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January Dreaming

Christmas is done and dusted for another year.  The highlight of the winter is over and now it’s the long hard slog until those first days of spring.  I don’t mind January too much, it does always seem longer than the other months and the winter does start to drag when you get to the end of February, but January should be quite an exciting time when you have a garden.  It can often present your garden as a blank canvas. The garden is back to its bare bones, its true naked self, and it’s time to start imagining all of the fantastic thing things you can do in the garden this year and reflect on the things that might not have worked out so well last year.

It’s a time to plan and possibly even execute those bigger projects.  We have a part of the garden that is sorely neglected.  It’s at the top, out of sight of the house, it’s the bit where we put the hideous plastic toys garden when we have guests.  It also has a very prolific plum tree that unfortunately split down the trunk during a summer storm. So, this year’s “big” project will be to make better use of this space.  In another part of the garden the kids have a living willow den.  However lately it has been infested with hundreds of wasps during the summer months.  They are feeding off the honeydew that is secreted by aphids sucking the willow sap.  The number of wasps that turn up to this sugary sweet sucrose-fest is quite astounding. As you approach the den you get a combined sense of amazement tinged with a little bit of fear that they will all notice and chase you round the garden like an old Warner Bros. cartoon.  In reality they don’t really ever notice anyone around them. I think they are all flying around on a sugar high, but I don’t feel would be good parenting to tell the kids to just ignore the wasps and get out and play in their den.  As it’s happened for a couple of years now, I’m afraid the den has to go.  So, I would like to build something bigger and better for the children to play on.   The willow den is actually next to the greenhouse so isn’t an ideal spot for a play area.

I am conscious that the old neglected part of the garden has its benefits for wildlife, so my plan is to remove the willow den and turn this into of a wildlife friendly part of the garden.  The wasps can still get some food but so can the other creatures as well.  I don’t want to keep it too tidy, perhaps some log piles, a compost heap and the rest wildflowers in unmown grass.

It’s the other bit that I would love to turn into a play area for the children.  Something natural with a bit of climbing and a small trampoline for the youngest who likes a good old bounce.  The old pear tree would have to go, or (and I’ve just thought of this) the trunk could be incorporated into the play area, but pear trees are so reliable, and I love a bit of plum crumble that another would be planted elsewhere.  

When you have these grand ideas these days, the good old internet is a great place to start for some inspiration.  Pinterest is my favourite for a bit of “Pinspiration” but any of the social media sites can be useful.  If you’re not technically minded, then the old favourite of seed catalogues or gardening magazines do particularly well during the winter months.

We will see how much of this gets done.  I have managed to finish a couple of larger projects in the garden in other years but if it goes anything like usual I’ll put it off until the weather is a bit nicer to get out in the garden, then low and behold everyone will be out in the garden, work will get stupidly busy and before I know it we will be heading into the summer and I’ll be hiding plastic toys behind a fallen down plum tree again.

Posted by Charlie Groves

Charlie is the manager at Groves Nurseries.  He is the 6th generation of C.W. Groves to run the garden centre. 

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