Home Ground

Now to state the obvious, another week over and another week nearer to Christmas. I hope that you have enjoyed some days outdoors, and by that I mean in the garden and not walking up and down the main shopping streets. The shopping can wait but the garden cannot.

No doubt you will get a poinsettia or two for the Christmas, because as I pointed out briefly last week they and other pot plants make great gifts.

The trick with having good pot plants is in their care. Water in a saucer from the bottom, not the top. Of course the compost at the top of the pot is going to look dry, usually as a result of being in centrally heated rooms, etc, but remember that the roots are at the bottom of the pot, therefore that is where your watering should be directed. I find that filling the plant saucer up with water and sitting the pot in it for 20 minutes or half an hour every 10 days is more than sufficient. No swimming lessons please! Azaleas are an exception to the watering rule as they tend to need water every second day. More plants are killed by over-watering than by under-watering. This makes the saying killing with kindness very appropriate.

The Christmas season can be particularly hard on our pot plants as we tend to be so preoccupied with the visitors, church services, etc, that we forget about our plants. Remember that long after the visitors have gone home our plants will still be living with us, so look after their needs also please.

Keep plants out of draughts and for the reason mentioned above away from radiators/central heating. Mist the foliage twice or three times a week in order to prevent foliage drying out.

Feeding is important during the growing season. So many people forget to feed their plants but never themselves. I wonder why this is?

It is a bad idea to leave pot plants on the window sill at night as the cold night air tends to burn them. All you need do in order to save your plants from shivering is to leave them on the draining board or on the table at night rather than on the sill.

Office plants need much the same conditions as any indoor plants in the home, namely reasonable light, fresh air (ie, no extremes in temperature ) and as mentioned careful attention to watering.

In many ways pot plants are much like ourselves, demanding some regular attention and plenty of tender loving care. During the fast approaching season of goodwill to all, it is not too much to ask really. Is it?

Happy gardening!

Anne.

Garden checklist

• Continue planting bare-rooted trees and shrubs.

• Trim roses in order to prevent their being damaged in the wind. Full pruning can be carried out in February.

• Store wooden garden furniture indoors for the winter.

• Prune fruit trees and fruit bushes. Not plums however. Prune these in early summer.

• Digging is a great form of exercise so what better time of year than this to start exercising! Get digging!

• Divide rhubarb stools.

• Prune and shape deciduous trees, where required.

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