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Fast Growing Trees
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Hybrid Poplar

Fastest

Deciduous
Hybrid Poplar
Weeping Willow
Silver Maple

Faster

Deciduous
Hardy Pecan

Green Ash
White Ash
Cimmaron Ash
Autumn Purple Ash

Tulip Poplar

Evergreen
Colorado Blue Spruce

Douglas Fir
Canadian Hemlock
Dawn Redwood

Fast

Deciduous
Black Walnut

Evergreen
Scotch or Scots Pine

Fast Growing Hedging Plants
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Deciduous
Hybrid Poplar
Siberian Elm

Evergreen
Canadian Hemlock

- tall one of the fastest
Arborvitae - American
- not so quick or so tall, more elegant
Douglas Fir

- good for wind break or background


December

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Editorial

    I managed to shove the lawn mower around last weekend - about the 27th of Nov to get the last of the leaves up - and there were a huge number of them - half the lawn had no visible grass at all. It's a great way to pick them up and chop them at the same time, very satisfying too leaving perfectly clean grass in my wake, emptying the grass bag what seemed like dozens of times was well worth the effort. Next years leaf compost should be ready by early to mid summer as a result of the cutting up and mixing with grass clippings.

    I've just about fully winterized the garden now so I don't need to do anything until the spring. A couple of half-hardies that have died back need removing and some canes that provided support for sweet peas. My very large Rhododendron in a container has kept being blow over the last few days too, so I'll attach that to a piece of board with string or wire passing over the top of the container, giving it a much wider base will keep it upright. I think I need to move a couple of other permanent container plantings too to more sheltered places so they don't get battered to bits by the winter weather.

    As I'm sitting here it's got warm (ish) and damp, but there's a veritable Beatrix Potter scene enacting itself outside in the back garden. A couple of squirrels are still hopping and skipping about as they have been for the last few hours since I got up, blackbirds and robins keep passing by to help themselves to the left-overs from last night's take-away and a few lazy rabbits keep lolloping through every now and then, probably a bit despondent at the lack of nice new growth resulting from the cold temperatures of the last couple of weeks. I've decided that winter isn't so dull in the garden after all, I just need to look to the animal life rather than plant life to provide the interest! Just tempt it in with food in various positions, I did think about making some kind of squirrel obstacle course so they have to entertain me before they get their rewards.

    Shopping online - I've decided that I'm just not temperamentally suited to walking around the shops, so for the likes of me aside from ease and convenience and all the rest of it, online shopping is the perfect solution, in fact I do wonder how I ever managed when it wasn't an option. I've even come up with a way of integrating with the rest of the family, now when we go out to wander aimlessly looking at shiny sparkling things we don't need, I use the opportunity to look at some real-world examples of stuff I've seen online. I then come back home and find and buy it online if it's required - there's also the helpful addition of some "cooling off time" - and I don't have to struggle with bags on the park and ride bus.

Jobs to do

    Look after your Christmas tree. If there's much of a choice, place the tree in the coolest position you can - this is probably not an option for most people as it'll be in the living room - just makes the other stuff more important!

When you first get the tree home take a thin slice off the bottom of the trunk with a sharp saw, this will give access to the open water carrying vessels that may have become calloused over or bunged up while being transported. Place the tree into a bucket of water for up to a day before bringing it into the house (if you are allowed to by excitable children that is!). Make sure the support you get for the tree has a reservoir for water, this will keep it going more than anything else that you can do. Treat it like cut flowers, keeping the water topped up - but make sure you turn the lights off before you do this for safeties sake. Some people recommend adding things to the water the tree stands in (fertiliser, aspirin, a small amount of bleach etc.), I've never bothered, but you could try, it's one of those things that no-one ever seems to test as it only happens once a year.

    Place any containers that contain shrubs or trees in a more sheltered position. Some such as palms and Cordylines will benefit from being tied up and wrapped in hessian sacking or horticultural fleece for protection (i.e. they might not survive if you don't). Others don't need to be placed out of sight which defeats the object somewhat, but will benefit from being put in a less exposed position so they don't get battered by the wind and rain so much. Bring out again to a more prominent position next spring when they're starting to grow again and the weather has calmed own.

    Likewise winter flowering pansies. They don't really start to perform until early spring and will look better the more sheltered they are, so don't make them face the worst.

    Apply preservative to exposed wood. I noticed at the weekend that one of the shed sides that I didn't get around to creosoting in the summer - the side that takes the brunt of the weather - is looking rather damp from the inside. So the first chance I get when it's dry I'll be giving it that coat that I didn't get around to because I was too busy laying around reading in the sun.

    Tidying jobs continue, most of the leaves are off the trees now, though there's still a few to come.

    Prune overhanging trees and shrubs, cut stems back to the junction with another stem or right down to ground level so that the plant doesn't look too "stumpy".

    A good time to take note of what your garden looks like and maybe fill a few gaps or replace some of the stark twiggy winter forms with evergreens to give your garden a bit more of a year-round attractiveness. Try not to have too many plants that just look the same all year round. Evergreens that flower and / or produce berries are the best value rather than too many unchanging conifers.

    Grasses and other plants with ornamental seed heads should be left through the winter so the frost can pick them out on crisp sunny days. The dead parts of the plant will also help to protect dormant shoots hidden in the depths from the worst ravages of any frosts.

    Main tree and hedge planting time. Between now and the end of the year is the best time to plant any trees and hedging or other bare-rooted shrubs. These are best bought bare-rooted from nurseries, this way they will be dormant, but have a more extensive root system than those grown in containers. They should be planted as soon as you can so they spend the minimum time out of the ground. This applies in particular  to ornamental cultivars which are less tolerant than most.

If you can't plant them straight away, then "heel them in". This means cover the roots with soil in a temporary position so that they don't rot or dry out. Don't be tempted to leave them in the bag or other wrapping even for a short time. If you haven't space to put them in the soil, then "planting" them in sharp sand (a couple of quid from a builders merchant for a 40kg bag) will do nearly as well (dries out quicker than soil). You could even do this in a bucket or other container as long as there are drainage holes in the bottom so the roots don't sit in water.

Why bother? Why not wait until it's a bit warmer and more pleasant and plant out of containers?

1/    Bare rooted trees and shrubs are cheaper, as little as half the price for trees and cheaper than this for shrubs though the range is smaller, so you can either save money or spend the same and get a much bigger tree.

2/     Planting now means that they get off to the best possible start in the spring. As soon as the plants wake up and start putting their roots out, they're already in your soil rather in a pot that will then planted in the soil later, one less jolt to the system.

So brave the elements and do it now! Make sure though that you add lots of organic matter to the soil when filling the planting hole and that you stake trees well.

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