So the presents were opened, the Christmas dinner was eaten, the Christmas films were watched, the walks taken, the sofa snuggled in and now it is all over for another year and the whole of 2019 stretches ahead.
Here at the walled garden we are focusing on clearing and cleaning. All the glasshouses need a darn good clean to help get rid of any lurking unwelcome bugs. A good wash with horticultural soap, Jeyes Fluid or a sulphur candle are all ways in which you can clean your greenhouse. We’ll also take the opportunity to give all our terracotta pots a bit of a scrub. It’s hard work and when it’s old it can be murder on the hands but it is both worthwhile and important.
There are more and more non-native insects coming into Britain in various ways and they have no natural predators. We’ve probably all seen Red lily beetle and it’s disgusting offspring by now as well as Horse chestnut leaf miner. Less visible up here and if at all possible even less welcome would be Oak processionary moth a real threat to our native oaks, entrenched down south and heading our way.
Now more than ever we are really thinking about plant hygiene and the threat of pests to the Garden. We stopped accepting plant donations about four year ago after a disastrous winter where we had to dispose of everything in the Orchid House after a pathogen from a donated plant infected everything. We also no longer accept donated plant pots for the same reason although that of course is the subject for a whole different column on plastic and how we all deal with it. Good news, nurseries are starting to act and black pots will hopefully become extinct!
So what can we all do at home? Well a few tips: only buy plants and seeds from reputable providers or UK nurseries (which hopefully amounts to the same thing). Personal garden disclosure here, we get all our plants from UK nurseries and we plan to propagate more of our own plants in the coming year. Check plants you buy carefully and reject any that look sick. If you must buy them, keep them in a quarantine area away from your garden for at least six weeks. And please, please, please don’t bring anything back from abroad in your bag. It really does matter; even if it looks ok. A lot of the bugs are miniscule and just not visible with the naked eye. But get them under a magnifying lens and it’s like some sort of dog eat dog Armageddon in there.
So if you make one new year’s resolution make it to buy gorgeous healthy plants and seeds and have a beautiful garden. It’s the perfect time to put your feet up with a seed catalogue so make your plans and purchases now for a colourful and pest-free 2019. Happy new year to you all.
Tricia Harris January 2019