Rockvale Stone & Garden

Some days during the last week were best spent inside while our home was Grandchildren filled – with more than one coughing and sniffing. But I did sneak out from time to time while the sun shone, to take hardwood cuttings and pot up the cuttings already rooted from those put into river sand at the end of March /April – Rose, Lavender and perennial Wallflower – these I potted into a pot with potting mix / compost, then sat pots in a sunny sheltered spot.
Hardwood cuttings: are taken in Winter, The ideal time is just after Autumn or just before bud burst in early Spring. Select vigorous healthy shoots grown in the current year. Remove soft growth, cut into sections 15-30 cm – a sloping cut above a bud at the top – cut straight across the cutting bottom, below a bud. Dip this end into hormone rooting powder / gel, which will promote rooting and protect against rotting. Cuttings can go into a prepared slit in the ground ( shaded in Summer) or a pot. Two thirds of cutting below the surface, with a layer of river sand at the base. Cuttings should be left until the following Autumn and hopefully you will have a number of well grown beginnings of Shrubs and trees. This is the perfect time to select cuttings for future hedging projects – Buxus (Box), Corokia, Sarcococca, Hebe, Viburnum, Conifers, Lavender (choose Lavender hardwood that has not flowered)
Still pruning Roses here, as weather allows. Having to take quite a few old branches right out at a low bud on some bushes that have served the garden well for many years – hopefully they will push out new fresh growth. While pruning I enjoyed the presence of the fragrant Winter flowering Shrubs – Winter sweet, Daphne Bholua, Witchhazel, Sarcococca (sweet box) – It is so pleasing to catch these perfumes while moving about the garden.
Bulbs: of every sort are pushing through sodden cold ground, reminding us this bleakness will be over soon. All bulbs store food within the bulb and if fed extra nutrients now, it will be put into leaf growth – not the flower. Only feed bulbs after flowering.
Frost cloth: has been a must in the last two weeks on potted seedlings I plan to bring through this Winter for early Spring flowering. Take saucers from under all pots to stop roots sitting in frozen water.
Broad Beans are not every ones favourite, but is one veg you can plant now without the problem of aphids and rust. Some trivia: The Broad Bean was domesticated in about 3000 BC. Egyptians, Romans and Greeks all cultivated Broad Beans for their good source of protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, potassium and iron.
Beetroot can also be planted now – it will grow slowly and baby Beets should be ready during Spring.
Fruit frozen from last Summer – Gooseberries, Peaches, Apricots, Blackcurrants and Plums, have all featured in Winter pudding cookups here with the Children during the holidays. There should be a great choice of bare rooted Fruit trees in Garden Centres now – ready for planting. All Fruit trees need a sunny location and shaping starts as soon as they are planted. Height can be reduced from a leader branch, to encourage side branching – allowing light and sun onto fruit. Unnecessary height on a tree will create leaf shade on lower branches – resulting in fruit on unreachable top branches.
Cheers, Linda Wilson – Rockvale Gardens

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