This week our warm autumn temperatures have dropped considerably, and after all of the leaves have been picked up, it is time to start thinking about the winter work. Some gardeners cut back their perennials now, others leave them until spring. If you live in a colder climate the second option is preferable as the remaining foliage will give the crown of the plant protection from the winter frosts.
Photo 1: Cleaning up the autumn leaves is so easy. M. Long.
If you are planting trees this winter, I would highly recommend a peach tree which gave us an excellent crop of juicy, flavoursome fruit this Feb ─ March. It is the dwarf peach tree ‘Garden Lady’. Freestone and well protected from birds, as you can see in photos on Google. This year, when it developed a bit of curly leaf, those parts were cut out, the fruits thinned so that the remaining fruits could develop adequately, and an excellent result ensued. I highly recommend this tree for smaller spaces.
Photo 2: Part of this year’s crop. M. Long.
I have written about our live willow fences in previous newsletters, including the last one. I have since had some information from Mike Lilian, the willow weaver, about a new willow pest, and thought that the information was worth putting in this month’s Writings.
“Are you aware that a new pest has arrived in NZ – the Giant Willow Aphid …. It was found in Auckland in 2013 and now it is ravaging willows throughout the country…it has no natural predators and is causing wasp populations to explode because of the honey dew that the aphid exudes during its feasting on willow sap. The aphids gather in masses along the stem of the willow from the base upwards, and are easy to locate with the naked eye. It is a big problem here with my basket willows, but I am keeping on top of it [ just ] by inspecting my 2000 willows every 3 days – armed with fly spray [ ! ] and wiping out clumps of infestations before they become plague-like. Here is a wee video clip explaining it…. It should be easy to eliminate on your willow fences because you have so few of them…fly spray works very well and very quickly www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/rural-delivery/episodes/s2016/e11.
“I am not too worried about the willow aphid……because I have a small enough number of willows that I can fight it off effectively…but it adds a lot of ‘ maintenance time ‘ to the annual work-load. But the aphid is going to be a big social problem throughout NZ for a few years yet, because it is already swarming over the willows on riverbanks, farms…in city and country. This will cause die-back, and also massively increase the wasp population, which feeds on the honey dew that the aphids secrete. This in turn is frightening commercial beekeepers as they lose hives to the wasps.”
A favourite occupation during the approaching winter months is reading. I enjoy “Tales of Old Time Gardening” by M. Patricia Collard with a Foreword by the late Sir Ilay Campbell BT. This is a light and informative read written by Patricia Collard of Argyllshire in Scotland in the 1990s. The book covers the period from Patricia’s childhood (she was born around 1910) to the 1990s when she wrote articles for the local Argyllshire Advertiser, otherwise known as “Squeak”. Much of her learning came from ”Peach” who was the family’s Head Gardener during Patricia’s childhood. As Sir Islay Campbell says in his Foreword “…”what she wrote was much less, but in other ways so much more than that. Banished are horticultural jargon, and self-satisfied theorising aimed at demonstrating the deep learning of the writer. Instead here are simple rules, easily understood by even the totally inexperienced, derived from a lifelong love affair with plants.”
I visited the late Sir Islay Campbell’s garden Crarae in 1992. What a treasure it was. Crarae is now managed by the National Trust of Scotland. You can read the website, and there are good images available.
Another fascinating read is “Plantsmen on Plants”, an Anthology in Memory of Barbara White, compiled and edited by Richard Bird. This book was first published by the British Hardy Plant Society in 1990. Barbara White, 1907 – 1987, who contributed many years’ hard work to the Society.
Photos 3 and 4: Floral arrangement. M Long.
If all computer plans succeed, I will write from Normandy. If they are unsuccessful, it will be much later in the year that you will hear from me.
Best wishes to you all
Our relaxed country garden started twenty nine years ago. In the early days I had very little gardening experience and no vision for the site, but an interest in plants was quickly developing. Over the years, with much trial and error, a garden has emerged which we and our visitors do enjoy.
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139 Old Tai Tapu Rd, Christchurch 8025, New Zealand
+64 3 3228 061