English gardens are among the most popular around the world. Their ability to adapt to many different building facades and probably all imaginable spaces gives them a clear advantage over other types of gardens. The history of the English method of gardening can be traced back to the 16th century, when the first assumptions deliberately created in this style began to arise, by opposition to the then very expansive French gardens. Since then – for half a thousand years! – the style and design of English gardens at the same time changed beyond recognition and … remained the same in spirit. Combining what is nonchalantly natural and “wild” with what is refined and cultured was a feature that has ensured this style’s popularity for centuries. And what were the other factors?
How often do we run away to the nooks where no one has been before? Nobody cut down the trees, nobody threw away rubbish and nobody built concrete walls? Man in his pursuit of perfection never reaches nature, and although he wants to tame it, he still follows his unchanging path, hiding in the innermost corners hiding the world so much opposite to ours …
Attempts to imitate nature were most reflected in the English gardens, and their whole essence was limited to making the garden look like a natural landscape. Dating back to the 17th century, we encounter mines of examples of English garden assumptions.
Balance between the beds and the lawn
Probably no one doubts that in the case of an English garden they are plants – and not, as in the Japanese garden or some variants of the European conceptual garden, ornaments or inanimate forms – are by far the most important element. A distinctive feature is their variety and diversity, allowing you to give the garden a more natural look without losing the hard to describe, but easily perceptible atmosphere of something that has been changed and carefully cared for by man. Particular emphasis is placed on the range of colors of plants, which should be harmonious and thought out, and on how to maintain the lawn: it is not intended to dominate the assumptions, but to emphasize its other elements and bind them together. It is worth emphasizing that in the English garden there is room for all types of plants: also for vegetables and fruits.
What goes up and overflows
Most gardeners like creepers, but those English have a special weakness for them. It would be difficult to find an English garden without them. Sentiment to vines can be due to the general tendency of the English garden to make concessions for luxuriance and abundance: just like vines wrap around trunks, facades, trellises and gazebos, creating a kind of allowance, so the plants collected in discounts do not stick to strictly designated here them borders, flowing through them with a colorful wave – and even in the most formal scenes of the style!
The English garden may seem wild, but it is really a set of carefully selected shapes, both in the formal and informal version. However, while in the former the emphasis is mainly on straight lines, angular geometrical figures and symmetry, the latter prefer a looser, soft approach: assumptions on the plan of circles and ovals and curvature. The first type may seem a bit stiff, but it is to be: it is the style preferred by the aristocracy and most often found nearby palaces. The informal English gardens, in turn, will fit just as well as a villa on the outskirts of the city, as well as a country house.
How to describe an English garden?
Here are the most important elements and rules for creating English gardens:
beauty of natural natural forms
irregular clusters of trees and shrubs, flower beds and groves (instead of commonly used clipped lines and geometric plantings)
trees in natural form, freely growing
the presence of large lawns and meadows
creating and highlighting uneven terrain
the use of natural sources, rivers and lakes with irregular outlines
the roads run along curved lines, revealing picturesque views and connecting individual parts of the garden
the whole garden plan is irregular, free and asymmetrical
English gardens are secret and “wild” gardens
the garden can go into a park and then connect fully with the landscape
sculptures set up not accidentally have their own character, often set directly on the ground, without a pedestal
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Winter still does not give up, but the weather forecasts were finally optimistic. From mid-week, temperatures are expected to be positive, but only for the day. There will still be frost at night. However, we can already start preparing to start gardening. Let’s use the last cold days for the maintenance of gardening equipment and tools and to buy used or missing. The condition of tools is often underestimated, especially by amateur gardeners. Experience teaches us how important it is for the health of our plants, not to mention the comfort of work and the costs associated with the replacement of neglected devices.
The basis is thorough cleaning of the tools. If we did not do it before winter, then now we will have more difficult – the remains of plants and soil will certainly dry up or become moldy and now they will not be easy to remove, and the rusting of metal elements will also accelerate. Rust is a great danger to our plants. Before using the tools, clean them thoroughly from rust. We do it with a wire brush or wire and water. After cleaning, we must thoroughly dry our tools. Remember that you should not use rust-removing and protective preparations that can be toxic to plants. We can protect the tools with a thin layer of vegetable food oil, which we apply with a brush. We prevent rust by storing tools in a dry room.
Before proceeding to pruning trees and shrubs, we must carefully sharpen our tools. The blunt pruning shears will damage the pruned tips of the branches, which can harm the plant, leading to the death of individual branches and in extreme cases even the entire plant. It is also good to lubricate the moving parts of our tools to make the work easier and more enjoyable. Here, too, we must remember to use substances that are safe for plants, or use lubricants where they will not come in contact with plants. Electric or combustion devices also require inspection or servicing. We can do it ourselves or use the services of professionals, especially for devices that require repair.
Combustion and electric devices
Both the combustion and electric devices must be carefully inspected and assessed their general condition. Let’s check that all the screws are overclocked. For grass mowers, sharpen the cutting knives. This has a very significant impact on the efficiency of the device and its life, as well as on the health of our lawn. If we notice that the knives have been damaged, e.g. cracked or deformed, we must replace them, as they may fall off during work and hurt us. We proceed in a similar way with a saw or other cutting devices. For saws, also check the condition of the chain lubrication oil. Oil must be changed in combustion equipment. Oils used in gardening equipment are not as durable as car oils and quickly lose their usability, we should change them every six months – even if we didn’t use the device. We should also remember to use the right types of oil, because they differ in properties, and using the wrong ones can damage the device. Combustion devices also require care for the air filter – we should clean it, and if it is in poor condition, it should be replaced. The condition of the filter should be checked regularly, a dirty filter reduces power and significantly reduces engine life. Spark plugs are another element to check. Before the new gardening season it is good to replace them, especially in devices that we often use, such as a petrol lawn mower.
