The 12 gardening tips of Christmas

Okay, so if you’re wondering what to do in the garden at Christmas, here are our 12 tips to make the festive season special and absolutely none of them involve queueing, alcohol or recipes for vegan sausage meat. 1. Bring your garden birds close up. Hang your bird feeders right up against your kitchen window; your reward will be thrilling close up views of all sorts of tits and finches and maybe even a nuthatch or, on red letter days, a spotted woodpecker. To make them safe from the swooping sparrowhawks place a protective shield of bamboo canes around the...

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Gardening Jobs for early March

It’s time to dandy up the dogwoods OK, you’ve enjoyed those lovely bright stems of Salix (Willow)  and Cornus (Dogwood) cultivars all winter, cheering up the garden through the dull months, but if you want the same again next year, you must be very stern with them (being a schoolteacher, I’m quite good at that).   Sharpen your secateurs and cut their stems back to the base.  The fancy word for this task is the slightly unfortunate term ‘stooling’, but don’t let that put you off. New coloured and leafy stems will quickly replace them.  If you don’t do this pruning, your plant will gradually...

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Willows: Infuriating fad or firm favourites?

‘Very pretty’, ‘beautiful’, ‘lovely’, all totally over-the-top hyperboles used by Laura and Elaine  in our video to describe a few dun-coloured stems in Laura’s garden. Really? Willows and dogwoods seem to be the ‘in’ thing for horticultural types to be excited about in winter. I don’t understand why they get so enthused by these featureless spikes just because they’re green or red. Graffiti is colourful but generally not popular. I can only imagine gardening contractors sold the idea of dogwoods to cash-strapped councils as a way to keep roundabouts looking tidy for six months of the year (nine in Scotland) and the fad has spread...

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