Greenfingers - January 2016

Saturday 5th December was dry, mostly, offering the chance to trim the blackened dahlia stems, raise the tubers and store them for the winter. I use the spent, dried and sieved compost from the tomato pots to bury and cover the tubers, and store the containers in the garage. The tubers can be started off in the compost next Spring, and when they are transferred to the garden, the compost is used as a mulch.

I was surprised to see how much the grass has grown over the last few mild wet weeks. This could do with a trim, to tidy it up, with the mower blades set high, but it should be done on a dry day....

scale insectI'm having some trouble with scale insect, on the citrus plants. The lime and lemon are in pots in a glazed porch, and spend the summer months outside. The lemon in particular also tends to drop its fruit at an early stage. Having read about citrus problems, I think they are stressed by the temperature shifts they see over 24hrs, and the regularity of watering may be an issue. I’ll re-pot them and check the roots for pests. Then apply a solution of washing-up liquid with a toothbrush, followed by an insecticide spray. The scale insect hugs the stem and leaves, and are tricky to see and remove, as in the photo.

The bird of paradise plant, Strelitzia reginea, has 2 flower spikes which should open in time for Christmas. This characterful plant has been the subject of several observations over the last few years. Currently, it is pushing itself out of the pot, presumably due to pressure from the roots.

Some pruning jobs are due about now, roses, wisteria, and apple and pear trees, and remove the old leaves from hellebore plants to see the early spring flowers. The bright yellow winter jasmine Jasminum nudiflorum and Christmas rose Helleborus niger are two of the few sparks in the garden at present. Alternatively, find a suitable book, or catalogue, and garden from the armchair.

The Minchinhampton Gardening Club AGM is due to be held at 7.30pm, Monday 18th January in the school hall, when existing and new members will be most welcome.

The moon is busy during January, enjoying conjunctions with Mars on 3rd, Venus on 7th, and Jupiter on 28th. Venus, which has been a splendid pre-dawn object during the last few months, appears close to Saturn on 9th.