Winter Damage #2

I don?t think I made it clear about clearing away leaves: you do have to get some of those matted leaves off?areas that have bulbs in them. I found using a stick to lift them carefully off the struggling bulbs beneath worked really well. Anything that?s loose can be left that way because the worms will deal with them eventually.

I was out and about yesterday, walking in an area of gardenpridefulness: Gardens scraped clean of every leaf, huge bags left out for the city. Oh dear, oh dear. There?s still going to be cold weather, the soil still needs to be protected and this doesn?t do anything for the health of the garden. Though it might help the gardener feel like doing so draws spring closer and closer.

?It?s much better to be out pruning dead stuff out of clumpy shrubs. Have a look a the shape of any shrub,go at it very carefully only removing the dead stuff at first. Then when you?ve got your confidence up (these are learning curves every year), start pruning for shape.?

This is not easy: you can?t take out more than one third of the stalks or branches of a shrub without harming it.?And it?s best to figure out if it?s a shrub that blooms on new or old wood. If you?ve got shrubs that look like they need a hair cut, google each one to find out which category it?s in. If it blooms on new wood, you can prune now; if it blooms on old wood leave it until after blooming. Thenhave a go at it.

I?ve said this before: I?m chicken when it comes to Japanese maples. It?s not that they are fussy or anything. It?s mainly that a Japanese maple pruned by an expert looksso much better than anything I can do. I leave it for my guy Derek Welsh, who is a trained arbourist.?Even so, he only does it every two years.

More tomorrow: today I?m spending 11 hours at the Princess of Wales Theatre watching both halves of Nicholas Nickleby. This is my favourite Dickens? novel and I spent my winter rereading it. I am about as excited as going to the Ring Cycle which means thrilled, nervous, excited. Out of my mind.