Ants in the Garden

Are ants in the garden bad?

The good and bad news about ants and plants. Just as a weed is a plant growing in the wrong place, insects in the wrong place are pests.

Ants play a very important role in the ecology of your garden for good and for not so good…Ants are predator and prey since they eat the eggs of many insects and serve as food for birds, lizards, and other beneficials. Their tunnels aerate the soil and allow water and nutrients to flow directly to the plant roots. They also distribute seeds by storing them in their tunnels.

The caterpillars of some butter­fly groups – read more on Blog page

What to do in the January Garden

Some tasks you could do or might do now:

  1. Start with a plan.Do your best to source organically produced seed, free from environmentally disruptive chemicals such as neonics that have been linked with the decline of pollinating insects.. Use peat-free seed compost, try Klassman Organic Seed Compost available from Fruithill Farm.
  2. Early in the month, sow onion seed in an indoor propagator.Pot on autumn-sown sweet peas and place on a sunny windowsill. Pinch out if becoming leggy.Chilli and aubergine are slow growers, so order them this month for an early start. A heated propagator is another really useful tool that I’d also highly recommend.Take hardwood cuttings from deciduous and ever green shrubs, such as forsythia, willow and viburnum.
  3. Clear away soggy, collapsed stems of perennials and compost them  –  plants like sedum be careful of any new growth.Move dormant plants that are in the wrong place to more suitable sites.Check tree and shrub stakes to make sure that any ties are secure but not causing damage by rubbing. Bare rooted trees and shrubs can be planted, but not if the soil is frozen, keep a check on watering.
  4. Check dahalia and cana tubers to make sure they are not drying out.Check that small alpines don’t become smothered by fallen leaves and other wind-blown debris
  5. Pruning whatever the plant, you should always start by removing dead, dying or damaged branches.Don’t prune early flowering clematis  and shrubs now, or you won’t get any flowers.It is best to leave shrubs such as hydrangeas and buddleia until late winter.Apple and pear trees can be cut back in winter, cutting no more than 20 per cent off all over — so that regrowth is even pruning stimulates new growth.Prune blackcurrants, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework. You can use pruning as hard wood cuttings to make new shrubs. Don’t prune plumb or other stone fruit trees, until late spring.

Gardening in December

Now for some task you could do:

  1. Take an inventory of tools and equipment that you need for next year. Add them to your Christmas list! How about an Osslating hoe,to save your back when weeding? Have some in stock.
  2. Finish off cutting back herbaceous plants and apply a mulch of compost / manure sealing in what ever heat is left, and protecting the soil from weathering.
  3. Bulbs are beginning to emerge now a good reason to finish off any clearing and weeding.Plant tulip bulbs, provided the ground isn’t frozen and waterlogged.
  4. Plant bare-rooted hedges, trees, shrubs and also native hedges  especially hawthorn-Crataegus monogyna  to encourage wildlife and create attractive boundaries around your garden.Blending it with species such as field maple, hazel, spindle, buckthorn, wild rose and viburnum make for tough and variated hedging. Planting two-foot high saplings a 30 cm apart will provide a fine hedge within four years. Since many are woodland species, they thrive in creating a thick wall of foliage as they vie for light.A wildlife fruiting hedge with crab apple, wild pear and guelder rose. A flowering hedge, with berberis, forsythia, fuchsia, ribes, hydrangea and philadelphus.
  5. Good time if you need to move young deciduous and evergreen shrubs as long as they’re not too large and the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen.  Pre-dig the new planting hole before digging up plants to make the transplanting process as quick as possible and protect the roots from drying out.
  6. If you leave your dahlias in the ground , cover with an extra layer of mulch. If you don’t have any compost or mulch cover with a layer of leaves. Peonies don’t like their crowns covered as it prevents flowering.Baby slugs love to eat emerging shoots, so pull back the mulch in early spring.
  7. Take hardwood cuttings of dormant shrubs and fruit bushes.
  8. Sow antirrhinums (Snapdragons)in a cool greenhouse now for early flowering in the summer.These make great cut flowers.
  9. Protect your poinsettias from cold draughts and allow them to dry out slightly between waterings to make them last for the whole Christmas period and well into January. My last years plant is still thriving.
  10. Bird feeders give them a good cleaning and try and make them squirrel proof. Don’t forget to have water available for all visiting creatures.

