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Reorganising The Garden For Winter...

Posted on May 31, 2017 at 7:15 PM

If there is one job in the garden which is perfectly suited to this time of year, it is reorganising or redesigning an old, established garden. This is because almost any plant can be transferred to a new position at this time, whether it be an evergreen or a deciduous one.

All gardens need to be regularly thinned out by removing old, diseased or unsatisfactory trees or shrubs. Sometimes, as the weeks or years sneak by, we tend to take our gardens for granted and fail to see badly overgrown or untidy, straggly trees and shrubs. Some of these plants, which seem to have lost much of their early vitality, can be rejuvenated by careful pruning or re-siting.

There are many reasons why plants gradually lose their vigour and ability to produce good displays of bloom. Excessive competition from more aggressive, dominant shrubs or trees is one of the most common reasons why flowering diminishes in some plants.

Listed below, is some simple rules-of-thumb to get started on redesigning that garden of yours...

1.  Walk through the garden, and mark every plant which you dislike, or has been unsatisfactory. Then get rid of them all by grubbing them out and carting them away.

2. Examine all the plants that are left, and where two or more of them are madly competing for space and light, make ruthless choices about which ones are to be removed altogether and which transplanted to another spot. Naturally try and retain the most attractive and expensive. For example, if the choice is between a well-sized rhododendron and a much more vigorous cotoneaster, you would be mad to chuck out the rhodo. The chances are that a place for the cotoneaster can be found somewhere else in your garden.

3. With the clearing out done the sun will be shining into areas which have not seen bright sunlight for years, and this will give plenty of scope for some totally different types of plants. Try belladonnas, nerines, Cuban lilies, jonquils and daffodils. You could also consider paeonies, dianthus, and the superbly beautiful gypsophila. Two years ago I dug up a gypsophila which had remained stunted and concealed under a heavy, dense shurb, and replanted it in an open spot with well-limed soil. The growth which occurred was extraordinary, developing into a bush over a metre in height and width.

4. Having made a shurb clearance, turn your attention to the lawn. It is here that all sorts of dramatic changes can be made to totally transform the character of an old garden. Most lawns, particularly in some of the older gardens, are squarish, boring, and occasionally dotted with miserable-looking shurbs which always seem to be partly dwarfed by the constant competition of the surrounding grass. Many of these plants, because of their stunted state, are very easily transplanted into the shurb garden. Lawns are best left as open as possible, because this helps to make the tiniest garden look larger. The shaping of an old lawn, even by cutting off any sharp corners and by developing gentle, flowing curves, will have the double advantage of making the garden appear more spacious and interesting, while eliminating corners which are difficult to get at with a mower. Extra planting spaces will also be created.

5. Some plants can be transplanted even if they have been growing in one place for many years: rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, dwarf and medium sized conifers, ericas, most deciduous trees and shrubs during winter, and a host of other plants. The main characteristic of many of these plants which can be moved from one place to another without major setback, is the tight, compact rootball in the case of the evergreens, and the easily arranged bare roots of the deciduous palnts in winter. These plants which resist transplanting, unless they have only recently been planted, are many Australian native plants, all brooms, cistus, ceanothus, laburnum, established roses, podalyria, nerium and very old climbers such as wisteria.

Transforming an old garden into a new one is one of the most exciting and satisfying of all landscaping operations. At the end of each day's work the changes which have taken place can be quite dramatic, so much so that once the mood gets a grip, you can hardly wait to get back to work again the next day...

Categories: Garden And Landscaping