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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tom Nicholas of Me, My Spade & I on how our hard core gardens need help even over the Christmas period

"I am proud that my dreams have been eclipsed. But now I have more dreams, it involves you all and even more growth. Bring on 2017."

It's here – the time of year I have been waiting for and yes I am going to say it... it's Christmas! I know what you’re thinking: is there anything to say with regards to gardening? The answer is yes, work-wise we may be slowing down but that doesn't stop our hardcore gardens from needing help.

The reality is that we all need to keep working in the garden at this time of year. Tradition dictates that we don't, as nothing is growing and we’re used to being buried under a few inches of snow or battling with a hard frost. The truth is that the weather and seasons have changed, and this change means we aren't getting the cold snaps we used to. Plants are battling through the winter instead of dying back, grass was growing throughout last winter and we cut regularly through to Christmas, and thereafter we cut when needed and if there wasn't a frost we ended up mowing on a fortnightly basis. I have found leaves aren't falling off the trees at the usual rate, therefore lengthening the leaf clearing period well in to January and those pesky weeds keep on growing!

What to do?

1. Keep mowing. It will help the grass stave off moss growth.

2. Keep clearing leaves. It will help the lawn’s health and help keep the flower beds looking good.

3. Watch carefully. You will notice weeds growing this winter so make sure you get them before they get you!


As it is the time of the year to be thoughtful and give thanks, I would like to look back at the year we at Me, My Spade & I have had. “The best to date” is one way to look at it; “the hardest to date” is another! Growing from four employees to eight has been fantastic for the business but not so good for my hairline. Making sure I am able to give enough time in the garden to dictate how the following weeks or months should go, that the clients can put their ideas into motion, and that all the work has been completed to my high standards, has proven difficult. However with my current team I have been able to pass on more responsibility to the guys who in turn have put their own stamp on the gardens, even coming up with ideas or ways around things that I didn't even see. A few new members of the team didn’t work out but even newer team members have come in and hit the ground running, so I guess this month’s article has to be dedicated to Joe, Rod, Iann, Shane, Dominic, Arthur, Adam and Thelma. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to this little garden company I started up many years ago. I never imagined the business would grow so well and I am proud that my dreams have been eclipsed. But now I have more dreams, it involves you all and even more growth. Bring on 2017.

Tom’s tips for December

1. Leaves, leaves and leaves. Sound familiar? Well it is, but it is also very important to collect your leaves.

2. Don't be afraid to mow – it will keep the lawn neat and tidy but also healthy. Just make sure it is not too wet to run the mower on and DO NOT mow if there is a frost.

3. Prune climbing roses – by this I mean cutting out dead or diseased growth. You can tell if the branch is dead as it will either be a lighter, almost brown colour or by simply using your fingernail to scrape the bark of the plant – if it is green and fleshy it is alive. If not, cut it out!

4. Do NOT cut back hydrangeas, as the flower heads will allow some frost protection (if we get any) and the flower heads also look very pretty in the mornings where the dew mixes well with the spider webs.

5. Look out for those positives during the darker time of the year – plants like Sarcoccoca or Mahonia have fantastic flowers and, where the Sarcoccoca is concerned, one of the sweetest flower fragrances in the garden.

- Tom Nicholas


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