Top 5 Gardening Tips for March

Top 5 tips for March

Fleece covering pelargoniums

1.  Pot on seeds now ready, those with true leaves about two whorls high into a potting mix which will give them nourishment.Such as found in John Inns no 2 Also lots more seeds to be sown now, check your existing seed packets and sow what you want and can.

2. Divide clumps of Galanthus sub. ( snowdrops) and place in an area where you wished they were and also will not be disturbed when dormant.You can still divide clumps of perennials and most importantly cut back grasses before they really take off with growth which would make it extremely  difficult later on.

3. Keep hoeing paths and beds with an Osslating Hoe ( I have some here for sale) my favorite  tool .By doing this you are preventing weed development, also churning slug eggs to the surface making a delicious meal for birds. Also check to see if you have frog spawn in buckets ponds etc and treasure it. Frogs are very  beneficial in a garden.

4.Cut grass if dry. If the ground is wet wait as a heavy lawn mower will form ruts and compaction. If you have a lawn with obvious edges ( unlike mine ) consider a robot lawn mower lovely and light.

5.Keep an eye on the weather,protect vunerable plants with fleece or straw, especially  tree ferns. Potted plants group together and  shelter. Also it can be drier than you realise so check potted plants for watering, even though they don’t need much water, growth is about to begin so demand will increase.

February 2019

5 things to do in February

1. Cut back orHelleborous namental grasses  such as Stipa gigantia, Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’  Grasses such as Stipa tenuissima – Pony Tail grass, Stipa arundinacea better to pull your fingers through and remove spent fronds.Better to wait until the soil warms up before dividing clumps of grasses and there is better new growth.

2.Prune apple  and pear trees whilst they’re still dormant. Leave plum , cherry and apricot trees until the early summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make them susceptible to Silver Leaf disease.As soon as they start to open their leaves, good time to prune as their sap is now beginning to rise.

3  Plant bear rooted trees and roses .I prefer to plant my roses when in flower so that I am sure I have what I want – labels can get mixed up.Planting bear rooted trees often allows you get great value, also good root /soil connection. Using a Mycorrhizal fungi can also add dividens creating that bridge between root and soil.

4 Check out all the fabulous scented shrubs now such as Daphne, Viburnum x bodnantense, Witch Hazel – Hamamelis x intermedia and Wintersweet Chimonanthus praecox.

If you have these shrubs already once  they have finished flowering ,carry out a light pruning.

5 As the weather has been very mild,the soil is not too cold — well here in Dalkey. If you haven’t mulched do so immediately. You can use piles of leaves. shredded compost, manure, and compost such as Enrich.This acts like a blanket, surpasses weeds, protects the soil structure and also if we have a drought again next summer you will be glad you have done this, as it will act as a water retentive sponge in your soil.

Fleece covering pelargoniumsAt the moment growth is very much ahead of itself, I would advise not to be complacent, remember St Patricks day last year  —   snow.

There is lots more to do but I don’t want to frighten you. It is really worth your while to hoe weeds now on paths and hand weed between your bulbs.One more thing, if you are lucky enough to have clumps of snow drops , you can lift some and replant into positions where you would like to enjoy them in the future.My favourite hoe is the Swiss Osslating one, I have some in stock, if you are looking for one.

Planning, being prepared to take advantage of the weather, knowing what to plant and where and  when you visit a garden centre- a listwill help you to create a garden which will be both pleasing ,beautiful and within your budget.Patrica  Tyrrell is coming to Dalkey Garden School on Saturday 9 February for a day long  Workshop on Plant driven Garden Design. This is nearly booked out so if    you wish to participate reserve your place now Plant Driven Design  

Gardening Classes are also starting now and the next 6 week course will commence on Tuesday 26 /Thursday 28 March with Easter in the middle.

