• Deadhead winter pansies regularly to keep them flowering
  • Collect fallen leaves showing signs of blackspot from around roses
  • Winter prune apple trees
  • Plant bare rooted hedging
  • Dig over vacant areas in the vegetable garden
  • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb
  • Move tender or valuable houseplants away from cold window sills every evening
  • Bring potted strawberries under cover to encourage earlier fruiting
  • Take the last chance to bring on forced indoor bulbs for festive decorations or Christmas gifts
  • Fork compost into borders, but take care not to spike emerging bulbs
  • Firm soil around roses loosened by storms
  • Replace wobbly tree stakes and worn plant ties
  • Earmark your best sprouts for the Christmas table and give them last-minute protection if windy
  • Do a final collection of any autumn leaves still lying around
  • Plant new season roses now, a climbing rose on an arch in your garden will give it a new lease of life

Don’t forget the birds! Birds love fat cakes and at this time of year they are just what they need to give them energy and keep warm. This is a little project you can do with your kids over Christmas. Firstly avoid using turkey fat, (keep it for your roast potatoes) it doesn't set like suet and lard, and can coat birds' feathers, preventing them from being able to fly. It can also spread disease. The best ratio for this recipe is one part fat to two parts dry mixture. Use sunflower seeds or some other high energy seed mix, we sometimes through in a few mealworms for an extra treat! Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Melt some lard or suet in a pan and add to the dry mix. Stir it well until the fat has all been absorbed and the mixture sticks together. Make a hole in the bottom of a yoghurt pot and thread through a length of twine or string, and then pack the pot with your warm fat mixture. Place in the fridge overnight to set, then cut through and peel away the pot. Tie a big knot at one end of the twine to secure the cake. Hang the cake in a tree or on a shepherd’s crook and wait for the birds to come and feast. It’s very important that when you feed birds that you give them fresh water too. Bird baths are on a height for a reason, so if you’re using a bucket or basin remember to pop it up on a height so they can bath and drink in safety and don’t forget to break the ice!

January 17, 2021 — omearas gardencentre
Tags: December


  • Clear leaves from greenhouse gutters  And check heaters daily to ensure they are working efficiently
  • Scoop leaves and debris from ponds and water features
  • Remove pond pumps and filters to wash and store
  • Pick off yellowing leaves from the stems of Brussels sprouts and keep harvesting early varieties
  • Check fruit and vegetables in store, removing any showing signs of deterioration
  • Cut down canes of autumn-fruiting raspberries to soil level
  • Prune greenhouse grapevines once their leaves have fallen
  • Check overwintering plants for signs of greenfly and other pests, and treat if necessary

Even at this time of the year, your garden should have some interest as many shrubs start to flower now. Most of them have the added bonus of having excellent scent. Walking around my garden this morning, I noticed that one of my favourite shrubs which have an exquisite fragrance coming into flower. It is not that well known but is well worth seeking out, Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. An evergreen form of Daphne, slow growing which will reach a height in time of two metres plus. Extremely hardy and will grow in any good free draining soil. As it flowers in January / February give it a little bit of shelter from our chilly winter winds. Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) is another shrub that’s looking fantastic at the moment. When planting for best effect, try and have a neutral green background for best effect. This time of the year is a very good time to do a bit of planning for the coming season and if you have to replace a low growing hedge or are thinking of planting a new one, a note of caution. The traditional box hedging has been under siege with a killer disease. My recommendation would be to use Christmas box/ sweet box (sarcococca) as an alternative. It makes a super low growing neat hedge with the added bonus of sweet smelling flowers in mid winter. It will grow in sun or shade. If a hedge is not on your agenda plant a few sarcococca for scent alone where you might pass by them at this time of year. If the winter sunshine continue take the opportunity to enjoy a walk in some of the lovely Westmeath countryside and hopefully you will engendered and inspired by the simplicity and wonders of nature

