07 March 2012

And Another Thing

The final hedging item of the season. Any minute now I'm going to plant a hedge, having collected fifty hornbeam 'sixty-eighties' from Dave Stanley at Uppingham Market last week (they've been heeled in). He excels in being glum but even he was twinkling slightly in the watery sunshine of early spring. Or late winter. When I mentioned to the deputy head gardener at Brooke Hall about a month ago that I was planning to put in a bare root hedge there was a sharp intake of breath and a warning that it must be done within a week. She almost shrieked when I told her the other day that I hadn't planted them out yet, or even received them.

At the weekend I did some emergency work on roses and I felt very proud and organised. Mentioning my good deeds to a couple of people later, they looked astonished and said in unison, 'I want to prune my roses but I thought it was too late! Are you sure it's okay?' I hadn't given this much thought but my roses were all over the place and causing health and safety concerns so I pruned them and - it's still winter. We went to see The Nutcracker on Sunday, if proof were needed.

David Austin's catalogue advises that for winter pruning, 'January and February is the best time.' Except in colder areas in which case: wait. Thankfully, this is not an RHS written exam so the answer to worried people is, 'Yes, it's okay.' And the head gardener at Brooke Hall hasn't done his yet.

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