Strawberries are one of the best things you will ever grow. Easy and rewarding, there are only two main things to keep on top of this time of the year...picking and eating!!!
(May need to net to stop birds and small children getting there first)
They grow in most soil types once well drained and sunny. They benefit from a bit of TLC in the form of good compost over the winter and removing excess runners so the plants have room to grow.
I like to grow different varieties that you buy normally as this is one of the main reason to grow your own fruit and veg. I am currently trying three new varieties, Fenella, Elegance and Hapil. The first two are great, good sized fruit with great flavor...not decided on favorite yet. Hapil is not proving to be so good, fruit is small and not as sweet. More tasting required!!!
I tend to take some runners off healthy plants to replace old plants and start new areas also. My plan is to try some under a cold frame I will build next year to have earlier strawberries and this will be a nice winter project to be looking forward to the summer sun and these red, juicy treasures.
Here is a pic of last nights haul....didn't make it past breakfast!!!
Spring and Summer are finally making an effort. Because of this a lot of hard landscaping has been put on hold. Hope to have more interesting bits and pieces over the next few weeks.
I recently completed my first new patio of the season. Kota blue limestone used. I really like this stone in a bright open area. It is very hard wearing and has lots of different tones to add interest.
In this case bricks that were on site were used to create a boarder around the patio. In set LED spot lights also added.
This time of the year is when trees and hedges are traditionally planted. It has it origins in a time when trees and large plants were mainly grown in fields and moving and planting them could only be done when the plants were dormant.
Nowadays with a lot of developments in growing techniques and after care trees of most sizes can be planted at most times of the year. One of my first jobs when I left college was on a landscaping job where large Lime trees were lifted with a crane over a house to be planted in the month of June!!! (Back in the original boom on Ailesbury Road in Dublin...enough said!!)
This is not the norm and I still favor planting at this time of the year. Its usually a nice job (soil and weather allowing) and its very rewarding to drive by years later and see them develop.
One of the most common problems I come across are poorly chosen and planted trees. The main problem usually is planting a tree which will grow too large for the space in time. You need to think about the size of the tree when it matures and not the day it is planted. A common reply to this is 'we can top it in the future' or 'I'll be dead before that happens'.
Why incur further cost done the line, spending money on tree surgeons etc when if the right species is selected and right spacing's trees can be enjoyed for many lifetimes. I always spend a good bit of time accessing a site beforehand to make sure we get this right. Mark out the proposed location and look from lots of locations, windows, patios, roads etc. Try your best to imagine what effect it may have on light if planted on southern and western sides of your garden. (use existing trees as a guide, visit parks etc to see the species fully mature)
Another big problem is choosing a tree that will not grow well in your soil or location. Look around and see what is growing well. For example,if you live in a wet and windy hill side there is not much point in planting big parkland beech trees for instance. Work with nature. Plant smaller species that like these conditions like willow, alder, field maple etc. Plant them as very young trees so you wouldn't be trying to take stake large sail like trees.
Once your happy with your choice then planting is the next big job. Its worth taking your time and doing as good as job as possible....you only get to plant it once!!!
Dig the hole to 1.5-2 times as big as the roots of the tree you are planting. Its very important to dig over the base and sides of the hole. In wet soils the action of the spade can cause the side of the planting hole to glaze over and the young roots struggle to break through this. Place the tree in the hole, make sure it is not planted too high or low and backfill. Avoid stomping around too much on the new soil as this will make it harder for the tree to root. Don't add any compost or fertilizer at this stage. Personally if you have chosen the right tree and for your conditions these are not needed. Think of it this way, the tree may live for 50 years what is a barrow of compost going to do over this time but if the soil suits the tree then all is fine. The new tree needs to have a stake on the wind ward side and appropriate tree tie. Things to watch out for include have a strong tie but check regularly and remove fully as soon as possible (year two onwards) and don't stake too high as this will not support the roots.
This is just a small overview and is a topic I will cover again. Over time I hope to have a good library of information on lots of topics and will be a good reference as you start your gardening adventures. In the mean time if you want any help with tree selection and advice feel free to contact us.
It's a new year and a new set of gardens are working their way from the drawing board to reality. Its one of my favorite times of the year for a few reasons.
Mud, bad weather, wet gloves, short days who wouldn't love it.
But it is really as some of my favorite work is seasonal and needs to be done now. I will soon be pruning a lot of fruit trees for different clients. This is always a rewarding job (most times) as you get to see the same trees grow and develop and change based on what pruning you do. I will do a blog on this and the basics some day and I love teaching people in their own garden also this great skill.
Also this time of the year is when I do all my hedge and tree planting. Over the years I have planted thousands of meters of different hedges and hundreds of trees. Most of these will outlive me hopefully and I take great pride in planning the right species and site for all these. Think of the countryside without hedgerows and trees, thing of those that are just in the perfect location. A large oak tree in the middle of a buttercup field, a beautiful cherry tree as a park standard or an elegant white flowed whitethorn perched at the cross roads. Too often these important parts of our gardens and landscape are badly planned and maintained. Little by little we can change this. This is a subject I am very passionate about but this blog might not be the place to solve it right now...in time!!!
Its great also to be planning new gardens and I have a few great projects for this Spring. I'll keep you updated and see what else 2018 holds in store.
One of my favourite and a very popular stone with clients.
I have just finished my last patio of 2017 using this black limestone paving in a mix of sizes. It works well in a lot of different style gardens and weather very well in the Irish climate. It is hard wearing and very easy to maintain. I also seal a lot of these patios and it really brings out the colour of the stone. That's a job for the dry days of Spring and I will provide updates on this at that time.
In 2018 as I do different patios I will update here about the different slabs I use. In the mean time have a look in the Outdoor Dining section for full selection of past patios.
This is my new garden project which I will be starting on this week in Clonmel. I was asked to design a new cleaner garden for this new client as their decking was looking a bit tired and needs a lift. Check back over the next few weeks to see this garden progression.
This project has come along well even in the bad weather. A new smaller hardwood deck has been installed. I am waiting on some details for the handrail and this will be done. I will then post a full close up of the deck and the key features vs traditional softwood decking.
A new patio was added. This garden slopes sharply from the house so alot of filling was needed to make a level base for the patio. This looks a bit ugly right now as you can see the exposed sides but once we get dry weather this will be landscaped further with combination of lawn and planting.
Alot done ...still more to do. Big change from day one though. If you want to see more before and afters have a look in the Garden Construction page or click on the pic below.