In his regular column for French News Online "Lifestyle"
Section, professional gardener Mike Alexander, marks the coming
of winter as he tackles his autumn tasks.
The Wellington Boot
- fashion statement? -
Open any gardening magazine at this time of year and out will
drop several brochures advertising the latest "can't live
without" gardening accessories. The one I am most fond of
shows a photo of an extremely debonair looking man leaning against
a gate and regally surveying the world around him. He is clad
in a designer outfit which, if tallied up, comes out at several
hundred Euros worth of chic gardening attire.
Now as far as I am concerned he will remain debonair and chic
looking just as long as he remains leaning against that gate.
Should he venture to doing any gardening then things will quickly
start to go horribly wrong. Soon his comfortable tan work trousers
will be mud splattered and dyed brown at the knees, his all weather
jacket will be attached to several kilometres of brambles while
the outrageously expensive welly boots (they don't call them that)
will have started to leak water and squelch just like my 20 euro
The Wellington Boot
- or an essential accessory! -
Gardening is simply not an occupation for those who put a great
deal of store in their appearance and I strongly advise people
who garden to take an interest in well established designer labels
such as the Salvation Army and Oxfam whose wonderful outlets are
ideal resources for comfortable gardeners' clothing that won't
bust your wallet.
It is a tricky time of year for the poor glossy gardening magazines
with so little visual stimuli in the garden. There are a couple
of real colour boosters though, both in the berry department.
Hollies come into their own now as do those prickly gardener stabbing
pyracantha. Both can be a source of really colourful berries and
some of the hollies make up for a lack of bright fruit with an
eye catching display of variegated foliage.
To get the most out of your pyracantha it is essential to prune
at the right time of year. Both the red berried P. atalantioides
and the yellow P. atlantioides 'Aurea' should be pruned after
flowering in June cutting back shoots but trying to leave as many
berries as possible.
Hollies can be bought either for fruit or for their foliage. For
a great display all year round try Ilex aquifolium 'Golden Queen'.
- 'Golden Queen' -
If on the other hand it is the bright fruit you are after then
you need to remember that most hollies are self sterile and therefore
there needs to be a male plant somewhere in the vicinity if the
female is to carry fruit. The most notable exception is 'J.C.Van
Toll' which is self pollinating.
Your pepiniere ought to be able to tell you which are male and
which are female plants but here in lies the catch. Some of the
hollies with names such as 'Silver Queen' are actually male whilst
'Golden King' is female. (If this is a little confusing try thinking
of Freddy Mercury) This combined with the fact that the genus
ranges from small shrubs to large trees means you need to do a
little research needs before buying.