Planting trees, roses and apples begins now. Native trees have special wildlife benefits while there are points to consider when planting roses and selecting apples.
Rogue foxes are unusual, but can infuriate gardeners, although such foxes seldom persist. Evergreen sedges can be valuable winter plants.
1 — Native trees
Native trees are good for biodiversity, feeding many native insects. Some that are not forest giants include field maple (8m), hazels (5m) and native crab apples (9m). Taller trees such as beech, hornbeam and yew lend themselves to keeping trimmed as hedges, while others – including elders and willows – can be coppiced, or cut to ground level when they get too big.
Alternatively, hornbeam and common lime can be pollarded or cut to near the trunk above head height..
2 — Dwarf apples
Apples naturally grow into unwieldy 10m trees. Grafting onto certain rootstocks curbs them; weakly trees develop on M27 and M9 rootstocks, for moderate bushes, M26 and for large bushes, MM106. MM106 is best avoided except for thin, dry infertile soils or in large gardens. M26 is probably best for most gardens and tree forms, including bushes and espaliers and for container trees. Really small trees, such as cordons and pyramids, require M9 or even, for rich soils, M27.
3 —Winter sedges
Grass-like, clump-forming sedges remain leafy in winter and are robust suiting both borders and containers; Carex dipsacea ‘Dark Horse’ (up to 75cm tall) has bronzed green foliage with black summer flower spikes, ‘Ice Dance’ has white edged bright green leaves, Carex alata ‘Aurea’ produces bright yellow leaves up to 70cm, Luzula sylvatica ‘Solar Flair’ also bears glossy yellow leaves up to 30cm tall. Carex testacea develops arching orange foliage in winter up to 60cm tall.
Foxes are highly mobile scavengers with good climbing and digging abilities (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty)
4 — Urban foxes
Foxes are adept, highly mobile scavengers with good climbing and digging abilities. Foxes produce litters of four or five cubs every spring. Foxes are inconspicuous and usually unobjectionable.However, some dig holes, take fruit, bury food and brightly coloured objects such as toys in gardens and mark territory with droppings. Objectionable foxes seldom persist however, frequently falling victim to multiple threats. In exceptional cases foxes can be removed or, with difficulty, fenced against.
5 — Replanting roses
Removing roses and replanting with new ones is often unsuccessful due to “replant disease”. Roses planted in a fresh site will grow away before the unknown causative organisms become a problem. Ideally don’t plant roses where roses have gone before, but if essential, replace the soil in a 60cm diameter, 40cm deep hole, using soil from the vegetable garden perhaps. Feeding new roses well with high nitrogen fertiliser such as dried poultry manure pellets can also help.