Greenfingers - December 2018

The early November frosts have finished off most of the flowers in the garden, but the Autumn leaf colour has been great. My route off the common has changed to take in the spectacle. We could do with a ‘Best Seasonal Walks Book’, for Minchinhampton, describing a few walks for each month, addressing where to see interesting local flora.

The wildflower ‘meadow’ created a few years ago has been formally declared a failure, and has been converted into a conventional flowerbed, with spring bulbs and a newly planted hawthorn tree. The problem with the meadow was too much grass which was flattened by any rain or wind, plus the bindweed and nettles which were difficult to control. The bed will be planted with some fairly vigorous perennials to try to keep order, and the hawthorn will encourage wildlife.

Now is a good time to plant trees and bare-rooted hedging and roses, as well as to move shrubs. And to prune vines, acers and birches. The crab apple which was pruned a couple of winters ago has shot away, so there may be something to be said for some summer pruning to maintain the size without encouraging a lot of new growth.

I’ve planted out some shallots and garlic sets, but most of the work outside is in tidying up and bringing in anything tender for the winter. The compost heap is high, but adding cardboard to maintain a good balance of green and brown makes for a healthy heap.

ChristmasCactusThis article has reminded me to check the hyacinth bulbs in the garage. Indoor plants generally need less water at this time of year, and I’ve brought in the citrus for protection, and the Bird of Paradise Strelitzia Reginea to flower, (fingers crossed). The Christmas Cactus, Schlumbergera truncata (pictured) is flowering madly, so will be finished well before Christmas.

The Geminids meteor shower peaks on the night of 13th and morning of 14th and can produce up to 120 meteors per hour. Best viewing will be after midnight when the quarter moon has set, assuming clear skies. Another benefit of dark nights is satellite spot-ting which is best done shortly after sunset or before sunrise when the satellite is sunlit against a dark sky and reflects down to the observer.

Have a peaceful Christmas.

Pete Smith