Greenfingers - December 2019

It’s early November, and the rain and wet ground is preventing some of the tender plants from being lifted and stored for the winter by this fair weather gardener. But between showers, I’ve managed to sweep up a few leaves and top up the bird feeders, and during the showers and long dark evenings, catch up on the odd book or magazine.

I came across an article about cloud pruning (Niwaki) of evergreen shrubs aimed at providing some structure to the garden during winter. This technique originated in Japan and has become more popular recently, offering a slightly alternative type of topiary. It can be very effective in producing elegant forms, and is best applied to small leaved varieties with interesting branch formations, such as box, yew, pine, Japanese holly, (ilex crenata) and Japanese privet, (Lingustrum Japonicum), amongst others.

Robin1219The crab apples have been attracting large numbers of blackbirds, many of which appear to be males, as they are black, but with black bills. An internet search suggests that these are from the continent, and may mature somewhat later than the native stock, which already have their distinctive yellow bills. 

Open grown apple and pear trees should be pruned over the winter, and vines, acers and birch trees before the year end. Bare rooted hedging and roses can be planted, and trees and shrubs moved.

Check Christmas hyacinths and bring them into the warm once the shoots are 1.5” to 2” tall, and prepare to enjoy their scent.

An annular solar eclipse will take place on 26th December, but will not be visible from Europe. However, provides an excellent explanation and some wonderful graphics of the event. The winter solstice is on 22nd, followed by more hours of daylight.

Have a peaceful Christmas.

Pete Smith