January 17, 2021 — omearas gardencentre
Tags: December


  • Prune wisteria side shoots to 10-15cm from their base, then tie in leading shoots to create a framework
  • Collect fallen rose leaves that could carry diseases over to next season
  • Transplant shrubs or small trees
  • Prune away stems of autumn-fruiting raspberries at soil level
  • Take hardwood cuttings from currants and gooseberries
  • Net cabbages and other brassicas to protect them from pigeon damage
  • Force rhubarb by digging up a crown and replanting it in total darkness or place a large bin over the existing crop
  • Sow hardy annuals, like calendulas, in pots for early displays
  • Check bulbs, corms and tubers in store for signs of rot Give fruit trees a winter wash now
  • Plant new rose bushes, make sure you prepare the planting hole well, adding in some farmyard manure before you plant
  • Empty pots of spent annuals and compost the remains
  • Transplant shrubs that have outgrown their position
  • Collect and empty hoses and sprinklers to store in the shed over winter
  • Build log piles to provide winter hibernation sites for insects and small animals
  • Check tree ties and loosen any that are too tight
  • Established apple trees can be winter pruned this month once the leaves have fallen off.

Winter Houseplant care.  Warmth, light, water, humidity, food, rest, fresh air and grooming.. a long list of needs but success with houseplants calls for neither hard work nor great skill. It is simply a matter of satisfying the particular basic requirements of each plant. The natural home of most indoor plants lies in the tropics but most plants will be happy in normal room conditions. As we all turn up the heat for the winter this can produce air with the relative humidity of the Sahara dessert! Very few plants actually like this and will suffer if you don’t do something to increase the humidity around the leaves, misting every couple of days with tepid water should help. In the winter nearly all indoor plants need a dormant or resting period. It’s important to reduce the frequency of watering and feeding. However there is an important exception to the need for a winter rest period. Winter flowering pot plants must be fed and watered regularly for as long as they are on display. Remember if we get frost to remove your plants from windowsills, just incase they get frost bite.

Apple trees are happier when grass is kept away from their area. Grass roots have a breath which shrivels the tender root tips of the tree. When planting apple trees, plant clumps of chives around the trees which will help prevent apple scab. Wallfowers are natures planting companions with apple trees. The sweet scented wallflower and the apple tree do all the better for growing near each other. If you plant foxgloves in the area it greatly improves the keeping qualities of the harvest.  It makes sense to keep your trees happy; a happy tree equals a heavy crop.

  • Keep off lawns in frosty weather
  • Prune apple and pear trees to control their size and shape
  • Plant fruit trees trained as cordons, fans or espaliers to make use of limited space
  • Check greenhouse heaters daily to ensure they are working efficiently and that fuel levels don't need topping up
  • Force rhubarb by digging up a crown and replanting it in total darkness or placing a large bin over the existing crop
  • Use rainwater to keep the compost of potted indoor azaleas constantly moist
  • Plant bare-rooted hedging, roses, trees and shrubs
  • Pick faded flowers and yellowing leaves from pansies and winter bedding
  • Prune the tops of standard roses to reduce wind rock
  • Trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers on walls that are close to gutters and window frames .Cut back overgrown honeysuckle
  • Spread compost on to flower beds for worms
  • Collect fallen leaves showing signs of blackspot
  • Net crops to protect them from pigeons
  • Remove pond pumps and filters to wash and store

Gifts for gardeners. If you are giving plants as gifts this Christmas, or have received one yourself, then make sure you get the very best from each and every one. Winter flowering plants have been carefully nurtured to be at their best for Christmas, keep them looking wonderful by pandering to their needs. Poinsettia are a favourite at Christmas time. They now come in arrange of colours, lime green, pink, cream or white but the classic red variety is by far the most popular still. Poinsettia needs a light position away from direct sun, ideally kept at a constant temperature and away from draughts. Water regularly allowing the soil to dry slightly between watering. Be careful not to get water on the coloured bracts. Feed every couple of weeks using Indoor Plant Food to keep  your Poinsettias flowering well. My favourite Christmas flower is the Christmas cacti; they can be kept successfully for a great many years if treated correctly. Plants should be kept in a bright spot but out of direct sunlight. Water regularly allowing the soil to dry a little between watering. 


January 17, 2021 — omearas gardencentre
Tags: December