November at The Reigate Garden Centre Plant Department
Plant of the Month
Key Plant Benefits
• Easy to grow-they thrive in most conditions, including both sun & shade.
• Grow in a wide range of soil conditions.
• Resilient and relatively pest free
• Mahonias were named after a Philadelphian horticulturalist, Bernard McMahon who introduced the genus (Mahonia aquilfolium or Oregon Grape from material collected by the Lewis & Clark expedition in 1804-1806.
• There are around 70 species of Mahonia originating from North America, Central America, Asia & the Himalayas.
• Mahonias make and effective intruder deterrent with there spiky foliage. They are also ideal for use as screening plants due to the thick nature of their foliage.
• After flowering, Mahonia produce blue-black berries which are edible and packed with vitamin C, but beware they have a sharp flavour. These berries can also be used in wine making.
• From late autumn through to the winter, Mahonias will produce bright yellow faintly scented flowers that appear above long evergreen pinnate leaves.
• Some varieties, such as Mahonia x media Charity & Mahonia japonica are capable of reaching heights of between 2-2.5m whilst Mahonia aquilfolium will not bet much above 0.9m although this is one of the hardiest varieties.
• Mahonias are generally fairly pest free. However they can occasionally suffer from powdery mildew and rust, both of which can be treated with a recommended fungicide.
In Your Garden
Many trees and plants shed their leaves in winter. This makes the evergreens stand out even more. Conifers, bush ivy and bamboos provide an attractive green oasis in your garden. If you find that your garden has too little greenery in the winter? Then plant evergreens now for year round interest.
Second round for pots
The summer months are over, and so the patio containers and pots ideally should be moved indoors if space permits. If you want to make a change this year, then try this:
• You can fill the boxes with fresh soil and hardy plants to provide some colour on your balcony or in the garden.
• You should insulate the box with bubble-wrap in order to prevent the plants from freezing.
• Remember to keep the drainage holes clear so that the water can escape.
• Visit your local garden centre to choose from the wide range of plants to fill your containers and pots: from winter-flowering heather to Skimmia and ivy.
Established roses can be shortened back at this time of year to prevent the long stems causing the plant to rock in the winter winds.
As herbaceous perennials die down all the dead foliage can be cleared away and composted, provided it is not disease.
Beeches are best planted and replanted when the leaves have gone golden yellow. That is when the chance of good development is greatest. It is crucial for that development that a particular soil fungus is attached to the roots. So make sure that you buy beeches when they are still (entrenched) in the soil. That offers the greatest likelihood that the roots are in good condition (and that fungus is present).
Roses which are supplied with bare roots are planted both in early spring and in November.
• There are some herbaceous perennials which are not tough enough to survive our winters outdoors because they originate from milder climate zones.
• We need to protect tender plants against too much cold damp, soil which remains wet for too long and temperatures which are too low.
• Here are some examples: cultivars from the Chrysanthemum Maximum Group, Helianthus, Acanthus, Lavatera, Lithodora, Gunnera and Agapanthus. This list is not complete and it is best to refer to the plant label for information.
• A layer of straw helps, or covering with garden fleece and then removing it again when the temperatures climb a little.
• Good drainage is also important. Many plants can rot in soil which is cold and wet for an extended period, even though they might tolerate lower air temperatures for a short while. Glass or acrylic sheets are sometimes placed over sensitive rockery plants.
Ice preventer in the pond
• If the pond freezes over and remains frozen for some time, gas which is released from the muddy bottom can collect under the ice. At the same time the oxygen-rich air in the water is gradually used up. This can create an unhealthy situation for the plants and animals which spend the winter just above the bottom of the pond.
• You can easily avoid this by placing an ice preventer in the pond to ensure a good gas exchange with the outdoor air.
Winter protection for standard roses
Many standard roses have two budding (graft) points: one just above the roots which is protected from frost by a covering layer of soil, and one at the top where the (flower-bearing) branches attach. Ideally a pull black plastic bag (with holes) over the crown and tie around the trunk.