming.

protect furniture over winter

When it comes to protecting your garden furniture, you’ll need to consider the types of materials your items are made from, as this will help you decide on the best method for protecting each product.

Wood

If you’re happy for the winter elements to naturally weather your wooden garden furniture, then they can be left outside with little maintenance required – just apply a lick of sealer before the start of the season to protect the timber.

If you’d rather keep your wood looking brand spanking new, investing in a furniture cover will do the trick – although we’ll get to that in more detail soon.

Metal

The resistance of metal furniture during the colder months varies, depending on what type of metal it’s made from.

Cast aluminium furniture is fine left outside during the colder months, as it develops a protective outer exterior when exposed to air, making it resistant to both corrosion and rust.

Wrought iron, on the other hand, is best stored away if it all possible. If you don’t have a garage or shed, lightweight furniture can easily be stored in the cupboard or under the stairs. For larger pieces, protect them by investing in a good furniture cover.

Furniture covers

Ensure you invest in a good-quality furniture cover that is both water resistant and breathable to prevent mould or leaks, making sure all furniture is dry before cover.

Rather than covering all your furniture with one big patio cover, try and find smaller covers that fit over individual items for more secure protection. Opt for covers that can fasten tightly, thus making sure your furniture remains under wraps during the windier days and nights.

Even when covered and secured, it’s best to move your most vulnerable furniture into shelter if at all possible. From the garage to the utility room, if you have the extra space and are able to bring your much-loved items indoors, your budget will thank you when the weather once again turns warmer. Not all plants and shrubbery will be suited to the colder climate, so as you say goodbye to your summer plants, why not move your planters and troughs indoors and treat them to a touch of creative sparkle? This could be the perfect winter project and will help you breathe life back into your tired pots and containers in time for spring.

Either way, avoid leaving it out on the lawn, storing it on a solid flat surface like a patio or decked area instead. This further reduces your furniture’s exposure to moisture, protecting it from rotting away amongst the winter wind, rain and snow.

furniture in snow

It might feel as though the snow has only just stopped falling, but the reality is that winter is knocking on our doors again. The good news is that if you start taking steps over the coming months to protect your outdoor areas, you’ll be able to enjoy your garden furniture for years to come.

Keith Harrison is a content creator and writer for Jolly Good Loans – your online personal loans encyclopedia.

Gardening Year, Guest Posts, Plants, Trees

Japanese gardens are designed to reflect the distinct beauty and passing of the four seasons. Autumn brings a light relief from the heat where sunny and less humid days takeover, giving way to cooler nights. A magical time of change when stunning and vibrant Japanese Maples glow a fiery red amongst lush moss and ferns.

By contrast, the cold and snow of winter is a time for evergreens to take centre stage. A winter garden is known for its myriad of greens, and there is a sense of peace and tranquillity as plants rest and trees reveal their intricate forms – the perfect place to escape from the distractions of our busy lives.

So if you’re looking for a little autumnal inspiration for your Japanese garden, here are some of the best Japanese plants for the cooler months.

Sango-kaku

Sango Kaku – Japanese Maple

Breathtaking in the autumn, the Japanese Maple (also known as Acer Palmatum) is widely used in Japanese gardens, and is famous for its striking red leaves and beautiful foliage. Cultivated in Japan for over 300 years, this deciduous tree is a slow growing plant that typically lives for over 100 years.

The species thrives in acidic and loam-based compost that contains high levels of organic matter. The Japanese Maple however won’t tolerate wet, dry or alkaline conditions, and their lacy, finely cut leaves require partial shade in the summer to avoid any damage from the sun.

Kuromatsu – Japanese Black Pine

The Japanese Black Pine represents longevity, and is mostly found in the coastal areas of its native Japan. The tree can reach up to 30 feet in its natural surroundings, and can tolerate temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees.

One of the most classic bonsai trees, it is tough and hardy, typically growing in stony soil where it survives harsh coastal winds. The tree is irregularly shaped and dark grey-green in colour, its needles are in fascicles of two, with a white sheath at the base. Resistant to salt and pollution, it’s commonly used in a variety of Japanese gardens, but above all it is a beautiful ornamental tree.

Ume – Japanese Apricot

The Japanese Apricot is a deciduous tree that can be found in sparse forests, by streams and in the mountains. It is most commonly planted in the north east of Japanese as the fruit is thought to be a protective charm against evil, the direction from where evil is supposed to come. Flowering in late winter around January or February, its blooms are snow-white or blood red, representing the floral symbol of January.

How to Grow Moss in Your Garden

Moss

Lush, green, velvety moss has been a central element of Japanese gardens for centuries, and is stunning in the autumn when it contrasts with maple trees. It can cover large areas of the garden, growing on stone lanterns, trees and garden stones. Its overall aesthetic portrays an ancient ambience, providing an ethereal sense of rugged beauty.

Thriving in humid, wet environments, Japan has one of the richest environments for moss, and with the ability to hold up to 20-30 times of its own weight in water, it can thrive in nutrient-poor soil where flowering plants have a harder time to survive.

bamboo

Bamboo

Bamboo is an evergreen that’s integral to almost every type of Japanese garden. It has a variety of uses, including the formation of hedges, fences and is frequently used to help create shade. Found near rivers and in the mountains, bamboo is also used in strolling and tea gardens, where the sound of the wind rustling through their leaves adds to the tranquillity of any Japanese garden.

While there exists a variety of different types of bamboo, these can are broadly categorised as either clumping or running bamboo. Typically clumping bamboo is found in either tropical or sub-tropical regions, and although there are a few varieties that can deal with colder temperatures, not all of them will be suited to the temperate climate of the UK.
By contrast, running bamboo usually originates in colder climates, with many varieties staying green and leafy down to about zero degrees, with a few coping well in conditions of up to minus 15 degrees.

ferns

Fern

What Japanese garden would be complete without a fern? They’re one of the most ancient plants, with their thick, green foliage offering an eye-catching accompaniment to a variety of trees and shrubs.

Throughout Japan there are hundreds of native species and many of those have been successfully cultivated in European and American gardens. They grow best in shady and moist environments, thriving out of the sun where their large luscious leaves have evolved to help them cope with life in the shade. Ferns also group well together, and beautifully complement plants like the stunning and vibrant Japanese Maple.

Enkianthus shrubs

Often found colonising mountain slopes in Japan, the E. Campanulatus is the hardiest of the Enkianthus species, boasting spectacularly bright green foliage that turns into vibrant colours of red, yellow and orange during the autumn.
This hardy, deciduous shrub can survive harsh winters, before producing clusters of pretty bell-shaped spring flowers that are cream in colour with striking pink veins. The plant thrives in acidic, well-drained soil and can survive temperatures as low as -20 degrees.

Autumn is one of the most beautiful times to visit a Japanese garden as the Japanese Maple shows off its red and golden hues in the autumnal sunshine, with the simplistic beauty of evergreens during the winter often providing a noticeable contrast against the falling snow. By emphasising and focussing on plants that thrive throughout the four seasons, you can ensure your Japanese garden remains a place of beauty, serenity and calm all year round.

This post was written by James Stedman of Japeto, a family owned business who offer an extensive selection of handpicked, high quality Japanese gardening tools, developed for professional and amateur gardeners.