Plant of the Week by dfhercbml


									Christmas in your garden.

One last column before the end of the year and although it may seem a little too late to
protect your winter plants at this time of year, most of my friends who are growers agree that
now is coming up to the time when your plants are at their most venerable.

Its when in mid to late winter that the sun is warm and the winds dry the leaves and branches
leaving the plants unable to replenish due to cold or frozen ground. So for the plants and
shrubs that could possible dry out and get a winter burn, this is your last chance to cover
them or place them in the greenhouse until the spring.

Winter pruning

For myself, I have gardens that I work in year after year and lots of them require shrubs to be
pruned through the winter. Careful consideration for the flowering times for the shrubs must
be taken as most spring flowering varieties start their budding process in late autumn and
careless pruning can result cutting off the wrong branches.

One other way of giving shrubs a good prune over the winter is to take off the dead or dying
branches and thin the whole shrub out, this way you can avoid cutting anything off that your
really shouldn’t.

If you do prune your shrubs its also a great time to recycle the branches that you cut off. I
always sort out and trim the branches into straight pieces. I keep them outside in the moisture
and use them for staking up lower plants for the next season. I don’t know what it is but
branches with green wire around them always seem to stand out much less than garden
canes and of course this cuts down on the costs.

Kitchen garden

In my kitchen garden this week I will be harvesting the last of my sprouts, leeks, parsnips and
winter cabbages (from undercover). Not normally at this time of year I also have carrots and
radish! I planted them very late as an experiment and even though the ground last week was
frozen, they are ready for the table at Christmas, I just love to grow the wrong things out of
season, if you do and have success stories let me know and I will tell the readers about it.

Winter digging

Ok I know all of the gardeners out there will wonder why I am writing about digging, but have
you ever thought about all the different ways we dig, why we dig and even what happens
when we dig in the wrong way? To a beginner this might be helpful information:


This is simply digging a fork into the ground, lifting out the soil, dropping it down again and
breaking it up with the edge of the fork. The purpose of this is to lift our or loosen weeds,
aerate the soil, breaks up clay and is also a way to add organic matter.


This is the same as forking but can be used to improve the soil surface a little more and
leaves soil pests on the surface ready for the birds.

Single digging

This is a method applied when digging over a pre-determined area. Normally used on
allotments where the beds are square, I divide the area in my head then dig a single trench
out at one spade width placing the soil to the side. I then dig another single trench and place
the soil in the first trench breaking it up a little when I place it down. The last trench is then
filled with the soil from the first one and this is a single dug area.
Double digging

This method is the same as single digging other than the sub soil (soil below what is dug out)
is dug over with a fork. Normally the soils are kept separate but if you would like to improve
the overall depth of the topsoil, mix the two soils together then dig in lots of organic matter,
over time the depth of top soil will grow.

Soil Surface cultivation

For gardens that are already rich in organic matter and have a deep topsoil layer surface
cultivation can be a good and easy way to keep the soil aerated and free of weeds. I have two
ways of doing this, one is to use a three pronged drag rake and drag/move the surface of the
soil around and the other is to hoe it and rake over the top with a garden rake.

Warning! – When not to dig!

Always avoid digging / rotavating your garden to the same depth each time you do it. What
happens if you do is that the subsoil will flatten out and make an impermeable layer under the
soil and water can stand on it, worms will have trouble tunnelling through it and more.

Also digging when the soil is very wet is not a good idea, this can easily damage the structure
of the soil which removes vital nutriants.

Plant of the Week (from Laburnum Plant Nursery)

Name –Polystichum (Dryopteridaceae)
Fully Hardy to frost tender
Situation – Partial or Full Shade
Height and Spread – 45cm to 1.2m
Common name – Holly Fern or Shield Fern

From a genus of approximately 200 species of usually evergreen ferns, their habitats
range from alpine cliffs to tropical forests worldwide.
Their holly-like frond shapes are the main reason for cultivation in our gardens,
providing an architectural display within borders or woodland.
Although ferns are not ‘flower’ producers, their intense green is a great backdrop to
a mixed border or, as seen in Japanese gardens, specimens in their own right.
Cultivation – Fertile, humus rich, well drained soil in deep or partial shade.
Propagation – Sow spores when ripe or divide rhizomes in spring. Detach fronds
bearing bulbils in autumn.
Pests and diseases – Susceptible to fungal disease ‘Taphrina wettsteiniana’

For our English gardens, try the Polystichum setiferum group for their hardiness and
reliability. Mix with Helleborus and Cyclamen coum in a woodland planting or plant in
groups for intensity of colour.

