January 2014


Happy New Year!! Well here we are, all bouncy and ready for a myriad of good deeds, full of extremely good intentions and bursting with plans.  I have great swathes of fruit bushes ready for a good cut back. I really enjoy it as it feels like a great big fresh start and is a good test as to if I can bend over after all the Christmas, birthday and New Year feasts.  I am gagging to get back out there, but first I may need to apologise for my recent absence (I don’t really want to flag it up if you didn’t noticed!). Ever so slightly apt for a gardening company that everything went a little pear shaped at ‘the Plot’ in recent months. Only on the admin front as I was domainless.  I don’t have the wherewithal to go into detail about my dilemma, but happy to say it has gone away, the dilemma that is, and the domain has returned.  For a while back there my email and website didn’t exist anymore, all was very, very quiet.  But crikey didn’t the outdoors make up for the lull within my home. It said storms and it stormed alright! Trees down at All Saints church and the doctors on Church road. Huge ones!  Hope your garden is still standing, if you do need a tree surgeon I can recommend Sam Jones, hes very good. I hope it is less timber yard and more mudfest in your garden so if you are going a bit stir crazy and managed to top up your blood sugars to an all time high you can still get out into the garden and do a bit of raking, digging or just hiding. So let me offer up jobs that can be done this month, please have a look below and let’s go gardening.  My bit of blather in the middle is my traditional ‘where to recycle your real Christmas tree’ bit.  It is my only regular bit of newsletter offering, I have been told it is a useful reminder so it will appear until I hear differently! Finally the days out bit has a few ideas for us all to get out there to wobble off the excess and get back to having fun for free that doesn’t need wrapping up.

clemetisSeasonal Jobs

Bit of rain!  So let’s make sure we have on our waterproofs (button undone for a week or two I thinks!) and waders and lets squelch out there to have a go at some of these gardening jobs:

  • Start cutting back grasses and other perennials that you left for winter interest.
  • Spread any left over compost around the garden and let the worms do the work.
  • If your roses or gooseberries had a visit from sawflies this year then have a light dig around the base of the plant to uncover the lava that is lurking there – leave these little cocoons uncovered and if the cold doesn’t get them then a hungry bird will.
  • This is a great month for getting your lawn mower serviced. Or do a good clean up yourself and replace any blunt blades. The offer is there for me to take it to the guy I use so get in touch.
  • Dig all available ground. As long as there hasn’t been a hard frost and the soil isn’t too wet, dig, dig, dig!
  • Plant your lily bulbs in pots.
  • Clean and sharpen your tools and, if necessary replace some tools. If you are throwing anything out, please let me know as the school gardening project I help run can always do with tools no matter how elderly or broken!!
  • Prune currant bushes by shortening side shoots and remove old stems that are crowding the centre of the bush.
  • Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries back to soil level.
  • Prune your apple and pear trees.
  • Try not to walk on frosty grass as it leaves big black footprints come the thaw.
  • Cut off any blotchy leaves that appear on your hellebores, new healthier ones will soon replace them.
  • Plan and plot your vegetable garden for the coming year, buy in seed and get excited! Whether you have a whole allotment or a few odd patches in a flower border we can provide you with a tailor-made plan so please get in touch.
  • Cover soil in your vegetable garden with black polythene (bin bags do just fine, just pop a brick on each corner to anchor it) this will warm up your soil ready for sowing early veg and salads in the Spring.
  • Start forcing rhubarb – place a large bucket, dust bin or forcing jar over the crown to encourage fresh, pink shoots.
  • Cut back ornamental vines, Ivy, Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy. It’s a good idea to keep them away from windows, doors, gutters and roof tiles. It is much easier to remove live ivy, so try not to cut the base and hope to pull it off once brown.
  • Cut back your wisteria, taking back all side shoots to finger-length. This job does take ages, so it is advisable to take your new iPod/old radio out with you.
  • Order your potatoes and save your egg boxes for chitting them next month. With the potato fairs coming up please let me know if you want me to pick some up for you.
  • Berries, seeds and natural food sources have been exhausted now, so feeding birds becomes more important. It is the big garden bird watch on the 25th and 26th of January so have a look at the RSPB’s website.
  • If, like me, you are itching to sow something, then tomatoes, peppers, onions and sweet pea seeds can all be sown in the green house or on a window sill.
  • Sort out any trees, roses or shrubs that need a winter prune.
  • For any advice or help then please get in touch.

xmas-treeRecycling your Christmas Tree

 This bit is for all of you with real trees out there – I hope it will make your life easier if you are out there looking to dispose of your tree:

Croydon:  From Thursday 2nd until Saturday 11th you can take your tree to The Secret Garden or Sainsbury’s on Whitehorse Lane. For other collection points in Croydon then click here for the Croydon Council website.

