This week on the Tommy Marren show, Paraic talks about how you can include your garden as part of your lifestyle, what you can do this time of the year in the garden and answers listeners’ questions.
Are you thinking of changing the design of your garden? Lately there has been a move from the traditional lawn garden to the idea of what functions this space can do for me. During his garden design consultations, Paraic has been asking people to think what do you want to use your garden for? Is it fun, entertainment, outdoor cooking or for family time? Some people may think that the weather in Ireland is not suitable for such a garden but Paraic reminds us that the Irish climate is actually quiet mild. Areas such as a BBQ or lounge area can be designed in a covered and sheltered location to keep the dampness out. Older people may want to add in low-maintenance raised beds and if you have young children you may want to use artificial grass for a year round low maintenance and groomed looking lawn.
Gerry asks about the cost of such a design but Paraic suggests that traditional lawn gardens are also costly as there are the regular lawn treatments, regular lawn feeds and hedging costs. This concept is not just for new gardens, it can be a great way to see the possibilities in your existing outdoor space. Paraic uses digital photography to show people what their garden could look like. He can add the trees & plants to the digital picture to help people see what could be and offer his expert advice in a visual way. Call the Castlebar Garden Centre on 094 9031435 for more information.
What can we do in the Garden now?
We have had a good autumn and many of the plants we associate with spring have already come into bloom. Pansies, primroses, crocus and small daffodils are perfect for planting now for colour in bed, borders, pots and containers. The soil conditions are ideal planting trees, shrubs, fruiting plants and fruit trees. This allows the roots to develop and form a good base. Now is the time to get your garden ready for summer, lightly prune your summer flowering plants, such as hydrangea, pear trees, gooseberries, etc. Paraic recommends treating your lawn moss on the next dry day with Zero Lawn Liquid and also giving your lawn a trim but keeping your lawn mower blades raised slightly. There is no need to feed your trees, plants or lawn until the 2nd or 3rd of March when they are reaching their maximum growing period.
This is also a good time for planting and pruning hedging plants. Beech and Laurel hedging are excellent options. Coastal areas are more exposed and need more salt tolerant plants and shrubs but for coastal areas Paraic suggests using sea side hedging such as Silver Edge or Elaeagnus.
There are lots of things to be doing in your garden at this time of year. Now is a great time to start planting your asparagus, and Paraic recommends the Pacific Blue variety. They have to be left in the soil originally for 2 years before you can harvest them, and then every March after. They require free draining and well fertilised rich soil.
This time of year is perfect for planting onions as well. There are several different varieties to choose from such as radar onions as well as the very large and tasty Bedfordshire Champion.They should be grown inside until their stems reach 4-5 inches in length, then transplanted outdoors in March to be harvested in July.
Pruning is also very important at this time of year. Summer flowering rose bushes and shrubs should be pruned back now and then coated with a winter wash. This wash is used to cleanse the plants as well as getting rid of any unwanted pests before the summer.
Now is the right time to treat your lawn for moss. Paraic recommends Zero lawn treatment as opposed to traditional Iron Sulphate treatments. Zero is a water based treatment that can be easily applied. Iron Sulphate treatment comes as a powder and can be difficult to mix correctly. It can also stain your lawn, so for ease of use and functionality, Zero treatment is the preferred choice.
To stop dogs fouling on your lawn, there are many different “scent off” treatments that will deter dogs from using a particular area, but if the problem is consistent you may need to install fencing to keep the offenders out. Strangely enough, empty seven up bottles left on a lawn seem to have a deterrent effect, but if it works, it works.
If your garden has a bit of a slope to it Paraic recommends Alpine shrubs such as the Silver edge or Phormium Alpine varieties. These alpine plants give a carpeted effect when they are planted in groups of three to five. They are also perennial so they will give you many years of lovely colour in your garden.
There are several different varieties of potatoes that can be planted at this time of year as well. The Setanta, Colleen and Orla varieties provide us with lovely flowery potatoes which are always a favourite for our Irish palettes. They can be seeded and planted around now and then harvested during the summer.
For more information, tune into Séan O Rourke on Radio one this Thursday to hear more top tips from Paraic about your garden.