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Kingswood Gardening News – March 2018

Introducing native plants into your garden.

By Sarah Wilson

In Kingwood we are fortunate to live in an area surrounded by native woodland and we have many remnants of the historic landscape of the medieval Kingswood in our gardens.
In local deciduous woodland there is birch, beech, hazel, ash and hawthorn – all trees which we could have in our gardens – add to that the whitebeam, rowan and oak and you have all you need for different tree shapes, coloured leaves and berries and nuts.
There are two conifers which are native to England and frequently found in Surrey – the Scots Pine and yew, and another native evergreen, which makes a wonderful hedge, is the holly.

Widely Introduced to our parks and gardens by the Victorians were the cedars, ornamental cherries and maples and of course Rhododendron, Azalea and Camellia. In the 1920s and 30s, when the first houses were built in Kingswood, the roads were lined with, the then much admired, Rhododendron ponticum – and the conifers and deciduous trees, which had been growing here for decades, were kept in the large woodland gardens.

So is Kingswood a ‘garden estate’ or an area of woodland? It is obviously a ‘garden estate’ which has tried to preserve its original vegetation. As houses were built and gardens divided there was a proliferation of man-made green barriers of laurel, and Leylandii. The laurel used for hedging is not a true laurel (as the Bay Laurel we use for cooking) but, together with the Portuguese Laurel, is a member of the Prunus family. Unlike other plum or cherry trees its fruits are poisonous and the leaves contain cyanide which vapourises when cut. If you have ‘laurel’ in your garden, keep the black berries away from pets and children and always wear a mask when pruning or burning the leaves.

You will also notice that some self-sown native trees such as ash, sycamore and willow have grown into huge mature trees in our gardens and roadsides. The ability of these trees to self seed is amazing so unless you want them everywhere do watch out for seedlings and remove before they get too established.

Around Kingswood there are also some interesting introductions, such as cedars, sweet chestnut and redwoods, which have become attractive and stately trees. When you are planning your garden and its boundaries do try to introduce some of our native trees and hedging, because not only will it look wonderful but will be a habitat for hundreds of creatures – not least birds and insects which in turn are very good at controlling pests and diseases in the garden.

Plants in your garden.

I try to find at least three plants looking good in my garden to show you in this newsletter. Today it is freezing cold with lying snow so many are looking very droopy. There are three which seem to just brush off the cold and snow –

Rosemary – full of delicate purple flowers which will provide pollen for the solitary bees which will come out when the sun begins to shine

Epimedium – no flowers yet but beautiful bronze shiny leaves – small pink or yellow flowers follow in spring.

Iris reticulata – always welcome in February when this tiny purple flower pokes out of the snow and stands up straight.

There are other colours, including the very fashionable Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ which is yellow grey and of which there are swathes in the winter garden at Wisley.

Jobs for March

I doubt if anyone is out in their garden this week but don’t forget to put out food and water for the birds and hedgehogs as they find it very difficult to find insects and worms when the ground is frozen.

Once the weather improves you should begin to:

Tidy your borders – pruning shrubs, dividing perennials and cutting back grasses

Deadhead Narcissi – but don’t cut back or tie up their leaves, as this will prevent the bulb storing energy for next spring

Move snowdrops – dig up a clump and divide it, replanting slightly deeper than it was before

Complete the pruning of evergreen plants and tidy up topiary and formal hedges

Start cutting lawns, tidy up the edges and manage the reduction of dips and bumps in the lawn

Put up new bird boxes – in a fairly open position preferably facing east or west

Feed plants in pots with a long acting pelleted fertilizer

By Easter I hope that there will be a riot of colour in our gardens and fields of daffodils on our verges and roundabouts – a true sign of Spring!

Kingswood Gardening News – January 2018

Winter scent and colour in your garden. By Sarah Wilson If you do brave the cold and rain this month it is nice to have something with colour and scent in your garden. Not only will this please you, but it will also ensure that birds and insects have something to eat over the winter […] Continue reading →

Kingswood Gardening News – December 2017

December in the garden and presents for gardeners. By Sarah Wilson In December most of the plants in the garden are green although the brown seed heads of grasses and perennials are still standing despite the high winds. There are however quite a few colourful and scented flowers hidden in sheltered corners providing winter food […] Continue reading →

Kingswood Gardening News – September 2017

Shrubs with autumn colour and lessons learned from this summer in my garden. By Sarah Wilson As we approach autumn we look forward to the reds and oranges of our trees and the berries of late summer but do you have any shrubs, which are at their best in late summer?  In my garden are […] Continue reading →

Kingswood Gardening News – August 2017

High summer in your garden By Sarah Wilson Many thanks to everyone who helped or visited our garden this summer – over the summer we have made £1800 for the NGS and £825 for the Childrens Trust. The NGS supports a number of charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Parkinson’s UK and the MS […] Continue reading →

Kingswood Gardening News – July 2017

Midsummer Jottings By Sarah Wilson July and August colour I was anxious that for my open garden on Sunday there wouldn’t be much colour in the garden as I rely on shrubs and perennials for colour and only had a few non-hardy plants such as scented Pelargonium in pots. I needn’t have worried because I […] Continue reading →

Kingswood Gardening News – June 2017

June in your garden – Plenty of poppies and roses By Sarah Wilson May was a month of very strange weather – and June has not been “blazing” so far. As I write this there is gale blowing with the promise of heavy rain and an overnight temperature of 10 degrees. During the month of […] Continue reading →