For further information call Karen at 01469 530212 (Laburnum Plant Nursery,
Burnham, nr Barton on Humber, DN18 6EE) or
2 Week

How to grow gourmet mushrooms.

How about growing yourself a mushroom treat that are environmentally friendly, really tasty
and very good for you.

There are basically two ways to grow mushrooms, one is in the ground and the other is in
decaying matter like a log.

Here are some quick facts:

         Mushrooms are actually the fruiting bodies of fungi.
         Fungi are not plants.
         Fungi grow from other organisms, living or dead, animal or plants.
         They are essential in compost heaps and all soils.
         Yeast is a single cell fungi.

For gardeners like myself fungi means plant problems, rust, mildews, black spot on Roses,
fairy rings in lawns and honey fungus that kills trees but here is advice on how to grow two
types of edible mushrooms that will set you apart from the Jones’s!

Growing shiitake mushrooms on logs.

         Buy a spawn kit of short dowels.
         Take a recently felled hardwood log.
         Ensure its untreated and about 100 to 150mm in diameter and about 1m long.
         The bark has to be intact and the log moist so soak it if its not.
         Turn the log on its side and drill holes at 10cm apart for the whole length.
         Insert the spawn dowel into the hole and tap in if necessary.
         Seal with hot wax to keep in the moisture, this will be supplied with your spawn kit.
         Logs can be part buried in the ground or kept in a dark, damp corner of the garden.

You may cover with a plastic sheet to retain moisture but do check that the log isn’t drying out
and water when needed.

Fruiting normally occurs from 4 to 7 months depending on the weather. Frost or lots of rain
can shock the mushrooms and both should be avoided.

The mushrooms will be produced in flushes and can keep producing over lots of years, some
logs have been reported to produce for 12 years! Look out for slug damage, tiny maggots,
bacteria spotting or mushroom flies.

Growing oyster mushrooms on straw.

Some of the suppliers of mushroom kits will sell you kits with straw or sawdust. This is a quick
method of growing mushrooms and great for the first time mushroom growers.

         Take a heat resistant bag, add straw to it and pour in boiling water to sterilise it.
         Pour off the excess water and leave it to cool, but not all the way.
         Scatter grain spawn (as supplied) into the bag of straw.
         Seal the bag and shake it to distribute the grain evenly in the bag.
         The bag can be stored inside the house or in the garden.
         Cut slits in the bag and the mushroom will fruit out through them.
         Harvest the fruiting heads when young.

Again look out for slugs, tiny maggots and bacteria spotting.

Growing a mushroom patch.
This is not an easy way to grow mushrooms, but once started it will fruit for many years.

Choose a variety like Shaggy Inkcap, filed mushrooms or Stropharia.

Plant them in a lawn, pasture or field area. Roll the turf back to approx. 25mm deep, sprinkle
the grain spawn on the ground and cover with the turf again.

Mushrooms grain and dowels can be ought from your local garden centre or on line at

If you would like to buy a selection of gourmet or even wild mushrooms and try them for taste
before you grow them, boxes can be purchased locally from:

Crisp ‘n’ Fresh,
7 King Street,
Barton upon Humber.
Nth Lincolnshire
Tel: 01652 634961

All boxes must be pre ordered and will be delivered to the shop fresh on the day of picking,
they cost a little more than normal mushrooms but they are really well worth it!

Plant of the Week (from Laburnum Plant Nursery)

Name – Hebe (Scrophulariaceae)
Hardy to Frost Tender
Height and spread – 60cm to 1.2m
Situation – Sun or Partial Shade

Originally from the southern hemisphere, Hebe shrubs are one of the most popular
shrubs to be planted in our English gardens. From a genus of approximately 100
species, these evergreen shrubs come from a range of habitats that are extremely
varied, rocky sites, cliffs, grasslands and coastal areas. Mainly from New Zealand
they are also found in South Eastern Australia, New Guinea and South America, but
cultivation and new varieties have made them all the more popular around the world.
A versatile shrub there are many varieties to choose from with the added bonus that
their flowering period can range from early spring through to late autumn, so there is
a Hebe to fit many planting schemes.
Flower colours are outstanding, ranging from the purest white through to deep purple
and along with their evergreen form, a good all year round shrub.

