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Gardening: Christmas cheer throughout the year

Personal protection should be considered a high property when working with chemicals

Yes, it is that time of the year again, which brings the repeat question - what to buy.

In fact, it is not really a difficult decision when one thinks of the longevity of usefulness and joy a gift could bring. In the garden, quality really does pay off although it must be tempered with the fact that maintaining the item also helps. With that in mind, think of the property in its totality and not in isolation: how big is the lawn? How large the flower beds? How important the hard landscaped areas? Are there favourite areas, which are dominant in the garden?

Is the lawn a “pride and joy”? What would help to keep it in such fine fettle? A new mower perhaps? Such a choice should be dictated by grass type, as fine-leaved grasses are best mown with a reel-bladed mower, while broad-leaved grasses do well with rotary mowers.

Reel-bladed mowers usually have a collecting bin on the front, which should encourage composting of the clippings. Reel mowers, having the ability to control height of cut – more so than rotary types, can create a lawn finish with stripes or boxed effect, a real eye-opener when done correctly. For the lawn enthusiast, consider the purchase of an aerifier or verticutter, which further enhances the appearance of the finished product.

Roses, especially “Bermuda” types are underused and create a beautiful display for long periods. I would suggest roses be used in species; variety on their own from other “shrubs” but underplanted with creeping rosemary or the low-growing purple or white lantana, which when pruned back after flowering, produce new growth and flower several times a year.

Fruiting plants can enhance a garden's interest level when mixed with plants that do not offer interest when a fruit tree is bearing, while still living in harmony with its neighbours. Consider using – in a laid-out plan – a mix of natal plum, Surinam cherry, loquat, Barbados gooseberry, cherimoya, custard apple, guava, strawberry and guava.

Admittedly, these are not found in abundance but in my opinion simply because they are not identified by growers of worthy of production. If requested by Joe Public, that will create a demand.

Plants of course require attention; therefore, tools and equipment are the answer when all else is lost! A well-groomed lawn will require fertilising, with no better way to carry out a controlled programme than to use a broadcast or drop-type spreader, which controls application rate.

Knapsack sprayers, or handheld sprayers for the small garden, are a must in controlling the outburst of pests and diseases. When pruning, the cleaner the cut the less damage inflicted, and with a range of secateurs, hand loppers, telescopic loppers, handsaws and chainsaws, the selection covers all the above.

I am still a great believer in the Dutch hoe. It is so easy to use and, when used correctly, is fast and efficient in its delivery. Lightweight wheelbarrows are a boon when it comes to clean up of foliage and trimmings, especially so if a compost area is delegated to accommodate the product of one’s labours.

Working in the garden is not the cleanest of jobs. However, the availability of protective clothing from goggles to galoshes will ease the burden of staying clean and dry when adverse conditions prevail. The list includes gloves, aprons, earmuffs - when using a chainsaw - boots, waterproof jackets and slacks, back supports for bending and knee pads for groundwork.

Personal protection should be considered a high property when working with chemicals, with a waterproof, outer one-piece suit, goggles, water-resistant gloves and galoshes all essentials. Not the most original Christmas present, but an intelligent choice for keeping healthy and wise when working around toxic chemicals.

The garden can be a centrepiece on any property, especially when maintained to a high standard. It is just as easy to do a good job to start with as the results speak for themselves.

Happy gardening in ‘23.

Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in the United Kingdom. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society

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Published December 21, 2022 at 7:46 am (Updated December 22, 2022 at 8:12 am)

Gardening: Christmas cheer throughout the year

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