“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” like every single day. And there is only so much cleaning, organising, baking and washing one can endure. With so many things waiting on my “to-do” list, I am itching to go outside, even for a tiny spell. A few things need to be seen to before January hits and one of them is pruning my cherry blossom trees. Each year I am adding one to the garden now, this year it will be the miniature weeping white one, I think.
For now, I am focusing on the ones already in and with the leaves now well and truly gone some cutting is in order. I try to always stick to my rule of “one-third of each of the longest branches”. This ensures that no very long dangly bits stick out above the rest. I am also making sure that any sick, dead, crisscrossing or rubbing branches get the chop too. Try having the overall look of your tree in your head, and follow your imagination. I am aiming for a bonsai look on my miniature ones, irregular and different, but sticking to a more rounded and well-balanced look for the standard-size ones.
Checking out my Hellebore bed is another one on the list. I am very lucky to have such a good collection of this gorgeous plant. About 15 now, all different colours and flower shapes. But I have neglected to take away some of the old, weak foliage earlier on in the autumn. Now I have flat bits lying on the ground with fresh growth and buds poking through. Not a pleasant sight, to be honest.
If you haven’t got a Helleborus in your garden yet, now is the time to go shopping. Or maybe stick it on your letter to Santa. Double Anna Red or Niger are truly stunning. They look well in winter pots mixed with Ivy, Calocephalus and Gaultheria. Amazing in wicker baskets on their own. Or in borders and raised beds. As long as they are in a semi-shade and the moist ground they will be perfect. Very elegant indeed.
This week we decorated the centre with some Christmas lights. Lots of fun was to be had climbing up and down the ladder. And next week I would like to do it at home. And here is another thing on my list. Gutters! We have cleaned them once already, but with all the leaves falling and the wind blowing like there was no tomorrow they are half full already! Not strictly a gardening job at all, nevertheless, outside one that needs to be done. So if you are planning on decorating your eves with lights, set an hour or two aside to empty your gutters.
The last few spring bulbs have to be planted. Daffodils and Alliums are mostly for me, but if you feel you might have space for a few more there is still time. Maybe some lasagne-style planting in a couple of completely unmatching pots? Imagine having them full of colour on your front step in the spring. I think it is all the fashion now, judging by the internet posts and articles. This and plain terracotta. And as it is the end of the bulb season there are great bargains to be got.
The last check on all my gardening tools has to be done. Making sure secateurs are cleaned and sharpened, spades and rakes washed and dried, nothing is left outside and broken is very important. I hate going in after the holidays and having to repair or replace yet another set of secateurs. It can be a costly business. Plus I am really fond of the set I have at the moment.
We talked about berries for the festive season a few weeks ago. Foliage is next and we might touch base on that next week. Because next week I will be foraging through my own and the centre’s greenery on the lookout for the best branches for table decorations and wreaths. Normally you could do it now already, but even though the weather is shocking, the temperature itself is still quite high, so I am not sure all that greenery would last me up until Christmas. And also, no need to do everything in one go. With this, I would like to invite ye all to the centre on Sunday 4th December for some Christmas cheer as I call it.
We will have our local choir with us from 3 pm, kiddos can get creative during gingerbread decorating while sipping on hot chocolate. You might find inspiration chatting with Celia about table centrepiece making between 1 pm and 3 pm, you can even make one with her on the day. Unless you choose otherwise, we will prepare them for pickup along with small bundles of decorations that you might require if you decide to craft them yourself. We will also be giving out some of our greenery branches if you haven’t got your own in the garden. Because you know it’s nice to be nice. Especially during Christmas and also because of every little help, especially this year. 😉
Magdalena O’ Byrne