EastLife Magazine – January 2018

Here’s a copy of my gardening column from the January issue of Eastlife Magazine, which is a fabulous magazine all about ‘Living life in the East’.  The full version of the magazine can be viewed online at www.eastlife.couk

Despite the short days and chilly temperatures, January has so much to offer. With the gluttony of Christmas behind us we leap into the New Year with a list of resolutions to break and the reassurance that spring is just around the corner. Over the next few weeks we will be further jollied by the sight of snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) peeking through the grass, reassuring us that longer, warmer days are not too far away.

We finally took delivery of our long awaited Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata) plants last month. All 900 of them! Within 3 days our gardener had transported every single one of them from their pot into their new homes edging the squares within Percy’s rose garden. Time was working against with the temperature starting to drop in what is promising to be one of the coldest winters for a few years. Since then mother nature has very kindly ensured they’ve had a good watering in and we now await delivery of the custom made steel rose arbours to take us a little closer to our remastered designs for the garden.

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be working to clear the lawn and borders of the debris of winter, pruning shrubs and reducing an old and gnarled apple tree that still delivers a bounty of fruit.   If you’re looking for quality over quantity, don’t let an apple tree grow too big. Prune to allow enough space between branches for airflow, which in turn minimizes the risk of disease and allows the fruit to ripen.

A clematis to disguise the apple tree’s tired and weathered bark seems an obvious next step. I can visualize Clematis tangutica ‘Bill Mackenzie’ snaking up the trunk but I worry that the excessive ‘beards’ in this particular variety of Old Man’s Beard may be a little too much given the apple tree’s very apparent state of ageing! The remaining dark evenings will give me the perfect opportunity for a little more clematis research and to make a start on a Spring shopping list for Percy’s garden.

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