To a Mouse
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.
That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
Robert Burns. November, 1785.
By Gordon the Gardener
I took a look at the planters on New Street in Huddersfield town centre, soon to be a ‘garden street.’
The shape of the planters is meant to represent the shape of Kirklees.
There are four in all. The money hasn’t come from Kirklees Council. As I understand it, it’s being paid out of European funds negotiated before we left the European Union. So there’s no cost to local council taxpayers.
Verdicts of the general public were mixed. One couple, who didn’t want to be named, said the plants in them were rather plain, saying some looked like grass and another a Dock.
Christine Breare (below), a former judge for Yorkshire in Bloom, told me she thought it would be nice when it gets established and it was low maintenance.
The 40ft towering planters – said to cost £250,000 – are yet to be planted. They were full of water when I took a look the other day. I know we’ve had a lot of rain but is there a drainage problem?
I doubt the towers will be planted up this winter and the project remains on-going so let’s take a judgment when it’s finished.
It’s November and there’s plenty of tidying up to be doing in the garden. Bonfire weekend is an appropriate time to burn garden waste such as dahlia tops and other vegetation which may harbour pests and diseases.
But please make sure there are no hibernating hedgehogs hiding in the vegetation. Incidentally, I’ve often thought it would be nice if humans could hibernate and wake up in spring!
Leaves can be raked on to the soil in between shrubs where the worms will pull them down – thus increasing the biodiversity providing winter food for our friends, the birds. Fertility of the soil will also be improved. It’s a mistake to rake them off – rake them on.
Tulip bulbs can now be planted, if planting between spring flowering plants such as polyanthus and wallflowers. They are best planted with a large dibber or trowel, twice the depth of the bulb is a good rule to go by.
Wallflowers can be planted from pot grown but, if planting bare-rooted wallflowers, soak the roots in a bucket of water overnight to freshen them up and give them a good start.
There is another way to spring colour. Plant hyacinths 6inch deep to provide a good colour at ground level and tulips can be planted amongst the hyacinths to provide vibrant colour above.
Other bulbs such as blue Muscari and Scilla Siberica can be used for base planting, the list is endless. If you want a really early show, then look no further than Daffodil Tete-a-Tete.
It’s time to think about planting a hedge, which is much more sustainable than fencing.
A hedge can last many more years than a fence, and will support over 500 plant species, 60 species of nesting bird and many hundreds of invertebrates. Almost all our native small mammal species have been recorded as being supported by hedgerows.
A hedge can serve many purposes. It can be knee high with Common Box, which can be used as a border, or it can be tall to provide privacy like Laurel or Photinia Red Robin.
If you want a hedge to provide security then there is Hawthorn. Beech also forms an impenetrable barrier once established.
But if you wish to get tough then Rubus Cockburnianus (above), the white-stemmed bramble, has vicious 10ft aching stems full of thorns that grab hold of you when trying to prune.
They are the bane of the gardener’s life but will deter any burglar. They are easier to plant, however, and 3ft is sufficient to provide an effective barrier to any intruders.
For all other hedgerows a trench a spade depth should be taken out and manure or compost should be forked into the bottom of the trench along with bonemeal.
The whips can be planted in a double row 18in apart. This job can be done from now until late winter.
Finally, Spring will be just around the corner soon so plant for Spring with flowering bulbs. It’s something to look forward to.
READ MORE: Gordon the Gardener writes every month for Huddersfield Hub. Catch up HERE