Fiveways Gardens...December 2014

As the leaves continue to fall, you can clearly see where you need to remove dead, damaged or diseased branches from shrubs and small trees.  Branches that are crossing and rubbing together should also be dealt with in winter before wounds open and disease gets in.  It's worth remembering that a few species are prone to bleeding and therefore are best dealt with way before sap starts to rise in the spring.  Species prone to bleeding include: Japanese maples, birch, hornbeam, walnut, Laburnum and grape vines.  A good pruning saw, secateurs or loppers might be something to put on your Christmas present list....  Quality, sharp tools make all the difference.

If you have any tender plants such as Melianthus major or Astelia chathamica ‘Silver Spear', think about getting some fleece covers for them.  A period of extended cold will cause all the leaves to brown off and they'll look pretty awful till next May, and some tender plants will keel over and die.  I recently came across some fleece jackets - sounds cosy - for plants.  As the sales blurb says, it looks easier than grappling with sheets of horticultural fleece on a windy afternoon, although the latter is cheaper.  You can find them at  Local garden centres probably stock similar products too.

Now's a good time to get making some free plants, by taking hardwood cuttings of various shrubs.  25cm cuttings of dogwoods (Cornus), box, griselinia, jasmine, philadelphus, weigela and willows should all do well.  Take off the lowest leaves so they're not in contact with the compost and place in pots mixed with vermiculite or sharp sand.  Put your cuttings in the cold frame or on a window sill in a cool room in the house.  They should root within a few months and can be planted out next autumn.  This is a great way to create a free small hedge - perhaps for your veg patch or an allotment - and you get the extra satisfaction of knowing that it's all down to your gardening skills.

If you've got a gardening friend and are at a loss about what to get them for Christmas, how about a subscription to Which? Gardening magazine or the Royal Horticultural Society magazine, The Garden, or any other of the gardening magazines that are out there?  A subscription to the RHS will get them and you into any of the RHS gardens free of charge, and Wisley is only an hour away, near Guildford.  It's a fab place to visit at pretty much any time of the year, full of beauty and inspiration.  A gift that keeps on giving, as they say!

Glad tidings to you all over the festive season.

Best wishes,


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