Talk of the Month
Whats On in February
STAYING AT HOME
What to do in the garden this month
- Prune Wisteria, cutting back summer side shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
- Prune rose bushes. Cut back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches.
- Remove old Hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge.
- Remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop them setting seed.
- Collect any fallen leaves as these tend to harbour slugs.
- Check mowers and tools and send for servicing, if necessary.
- Cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins – clip them to within a few centimetres of the ground.
- Plan your vegetable plot for this year to ensure good crop rotation and prevent pests and diseases building up in the soil.
- Order seeds and summer-flowering bulbs from mail-order or on-line suppliers.
Christmas greenery, straight from the garden
What could be more lovely than stepping out on a cold and frosty morning to pick home-grown Christmas greenery, straight from the garden? Graham Rice offers some expert plant suggestions.
It used to be that the only option for holiday greenery in the home was the Christmas tree, along with holly and ivy. Now everything’s changed, and very definitely for the better.
Today an increasing range of attractive evergreen alternatives for decorative foliage is available to use in wreaths, in table decorations and in long-lasting seasonal arrangements. And the great thing about so many of these alternatives is that you can grow them yourself at home. Here are ten options.
Numbers at the end of each entry refer to plant height and RHS hardiness rating.
Edged in gold
Fresh and bright
Holly with a difference
White Christmas pine
Longest lasting evergreen
Did you know?
Penstemon are evergreen or deciduous perennials or sub-shrubs with narrow, modest leaves and elegant bell-shaped flowers that neatly form tall majestic spires throughout summer into early autumn. They are native to North America and East Asia. The first publicised description of Penstemon was in the works of John Mitchell in 1748. Subsequently, Carl Linnaeus wrote about them in 1753, although altered the spelling to ‘Pentstemon’, referring to the Greek term ‘penta’, meaning ‘five’, in reference to the plant’s fifth stamen. Both terms were widely used long into the 20th century although today it is more commonly spelt and pronounced ‘Penstemon’.
Interestingly, John Mitchell (13th April 1711 – 29th February 1768) was a colonial American physician and botanist. He created the most comprehensive and perhaps largest 18th-century map of eastern North America, known today as the Mitchell Map. He and his wife moved to Britain for health reasons and en route their ship was captured by a French privateer; although they were released, their belongings (and Mitchell’s botanical samples) were confiscated and they arrived in London with only Mitchell’s small fund of investments to their name. Mitchell did not try to compete with the metropolitan doctors; instead, he established himself as an expert on exotic botany. He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society in November 1748, his candidature citation describing him as “A Gentleman of great merit and Learning” whose study of natural history, especially botany, is very well acquainted with the vegetable productions of North America.
He continued to live in London, often touring the country estates of his aristocratic friends/patrons, occasionally writing articles and pamphlets, and living the life of a gentleman of modest means. His wife probably died soon after they reached London; Mitchell himself died in 1768.
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KILMINGTON KIDS' CORNERDon’t forget that if you have any gardening stories or photos to share with us, we would love to hear from you!
Have you thought of growing some vegetables in your own garden? There is nothing quite like picking fresh salad ingredients or strawberries and then having them for your supper. The taste is so much better than shop-bought produce. Why not have a look at this website for inspiration?