Thanks to careful inspections, our tools will serve us longer, their work will be more efficient, and thus our work in the garden will become even more pleasant.
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The winter season for the gardener is a time of rest, when the garden is most often viewed from the windows of the house, making plans for the upcoming season. However, let’s not forget about our plants, it is worth looking after them also in winter. Heavy snowfall will give us the most work – we will have to remove it from driveways and garden paths, as well as shake off tree branches. We regularly check the condition of winter covers. Let’s also remember about the birds, counting on our help in the hardest months for them.
Check the condition of winter covers
We regularly check the winter protection of frost-sensitive plants, whether they have slipped due to strong wind or snow. In the event of severe frosts, it is worth covering the plants with an additional layer of straw, dressing or agrotextile. In severe winters, hungry hares and even deer may bite into gardens located in the vicinity of a forest or fields, and they will gnaw on plants. If our fence is not a tight barrier against these animals, it is worth protecting the trunks of young trees. Special plastic casings are used for this purpose, although we may as well tie them with paper or agrotextile. Such a cover should reach at least 80 centimeters high.
Shake snow from the branches
Snow quilts, covering beds and ground cover plants are great additional insulation against frost. In contrast, snow cushions on trees and higher bushes, although they are a beautiful winter view, can be dangerous for plants. Large caps, especially wet snow, place a heavy load on the branches, under which they may break or deform. Therefore, after heavy snowfall, you should shake off the snow caps from the branches. If under the weight of snow the tree branch has broken, you should immediately level the wound and protect it with gardening ointment, available at any gardening store.
During periods of thaw, as soon as the ground slightly thaws, we water coniferous and evergreen plants. This is important because these plants also in winter evaporate water from the surface of the leaves, while with frozen soil they can not take it from the soil. Therefore, periods of thaw are good times to make up for water shortages in tissues.
Remove snow from surfaces
We are confining ourselves to mechanical methods by removing snow from garden surfaces. It is best to do it with a special shovel or snow shovel, with larger amounts of paths we can use a mechanical snowblower. Let’s avoid using chemicals for this purpose, such as de-icing salts, because it, along with melting snow, penetrates the soil, destroying its structure and disrupting biodiversity. Plants in saline soil have difficulty in collecting water, grow less, have smaller growths and bloom less profusely, are also more susceptible to diseases and pathogens, and in extreme cases even dry up. In addition, salt can cause discoloration or other damage to the surface material. Do not use sharp tools to remove snow from garden surfaces that could scratch it. For the same reason, do not use sharp tools for removing ice that lies on them. We should not allow a layer of ice to form on the surfaces – we just have to clear it of snow as soon as the snow falls before the household traces it. However, if a layer of ice has already formed on the path, we can sprinkle it with sand.
We must remember the provision obliging property owners to remove snow and ice from public walkways, directly adjacent to the property border. The owner who does not comply with this provision may be fined or charged with the costs of removing snow from the pavement by the municipal services. When clearing the garden, do not throw snow from paths to the lawn. Under the snowdrifts, the grass dies to the nipple of oxygen deprivation, while during the thaw, stagnant water causes its roots to rot. An excessively thick cushion of snow at rebates is also harmful to other plants (although snow perfectly insulates them against frost), so with very heavy rainfall, do not shovel snow also at discounts. We can also commission the removal of excess snow to municipal services, of course for a fee.
Remember about birds
In winter, and especially during frosty and snowy periods, birds have difficulty finding enough food. Let’s help them survive the winter. However, in order not to cause more harm than good, let’s get acquainted with the basic principles of correct and responsible feeding of birds.
Always pour food in the same place, because the birds quickly get used to the places where they find food. It is best to feed the birds in the feeder, positioned so as to impede access to predators (mainly cats). The roofed feeder will also protect food and feasting birds from snow or rain. Feed the birds consistently and regularly – if we started to do it in the fall, it is necessary to continue feeding until the birds can easily find food themselves (usually by the end of April or beginning of May). Regularly clean the feeder, removing the remains of uneaten food and bird droppings. We can give birds: various seeds, cereals, nuts (not salted!), Cereals, cereals, rice, dried fruit (but without sugar!) and fresh fruit, as well as bacon, lard (without salt and other spices!), small pieces unsalted meat. At the same time, foods containing a lot of water are served only during frost-free periods. We categorically avoid giving birds: salted products, as well as other seasoned (also sweetened) products, spoiled products, moldy rotten or rancid, as well as fresh bread (we can occasionally provide birds with bread, but dried and crumbled). In addition to food, let’s also ensure that the birds have constant access to freezing water, because they are not able to satisfy their thirst, e.g. with snow.
At the end of winter, make cuts forming trees and shrubs
The end of winter is the time when we can make sanitary and forming cuts for most trees and shrubs that are going through a period of winter rest (i.e. dropping leaves on the winter). If there is no severe frost, we can start these treatments in the second half of February. Dormant plants will not lose their juice, and at low temperatures the risk of plant infection with diseases is significantly reduced. During this period, do not prune evergreen species, frost-sensitive plants (e.g. walnut, apricot, peach, quince), as well as shrubs blooming on last year’s shoots (e.g. forsythia, tonsils, lilacs, quinces, species of meadowsweet and spring willow).
In addition to cutting, aimed at a nice formation of plants, we also make sanitary cuts – we remove diseased, damaged and broken branches, and we also x-ray the crown (we remove shoots that are excessively thickened and intersecting). At the end of winter, we can also rejuvenate older, strongly overgrown bushes – we remove the oldest shoots completely, while the others are shortened by 2/3.
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