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04 Jul 2022

Green Fingers: It has been all go since the start of the year

Green Fingers: It has been all go since the start of the year

Mahonias are very low maintenance shrubs but a small amount of attention will ensure that they perform to the best Picture: Pixabay

AS we start the new year so too do we start again with the garden.
Already I can see in our garden Snowdrops leaves beginning to peep above the surface. These flowers, which grow from bulbs, begin to flower around the middle of January and will remain in flower for several weeks. These will then shortly be followed by Crocus, daffodils, and Tulips. If all these spring flowering bulbs are chosen carefully you can have bulbs flowering in your garden for 10 months of the year. This is the approach we have taken in our garden.
The flower bed that surrounds our patio is planted with various bulbs. The idea being to provide us with colour with as much of the year as possible. As it is, there are only a few short weeks in which we don’t have colour. Another plant that is in flower this month is our Mahonia. This plant is also brilliant at providing winter food to pollinators.
Mahonia are evergreen shrubs and most, but not all, are fully hardy in Ireland tolerating cold as far down as -15°C. The more common varieties such as Mahonia media 'Charity' grow to a height and spread of 2m / 6ft but there are smaller varieties, some even being described as ground cover. Sometimes called Oregon Grape. Yellow flowers are produced in November to February / March often followed by black berries.
Mahonia’s prefer partial to full shade, by nature they are adapted to woodland conditions and grow well in a variety of soil conditions including clay, chalk and even sand. When grown in open ground they only require watering in extremely dry conditions. Mahonia tolerate neglect well mainly because their nutrient requirements are low and they grow well with minimal pruning. Most produce attractive flowers, - especially the variety Mahonia x Charity.
Mahonias are very low maintenance shrubs but a small amount of attention will ensure that they perform to the best of their abilities. The following care plan will help them do just that:
An annual mulch with well-rotted garden compost in September will keep weeds down and help prevent the ground freezing in winter. Mahonia should not be fed nitrogen rich fertilisers, they don't respond well to that. But they will appreciate a feed in April with a handful of slow-release fertiliser scattered around them and gently worked into the ground. Established Mahonias should only be watered in very dry periods.
It is always great when my readers reach out to ask a question or share photos of their own gardens and projects. And I do feel bad if I can’t always find the time to respond to each correspondence. With this in mind I’m excited to announce that I will again be delivering a series of evening gardening classes with Crescent College, Dooradoyle Road, Limerick. These adult classes are covering a range of topics from choosing the best trees and shrubs, landscape design and fruit and veg production. Classes are scheduled to start on January 24 and places are limited.
To book a class please phone : 061 302354 or logon to : www.crescentsj.com/adult- education . All Government COVID measure are being followed.

Contact James
james.vaughan1020@gmail.com

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