Four New Year’s resolutions for you and your garden.
By Sarah Wilson
Resolution one – Look after the birds
We should all be welcoming garden birds into our gardens, not only do we want then to eat our slugs and snails but we should value their cheerful song in winter and spring. Suburban gardens are now said to be the best habitat for many birds such as the robin, blackbird and blue tit and you can record the birds in your garden for the RSPB Garden Birdwatch from 28th – 30th January. You can download the recording form from the RSPB website www.rspb.org.uk.
To attract more birds to your garden put up a few nesting boxes now – at least 2 metres above ground and facing east or west, away from areas which are exposed to wind and rain. Put fat balls, peanuts and wild birdseeds in squirrel- proof feeders in your trees and on dedicated bird feeders. Don’t use bird tables, as the squirrels will take all the food long before the birds can get to it.
Resolution two – Plant for the bees and butterflies.
Last year there were fewer bees and butterflies in our woodlands and farmlands. This gives garden owners a challenge, as we must try to attract both bees and butterflies to our gardens this summer.
Colourful or scented flowers will attract bees and butterflies to your garden. These flowers can be on shrubs, trees, annual bedding plants, bulbs and perennials. There are bumblebees around all the year, including during the winter. Bees will gather pollen and nectar from shrubs such as Abelia, Viburnum and winter honeysuckle, early flowering hellebores as well as the early bulbs such as snowdrops, iris and early narcissi. Having shrubs which flower in spring and winter will ensure that the bees have something to eat in all seasons. Earlier this week I saw several bumblebees on my rosemary shrub, which is covered in purple flowers. Resolve to have at least one flowering plant for each month of the year.
Resolution three – Consider your neighbours.
Kingswood gardens are all quite large and many residents employ gardeners to keep them tidy. Please consider the very edges of your garden: behind your shrub border, garden kitchen or swimming pool. You may have a good crop of invasive plants there, which will be spreading into your neighbour’s garden. The most likely plants are ivy, bracken and brambles, but self-sown hazels, sycamores, crack willow, holly and laurels can all grow at an amazing pace and take over yours and your neighbours’ gardens within a few years. Don’t forget the bindweed – this needs to be killed on your side by a liberal application of “Round Up “. Ask your gardeners to get on with this job in winter when they have a bit of spare time.
Resolution four – Review your evergreen boundaries.
Kingswood has many lovely and attractive trees such as oaks, larches, cedars and Scots Pine, which will have been planted many years ago and are subject to TPOs (Tree protection orders). The TPOs do not include most laurels, Leyland cypress, or self-sown deciduous trees. If you have protected trees in your garden you can raise their canopy, under guidance from a tree surgeon, to ensure that your garden is not deprived of light. The other introduced evergreen trees have usually been planted to provide boundary protection, seclusion and sound barriers. If you have these trees don’t forget that they can grow too big, robbing your and your neighbour’s garden of light, moisture and the opportunity to grow anything at the base of the hedge or tree. Laurels in particular can provide a very hostile environment making it almost impossible to grow other plants in their vicinity. To provide seclusion a hedge needs to be only 10 feet high and where our Rhododendron, laurel, Leylandii and other evergreen shrubs are forming garden boundaries they can be maintained at about 10 feet to provide seclusion without blocking out too much sunlight.
We are a community of neighbours in Kingswood and the keen gardeners and plantsmen should be able to make the most of their gardens – if you are a keen gardener why not talk to your neighbours and make sure that you are all working together to make sure that everyone is able to have their dream garden?
If you are planning a day out, why not consider going to Gatton Park on the 12th February to enjoy their “Snowdrop Day”. They are open from 11.00 to 4.00 and there are more details on the NGS Website
Dr Sarah Wilson, a long time resident in The Warren, regularly opens her garden in the summer months with the National Garden Scheme.
To contact Sarah please click here