News - Page 92

Fend off snow damage

Fend off snow damage by getting out into the garden after each heavy fall to check your plants and other structures are holding up well.

Snow isn't as harmful to plants as you'd think – in fact it can serve to protect them from cold damage as it has an insulating, blanketing effect. But a really heavy fall of snow causes problems due to its sheer weight, so take time to run through a simple post-snow checklist to keep damage to a minimum.

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Dance around your apple trees

Dance around your apple trees this week as it's wassailing time – when, according to tradition, apple growers toast the health of their apple trees in mulled cider. If you haven't got an apple tree yourself, there are lots of wassailing parties you can join: try Ryton Gardens, in Coventry, Forty Hall Farm in Enfield, Middlesex, or the community orchard at Stoke Gabriel, Totnes, Devon.

There's plenty more you can be doing this month to help your apple trees cr...

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Prune wisteria

Prune wisteria in January and in August for a waterfall of sweetly-scented flowers in early summer. It's hard to beat this elegant, stately climber in its full early summer glory. You'll find shades from pure white through classic pale lilac to a rosy pink in your favourite garden centre: as well as the classic Chinese wisteria, Wisteria sinensis, look out for Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) with dramatic racemes of flowers up to a metre long.

To get...

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Wander among the butterflies this week

Wander among the butterflies this week in the tropical glasshouse at RHS Garden Wisley, in Surrey, where from Saturday they're releasing hundreds of huge, exotic butterflies from South America to flutter among the bromeliads and bananas. Enjoy their iridescent beauty at close quarters – wear something brightly-coloured and they may even land on your shoulder.

You can visit every day until Sunday 24 February, but if you can't get to Wisley you...

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Recycle your Christmas tree

Recycle your Christmas tree – you'd be amazed how many uses you can find for it around the garden. Once you've packed the decorations away for another year, get to work with a pair of secateurs and a shredder and you can transform your tree into a garden feature. Here are a few ideas:

Mulch: Christmas tree needles and shredded branches make a great mulch around acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, blueberries or camellias. Strip the branche...

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Sow onion seeds this week

Sow onion seeds this week – it's the perfect antidote to itchy fingers desperate to get gardening. Traditionally you sow onions on Boxing Day – but you can do it any time until the end of February. The earlier the better, though, as you'll need to give them a long growing season to produce the plumpest bulbs.

Exhibition growers swear by sowing onions in the coldest months of the year – and not just because it gets them out of doing the Christmas washing up. Y...

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Save your winter crops

Save your winter crops from becoming frozen so solid in the ground they're impossible to harvest by using the old technique of 'heeling in'.

This works really well on leeks, but it's also great for your Christmas dinner parsnips and celeriac. Start by digging up your whole crop on a mild day when the soil is easy to work, lifting the whole plant out of the ground roots and all.

Then choose a sheltered spot, preferably not far from the back door so you...

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Last shopping week till Christmas

Last shopping week till Christmas and if you're looking for the perfect present for the gardener in your life there's no better place to go than your favourite garden centre.

If you're a bit stuck over what to choose – here are a few ideas:

Flower shows: Treat your favourite gardener to a feast of fabulous design with a ticket to one of the big RHS shows. The daddy of them all, the Chelsea Flower Show, celebrates its centenary in 2013...

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Revamp your containers for winter

Revamp your containers for winter for a quick gardening fix that gives you a fabulous scene to look out on over the Christmas holiday season. You'll find dozens of lovely winter plants now in stock in your favourite garden centre, so get yourself down there and take your pick: add a handsome container or two and your container displays can have as much winter wow factor as they do in summer.

If you're short of ideas - here are a few combinations you cou...

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Plant raspberry canes

Plant raspberry canes from this month while they're on sale as bundles of bare rooted canes in your favourite garden centre. Buying bare-root in winter means you'll get a much better choice of varieties, and they establish incredibly quickly – because they're still dormant, they hardly know they've moved.

Raspberries come in two types: summer-fruiting, to crop from June till about August, and autumn-fruiting which take over after that. Both love the same rich...

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