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Gardening With Eugene Higgins

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Our Grow Your Own Veg Family are at the second stage of growing their own vegetables out their back garden. Eugene will be in studio to do a quick back reference and then he will be discussing Climbers, plants used to dress your garden whether it is a garden wall, weathered garden shed, an oil tank etc.

- The ground is warmer in the Autumn than it is in Spring and it is the ideal time to be planting in the garden.

Eugene Higgins, Landscaper:
I was born into Horticulture in a plant nursery/garden centre in north Co Dublin started in 1940 by my grandfather, so my excuse is, "that its in my blood".
On leaving school I worked in various Dublin radio stations and spent my spare time working in the family run garden centre, this soon reversed after spending an intervening number of years in Australia.
Over the last 12 years I have been combining Horticulture and media work.besides working on the Afternoon Show since season 1 my media contributions have also included:

. BBC Room For Improvement (Season 1)
. FM 104 Claire McKeon Show
. Lite Fm Dublin Saturday magazine

In 1999 I returned to retailing opening Colour Green Garden Centre in Malahide Dublin, which won "Best Specialist Garden Centre 2002-Ireland".
In 2004 we subsequently moved the business to Tullamore, Co Offaly, where we have a lot more space around us and have concentrated on developing our Colour Green Landscaping Services. Our highlight to date was, being commissioned last year by the Afternoon Show to restore a nursing home's spectacular Japanese garden that had run into serious disrepair (Carrigoran Nursing Home, Co Clare).

Climbing plants can crave a lot of attention and can be hard work but some kinds are easy. Climbing plants and Creepers can be used to decorate walls and turn empty wall space to good advantage. When you are choosing a creeper there are a few things you should keep in mind like what conditions it needs to grow and whether they are self clinging or will need a support. Regular Tying in of wall plants can take up a lot of time. The easiest way to avoid unnecessary hours attending to your climbing plants is to wire the whole wall first or at least the parts where you intend the plant growing. One of the best traits of climbers is that they can disguise an area of your garden that you're not particularly fond of ie your weathered garden shed, your oil tank or a big empty dark wall.

. There are climbers for shade, semi shade, and full sun.

Support Needed for Climbers
While some climbers are self clinging most will need some kind of support. This support can take the form of a trellis or a series of wires attached to the walls with vine eyes. This support should be put in place before you begin planting the climbing plant. Climbers can be used to trail down over retaining walls - if they cannot climb, they trail. They can also trail on flat surfaces. Ivy, Honeysuckle and Clematis are especially suitable for these purposes.

Honeysuckle (lonicera henryii) €67.00 (semi-shade)
Honeysuckle can be used in three different ways in the garden: as a colourful climber, as a stocky shrub or as a richly scented climber. Honeysuckle is native to the Northern Hemisphere and there are 180 species of Honeysuckle. It is a woody, evergreen climber with deep green, oblong to ovate shaped leaves, with yellow-throated, purplish-red flowers. Flowers begin in late spring and continue sporadically until fall, depending on zone. This is an extremely fragrant vine especially suited to entryways. This plant generally needs some kind of support like a trellis.

Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster Horinzontalis) €9.00 (Shade/Sun)
The cotoneaster belongs to the Rosaceae family and they come in many shapes and sizes. The leaves vary in colour from grey-green to dark green depending on the type of species and they have oval leaves. They are widely available in different varieties and vary in height and habit. There are many types of cotoneasters with some being deciduous, semi-deciduous or evergreen. Their leaves alternate in colour from white to pinkish. They like to be grown in either sun or semi-shade. A large number of bright red and orange berries are produced in late summer and into autumn. The flowers are inconspicuous small white flowers in bunches in spring. Fruit are eaten by birds and animals. The seeds will pass through animals unharmed and can then be dropped a good distance from the parent plant. Requires support if not being grown to a great height otherwise can grow without support and can trail along the ground used for ground cover. (Eugene will try to get a photo of Cotoneaster trailing along the ground).

Summer Jasmine (Jasminum Officinale) (Sun) €10.00
Jasminum officinale is a pretty climber covered in dainty, very fragrant, white flowers through summer. It is easy to grow and fully hardy. Summer Jasmine likes full sun & moist humus rich compost. Needs trellis or similar to climb up. Trim back long shoots to keep bushy.

Hedera helix 'Goldheart' €10.00 - €12.00(shade-Self Clinging)
Hedera colchica €10.00 - €12.00 (Shade - Needs to be tied)

Ivy is one of our commonest plants and one of the easiest to recognise. It is an evergreen plant that grows on trees and walls. It does well in the mild climate of Ireland where it grows and flowers prolifically. The Irish ivy (Hedera helix hibernica or Hedera hibernica) differs from the common ivy in subtle characteristics, some of which can only be seen with a magnifying lens. The late flowers on ivy are a great source of nourishment for nature late in the season, the birds eat the berries and its great hibernation for insects. Ivy is a great ground cover especially under trees where little else will grow.

Tips for climbers:
. Soil preparation is even more important for climbers as they have only a small area of ground from which to support lots of growth. Also next to walls the ground tends to be drier, so adds lots of organic compost.
. If you are using trellis to support the climbers, make sure there is at least a one inch gap between the trellis and the wall, to allow the climber enough room to wrap itself around the trellis(self clinging climbers don't need trellis).
. Always plant a climber at an angle, it will encourage it to grow towards its support(the wall) and its roots will pick up the rain easier.
. Growing climbers in pots is a difficult task and not something Eugene recommends as a very small area has to support such a big plant. Some gardeners claim Clematis of all the climbers will grow in a pot but it needs to be big.

Honeysuckle (lonicera henryii) €67.00
Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster Horinzontalis) €9.00 (Shade/Sun)
Summer Jasmine (Jasminum Officinale) €10.00
Hedera helix 'Goldheart' €10.00 - €12.00
Hedera colchica €10.00 - €12.00

Plants are available at Garden Centres nationwide.
Eugene Higgins Landline 01 8674319/ 057 9355840 or email

Eugene Higgins