Hedging and Christmas trees

Some wildlife-promoting ideas

By Bridgette Saunders - www.gardenhousebrighton.co.uk

Photo:Let your Christmas tree grow as big as this on your plot and you could be in trouble!

Let your Christmas tree grow as big as this on your plot and you could be in trouble!

Whatever the weather you can’t help but notice how sparse the allotment looks at this time of year – the stars of the January landscape tend to be bark, twigs and coloured stems so think about growing some of these to cheer you and help you get through the next couple of months.  It is really worth growing Cornus (dogwood) on your allotment (don't forget that things like this will count towards your 25% allowable non cultivated area so they are probably best grown as hedges).  They are really easy to propagate by taking hardwood cuttings – just find a friend that has some and insert some pencil thick, 25cm lengths into the ground and they will soon root up – see December's bulletin for more information.  I love the coloured stems when they catch the light. 

If you are wondering what to do with your Christmas tree now the festive season is over then you could take it to your allotment. Again, remember trees are part of your 25% non cultivated allowance - so make sure you have space, and are cultivating at least 75% of your plot first.  Also they can grow quite quickly so if you are being green and have a tree that you wish to plant and re-use each year, then you may want to plant it in a bottomless bucket to restrict its growth.  Be warned - they can grow to over 50 feet high so in a few years it might not fit in your house and it will seriously restrict the growing area on your plot!

If you have a cut tree rather than a potted tree you can take it to one of the council's Christmas tree recycling points - they'll make your old tree into compost. This closes on January 20th so after that here is a great idea to give it a new lease of life and create a fun thing for children to do: take some monkey nuts, apples, cranberries, raisins etc and thread these on string and hang them from the tree – they make a great bird feeder for January! When you are fed up with looking at it, just cut it up (or shred it if you can find a shredder) and the branches will make a good addition to woodchip paths.  If you can cut the branches up very small you can put them on your compost heap.  The trunk can be used for staking plants such as Brussels sprouts.

Evergreens are really important in the winter so try and find some cheap hollies in the sales, and maybe some box plants and plant them within your hedge area so that next year you will have some foliage for Christmas to pick. But remember - only plant them if you can keep them under 2 metres high - I wouldn't want to be the cause of you getting a tree notice from the council!

This page was added by Melanie Matthews on 15/01/2012.