Garden Blog | January 2020
So here we are, January again. Who knows what the year ahead has in store? In the garden, there’s no advantage to be had by simply sitting back and waiting to see what fate brings, it’s best to ‘Be Prepared’ as the Scouts say…
Preparing for a bumper crop of fruit from our orchard begins with pruning, a job that we undertake this month, except for the cherries, which are summer pruned to reduce the risk of spreading silver leaf disease. The orchard planted in our Old Kitchen Garden just a few years ago is coming on nicely. We have a good number of free standing apples, pears, cherries, and quinces, along with espalier trained apples grown against railings.
If you don’t have the room for free standing fruit trees in your garden, growing espalier trained apples and pears are the perfect way to produce an abundant crop without taking up a great deal of room.
The basic principle with training espalier fruit trees is one of selecting branches to train horizontally, in tiers that are approximately 45cm apart. Young trees, such as ours, will then produce many vigorous vertical vegetative branched from the horizontally trained ones. These must be pruned back to within three or four buds from their base in winter to encourage shorter, flowering, spur branches, and fewer vegetative branches, until eventually very little pruning is required at all. I love this job, it’s so rewarding to prune and train espalier fruit that I planted myself, and see them mature as time goes by.
Another pruning task completed this month in preparation for the year ahead are the roses. As discussed in last month’s blog, our roses are many and varied in form and habit. The final group of thorny adversaries to receive their annual prune were those grown over frames on our Parterre. Armed only with secateurs, twine, my ladder, and gritty determination, I whipped them into shape.
Pruning is not the only way in which we are preparing for the gardening year ahead. Wet and windy January days are the ideal time to put your feet up with a piping hot cuppa and peruse the seed catalogues. There’s endless reward to be had from growing plants from seed, be they old favourites or something completely new. We produce quite a lot of plants from seed, both perennials for a permanent life in the borders, and annuals for temporarily filling gaps in borders or for summer displays in pots and urns. As well as the reward of producing your own plants, growing from seed is also much more cost effective than buying the same plants from the garden centre or nursery.
Lastly, you have no doubt noticed plants beginning to stretch and come to life in the garden already. One of the earliest to do their thing are the snowdrops. We have masses of naturalised snowdrops throughout the grounds here at Deene Park, and an ever increasing collection of named varieties that we display in beds near the house.
Although naturalised wild snowdrops flower reliably from February into March, named varieties, that are the result of crossing different species, flower over a broader period, depending on their parentage. Amongst the first into flower in the gardens here are the neat double variety named ‘Franz Josef’, and the rather inelegantly named ‘Trumps’ with very eye catching single flowers.
We are delighted to open our gardens once again for our Snowdrop Sundays. If you would like to visit and see the mass of naturalised wild snowdrops and our collection of unusual named varieties, all within easily accessible grounds, we are open on Sunday, 16th February and Sunday 23rd February. Please click here for further details.