Greenfingers - January 2018

There are some lovely quiet lanes around Minchinhampton where the last of the leaves can be seen golden in the low sun’s glow, wrestling with the wind before departing the branches and rustling and scraping across the path into satisfying heaps, ready to be trampled during the Christmas walk, or composted into leaf mould.


Now is a good time to apply a mulch around the roots of any plants that might be susceptible to frost damage, especially if the ground is also wet, a combination which causes many plants to rot. I find that whilst in the compost heap, weed seeds remain dormant but, as soon as the compost is spread as a mulch, they germinate within a couple of weeks, whatever the weather. The temperature of the compost heap is not high enough to destroy the weed seeds, but it has improved since I started adding plenty of cardboard.

As well as the many red admiral butterflies seen late into the autumn, a dragonfly (probably a common hawker) was seen patrolling the garden on 21st November. The same butterflies may well be seen again when we have a warm day next spring, with the sunshine waking them from hibernation.

Indoor forced bulbs for Christmas flowering can be placed outside in a shel-tered spot once the flower has finished, to be planted out later.

The moon will appear larger than usual when full on January 2nd, being at perigee, but the lunar eclipse on the 31st will not be visible from the UK. Ve-nus reaches superior conjunction on January 9th, so will be lost in the glare of the sun as it passes on the far side, becoming visible again in February as an evening ‘star’, setting shortly after the sun.

Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
Pete Smith