Christmas will soon be over, all the mince pies will have been eaten and most if not all of the turkey gone. With all the excitement of the festive season, and the short days, the garden is often forgotten about. It is a great time to start making some garden resolutions for next year.
Looking back on the year we will all remember the mostly fabulous summer when lawns flourished, herbaceous borders full of colour and plants like cannas producing a mass of flowers in September. Lawns have soaked up the autumn rains and hopefully those following the articles will have tackled the encroaching moss to ensure the majority of green are actually blades of grass.
Short evenings make this is an ideal time for indoor preparations including sharpening and repair lawn mowers, secateurs, shredders and other garden equipment. The seed catalogues are starting to arrive, so it is a good time to settle down in a comfortable chair and choose something new to grow in 2015. Read the descriptions carefully in order to select the right seeds for the right area of your garden. Get your order in early so you will not be disappointed if something is out of stock.
January is a good time to do some serious garden planning. What new projects can you plan for next year? A garden pool, new herbaceous border, rock garden or start a vegetable garden. A statue or pot can be used to focus the eye on a particular spot in the garden.
Take a walk around the garden and see what needs to be improved. Make a list as you walk around and when you get back indoors mark off the most important jobs that need doing and when they should be done. Do not be surprised if the list is long, gardening is a pastime that never finishes.
Use a diary to record when seeds were sown, how well they germinated and when they flowered. Make a note of any trees or shrubs planted, writing down the full name of the plant from the label on the plant and any details about soil requirement and time of flowering. It can be very useful in later years to find out the names of plants that did well.
This is the time of the year when temperatures can drop down to freezing point and tender plants need some protection from the frost. We put a layer of compost around our tender plants to give them extra protection. The compost will prevent the soil around the roots freezing.
Herbaceous plant of the week
Aurum Italicum is a tuberous perennial that is a native of the Mediterranean, often found growing in the wild in Italy, Spain and Southern France. It has beautiful spear-shaped green leaves with white veins that appear in the autumn and last all over winter. In late spring it flowers with green and white bracts. The foliage withers in the summer when spires of bright orange-red berries appear, which last until the new leaves appear again. It may be grown in herbaceous borders, under trees and shrubs and will tolerate partial shade.
Jobs for the week
January will be a great month to prune most deciduous trees and shrubs. Fruit and flowering trees can be pruned now before the sap starts to rise. Do not prune spring flowering plants like forsythia or quince. These plants flower on growth produced the previous year. Take a close look at the branches of apple trees and it should be possible to identify any flower buds present. These form in clusters, called spurs, along the branches. Avoid cutting any of these away during winter pruning. Cut out any damaged or badly positioned branches and congested growth to improve air circulation which will reduce diseases.
Happy New Year to all our readers!