Southwark: If you live in Southwark and you are part of the garden waste collection scheme then you can just put your tree out on your collection day and your bin men will take it away, or give them a ring on 0207 525 2000 or email (environment@southwark.gov.uk) and they will arrange a free collection for you. If you like to drive around with a dying tree then you can always pop it in the car and from 6th to 31st January you can take your tree to Belair Park, Peckham Rye Park or have a look at Southwarks website.

Lewisham: Yet again it is Lewisham who have gone all previous with their collection points and have opened them on December 28th, whatever happened to the 12 days of Christmas? So from 28th December until 27th January there will be collection points at Sydenham Wells Park, at the entrance on Wells Park Road and at Mayow Park at the entrance in Mayow Road. For other places in Lewisham click here.  They have made me feel like I’m not doing the best by my tree as on their website they clearly state we can dispose of our ‘unwanted real Christmas trees’ as if I wanted it just a bit more, loved it better and saw its potential I could find a new, happier use for it, maybe dress it in my mothers clothes and prop it in a rocking chair in the attic room?

Bromley: The borough of Bromley scares me!  You have to be very organised to live in Bromley so here we go – trees to the temporary recycling sites on Saturday 11th 11am-4pm or Sunday 12th 8am-12 noon only, if you live in Beckenham then Unicorn Primary school is your nearest site!  Have a look at Bromley’s council website to check their funny times and their seasonal message of prosecution!

Lambeth: If you live in Lambeth and are part of the orange sack recycling then they actually come to your door and take your tree away for you! On the week beginning 6th Jan until 31st Jan just leave your tree with your rubbish on your normal collection day and they take it away….you lucky lucky people! If you aren’t an orange sack person or if you miss the collection day then the nearest collection point is on Streatham Common or Clapham Common. For more information then click here to check out the Lambeth council website.

I’m offering the usual service of collecting and recycling your tree. Email me for details as soon as possible, (or we can do our usual and I will take it away in late July when I just can’t ignore the dead tree rolling around your front lawn any longer!).

Recycle at home: If you have an open fire or a brand new wood burning stove (oh yes Tim!) then why not keep your tree, cut it into bits and use the resin filled branches as firelighters.  You can get a double benefit if you strip the branches of the needles, or save your fingers and let the needles drop off of their own accord by leaving your hacked up tree in a bin bag, then use the dropped needles as mulch for your ericaceous plants, so blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias those sort of fellas.

While you’re in the mood for recycling then grab all your Christmas cards and take them to M&S and chuck them in the Woodland Trust Recycling bins, they’ll be there throughout January. Have a look in the other big shops as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and TK Max usually do this but I can’t find any news on that this year….and I got a bit bored of big corporate websites!

sydenham-woodsDays Out

It is the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch on 25th and 26th and to get in the mood there is a bird walk on Tuesday 14th January in South Norwood Country Park, it is free and starts at 9.30.

Another birdy walk is happening at Hall Place, in Bexley.  From 10am – 2pm on Saturday 25th January.  Even if you don’t fancy a guided tour, Hall Place is a great day out with the topiary worth seeing, especially if we get a smattering of snow!

London Potato Day and Seedy Sunday, is on 26th January at Sydenham School in Forest Hill, it is a joy to shuffle around, trestle table after trestle table of seed potatoes to buy, some favourites and some unusual fellas (spuds and sellers alike).  If you can’t get there and would like me to pick you up some spuds to grow, just let me know.

At 2pm on 26th January Sydenham Hill Wood and Cox’s Walk has a Winter Tree ID walk…..well you can see in my photo!  If you can’t read it then all the info is on the London Wildlife Trust site.

A little way out in Kent is Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest.  It has acres and acres to explore with loads going on.  The reason it gets a special mention this month is that the ‘Stick man Trail’ is running until 30th Jan and based on the childrens book, it sounds really good fun with den making and woodland sounds and making a stick man to take home…..my children are a bit old for this sort of malarkey so any babysitting jobs out there, let me know!!