February Gardens Blog
Escaping from the wind and rain, Head Gardener David Roberts shares tips on pruning and the many uses for common Hazel
At the time of writing the rain is falling outside and it has got appreciably colder generally. The news has said that we have just experienced the wettest January since records began 100 years ago. But it’s not just the rain that has been challenging as it has been very windy too. Hopefully February will be a little calmer and a lot drier but I have given up trying to forecast the weather
The Garden's Team prepare to prune...
|In the gardens we have been pruning the apple and pear trees on the walls of the Walled Garden which are trained in espalier, fan and various other interesting shapes. We have 23 apple trees and 14 pear trees on the inside of the Walled Garden and another 94 apple trees around the outside of the walls although half of these are pruned as cordons which are grown closer together.
In February if the weather isn’t too cold or too wet the 24 climbing and rambling roses amongst the fruit trees on the inside are going to be pruned.
When we prune the wall roses here at The Grove we remove any dead, diseased or weak growth; and also remove up to a third of the older wood. We arch the remaining growth so that they are curved with as much as possible below the horizontal but in a way that is pleasing to the eye. The stems are then tied to the wires. This promotes growth from lower down in the plant and therefore keeps the plant well stocked with new stems and each bud on the curved stems will grow to produce flowers especially on the climbers. Ramblers tend to flower on the previous years growth so we remove most of the old flowered stems and any that are damaged or weak. Curve the stems in the same way as the climbers and tie into the wires.
In the Formal Gardens we train the roses onto hoops made out of hazel stems which we collect from around the Estate through the winter months. In this way the roses make mounds or cushions of growth and flower in the summer.
Tree, Herb and Flower of the Month – Hazel Corylus avellana (Common hazel)
Hazel is a good looking plant and being a herb is useful too. As above we use it to bend the rose stems onto, but from a gardener point of view they are useful for growing peas up and can be supports for Runner and French beans, and sweet peas. The flowers – catkins are pretty and make an attractive vase in February. The catkins are the male flowers but the female flowers are red.
Hazel nuts (Cob nuts) raw or roasted are used in breads, cakes, biscuits, sweets etc. They can also be liquidized and used as plant milk. The oil is sometimes used in salad dressings, baking etc.
Squirrels love them too!
Hazel oil is used in paints and cosmetics. The whole seed can be used to polish and oil wood. It is very easy to apply and produces a nice finish. The bark and leaves are a source of tannin. And the wood is soft and easy to split making it ideal to use when making hurdles, wattles, and in basketry.