Gardening news and tips with Naomi Slade

PUBLISHED: 10:53 23 December 2013 | UPDATED: 10:58 23 December 2013

Christmas cards from Thrive

Christmas cards from Thrive

Naomi Slade

Blue tit in winterBlue tit in winter

Charity cards

Help raise funds for local charity Thrive by buying their Christmas cards and cinnamon-scented tree decoration. The organisation uses horticulture as a therapeutic tool to improve the lives of people who have suffered disability, injury or illness, helping them regain skills, health and self-confidence. www.thrive.org.uk/products/christmas.aspx

Think ahead to summer

It may be dark and cold outside, but a little action now will make sure that you have enviably lovely borders when the weather warms and the days lengthen into summer. Kick off by dividing overgrown perennials, pruning anything that needs it and then adding a good, deep mulch with some well-rotted organic matter to condition the soil and feed your plants for the year ahead.

Have a cup of tea and a contemplative slice of Christmas cake, stollen or panettone.

Think back to last summer, where are the gaps? What could do with some more colour? What could be moved for better effect elsewhere? Is there enough structure? Could it use a top-up?

And with so many mail order suppliers you can sort out the border even if snowed in.

Try:

Bareroot and small plants - www.hayloft-plants.co.uk

Cottage garden perennials – www.hardys-plants.co.uk (or if you live close enough you can visit the nursery in Overton).

Roses - www.davidaustinroses.com

Trees - www.thornhayes-nursery.co.uk

Shrubs - www.gardeningexpress.com

Shopping made easy

We gardeners are always on the lookout for new plants and the The Joy of Plants app makes a perfect stocking filler. This handy portable encyclopaedia enables the user to find out specific details about plants when browsing in the garden centre, aids planning areas such as shade or acid soil by allowing the user to refine their search and lets you plan ahead to fill in seasonal gaps with performing plants.

Price of Joy of Plants app is £2.99, see www.joyofplants.com or send it as a gift from the Apple app store.

Feed the birds

Don’t forget our feathered friends, especially if the weather turns chilly. They will be glad of crumbs, seeds, nuts, fatty foods like dripping and lard (though you should watch the salt content) and fruit such as raisins slices of apple. Serve individually or mush together as a bird cake – they probably won’t turn down a spot of Christmas cake either. And if the water outside starts to freeze, remember that the birds will still need to drink and wash to keep their feathers warm and fluffy.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Berkshire Life