In the short space of time we have between Winter’s end and Spring’s promise there are lots of jobs for you to be getting on with in your garden. The next few posts will be looking at all the things you need to get done now before Spring overwhelms you and we are off again on the gardening merry-go-round.
26th February: Things I have been doing lately.
🌾 Lawn repairs. To be honest it is a little bit early to be repairing lawns as the grass really hasn’t started growing. However, if you have dogs and a lawn then you will know that grass presents an irresistible desire in a dog to dig. One of our Labradors “Nero”, named after one of my wife Cruella’s all time heroes. Yes, it’s true the despotic Roman Dictator Emperor who burned Rome is right up there in her book with “Vlad the Impaler”.
Anyway, Nero is in common parlance a “diggy dog” and will take any opportunity to head to Australia via the lawn if given half a chance. Hence, he is put into his kennel and dog run when we are out, where he happily digs huge holes and lies in them. Sometimes when we come home all we can see is the top of his head peeping out; I believe he is half Labrador and half miner.
To repair his lawn wrecking activity I first fill in any holes with a mixture of compost and top soil. I brush this mixture into the hole and tamp it down by walking on it, (for big holes I use a roller). The first photo below shows this process in action. Once Iam happy with the repaired hole, I then cover it with a wire mesh which I hold down with large staples. Normally I would seed this at the same time, but it is still a bit too early for grass seed, so I will do this in 3 or 4 weeks. The second photo below shows the repaired hole waiting for seeding. The final photo shows the culprit hiding his face in shame.
🌴 Treating Palm trees. Now that the weather has started to warm up you will soon begin to see the dreaded Palm Weevil weaving its way around your Palms. This large Weevil which is about an inch to 3cm long is not a great flyer and makes a noise like a B52 bomber as it lumbers slowly through the sky amongst your Palms. I have been known to chase them around the garden whacking them out of the air with my shoes as weapons which I have removed to pursue them. Now a days I am more sophisticated and use my own method of chemical control.
Because my Phoenix Palms are so tall, I introduce insecticide into the tree through a pipe drilled into the trunk. The first photo below shows my sophisticated equipment. This includes a proprietary insecticide, a simple syringe to measure and an old “fairy liquid” bottle to transfer the liquid into the tube and then into the trunk. As the sap begins to rise this will take the insecticide up into the Palm fronds so that every munch becomes a toxic cocktail for the Weevils. The second picture below shows a Palm with its life saving tube. In case you were wondering what I get so upset about, the final photo shows a close up of a Weevil I took last Summer; you can guess what harm that big proboscis can do to Palm trees. (click on each photo to enlarge).
🥽 Cleaning up Cordyline and Yuccas. Aesthetically it is important to tidy up your Cordylines and Yuccas at this time of year. This means removing all the drooping and untidy lower leaves and leaving the stem nice and clean and handsome. This not only looks better it also reduces the chances of disease and pests getting at the plant. With Cordylines it is very simple just sit down next to the plant and gently pull downwards on the dropping leaves and they will come away in your hand very easily. The photos below show one of my Cordylines before and after its coiffure.
Now Yucca are a completely different kettle of fish. You need to gear up as if you are going to fight a gladiatorial duel with a Roman Dimachaerus gladiator (ancient history and gardening, I am spoiling you here). You need to wear protective glasses, a cap,and gardening gloves. Failure to do this will probably result in multiple lacerations, the loss of an eye and pierced ears.
With Yucca the technique for removing the dead fronds is different from Cordyline. Old dried Yucca fronds have the consistency of iron and a determination only to be removed if you know the correct technique. To successfully remove old Yucca fronds you must find the very lowest dried frond on the stem then pull sharply down and it should come away. You can then work your way up the stem making sure you only pull away the bottom frond every time. Because Yucca fronds overlap in a shield type structure they will only allow the bottom frond to be removed; and any attempt to pull fronds higher up the stem before the one beneath it has been removed will be futile. You have been warned.
The first photo below shows one of my potted Yuccas with its messy dried fronds. The second photo shows it nicely cleaned up and ready for another year of growth.