We started our Feb meeting – our first of 2019, by sharing what had done particularly well in our gardens over the winter months, with one member having Marigolds in flower right through the winter and another sharing that his Camelia Donation (right) was already blooming and was beautiful., Pinks, daphne, white currants, camellias, snowdrops, crocus, daffodils and other bulbs were in flower already and doing well in many members gardens (chicken wire can be used to keep birds off bulbs if needed). One member had brought a very effective flower arrangement made up from her garden with witch hazel, rhododendron, heather, red cornus stems, Japanese anemone heads and winter flowering jasmine to further demonstrate the range garden flowers and colour available already.
We were surprised to learn that snowdrop bulbs contain antifreeze and also have sharp leaves which enable them to both survive heavy frosts and to break through snow and ice. .
We discussed edible flowers with Primroses, Violets, Nasturtiums, Rose petals (used by one to flavour ice cream) and Dandelion leaves before they flower, all popular. We were also advised that the roots of dandelions can be used to make coffee and further that pine needles deter slugs. A word of warning – make sure you check carefully before eating any flowers or produce etc that they are safe to eat.
Members have been planting garlic which can be planted until April – garlic needs cold weather to grow. RHS advice is at : https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=677
One member had been successfully adding coconut fibre in to contribute to home made compost. We were advised this can be bought for a reasonable price in compressed blocks and then soaked to bulk it up.
To support the reduction of plastic use in our gardens we had a demonstration of making paper plant pots from newspaper by simply moulding layers of newspaper around any suitable round object and twisting the end to hold the compost.
The group briefly discussed planting seeds – with mixed experiences for some. We agreed to share and build knowledge of this next month. (All welcome to join our friendly relaxed group) All looked forward also to our next plant exchange in April.