In the February Sunshine.

These winter months are the time of year I try to carry out any ‘estate’ maintenance along with completing the pruning of the climbing/rambling roses, wisteria, vines, the apples and pear trees.

These all require the use of a ladder, which in the past has involved balancing on the top of a rather unsteady step ladder. Having some time ago reached the age where I don’t bounce so well and not wishing to add to the queues at the local hospital A&E department I have invested in a Henchman ladder. This is one of the best investments I have made in garden equipment. The ladder is similar to the Japanese tripod ladders, with adjustable leg heights to accommodate different ground levels and a bar at the top that you can safely lean into, so long as you don’t go any higher than recommended. This feature doesn’t seem to appear on the Japanese ladders which was the deciding factor for me when making my choice. They are made in the UK from aluminium and therefore very light to carry and come in different sizes. I did feel very safe using it this year, it can also serve as a coffee table!

You can view more details Henchman Ladders.

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Two jobs required the help of a local builder, one has been the replacement of the walls to the raised herb bed. I originally built it, in 2004, with treated timber planks, as these have rotted away in places, I decided to replace them with new sleeper timbers.
This bed is also home to a climbing ‘Albertine’ rose, on the trellis, a red currant fan trained along the side fence and a standard red gooseberry in the centre. The new bed is not as big, therefore more of the herbs will be in either terracotta pots or the old galvanised bath and buckets.

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The lawn just off the patio always looks a mess, especially at this time of year, it is not very wide and all the foot traffic passes through here ( human and animal ). I have had it edged with porous black pavers, to match the ones incorporated into the patio design. Wether the grass remains, in this small area, or is replaced with gravel, is yet to be decided. Another option is artificial grass, I am following Cathy at Rambling in the Garden’s progress, with interest, to see how she gets on with her small installation.
I have also edged the fence along the Green and White garden with the pavers to save having to strim the grass.

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Our neighbour has a willow (Salix) tree right against the boundary fence by the Oriental   garden. We have dropped several, so far unsuccessful, hints regarding keeping it pollarded to prevent it becoming to dominant.

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I decided to remove the worst offending boughs, the main branches will be placed, in a corner of the garden, to become a wildlife sanctuary, with the whips along with some Cornus trimmings, being woven into a small natural edge to the bed behind the banana bench. The remainder will be chipped for mulching around the shrubs in the Oriental garden.

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My compost bins are in a poor state of repair and need replacing. I have for two years, had one of the local authority garden waste recycling bins. This has reduced the need for so many bins here. I have replaced one with an extra leaf bin, this is such a useful garden by-product, either for mulching or adding to potting compost that I don’t send it away from the garden.

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Shadows in the sunshine!

We have recently taken delivery of 400 NGS Worcestershire County booklets this month to distribute around local shops, libraries and any garden clubs we visit. We also have our county AGM and lunch this month, where we garden openers collect all the publicity material for our open days. It reminds us the clock is ticking ( I think I have heard that before with a french accent!)

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We have been fortunate to have recently enjoyed some winter sun, thus enabling me to make some progress on the maintenance list, while enjoying the winter sunshine, entertained by bird song.

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What winter maintenance projects do you have for your garden?

21 thoughts on “In the February Sunshine.

  1. I do like the way you have made that willow edging. We will have to cut down our Salix chermesina in the early spring. I wonder if we could do anything clever with it like you have. I had never seen anything like that marvelous ladder. I was able to look at the web site. You have a busy time ahead of you! Amelia

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  2. As I read through your post, I am impressed by all those jobs who have achieved. Your small woven border edging is really attractive, and if you have some herbaceous plants, something woven would also make an attractive addition to your borders. That ladder looks just the ticket for such things as apple picking etc…at present we have no need for a garden ladder, otherwise one would be on my list.

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  3. Impressive willow weaving there! I’ve been strenuously watching the letterbox for a few days now, eagerly anticipating the arrival of my NT membership pack. I think every garden should have a tripod ladder with the mug holder on the third step. That would make a real difference to the A&E queues. A lot of my winter jobs have been designed, like yours, to lead to lower labour requirements in the future. Which will leave more time for making the beds and borders bigger, of course!

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  4. Do you just stick the willow and dogwood whips straight in the ground?
    We have just invested in a shredder for all our prunings, and I’m using it to mulch around hedges and fruit trees. My only slight concern is should you avoid mulching with clippings from the same species? Do you risk infections if you mulch a rose with mulch that contains rose chippings?

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    1. I would not stick willow into the ground unless you want it to grow there. I understand if you peel the bark off, it will not root. I don’t mind if dogwood roots, it is more controllable. I have a chipper, rather than a shredder, which produces quite big chips, therefore I would not chip roses due to the thorns lying around waiting to stick in my fingers at a later date when weeding etc. I think with roses there is a consideration regarding disease.
      I send all mine to the recycling green waste.

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