GARDENING: Bird activity lures us back into the garden

The sudden springing into action of assorted dwarf bulbs, with early sunrise and increasing day-length, has brought welcome relief from dull, windswept days.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 6th March 2020, 12:00 am
Dwarf narcissi
Dwarf narcissi

Bird activity is increasing and it`s just a matter of time before they start collecting the horse`s hair we`ve left out for nesting material. It’s such encouraging signs that entice us into the garden more frequently to prepare for the main take-off in growth.

Such was the case Last week when I enjoyed morning and late afternoon sessions relocating various woody perennials. A `Bramley`s` apple on the M26 rootstock, bought and planted three years ago, now stood just under two metres tall, but alone and in the wrong place. It was dug up with a substantial root-ball and replanted next to some of its kin. Being a triploid variety, it needs

two separate pollinators nearby to secure a crop, so the company of `James Grieve` and `Discovery` along with others in the garden will work wonders. This said, a stand-alone apple will set fruit if the bees are also visiting those in a neighbour`s garden.

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Every late autumn I take hardwood cuttings of shrubs. 30 centimetre-long, pieces of the recent summer`s growth are pushed upright into a spare piece of garden, leaving only the topmost quarter above soil level. They are then practically forgotten for a year or more, which brings us to midwinter and time to harvest them ready for planting elsewhere.

This rewarding activity came last week when sound young plants were allocated to different stations in the borders. First came an embarrassment of the pale pink Ribes `Brocklebankii` (flowering currant). A bush type went into a raised bed near the beech hedge because it`s tolerant of semi-shade, and another trained in standard form was just right for front of the house. Why did I propagate so many? Still it`s an attractive cultivar and perfect foil for Ribes

sanguineum which also resides here.

Two young rugosa roses, `Roseraie de L`Hay,` they root easily outdoors too, were found a spot in full sun and a group of Lonicera `Baggesen`s Gold` were earmarked to make a short hedge/screen when there`s a spare minute!

Why take hardwood cuttings of shrubs and soft fruit bushes, black and redcurrants and gooseberries? Apart from the joy of seeing them take root and develop so quickly, it`s also the prices I see on potted versions at plant outlets.

With grape vines, rather than seeing precious plant material going to waste when hard winter pruning occurs, all lateral stems are reduced to within one bud of the main rod and pieces removed are reduced to 15 centimetres long, ideal for rooting.

Clearly, there`s never enough room to facilitate the product of every propagating spree in your own garden, but there`s no shortage of friends, acquaintances and coffee morning stalls waiting to receive them!