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Gardening

Malcolm Griffiths
ISLAND LIFE COLUMNIST
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  • Gardening: April, a month in transition
    Apr 12, 2016 8:00 am

    Gardening: April, a month in transition

    At an earlier time in history April 1 was recognised as New Year’s Day. It could have caused a problem for the gardening calendar but that fortunately changed in 1582; the present arrangement works well.

    With warmth being palpable and daylight hours longer, it is time to right the wrongs of Mother Nature’s wrath bestowed on us since the early part of the year.

    I have rarely seen such damage by wind and salt as I have this past...

  • Avoid the pitfalls of overplanting
    Mar 15, 2016 8:00 am

    Avoid the pitfalls of overplanting

    Overplanting is not cost-effective, visually or functionally, and is similar to having more furniture than you actually need.

    The difference is the furniture won’t expand and can be sold, however, once a plant is in the ground its growth increase is exponential until it is pruned, which is a cost. Thereafter, the process becomes repetitive — growth, prune — which becomes an exponential cost.

    Planning, selection, installation and...

  • February a month for planning not pruning
    Feb 16, 2016 8:00 am

    February a month for planning not pruning

    February (in the garden) should be cancelled due to lack of interest.

    February is a month to contemplate the reality of what one can do in the garden; it is a month for catching up on jobs that have lingered in the nether parts of the mind, and never surfaced. It is not a good month for planting or pruning; winter weeds still accommodate the soil and can be removed, little growth is produced, flowering is minimal at best.

    Lying...

  • Gardening: small areas can be focal points
    Jan 5, 2016 8:00 am

    Gardening: small areas can be focal points

    Having spent some time in England and Northern Ireland on my last vacation, it became apparent that the “landscape”, in general, is a metaphor encompassing any area that has been “made green”.

    It is similar in many parts of the world with developing projects — be they offices, housing, open plots of land or whatever, the need for a green area is a must; the problem is what type of green area and what is expected of this green area in...

  • ‘Tis season to be thoughtful in one’s giving
    Dec 1, 2015 8:00 am

    ‘Tis season to be thoughtful in one’s giving

    The thought of selecting Christmas presents for friends can be difficult enough, but more than stressful when family members are involved. So where to start and, more especially, where to find such inspiration? For the avid or simply keen gardener, tools, equipment or an unusual plant — as a status symbol especially if you know the botanical name — can be right on target. Personally, I am OK with not receiving a gift, especially if it is not...

  • Autumn means it is time to till and toil
    Oct 13, 2015 8:00 am

    Autumn means it is time to till and toil

    With temperatures starting to go south, it is time to assess the needs of the garden after a mix of climatic conditions during the summer.

    Heavy rains invariably leach out nutrients from the soil and, in combination with the heat of the day, produces abundant growth that lends itself to the need for pruning.

    As there is still enough heat in the air to encourage growth — though shorter daylight hours do have an impact — applying...

  • The winds of change
    Sep 15, 2015 8:00 am

    The winds of change

    The heat goes on and hurricanes can be more prevalent.

    It gives reason to checking the garden for excess growth and pruning accordingly to reduce the potential impact on bushes, and especially trees, and retain a reasonably good branch structure for future growth. Large trees, such as black ebony, poinciana and orchid tree, can be severely damaged. Having large boughs ripped off can reduce the tree to a poor specimen and even subject to...

  • Emerge from the shade and check your garden!
    Aug 4, 2015 8:00 am

    Emerge from the shade and check your garden!

    It’s hot and humid. The best place to be is in the shade sipping on your favourite wine and smelling the roses — stop daydreaming and check out what’s needed to be done in the garden!

    August is usually given to keeping weeds under control, watering as required to keep things ticking over and keeping an eye out for pest and disease problems.

    This is especially important after periods of heavy rain when new growth is lush and the...

  • Counting the costs of design mistakes
    Jul 7, 2015 8:00 am

    Counting the costs of design mistakes

    There is a great propensity for Joe Public to have their garden designed in its totality or simply designed by adding plantings randomly thereafter. The resulting layout does not always create the desired effect. Overplanting is invariably what happens and, when combined with poor maintenance practices, the layout becomes a by-product of the mow and blow and hack and chop syndromes so widely seen.

    A good design should take into...

  • It’s summertime and the living is easy
    Jun 2, 2015 8:00 am

    It’s summertime and the living is easy

    June is a month when the heat and humidity really start to kick in. It has been the custom to “use” a shade tree as a good cover for staying cool, however old trees are more labour intensive to maintain than other forms of shady elements. Except for older properties, gardens of any size are few and far between nowadays. Large properties with the luxury of established trees should have them inspected yearly; a hurricane can cause considerable...

  • The shrub has grown to an intoxicating plant
    May 5, 2015 8:00 am

    The shrub has grown to an intoxicating plant

    In the 17th and 18th century, a shrub could be a beverage of rum or brandy mixed with sugar and the juice of the rind of a citrus fruit.

    How times change, when a shrub is now simply a well-grounded plant that when used creatively — either as a stand-alone subject or in a mass planting — can still produce an intoxicating effect on the observer.

    Shrubs are plants which have numerous stems/branches and not a single trunk as...

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