Propagation – Sow seed in containers and place in a cold frame or root semi-ripe
cuttings with bottom heat in late summer or autumn.
Cultivation – Poor or moderately fertile, moist but well drained soil, in full sun or
partial shade. Shelter from cold drying winds. Most Hebes need little or no pruning.
Pests and diseases – Leaf spot, root rot, downy mildew and aphids may be a problem.

Try planting as a specimen shrub or alternatively within a mixed border for an
evergreen display.
Hebes to watch for are, Hebe ‘Black Beauty’ with its dark burgundy leaves.
Hebe ‘Beverly Hills’ with bright green leaves and pink/purple flowers.

For further information call Karen at 01469 530212 (Laburnum Plant Nursery,
Burnham, nr Barton on Humber, DN18 6EE) or
Plant of the Week (from Laburnum Plant Nursery)

Name – Viola (Violaceae)
Fully Hardy
Height and spread – 5-13cm
Position – Full sun or Partial shade
Common name – Violet

From a genus or around 500 species of annuals, biennials and deciduous perennials
the Viola is a favourite with many gardeners. Their flower heads looking upwards like
tiny faces with colours ranging from the purest white through to deepest black.
For purposes of this week’s selection I will concentrate on the hardy perennial variety
which provides colour for such a long season and fills a space in many borders. If
deadheaded on a regular basis I’ve found that the Viola will flower for ‘months’ and
never shows signs of giving up until the first frosts even though they are only
supposed to flower in spring and early summer.
New varieties are being added to the range on a regular basis with colours that would
match any border. Ones to watch for are Viola ‘Rebecca’ or Viola ‘Columbine’ with
their cream and blue colouring. These have been a favourite on the nursery with their
reliability and striking form.

Propagation – Sow seed in containers and place in a cold frame in spring or take
stem-tip cuttings in spring or late summer.
Cultivation – Fertile, humus rich, moist but well drained soil, sun or partial shade.
Dead-head to prolong flowering. Cut back once flowering is finished to keep plants
Pests and diseases – Slugs, snails, aphids and violet leaf midges. Susceptible to leaf
spot, rust and powdery mildew.

Try planting in containers with other perennials such as Heuchera, Phormium and
Hedera (Ivy)

For further information call Karen at 01469 530212 (Laburnum Plant Nursery,
Burnham, nr Barton on Humber, DN18 6EE) or
Plant of the Week (from Laburnum Plant Nursery)

Name – Hypericum (Clusiaceae/Guttiferae)
Fully Hardy to Frost tender
Position – Sun or Partial shade
Height and spread – 15cm to 2m
Common name – St Johns Wort

Hypericum shrubs originally come from a wide range of habitats worldwide such as
woodland and scrub through to mountains and cliffs.
There are approximately 400 species to choose from with a mix of deciduous,
evergreen and semi-evergreen varieties.
With showy, bright yellow flowers they have a long flowering period giving a bright
display in many mixed borders through the summer. The flowers are followed in
many species with ornamental fruits which turn a bright orange/red during autumn
making this shrub very striking.
The dwarf variety Hypericum calycinum can be rather invasive spreading by runners,
but other varieties such as ‘Hidcote’ is better behaved and will flower continuously.

Propagation – Divide perennial varieties in spring or autumn, or sow seed in
containers placing them in a cold frame in autumn.
Cultivation – Moderately fertile, well drained soil, in sun or partial shade (Dwarf
variety in full sun for best results) Protect from excessive winter wet.
Pests and diseases – Hypericum calycinum may be susceptible to rust.

Try planting within a mixed border with Heuchera, Viburnum tinus, Phormium and

For further information call Karen at 01469 530212 (Laburnum Plant Nursery,
Burnham, nr Barton on Humber, DN18 6EE) or

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