Saturday, March 4. I will be holding a morning workshop on Willow Weaving, such a beautiful material to make garden supports with and more.This is always a popular morning.

Later on in March 23  Klaus Leitenberger will be here, all  the way from North Leitrim. Klaus is the author of several Vegetable Gardening Books based on his experience of growing here in Ireland. This unique opportunity to have such an expert share his knowledge. Vegetable Gardening and Planning  Numbers are limited early booking is recommended.

Gardening Classes

Saturday 26 January.

GI Cooking for Weight Loss and Learn how to Plant your own Veg boxes 10 – 4 pm  with Cathy Soroghan Nutrition and Fitness Training – ‘Women on the run’ and Annmarie Bowring

Sowing SeedsGardening opens up and awakeners an awareness to our environment, the life and beauty it holds for us.

Growing our own food, harvesting our own flowers, sounds of life,  swish of plants, what more could we need!

A healthy vibrant gardens add so much to us, here in Dalkey Garden School we inspire you to be the best you can, to enjoy and see what is all around us.What we do, how we garden does matter.

Classes are open to alland those who want to do more. Enjoyment and sharing  are key and we will be starting on with Tuesday 29 or Thursday 31st January 10 – 1pm.

Happy New Year

Wow, the weather is so mild so if you are like me still have some tidying up in the garden get out now because winter will arrive.

Remember the snow last March ? If you are not lifting your Dahlias, cover with a nice blanket of mulch as deep as you can. Canas, Gingers , Aeonium,lift or if you can add a protective cover,or take cuttings.

Still time to plant tulips and garlic( they like a good cold snap).Have a good look at your garden, look up and check on crossing branches, prune your trees, for shape and protection. Crossing branches can rub each other and cause damage to bark.

I know it is nice to have a tidy garden ,even house but in the garden leave areas for our hibernating friends.

The garden will be opening to visitors in March and our first workshop will be on Saturday 26 January, Cathy Soroghan of Women on the Run will be with me helping us cook healthy meals which will help us with our energy levels, something I am always looking for. I will be showing you how to plant and choose salads, veg for a miniature garden.Hope you can make it and again   HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Annmarie

 

2019 Up Coming Workshops

 Saturday  Workshops 2019

All workshops include materials, light lunch and refreshments.

GI Cooking & Growing a container garden           10 – 4 pm          19 January

with Cathy Sorohan  and Annmarie Bowring

Plant-Driven Design                                                         10 – 4 pm         9 February

with Patrica Tyrrell

Willow weaving                                                                    10 – 1 pm           2 March

with Annmarie Bowring

 Vegetable gardening and planning.                          10 – 4 pm          23 March

with Klaus Laitenberger

Fabric Print with Garden Dies,                                     10 – 4 pm             6 April

with Freda O Dea

              Easter Holidays      Egg Hunting Season 

Planting summer containers                                      10 – 1 pm         27 April

with Annmarie Bowring

Pests and Diseases                                                          10 – 4 pm          4 May

with  Ingrid Foley

Growing Herbs for Food and Nutrition                                         10 – 4 pm             18 May

with Joan Hanrahan   & Annmarie Bowring

Summer propagation                                                     10 – 4 pm             25 May

with Annmarie Bowring

Art in the Garden Botanical Plaster Casting            10 – 4 pm           9 June

with Dee Crofts

Art in the Garden Pen and Ink sketching                 10 – 1 pm          16 June

with Mairead   Byrne

Art in the Garden  Plein Air  Oil Painting            10 – 4 pm        23 June

with Orlagh Murphy.

Art in the garden Willow Sculptor                                      10-4pm             29 June

with Elaine Russell

Food Fermentation                                                     10- 4 pm       28 September

with Gaby and Hans Weiland