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Green Fingers in Winter

Down at Caves Folly Nursery in Colwall, Bridget is preparing for the winter months.

With the festive season upon us and thoughts of long winter evenings ahead, it is easy to get sucked into the media bombardment of consumerism and the pressures from children to have the latest gadgets and plastic toys.

Why not re-think your Christmas? What about natural decorations such as ivy, holly, fir cones and cut flowers? Use less electric lights and make your own presents that could include conserves, sweets, cakes, toys, bird boxes or planted containers. Give a lasting present like a house plant or a fruit tree or shrub. Packets of seeds make cheaper presents and are easy to post!

You can make a family pact to only give homemade presents or ones bought from charity shops, or give presents that directly support charity. What about a voucher from Oxfam or directly giving to a Christmas appeal that helps homeless people (

One thing I always look forward to at Christmas are nuts. Not my family, but the edible ones! There are several varieties of trees available for the garden. Large trees such as Sweet Chestnut and Walnut need a big garden, but the use of compact root stocks mean that smaller cultivars of hazel can be grown in an average garden. This is also true of many fruit trees, two or more varieties can be grown on the same compact tree. If space is at a premium they are an excellent solution.

Even though its winter, the work in the garden doesn’t stop. In the ornamental garden you can water evergreens in containers, cold wind can dry out the foliage. Take hardwood cuttings of Corus, Salix, Forsythia, Buddleja, Honeysuckle and Grape vines. Improve heavy clay soils, adding well-rotted bulky or organic matter. Leave as a mulch for the worms to do their magic!

In the vegetable garden its time to plant bareroot fruit trees and bushes. Stake well to prevent wind rock. Prune Blackcurrants as they fruit best on new wood. Cut out a quarter of the oldest or diseased wood. Tidy up around Brassicas and remove yellow foliage from winter crops. Taller plants may need staking to prevent wind damage. Mulch strawberries and soft fruit, and grow micro greens such as cress, coriander and pea shoots on a warm window sill or in cloches.

Don’t forget about the wildlife at this time of year. Keep an eye out for hibernating creatures and try not to disturb them. Feed the birds and make sure the feeders are washed out regularly. Check birds and other wildlife have access to water when the ground is frozen.

From all of us at Caves Folly Nursery, have a Happy ‘Green’ Christmas and an even ‘Greener’ New Year!


Bridget runs Caves Folly Nurseries on Evendine Lane in  Colwall (WR13 6DX). They are open from March until October, Thursdays to Saturdays from 10 - 4. You can contact them on 01684 540631 or visit their website: